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No Such Thing As Umbrella Bodies For Sikhs In The Uk - Sikh Federation (Uk)

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No such thing as umbrella bodies for Sikhs In the UK - Sikh Federation (UK)

Responding to an article in the Times of India earlier this week on whether the Sikh Federation (UK) is an umbrella Sikh body. The following press release has been issued and is being sent to several newspapers.

Umbrella bodies for Sikhs and other faith communities in the UK are a thing of the past. These bodies were traditionally encouraged by the UK Government and officials for representational purposes as they liked to deal with one or two community leaders in return for official patronage. The membership/leadership of these organisations has become elitist, often controlled by one or two individuals since being established and often lacking mass support.

Rather than have umbrella Sikh bodies what you currently have is a number of active Sikh organisations with specialist areas of activity e.g. humanitarian aid, heritage, human rights, sexual grooming, raising awareness, political lobbying etc. In addition, you have national organisations with a local and national structure and mass support who regularly organise events and not just hold meetings. This is where the Sikh Federation (UK) stands alone as far as political activity and mass support is concerned.

There is little doubt the Sikh Federation (UK) is one of the most prominent Sikh organisations in the UK. Ask ordinary Sikhs in the UK and abroad, the UK Government, UK Members of Parliament, the mainstream media or even the Indian High Commission in London and they will all confirm the Federation's credentials.

The Sikh Federation (UK) is the only Sikh organisation that has been active in UK and European politics since being established in September 2003, but also regularly hold national programmes in Gurdwaras (monthly) and are capable of attracting thousands if not tens of thousands to events. No other Sikh organisation is comparable and that is why there is often jealousy.

The Sikh Federation (UK) publish an annual highlights booklet and have done this since September 2003 setting out work under three headings These are all on the website: (http://www.sikhfeduk.com/about-us/Reports):

- Building a stronger political voice in the UK and abroad

- Defending and promoting the Sikh identity; and

- Raising awareness and campaigning for human rights

These are consistent with the organisations aims and objectives. No other organisation provides such transparency about its work.

The latest initiative of the Sikh Manifesto, supported by a Sikh Network has many worried. Sikh organisations that have failed to realise the significance of the Sikh Manifesto and Sikh Network, UK politicians and political parties who realise Sikhs mean business and no doubt the Indian government and its supporters. The feedback from ordinary Sikhs and non-Sikhs in the UK and abroad is this is an excellent initiative that others are trying to copy.

Another area where the Sikh Federation (UK) stands out is on social media. Some so-called 'umbrella' Sikh organisations have no Facebook accounts and no twitter accounts. Highlighting they are elitist in structure and showing they lack engagement and support.

Gurjeet Singh

National Press Secretary

Sikh Federation (UK)

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