UK Government Ignoring Sikhs?

January 20, 2007

Author: Jagdeesh Singh

Source: Sikh Sangat

The Sikh Commission on Race & Cohesion points to a long running pattern of government statements and initiatives which display “alarming evidence of non-inclusion of Sikhs and Sikh aspirations”. The Sikh Commission says the PM’s landmark speech on ‘multi-culturalism’ and ‘integration’ on 8th December 2006 and similar Queen’s Christmas Day speech (25th December 2006), have brought the issue to a head for Britain ’s 700,000 Sikhs. The Commission says “Sikhs are much concerned at the conspicuous exclusion of Sikhs in the media, in government policy and by the Commission for Race Equality”.

“Over the course of the last five years, Sikhs have been left out of many Home Office, CRE and public discussions, declarations and initiatives on ‘community engagement’. Despite active attempts by Sikh organisations to engage British Ministers and the CRE on community issues, Sikhs have found themselves repulsed by a dismissive and apathetic attitude. There has been zero government or CRE initiative on Sikh racist attacks, Sikh ethnic monitoring and Sikh inclusion in community cohesion discussions.” Says the Sikh Commission. Official comments, statements, reports and declarations by Ministers, Parliamentary Committees and senior public figures on matters such as community relations after 9/11, racist attacks and community cohesion; have omitted Sikh topics and Sikh representation.

The Sikh Commission says Sikhs have made a substantial contribution to life in Britain over the last 100 years. “Over 80,000 Sikh soldiers’ lives were sacrificed defending Britain from attack in the two world wars. Sikh soldiers’ qualified for14 Victoria Crosses for distinguished courage. Since migrating in the 1960s, we have proved to be an exceedingly self-sufficient, hard-working, enterprising community. We have excelled in education, employment, business and home ownership. This is despite decades of social and political racism. Our hard-work, independence and social perseverance; has ensured that we have been a minimum burden on state funds and resources and that our tax contribution to the British state has far exceeded anything our community has taken in terms of resources and monetary benefits.” Sikhs stress they have contributed positively to social life and cohesion, through historic Sikh values of family, community, social interaction, diversity, tolerance and kind-heartedness to their English and British neighbours. “Instead of celebrating this contribution, the Prime Minister and his government, together with the CRE, national media and public bodies choose to exclude Sikhs at all levels.”

The Sikh Commission says the government’s agenda on community cohesion and integration is “incoherent, selective in application, and lacking in equal and wholesome inclusion”. The government’s approach includes some and excludes others. “Integration is about equal and authentic inclusion of all communities that make up British society – both indigenous and migrant. Cohesion, integration and race equality is about everyone being included and everyone participating”.