Where Unity Is Strength

The Judiciary of England and Wales and the Ministry of Justice are encouraging people from all walks of life and different faiths to apply to become magistrates, to help keep their communities safer. The campaign is also part of efforts to make the magistracy better reflect the diversity of British society today.

Statistics on the diversity of the magistracy in England and Wales over the last five years show an increase in magistrates from underrepresented groups. This includes people aged under 50 (currently 18% of the local judiciary), people from an ethnic minority background (currently 13% of the local judiciary) and women (around 57% of the magistracy).

Although this is a step in the right direction, there is still further to go to ensure that the magistracy is representative of all communities that it serves. This includes the Sikh community, which accounts for over 524,000 people in England and Wales.

What is a magistrate?

A magistrate is a volunteer that sits in criminal, family and/or youth courts. Magistrates often work closely in groups of three alongside a legal adviser who provides expertise on matters of law, practice and procedure. No legal qualifications or experience are needed to join the bench. All volunteers are given training and legal support to reach decisions on cases.

Anyone between the ages of 18 to 74 who are able to commit to at least 13 days a year for at least five years can volunteer as a magistrate. As part of the bench, you will have the opportunity to learn new skills, enjoy new challenges and become part of a network of other magistrates within your community.

Sikh magistrates have stepped forward to discuss the many benefits that the role has bought to their lives and the different skills they have gained.

Baljit, Derbyshire

Baljit, from Derby, is a Learning Consultant at E.ON . She has been a magistrate for over five years. She applied for the role because she wanted to give back to her local community. Being of Indian heritage, she wanted to ensure greater representation in the magistracy.

On her role as a magistrate, Baljit said: “Being a part of the magistracy is a great learning experience. I’ve discovered so much about myself and about people with different backgrounds to my own. The role is a real eye-opener and encourages you to look at a situation from different perspectives before making a decision – an invaluable skill. You don’t need any legal background or experience as you are fully supported by legal advisers to help with the decision-making process. If you’re interested in helping others within your community, I would urge you to apply.”

Pam, Walsall

Pam from Walsall works as a Regional Enterprise Director at NatWest and has been a magistrate for over seven years. She joined as she is passionate about diversity and inclusion, and wanted to help contribute to a more diverse bench.

On her role as a magistrate, Pam said: “One of the highlights of the role for me is knowing you are supporting the community and paying it forward. It is also very rewarding knowing you have made a difference to someone at a critical time in their life. If you’re interested in creating positive change in society while learning new skills, I urge you to apply to join the magistracy today.”

Justice Minister Mike Freer said: “Ordinary people up and down the country play a vital role as magistrates help to ensure that crimes in their community are penalised, and we want more people to join them.

I am always impressed by the people I meet who volunteer their time and experience from all walks of life and I would encourage anyone with a desire to help victims get justice to apply.”

As part of the application to sit in the criminal court, applicants are required to observe at least two magistrates’ sittings in court. This is an opportunity to learn more about the role and see magistrates in action.  Cases heard in the magistrates’ court can include domestic abuse, drug offences, motoring offences, theft, assaults, criminal damage and public order offences.

Family court hearings are heard in private so public observations are not possible. To apply to sit in the family court, applicants must complete research into the family court. This may include watching videos and reading information found on icanbeamagistrate.co.uk. Family court magistrates can have a significant impact on a child’s life and a family’s future. They make decisions that affect vulnerable children, such as enforcing child maintenance orders and protecting children subject to significant harm, so they move to a safe environment.

Magistrates typically develop highly transferrable skills such as critical analysis, complex problem-solving, mediation, influencing and decision-making, all of which stand to benefit them in their wider lives. Research conducted in 2021 by the Ministry of Justice among HR and business leaders showed people who volunteer as magistrates were likely to have sound judgement (89%) and effective decision-making (81%).

Anyone who is looking to volunteer can apply at icanbeamagistrate.co.uk


Any study of Sikh teachings and Sikh history will show that the Gurus’ teachings differ from other religions in that, while giving advice on responsible living, they also reach out to recognise important commonalities between faiths.

