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NRI Chaman Lal becomes Birmingham’s
first Lord Mayor

Los Angeles, May 29, 2023 A.Gary Singh

Chaman Lal has been elected as Birmingham's new lord mayor - the first NRI from a Sikh family to take up the post.

Mayor Lal, who previously served as councillor of Soho and Jewellery Quarter for 29 years, took up the prestigious role at a mayor making ceremony at Birmingham city council house, in Victoria Square.

Chaman Lal Said:

  • It is a very proud moment for me and our family,
  • As a son of an army officer born in India, but made in Birmingham. I am an adopted Brummie, and I never thought that one day I would become the lord mayor of my adopted city.
  • I would like to thank my fellow councillors for electing me as their first citizen and of our great city which happens to be the highest civic role entrusted to a serving councillor.
  • I would like to thank all the residents and Soho and Jewellery Quarter for their continued support over the past 29 years.

About Chaman Lal

  • Mayor Lal was born in the village Pakhowal, in Hoshiar Pur district, in Punjab, India.
  • He came to Birmingham with his mother in 1964, aged 11, and has lived in the city ever since.
  • His father served as an officer in the British Indian army during the second world war in the Italian campaign.
  • Mayor Lal, unable to speak English, showed a 'self-starting spirit', and found a school place by himself after turning up to several grammar schools in the local area.
  • He was inspired to study electronics further, in particular fixing broken electronic items, after growing up without central heating or hot water.
  • Mayor Lal went on to have several successful electronic businesses, and continued to study economics and law.
  • His father Sardar Harnam Singh (Banga) was a British/Indian army officer who in the second world war served in the Italian campaign; and his uncle Sardar Ram Singh (Banga) was also a British/Indian army officer during the second world war, he was taken as a prisoner of war and was killed in the Burma Campaign.
  • His father came to England in 1954 and settled in Birmingham taking employment in various industries including several years with British Steel.
  • Chaman attended Wattville Secondary Modern School and continued with his studies in evening classes at Sandwell and Matthew Boulton Colleges.
  • He believes in lifelong learning, and he continued his academic studies in economics and law on part time degree courses at the local Polytechnic.
  • He married Vidya Wati in 1971 and they had three daughters and two sons.
  • Chaman and Vidya supported all their children into higher education.
  • He qualified as an engineer in electronics and became an apprentice with an electronics company.
  • He progressed to becoming their youngest chief engineer in the service department and was later promoted to the post of manager of the service department. He left their employment to set up his own electronics business and moved on to set up other businesses.

Chaman joined the Labour Party in 1989 and he has taken part in many social justice campaigns to challenge inequality and all forms of discrimination. He was first elected as a Councillor in 1994 for the Soho Ward and is now Councillor for the Soho and Jewellery Quarter Ward.

He has served on most of the Council’s committees in the past 29 years; as well as being a cabinet advisor for major transport projects and recently as the Chair of the Sustainability and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee.