BritishPunjabis 25th July 2010

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Maharajah Ranjit Singh

Friendly, Faithful & Fierce

ÂŁ2.75 JULY 2010

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Balle Balle he precise timeline of Indian emigration to different parts of the world is not always easy to judge. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, the steam ship and telegraph, followed by the internal combustion engine quickened the pulse of mass migration. People began to move in increasing numbers from one place to another in search of a better life. On the other side, societies in the throes of early industrialisation were in need of cheap labour for continuing economic development. Political boundaries during this period were neither rigid nor strictly policed. Documentation for migrants was rarely required, and was at best rudimentary when called. The modern nation state had still to find its feet. With the passage of time, particularly after the Second World War, the volume of migration swelled and this was met with stricter controls on entry into the host countries, which were mostly in Western Europe and North America. This was determined by declining employment opportunities as capitalism reached its plateau. Meanwhile, homogenized societies attained a multicultural dimension over time. This was, and is, a complex process, with its record of success and failure. Sociologists and cultural anthropologists are hard at work analyzing the phenomenon. In broad terms, the Chinese Diasporas of 35 million is the largest there is. It is not mere confined to the Near Abroad of Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and South East Asia, but also extend to the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand and other regions. The Indian Diasporas of approximately 25 million consist of communities stretching from the neighborhood of Nepal, Sri Lanka to South and East Africa, Fiji, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, the Caribbean, UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Indians worked mostly on plantations and on construction sites as indentured labour, especially in Britain’s Caribbean colonies British Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica, and further afield in Fiji and Malaya. The system of indentured labour followed the abolition of slavery. Thanks to the efforts of William Wilberforce and his friends and associates the British parliament passed Slavery Abolition Act on August 1, 1834 ending one of the most shameful chapters of modern history. When the conditions of their indenture ended, the bulk of the Indian population opted to remain where they were rather than return to India and an uncertain future. But that is history now. Today, the Indian Diaspora represent an outstanding success story, whether in North America or the UK. Looking around us, we find that a two million strong Indian community have made the UK their home; they comprise mostly of Gujaratis and Punjabis but many others as well. The participation of large numbers of Indian soldiers in both the First and Second World Wars had created special bonds between the Armed Forces of the two countries. The second-largest number of Victoria Cross recipients


were from the subcontinent. Indians felt they had a claim on the Empire as equal citizens. A wave of post-war migration into Britain took place in 1950’s and ‘60s when large number of workers, mainly of Punjabi origin arrived here in search of employment and a better life in a country suffering from acute labour shortage as a result of the war. Punjab was a cradle of Indo-Aryan civilization and is now a defining centre of the modern Indian nation state. Its people, Indians and Pakistanis, suffered horribly during Partition and its aftermath. But phoenix-like, Punjab rose from the ashes to a new life. Although one of the smaller states of the Indian Union, with about three per cent of India’s population, Punjab and Punjabis are central to the nation’s public life, and to its buoyant economy. In the UK too, the enterprising Punjabi presence is felt in all walks of life. I hesitate to name some of the prominent personalities of this vibrant community simply because such a list could never be complete. The Punjabis, be they Sikh or Hindu, Christian or Muslim, have enriched British society as a whole with their hard work and entrepreneurial skills. Their gregariousness and conviviality have earned the admiration and affection of all who have had the privilege of knowing them. Last but not least, I take this opportunity to thank all those who have helped us in bringing out this special British Punjab 2010 issue, which hopefully will become a trend setter. My warm thanks to Mr Virendra Sharma MP, Baroness Sandip Verma, Mr Rajesh N. Prasad, Deputy High Commissioner of India, Mr Joginder Sanger, Mr Jagdish Chander of Incredible India, Councillor Jagdish Sharma, Councillor Ranjit Dheer and Mr K.N.Malik for all they have done to make this venture a success. I big thank you also to all our contributors. I also congratulate our team for their hard work and unstinting devotion. Among those who deserve special mention are Maninder Kaur, Neha Parikh, Priyal Sanghavi, Harish Dahya, Ajay Kumar, Liji George, and Nikhil Gor. I do hope readers find the issue informative and engaging and join me in a Balle Balle celebration. CB Patel Publisher / Editor Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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The strength of the Punjabi community can be witnessed world wide as their ever growing success is both celebrated and recognized. CB Patel, founder and Editor of the Asian Voice and other Asian print media has really done the Punjabi s a great service by honouring their achievements, it is personally a great privilege for me to share that with so many extremely successful and visionary people today. It must not however be forgotten that we have managed such heights due to the incredible sacrifices, hard work and often in conditions of abuse and discrimination of those that laid the foundations for our futures. It is on their sturdy shoulders we are able to stand and enjoy the successes we have today. The Indian community has an ethos the world craves for, a commitment to the land they adopt and yet never forgetting the country they have ancestral links with. It is this unique trait that has ensured however many generations have settled they continue to share and protect the commonalities of culture, language and tradition. I am who I am because I am a Punjabi, a statement so short but a group of words that encapsulates so much. We must however use our success as the platforms from which others can rise and exceed our achievements, our mission should be a simple one, a duty to strengthen the conditions in which we exist so that more are able to succeed. We will be wise to remember that united, people are able to change the direction a country takes, united we are able to climb the highest heights in any field, sharing and celebrating the success of your communities empowers and emboldens you. If I have achieved success it has been because I enjoyed the support and belief of others, those that didn’t expect anything in return but a satisfaction in the end achievement. If I have navigated my way around a sea of possibilities and disappointments it is because I was lucky enough to have a never ending commitment of those that love and share in making my dreams a reality. I have followed the principle of the great Mahatma Gandhi- if you want to see change then be that change. I would very much like to congratulate my brother CB Patel, the Asian community is at the heart of what he does, in recognizing the achievements of the Punjabi community he has done us all a real service. Baroness Sandip Verma Minister for International Development and Equalities and Women

Special Issue on British Tamils


The success story over a surprisingly short period of time of the British Tamil community has never been more important to be told in Britians today. Its estimated that more than 300,000 British Tamils live in UK. British Tamils have excelled in different areas from educational achievements to businesses. Asian Voice would like to pay tribute by publishing a special magazine on British Tamils who have endured the hugely disruptive and often agonising process of migration to become willing contributors to British society.

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My part of the West London has always been a working class area where personal effort and enterprise have been valued and the strength of the family cherished. Until the 1950s the largest emigrant groups were the Welsh in Southall, the Irish in Hanwell and Greenford and the Poles in Ealing. A former Indian Army officer working at the Woolf Rubber Company changed all that when he implored hard-working and disciplined Punjabis to come to Southall and from that acorn of a former Empire the mighty oak of today’s Punjabi community grew. Integration was never an issue – the Punjabi community worked alongside the existing workers - but integration never subsumed itself into assimilation and the unique qualities of Punjabi life have flourished in the West London air to the extent that today a wondrous and almost magical “little India” thrives and prospers. Sikhism now sets the tempo of Southall life, although many other nationalities and religions co-exist in peace, and the burgeoning prosperity of the area owes so much to the grandsons and daughters of the 1950s generation. Nowadays the typical Punjabi is a business or banking graduate rather than a factory hand and this success has been won entirely by the personal effort of that community. No-one ever did the Punjabi Sikhs any favours, and many tried to make life hard for them, but the strength that has made Punjab an agricultural and industrial powerhouse in India manifests itself in Ealing. I cherish the contribution that the Punjabi community has made and as they move up the economic ladder they bring an energy and determination that is adding immensely to the economy – locally and nationally. Culturally, socially, economically, politically and in the sporting world the Punjabis have made so much of the few chances that life gave them and they have risen to every challenge. I am honoured to have so many as my neighbours and I consider even more to be my friends. Steve Pound Labour Member of Parliament for Ealing North

A common philosophy lies at the core of the both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats: one that embraces limited government and a pro civil liberties agenda. Both parties understand that society operates best when it is free. That is why localism is a defining theme of the coalition. Localism means returning more authority and influence to people in their community. I believe this is necessary to strengthening community cohesion and for creating a stronger society. These are the conditions that invited so many Punjabi people to our country and have allowed them to add so much vitality and richness to British society. I hope our strong government will support further the great contribution British Punjabi people have made to strengthening our country economically and socially. Hon. Dominic Grieve, QC MP (Conservative), Beaconsfield Dr Ashok Kumar (28 May 1956 – 15 March 2010), the Indian born British MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland from 1997 until his death shortly before the 2010 general election; before taking seat in the House of Commons was a research fellow at Imperial College, London and a research scientist for British Steel. Hon. Lindsay Hoyle First a scientist and then a politician, the Deputy Speaker of House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle said about him: “Ashok loved his constituency and felt it was an honour to represent the people of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. It is because of this dedication that I know his conLate Dr Ashok Kumar stituents, and the whole House will MP Labour Party remember Ashok, as a man of honour and integrity, and as someone motivated solely by a strong sense of duty and public service. Ashok was a gentleman, a true politician, a scientist – his career was varied – before politics he worked as a research scientist for British Steel where he developed a formidable and highly impressive scientific record both in industry and academia. The steel works were at the heart of the region and played a part in the lives of nearly all of his constituents. On a personal level, I have lost a great friend in Ashok – he radiated warmth to everyone he met and showed great modesty despite his considerable scientific abilities. I’ll always remember his great sense of humour. Ashok will be missed on the Commons benches but never forgotten.” Hon. Lindsay Hoyle Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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By Dr Vidya Sagar Anand

The Punjabis:

A Dynamic, Resourceful and Ingenious People he word Punjabi denotes from the Land of Five Rivers – Punjab. Its hardy people very early stamped their genius on mankind. They are among the key players in the creation of India’s three thousand years old, continuing classical civilisation. The Punjab is also closely associated with one of the world’s oldest civilisations – Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The Punjab is also home of the ancient world famous university, Texiala, which attracted scholars from all over the central Asia and beyond. The great epic Mahabharata, records that some groups associated with Subarwal, fought heroically on the side of virtue against evil. The system of grammar was the creation of the formidable linguist, Panini. That system, we need remind ourselves, is but one of the many huge intellectual, scientific, technical, mathematical and artistic gifts conferred on the world, particularly Europe, by ancient India.


The remains of the Mohenjodaro City in the lower Indus valley

In the early centuries BC, when Alexander the Great, one of the world’s first Empire builders, ventured to the borders of India, he and his entourage were amazed by the advanced stage of Indian philosophy. They were greatly impressed by the Indian teaching of renunciation at a stage in human evolution when it was thought that materialism, possessions and acquisition by fair means or foul, were the defining principles of life. Alexander, who was not just a military genius, but a great scholar who had sat at the feet of that mighty thinker, Aristotle, insisted on meeting and exchanging ideas with Punjabi sages whom he described as the equals of the Greek philosophers of the day. Though Ashoka the Great was not a Punjabi, we can take it for granted that his universal message of love, harmony and peace which was enthusiastically received by the Punjabi people would have been transmitted to central Asia through their many distinguished


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

centres of learning. The Punjabis are respected the world over for their martial spirit. They distinguished themselves in two World of European wars and played a decisive role in the defeat of the Axis powers. Punjabis are also prominent in the modern Dr Vidya Sagar Anand Indian defence force, one of the finest in the world. This proud and heroic tradition dates back to earliest BC centuries. When Alexander’s powerful army attacked the Punjab, the Indian king Porus found it difficult to defend his long border, but he fought with such ferocity and ingenuity that the Greek victors were so psychologically demoralised that they refused to advance any further into India. They tamely retreated to Macedonia. However, when one of Alexander’s five-star generals, Seluikes, dared to invade India, his forces were so severely thrashed that as a token of admiration for the victors, Seluikes offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to the victor. And his envoy to India, Megasthanes, also a magnificent philosopher, wrote a book describing in detail the educational, moral and spiritual attainments of the Punjabi people. We should bear in mind that in this BC period, Europe was a very dark, ignorant and backward continent. Tragically, Megasthenes’ masterpiece was lost, a serious deprivation for Punjabi historical scholarship. Today, the adventurous Punjabis are settled in many parts of the world. They are following in the footsteps of the early pioneers, some of whom it is believed, travelled to many far off lands in ancient time. Though there is no independent verification for this, some scholars claim that the ancient Punjabi even visited Greece, then at the height of its splendour and classical Rome. With the arrival of Islam via the Punjab from the 9th and 10th centuries, intellectually and morally conservative and stagnant India was forced to re-examine its place in the world and to adjust and adapt to the new reality. Just as today’s global migration is concentrated in what are called centres of prosperity, so it was with the Punjab, state of opportunity long, long before the coming of imperialism. It attracted people from central Asia, west Asia, Persia and Greece in search of trade, freedom, knowledge and learning and congenial climate. Many of these adventures settled in the Punjab and adopted its highly civilized way of life. The indigenous

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Punjabis, friendly and hospitable, never resented the newcomers who eventually became a part of them and contributed significantly to its prosperity and well being. The 15th century saw the emergence of one of the world’s greatest sages. He was Guru Nanak and his message of love and brotherhood among all peoples irrespective of caste, creed or material attainment won him a wide and reverential following among the Punjabi people. Guru Nanak’s teaching also earned him the approbation of other Indian faiths, particularly Hinduism. Other Sikh Gurus, inspired by Guru Nanak’s philosophy of love, tolerance and human brotherhood, spread those teaching and these were immortalised in the holy book, Granth Sahib, which is revered the world over, especially in the populous Sikh Diaspora. Because of its geographical location the Punjab was the entry point for tourists, visitors, scholars, explorers and traders to India. And some of its own people, prominent among them the scholar, Munshi Mohan Lal, also travelled to central Asia and to Europe. The latter also assisted to great British explorer and writer, Mr. Burns. In London Munshi Mohan Lal, published his twovolume travel book, one of the first by an Indian, dedicated to the young Queen Victoria. It does not reflect well on British scholars, or on Indian scholarship itself, that Munshi Mohan Lal’s book and other similar works by Indian scholars in the pre-independence period have been so unimaginatively ignored. The British quickly recognised the virtues of honesty, loyalty, courage and pride of the Punjabi people. They capitalised on them by forming special military regiments which they not only used to suppress internal dissent but to defend their colonial outposts in China, Hong Kong, Africa and central Asia. Even before the First World War, the Punjabis had been sent to trouble spots, including the Middle East, to protect British economic and strategic interest. At the turn of the century you could see Punjabi regiments in Shangai, Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore. In the first Worlds War they fought shoulder to shoulder with the allies in the trenches against the Germans. They won countless citations and medals including a sizeable number of Victoria Crosses (VC’s). Despite their effectiveness in protecting Empire and defeating the Axis powers, the British treated the Punjabi soldiers, as indeed they did all Indian soldiers, most shabbily. They were paid only a fraction of the wage of white soldiers, racially discriminated against and were always given the most dangerous assignments. The British also ruthlessly plundered the mineral wealth of the Punjab. A descendant of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Maharaja Dalip Singh of the Punjab was brought in his teens to London and was forced to present the Kohinoor diamond, the largest in the world, to Queen Victoria. The Queen was impressed by the proud bearing of the young man and kept him in the palace. During state ceremonies he often acted as Victoria’s page.

