We sat down with Harbaldeep Singh, the Founder and Mentor of Nishkam TV, to know more about Nishkam TV, its mission and plans for the future. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Nishkam TV?
A: Nishkam TV is a first ever online TV channel run by Sikh students in the USA with the mission of promoting interaction between different faiths and cultures to bring us closer as one humanity and enhance our lives. This TV channel will be run exclusively by students and will be available online on our website and on our YouTube (Nishkam TV), Facebook and Instagram social media channels.
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Q: What’s the story behind Nishkam TV? What’s your mission?
A: This TV channel is a media initiative of New England Sikh Study Circle (NESSC), a non-profit organization, which was established in 1968 to serve as a Sikh center for spiritual growth, political understanding, community activism, and social gathering. Nishkam TV is based out of NESSC Sikh Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) in Westborough, Massachusetts, USA. NESSC runs a Khalsa School with the humble mission to provide comprehensive education and skill building in the areas of Gurmat Sangeet (Spiritual Music), Gurmukhi/Punjabi (Language Arts) and understanding of Sikh history and culture. In the last few years we were missing a critical component of having an audio-visual medium to teach students. To fill this gap, the Khalsa School incorporated a film program named Film Neev (Neev means foundation) three years ago to allow students to express their ideas through the creative outlets of visual storytelling that talked about principles of Sikhi as they apply in our lives today. You can find more information of our program by visiting http://www.filmneev.com. In the last three years we have trained more than fifty students in all aspects of filmmaking (Screenplay Writing, Cinematography, Lighting, Acting, Editing, Sound Design, and Directing).
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Nishkam TV is the next step in that evolution by providing students a platform with the mission centered around providing wholesome media content through Sikhi lens regarding selfless service, building dialog, increasing understanding, and promoting interaction between different faiths and cultures to bring us closer as one humanity and enhance our lives.
Every program at Nishkam TV bring selfless service to life. Team members enjoy what they do and use their gifts in service to the community in which they live, knowing as one humanity, it is together that we are the strongest. All effort is considered team effort in much the way sports teams give credit to the team and do not highlight their personal.
Q: Nishkam TV is the first ever Online TV Channel run by Khalsa School Students in the USA. How does it work?
A: Nishkam TV team members are divided into seven groups with a team lead, vice lead and supporting team members. They are supported by older Youth Representatives (students in college and recent graduates) and parent volunteers to guide and support them but the content creation is essentially their own.
We have a team of 50+ strong team members.
Seven teams are:
1. Production and Operations Team – This team is responsible for the execution of programs including shooting, editing and operations. This team also runs Nishkam TV Live every Sunday. Team Lead is Raunaq Singh Mokha (Age 15), supported by Amneet Singh Bagga (Age 17) as a vice lead.
2. Content Writing Team – This team is responsible for idea generation and writing scripts for the programs. They also maintain our pipeline of content for the next six months. Team Lead is Gurleen Kaur (Age 15) and supported by Dilzafer Singh (Age 14) as a vice lead and J. Mehr Kaur (Smith College) and Simran Kaur Mahanta (Cornell) as youth representatives.
3. Talent Team – This team is responsible for hosting shows, interviewing guests, moderators for the round table discussions and narrator of the shows/documentaries. Team lead is Kiren Kaur Bagga (Age 14) and supported by Danveer Singh Nijjar (Age 14) as a vice lead and Kiranjit Kaur (Boston University) and Hargun Khanna (UMass Amherst) as youth representatives.
4. Website and Newsletter Team – This team is responsible for updating and maintaining our website and sending monthly newsletters to our subscribers. Team lead is Mehrjot Kaur (Age 17) and supported by Tanya Singh (NYU) as youth representative.
5. Social Media Presence Team – This team is responsible for spreading the word and manage our social media channels on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Team lead is Meher Kaur Khanna (Age 16) and supported by Tanya Singh (NYU) as youth representative.
6. Marketing Team – This team is responsible for bringing sponsors/donors, organizing fund raisers and business development. Team lead is Harneet Kaur (Age 17) and supported by Prabhdeep Kaur (Age 15) as a vice lead and Sumeet Singh Nijjar (Boston College) as youth representative.
7. Production Design Team – This team is responsible for branding, costumes, props and sets for the programs. Team lead is Agam Singh Kukreja (Age 13).
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Q: Can you tell us something more about your programs?
A: Initially, we have following programs in the making:
• Healthy Eats for All – Health show inspired by a parent volunteer blog.
• Save the Environment, Save Lives – Show focused on improving environment issues which is very close to the young Nishkam TV members hearts. .
• One Light, One Love – An interfaith program highlights what we all have in common and what we can do together, as one humanity, accepting and appreciating differences.
• The role of community in our lives
• What is Religion and What is Culture
• Talk shows
• Celebrity Interviews
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We are building a complete infrastructure to provide students state-of-the-art facilities to produce programs. We recently finished building a sound proof studio to record shows, editing suite with software’s like Davinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro and sound stage. Our next project is to install ceiling studio lights to make production process easier and productive.
On the programming side, our plan for the future is to continue in the spirit of Nishkam to build bridges inside our own community in the community at large so that Nishkam TV content includes content from all faiths and cultures that are like-minded with the Sikhi lens with which our young Nishkam TV members view their world.
It is also our goal to keep a steady flow of young Nishkam TV and supporters by continuous mentoring of all that is required for Nishkam TV to continue to grow and thrive in the future.
Q: Before we end, can you tell us something about yourself and how you became part of Nishkam TV?
A: When I was growing up, I always felt fascinated by moving images of Film and Television. I was curious to know more about the mechanics of Film and Television production. With time coming closer to choose a career path, I broke the news to my parents that I want to go to Film School. As expected, it solicited a big no-no from them. Reason being film industry considered an exercise in vain, given the world of materialism and pragmatism. I had to cave into my parents’ wishes to join the time-tested field of engineering catapulting me to America. But as the cliché says it was a blessing in disguise, as I realized my dream of getting film education from America. So, I started Film Neev and now Nishkam TV to provide a befitting platform to those students who aspire, pine and feel themselves cutout for the highest pinnacle of glory in the domain of various genres of filmmaking and TV production.
Q: Interesting. Tell us something about your education and formal training in this field.
A: I got film training from New York Film Academy and previously founded a media company PTI Media Networks and successfully launched a popular TV show “What’s Up TV” for the South Asian community living in North America. Earlier I have written, acted and directed various plays and short films. I also played the lead role in an English film, “Perceive”. Which told me, I look better behind the camera (laughs).
I am a recipient of the 62nd Primetime Emmy Award (2010) for inventing a media technology used extensively in Film and TV Productions. I also received a US patent (US 20120257877) for inventing a video streaming technology for non-linear editing software.
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My education, BS (Computer Science), MFA (Film and TV Production and MBA (Entrepreneurship), has enabled me to learn required skills for the media industry – An industry which is predominantly a business and need art and science of storytelling. I am so glad I am part of this venture where my passion is aligning with my educational background. I love teaching kids and I call myself lucky to be passing what little I know about this craft to our future generation.
Q: Any last words?
A: This is a non-profit initiative, and this can only sustain with the generous donations of our sponsors. Please support us by donating to this cause. We are a non-profit 501(C) organization and all donations are tax-free.Activate Social Media: