A view on Sikh leadership from The Sikh Networks Mankamal Singh…..

I have to say that we owe gratitude to the KTV team for exposing to the Sangat the raw dynamics of government engagement, Sikh organisations and the Gurdwaras.

The last 3 nights have been interesting for many Sikhs who feel connected to Sikh matters in the UK as we sit on the edge of our seats listening to revelation after revelation from ill-informed Gurdwara committee members to the manipulation of Covid issues and the toxic legacy default standoffs of some of the appointed Sikh leaders.

To top it up we see how the ambitious and Machiavellian exploit these default relationships to try to wade their way into corridors of power. Not going to go into at as it’s way too much detail and those who don’t know need to catch up, you have a trilogy of 3 nights of live broadcasts from KTV and listening to the animated presenter Jeetha to bring you up to speed!

It has been valuable for the Sikh on the street to get a real insight into how these government “relationships” come about, there is a deep-rooted imperial history to all of this going back to the Gurdwara independence campaigns of the early 20th century.

I have been on and off the block for over a decade and moved through various circles in my journey. In all honesty, I think the last 63 days of lockdown have helped me discover many things sitting at home detached from much of this. I do feel I have had my fair share of good and bad personal experiences to share an opinion or two, may not carry weight but it will certainly ruffle some feathers and it is time to do that in the hope we bring the change required.

I found that in this world the ones who often keep shouting loudly about unity are the ones disguising the wedges they helped create in the first place. Diversions and cover-ups are synonymous in community politics, we like to refer to them as ass-covering. Anyway, things may be bad but never dire enough not to sort out.

I have seen more unity of Gurdwaras and established Sikh Organisations in the past 3 days than in a long time. I am beginning to admire this new generation of younger Gurmat-orientated, Gurbani fluent Sikhs rising the ranks of the Gurdwara administration and now leading a refreshed Sikh Council UK. And it is good for Sangat to start seeing a deep clean of Sikh organisation, isolating the blockers and actually finding out who they really are. We have been waiting for years for this transparency.

Democracy has always been in the hands of those who are “knowledgeable” or “interested” which is rooted in privilege. The cottage industrial approach creating the Sikh OBE/MBE class just reinstates that manufactured privilege heads the Government relationships… or puppets as we fondly call them!

Now we have the disappointment of the Sikh academic being plonked into roles of government consultation. That’s all good and well if the Sikh academics were not continually basking in the glory of their own self-worth, blindly endorsing government narratives or trying to impose their own personalised viewpoints upon the Sikh narrative, they do little to actually support the real Sikh issue on the street other than tweet and retweet. In fact, they all do nothing to take into account the real grass-root issues faced by the Sikhs. I look forward to a new generation of younger informed Sikh students moving into academia to displace the deadwood, but we are a decade away from that.

Unity aside, the newly conceived Sikh organisations simply need to realise they are are just disposable in this “democracy” drama where the government stooges will always land the lead role and they will have to make best being the insignificant sidekicks whose opinion no one really cares about.

The Guru’s Sangat controls the Sikh narrative, the Gurdwaras are run by the Guru’s Sangat and the outcomes will come from the Guru’s Sangat. That is our bigger picture and everything else is window dressing exercise.

UK Sikh Survey 2016 Findings

The UK Sikh Survey 2016 was developed by the Sikh Network and is the largest and most comprehensive ever survey of UK Sikhs. Data and information gathered in the survey will be used to better inform policy and decision making by government departments, other public bodies and political parties to properly address the needs and issues that matter to the British Sikh community.

The Sikh Network is responsible for co-ordinating dialogue with the UK Government on behalf of British Sikhs with respect to the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020. The Sikh Manifesto is an invaluable document to empower the UK Sikh community to engage with UK politicians and political parties and create partnerships with democratic institutions.
To know more about the UK Sikh Survey 2016 please contact the Sikh Network on info@thesikhnetwork.com

For more Information download the file

Historic Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurpurb Event in UK Parliament

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurb (Birthday) was marked with a historic celebration at the Houses of Parliament. The Sikh Network, the Sikh Federation (UK) and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). for British Sikhs organised a befitting evening of celebration, inspiration and recognition. The event was full and attracted many politicians, professionals, business people and media outlets.

Rob Marris, Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs opened followed by Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central. Tom Watson MP provided a warm welcome and recognised the contribution of Sikhs to Britain, he also reiterated his commitment to addressing the lack of Sikh representation in Parliament. Councillor Preet Kaur Gill from Sandwell delivered a moving key note speech on the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his message of equality she also linked the inspiring story of Princess Sophia Suffragette a pioneering Sikh female activist.

Children from the Khalsa Secondary Academy shared their unique personal perspectives on the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, as did senior representatives from interfaith groups including David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, Chair of the Advisory Council on the Relations of Bishops and Religious Communities and Ibrahim Mogra the Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Other speakers included Jas Singh from the Sikh Network, Parmjit Singh Dhanda the first and only Sikh Government Minister, Pete Singh Virdee and Makhan Singh Padda owner of Vicarage Nurseries, whilst the whole event was hosted by Dabinderjit Singh adviser to the Sikh Federation (UK).

The event ended fittingly with a recognition award ceremony, with special contribution awards for Balwinder Kaur Saund, Chair of Sikh Women’s Alliance, Jameen Kaur of Amnesty International for work on Human Rights, Jasveer Singh of Sikh Press Association & Manpreet Singh (Badhni Kalan) the UK reporter of Ajit Newspaper for Media services, Charanjit Singh (popularly known as Chaz Singh) for his Political contribution and Sukhbir Kaur (popularly known as Sukhi Kaur). for tireless Seva behind the scenes. A lifetime achievement award was given to S. Gurmukh Singh. All award winners were. Visibly moved at being recognised at the first Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurb event in the UK Parliament.

Some of the MPs who attended included; Fiona Mactaggart, Pat McFadden, John Spellar, Emma Reynolds, Keith Vaz, Stephen Timms, Kate Green, Seema Malhotra, Marie Rimmer, Jonathan Ashworth, Imran Hussain, Khalid Mahmood, Julian Knight, Bob Blackman. Whilst apologies were received from many others.

Jas Singh from the Sikh Network said “it great to be marking Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Gurpurb in Parliament, as he was not only the founder of the Sikh Faith, but also the first Sikh Activist. As Sikhs around the world celebrate in Gurdwaras, this year we are delighted to be also celebrating it in the UK Parliament, keeping to the Sikh tradition of Miri Piri

A huge amount of effort and work has gone in by the Sikh Network team for this event, but also around the Sikh Manifesto, events like this and previous Women & Politics & PwC Sikhs in Politics events in the last six months really open up and appeal to a wider audience, a key objective of the Network. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback and hope we can attract even more activists to work with us”

The Sikh Network and the Sikh Federation (UK) warmly thank all those who attended and supported this event, especially our sponsors Vicarage Nurseries and the Sikh Channel. Everyone collectively shared Guru Ji’s universal message of One God, Truth, Equality and Activism.

Social media hashtag used for the event was Guru Nanak Dev Ji

Bapu Surat Singh Art Exhibition


Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa, an 82 year old grandfather and human rights activist, who left the comforts and luxuries of his life in the USA behind to peacefully campaign in India to free Sikh political prisoners languishing in Indian jails, many who have served years beyond their original terms. The 16th January 2016 will mark 365 days of his hunger strike, for this humanitarian cause.

During this testing year, Sikhs across the world have been supporting Bapu Surat Singh by holding local protests, signing petitions, social media campaigns, blood drive campaigns and ongoing prayers in their homes and local Gurdwaras as a sign of solidarity and support for the campaign and struggle for Justice in India for religious minorities. Despite having been repeatedly abducted from his home where he was peacefully continuing his protest and taken to nearby hospital where he has been force fed, he has remained steadfast to his promise. Furthermore his children, family members, campaign team members have been threatened, harassed and arrested. It is widely rumoured the Indian authorities even had his son in law was murdered in Chicago to pressure to break Bapu Surat Singh’s resolve. However such attempts including the usual lies and propaganda to discredit him and the cause have all failed and the truth and campaign remain active.

To commemorate this immense personal sacrifice, The Sikh Network in conjunction with Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, and many talented artists and poets, will be presenting an exhibition of Arts at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Smethwick.
Sukhbir Kaur, a member of the Sikh Network and one of the organisers of the event said, “The campaign of Bapu Surat Singh has inspired so many Sikhs and non Sikhs across the world. 365 Days on a hunger strike is an unbelievable sacrifice, and we wanted to mark this occasion in a fitting and appropriate way. What better way, than to hold an art exhibition, where talented individuals can express their sentiments for Bapu Surat Singh and his cause in such a beautiful, artistic and creative way.”

Taran Singh, one of the artists contributing to the exhibition said “I have personally been so moved by Bapu Surat Singh’s plight that I have created a very unique piece of art. It’s a 3D structure of Bapu Surat Singh, which demonstrates his inner strength, resilience and determination for his cause. I hope to present this to his family as a gift.”