During the First World War there was not much aerial warfare because of the paucity of suitable flying machines and skilled personnel. The skies, however, were dominated by a small coterie of flying aces, the most distinguished of them German Red Baron Richtofen. Their heroics have been the subject of a number of laudatory books which, however, make no mention of the great exploits of a Punjabi ace fighter Mr. Lal. Sadly there is no work on his achievements, nor is there a memorial to this outstanding airman. In the First and Second World Wars, the largest recipients of the Victoria Cross were Punjabis. Their immense contribution, too, should be properly recognised and celebrated. Both Hindu and Muslim warriors took part in the decisive Battle of Britain and some were decorated for so gallantly and skillfully seeing off the dreaded Luftwaffe. After the First Indian War of Independence in 1857 many Punjabis went into the Diaspora. By the turn of the century, they had already settled in North America and Canada. They organised themselves politically and fought for their human rights at a time when race discrimination was rife in all parts of the Empire. As patriotic as ever, the Punjabis in the Diaspora also supported the Indian independence movement morally and financially. Today there are over 10 million Punjabis in the Diaspora with over 6 million Punjabis resident in Britain alone. Over the years they and succeeding generations have contributed massively to the economic, social, political, financial, commercial, literary and academic life of Britain. We should also celebrate a little known fact-that Punjabi is the third most widely spoken language in the world after English. And we have some eminent role models in the Khurana of Nasa and Abdul Salam of the Imperial Colleges. Both persons were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work for science. We should also celebrate the courage and daring of the American Indian astronaut, Kalpana Chawla. Today we have Punjabis in both Houses of the British Parliament. They not only ably represent their own communities but also work for the advancement of the human rights of all the people of Britain. In Canada there are number of Punjabi MPs and in the United States, another Punjabi, Bobby Jindal is a highly regarded state Governor. Long may Punjabis continue along this progressive path and enrich all our lives spiritually, materially and culturally! Let us end with the eloquent words of that remarkable self-made man Virendra Sharma, the MP for Southall, who in Parliamentary debate endorsed a tribute by one of his colleagues to the very rich contribution made to Britain by the Punjabi community. Virendra Sharma won many hearts and minds when he told to the Commons: “Being Punjabi myself, coming from that region, I should say, as my Hon. Friend has, that we have contributed to this country not only in respect of culture but in other areas including the political, social and educational fields.”

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Triumphs and trials of an ancient land unjab, the land of five rivers, has a rich history dating back to ancient civilisations to eras of great kings. This is juxtaposed by the immense suffering of Punjabi people with the events of the Jallianwala Bagh, 1947 Partition and Operation Bluestar in 1984. The region has been ruled by different empires, races and is also the birthplace of the Sikh religion. Today Punjab has been described as the 'bread basket' of India, and as Rabindernath Tagore called it, "the land where the first civilized man trod on earth."


The Indus Valley civilisation

Punjab boasts the best infrastructure in all of India, as well as one of the most fertile regions on earth. It's contributions to India, and worldwide are limitless to say the least

In the third and fourth millennia, a great civilisation in the Indus Valley of Punjab existed. It grew from small villages to highly refined urban life. Archaeological investigations have revealed that people led a life of luxury with highly evolved civic systems and trade links. At its height, around 3000 B.C. it cradled cities of Harrappa and Mohenjo Daro in the lower Indus valley. After 19th century BCE the civilisation began to decline. Reasons for this are still largely unexplained but can be seen through the remains of the cities.

Aryan Migration One line of thought for the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization could be the series of raids or small scale migration from the North-West around 1500 B.C. Consequently, the next thousand years of the history of Punjab was dominated by the Aryans. They used to call it Arya-Varta or the land of Arya. This is where the oldest books of human history, the Rig-Vedas are claimed to have been written. The epic battles of Mahabharata were also fought in today's modern day Harayana.

Persian Rule The location of Punjab was on the outskirts of the Great Persian empires, and as a result, Punjab was subject to attack by the Persian rulers. The Persian King Darius the great was able to occupy some parts of Punjab. But it was the Persian King


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

One of the many rulers of Punjab, Alexander the Great

Gustasp who completed the occupation of Punjab in 516 B.C. After no time at all, Punjab became the wealthiest of all provinces of the Persian kingdom.

Alexander's Invasion The legendary king, Alexander of Greece had an ambition of conquering the world, around 326 B.C. After crushing the Persians, his next conquest was to enter India through its North-West frontiers. Alexander came to eventually establish two cities in the area of Punjab, where he settled people from his multi-national armies, which included Greeks and Macedonians. These cities along with the rule of the Indo-Greek thrived long after Alexander's departure.

The Rise of Sikh Power After Alexander's reign, next came the Mughal rule. In their power Punjab saw much conflict, chaos and political upheaval. The birth of Guru Nanak in 1469 (founder of the Sikh religion) however saw a major change for Punjab. Rejecting notions of caste, he preached equality between religion, race, gender, and his spiritual teachings continue to inspire people, even today. The reign of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, saw the Sikh religion flourish and the territorial boundaries increase. He constructed

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many Gurdwaras including Sachkhand Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra. He also covered the famous Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) with gold. After his death in 1839, the Sikh governors started fighting with each other for supremacy. Slowly the Sikh kingdom started declining and the British took over it.

The British and the Post Independence Era

saw many Sikhs protesting for a separate Sikh state, Khalistan. After many setbacks, the land of Punjab eventually regained order and normalcy. According to India Today, Punjab has been awarded the best overall state since 2003, and has managed to hold on to this title in subsequent years. Punjab boasts the best infrastructure in all of India, as well as one of the most fertile regions on earth. It's contributions to India, and worldwide are limitless to say the least. From business, entertainment, politics, army, there is no place where you won't find a Punjabi! Their ethics of hard work, passion, bravery and zest for life makes them succeed anywhere they go or choose to settle.

During the 200 years of British rule in Punjab, they committed many atrocities, which as a result bought about the surge of many freedom fighters of Punjab. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Lala Lajpat Rai, Udham Singh are just some of the brave names who sacrificed their lives in fighting for justice. There were also many unsung heroes in the tragic events of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. On the 15th August 1947, India was finally cut free of British rule. But it The gardens of Jallianwala Bagh in came at a heavy price. India was parti- Amritsar, are known for one of the tioned on the basis of religion into two most devastating massacres under states of India and Pakistan. Western the British rule. In 1919 an enclosed Punjab was dominated by Muslims and area with only one exit saw soldiers under British command open fire on went to Pakistan while Eastern Punjab a crowd of unarmed peaceful prowas dominated by Hindus and Sikhs testers, resulting in the death of and remained in India. 379, and injuring more than 1500. At the time Indian and Pakistani A series of events had been leaders agreed that the minority Hindus simmering which led up to this masand Sikhs in Pakistan would be allowed sacre. The British found itself with a to live there, and the Muslims would live shortage of manpower in the First in India. The Indian government followed World War and turned to Indians to this decision but this plan was not exe- fight for the British. Some 138,000, cuted. As a result, thousands of Hindus many of whom were Sikh, distinand Sikhs were mercilessly killed in the guished themselves for their service. However, once World War One Pakistani Punjab. It's repercussions folwas over, the British refused to hold lowed in the Indian side of Punjab. up to their commitment in freeing What happened next had never India. Adding to this anger occurred in the civilized history of amongst Indians, the additional taxhuman beings. Around 500,000 people ation in the war years had drained were killed from both sides. Another 50 the Indian market, resulting in widemillion people had to endure a distress- spread poverty and hunger. Unrest ing migration from one side of the bor- had spread all over and came to a der to another. Hindus and Sikhs started peak in 1919. The Rowlatt Act was migrating from Pakistan to India and passed in March 1919 to control Muslims from India to Pakistan. It was public unrest and root out conspiracy. This act authorized the governestimated that some 12-15 million peoment to imprison, without trial any ple were forcibly transferred between person suspected of terrorism, living the two countries. Punjab was again in the British Raj. divided into the states of present day More than 5000 people gathPunjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh ered in Amritsar, Punjab at for administrative reasons in 1966. Jallianwala Bagh on April 13th 1919 Unfortunately this didn't mark the to discuss freedom. A large crowd end of suffering by the Punjabi Sikhs. had assembled as this day also Operation Bluestar, a codename given marked the day of Vaisakhi, the holiby the Indian Army to attack the est day for the Sikhs where the Harmandir Sahib, saw casualties of 492 Khalsa (Sikh brotherhood) was established. British General Dyer civilians visiting the Sikh's most holiest was the Lieutenant Governor of the shrine. The date was 31st May 1984, province at that time. He ordered and the atrocities have still not been for- troops to open fire without warning gotten even today. The events of 1984, towards the densest sections of the

Jallianwala Bagh massacre crowd. He continued the firing with approximately 1,650 rounds until ammunition was exhausted. Apart from the deaths directly from the firing, many deaths were caused by stampedes at the narrow gates, with people struggling to escape the gardens. Many also died when they jumped into the well at the left hand side of the garden, only to be crushed by others who desperately dived on top of them. The wounded could not be moved from where they had fallen, as a curfew had been declared. Consequently, many more died during the night. In a statement by Winston Churchill he said, "The Indians were packed together so that one bullet would drive through three or four bodies; the people ran madly this way and the other. The fire was then directed to the sides. Many threw themselves down on the ground, and the fire was then directed on the ground. This was continued for eight or ten minutes, and it stopped only when the ammunition had reached the point of exhaustion." India was outraged by Dyer's massacre. Gandhi called for a nation wide strike and started the Noncooperation Movement, which became an important mile stone in the struggle for India's Independence. Today the ground has been transformed into a large memorial dedicated to the men, women and children who lost their lives at this horrific event. Remnants of the bullets remain on the walls even today. On the entrance to the memorial it reads, 'Jalianwala Bagh, A landmark in our struggle for freedom.' Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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The lion of Punjab: Maharajah Ranjit Singh erhaps the most legendary of all the Kohinoor. Indian Maharajahs, 'The lion of Recruiting European military officers Punjab,' Ranjit Singh takes a special after the end of the Napoleonic wars in place in Sikh and British colonial history. Europe and combining them with the A ferocious warrior, a just King, and a fighting prowess of the Akali forces, led at masterful tactician, he belongs to those that time by the charismatic Akali Phoola extraordinary men who create empires Singh, Ranjit’s army was the most sophisout of nothing. ticated in Asia and a formidable adversary At a young age, Maharajah Ranjit to the British who remained frustrated for Singh became a champion swimmer, an over forty years until his death in 1839, to expert horse-rider and a worthy swordsrealise their designs of imperial expansion man. Leading his first war at the age of into the Punjab. 11 years, he defeated the army of the ruler Ranjit Singh had tried to guide and of Gujarat. Maharajah Ranjit Singh's army mentor his heir, Kharak Singh; but the eldincluded men from different faiths and est son was never up to the task. In fact nationalities, including Hindus, Sikhs, and he only remained on the throne for less Muslims. He allowed equal rights for all than two years before being murdered by communities in Punjab and encouraged his ambitious siblings. The Sikh Empire development of educational institutions soon crumbled and what once was a kingand industries by the different communidom worthy of the attention of world ties. powers, got disposed as a corner in British At its peak, between 1825 to 1839, colonial India. the Sikh kingdom was worthy of The respect for Maharajah Ranjit European rivalry and one of the most Singh is perhaps best demonstrated by attractive destinations for any European; the Sikh Empire's foreign minister, a travellers, artists and writers flocked to the Muslim named Fazir Azizuddin who said, Lahore Durbar for its style and its arts “The Maharajah is like the sun and the patronage. It was the first secular states sun has only one eye. The splendour and of the modern world. It was also the last luminosity of his single eye is so much territory of India that hadn’t fallen to the that I have never dared to look at his other hands of British Imperialists. eye." The period of Maharajah Ranjit The son of a Misl (Sikh clan) chief, Singh's rule was the Golden era of Punjab, Ranjit was only 10 when his father died in where Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs reafa battle and he had to step into his shoes. firmed their Punjabi roots. The kingdom Struck by small pox, the young Chieftain under Maharajah Ranjit Singh was one of lost sight in one eye, developing a characthe most peaceful time Punjabis had ever teristic feature that would distinguish his seen. personality throughout his life. The Misls at the time were warring with each other over territorial claims. Using wily diplomacy and wilful force, Ranjit Singh united them into a considerable force to reckon with. He then proceeded to sack Lahore, capital of the Punjab, and declared himself its Maharajah in 1802. He defeated the mighty Pathans and expanded his empire from the Khyber Pass to the borders of Tibet, adding more to his already substantial treasury, including the Maharajah Ranjit Singh meeting Sir William Bentinck at Roper


Maharajah Ranjit Singh

He belongs to those extraordinary men who create empires out of nothing

Information contributed by the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail- a registered charity aiming to promote greater awareness of the shared heritage between the Sikhs and Britain

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Evershine Group of Companies, Kulwant Toor vershine Group of Companies was founded in West London in 1970. The company began as a small high quality double glazing supplier and expanded gradually and steadily into related areas of business such as kitchens and construction. Having a reputation for quality and customer service, they are a company well known and respected through greater London and the home counties. Hailing from Jalandhar distri ct, Punjab, founder of Evershine Group Mr Kulwant Toor came to the UK at a young age. Before Evershine, Mr Toor worked in the financial business as a Regional Manager. Utilising his skills from his financial background, he was able to help the family business owned by his brothers. “My brothers were already in business and they had a partner who ran away with all the money, and then financially I just got involved. It all took off from there. We started off from these old premises, now we have two offices.” With so many Punjabis enjoying suc-


Kulwant Toor

cess in business, what is their secret? “Our secret is hard work and no fear factor in terms of doing any kind of work, whether its hard labour or anything else. People talk about “time is money”, but we tend to be spending more time, that's why we're more successful. And as families we tend to help each other a lot more.” But Mr Toor says, “For the sake of going into business don't go into business, you need to do your Market Research. Is this the right market and am I actually qualified to go into this business? What I found is people who have a lot of money just set up businesses, but a lot of people are struggling with their businesses, because they're not capable. Hence making losses as well.” Evershine currently imports from Italy but sees great potential in India's market. “We're hoping to collaborate with other companies to export to India. The growth in India is phenomenal at the moment so that's one area we're looking to expand in.”

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Maharajah Duleep Singh By Peter Bance t the age of five years, Duleep Singh was crowned Maharajah of Punjab, one of the most powerful independent Kingdoms in the Indian subcontinent and a thorn in the advancement of the British Empire. A kingdom built by his father, the legendary one-eyed Lion-ofthe-Punjab, Maharajah Ranjit Singh who ruled the region by the power of his sword and with the fear of his name. In 1843, after the assassination of Duleep’s half brother Maharajah Sher Singh, the minor Duleep Singh was favoured by the Lahore Durbar and anointed the new Maharajah. In 1845 with the provocation of War with the British, the treachery of two Sikh Generals who ordered their troops into battle and themselves fled to the British side sealed Punjab’s fate. The British marched into Punjab. After the close of the First Sikh War in 1846, Maharajah Duleep Singh was placed under the care of an army doctor John Login and a bible was placed in his hands. The mistreatment of the Queen Mother Jinda, the constant interference by the British in the affairs of Punjab and the Sikh Court's lack of control, led to a revolt in the Multan province when Dewan Mulraj was ordered to hand over the charge of his Fort to the British. The skirmish escalated into a full scale battle leading to the Second Sikh war of 184849. The British were victorious after a series of ferociously fought battles and the young Maharajah was deposed. As per the terms of the Treaty of the Annexation of the Punjab, Duleep Singh was to cede all his territories and possessions. He was allowed only to keep his title and a pension was allotted to him provided he remained obedient to the British. He was to surrender the famed Koh-i-Noor diamond and was ousted from Punjab. In 1854 he was effectively exiled to England and never allowed to return back. But as time went by the Maharajah became more and more aware of the circumstances surrounding him.


Maharajah Duleep Singh

But in the late 1880’s the Maharajah took a stand and openly spoke out against the British, remonstrating about the shortfall of his stipend, and also his private estates which had been wrongfully confiscated from him as a child. He broke all his ties with Britain and decided to head to India, but was arrested at the port of Aden. He was not allowed to proceed to India, so the Maharajah travelled to France where various anti-British factions approached him, each wanting to use the Maharajah for their own gain. Proposed plans to meet the Tzar of Russia for raising an army to march into India failed as one by one the leading conspirators supporting him died suspiciously – apparent victims of British intelligence. In 1890 the Maharajah suffered a stroke and his left side was paralysed. He lingered on with poor health and on the night of the 21 October 1893 the Maharajah suffered an apoplectic fit in Paris. He was found dead in his hotel room the following morning. His death was a stark contrast from the joyous moments in Punjab where he was born many thousands of miles away, on 4th September 1838, in the zenith of Maharajah Ranjit Singh’s power. Guns were then fired into the blue sky, and the firing of cannon saluted the seventh Prince of the Punjab. Offerings were made from Nankhana to Nanded, blessings from Hindu temples and Muslim mosques sought and bestowed alike. The Palace at Lahore was illuminated and fireworks filled the sky as if Diwali had arrived early. Sweetmeats and gifts were distributed among the city, the capital filled with nobility, coming to greet the lion’s new cub to the world. Who would have predicted that this newly born heir would die tragically, alone, penniless and without a mention in a hotel room in Europe! Peter Bance is an independent researcher, historian. and author of ‘Sovereign, Square and Rebel: Maharajah Duleep Singh’ Coronet House 2009. Images courtesy of Peter Bance

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Success story that is Punjab ndia is the sum of its cultural and ethnic parts, a miracle of unity in diversity that has confounded legions of foreign critics and given hope to the country's numerous admirers. Punjab, a principal gateway to India's northern plain, is watered by the Indus and its tributaries, the Jhelum, Sutlej, Chenab, Beas and Ravi. Until Partition, it was home to three religious faiths: Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism, sprinkled with a Christian presence. Out of the destruction and chaos of foreign invasion and internal discord in 18th century India, emerged the independent kingdom of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, a Sikh ruler who presided over the destinies of a polyglot society. A French visitor to Mahrajah Ranjit Singh's court in Lahore, Victor Jacquemont, described the Maharajah as a miniature Napoleon. Maharajah Ranjit's successors, however, were unable to manage the inheritance, and following two hard-fought wars, Punjab was absorbed into the British dominion in 1849. Under a century of British rule, Punjabis as a whole acquired a reputation as a tough and resourceful people, equipped to take the rough with the smooth, whether as migrants abroad or as enterprising farmers working the land at home. Punjabis, Sikhs, Mussalmans and Hindus, especially the former, were adept soldiering with the British Indian Army. Indians fought under British colours in two world wars. Indian troops in the Second World War won 31 Victoria Crosses, 20 of them with the Fourteenth Army in Burma. On March 12, 1944, Naik Nand Singh led the charge of his platoon on a well entrenched Japanese position, killing 36 of the 40 enemy, which earned him the Victoria Cross. General William Slim in his memoir, Defeat into Victory, wrote: “My Indian divisions after 1943 were among the best in the world. They would go anywhere, do anything, and it on very little.� Most were from Punjab. At India's Independence from British colonial rule, on August 15 1947, the bulk of Punjab including, its most prosperous agricultural areas, fell to the new Islamic state of Pakistan. Punjab suffered terribly in the ensuing communal holocaust: a flood-tide of Sikhs and Hindus left Pakistani Punjab for India, while Muslims in India moved in the opposite direction. Within a few months of


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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

freedom, India was at war in Kashmir, where Pakistan's Pathan levies sought to wrest the state from the local Maharajah. Colonel Ranjit Singh Rai, a Sikh died, defending the Kashmir capital, Srinagar, with his unit, the first Indian soldier to make the supreme sacrifice for the new state. Since then, Punjabis of all communities, Sikhs, Jat Hindus et al have been in the forefront of Indian defence. Punjab emerged in time as India's granary. Sikhs and Hindu Jats are among the world's best farmers; they were a huge human asset, even as the old Punjab was divided into Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, all three today vibrant symbols of success. Punjab led the rest of India in infrastructure: metalled roads and power were to be seen in every hamlet within a decade of independence. While P u n j a b i s retained their trad i t i o n a l as VC Premindra Singh Bhagat strengths single handedly defused an farmers, craftsentire minefield in Eritrea in 1941 men and soldiers, taking advantage of the opportunities available in the new India, many broke the mould by seeking a life in industry, business and the professions. In the armed forces, Generals Deepak Kapoor and Joginder Singh were recent Chiefs of the Army Staff, Air Chief Marshals Arjan Singh, Dilbagh Singh and O.P Mehra led the Indian Air Force in their time; Satinder Kumar Sikka designed, in record time, India's thermonuclear device for the Pokhran II tests in May 1998; and Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur (health minister), Baldev Singh (defence minister), Swaran Singh (foreign minister), Zail Singh (president), and now Cambridge and Oxford-educated Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the deputy chairman of India's Planning Commission, Oxford-educated Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, have been, and remain, in the forefront of politics and government. Hard work, enterprise and endurance are central to the Punjab story.

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A history of Punjabi migration to the UK igration from Punjab began in a historic manner, if somewhat forced. Maharajah Ranjit Singh was the last ruler of Punjab who controlled his kingdom with a well disciplined and well trained army. It was during his rule that Punjab or North India did not face any invasion from the North. While Ranjit Singh consolidated his reign in Punjab, the East India Company was expanding its rule and area of influence all over India. Following the death of Maharajah Ranjit Singh young prince Duleep Singh who was only a young boy at the time was proclaimed as the Maharajah and his mother Maharani Jindan ruled Punjab in his name. There being thus no powerful ruler to succeed Ranjit Singh, in the two wars that were fought between the forces of East India Company and the armies of Punjab in 1845-46 and 1848-49 the Punjab forces led by Maharani Jindan were defeated. Under a treaty young Maharajah Duleep Singh who was only fourteen was taken to England along with several senior generals and other officers of the Sikh Army ostensibly to look after the young Maharajah.


In today’s Britain, Punjabis are making a huge contribution in all walks of life. Many of them are present in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords

Bhai Ram Singh: At work in Osborne House

The young Maharajah Duleep Singh was entertained by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at their Osborne House in 1854. Later as he grew up he was attached to Queen Victoria. At the Osborne House one can see an imposing portrait of the Maharajah which was commissioned by Queen Victoria from Winterhalter. The house also has small paintings on porcelain of the Maharajah

and his wife Maharani Bamba and their son Victor Albert. Thus young Maharajah Duleep Singh decided to stay on as did the entourage that came to Britain with him. They thus became the first migrants to England from Punjab even though they had been brought under duress. Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught used the services of Bhai Ram Singh in carving the interior of his billiard room at his house in Bagshot. Bhai Ram Singh also worked on several carvings and interiors of the Durbar Room of the Osborne House. Back in Punjab the Sikh forces became an important part of British Indian army and were known for their valour. They made huge contribution during the two World Wars. The battle of trenches in France that saw huge number of soldiers from Britain lay down their lives also saw a big contribution by the forces from Punjab. When many of them came to Brighton for rest they are said to have made friends with British young ladies, much to the dislike of many in the city. Some of them are said to have stayed back in England after the war. The main immigration of Punjabis to Britain, however, came about after World War II and following the independence of India. There was shortage of labour in Britain to rebuild the country at the end of the war and many came here to take up jobs to help rebuild Britain. There were others who being unsettled as a result of division of Punjab in 1947 came to Britain to find new home. The Punjabi immigration in the 1950s and later consolidated the community’s presence in Britain. The census of 2001 in the United Kingdom records Punjabi as the 2nd most widely spoken language after English.3 Once in Britain the Punjabi immigrants settled themselves as industrial and building workers. There were others who were into business and specialised in door to door sales. Those who went for door to door sales were known as “box wallahs”. With their hard work and zest for education and enterprise, today the Punjabi community is a vibrant part of British society. The next phase of immigration of Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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Newly arriving Sikhs, London 1948.

Image courtesy of Peter Bance (c)

Punjabis after the 1950s came from East Africa. They came from countries like Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. These immigrants from East Africa were highly skilled and better educated. Yet another wave of Punjabis that came into Britain were those who came here after being uprooted in Afghanistan. Today it is the largely “Kabuli” Sikh and Hindu who are seen in good numbers in Southall. This segment of Punjabis is highly business oriented and are bound to make a major mark in the economy of the country in due course. Having settled down in this country, Punjabis have made a contribution on the cultural scene of Britain with their vibrant Bhangra rock dance and music. It is today part of the mainstream dance and music scene.

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The Bhangra wave was led by Malkit Singh and credit must be given to him that what he achieved in Britain had its influence in India. In today’s Britain, Punjabis are making a huge contribution in all walks of life. Many of them are present in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. The most well known Punjabi among them is Lord Swraj Paul. Justice Mota Singh who grew up in Kenya made his mark in law and has since been Knighted for his services. In the culinary scene of Britain today Indian cooking is considered to be extremely popular and is dominated by North Indian dishes largely Punjabi. The Punjab Restaurant in Covent Gardens established in 1946 is perhaps the oldest recorded and most popular, authentic Punjabi eatery. The Restaurant’s walls are a virtual portrait gallery of the famous faces of Punjab. It can be said that the hard working and enterprising Punjabis today are as much a part of Britain and are well merged into the nation. There is a persistent demand by a section of the community that the British Army ought to have a Sikh Regiment. Time alone will tell whether such a regiment will be created in the British Army. What can be said for sure is that the Punjabis are now proud citizens of United Kingdom and very much part of the pluralistic society of the country. Prem Prakash, senior journalist from India is the founder Chairman of ANI Media, South Asia's premier multi media organisation. He was also part of the team that founded Reuters Television.

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Sikhs in Southall By Peter Bance rom the middle of the 19th century to the beginshopping capital. ning of the First World War, several hundred Sikhs With the fast growing Sikh population in Southall came to Britain, ranging from long term visitors, in the late 1950’s, the need to establish a Gurdwara or such as lascars and ayahs to short term visitors such as a Sikh body within close proximity was necessary. The students and members of Royalty, and thus the first Dharamsala at Shepherds Bush was not practical for sign of Sikh migration began in Britain. them to commute to daily. In 1959 the ‘Southall Sikh In Britain, Sikhs came in four significant waves of Cultural Society’ was formed to accommodate and mass migration; the first was between the World Wars, maintain these religious needs. The Society would hold consisting of enterprising businessmen, students and prayers once a month, and later once a week at pedlars. The post-Independence of India, witnessed sigShackleton Hall in Southall. In 1961, they purchased 11 nificant young labourers to fill the labour Beaconsfield Road at a cost of £4,200, shortages and the families of pedlars to use as a Gurdwara, and Southall’s arrived from the partition-hit Punjab first permanent Gurdwara was estabforming the second phase of migration. lished. But with complaints from the The third phase saw the greatest number neighbours and also the local authority, of Sikhs via chain migration, and in addithe religious services were reverted tion to more families, the subjects of forback to the school halls. mer British Colonies arrived before the In Southall, the Sikhs arriving Immigration restrictions. The fourth was from Singapore and Malaysia had predominately from East Africa, witnessformed the ‘Sri Guru Nanak Satsang Mohinder Kaur at Shackton Hall ing the expulsion of Indians in particular Sabha’ in 1962, and purchased ‘The from Uganda in the 1970’s. Green’ at Southall with the generosity of Gurbachan The East End of London was the first port of call Singh Gill, and opened the Gurdwara on the anniverfor the earlier Sikhs, and by the 1950’s Southall sary of Guru Arjan Dev’s Martyrdom Day in June 1964. became the next hub for Sikhs to descend upon in Both the ‘Southall Sikh Cultural Society’ and the ‘Sri London. This was partly helped by the Woolf Rubber Guru Nanak Satsang Sabha’ ran simultaneously, until Factory, makers of rubber articles on contract for the they were merged to form the ‘Sri Guru Singh Sabha’ automobile trade and were largely responsible in bringunder the Presidentship of Gurbachan Singh Gill. ing Sikhs to Southall. The Hayes Bridge Plant opened in In May 1966, a local dairy on Havelock Road was 1951 and its early workforce was made up of newly secured and converted into a Gurdwara. The arriving Indian workers, most of whom were labourers. Gurdwara’s opening was planned for the 300th By 1960, 40 per cent of Sikh men living in Southall worked there. The Sikh population there was further enhanced with opportunities for Indian labourers at the Nestles factory, Bechnal in Bridge Road, and T.Waltz & Kraft. The 1961 census showed 1200 Indian male and 478 Indian women in Southall, but the arrival of wives also indicated that many Punjabis had changed their minds about returning home because they were making good money in Britain. As the Sikh settlement in The Green Southall Southall grew, the first Indian grocery shop opened in 1954, paving the way to make Southall, UK’s Asian Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday, and on the 22 January 1967 a large procession was organised to mark the opening, with the Guru Granth Sahib taken from The Green to the new premises, led by five traditionally dressed Sikhs, who went barefooted in the freezing January weather. Since then Southall has flourished with the influx of newly arriving Sikh communities including latterly with the Sikhs from Afghanistan, who have regenerated the area and made Southall into a globally known Indian shopping centre. Peter Bance is an independent researcher, historian. and author of ‘Sikhs in Britain: 150 years of Photographs’. The History Press 2007. Southall’s first Nagar Kirtan (Vaisakhi Celebrations)


Images courtesy of Peter Bance (c)

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Punjabis Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar news weeklies are very grateful to Exquisite Events UK for sponsoring delicious Punjabi food for the launch of “British Punjabis 2010” magazine

N S Shergill: A truly global Punjabi ith dedication and zeal, Mr Nirpal Singh Shergill has been working in a most difficult area. He has been collecting data with regard to the Indians abroad. To accomplish the task, he has visited several countries. Though settled in London, Mr Shergill is a frequent visitor to India. He belongs to Patiala district.