Sikh teachings emphasise ‘sarbat ka bhalla,’ looking to the wellbeing of all members of our one human family. The far-sighted teachings of our Gurus predate, by some four centuries, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drawn up in the aftermath of the Second World war, as essential for the survival of what the Declaration also terms, our one human family.

Sikhism is a religion that is open to all, not only for personal improvement, but also with a commitment to work for the wellbeing of wider society. It has nothing whatever to do with ethnicity, which by definition refers to transient differences in social and cultural practices.

Why the obsession with ethnicity among some Sikhs?

The Mandla Case

In the early eighties, a Sikh schoolboy was sent home from school on the grounds that wearing a turban was against the school rules. The turban was a religious symbol and under the 1976 Race Relations Act religious discrimination was perfectly legal.

Ethnicity however was a protected characteristic. I advised the then Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) that as most Sikhs then in the UK were born in the Punjab, we had a good chance of winning protection on the grounds of Punjabi ethnic origin. We won protection of Sikh religious identity through the loophole of ethnicity.

Today, the loophole of Punjabi ethnicity would not apply as most Sikhs in the UK were born in the UK. Nor is it necessary because discrimination against religion is now against the law.

Ethnicity and the 2021 Census

Cynically ignoring the Gurus’ teachings on the oneness of our human family, the Sikh Federation UK have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds, promoting themselves as defenders of an exclusive Sikh ethnicity, ignoring the fact that religious belief has nothing to do with ethnic origin. We have asked the SFUK how much exactly was spend and what proportion of these funds were donated by the sangat, but they gave not responded to us. Gurdwaras in places like Wolverhampton and Southampton have been depleted of gurdwara funds.

Sikh responses in the 2021 Census

Sikh responses showed that the UK Sikh community totally rejected SFUK’s attempt to conflate ethnicity with religious identity. 99.7% of Sikhs confirmed their commitment to Sikhism.

Only 0.3% – 1,725 identified with ethnicity alone, rather than with Sikhism, as a faith. Of this group, more than half did not record their religion, 13.6 per cent said they were Muslim, 8.7 per cent Christian, and 12 per cent no religion.

Points from a discussion of Census findings on Punjab Broadcasting Channel (PBC)  ‘Think Tank’ chaired by Dr Gurnam Singh – 26th Dec 2023

  • Dabinderjit Singh (who likes to pluck figures from the air) – stated the ONS was wrong in recording the UK Sikh population to be some 526,000. It is, he maintained, nearer to 900,000.
  • Dr Jasdev Rai acknowledged that the SFUK’s campaign to declare Sikhs an ethnic group had come to a ‘dead end.’ However, his cunning plan was to say that Sikhs are not members of a religion but, a ‘quam’ or ‘dharam’ and, as that these words have no English translation, he maintained, with Baldrick logic, Sikhs should be given a special status.
  • Dabinderjit Singh, who supports the SFUK’s claim on Sikh ethnicity with the Mandla case (which was decided in part on the premise that most Sikhs at the time of the ruling were born in Punjab), went on to contradict SFUK’s central argument for separate Sikh ethnicity, by also stating 3/4 of UK Sikhs in the 2021 Census were born in the UK.
  • Dr Jasdev Rai, setting aside his own ‘think tank’ credentials, claimed that intellectuals were responsible for all the problems in the Sikh community.
  • Dabinderjit Singh when challenged by S Gurnam Singh, said he would be happy to give a full account of the spending (of what is reported to be over one hundred thousand pounds for one judicial review alone[i] – there were three) in campaigning and litigation for a Sikh ethnic tick box. He then went on a peculiar tangent and asked how much the NSO had spent in promoting Punjabi ethnicity.

NSO Comment: The NSO have consistently stated that Sikhism is a world religion open to all and not limited by ethnicity. We have not spent a single penny promoting Punjabi ethnicity.

Given Dabinderjit Singh agreed to disclose the legal costs involved, can the British Sikh community now have the full details of SFUK’s spending in relation to three judicial reviews on their claim that Sikhs are a separate ethnic group?

