(Final Part III)
The Sikh Network Survey has shown that British Sikhs do have issues and concerns which need to be addressed.
Sikhs welcome but want more than just Sikh events organised at 10 Downing Street or at the Houses of Parliament. Otherwise the lavish praise of the Sikhs by visiting politicians at Gurdwaras as hard working loyal citizens, least dependent on the state, running charities and making a very significant contribution to the UK economy, sounds hollow.
Sikhs are not impressed by the praise alone because they continue be the victims of abusive language when moving around and when dealing with public servants. Most turban wearing Sikhs would have experienced some sort of racial prejudice and many have been the victims of racial abuse and crimes. That certainly has been my experience over the last 56 years in the UK. I had to physically defend myself on two occasions and treatment of my elderly widowed mother by immigration officials at Delhi and even at Heathrow Airport in early 1970’s, was deplorable. I keep a record of communications. Yet, that was when I was the head of Personnel and Training division at the prestigious National Economic Development Office.
The government’s hate crime action plan published in July this year almost ignored the Sikhs while Muslims were mentioned 22 times and the Jews 17 times! It is quite amazing that a significant number of hate crimes against Sikhs are recorded as crimes under “Islamophobia”!
The survey provides compelling evidence for the need of a Statutory Code of Practice for the 5 Ks [kesh, kara, kanga, kachha and kirpan] and the Sikh turban. It is regrettable that guidance about the 5-Ks, collated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission a few years ago, was not formally adopted by the Government for training public servants.
British Sikhs want better representation of Sikh issues and also election of deserving visible-identity Sikhs in the Parliament. They would like to be counted and monitored as “Sikhs”. They do not like to be described as “Indian” or “Asian”.
Yet, despite the above Sikhs are well educated, successful and have not developed a victimisation complex. Rather following in the footsteps of Guru Gobind Singh, their just anger is roused when provoked. Sikhs are survivors under harsh conditions. They show a keen interest in national politics. They had the highest turnout of any group in the last General Election and Sikhs are 5 times more likely to be members of political parties.
The need is for Sikhs in professions and businesses to work hand-in-hand with grassroots level Sikh organisations towards a better recognition of Sikh community which has with own ideology based on universal values and proud Sikh identity. Sikhi promotes full acceptance of human diversity, albeit, as one race (manas ki jaat).
Sikh identity adds to British pluralism and Sikh ideology fully supports the British values and way of life which unite racial and cultural diversity. The Sikh Manifesto and the Sikh Network survey show the political maturity of British Sikhs and that is a most welcome development in recent years.
Link for Sikh Network survey:
Gurmukh Singh OBE