The two leading Punjabis living in Britain: Lord S Paul (left) Chancellor of Universities, leading industrialist in Britain and Deputy Speaker of House of Lords in London with international Punjabi journalist and author – Mr N S Shergill

He started his career in London by publishing a monthly magazine in English, "The Politics". Political issues concerning India were given prominence in that magazine. However, later, he started writing in Punjabi and became a freelance writer. He has written about 1,000 articles on various issues concerning the NRIs in the UK, Canada, the USA and other countries. And the work done by him with regard to the collection of data about Indians abroad is worth appreciating. He first published a directory of information regarding all important Indians, especially Punjabis, settled in various parts of the world. In that directory, he also provided information regarding various Sikh and other religious places of Indian communities abroad. That directory has now turned into a big book. Mr Shergill has published the ninth edition of the directory under the title, 'Indians Abroad and the Punjab Impact'. "I have included A to Z of the Sikh world that is a complete list of Sikh organisations from Afghanistan to Zambia and Australia to the USA. It is an international publication", he says. "Through the book, I have also tried to highlight the new developments in the IndoEuropean relations and India-UK business partnership", he adds. He has provided international codes of all countries and their important cities, addresses of all embassies and high commissions in New Delhi, Indian diplomatic missions abroad and other information regarding India and the European Union. There is also detailed information of telephone numbers of Indian organisations, newspapers, law offices, immigration services, insurance consultants, manufacturers, travel and tour consultants, hotels, restaurants, caterers and banquet halls outside India.


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The Indian Workers’ Association, Southall – symbol of pride By Krishan Bhatia erhaps no other organisation has contributed to the welfare of the immigrant community in the United Kingdom as much as the Indian Workers’ Association, Southall. The service rendered by the organisation is in fact the single biggest factor that has helped the development of huge socioeconomic Indian structure that we see in Britain today. Founded in 1956 by a group of dedicated Punjabi factory workers and labours endowed with the spirit of selfless service to their fellow countrymen, the Indian Workers’ Association, Southall, soon earned the confidence and trust of the community and grew into a powerful organisation. They took up a number of campaigns for the rights and welfare of the newlyarrived immigrants from the Punjab struggling to settle in and around Southall. The biggest hardship the early immigrants faced was in the field of employment and housing. The sources where the jobs could be secured were fewer. The majority of people arriving lacked fluency in English. Working conditions were harsh. Racial discrimination made the things worse. A situation of helplessness prevailed. The Indian Workers’ Association (IWA), Southall, was the sole source where people could turn to for help and advice. Most of the founding leaders of the organisation were politically conscious people and had the background of active association with progressive and workers’ movements back in India. They soon realised that in order to fight for the cause of their people it was necessary to seek the support of British working class. That could only be possible by joining and becoming part of the Labour movement. The companionship thus formed has remained firm to-date, benefiting both the immigrants and the Labour movement. The British government had in early 60s planned to enforce new immigration rules. This saw a big influx of people from the Indian sub-continent eager to seek entry before new restrictions were imposed. This resulted in huge increase in the number of problems, particularly in the fields of employment, housing, education and medical facilities. Being strangers to the new environment, the newly-arrived immigrants needed help and advice which the governmental authorities were not able to provide. The Indian Workers’ Association had in the meantime established itself into an organisation where people could expect to have necessary help. The organisation had grown in size and stature. It had come to be recognised as a force. The IWA leadership initiated a number of activities, such as holding regular meetings, so that people could meet and share their problems. It was realised that without a proper platform of its own, the organisation will not be able to perform as effectively as the situation demanded. The enlightened leadership persuaded people to pool their resources and at a time when it was impossible for any immigrant to even dream of buying a house, the Indian Workers Association made headlines when it purchased the then most famous cinema hall, The Dominion, on The Green, Southall, at a huge cost of £90,000, partly funded by the generous donations by its members. The Dominion later became the biggest socio-political platform for the Indian community in Britain to celebrate national events addressed by prominent leaders, both Indians and British, including late


prime minister of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi. It was a big achievement. The Dominion Cinema became a symbol of pride, not only for the IWA but for the entire Indian community. It proved a big morale-booster, infusing confidence among people who until then had remained confined to the factory life. They now felt encouraged to venture into their own businesses. It was a turning point. The mid-60s witnessed the influx of Asians forced out of East African countries, and also the arrival of immigrant families from the Punjab. The IWA took upon itself the responsibility of providin much help to the new immigrants without seeking any monetary assistance from the government. The proceeds from the Dominion Cinema were all used for the welfare of the community, providing free services, particularly on immigration which has earned it the reputation of being one of the most expert advisory centres on immigration matters. The organisation conducted a number of successful campaigns during 70s forcing the government change its discriminatory immigration policies and fought against racism through organising marches and demonstrations locally and nationally. The organisation has since its inception remained politically active and has to its credit producing leaders, who have attained national and international fame. Its offices on The Green, Southall, are visited daily by a large number of people seeking advice on immigration, passport and welfare problems. British Editor in Chief - Mr Virendra Sharma MP Members of Editorial Board Mr K N Malik - Former Chairman of Indian Journalist Association and Eminent Media Person. Cllr Jagdish Sharma - Leader of London Borough of Hounslow. Cllr Ranjit Dheer - Deputy Leader of London Borough of Ealing. Mr Krishan Bhatiya - An experience Journalist and Writer. Mr N S Shergill - Editor - Indians Abroad - International Directory of Punjabi NRIs Dr Vidya Sagar Anand - D.Litt, FRAS, FRSA, FOID, FABI, Freeman of the City of London.


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Punjabis in Parliament Baroness Prashar, known to her family and friends as Usha Prashar was born on 29th June 1948, in Kenya and moved with her family to UK in 1960s. She was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1994, and in 1999 was made a life peer, sitting as a cross-bencher in the House of Lords. A student of political studies and then social administration, she has had a long standing career in public service and notfor-profit sector. Baroness Verma, born in Amritsar, India she moved to England with her family in 1960. Sandip Verma a businesswoman, wife and mother of two, is a member of the House of Lords and was created a Conservative life peer of Leicester in the County of Leicestershire in 2006. She sits in the Opposition Whip and Opposition Spokesperson for Education and Skills for Health. Baroness Flather, born on 13th February 1934 is the first Asian to receive a peerage. She has been a life peer for the Conservative party since the 11th June 1990 as Baroness Flather, of Windsor and Maidenhead in the Royal County of Berkshire. She has held senior posts in numerous organisations involved in refugee, community, carer, race relations and prison work. Lord Paul of Marylebone is an Msc in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1983 and elevated to the British peerage in 1996. Swraj Paul was born in a town in Punjab and he started his career with a humble beginning at Apeejay Surrendra Group and has since founded the now large, Caparo Group of companies. Lord King of West Bromwich , was born in 1937 and was raised to the peerage as Baron King of West Bromwich, in the County of West Midlands in 1999. He attended Khalsa High School and Punjab University in India. He also attended National Foundry College, Aston University, Teacher Training College and Essex University. He is a member of the National Policy Forum and the Black Country Consortium. He had special interests in local government, education and small businesses. Lord Diljit Rana, was created a life peer as Baron Rana of Malone in the County of Antrim in 2004Lord Diljit Rana MBE is a Member of the House of Lords. He is the President of GOPIO International (Global Organization of People of Indian Origin) and the elected President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He is India's honorary consul in Belfast. Founder and Chairman of Andras House Limited, his company has substantial interests in hotels, restaurants and commercial property in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Alok Sharma is one of the newest additions to the list of parliamentarians of Indian origin. He was elected in 2010 as an MP for Reading West county constituency. Sharma is currently a governor of a local primary school in Reading. He is

also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the advancement of the Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce. Previously he served as a chairman of the political think tank Bow Group's economic affairs committee. Parmjit Singh Gill was the first ever ethnic minority from the Liberal Democrat party. He was first elected to the House of Commons at Leicester South. Born on 20th December 1966 in Leicester, he has lived all his life in the UK. He has experience in the fields of crime prevention, taxi licensing and racism. His political experience covers ten years. He is highly committed to fighting inequality and injustice. Parmjit Dhanda, born in London to Indian immigrants of Sikh Punjabi background on 17th September 1971, was the MP for Gloucester from 2001 to 2010 for the Labour Party. He was educated at Mellow Lane School Hayes, Middlesex, before attending the University of Nottingham, where he received a Bachelor of Engineering degree in 1993, and a MA in information technology in 1995. Piara Khabra, the Labour MP for Ealing Southall was the fifth Asian, and the first Sikh, to become a British MP. Originally from the Punjab in India, Mr Khabra came to Britain in the 1950s and was elected as a Labour MP in 1992. Khabra was the oldest MP sitting in the House of Commons, and at the end of his career was the only sitting MP to have served in the forces during the Second World War. He served the Labour party until his death in 2007. Marsha Singh has been the MP for Bradford West since 1997 from the Labour party. Prior to his political career he worked for the Bradford Community Health Trust and was also a part of the Directorate of Education for Bradford council. He has a degree in Languages, Politics and Economics of Modern Europe from Loughborough University. Paul Uppal is a Conservative Party politician who was elected as the Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West in the 2010 general election. He has the distinction of being the first Punjabi to represent the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, after winning the elections this year. He holds a season ticket for Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, and is a trustee of the second largest Gurdwara in Wolverhampton. Virendra Kumar Sharma was born in India in 1947 and came to England in 1968. He started out as a bus conductor before studying at the London School of Economics. He is a British Labour politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Ealing Southall since 2007. Sharma held on to the seat at the 2010 General Election. He is a local school governor at the Three Bridges Primary School as well as a member of the International Development Select Committee and the Human Rights Committee. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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Sir Mota Singh QC By Ramesh Vala n 2003, His Honour (as he then was) became the head of the family at the tenreceived a Lifetime Achievement Award der age of 16, shouldering the responsibilat the Asian Jewel Awards. During his ities of caring for both his siblings and acceptance speech he not only thanked mother. the panel of judges but congratulated As well as raising a family and develthem on arriving at the right decision, oping his legal career, Sir Mota dedicated before being silent for a few seconds and much time and effort to other activities, stunning the audience into silence. both during his time in Kenya and in the Laughter then broke out amongst his UK. He was a Member, Councillor and friends and the audience realised that his Alderman of the City of Nairobi, and the was yet another example of his wicked youngest ever Member of the City Council sense of humour. to have elected an Alderman. Whilst in Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, the UK, within six weeks of joining 79-year-old Sir Mota Singh became the Chambers, he made his first appearance UK’s first Sikh and Asian Judge in 1982. before the Court of Appeal and soon Since then he has received numerous acquired a reputation as a civil law expert. awards and commendations. He was appointed Examiner of the In the New Year’s Honours List of Supreme Court, Member and later 2010, Sir Mota was accorded the highest Chairman of the London Rent Assessment civilian accolade for his contribution to the Committees and a Member of the Race justice system when a knighthood was Relations Board. conferred on him. Born on 26th July 1930, he completed the then equivalent of GCSEs before leaving school at 17 to be part of the Kenya police force. Shortly after, he joined the East African Railways and Harbours Board as a clerk and enrolled as an external student for a BSc degree, before changing direction and reading for the Bar Finals. Sir Mota arrived in Sir Mota Singh became the UK's first Sikh and Asian judge in 1982 England as a student to complete his studies in law, before returnHis integration into western society, ing to Kenya where he practiced for eight whilst living his life in accordance with the years. He became an MP and Secretary of tenets of the Sikh faith were no better the Law Society of Kenya, before returning demonstrated than by his appointment as to England in 1965 where he started praca Circuit Judge in 1982; wearing a white ticing at Bar. Within just 11 years, he was turban instead of a wig. Evening appointed a Deputy Judge, Queen’s Standard cartoonist, the late great Jack Counsel, a Recorder of the Crown Courts depicted Sir Mota giving a lenient senand then a Circuit Judge. tence to an elderly white person. She Unfortunately, Sir Mota’s father has responded by thanking Sir Mota and hopnot been around to witness his outstanding that his head would get better soon! ing achievements. At the age of 36, his The cartoon was well received by the father was unjustly robbed of his life when Asian community and showed our comhe was stabbed in the chest after trying to munity felt sufficiently comfortable to be apprehend a thief who had robbed a able to laugh at ourselves. woman of her jewellery outside his house Sir Mota Singh’s achievements have in Nairobi. He died on the spot. Sir Mota been far too many to be able to list in a


His integration into western society, whilst living his life in accordance with the tenets of the Sikh faith were no better demonstrated than by his appointment as a Circuit Judge in 1982; wearing a white turban instead of a wig


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

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short profile but the following are good examples. In March 1999, Sir Mota was invited to address the Home Management Board Race Relations Equality Workshop. He went as a Trustee of the Windsor Leadership Trust to address a conference on personal insight into leadership. The object of the Trust is to inspire individuals from across the society to develop their leadership qualities and emphasise qualities such as personal integrity, probity, openness and honesty that are needed by the strategic leaders of the future. On 6th December 2001, Prince Philip invited Sir Mota to attend a private dinner at Buckingham Palace and thereafter to a discussion on the ‘Multi-racial Society.’ Such dedicated and selfless work indicates that Sir Mota truly deserves to be held in such high esteem. Through all of the praise and awards, he has remained humble and grounded whilst maintaining a strong sense of tradition and cultural heritage. His knighthood will not be the only celebration of 2010; he also has his 80th birthday, Diamond wedding anniversary and his mother’s 97th birthday to look forward to. This suggests that Sir Mota will also be with us for a long time to come (that will be a celebration for all of us!). Ramesh Vala OBE is one of only a handful of senior equity partners of Asian origin in the top 100 law firms in the UK. He is recognised for his significant services to the Asha Foundation, Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund, Anti-Slavery International, CancerBackUp, Get Kids Going and Food for Global Life.