The exhibition is free and open to all. It will be taking place from Saturday 16th January 2016 (1pm until 8pm) Sunday 17th January 2016 (11am until 8pm) at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, High St, Smethwick B66 3AP.

UK Sikh Survey



The Sikh Network are delighted to launch the largest and most comprehensive survey of the UK Sikh community. The UK Sikh Survey will map out a much needed analysis of the views, as well as challenges, faced by the Sikh Community in contemporary British Society. The Survey will be based on extensive outreach to gather the opinions of Sikhs across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and will generate new empirical knowledge to current debates on what it means to be a British Sikh.

Specifically, this knowledge will provide the British Sikh community with the tools to effectively communicate its values and aspirations with government and public institutions. This is only made possible because of the survey’s aim to conduct the largest poll of the Sikh community in the UK.

The Survey is completely mobile and tablet friendly and entries are not restricted per device, so please use your phone or computer to complete the Survey for all friends and family over the age of 16, especially those who are not technology savvy.



Sikh manifesto campaign targets 50 key seats in bid to shape election

Sikh groups are looking to shape the 2015 General Election result by targeting 50 key seats as part of a major campaign in support of a ten point manifesto.
The target seats are mainly marginals (please see Notes section below) in which significant proportions of the voting population are Sikh.
Candidates in each of the constituencies are being asked to set out their position, and those of their party, on the manifesto issues.
The campaign and manifesto are being launched today (Saturday 31 January) in London by the Sikh Network and supported by the Sikh Federation (UK).
“The manifesto topics are of such importance to the British Sikh community that the response of parties and candidates to them will determine how many in the community vote,” said Bhai Amrik Singh, Sikh Federation (UK) chair.

“We are making the most of our voting clout through targeting seats and publishing a manifesto for the first time. We are looking for firm commitments from each political party on the big issues.”

This manifesto publication follows a major campaign to engage the Sikh community in its development. 10,000 delegates attended the September 2014 National Sikh Convention in Wolverhampton over three days, where the issues were debated and the manifesto content developed.

Tens of thousands of Sikhs marched in London in June 2014 to commemorate the 1984 Amritsar massacre and support calls, repeated in the manifesto, for an independent enquiry into UK Government involvement.

“For the purposes of supporting the Sikh Manifesto we have drawn a line at the 50 target seats,” added Bhai Amrik Singh.
“There are however other marginal seats, such as, Nuneaton and Manchester, Withington where the local Sikh vote although relatively small will matter. In addition, there also numerous safe seats, such as Birmingham, Selly Oak; Ealing Central & Acton; Huddersfield; Leicester South; Ealing North; Birmingham, Ladywood; East Ham and Barking that each have thousands of Sikh voters who cannot be ignored.”

The manifesto includes calls for:

  • A statutory code of practice on items of the Sikh faith in order to prevent discrimination in the workplace and public spaces
  • An independent inquiry into the actions of the British Government in relation to the Amritsar and Delhi massacres of 1984
  • Allocation of a suitable site in central London for a permanent monument to Sikh’s who lost their lives in the First World War
  • More effective Sikh representation in the Houses of Parliament

Representatives from all 250 UK Gurdwaras (temples) and UK Sikh organisations are expected to attend the manifesto launch. Party leaders, MPs and candidates from the 50 seats have also been informed of the launch. Those at the launch will hear from speakers from each of the main parties.

Party leaders have responded with messages of support for the manifesto.
Labour’s Ed Miliband said: “I think the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020, written by the Sikh Federation UK demonstrates the commitment of British Sikhs to be actively involved with the political process, and is a great way of empowering the British Sikh community.”

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg said: “The British Sikh community’s energy and devotion in campaigning to drive forward our shared values of fairness, compassion and tolerance is a priceless contribution to the modern Britain we live in today. The Sikh Manifesto 2015 – 2020 is a further example of this conscientious commitment. I warmly welcome the Sikh Federation’s ambition to encourage the British Sikh community to engage with politics at all levels and I congratulate the Federation for all the hard work it has already done to increase the awareness and importance of social and political activism within the British Sikh community.”

A message of support from the Prime Minister, David Cameron is expected on the eve of the launch.

Jas Singh on behalf of the Sikh Network
07977 700800,

Notes to editors
The British Sikh community will be launching the Sikh Manifesto 2015-2020 at Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Havelock Road, Southall, the largest Gurdwara (temple) in the UK, between 11.30am and 1.30pm on Saturday 31 January.

This will be followed by an event at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, High Street, Smethwick, the second oldest Gurdwara in the UK, on Saturday 14 February between 1-3pm and concluding with an event in the Attlee Suite in Portcullis House on Thursday 26 February between 3-5pm.

