– British Army delegation pays obeisance at Sri Harmandr Sahib

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 12 December 2019. On December 11, a delegation of British Army comprising Brigadier Jen Harvey, Colonel John Candle, Captain Krez Bikertan, Captain Jagjit Singh and Warrant Officer Ashok Chauhan paid obeisance at sanctum sanctorum Sri Harmandr Sahib.

Notably, these delegation members had come to India for attending a seminar organized at Khalsa College in the memory of Saragarhi martyrs by the Saragarhi Foundation (New York).

These delegation members also met the officiating Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh at Akal Takht secretariat where they were honored with Siropas (robes of honor).

They also paid obeisance at Gurdwara Saragarhi Sahib situated on the way leading to Sri Harmandr Sahib.

SGPC’s executive member Jagsir Singh Mangeana, Chief Secretary Dr Roop Singh, Secretary Avtar Singh Sainpla, Sri Harmandir Sahib’s Manager Jaswinder Singh Deenpur, Chairman of Saragarhi Foundation Gurinderpal Singh Josan, President Kuldeep Singh Kahlon, Taranbir Singh Benipal, Bibi Kamaljit Kaur Pannu, Additional Managers Sukhraj Singh and Iqbal Singh Mukhi, Jaspal Singh, SGPC’s Information Officer Amritpal Singh etc. were also present on this occasion.

British Army delegation pays obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib – Narayana Murthy’s son-in-law, Priti Patel among 15 Indian-origin winners in UK election

The Conservatives secured a sweeping victory, winning more than 360 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons on Friday.

London – UK, 14 December 2019. Fifteen Indian-origin candidates across both Conservative and Labour party won in the United Kingdom’s General Election on Friday, PTI reported.

The Conservatives secured a sweeping victory, winning more than 360 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons – the party’s largest majority since under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel won a comfortable majority and is likely to remain in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet. “This has been a hard-fought election in a very cold time of the year because we needed a functioning Conservative majority,” said Patel, who polled 32,876 votes at her Witham constituency in Essex and held on to a majority of 24,082 for the party.

“We are committed to deliver on priorities and getting Brexit done is a priority,” she added. “The deal is there, we want to move forward.”

Rishi Sunak, the son-in-law of Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy, also secured a resounding victory with 36,693 votes, marking a majority for the Tories of 27,210. The 39-year-old has been the MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, since 2015.

Former International Development Secretary Alok Sharma won 24,393 votes from Reading West. Former minister Shailesh Vara retained his seat in North West Cambridgeshire by 25,983 votes.

Suella Braverman, a Conservative MP from Goa, won from Fareham constituency and received 36,459 votes. “Great teamwork in the rain, the cold and the dark,” she tweeted after the results. “All patriots who want to get Brexit done with Boris Johnson.”

Gagan Mohindra and Claire Coutinho of the Conservative party, Navendru Mishra of the Labour party and Munira Wilson of the Liberal Democrats were among the first-time winners.

Sikh MPs Preet Kaur Gill and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi were re-elected from Birmingham Edgbaston and Slough in south-east England, respectively.

Labour’s Virendra Sharma won comfortably from Ealing Southall seat with 25,678 votes. He has held the seat since 2007 General Elections and was expected to win.

Lisa Nandy won Wigan seat with 21,042 votes and Seema Malhotra clinched Feltham and Heston with 24,876 votes.

How big will Modi’s influence be on the Boris Johnson government ? Boris has already stated that he was pro-Modi to enhance the Conservative vote.
Man in Blue

Birmingham Mail – Sikhs lose High Court battle to be included as ethnic group in UK census

Sikhs are said to be experiencing “significant disadvantage” in employment, housing, health and education, but the High Court refused a move to recognise them as an ethnic group on the census

David Bentley

Birmingham – West Midlands – UK, 12 December 2019. A bid for Sikhs to be included as an ethnic group in the UK census has been rejected by a High Court judge.

The Sikh Federation UK argued at a hearing in November that it would be “unlawful” for the 2021 Census not to include a “tick-box” option for people to record themselves as being of Sikh ethnicity.

It asked for a declaration that a draft census, which does not contain a Sikh ethnicity tick box, will be unlawful in the event it is approved by Parliament.

But, dismissing the case in a ruling on Thursday, Mrs Justice Lang said it was “premature”.

The judge said if she had made the declaration sought by the federation, Parliament would be prevented from scrutinising any regulations put forward.

Lawyers for the federation told the court in November that not everyone who identifies as an ethnic Sikh would also identify as being Sikh by religion.