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Paul Uppal: The man who took Enoch Powell’s seat By Anshul Gupta aul was elected MP for Wolverhampton South West this May in the General Election, with a swing of 3.5% towards the Conservative party, and winning over 16,000 votes. Born in Birmingham, he spent much of his childhood in Wolverhampton, and has been involved with work in the voluntary sector for the past 14 years. Even though now he runs his own business, in his time he has worked as his own builder, secretary, account, cleaner and lawyer. How do you feel about your heritage? I think the key for me is, and my name embodies this with my first name being Paul and the surname being Uppal, that I’ve always lived by the adage that I combine the best of both worlds. I think that for second generation or third generation Punjabis, that if they combine both of those values and take the best of both worlds, what you are left with is something that is infinitely superior that can be applied to many situations. For example, I’m the trustee of a Sikh temple in Wolverhampton. When I go there, everyone knows my father, who my grandfather was and who my great grandfather was. At one stage in my house we had four generations living in one household. For me, I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t been through that experience as it enriched me and broadened my perspective. Family dovetails very much with what the Prime Minister is talking about in terms of community and society, and the strength of our personal happiness; we seem to be very wealthy, but people are feeling a lot more miserable. So how did your apply these values in your campaign, and how do you apply them now you are an MP in Westminster? If you can manage an Asian family with all the internal politics of that, then this place is a piece of cake really. If you can keep your bhabhi, your mami, your buas and your chachis happy, then keeping Tory grandees happy is walk in the park really. If you come from a large extended family, it teaches you the ability to compromise. You become mindful that you are part of a team first and that it is a collegiate effort.


Paul Uppal

If you can keep your bhabhi your mami your buas and your chachis happy, then keeping Tory grandees happy is walk in the park really

Anshul Gupta is a British born Indian who studied medicine at UCL. He retrained with a masters in finance and entered the private sector working in finance and marketing. He is also a Governor of an Academy School


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

The campaign was a practical demonstration of my values, because it was a marginal seat; my constituency was brought under the umbrella of two others, and we worked them together as one unit. What do you see is the role of modern British Punjabis today? What do you think they have to offer in public life in public service that is unique? A member of parliament said this to me on my first day when I was being sworn in. He asked me how I was finding it? And I said, “It’s a bit daunting.” His response was that you have a wonderful opportunity here to express your own personal story and your own values, and that is what the chamber is there for. The Punjabi voice is very strong, especially in the urban West Midlands where I’ve grown up; it comes back to the original point that I was making, which was that I see myself as a bridge between two cultures, embodied in one voice. I am sure there are many more British Punjabis out there, who as they become involved in the political process, will echo those views and probably take them forward. I’m actually meeting the Indian High Commissioner about creating an AngloIndian relationship, which is a win-win situation for both sides; I would love to be involved in that, or advise anyone who would want to be a part of that. Do you think there are any aspects of being a British Punjabi, that has caused you hindrance or problems? When growing up in the West Midlands as a child in the 1970s, being called a ‘filthy smelly dirty Paki’ six times before you even got to school, was very tough. They say that anything that doesn’t destroy you makes you stronger, and for me that was the spur, as it burns that fire inside of you in terms of being ambitious. I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious, but I can tell you there is no nobility in poverty, and most people who have experienced it are very anxious to get out of it. In terms of my political experience, I haven’t encountered any racism; but maybe that’s just me because I do have that Christian name. Also society has

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changed, things have been moved on from what they were. Speaking again as a Punjabi, it’s a straight talking culture, pretty direct and say it as you see it sort of attitude, which I do think people like that in terms of being yourself and being genuine. What would you like to see the future for British Punjabis in the UK? To play their full part in society, and that just doesn’t mean politically; I would love to see the Captain of

the England football team be of Punjabi descent. There are also the arts, culture, journalism, theatre; We shouldn’t be so prosaic as to confine that to business, medicine and science. I mean one of the greatest things that I found was that for the first Cabinet meeting, all the newspapers were talking about that one of the Ministers was wearing a Punjabi suit – that’s a great story! It just goes to show that those avenues aren’t closed in life.

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The Battling Baroness, Sandip Verma aroness Sandip Verma of Leicester, born 1959, is a businesswoman, member of the House of Lords and currently a front bench spokesperson for the Coalition Government . Born in Amritsar in Punjab, she moved with her parents in 1960 to England. She has been married to Ashok Verma since 1977, with whom she has a daughter and a son. She stood for Parliament in 2001 and 2005, both times unsuccessfully. She was made a Conservative life peer in May 2006. She is now a Government Whip, and speaks on behalf of the Cabinet Office, International Development and Women & Equalities since the general election earlier this year.


Baroness Sandip Verma, front bench spokesperson for the Coalition government

There is a spirit within the Punjabi community that is found that gives you a level of commitment to others intrinsic to how our culture is formulateds

How would you describe your heritage, and how has it influenced your values? I am extremely proud of the fact that I am of Indian origin, and of my heritage because there are so many positive things about the Indian community. In fact we have been rather poor at translating it across to the rest of the world. I am proud of being able to be in a country, Great Britain, where I have been allowed to explore the strengths of my own heritage, but also challenge the negative parts such as discrimination against gender and other issues and fit into a forum in this country where I have been able to attain the levels of political achievement. It is a good balance between two massively influential nationalities on me – my Indian heritage plus my British nationality and the synergy between the two of them has been incredibly positive. How has it influenced you in terms of your values, especially your Punjabi heritage? The great thing is that I was born in Amritsar, the city of the wonderful Golden Temple, I was born a Sikh. The first thing you learn in childhood is the art of seva, which is service to others. Although maybe when you are children, you do it begrudgingly – you go


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

to the Gurdwara and your mother tells you to go and wash some dishes – you actually understand the reasoning behind it later on life. I think that has really influenced on how I have focused on whatever I have done in my life. The other thing that it has made me realise is that the discriminations that you face inherently, perhaps the difference between how boys are treated and girls are treated. There is a spirit within the Punjabi community that is found that gives you a level of commitment to others intrinsic to how our culture is formulated. How did your values and heritage influence your campaigns, where you stood for Parliament in 2001 and 2005? The first one in 2001 was in Hull East, where the majority of the population was all white, and I just wanted to make sure that I was willing to stand in a seat regardless of the nature of the constituency or its population. I was readily accepted, I did not face one day of anti-Asian or discriminatory type of nature there, I found the northern character very welcoming. That was very heartening because firstly it showed that I could be selected in a seat on the basis of my potential ability, and secondly there was a faith within the selection processes were looking at you as a person, rather than as a gender or an ethnicity. In 2005, I stood in Wolverhampton South West which had a 30% population of Punjabis – which of course now Paul Uppal has won – and that campaign was about trying to convince the ethnic minority populations there that they could be represented by somebody of a background similar to theirs. The challenges that I faced, and I am sad to say it really, because I did not have the difficulties with broader community, the challenges were trying to convince people from your own community that you had the ability to represent them as equal as to any other person or candidate standing. That was a cultural shock to me, it made me realise how

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totally unengaged minority communities can be in the political process. When I didn’t win, that led me to ensure that an incoming candidate, regardless of who it was, would have a much better opportunity to win the seat; so I made internal changes to the make-up of the constituency association. But I also wanted the public to understand that we have to have confidence and faith within our own communiti es to have them represent us; and I am glad and very happy that, although it is a small majority, that Paul has managed to become the MP for Wolverhampton South West. Times are very different in politics; whereas once before people were very tribal, that is not the case now. People will look at what is offered to them and what benefits them as individuals, as well as something that is collective. Now that you are a member of the government , how has your heritage, your values and your family – how have they influenced you? What I was instilled with very early on was the confidence in myself, the ability to believe that I was able to do what anybody else in this country could do, and there should be no barriers to it. If those barriers do exist, I was taught to think that firstly if those barriers are self -imposed, how do I

remove them? ; secondly, if those barriers are placed externally, how do I get rid of them? Throughout my political career I have tried to do what is not in my self interest, but for the greater good, the greater community. So if one is going to do that, then once in a while it of course becomes necessary to raise one’s head above the parapet, and take some of the flack that comes with it. However I see raising gender issues, or issues on race or colour as a must, they have to be done. Wherever I go, I always firmly put the responsibility back on the individual. We cannot constantly harp on about not having representation, not having an equal opportunity if we aren’t willing to first “try it” for ourselves, secondly if we are not prepared to support others who are trying to do it, and thirdly being persistent that we do have the ability to do it. What we cannot be doing, is blaming others for our own failures to challenge inequality time and time again. I think that is something that as a community we have collectively failed to do. When we have had a good story to tell about individuals in our community, we are reluctant to actually talk about it and celebrate it. Anshul Gupta is a British-born Indian who studied medicine at UCL. He retrained with a masters in finance and entered the private sector working in finance and marketing. He is also a Governor of an Academy school.



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Be a farmer, not a hunter his is the story of undying spirit. Of discipline and ardour. Of iron will and of skyward ambitions. This is the story of a man who dared to dream big, Mr. Surinder Arora, Founder and CEO of the Arora Hotels groups. Born on 22nd September 1958 to a loving and affectionate family in Punjab, Mr. Arora grew up with his maternal aunt and uncle as his parents took off to big make it in UK. But just as the family found that the boy was wiling his time and skills away towards gambling and other such vices, he was soon shipped to the UK to his parents. Taking life with an air-light approach, he instantly accepted two sets of parents in his life and considers himself extremely fortunate for the same. He was 14 years old when he landed on the UK soil and possessed zero English speaking skills. With his efforts, genius and family's guidance, he soon learnt the ways of the Queen's land. His first job was at the British Airways, where he worked for 11 long years. Not afraid of hard work ever, he used to work 20 hours a day. While working full time at one place, he would take up part time jobs simultaneously and soon learnt the ropes of the business. His excellent communication skills, knowledge of public dealing and sales and negotiating qualities brought him great success and recognition at his job. But the dormant entrepreneurial skills in him soon surfaced and he dared to start his own business. He strongly feels that there is nothing greater than working for yourself. It seems like the destiny is in your hands. With a sense of achievement he recollects how his bank managers warned him against the industry he was wishing to venture into, but he defyied all their views and dived straight into it. They told him how risky the hotel business was. But this determination saw him through all odds. From a humble start with one Arora Hotel converted from an erstwhile B&B, he now owns multiple hotels at Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester. He is Europe's top hotelier to the aviation industry. His entrepreneurial niche has been deep carved in the UK business arena. He is however a businessman with a conscience. He aims to achieve the highest and the best, but not at the cost of his people. When one of his female worker of two years was diagnosed with cancer, his company irrespective of the statutory regulations, continues to pay her a full salary. He says this is his preferred way of giving back to the society as against making a blind donation for a charity. His humane leadership stood the test of economic crisis too. Under his chairmanship, the group has not had to lay off a single employee out of



Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

his big family of workers. His giving does not end there. He has been associated with a charity with BA where terminally ill children are sent on a once in a lifetime trip to Disneyland Paris, since many years. He is also on the board of 'West London Working', where they are trying to get the youth back to work by creating opportunities, working in co-operation with the local Surinder Arora authorities. This speaks a lot of not only the business acumen this British Asian beholds but also of his 'Punjabi' generosity and big heart. Mr. Arora well aware of his family responsibilities, admits of his sincere but not always successful efforts of spending time with them. He is very grateful to his wife, Sunita for being the supportive homemaker and sharing the business with him. In doing so, she comprehends the pressures and sacrifices of running a family business. To summarise this great man's life, we share with our readers a few important life lessons he lives by. Gen-Next could well learn and imbibe into their lives early on as guiding light and as a mantra to success. As Mr. Arora says, “You should always respect elders, listen to everyone, never be too full of yourself and say, 'well I know everything', but listen to everyone”. He believes that one must do what one thinks is right. And the biggest tip of all is to never give up in life! Because if Mr. Arora had done so, he'd have never built his first hotel. He says that “life is all about challenges, and that there are two different types of people, there are folks who will walk away from challenges, just take the easy route and there are folks who stand there and face the challenges and say, look it's a challenge, let's climb up the hill and get to the other side.” The way I've always worked in life is I'd rather work as a farmer rather than a hunter. People out there look for a quick kill and say we don't really care what happens, as long as I can get to my goal, I just want to be there and I want to be successful and I want to get to x,y,z results. And then there are people who say actually I'd rather work as a farmer, step by step and be there for a long, long time. And Mr. Arora has stood by the same, he has always tried to be the farmer rather than the quick kill hunter! We wish this true farmer from Punjab all the success in his life's endeavours and hope he continues to make the British and the Indian community proud alike!

