image caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE

DENIED: SIKH QAUMI TICK BOX IN CENSUS 2021

Lords Judgement in 1983 was based on: shared history culture literature religion, language historical origin etc. Dictionary meaning of &ldquoEthnicity&rdquo is the same. Parliament will decide & massive Sikh lobbying is expected

According to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has refused to add a Sikh ethnic tick box despite identifying the need and overwhelming Sikh community support. Hundreds of thousands of British Sikhs have been taken by surprise.

When we look back at Sikh history, Sikhs have hardly ever been defeated by an outside enemy alone. Whether during the fall of the Khalsa Raj by 1849, during the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, before and after 1984, it was the enemy within who frustrated just Sikh miri-piri aspirations of the Sikhs as a community. Regrettably, history will continue to repeat itself because Sikhs themselves have forgotten the lesson of collective leadership of Khalsa Panth as taught by Guru Gobind Singh ji.

Regarding the question of Sikh miri-piri qaumi identity, there has been no shortage of scholars like Sirdar Kapur Singh or journalists in the UK like Jathedar Mohinder Singh Khehra, writing in the Panjab Times, who have clarified the historical and ideological context of the Nirmal Panth of Guru Nanak Sahib which evolved into the niara Khalsa Panth by 1699.

While treating all humanity as one, the Sikhs have always asserted their just rights as a distinct theo-social community in own right. Yet, ignorance about Sikhs and Sikhi continues to be spread and authorities continue to be misled by some Sikhs themselves. The main reason given by the UK Statistical Authority for not recognising the Sikhs as an ethnic community in Census 2021 is that there are differing views within the Sikh community about Sikhs being recognised as a separate social community. Those leading the opposition are answerable to the Sangats for denying that recognition: that all Sikhs share common culture historical origin, literature religion, language etc. Yet, in a highly prejudicial manner, without applying the same degree of support or strict criteria as for the Sikhs, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has proposed to include an ethnic tick box for Roma people.

The government will now prepare a draft Census Order that will set out the questions to be included in the census. That will be laid before Parliament in the autumn 2019.  The draft Order must be approved by both Houses of Parliament. The ethnicity question must be approved by affirmative resolution.

The APPG for British Sikhs, with the support of Gurdwaras, Sikh organisations and the Sangats are launching a campaign #ISupportSikhs2021 for an amendment to the Census Order 2019 when it is presented in Parliament for a Sikh ethnic tick box to be added.  There is high level of cross-party Parliamentary and Sikh community support.

The lesson to be learnt is that individuals will continue to mislead for various reasons including ignorance of Sikh ideology, institutions, history and tradition, or due to lack of foresight and vision. There is ongoing need for national level collective Panthic guidance above individual ambitions or narrow jathebandi politics.

Gurmukh Singh OBE