They said the Government recognised, during the consultation process for the forthcoming census, that there is evidence to suggest that Sikhs are experiencing “significant disadvantage” in terms of employment, housing, health and education, and that having data on the ethnically Sikh population would help public bodies to “better meet the needs of the Sikh population”.

The federation, which has been campaigning on the issue for 15 years, said it brought the legal action against the Cabinet Office, with the support of more than 150 gurdwaras and Sikh organisations across the UK.

In a statement following the launch of the case earlier this year, the federation’s chairman, Bhai Amrik Singh, said: “Without public bodies monitoring Sikhs as a distinct ethnic group, they cannot be aware of the barriers Sikhs face as a religio-ethnic community.

“As a result, decisions are taken by local authorities and central government, on the basis of inaccurate data, that overlook the specific needs of this community.”

The 2011 UK Census recorded about 430,000 Sikhs based on a question about religion, which it was not compulsory to answer.

However, the Sikh Federation estimates there are approximately 700,000 to 800,000 ethnic Sikhs living in the UK.

In Birmingham, according to the 2011 census, just over 3 per cent of the population (about 32,000 people) identify as Sikh by religion, higher than the national and regional average.

But events such as Vaisakhi attract more than 100,000 people, with two processions taking place, one from Hockley and one from Smethwick.

The processions head to the site of a huge free festival in Handsworth Park every year. – December 2019 General Election: Sikh Assembly Report for UK Sikh Electorate

Sikh24 Editors

London – UK, 12 December 2019. Today, UK goes to the polls in the most important election for a generation. Brexit, NHS, education, and immigration are major issues for the electorate. However, it’s also notable that this election has seen interference in UK Sikh affairs by BJP run groups. This has included targeting Sikh MPs and gurdwaras.

In relation to the elections, leading UK Sikh activists from the Sikh Assembly have released a report for the Sangat’s consideration.

“Election time presents British Sikhs with the opportunity to not only express the kind of society they want to live in but to participate in that society and affirm their status as responsible citizens,” the report states.

The report covers major topics related to the election, including BREXIT, Poverty, Climate Change, Education, Healthcare & Social Welfare and Crime. The report further states that hate crimes, religious discrimination, freedom of identity, political representation, faith schools, and Sikh heritage are the key issues that concern the UK Sikhs.

The report adds, “There is a need for better understanding and awareness of Sikh virtues of tolerance, equality, sharing and hard work, as well as their contribution to British society.”

The newly formed Sikh Assembly is a large organization of professional Sikhs from a wide range of backgrounds, working for the benefit of Sikhs in the UK and Europe.

The electoral brief issued by the Sikh Assembly further encourages the British Sikh Community to participate in the upcoming democratic elections and also lays out some of its projects and aspirations for the future.

December 2019 General Election: Sikh Assembly Report for UK Sikh Electorate – Hindu mandir in Britain hosts politically motivated speech, calling Labour Party ‘anti-Modi’

A clear call to action to the ‘Indian’ vote in the coming UK elections.

In a video from a Hindu mandir in Britain, a man is seen giving a speech urging British Hindus and Sikhs to vote in favour of Britain’s Conservative party, led by current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The National Hindu Council of Temples in the UK has previously come under fire for material on its website and sending out emails to its members that openly praised and supported Theresa May, and expressed strong distaste for Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party.

“The trustees [of NHCT] have assured us that the charity is politically neutral and will not seek to or indicate that it supports a particular political party or candidate,” said a spokesperson for the Charity Commission at the time.

However, the recent speech delivered on the mandir’s premises (above) supports the Conservative Party, and disavows the Labour Party, once again mentioning Jeremy Corbyn.

The speech also asserts that the Labour Party is “anti-Modi,” and are “supporters of separatist jihadis,” apparently drawing upon Indian politics to motivate Hindu voters in Britain. This speech came the same day that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu mandir in London and vowed to support Narendra Modi. – UK Sikh couple who were told they cannot adopt a white child win case against racial discrimination

The court awarded them nearly £120,000 (approximately Rs 1.12 crore) in damages.

Steve Evans

A Sikh couple living in the United Kingdom won a landmark court battle against a local council that refused to let them adopt a child because of their Indian heritage. The court ruled that it was discriminatory and awarded them nearly £120,000 (approximately Rs 1.12 crore) in damages, The Guardian reported.

Sandeep Mander and Reena Mander were not allowed to join a list of approved adopters in 2016 because of their heritage. Adoption agency Adopt Berkshire told them “not to bother applying” and to try to adopt from the Indian subcontinent.

The agency had said that only white pre-school children were available for adoption. The couple, who are in their 30s and live in Maidenhead in Berkshire, eventually adopted a child from the US.

