Ethnic Status Demand For British Sikhs Triggers Row In UK

CHANDIGARH – The demand of considering Sikhs as a separate ethnic group in the upcoming 2021 census in the UK has triggered a row and a large section of Indian workers, scholars and politicians feel that the demand is a flawed idea and will create division among the Punjabis.


Last year, following the demand of over 100 British MPs, the UK’s Office of National Statistics had confirmed that they were considering the demand to count Sikhs as a separate ethnic group in 2021 census. Finally, last week UK’s Office of National Statistics rejected the demand but it triggered a debate over the issue: Whether Sikhs are a separate ethnicity. The move was opposed by a large section of scholars, community group leaders and politicians on the pretext that Sikhs are not an ethnic group but they are part of Punjabi ethnic group, which comprises of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.


Prof Shinder Thandi, former visiting professor, University of California, Santa Barbara, who is an expert on Sikhism and Sikh Diaspora, called it a misguided campaign, led by a small section of the pro-Khalistan activists in the UK. He said, “Arguments used to justify it are largely bogus. Even if the UK’s Office of National Statistics accepted the Sikhs in an ethnic category, it would have backfired on the Sikh separatists as Sikhs are not a homogeneous community and many will still see their ethnicity as British Asian or Indian.”


The Indian Workers Association of Great Britain, the largest body of Indian workers in the UK believes the demand will lead to a divide in the Indian communities, which have been living in harmony for decades. The move doesn’t have majority Sikh support, says, Lord Indarjit Singh, member of the House of Lords.

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