[i] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/sikhs-lose-court-battle-to-get-recorded-as-ethnic-group-in-next-uk-census/articleshow/79088035.cms?from=mdr

Oxford Union Debate 23-11-23

Lord Singh of Wimbledon – Opposing the Motion ‘This House Believes That God Is A Delusion’

Madam President, Ladies and Gentlemen.

What strikes me most about the motion before the House, and the arguments made for it, is the arrogant assumption, that because some do not understand or agree with what religions say about God, the idea of God must be a delusion.

In opposing the motion, I do however have some sympathy for those unhappy with the way God is described in Abrahamic religious texts, and how this has been used to divide what Sikhs see as our one human family.   

God, the creative force behind all that exists, is shown in Abrahamic texts as a sort of elderly male with superhuman powers, who also has very human failings of jealousy, anger, and favouritism. God is shown to benevolently overlook the misdeeds of some, while, vindictively punishing those not favoured by him, consigning them to, everlasting suffering in the blistering heat of Hell. Some texts take this further, suggesting that skin burnt by the heat will re-grow, and be burnt again to inflict further continuing punishment. The reward for those God favours, is everlasting bliss in a place called heaven-where Muslims men enjoy some added extras.

Members of the Abrahamic faiths, and their various subsects, each claim that they are God’s favourites, the chosen people, leading to horrendous conflict and unbelievable atrocities between sister faiths as seen in Gaza and other parts of the Middle East today. When asked to comment on God creating man in his own image, the philosopher Voltaire wryly commented – it is we who have created God in our image.

The portrayal of God as a being who inflicts dire punishment for supposed bad behaviour, was used in a more superstitious past, as what Conrad describes as ‘a constables handbook’ to scare people to lawful and responsible behaviour, but is widely ignored today.

This view of God is a million miles removed from the Sikh concept of God being the name given to the unknowable creative force behind all that exits. Some here today, will bristle at my suggestion that some things are beyond our understanding. They will argue, that if they cannot understand the idea of God as a creative force beyond our comprehension, the very idea of God is a delusion. The renowned scientist Isaac Newton was more modest when he said, ‘my achievements are no more than playing with a few pebbles on the shore, while a vast ocean of knowledge lies before me undiscovered’. The scientist JB Haldane put it even more succinctly when he said, ‘the universe is not only more complex than we suppose, but more complex than we can suppose’.

The teachings of Guru Nanak on our inability to fully understand the nature of God, the creator or creative force behind all that exists, are in line with the views of these famous scientists.

In the opening lines of the Sikh scriptures, Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, writes:

There is one God

The creator of all that exists,

The ultimate truth and reality

Beyond emotions of fear and enmity

Beyond time, birth, gender, or human frailty

For Sikhs the aim of life is not to seek salvation, but simply to live in harmony with what we call hukam, or ‘the will of God’. Sikh teachings require honest living, standing up against injustice, rejecting all notions of race or religious superiority, recognising gender equality and, in the closing words of our daily prayer, ‘working for the wellbeing of all humanity’.

Shakespeare also recognised the importance of living in consonance with what Sikhs call the will of God. in Julius Caesar, he refers to what Sikhs call hukam as a tide, saying:  

There is a tide in the affairs of men.

Which taken at the flood leads onto fortune

Omitted, all the voyages of their lives.

Are bound in shallows and miseries.

Sikhism does not believe in afterlife punishment or reward, but simply in our responsibility to leave the world a better place for our having lived.

Coming back to the motion before this House, I again quote Shakespeare, with Hamlet reminding Horatio, that ‘there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamt of in your philosophy’.

Unless like the clever Mr Toad, you believe, we know all there is to be known; and are prepared to forget the unbreakable scientific link between cause and effect, and irrationally believe in the absurdity, that at first there was nothing, and then suddenly, without cause, it all exploded to create infinite time space and matter, we have to accept the existence of a power or force beyond our comprehension that Sikhs refer to as God.

I therefore urge you to vote against the motion that God, the creative force behind all that exists is a delusion.