They tried to get the decision overturned and got the support of their then MP Theresa May as well as the Equality and Human Rights Commission. With the panel’s support, the Manders sued the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council for discrimination.

Judge Melissa Clarke of the Oxford County Court ruled that the “defendants directly discriminated against Mr and Mrs Mander on the grounds of race”. She awarded them general damages of £29,000 each and special damages of £60,000.

“I consider that there is clear evidence that Mr and Mrs Mander, who I have found expressed willingness to consider a child of any ethnicity, received less favourable treatment than would a comparable couple of a different ethnicity,” the judgement said.

“All of this discloses, in my judgment, what the unknown social worker stated in the very first phone call with Mr Mander, namely that Adopt Berkshire operated a policy of placing adoptive children with parents who come from the ‘same background’ namely race,” Clarke wrote in her judgement.

“I am satisfied that race was the criterion by which the unknown social worker decided not to book an initial visit with Mr and Mrs Mander, because the defendants have not satisfied me that there was any other criterion applied by that unknown social worker.”

The evidence shows that Adopt Berkshire refused to progress the Manders “on the assumption that it would not be in a putative child’s best interest to be matched with prospective adopters” of a different race, the judge said.

“This assumption was a stereotype which gave race a disproportionate importance as a factor regarding the welfare of children.”

The couple and their lawyers were elated and called it a landmark law. “This decision ensures that no matter what race, religion or colour you are, you should be treated equally and assessed for adoption in the same way as any other prospective adopter,” Sandeep Mander said.

His wife Reena Mander called the judgement a relief and said that they can now move on “knowing we have changed something for the better”.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead said it was disappointed by the judgement. “We have reviewed our policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and are confident that we do not exclude prospective adopters on the grounds of ethnicity,” a spokesperson said.

“Finally, we always put the best interests of the children at the heart of any adoption decisions and are committed to best practice in our provision of adoption services.”

Yorkshire Post – Sikh statue unveiled in Yorkshire to honour soldiers

Lucy Leeson

Huddersfield – West Yorkshire – UK, 01 December 2019. A statue of a Sikh soldier has been unveiled in Yorkshire to commemorate the thousands who fought and died in both World Wars.

As well as being symbolic to those who fought in both World Wars, the statue also recognises the role Sikh soldiers continue to play in the armed forces to this day.

The statue, which has cost in the region of £65,000, has been made possible thanks to generous donations from members of the public and was commissioned by the Sikh Soldier Organisation (SS0), with the support of the Army, the Royal British Legion and Kirklees Council.

A special ceremony was held to unveil the statue on Saturday and it now takes pride of place in West Yorkshire.

The SSO revealed Huddersfield had been chosen to display the monumental statue due to its “vibrant” Sikh community.

More than 83,000 Sikhs were killed and many more wounded during both World War One and World War Two.

Kalvinder Bhullar, of the SSO, described the artwork as an “emotional piece” and a “stunning sculpture”.

He also praised the public for their support.

He said: “We’ve accomplished our mission to get the statue put in place and the support we have had has been overwhelming.

“Huddersfield’s vibrant Sikh community is one of the reason’s whey the town has been chosen for the perfect location of the statue.

The statue, which is around 6ft high, was unveiled to dignataries from across the county on Saturday with a special ceremony to mark its permanent home in the West Yorkshire town.

The News – Sajid Javid refuses to criticise Boris Johnson for attacking Muslim women

Murtaza Ali Shah

Sajid Javid refuses to criticise Boris Johnson for attacking Muslim women

London – UK, 27 November 2019. British government’s Chancellor Sajid Javid has refused to criticise Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his use of Islamophobic language to describe Muslim women.

Speaking on the campaign trail, British-Pakistani Javid struggled to explain Boris Johnson’s use of words like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers” to describe Muslim women wearing a veil. Johnson described Muslim women in derogative manner a column for The Telegraph newspaper last year.

It follows criticism of the Conservatives by the Muslim Council of Britain, which accused the party of “denial, dismissal and deceit” with regards to Islamophobia on the day that the UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism made him unfit to be prime minister.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Javid said the Prime Minister had “explained why he’s used that language” adding the article “was to defend the rights of women, whether Muslim women and others to wear what they like, so he’s explained that and I think he’s given a perfectly valid explanation”.

He added: “Whenever this issue has come about (for) the Conservative Party, no-one has ever credibly suggested that it’s an issue with the leadership of the party, whether that’s the leader of the party of the day or the chancellor or other senior figures, no-one’s suggested that.”

Later, Boris Johnson dismissed criticism by the Muslim Council of Britain of the Conservative Party’s handling of Islamophobia within its ranks.

The Prime Minister told reporters that he did not agree with the claim that his party had approached Islamophobia with “denial, dismissal and deceit”.

He added: “What we do in the Tory Party is when anybody is guilty of any kind of prejudice or discrimination against another group then they’re out first bounce,” he said.

Mr Johnson said his party would hold an inquiry into “all forms of prejudice” starting before the end of the year, despite having previously pledged to hold one specifically on Islamophobia.

In Tuesday’s edition of The Times, Rabbi Mirvis said Labour’s handling of the issue, which has dogged the party under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, was “incompatible” with British values.

Responding, the Labour leader insisted anti-Jewish racism was “vile and wrong” and that the party had a “rapid and effective system” for dealing with complaints.

Mr Corbyn called on the Conservatives to “address the issues of Islamophobia that appear to be a problem within their party”.

In response to the Chief Rabbi’s comments, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This is an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party, who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit.

“It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerate Islamophobia, allow it to fester in society and fail to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism. It is as if the Conservative Party has a blind spot for this type of racism.”

Here is the relevant section of Mr Johnson’s Telegraph column.

“If you tell me that the burka is oppressive, then I am with you. If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree, and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the practice in the Koran.

I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes; and I thoroughly dislike any attempt by any, invariably male, government to encourage such demonstrations of “modesty”, notably the extraordinary exhortations of President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, who has told the men of his country to splat their women with paintballs if they fail to cover their heads.

“If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled, like Jack Straw, to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto: those in authority should be allowed to converse openly with those that they are being asked to instruct.

As for individual businesses or branches of government, they should of course be able to enforce a dress code that enables their employees to interact with customers; and that means human beings must be able to see each other’s faces and read their expressions. It’s how we work.

“All that seems to me to be sensible. But such restrictions are not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business.”

Remember how Tamanjit Singh, MP for Slough, attacked Boris Johnson for the same reason
Man in Blue

Evening Times – Multi-faith tapestry for peace created in Glasgow Gurdwara

Carla Jenkins

Glasgow – Scotland – UK, 26 November 2019. Over 400 members of the Glasgow Sikh community gathered at the Glasgow Gurdwara on Albert Drive earlier this month for the unveiling of the cities first ever multi-faith tapestry.

As we come to the end of November, members of Glasgow’s Sikh community are recovering from a month of celebrations in the name of world-renowned Sikh Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday, the prophet credited with founding Sikhism.

The multi-faith tapestry is a lasting reminder to the community and those outside it of the significance of the year, and the three characteristics central to Sikhs: hard work, sharing and spirituality.

As we come to the end of November, members of Glasgow’s Sikh community are recovering from a month of celebrations in the name of world-renowned Sikh Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday, the prophet credited with founding Sikhism.

The multi-faith tapestry is a lasting reminder to the community and those outside it of the significance of the year, and the three characteristics central to Sikhs: hard work, sharing and spirituality.

The Tapestry Project was founded by Manjit Kaur Jheeta, 65 from Pollokshields, who along with Paula Hope, a 52 year old Art Teacher, led a volunteer group of 90 women from different faiths and communities to weave the tapestries over 18 months.

Manjit, a former biology teacher who is also a member of the Glasgow Gurdwara’s committee, met Paula by chance in Glasgow when thinking of ideas for an art project to honour Guru Nanak.

“Guru Nanek founded the interfaith aspect of Sikhism, and I wanted to honour that in the tapestry unveiling.”

“Guru Nanak has always been my role model, because of my background as a teacher. I based my career on that, and have been very interested in oneness and interfaith, which are two big characteristics of his teachings.

“I thought that it was a good idea to bring his message into the 21st century, when we have so many extreme views and politics, and bring people together. Suddenly, there are increased racial tensions, border tensions and levels of crime because of intolerance.

“When I retired I decided it was time to make my vision come alive and I did that through art.

“I wanted something that would bring people together, and even in the Gurdwara there are people who cannot speak or read English well, people who have worked all their lives or who have generational differences, but art brought everyone together.”

“I was John Lewis looking for inspiration, and was looking in particular at different fabrics. Many women in the Gurdwara have fantastic sewing skills and talents but have never participated in anything like this.

“I went into a shop off Buchanan Street, and heard the buzz of a sewing machine. I got chatting to the woman at the machine, and she was an art teacher and machinist. That was Paula, and I knew the door had opened.”

Manjit and Paula led a weekly meeting where members of the public gathered on an evening once a week to create the tapestries, as well as over 800 crochet flowers that decorated the Gurdwara and will be sold as Christmas cards this season, with the proceeds given to the charity Sikh Scotland Sewing.