The target seats:

  Constituency Majority
1. *Wolverhampton South West (Con) 691
2. Brentford & Isleworth (Con) 1,958
3. North Warwickshire (Con) 54
4. Solihull (LD) 175
5. Derby North (Lab) 613
6. Walsall North (Lab) 990
7. Walsall South (Lab) 1,755
8. Bradford East (LD) 365
9. Warwick & Leamington (Con) 1,513
10. Birmingham, Edgbaston (Lab) 1,274
11. Dudley North (Lab) 649
12. Feltham & Heston (Lab) 4,658
13. Slough (Lab) 5,523
14. Bedford (Con) 1,353
15. Wolverhampton North East (Lab) 2,484
16. Ealing, Southall (Lab) 9,294
17. Thurrock (Con) 92
18. Broxtowe (Con) 389
19. Southampton, Itchen (Lab) 192
20. Stockton South (Con) 332
21. Hendon (Con) 106
22. Hampstead & Kilburn (Lab) 42
23. Wolverhampton South East (Lab) 6,593
24. West Bromwich East (Lab) 6,696
25. Telford (Lab) 978
26. Coventry South (Lab) 3,845
27. Cardiff North (Con) 194
28. Hayes & Harlington (Lab) 10,824
29. Sherwood (Con) 214
30. Warley (Lab) 10,756
31. Ilford South (Lab) 11,287
32. Derby South (Lab) 6,122
33. West Bromwich West (Lab) 5,651
34. Gravesham (Con) 9,321
35. Nottingham South (Lab) 1,722
36. Leeds North East (Lab) 4,545
37. Southampton, Test (Lab) 2,413
38. Ilford North (Con) 5,404
39. Birmingham, Perry Barr (Lab) 11,908
40. Norwich South (LD) 310
41. Coventry North West (Lab) 6,288
42. Birmingham, Yardley (LD) 3,002
43. Harborough (Con) 9,797
44. Eltham (Lab) 1,663
45. Coventry North East (Lab) 11,775
46. Leicester East (Lab) 14,082
47. Harrow West (Lab) 3,143
48. Erith & Thamesmead (Lab) 5,703
49. Leicester West (Lab) 4,017
50. Luton South (Lab) 2,329

In Wolverhampton South West, for example, Paul Uppal has a majority of 691 and there are around 6,000 Sikh voters.

The sikh manifesto and sikh vote

On 7 May we will see one of the most fascinating outcomes of a General Election in recent British history. With a week to go the only thing that appears certain is there will be no clear winner and the SNP will be the third largest party with huge influence.

The SNP will be the clear winners and dominate in Scotland. However, the size of their victory will also have massive implications in determining the way we are governed in Westminster and some of the policies that will be implemented.

Almost half a million voters registered in the final hours before the voter registration deadline last week, but millions still remain disillusioned, do not trust politicians and may simply decide not to vote.

The revelations in January 2014 that the Thatcher led government in 1984 had provided military assistance to attack the Sikhs’ holiest shrine in Amritsar that resulted in the Genocide of thousands of innocent Sikh pilgrims sent shockwaves through the community. There was a genuine risk many British Sikhs sickened with the actions of the UK Government 30 years ago would join those disengaged with British politics and the main political parties.

However, the Sikh Federation (UK) often described as the one and only Sikh political party stepped up to the mark and built a cross party alliance of over 200 politicians from across the political spectrum calling for an independent public inquiry. But further revelations on how India had successfully influenced the UK Government to curb democratic British Sikh activities following the 1984 Sikh Genocide suggested the need for a permanent paradigm shift in British government thinking and policy towards the Sikhs.

Any future UK Government needed to recognise and appreciate the immense past and present Sikh contribution, the community being a role model in terms of integration whilst maintaining a distinct separate identity and address undisputable and specific Sikh concerns. The outcome was the formation of the Sikh Network tasked with developing the Sikh Manifesto.

The Sikh Network is a collective of over 1,100 Sikh activists from existing Sikh organisations, youth groups, human rights and political activists, lawyers, academics, researchers, journalists, public sector professionals, management consultants, marketing/PR professionals, charity workers and students. The Sikh Manifesto has identified real community issues that resonate and Sikhs have been encouraged to raise and openly discuss them with candidates. Some of the issues are also larger UK society wide issues of broader interest to politicians. The manifesto was produced and launched in January 2015 to empower the Sikh community, engage with all the political parties and convince candidates the Sikh vote of around half a million matters more than ever.