Sikhs In Law is a group of self-selected lawyers with no longstanding record of involvement in the affairs of the Sikh community, or legal standing in the judiciary. Despite a lack of knowledge of the Sikh religion, and religion more generally, it appointed a ‘Select Committee’ to look at the Bloom Review and report its findings at a meeting in the House of Lords on 19 July 2023.

The group, seemingly obsessed with its own self-importance, referred to itself as ‘The Honourable Council’, and absurdly asked those present in the room to stand as they entered the room, as if they were judges in a court of law.

The presentation that followed was deeply disappointing and at times embarrassing. We had been led to believe that we would be presented with an objective analysis of the Bloom Review.  But no, Bloom was in the dock. Here is a flavour of what the attorney for the prosecution had to say:

  • Bloom is a Christian, and worse, a Conservative Christian.
  • He has no academic qualification to talk about religion – Comment: Jesus Christ and Guru Nanak were similarly unqualified.
  • He refers to wolves in sheep’s clothing. Totally inappropriate Christian language to describe some Sikhs who pretend to work for the good of the Sikh community, but who are, concerned only about themselves.
  • Worse, the ‘Select Committee’ displaying its own lack of religious literacy, makes the observation that: ‘Bloom ignores this at his peril’ that there are profound differences between the Judeo-Christian religions and Eastern religions – so, ‘his Review is fundamentally flawed from its very inception’.

Comment – It is difficult to believe that members of this ‘Select Committee’ (comprising of Sikhs) know so little of Sikh teachings. Verses of Muslim saints are included in the Guru Granth Sahib to illustrate similar truths between faiths.              

Moving away from the above examples of bias and ignorance, (there are many more), let us look at excuses made for what Bloom rightly describes unjustifiable behaviour that brings the community into disrepute.

  • Violent demonstrations. ‘Select Committee’ observation: – British values allow freedom of speech.
  • Abuse, threats and even violence towards individuals – ignored by the ‘Select Committee’.
  • Preet Gill MP on the instigation of her advisers in the Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) making a complaint to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, of rude and aggressive behaviour towards her by Lord Singh in front of an ONS officer. The ONS officer in his evidence said the accusation was false and Lord Singh had been characteristically polite during the discussion. The ‘Select Committee’, instead of condemning Ms Gill’s behaviour, appears to have excused it, because the Commissioner for Standards had taken no action against her.
  • For the record, Preet Gill MP took out a second complaint against Lord Singh for daring to question the SFUK’s behaviour. She appears to have helped persuade one of her staff to take out a claim of bullying behaviour against Lord Singh. Again, the complaint was thrown out.
  • Lord Singh could have taken action against Ms Gill for malicious attempts to harm his character. He declined to do so because he had better things to do, and because he felt Ms Gill, with little knowledge of the Sikh religion, had been naïve and pressurised by the SFUK, who were angry with Lord Singh for maintaining that Sikhs were members of a world religion, not ethnically confined to Punjab.    

Network of Sikh Organisations

Yesterday, the NSO responded to some tweets referring to the Bloom report. One from Jasveer Singh suggested ‘Lord Singh of Wimbledon allowing the govt to label Sikhs “extremists”‘. This is a false and totally unfounded allegation. It shows a clear ignorance of what transpired.

To set the record straight, the Bloom report included a redacted quote from the Commissioner for Standards investigation (2021) into a malicious and failed complaint made by Preet Gill MP (a prominent Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) supporter) against Lord Singh. Lord Singh was not a respondent to the Bloom inquiry, nor was he interviewed, or contributed in any other way. Ms Gill’s malicious complaint, which was categorically rejected, is available for all to see in the public domain and can be read and cited by anyone. We do not have any control on that, and any suggestion that we do, is frankly absurd. Yes, Bloom used a redacted version of the quote as an example of how SFUK supporters treat people who disagree with them. It’s nasty, vindictive, and malicious behaviour – to steal a phrase from Bloom, one may even say ‘subversive’, but Lord Singh isn’t alone. During SFUK’s Sikh ‘ethnic’ tick box campaign respected academic Dr Jhutti-Johal from the University of Birmingham, (another prominent opponent of the campaign) was treated appallingly by SFUK and their allies.

Another Tweeter – SFUK supporter Sukhvinder Padda, yesterday tweeted a ‘Spokesperson for NSO on a Zoom meeting supported the report and the notion of make believers a term coined by Bloom for those supporting Khalistan or extremism’s’. Firstly, Sukhvinder Padda is the same person who issued an apology in 2015 for a libel against Lord Singh. One of our Deputy-Director’s, Hardeep Singh, did indeed attend the Religion Media Centre briefing Zoom call with Colin Bloom. He consciously attended this in his personal capacity as an independent commentator and journalist. His frankly innocuous question was in relation to a separate briefing from Bloom, which categorised people more broadly into hypothetical categories ‘True Believers’, ‘Non-Believers’ and ‘Make-Believers’. He did not mention any group or individual, and simply asked what the community can do to help government distinguish between the said hypothetical categories. He also made it clear that he’d not had the opportunity to ‘digest’ the report in full – let alone endorse or ‘support’ it as has been falsely claimed. He made no mention whatsoever of ‘Khalistan’ or those advocating for it. Padda’s interpretation of this innocuous preamble and question, is at total odds with what transpired and is another example of misinformation. Notably, Bloom’s response to Hardeep’s question included the words, ‘the British Sikh community are just outstanding, and some of the best people we have in the UK.’

We hope the misinformation being propagated on social media comes to a halt, and members of the Sikh community can engage in what is an important and highly sensitive matter for them, with both respect and decorum. Yesterday, the Times of India asked Lord Singh for a quote on Bloom in which he said Sikh extremism, ‘appears to have been magnified somewhat’ and ‘recent government statistics on the religion of terrorists or extremists in British prisons indicate none who identify as Sikh’.

Last night, Jasveer Singh published an apology to Lord Singh, which read, ‘I apologise to Lord Singh of @SikhMessenger for saying he’s allowed Sikhs to be labelled ‘Sikh extremism’ in the Bloom review. Since I said that, he’s said the report “magnified” Sikh extremism, also highlighting no Sikh is in UK prison for terror/extremism.’

FAO: The Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department

As UK faith representatives, we support the ongoing efforts of Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who, in the face of some considerable hostility, has courageously spoken out about the over representation of British Pakistani men in sex grooming gangs operating around the UK. The evidence contained within a number of independent inquiries – Rotherham, Telford, and Rochdale support her position on what is indeed a sensitive and difficult matter.

We as faith communities want the government to acknowledge one of the motivations behind these gangs. We believe evidence points to an inconvenient truth. That is: non-Muslim girls (this includes Sikh, Hindu, and White Christian girls) have been systematically targeted in Britain due to a form of religiously and racially motivated hatred. We believe the ‘othering’ of these victims should be considered as an aggravating factor for the purposes of sentence uplift when perpetrators are brought to justice.  

We support Baroness Warsi’s previous position when she said, “a small minority” of Pakistani men see white girls as “fair game” and ask the government to help the Pakistani Muslim community tackle this stain on an otherwise majority law-abiding community.

A Rotherham survivor has confirmed she was targeted for being a ‘white slag’ and because she was ‘non-Muslim’. Judge Gerald Clifton who sentenced men in Rochdale in 2012, made a similar observation in sentencing remarks. He said the Muslim men had targeted their victims because they were not part of the offenders’ ‘community or religion.’

British Sikh and Hindu communities have been complaining about Pakistani grooming gangs since the 1980’s, prior to high-profile cases like Rotherham, Telford, and Rochdale, but complaints have fallen on deaf ears. A television report on BBC1’s Inside Out programme in 2013 was the first high profile media to cover the targeting of Sikh girls, as was coverage in the Times following sentencing of men in Leicester. In recent years Hindu and Sikh community groups have attempted to highlight the targeting of girls within their communities. Despite the BBC interviewing them in 2018, a proposed television report on the issue, was pulled for what we assume to be fear of offending the Muslim community.

