image caption: Photo caption: Gurmukh Singh OBE and Dr Jasjit Singh and S. Manpreet Singh Badhni Kalan honoured by the Sikh Missionary Society UK with plaques for their outstanding Panthic seva.

Sikhs and the Mainstream Media

     As a colleague said recently, it has taken the Sikhs three decades to shed the label of Sikh terrorists, fundamentalists, extremists and Sikh hardliners . Now we are in danger  of another label : radicalised Sikhs! Clearly, the mainstream media plays a role in inventing such labels without much investigation of the ground realities.

It took intensive research by Dr Jasjit Singh of Leeds University to conclude that there was no threat to the British state or to the wider British public from Sikh activism as there is no conflict with the West or with Britain. The report, Investigating Sikh Radicalisation In Britain, was well received and is a benchmark for what Jasjit Singh calls collaborative research with a community benefit.

Now, Jasjit Singh, a Research Fellow in Religious and Cultural Transmission at the University of Leeds, is following up his earlier research with another related project, Sikhs and the Media. He gave his first introductory presentation at the Sikh Missionary Society UK on 17 February, 2019 under three main headings: 1) How have Sikhs been represented in &lsquomainstream&rsquo media? 2) How have these representations led to the emergence of British Sikh media? 3) What is the need for this project and how will the Sikh Missionary Society UK be involved?

Following a most informative talk with much historical evidence shown by Dr Jasjit Singh, there were additional comments based on own experience from Sikh media representatives: renowned TV presenter, Dr Gurnam Singh, senior Panjabi journalist S. Manpreet Singh Badhni Kalan and S. Sukh Singh from the Sikh Press Association. Many prominent participants made further contributions during the questions and answers open session. It became clear that there are many dimensions to the topic of Sikhs and the Media. There are many strands which can be followed not least of which is the media bias in mentioning Sikhs specifically in connection with some negative news item.

  By involving the Sikh community with his research work, Jasjit Singh is bridging the gap between Sikh academia and lay parcharaks, Sikh socio-religious activists and organisations like the Sikh Missionary Society UK. To my knowledge he is a pioneer in community collaborative research. He is keen to ensure that there is a benefit to the community of his research before he starts his projects. For that reason, he goes around seeking advice and opinions from the community and also collates much original old journals, reports and papers which are now part of the British Sikh heritage. There are many educational and side benefits of this type of dedicated research.

Sikhs are one of the most enterprising communities. They are highly successful in most fields. However, we have done less well in some important areas and suffered setbacks as a result. These areas are: working in the media and media management, professional level presentation of the Sikh case, and political engagement. However, there are signs that youngish Sikhs are now entering these fields.

We look forward to seeing the terms of reference of this important study by Dr Jasjit

Gurmukh Singh OBE