Some of the women who joined to help had never sewed before.

“We didn’t even anticipate that it would be finished for this month of celebrations, but it was another added positive that it was.

“The whole experience was magical” said Manjit. “I don’t know what we’ll do now that it’s finished.”

Over a year later, three ceiling-to-floor hand-stitched tapestries were unveiled in the Glasgow Gurdwara as part of the Guru Nanak celebrations, and will later be toured around different venues such as St. Mungos and fellow Gurdwara’s around the UK, in Birmingham and London.

“It was the best gift that we could give to people in Glasgow” said Manjit.

“It has brought together women from the Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian and even non-religions communities.

“Paula and I, without even realising it, had designed the message of oneness and equality of Guru Nanak into every part of the tapestry, and I am forever thankful to all the volunteers who have supported this wonderful project.”

“Having never been to a Sikh Gurdwara before, it was pure chance and some Divine Inspiration that I met Paula.

I feel so blessed and humbled that I was able to have this opportunity, with these lovely ladies that put their heart and soul into creating them.”

Carla Jenkins @caarlaajenkins

Sikh Federation UK – Sikh Manifesto 2020-2025 gives notice to political parties and to those wanting to be elected as MPs

London – UK,  21 November 2019. “Millions of Sikhs across the world have in the last few weeks marked Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Parkash, the birth anniversary of the founder and first Sikh Guru.

He rejected all forms of discrimination and exploitation under any pretext and founded a new egalitarian social order. Equality for women, rejection of the caste system, respect for diversity while seeing God in all.”

These are the opening words of the Sikh Manifesto 2020-2025 that has been developed by Sikh activists while living out what Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught us about achieving a fair, just and thriving society for all.

The Sikh Manifesto sets out critical issues raised by members of the British Sikh community that will help raise awareness with political parties and those hoping to be elected as MPs on 12 December 2019.

It is an invaluable reference document that will be used not only in the next few weeks, but over the next five years to monitor progress and judge the performance of MPs and the next UK Government.

The Sikh Manifesto is about empowering the UK Sikh community to engage with the UK political system.

The Sikh Network will continue to monitor progress against the Sikh Manifesto over the next five years and discuss and agree changes in strategy and approach to help deliver against the issues set out.

The Sikh Federation (UK) will lead on lobbying and engagement with the mainstream media and government on many of these issues. The Sikh Manifesto will test the commitment of the main political parties and individual politicians to the British Sikh community.

The ten-point Sikh Manifesto is unlike the manifestos of the political parties. All Sikh organisations can relate to all or part of the Sikh Manifesto as a briefing document. It is based on the widest possible consensus and collates the most important areas in which challenges remain for British Sikhs and where progress is required.

The first Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020 was widely viewed as a crucial development reflecting the political maturity of British Sikhs.

This second Sikh Manifesto demonstrates a broadening of our reach, in terms of the influencing and lobbying of those in power and a deepening of our roots, in terms of coverage of the grassroot issues of importance to Sikhs.

Much progress has been achieved since the publication of the first Sikh Manifesto. The manifesto reflects issues of importance to the Sikh community that politicians need to understand and act upon.

Three new sections have been introduced in the refreshed Sikh Manifesto – Sections 4, 6 and 7 that expose hate crime, discrimination and human rights violations. Seven of the ten sections in the first Sikh Manifesto have been refreshed to reflect developments in the last five years and continue to be priorities to achieve or work towards.

Individual Sikhs, Gurdwara management committees and Sikh organisation representatives are encouraged to read and understand the Sikh Manifesto. The aim should be to discuss each of the sections directly with their Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) from each of the main political parties.

PPCs are being asked to confirm in writing, public statements and video messages on social media their commitment to support the Sikh Manifesto in general and specific sections if they wish to secure Sikh votes. This will allow progress to be discussed and tracked with those elected as MPs.

The Electoral Commission has highlighted that Sikhs participate in the British voting process more than most other communities.

However, to make the Sikh vote count Sikh voters are being encouraged to bear in mind the prior commitment of the party or the candidate to the issues and concerns raised by the Sikh community through the Sikh Manifesto.

150 constituencies that have 1,000 or more Sikh constituents have been pinpointed. Those elected in these constituencies are expected to ensure all issues important to the British Sikh community, as set out in this Sikh Manifesto, are raised and acted upon.

A balanced scorecard has been developed and will be used to objectively judge the performance of MPs elected in each of these constituencies.

Harnek Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Jas Singh
The Sikh Network Press Office

Posted by: sikh federation <>