The success story that UK’s 4 lakh Sikhs are


UK, OCTOBER 16, 2004

They don’t have to wear helmets to ride motorcycles, the military uniform has been altered to accommodate the five Ks, they have 200 gurdwaras for spiritual solace, the biggest Baisakhi celebrations are organised in a city here.

Surprised you may be, because we are not talking about Jalandhar, Amristar or Ludhiana.

This is sadda England. While showcasing multiculturalism, Britain has put Sikhs on the mantelpiece. There are about four lakh of them, the single biggest element in Britain’s Indian population. Here Gurinder Chaddha is a blockbuster director, Tavlin Singh is on top of the pop, Ruben Singh with his million pounds leaves many green with envy, Darshan Bhuller is the favourite hoofer.

"Who but the Sikhs, and where but modern Britain, to get an original idea going. Here is the diaspora adapting to a new way of life, working with local society, new technologies but keeping their roots alive. Brilliant combination," said UK high commissioner, Michael Arthur, in his inaugural lecture on Anglo-Sikh relations at the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Trust function in New Delhi.
The success story that UK’s 4 lakh Sikhs are

The tradition of Anglo-Sikh ties has been a "proud one", he said. In 100 years to 1945, there were 14 Victoria Crosses awarded to Sikhs. "On per capita basis, given the size of the Sikh Regiment, that must be a record for the entire British armed forces. In two world wars, 83,000 Sikh soldiers were killed and 100,000 wounded," said Arthur. The glorious story of the past. But how’s the future? With their £17 million Gurdwara, the biggest outside India, Bride and Prejudice adaption of Jane Austen, British Sikhs are central to England’s society. Alright.

But how does Sikhism fare as a minority culture in a wider multicultural society in Britain?

"Generational changes seems to be speeding up in Britain, and rather faster than in traditional Punjab. Sikh children in the UK are exposed to wider range of pressures, temptations and peer group norms, mobility, media than are their age group contemporaries in Punjab. British Gurdwaras bemoan that the younger generation do not come as regularly to the temples as do their parents," Arthur said.