The unfortunate consequence of government and police inaction in protecting victims is the hate filled narrative of far-right groups, who maliciously and falsely label all Pakistani Muslim men as ‘groomers’. We can’t allow them to hijack the debate with their poisonous and divisive message, nor can we allow political correctness to stifle obtaining justice for victims by addressing the actions of a minority. Indeed, police failures in protecting young girls from grooming gangs has also contributed to rising community tensions in the UK and has negatively impacted social cohesion.

Although it is good that the ethnicity of offenders is now being recorded, we believe the racial and religious-based motivations behind a significant proportion of perpetrators sentenced in places like Telford, Rotherham, Rochdale – needs to be further explored and openly discussed. Victims deserve justice and deserve to be heard. The first step is being able to discuss the various motivations behind this pattern of criminality freely and fearlessly. Discussion should not be censored by fear of being labelled ‘racist’ or ‘Islamophobic’.  We the undersigned therefore unequivocally support the Home Secretary’s brave and principled stand in addressing this serious issue.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon, Director, Network of Sikh Organisations

Mohan Singh Khalsa, The Sikh Awareness Society UK 

Dal Singh Dhesi, The Sikh Youth Movement UK  

Anil Bhanot OBE, Interfaith Relations Director, Hindu Council UK 

Pt Satish K Sharma MBCS FRSA, Director, Global Hindu Federation  

Vinod Popat, The British Hindu Voice, Hindu Community Organisations Group 

Ashish Joshi, The Media Monitoring Group UK

It is well documented and admitted by the BBC that they tried to prevent our Director, Lord Singh, speaking on Thought for the Day (TFTD) about Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith. He was also pressurised to minimise the contribution of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in promoting harmony and respect between faiths. Unbelievably, after a script of a talk on the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur had been agreed with the producer of the day, he was asked late in the evening to scrap it and talk about something else. He stood his ground and said that freedom of belief was important to the world of today, and he made it clear that if he was not allowed to talk about Guru Tegh Bahadur, there would be an empty chair in the studio next morning. Faced with this, the producer agreed to the talk going ahead. It was well received.

Our Director complained about the above, and other attempts to belittle Sikh teachings, and in the absence of an assurance that this would stop, he left the TFTD slot after 35 years of broadcasting which won him acclaim from all sections of society. His departure made front page news in the Times and was also the subject of an editorial highly critical of the BBC attempt to censor the tolerant and compassionate contributions of a nationally recognised broadcaster. Thousands of Sikhs signed a petition protesting the BBC attack on Sikh teachings, but to no avail.

Jasvir Singh, an occasional presenter on TFTD chose to remain silent during this flagrant attack on Sikh teachings. He was duly rewarded for his loyalty to the BBC, and made ‘the main Sikh contributor’ on TFTD. The BBC have now rewarded his silence during the attack on foundational Sikh teachings, giving him coverage on the BBC Radio 4 programme – Beyond Belief. They have promoted Jasvir’s gay identity and civil marriage to a non-Sikh. Jasvir tells the BBC that he and his husband received a blessing from a granthi, but went on, ‘could we get married in a gurdwara, sadly the answer was no’, indicating that’s what the couple had intended. The presenter then asks, ‘so why couldn’t Jasvir and his husband Nick have a wedding they wanted within the faith tradition that means so much to Jasvir?’

Sikhism does not condemn homosexuality and Jasvir is of course entitled to choose his lifestyle, but its peculiar that the BBC have described him as a ‘devout Sikh’. This is because Sikhism teaches the Sikh marriage ceremony or Anand Karaj, should be between a man and a woman for their mutual wellbeing, the upbringing of children, and service to the wider community. The Anand Karaj is not an inter-faith or same-sex ceremony.

It is a matter of real concern that after our Director presented the above view of marriage in Sikhism, with appropriate scriptural references to the BBC, it vainly sought others in the community who were unable to effectively articulate that Jasvir’s position on the Anand Karaj ceremony is not consistent with Sikh teachings. Whilst we condemn the threats that Jasvir has received for his sexuality from a fringe minority, Sikh teachings on Anand-Karaj are clear.