Around 300 candidates from all the main political parties have actively engaged with the Sikh Manifesto and many have provided positive feedback and indicated their support for a number of the issues. Interestingly Nicola Sturgeon, the SP leader, was the first political leader to meet the Sikh Federation (UK) and give her backing to the key issues set out in the Sikh Manifesto.

The Sikhs are predicted to have one of the highest voter turnouts on 7 May at around 80% and have been identified by both the main parties as a target community. However unlike previous years, the Sikh community are better prepared. With a week to go Ed Miliband is under immense pressure to try and secure the Sikh vote which can no longer be taken for granted as David Cameron and the Conservatives have tried to put the 1984 issue behind them and appeal to Sikh voters. If Ed Miliband is bold and clarifies what the Labour Party will do with respect to the Sikh Manifesto he will be doing many Labour hopefuls a favour as 85% of them have confirmed with the Sikh Federation (UK) that they support nine or more of the issues. Over 50% have gone as far as to support the most debatable item of applicability of self determination to the Sikhs.

There are around 15-20 seats that Labour hope to gain where the Sikh vote really matters. The Labour leadership need to decide if they believe they can gamble that Sikhs will vote for them as their candidates have been very supportive or if they need to make specific promises with respect to the Sikh Manifesto.

The 10 key areas (not in any priority order) in the Sikh Manifesto are:

1. More effective representation in Parliament
2. Separate ethnic monitoring of Sikhs
3. Statutory code of practice on the 5ks and Sikh turban
4. Action against perpetrators of grooming and forced conversions
5. Network of state funded Sikh ethos schools
6. Monument in London to highlight Sikh sacrifices in the First World War
7. Independent public inquiry into UK Government actions in the lead up to and after the 1984 Sikh Genocide
8. Pressure on France to stop discrimination against turban wearing Sikhs
9. UN-led inquiry into the 1984 Sikh Genocide
10. Application of self determination to the Sikhs

Thousands of copies of the Sikh Manifesto have been distributed over the Vaisakhi celebrations across the UK and both David Cameron and Ed Miliband have been personally handed copies. Several political hustings focused on the Sikh Manifesto have taken place. The Sikh community have been very clear to politicians, that only action on key Sikh issues will secure votes

The Sikh Network with the help of the Sikh Federation (UK) is developing a regional infrastructure across the UK that will have the capacity to reach over 300 MPs through active Sikh constituents after the 8 May. The network will be responsible for the strategic direction and measuring progress over the next five years against the issues set out in the Sikh Manifesto with existing organisations best placed taking forward specific items.

Link to the Sikh Manifesto is at: http://www.thesikhnetwork.com/sikhmanifesto.php?id=1

Women in politics’ launched by the sikh network and sandwell

The Sikh Network held the first Women in politics event Saturday 3rd October at Sandwell Council Chambers. The attendance at the event which was fully booked, indicated a need to engage more women and especially those from underrepresented groups to have an opportunity to participate in politics at a locally and national level.

The Sikh Manifesto produced by the Sikh Network earlier this year addressed the need for effective representation in Parliament for Sikhs. The objective of this event was to take this section forward an d to inspire women to engage with politics by becoming members, campaigning, and pursuing careers as Cllrs, future MPs and MEP’s by providing insight to the political issues, processes and life from the perspective of successful women at all levels.

The panel of women speakers represented all levels of the political system, including a local councillor, a Member of Parliament, a Member of the European Parliament and a Member of the House of Lords, all with cross party representation. They each shared their personal journeys, barriers, support and inspirations with the audience, urging and encouraging greater engagement from women.

Kate Willoughby from Emily matters inspired and captured the audiences as she read a speech of suffragette Emily Davison, while Jess Philips, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, talked about ‘women standing up for women’s issues’ and having the strength to stand up and be counted.

Also in attendance was Suria Photay – the Conservative candidate in Wolverhampton South East in the last election, Baroness Lorely Burt – former Liberal Democrat MP from Solihull and Nina Gill one of the Labour MEPs from the West Midlands. The event was hosted by Cllr Preet Kaur Gill who is a Labour Cllr in Sandwell and a member of the core group of the Sikh Network.

The event also included interactive workshops where delegates were split into working groups and each give a relevant key political topic to discuss and present a fresh party perspective to the group.

Event organiser Manjit Kaur Kang said

“All those that attended were very impressed and positive about the event but stressed a demand for more of these events as women are not pushed or encouraged enough to have a career in politics. Given the instrumental and equal role Sikh Women have played throughout our history, we have a greater duty and obligation to break away from these stereotypes and stand up for issues that matter to us all”.