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Sanger on Success and Seva oginder Sanger sits amongst the crème de la always available to work because crème on the list of the most successful Indian overtime rate used to be time and entrepreneurs in the UK. From owning a small half." Whilst most would credit travel agency in East London in 1965, his business has the hard work of the first generaexpanded to owning four prestigious hotels in London tion, in establishing Punjabis in which include The Bentley in Kensington, The the UK, Sanger believes differentWashington in Mayfair, Courthouse Doubletree by ly. "In my time we used to say, Hilton in West end and recently acquired Palms Hotel, earn a little money and we'll go various properties, travel agencies and a life insurance back. Our children will never company. He has two more hotels under development even get the job of a bank manin London and another two in India. He has also recentager. But now because they are Joginder Sanger ly been awarded a community award from the House good in their studies, our recogniof Commons in recognition of his outstanding and lifetion is not our work, it is the earning of our children long dedication to philanthropic work in the UK and who have not only bestowed upon themselves with abroad. their hard work, education, and capabilities, they've also Like many, his success didn't come easy. Hailing made the recognition good for their own parents. This from village Apra near Jallandhar in Punjab, Joginder is what I think the community should recognize and the Sanger came to England in 1961 in search of a better country should know. The first generation should feel life and opportunities. After settling in England for a proud of their right decision to educate their children as few months, his father called him back to India. "Once the same has earned the recognition not only for their my father found out that I was working in a factory he children but also for their parents." wanted me to come back. He said, I sent you for studNevertheless, Sanger has done his fair share of ies and now you are working in a factory, why can't you hard work, and has also participated community work stay here and work on the farm or do some business ." and projects. From the 1960s, Sanger helped the However, working on the farm full time as well as lookIndian Workers Association as well as Hindu society in ing after other affairs was not difficult South London. Up until 1993, he was except that sometime he used to feel chairman of the Indian Sports and Cultural that people feel that he failed in England Association to promote kabbadi and The first generation and that is why his is back in Punjab. He Punjabi hockey. Today, he is most well should not forget said “I was unable to answer why I came known for his role as chairman of the back when people were begging to go to fundraising committee of Bhartiya Vidya that the right for England for better future”. He had bigger Bhavan, which promotes the rich Indian aspirations. He reached a point where he arts and culture and that of Balaji Temple education for their said "Enough is enough, I'm going back near Birmingham which promotes the children has earned to England.” Indian vedic culture and traditions as well After experiencing life in England, as inter faith harmony. He is also one of the recognition not where even an ordinary working person the patrons and/or trustee/donor of varican live a decent comfortable life, differ- only for their children ous other cultural/religious/social sociences in the lifestyles became very eties/organisations such as Gujarat Hindu but more for apparent to him. "I saw everything is society in Preston, Khalsa College in very disciplined. Whereas in India everyHayes, Singh Sabha Gurudwara in their parents thing was in short supply and more Southall, Sanatan Hindu Cultural Society & demand and without knowing someone Temple in Bradford and Indian Gymkhana you could note get things done. Here in Club in Hounslow etc. England, one thing that impressed me is if you work With much experience in the field of business and hard and you work honestly, there is opportunity for community work, we ask him what is it about Punjabis you. You will be a successful man. But in India you can that make them one of the most successful communiwork as hard as much as you like, but unless there's ties in the UK? He replies, “Punjabis are hard working some side pull you cannot succeed, you cannot get and honest but they are gullible. You can easily mislead your job done." them because they believe in virtues of truth. What is And Sanger certainly worked hard. His first job on their tongue the same thing is in their head and their was in a factory and during his first three-four years in heart, unlike many others. Maybe in todays crafty world England, he worked in various jobs including as a bus it's not a good thing. But in my opinion its a virtue, and a train conductor. "I used to make £8.50 a week they can stand in front of a mirror and say yes, I didn't for a forty four hour week and on the weekend I was lie or deceive.”



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The 'Badshaah' of his business rom years of factory work to fulfilling his dream of owning a Rolls Royce, London based clothing importer, Gurdip Gujral has made his fortune of an estimated £10 million. His import markets range from India, Pakistan, Thailand to Afghanistan. Honourably he has built up a noble reputation for his contributions to charity. Ariving at Gurdip Gujral's office I am instructed to make my way down what seemed like an endless corridor. At the very end I see Gujral walking towards me with a smile beaming from the very end. As we approach he greets me as 'beta', an affectionate Punjabi term meaning 'my child', and even before we enter his office he apologies for the mess. Looking around, there was a sense of haphazardness, papers everywhere, but on the walls were mounds of inspirational and motivational quotes, with tips for success and prosperity. Obviously for Gujral it's these sentiments that have propelled him to establish himself in the garment business in the UK. In 2001 he received the coveted Asian of the Year award and in 1998 received the honourable CBE from the Queen. These royalties were not bestowed upon him until years of hard work and adjustment to life in the UK. Hailing from an agricultural and religious family background in Punjab, after graduating he came to England in 1965 in search of opportunities. He says, “I realised that I didn't have money or resources to start my own businesses, so keeping that in mind, I thought let me get out of India and I might be able to do something with my life. So with that intention I came to the UK.” Talking about his experiences in the UK, Gujral talks about the difficulties he faced in the days where the population of Asians was not as vast as today. “I went to a few factories and they refused me, because of my colour. In one place they gave me an ultimatum; We will give you a job if you


Gurdip Gujral

They gave me an ultimatum, we will give you a job if you come without your turban

come without your turban. So that was very serious and it did hurt me,” he says. After some time, Gujral began to meet other Asians who he was able to confide in. One of his friends recommended that he should try pursuing market trading. He found that many Asians were going into this profession simply because it was an easier way to make a living than going through mainstream jobs. Gujral decided to give it a go, so his friend invited him to come to a market he also traded at. “We went early one morning to Petticoat Lane in Aldgate and I saw one market trader – a Jew, taking clothes out of a Rolls Royce. He then started hanging the clothes and then went to park his Rolls Royce. I was very impressed and surprised to see this and then I thought; there's no problem, I can do that too.” Today he has made a name for himself off of his own back. Reflecting on his problems he says, “Though initially I had problems with my turban, it actually turned around when I got working within our communities. With a turban I had an extra advantage, wherever I went I was respected. Once I was in the business, I never had any complaints about my turban as such, and I didn't experience any problems after that. Punjabis are very hard working, they are in many different fields; property, clothing, banking, they are doing very well.” Today, along with running his own successful business, Gujral, is a member of various social, cultural and educational organisations. He’s president of the International Punjab Society (IPS), as well as the Nargis Dutt Society for Cancer Research and Relief. The IPS aims to preserve Punjabi culture, language and history as well as propagating Punjabi issues. Members meet once a year on an international basis to discuss problems faced by Punjabis all over the world, as well as doing their share of charity work. I ask him what being Punjabi means to him, to which he replies, “Punjabi means everything to me. I love being Punjabi - Punjabis by nature are hard working. They are liberal, broad minded, open hearted, and they're everywhere in the world.” Then with a smile he says “plus they're the 'badshaah' type!” Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


Sec 2 to 34_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 10:48 Page 32



From Bhaji to Banking he last decade has seen Punjabi women take front lead in occupations ranging from medicine to military. Kamel Hothi, the first Asian woman to have a management position in banking is just one of those examples. She's been in the industry for 30 years, and has worked her way up. Inspite of no plans to have a banking career, she is currently the niche markets' director at Lloyds TSB. Talking to Hothi about her career motivations and family life, it was refreshing to know that whilst she enjoys a successful career, she has a tight hold of her values and culture. ven though Hothi came from a generation where women didn't work, she always aspired to be a Paediatrician. “I loved working with children. But for some reason I didn't discuss this with my father until the final crunch came and he realised it meant living away from home and just said, no that's not for you!” But with much encouragement from her brothers, who wanted more for Hothi than falling into the life of factory work, she applied for a job at TSB, and out of 300 other applicants managed to get the job. And although today working in a bank is a commendable job, there was much nervousness from her family, with Hothi stepping into the unknown. “It was more the issue of how my job would effect the family rather than being proud of someone who works in a bank. I mean my brothers used to drop me and pick me up from work, so it was quite policed!” When Hothi had her marriage arranged within a couple of years of working there, she had a similar reaction from her in-laws. “There was an implication that if you change your ways, become very westernised, cut your hair or start wearing a skirt then we may ask you to leave the job. Or even worse, stay at home or work at the local factory where the aunties are. So it was a bit of a juggling act.” Despite difficulties of career acceptance, Hothi talks fondly of her father-in-law. “He was a wise and genuine person, he really helped me. It was he who said to me you know, Kamel if you want a career in banking and want to

T Kamel Hothi: An unassuming role model for the young women

It was a bit of the wonder woman act; come home change from the corporate gear into the salwaar kameez and straight into the kitchen and make the roti's



Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

make an easy life for yourself, keep the two worlds completely separate. Don't come home and boast or tell anybody especially the women what you do, because they've never seen that world. So it was a bit of the wonder woman act you know, come home, change from the corporate gear into the salwaar-kameez and straight into the kitchen and make the rotis.” Hothi reflects that whilst that wisdom may not be what the next generation would appreciate, for her it was the best thing her father-in-law could have taught her and she has kept it to her heart. “I think for the first ten, fifteen years that's what has helped me survive and pursue both my career and my duty as a daughter-in-law, which is what my parents have brought me up to be.” For Hothi things were different for her generation from the present day youth, as their parents came here for one purpose, which was to better their families' lives. As a result, her parents well instilled those hard working ethics in her too. She proudly remarks her contemporaries who have similarly worked very hard, made a lot of money and accumulated reasonable wealth and achieved success at their jobs. Hothi who took 15 years to work her way up to a management position, regretfully attributes the long time taken, to the lack of degree education at that time. She feels that with the required degree she too could have had the desired jump in her career. Without any sense of regret she speaks of the women of her generation who invested a substantial amount of time in their children along with the responsibilities at work. Interestingly, most of her generation thought of education as the panacea to eliminate poverty from their lives. And while she believes that herself, she is quick to point the uni-focussed thrust that they end up putting on their kids as a way to compensate for the opportunity they never had, and vicariously trying to live 'their' dream of becoming a doctor or a solicitor through their kids. Only to find that their kids upon coming out of university and college are lot more westernised, assertive and a lots less risk averse. As a result,

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Hothi believes children may not understand the values of the extended family system and are much more challenging than previous generation in demanding to ask why do we do certain things and why they have to attend weddings with 600 people when they don't know three quarters of them. So in that sense it's quite a divide that she sees and feels and that as parents they need to reconnect with their children and spend some time in helping them see the value of family commitments and support structures that they created themselves and which have helped them to this day. But at the same time allow them freedom to grow in a western society such that they can flourish and pursue the careers of their dream. This woman of great success feels very uncomfortable when asked about her 'role model within the banking and Asian community' status, as she really never got into this career thinking she will someday become any sort of 'role model' and that she will be flying the flag for everybody else to follow. All she knew is that she struggled to get where she is and the reason for her setting up the Ethnic Minority Network was purely because she thought that she had something to pass on. It first occurred to her when she got some e-mails form youngsters who'd say, “Aunty, I'm struggling here; I'm going to have an arranged marriage, I haven't told anybody at work, I'm doing all these long hours, how do I explain that to my in-laws?” That's

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when it really opened her eye and she thought that there actually was a role that she could play, now that she is older and wiser and has been through all of that! She says that the network has made her really proud, helping and mentoring many women and men within the group. She feels very privileged in the role that she plays. In her words, “I meet a lot of people like CB Patel, who I feel have done a lot of work for the community and it gives me the opportunity to network. We can nominate these people and give them the platform and the profile that they really deserve. I'm just doing what I've been asked to do, and I'm just very privileged that I've got the opportunity to do it.”

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Banking with a Punjabi touch unjab National Bank (PNB) was established in 1895 at Lahore, the capital of undivided Punjab by nationalist leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, S. Dayal Singh Majithia and others, as a part of Swadeshi movement. In July 1969, the bank was nationalised along with thirteen other banks. Today, the bank has grown to become one of the front runner banking institutions in India with a business of around Rs. 436000 crores. Boasting over 56 million customers, 5000 offices, around 4000 ATMs, as well as being ranked one of India's top service brands, PNB is the second largest public sector bank in India. In May 2007, Punjab National Bank International Ltd (PNBIL), started its operations in UK with two branches in London and Southall. In 2009, they added two more branches at Leicester and Birmingham. They have recently opened a branch at Ilford and have plans to add two more branches at Wembley and Wolverhampton in 2010. Managing Director of PNBIL, Mr S.R. Sharma spoke to us about his role, and services offered by PNBIL to the community.


Mr S.R. Sharma, Managing Director of Punjab National Bank International Limited

Tell us about your background and role at PNB. I'm originally from Amritsar (Punjab), but now settled in Chandigarh. Having joined PNB thirty two years back as a Management Trainee, I've worked in various parts of India such as Punjab, Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh, and then came to London in December 2008 as head of UK operations of the Bank. PNB has presence in nine countries such as Hong Kong, Dubai, Kabul, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Norway and Kazakhstan. We are in the process of opening a subsidary in Canada and we intend to open a representative office in Australia. In India we have 5000 branches, virtually present in each and every state of the country with more concentration in Northern India. In Punjab we have more than 500 branches. The UK is the major initiative of PNB outside the country


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

With branches worldwide, what makes PNB stand out from the rest? Customer service and relationship banking are the hallmarks of PNB. Because of that, we are the natural choice of Indian diaspora in UK. We welcome customers to our branches and there are no entry barriers. Our doors are always open and customers can even walk straight to the Manager whereas in other banks, you cannot go beyond a point of interaction. Our satisfied customers are our best ambassadors and we get a lot of fresh customers through them. Because of our attractive interest rates, we are also attracting a lot of local customers. Tell us about the services offered by PNB. We are into retail as well as corporate banking. On retail side, we open deposit accounts such as savings accounts, current accounts, fixed deposit accounts, business accounts etc in three currencies i.e. Pound Sterling, US Dollar and Euro. We are the only Indian Public Sector Bank in UK issuing Chip and PIN based debit card to our current account holders, which is operable on all Maestro enabled ATMs and POS Machines. We also provide internet banking facility. Our account maintenance and cash handling charges are quite low in comparison to other banks. Same way, our exchange rates and remittance charges are quite competitive and we allow free remittance facility to PNB accounts in India. On lending side, we are not into residential mortgages, but we do lend for business purpose with low LTV ratio. However, our main lending is to Corporates, both Indian as well as local. What's next for PNB? In India,we have a five year business plan according to which we are targeting to reach business of Rs. 10,00,000 crores and 150mn. customers by 2013 through 100,000 touch points. As far as UK is concerned, with seven branches we hope to reach a business of around $1.35 billion by March 2011.

Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 12:01 Page 35



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Dalip Puri: Punjabi passion to stop at nothing ocused, passionate, quick-thinking, always on the go, are just some of the words which begin to describe the man that is Dalip Puri. As we meet, he informs me that over the past three weeks he has been in Singapore, Bangalore, and Amsterdam. For him the world is indeed a small place! Dalip Puri is Head of Multicultural Commercial Banking UK and Global Head of Indian Business for HSBC Group; and he very proudly informs me this month marks his 30th year working for HSBC. What exactly is Multicultural Commercial Banking? The model is exclusive to HSBC, where dedicated teams of relationship managers are positioned in locations where large immigrant business communities exist in the UK. At present the business communities covered are of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Turkish and Polish extraction. As Puri explains, “We are able to give superior relationship coverage as a number of the relationship managers are from the same ethnicity as the customer and are embedded within the community at large. They are culturally aligned and are able to engage at all levels with the customer.” “Focused activity within target communities allows specific campaigns for acquisition and helps businesses use HSBC’s global network.” Puri feels that HSBC has a service which can provide, and is best in class because of the global footprint of HSBC which is unique. “We have a natural advantage over our competitors and by setting up these Multicultural Commercial Banking teams, we can really open up the gateway and enhance engagement for both our existing customers and prospects.” Last July Puri was appointed as the Global Head of Indian Business for HSBC Group, an international role. In this capacity Puri is aiming to take the concept of Multicultural Commercial Banking and


Dalip Puri, Head of Multicultural Commercial Banking at HSBC

My work gives me a lot of thrill because to me, it's me. As I keep achieving, I feel a little bit less stressed


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

rollout the model to other countries where large Indian Diasporas reside. “Once we have Multicultural Commercial Banking units in number of geographies we will connect them to form a web which will enhance our service delivery.” With Puri's successful endeavours, what are his secrets of success? He recollects his father giving him one crucial piece of advice which was, “Son, hard work has never killed anybody, so don't come home and say I'm working very hard.” It seems that working hard has become a trait innately ingrained in many Punjabis, perhaps the reason why we see them excel in almost all fields of work. As Puri reflects on the Punjabi community, he notes “they're very entrepreneurial, hard working and robust in their business endeavours. They don't feel scared to go anywhere and this is why they are able to create a space for themselves wherever they go. Boundaries and barriers don't usually exist for them.” Puri's Punjabi dedication is reflected in his time at HSBC. In a recent reunion of his MBA batch in Bangalore, he found he was the only one to have worked for the same company for 30 years. “I sometimes start wondering is it because nobody else wants me or is it because I'm in my comfort zone? I think the answer to me is that HSBC has always given me opportunities when I wanted them. They've never let things get stale and that's the organisational strength which makes HSBC great.” With these values and passion, it is clear that Puri will continue to excel in his field. In his words, “my work gives me a lot of thrill because to me, it's me. As I keep achieving, I feel a little bit less stressed.” As Dalip sees me out of the HSBC headquarters in Canary Wharf, he tells me that in half an hour, he's off to address a young entrepreneurs’ seminar in the HSBC Leeds office. A man truly always on the go!

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The Singh Twins: Politics in Art eaving no stone unturned, Punjabis have even made their mark to last generations to come in the field of contemporary Art. With an international standing, British Punjabi artists, The Singh Twins have revealed the potential in Indian art; challenging stereotypes and encouraging areas of debate. Their intelligent work is instantly recognisable with a witty style that transcends cultural barriers. With work displayed in private and public collections worldwide they continue to be in high demand to speak on their work. The Singh Twins aka, Amrit and Rabindra Kaur talk to us about their roots, motivations and inspirations.

had faced as young Asians (from our peers and negative media stereotypes of Asians), to assimilate or conform to western values and lifestyle. It seemed to us to reflect colonial attitudes of ‘West is best’. We decided to challenge those attitudes through our art, which promotes the value of non-European and traditional art forms and cultures as being just as valid in contemporary art and society, at the same time also exploring issues of shared, cross cultural heritage and identity that invite people to reassess how they view and evaluate their own identity in relation to ‘the other’.

Tell us about your upbringing in a Punjabi home. Although we grew up in a predominantly white British community and were educated in a Convent school, we have always been very proud of our Punjabi roots, thanks to the influence of our extended family. But the Punjabi aspect of our heritage was really strengthened when we went to India for the first time as teenagers. We had the opportunity, amongst other things, to visit all of the key heritage sites associated with Sikhism, where we gained a much greater understanding and appreciation for Sikh history and values. Also, our Punjabi background has shaped our personality and art. We have inherited the Punjabi high spiritedness, exuberance, colour, humour, as well as its characteristics as a hard working, resilient, adaptable and determined community.

Do you find any conflict between being Sikh and Punjabi? The emphasis on personal and collective dignity, self worth, community and family are common to Punjabi culture and Sikhism. We believe they have shared a strong sense of and commitment to justice and fair play, which is why Punjabis of all faiths have generally been at the forefront of India’s Freedom movement for example. The core values are inseparable to some extent but slight differences do occur when it comes to day-to-day life and social practice. For instance it is sad to say that drinking is a common characteristic of Punjabi culture whilst it is clearly unacceptable in Sikhism. And many of the traditions practiced around the Punjabi wedding are more cultural than religious. So it is possible to separate culture and faith at times.


Amrit and Rabindra Kaur aka 'The Singh Twins'

Works on political themes enable us to contribute to express our own views on things that anger us in the world today

What has been your motivation for pursuing a career in the arts? Our decision to become professional artists was influenced by the prejudice we experienced at university where art tutors dismissed our interest in the Indian miniature painting as backward and outdated. We felt this attack on our art heritage was an extension of the kind of pressure we


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

Where do you draw your inspirations from? From our personal experience of being British Asians, to politics, religion and pop culture - mostly responding to particular events around us.

Why have you chosen to bring out political issues in your work? Because we believe in the power of art to communicate ideas and challenge the way people think about the world around them and are particularly inspired or moved to paint things that we feel strongly about. Politics is a very emotive and important subject for us in that respect. Works on political themes enable

Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 02/07/2010 18:02 Page 39



us to contribute to express our own views on things that anger us in the world today, and to contribute to the wider debate on issues that affects us all. For example in our Nineteen Eighty-Four painting and our portrait of Bush and Blair we wanted to create works that expose what we see as the corrupt politics and injustices surrounding those historical political events. The atrocities perpetrated against the Sikhs in 1984 is something that we should all be concerned about regardless of faith or race because it resulted from a pattern of human behavior, rooted political greed and thirst for power. That has happened before and can happen to any of us, any time. What is your message to the young generation of British Punjabis in the UK? The Singh Twins' most recent work, titled 'EnTWINed' Be proud of who you are as British Punjabis, without loosing sight was promoting equal rights for women, centuries of your traditional heritage. It is possible to gain a balbefore the Suffragettes came on to the scene. It’s not ance between a respect for tradition and the need to a case of having to choose between two cultures, or progress in a modern world seeing the positive contrithrowing the baby out with the bath water. Pick the bution that our traditional values can offer modernesobest from both worlds ciety. Remember for instance that Guru Nanak Dev ji

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Breaking the media mould lasgow's most famous Sikh, Hardeep Singh Kholi has achieved success as a writer, TV presenter and comedian in mainstream media, a field we rarely see British Punjabis take front running. After training with the BBC, Kholi went on to write, direct and star in television programmes such as Channel four’s Meet the Magoons. But he is probably best known for participating in a celebrity version of The Apprentice as well as reaching the finals of BBC one's Celebrity Masterchef. We talked to Kholi about being Punjabi, his inspirations and saving on hair-care products!


Hardeep Singh Kohli, TV personality and writer

I think its really important particularly in this day and age, that we understand, Sikhs have no exclusive orientation of being Punjabi. Being Punjabi is bigger than any single religion

Did you have any Punjabi influences in your family life? My family life was fairly straightforward and uncontroversial. We went to the temple every Sunday, we went to a double bill of Bollywood movies every Sunday. The thing about being Punjabi is that it's not a culture thing you are aware of everyday, it's a general sense that permeates into every part of your life; food, partying....heavy drinking! Has your Punjabi background influenced you personally and professionally? Yeah absolutely. We are the party people, the 'good times' people and so that's kind of influenced me. You know the live show I do now, is basically cooking for an audience of three hundred. My Mum used to cook for three hundred without ticket prices! We’re a kind of fun loving people, and you know it surprises me that there aren't more Punjabis working in comedy, because we are you know, fundamentally a funny kind of people and we are the best dancers in the world. Growing up in the UK, how did you feel about your Punjabi roots? Very proud. Out of all the identities in India, I think its one of the strongest. The Punjab, because its cross religious, there's Hindu Punjabis, Muslim Punjabis and there was a Punjab before there was Sikhism or Islam, and probably even before Hinduism. Is there a lack of British Punjabis in the media? There are people working behind the


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

scenes. People have been here fifty years. Things are still changing in the industry and it’s taking time to wake up to the reality of the television industry. The media generally isn't ahead of things as much as it thinks it is and in terms of real positions of power in the industry, that's still pretty much dominated by white men. Punjabi culture and Sikhism are considered by many to be inseparably intertwined. Sikhism was born in Punjab and is part of the soil of Punjab – Sikhism wouldn't have been founded anywhere else because of the geographical position of Punjab, and the political situation of the time. To be Sikh is to be Punjabi, and to be Punjabi is to be Sikh. But also, I think it’s really important particularly in this day and age that we understand Sikhs have no exclusive orientation of being Punjabi. Being Punjabi is bigger than any single religion. What does wearing a turban mean to you? I'm very lucky to have been born into what I believe to be the most forward looking religion in the world. My identity is who I am, it’s what I've grown up with. It’s a sense of great pride that I come from a line of such great people, and maybe one day I might live up to the expectations of being a Sikh. And it’s saved me a fortune on hair care products! Which British Punjabis have been an influence on you? Gurinder Chadha has definitely been a visionary for an entire generation, you know not just as a Punjabi, not just as a Sikh, but as a woman in a man's world – at the the very top of her business and I gain a great deal of inspiration from her. But to be really honest with you, I'm inspired by the Punjabi families that work in shops seven days a week and run restaurants seven days a week, do the very best for their families and their children. That's more inspirational than anything else. That's where our work ethic comes from - you know I'm getting goose bumps just talking to you about it. I'm very proud to be Punjabi, I'm very proud to be Sikh. I just wish we lived up to it a little bit more than we do.

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Giving Punjabi’s a Voice The largest UK public funded law firm Duncan Lewis Solicitors is owned by a Punjabi. Nikki Bhogal, Marketing Executive at the firm writes about Duncan Lewis and some of their key Punjabi players. uncan Lewis is one of the country's fastest growing firms of solicitors, servicing both corporate entities and private individuals. This growth has been derived from a simple mission: to provide a reliable, accurate and practicable legal service. In 1998 Amarpal Singh Gupta (more commonly know as Shany), Nina Joshi and one other, set up Duncan Lewis. Shany qualified in 1996 and practised as a Litigation/Public Law Solicitor for over eight years. As C.E.O Shany Gupta is now involved in the day to day management and direction of the Company. The Company operated from one office specialising in only four areas of practice and has, under his direction grown to become the largest supplier of Public Funded work in the UK with over 400 staff in six different locations of London and the Home Counties. The firm now provides services in 18 practice areas and represents over 20,000 clients per annum. Turnover figures for Duncan Lewis for the last financial year was just under £18 million. Projections for the next financial year anticipate an increase to more than £20 million; thus showing that hard work and determination does pay off. It is apparent that Duncan Lewis is much larger than a high street firm and the management board consisting of seven and the firm’s thirty partners are required in order for the firm to continue to grow. There is a strong Punjabi influence throughout Duncan Lewis, from admin support, caseworkers, trainee solicitors and solicitors to partners and the management board. Duncan Lewis’ key areas of law include Family and Child Care. These areas are headed by partners Amanjit Lalli and Jitender Birah who are both Punjabi professionals and have seen the department grow significantly over the past few years to make Family and Child Care, Duncan Lewis’ largest and most profitable department. Our Crime department has more than doubled over the past 18 months and partner Hardeep Dhaliwal who has been at Duncan Lewis since 1999 has overseen this department grow and develop, to cover Crime in all of our offices. Our Immigration team is another key practice area for Duncan Lewis. Gurpreet Vagha, who joined as a caseworker in 2001 and progressed to solicitor, head of department and now is the Partner at Duncan Lewis, has worked with the Harrow team and has shown how effective a business model can be worked efficiently to develop a small team to what is now - the largest team in terms of employees at Duncan Lewis. Gurpreet


Vagha has now moved to the Employment team in the Hackney office to transfer her management skills to this key area of law. Our Immigration team still has a Punjabi influence, with Parminder Sandhu heading the department in Harrow. Gurpreet Chaddha, Angela Rani, Harpreet Sihra and Satvir Mann carry out Immigration work across our other offices. Duncan Lewis has a conAmarpal Singh Gupta (more commonly known veyancing department, which as Shany), CEO Duncan handles both commercial and Lewis and son of Sarabjit Singh Gupta, Mbarara, residential property and is headUganda ed by Rupinder Kang. She undertakes a considerable amount of high value secured lending and acts for both borrowers and lenders in the purchase, financing, leases, subleases and leaseback of significant valued commercial properties. In addition to acting in traditional commercial property related transactions, Rupinder also acts in the sale and purchase of franchises, nursing homes, warehouse units and the property aspect of mergers and acquisitions of companies. Rupinder advises residential property developers and individual clients on a wide range of transactions including portfolio building, residential freeholds, leaseholds, share of freehold, extension of leases, right to buys, re-mortgages, shared ownership, transfer of equity, transfer of part, key workers scheme and new build properties. Landlord tenant disputes are dealt with by our litigation team. Sundeep Oberoi, based in our Harrow office deals with both contentious and non-contentious matters and has a broad range of legal experience ranging from preparing commercial agreements for clients to engaging in complex litigation or dealing with regulatory matters. He comes from a private practice background, where he has spent a great deal of time, acting for owner managed businesses and other high net worth private clients. Shany Gupta, CEO of Duncan Lewis comments: ‘We have a strong influence of Punjabi employees at Duncan Lewis from admin levels through to management. However we have a very diverse working environment with over 60 different ethnic groups working at Duncan Lewis. This makes it a diverse and interesting environment for all to work in.’ The strong Punjabi influence at Duncan Lewis is a prime example that British Punjabis are succeeding in the business world. For more information about Duncan Lewis please visit our website, email or phone 020 7923 4020. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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Perseverance and that extra effort is key to success orn in Mullan Pur Garib Dass, a village near Chandigarh, Professor Nathu (Nat) Ram Puri studied Mathematics followed by Law and Psychology at Punjab University. He came to London in 1966 where he studied Engineering, before working at a Nottingham engineering company, FG Skerritt. In 1975 he left the company to embark on his own career as an engineering consultant. Within eight years he returned to FG Skerritt, only this time as the owner. In his words he says, “Its much cheaper to buy a company than trying to build them up.” His empire now spans paper, engineering, and plastics with operations based in UK, USA, Germany, China, Mexico and Hungary, collectively employing more than 2,500 people. At one stage the Group employed near 10,000 people. In 1983, he consolidated his various businesses into Nottingham based parent company Purico. Today, he's popularly cited as one of the richest man in Nottingham, and has even entered the Britain's Richest Asians List. These days he spends most of his time on voluntary and charitable projects. He is well known for his philanthropic work, giving something close to £1/2 million a year to charity. We spoke to Puri about his successes and tips for today’s youth. With an impressive resume what’s the secret of your success? Nobody sells a good business for a cheap price. I didn’t have much money so I could only buy businesses which I could buy cheaply and I had one criteria that it should have a good market. Their problem was manufacturing; I hoped to improve the manufacturing and start making profits. They were all loss making, or at best break even when I bought them. Being a consultant, I knew how to look at things. You have to solve why things aren't working and what's wrong, so I carried that into manufacturing. I found that a lot of people never learnt how to plan a manufacturing operation and still, it is the same in many companies. They manufacture one piece here then move it to the other end, from there they will move it back, instead of having


Nathu (Nat) Puri, founder of Purico Group

I don't look at it as myself being successful or not succeessful. Every day is a new day, you go out and do your best. I don't worry about the result. Results will come if I do things right


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

a production line installation or as close to it as possible. What is the most common mistake people work in acquiring new businesses? Whatever you did yesterday, you might be number one in the quality manufacturing process but today you're not. Between yesterday and today, other people have caught up, so now you've got to start all over again to be number one. This is what most people don't understand, it is a necessary process requiring continuous improvements. Tell us about the various community projects you are involved in. We have schools and supported programs in the Nottingham area We also have scholarships for Indian students at Nottingham University, Nottingham Trent and London Southbank University. I have set up a research institute in Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat. I built a school in my village, and done many other things in villages around that area. We have 700 one teacher schools running in Nepal, which we fund. How do you feel when you're cited as one of the most successful Asians in the UK? I don't look at it as myself being successful or unsuccessful. Every day is a new day, you go out and do your best. I don't worry about the result. Results will come if I do things right. Money is a by product of your success in doing things. Don't make decisions because you want to gain something quickly, make them because they are the right decisions. What would be your advice to British Punjabis in UK today? I think my advice would be do whatever you want to do and do it well, but don't give up lightly because the difference in effort between success and failure is small. People give up after 99% effort, and the extra bit is what makes you succeed, so persevere, but not blindly. However if you believe in what you are doing, you have got to carry it through. Something will happen, it may not be exactly what you thought would happen, but something else may happen. Keep your eyes and ears open and make the best of whatever comes your way.

