British Sikhs are an enterprising, hard-working and prosperous community. Despite the BREXIT and COVID-19 related challenges ahead, they are in a better position to face the future in the UK with greater confidence than most other UK communities.
Regardless of whether a Sikh is religious or is just aware of the basics of Guru Nanak’s positive message for living here-and-now, he or she works hard to improve the quality of life. Positive spirit of chardhi kalaa and goodwill towards all (sarbat da bhalaa) are ingrained in all Sikhs regardless of their level of observance of the Sikh religious code.
Economically, they have always strived towards self-sufficiency and security. Enterprising first generation Sikh immigrants took over failing businesses and made them profitable through hard work. Those who arrived as unskilled workers acquired skills in trades like building and maintenance work. Today, many run highly successful businesses while their children excel in diverse professions. They own properties and businesses which create employment for thousands. This is evident in Sikh concentration towns in the South-East and the Midlands. One never finds a Sikh sitting idle.
Next generation Sikhs have an inherent attitude to do well in their chosen professions. Due to ingrained Sikh values from childhood, Sikhs do not seek charity and do not depend on the state.
No one in the UK can be complacent about what lies ahead. The Brexit economic challenge, with or without a deal with the EU, will be the most serious faced by the country after World War II, more so due to the background of the crippling economic impact of COVID-19 already felt by the country. Major industries like aerospace, tourism and entertainment will take years to recover.
Yet, those who worked with European super-state administration knew from the start that the parting of the ways between UK and the EU would come. Brexit – Britain’s exit from European Union – should have been expected almost from the day Britain reluctantly joined the Common Market much against French opposition. It was obvious that the economic union would lead to harmonisation of laws and standards – a good thing – but eventually it will also lead to one currency and a superstate of Europe. Such transfer of sovereignty would be unacceptable to the British proud of their national heritage, freedom and institutions of state like the British Parliament. It was obvious that the British people would start reacting against the transfer of powers to Europe centred around the almost unaccountable and faceless European Commission at Brussels.
So, the inevitable has happened. In 2020 we are heading towards what could be a no-deal Brexit – the worst of all scenarios. Together with the pandemic, the country will be brought down to its knees. The biggest danger is large scale un-employment leading to social unrest. The hope lies in the resilient character and strength of the British people who survived the two World Wars. Britain is no ordinary country and British global influence is still great. The country has an unmatched record as a trading nation.
Sikhs are now a significant British community and will play their part in facing the challenges ahead. Given the right tactical approach and unity, Sikh political influence can increase during this period.
Gurmukh Singh OBE, a retired UK senior civil servant, chairs the Advisory Board of The Sikh Missionary Society UK. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for more details on the author.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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