Urgent need

Religious broadcasting must have safeguards against attempts by Christian or other producers to belittle, smear or trivialise the teachings of other faiths. There is an urgent need for an Advisory Body to ensure personal prejudices of producers are not allowed to dilute mainstream teachings of other faiths, which should be respectfully and accurately presented in religious broadcasting.

Indarjit Singh, or Lord Singh of Wimbledon is widely recognised as the de-facto leader of Britain’s Sikh community. When being introduced by the British Ambassador to Estonia, he was referred to as ‘the man who brought Guru Nanak to the Breakfast tables of Britain’, for his inspiring broadcasts on BBC Radio 4. But what’s the story behind Singh’s journey towards faith leadership? From Where I Stand reveals how his newly qualified father, Dr Diwan Singh, rallied against British rule in India, by bandaging up Sikh protestors pledged to non-violence, being beaten by police. It was, a selfless and courageous act, which led to the family’s eventual exile from Punjab to Britain. After gaining further medical qualifications Diwan Singh set up as a general practitioner overcoming prejudice of a pre-war Britain. His dynamism led him to become president of one of Britain’s first Sikh temples in Shepherds Bush, London, as well as a leading figure in the movement for India’s freedom from British Imperialism. He was popular amongst Hindu, Sikhs and Muslims – the Singh family had distinguished guests meet them at home, not least Krishna Menon who became India’s first High Commissioner to the UK after independence in 1947; and Udham Singh who later famously took revenge for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.

Indarjit, one of 4 siblings (along with his elder brothers Gurbachan, Surinder and younger brother Jagjit), was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps of leadership. As a child growing up in wartime Britain, Indarjit was rebellious from the start. On his first day at school, he chose to avoid walking up the stairs, choosing to climb up a sandy adjacent slope – to the chagrin of his teacher and parents. During VE celebrations he went to the green grocer’s shop owned by a Mr V Pendry (a name he later used as an alias for his writing criticising the actions of the then Indian government). Referring to a 13-year-old Indarjit, the shopkeeper said, ‘you lot must be Germans because you’re not celebrating’, to which Indarjit responded in his best German accent ‘Ja’, eliciting raucous laughter amongst customers in the shop. This early sense of humour became a characteristic trait.

From Where I Stand is punctuated with seminal moments, like the time he met Kanwaljit (Lady Singh of Wimbledon) visited the pyramids of Egypt on camelback whilst on honeymoon, and the birth of the couple’s daughters. It follows his distinguished career in the mining industry. He then worked for the contractor Costain whilst also studying for an MBA. He then moved to the ‘people’s republic’ of Hackney as a management consultant. The book reveals Singh’s politics were neither left nor right, despite Bernard Weatherill MP (who later become Speaker of the House of Commons), trying to persuade him to join the Conservative party, and regardless of working as a civil servant in a far-left leaning council. During the passage of his career, Indarjit found that he was increasingly writing about religion and politics, and increasingly in the public eye, appearing on mainstream television. One TV programme called From Where I Stand was about his challenges and priorities as a Sikh in the 1980s.

It was events in India in 1984 which led Singh to take early retirement, something he was able to do because of some shrewd investments. He later set up the Network of Sikh Organisations in 1987, a leading Sikh charity for which he remains the director – and one which works for the betterment of British Sikhs. Indarjit became a leading voice of protest against the anti-Sikh genocide, which started with the military assault on Sikhism’s holiest shrine – the Golden Temple by the Indian Army in 1984.

When writing in India about earlier discrimination against Sikhs, he used the alias ‘Victor Pendry’ (his wife Kanwaljit had heard of Mr Pendry, before she met Indarjit). Now, in 1984 in the UK, writing in his own name, he challenged the then Indira Gandhi government with articles like one in the Guardian on India’s atrocities against Sikhs titled: ‘Gandhi Speak that cloaks the murderous truth’. Singh set up the Sikh Messenger promoting interfaith understanding and remains the editor today.

He has been widely celebrated for his contribution to British society and became a household name for his contributions to BBC Radio Thought for the Day. He has advised former Prime Minister’s like Gordon Brown and Tony Blair and helped set up the Lambeth Group of Faith Leaders to advise on ‘Values for the New Millennium’. A couple of years after receipt of a Broadcasting Gold Medallion, he was awarded the UK Templeton Prize for Promoting Religious Understanding – the only Sikh to have received this honour. He is one of the co-founders of the Interfaith Network for the UK and nominated as the ‘people’s peer’ in a poll of Radio 4 listeners (second only to Bob Geldof) and made a life peer in 2011.

From Where I Stand includes a selection of TFTD’s transcripts – a sentence from one perfectly sums up the core motivation of crossbench peer Lord Singh of Wimbledon – ‘…as a Sikh, I believe our own sense of wellbeing is directly proportional to the amount of our life we devote to helping those around us.’

From Where I Stand is uplifting and inspiring, and a good read for anyone interested in better understanding our fellow human beings and promoting a cohesive society.

The book can be ordered via here or via Amazon.

To order a review copy or organise an interview please reply to: info@nsouk.co.uk

Image credit: Michael Clark CCLicense

Vaisakhi, the day of the creation of the Khalsa, is one of the most important festivals in the Sikh calendar with colourful processions, bhangra dancing and displays of gatka martial arts. It is a time when we remember the courage of the five Sikhs who, in response to Guru Gobind Singh’s call, showed their readiness to give their lives for the inspiring and egalitarian teachings of the Gurus. It’s a powerful message relevant to both Sikhs and non-Sikhs in the world of the 21st century.  

At Vaisakhi, Sikhs are required to pledge themselves to reflect on and uphold uplifting key Sikh beliefs. Let us remember them together. First there is belief in One God, the Creator of all that exists. Sikhs see different religions as different paths to God which should all be respected. This respect extends beyond mutual tolerance to a readiness to give our life for others to worship in the manner of their choice, as exemplified by Guru Teg Bahadur. Sikh teachings stress that no one religion has a monopoly of truth and are critical of those who argue that theirs is the only way, or that theirs is the final revelation. The Gurus also criticised all notions of caste or race in our one human family, and emphasised the dignity and full equality of women.

In Europe after the French revolution in 1789, the cry was for ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’. Nearly a century earlier, Guru Gobind Singh taught the same ideals, to which he also added the important need for humility.

Today we should pledge ourselves to eschew all factions in our community and unite as one in promoting these teachings for the benefit of our children and the wider world.   

Waheguru ji ka Khalsa; Waheguru ji ki Fateh

Lord (Indarjit) Singh of Wimbledon

The Sikh community with the support of the DfE have made tremendous efforts to establish their local faith schools over the last three decades. Most of the schools are thriving and outcomes are high however when a school seriously underperforms and is threatened for academisation or re-brokerage, the issues can rapidly become highly sensitive for the local community. In some cases, this is due to the increasingly complex religious sectarian issues within the Sikh community.  The NSO have been involved in tackling such situations which can lead to tensions between the DfE and the Sikh community which in some cases have led to complex, lengthy and costly legal challenges.

History has shown that when Sikh faith schools have underperformed, the reasons can be varied and complex. Local political barriers can sometimes prevent rapid school improvement support and system leadership to be provided to standalone academies or in some cases to schools within a multi-academy trust.

The NSO have introduced a range of school improvement services to help support rapid school intervention and support to enable the school to recover and at the same time provide confidence to the regulators that academisation or re-brokerage can be avoided.

Our school improvement services are provided by individuals that work closely with the NSO and are often experienced headteachers who are or have run outstanding schools as well as field experts in specialised areas such governance, safeguarding, curriculum and SEND provision. The NSO will provide these school improvement partners directly to schools who will pay them for the support. The amount of intervention will depend on the needs of the school and vary from a few days per term to longer in some cases.


For further information please contact Dr Lady Singh at kaursingh3@aol.com