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Puja Saggar – Event Organiser Passionate to promote British Asian Culture uja Saggar is the Founder and & safety qualifications – held only by a few Managing Director of Shreem Events within the Events & Exhibitions industry. Limited which earlier this year sucPuja believes that continuing professional cessfully launched the Zee Asian Pavilions development is the key to offering the best at the UK’s leading home consumer exhiservices to her clients saying “we never bition, the Ideal Home Show. rest on our laurels but actively seek out Puja, a UK born Hindu Punjabi, is a new ways to better ourselves. This is defiBA (Hons) Accounting & Finance graduate nitely a work ethic that stems from my who qualified as an ACCA accountant with Punjabi roots – to work smarter, be PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). After a resourceful and to always offer our clients number of years, Puja left her role as a value for money in whatever we do.” It is this professionalism that led to Corporate Tax Consultant with PwC to fulPuja’s appointment as the co-ordinator of fil her long standing ambition to join the the newly launched Asian Pavilions at the Events & Exhibitions Industry. Puja’s father, Vijay Saggar, has an association of over 35 new-look Ideal Home Show earlier this years with the Exhibitions Industry and has year which attracted over 250,000 visitors been a service partner at many of the UK’s over its new seventeen day show format. top exhibition venues. It was the many The Asian Food Pavilion and the Asian years that Puja had spent helping her Lifestyle Pavilion were specially created to father as a youngster that has given her a recognise the ever increasing popularity of passion for organising live events. Asian food, culture, fashion & lifestyle in the UK homes. This show is only one of a Puja’s first exhibition was as Finance line up of many new & exciting events that & Operations Director of the Asian Lifestyle Show – a three day exhibition celShreem Events is currently working on. ebrating British Asian lifestyle & culture. Those wanting to find out more about Puja undertook the full hands-on manageupcoming events can visit www.shreement and day to day running of the Asian or can register their interest Lifestyle Show from its launch in 2004 to by emailing 2007. With over 300 exhibitors and 40,000 visitors annually the Asian Lifestyle Show exceeded all expectations and was praised as one of the most successful shows ever staged at Olympia’s Grand Hall and was even a finalist for the Best Launch Show award at the AEO Excellence Awards. Working on the show for four years gave Puja a thorough industry knowledge and in 2007 she set up her own company Shreem Events Limited - an events & exhibitions management services company 100% vegetarian that provides unique, innovative & Vegan Use it to add rich flavours to cost effective event solutions for Gluten free curries, soups and pastas, its clients and other bespoke sup100% vegetarian No artificial colours / vegetable dips or basted on meats. Vegan port services in sales & sponsorpreservatives The garlic paste will keep for Gluten free ship, operations, logistics, health No artificial colours/ preservatives No MSG about 3 months in the fridge. and safety and marketing. In No MSG Requires no oil, salt Requires no oil, salt or onion order to provide her clients with or onion the most comprehensive service atonline she went on to gain the highly Buy onlineBuy at • 0845 127 7400 Tel: 0845 127 7400 regarded IOSH & NEBOSH health


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Making waves on radio amed one of the twenty most powerful Asians in England in 2005, broadcaster/entrepreneur Dr Avtar Lit is the owner and chairman of Sunrise Radio Group. With the first airing on November 5th, 1989, Sunrise has made its reputation as one of the greatest Asian radio station in the world.” Today, the Lit corporation has expanded to Punjabi Radio, Kismat Radio and Sunrise TV, with an average weekly reach of 483,000 listeners. Talking about his roots, Lit describes living in Punjab as the type of life you can't really get in Britain. He left the world of fresh melons, sugar cane, vegetables, and mangoes, at the age of eleven. He arrived with his family in Tilbury and with typical British weather, they were welcomed with three inches of snow! After settling in the UK, Lit pursued a somewhat unconventional career by Punjabi standards, in broadcasting. He expressed the need for an outlet to represent the Asian community and felt at that time there wasn't enough strong Asian media. “There were one or two Punjabi newspapers, mostly talking about back home. The print media never really took hold in the Asian community in the UK, even today. And my interest was in the electronic media, I wanted to communicate to the masses. But more importantly, I was interested in the editorial control, as opposed to simply doing programming, and playing music anthems. I thought it was essential for the well being of Asians then, and the future generation of Asians to get a foothold in the media.” Quickly recognising this gap in the market, Sunrise instantly became a platform for Asians in the early stages of its airing. It had a phenomenal following and today has paved the way for many radio stations that have come into existence since then. As well as serving the Asian community, Sunrise has also launched it's very own Punjabi Radio, catering to all things Punjabi. Speaking about Punjabi culture in the UK, Lit says, “I think we've come to a happy state in the UK today because of the Punjabi music beat and the North


Avtar Lit, the entrepreneur who has 'lit' the lives of many with radio

My mother still asks me, when are you going to get a proper job!


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

Indian cuisine. The third and fourth generation of Asians, whether they're Bangladeshis, Gujaratis or Marathis, they are all beginning to relate to Punjabi culture, food and music. What's happening is that because the Punjabi culture is so rich in all those things, the Gujaratis haven't managed to transpire Punjabis into Gujaratis which they did in East Africa. In East Africa, a lot of the Punjabis that were there, they remained Punjabis, but became very familiar with the Gujarati culture because they were the majority there. Whereas in the UK, I think we have successfully turned the other communities towards the Punjabi way of life!” Talking about the the future of the next generation Lit expresses the importance of acknowledging the contributions made by previous generations. “They sacrificed their lives to settle the Asian communities here, but nevertheless progress shouldn't be held back, because people

who are older don't have a monopoly on wisdom or ambition and I think the young Asians should enter public politics and not stick to these safe havens. For example, we have a lot of Asian lawyers. What I'm saying is there are so many professions which are still under-represented by the Asian community because those professions don't provide the accepted respect within the Asian communities. Probably broadcasting was one of them up until recently. My mother still asks me, when are you going to get a proper job!”

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Rami Ranger: The biggest asset for us is our next generation community r Rami Ranger MBE, FRSA has worked his way up the entrepreneurial ladder to become one of the most successful Punjabis in the UK. Hailing from Gurjanwala, Punjab, Ranger graduated from Punjab University in 1971. Arriving in the UK he initially worked in a fast food industry, before becoming a self made man. In 1987, Ranger set up his company Sea Air and Land, followed by Sun Mark Ltd three years later. One specialises in shipping and forwarding and the other in marketing of consumer products. His companies quickly became one of the fastest growing companies in Britain, receiving the Queens award for enterprise in 2010. As well as running his own business, Ranger is actively involved in a range of social and political activities. He is chairman of the British Sikh Association that promotes interfaith dialogue. He also set up the British Asian Conservative Link to make Asians more publicly and politically involved. With countless achievements, we talked to Ranger about his success, challenges and take on the Punjabi community.

D Dr Rami Ranger

What was life like for you when you came to the UK? When we first came, understandably, these people were miles ahead of us. When you come to someone's country, language is a barrier, their culture, there are many obstacles. So naturally, we did not enjoy as much respect as we are enjoying today because we never had a track record. But now we have a track record of success, people know exactly who we are. What motivated you to start your own business? Many of us were forced into our business, when a bad employer doesn't look after his staff he goes and works for the competition, but in our case, even the competition didn't want us. So we had no choice but to start our own business. Punjabis are a success story. I don't think

there is any area where you will not find Punjabis doing excellent or excelling. How has the UK changed now? The changes have come because we have bought about changes, because the community has worked very hard. Before we came nobody used to open their corner-shops after 5.30pm – they saw the Asians are taking away all the businesses. We were competing with them. At that time people used to hate curry, now they can't get enough of it. So that shows how far we have come. What is the secret of Punjabis' success? Punjabis are from a border state, they were under attack from people across the world, whether they were Persian, Turkish, Arabs. So for that reason Punjabis are always hard working because every-time they would make something, they would lose everything, so they had to start all over again. Our community by working hard, by becoming asset, by adding value , they made it much easier for the next generations. The biggest asset for us is our next generation community. So, we are probably the most effective community in terms of benefiting society, because we invest a lot more in our children.

What meaning does being Punjabi hold for you? Punjabi means free spirit: work hard, play hard, a liberated community. There are no barriers to “Punjabiness,” great sense of humour, a vibrant community. They're even great farmers, great soldiers, great athletes. They are the drivers in all fields. If you remove Punjabis, there would be nothing left.

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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Kulveer Ranger: Proudly Punjabi rom dabbling his hands in various occupations such as IT strategy, property development, fashion and even resident DJ, Kulveer Ranger has settled for director of transport policy for the Mayor of London. He's the man behind some major transport projects in London, including the introduction of the oyster card and King's Cross redevelopment. With much debate over the identity crisis amongst British Asians, Ranger talks to us about his personal experiences of striking a balance between his Punjabi and British roots.


Kulveer Ranger, a progressively rooted British Punjabi

The challenge for our generation is to have that link with where we are, whichever part of the world we now live in

What does the Punjab homeland mean to you? Punjab doesn't really mean that much to me - the names of all the towns and the villages, all these kinds of places don't really resonate with me. I would suggest also, not with a lot of my generation of Punjabis, who probably like me, know that their grandparents came from Punjab, pre-partition, and a lot of that is in Pakistan now, so don't go there that often. And then when families moved out into different parts of India as with my dad's family to East Africa, followed by a further transition maybe to the UK, America or Canada, home for you is where you were born and brought up, so you have kind of two or three different jumps to get back to Punjab. And although in your hearts of hearts you would like to feel this romantic sense of belonging to the homeland and you can romanticise that, but whether you have that emotional link to it, I suggest we don't because we've been moving around the world over these last fifty years and I think the challenge for our generation is to have that link with where we are, whichever part of the world we now live in and are born in. Do you think there are any drawbacks to the Punjabi culture? There is one thing we may be slightly guilty of and that is gagging success as a community by the amount of money we have. Not necessarily in the bank account, but by the car you drive, the amount you can pave over your garden to create a car park in the front of your


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

house so you can put more cars in there, and how you can keep the main lounge in the house extra special for when guests come and you never use it unless guests come! All these things we laugh at but our parents take pride in, a bit of that will always get passed down to us. So now, I think we have to start looking at how we evolve our priorities and what is important to us. Whether it really is material goods or whether it is also a primary function of the Sikh ideology which is seva (selfless service). And seva is not just about going to the Gurdwara, making langar (free food offered by the Gurwara) and ensuring that the Gurdwara works. It’s actually about the whole community we live in, not just the Sikhs. And I think that's where our new generation, young generation may want to start thinking about. What does it mean to be part of the community and what does seva mean in 21st century Britain. Who has been your biggest inspiration? People are inspired by seeing other Asians involved in something, its all about role models and inspiring people. I think probably the first Sikh who inspired me, which just began to cross that media divide was Tony Patti. Tony Patti is a DJ on Sunrise radio, but he was one of the first guys that actually did something at the BBC, and I remember when I was young, seeing Tony Patti and whenever he'd play out he'd have this introduction which introduced him as Tony Patti, the man from the BBC, and I thought oh god yeah, Tony Patti's working at the BBC. But then you've got to look back further as well, my great inspirations have also been my grandparents, especially my grandfather, who played a huge role in being involved in a broader segment of the society. For example, he was advising the BBC on ethnic issues in the 70s, and we come along and we think it’s the first time we're doing this, but people have been doing this for donkey number of years and our grandparents did try. My grandfather was the president of the Shepherd Bush Gurdwara for almost 10

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years in the 90s, set up the Punjab times newspaper in the 60s, first Asian newspaper in the UK. So you know there was a lot that they were doing to help their community and also cross over the boundary of explaining to a broader public, a broader community of the UK, what Sikhs were about and who they are. How important is wearing a turban to you? Up until a few years ago, in the mainstream media through my entire youth, I didn't see anybody with a turban. I didn't see anybody in major public activity or events or anything, and it wasn't until I feel Monty Panesar emerged as an English cricketer, you know that suddenly, oh look this guy, firstly there was that oh look he wears a patka but as soon as it was just he's a great spin-bowler, that all disappeared and that was a real watershed moment. I feel followed closely, by the emergence of someone like Hardeep S Kholi, in mainstream British television as not just character who wears a turban but as a really funny guy, a intelligent articulate person and in the sixty years that Sikhs have been in here those are the two people you can point to, and they've only emerged in the last three or four years, so what was there that was giving our youth and our young Sikh males even the Sikh community, something to say, we are here and we're quite happy to be turban wearing Sikhs – there was a gap there. And now more people can see more Sikhs getting involved in those areas, whether it be politics, whether it be media whether it be sport, I think that will generate self confidence amongst the Sikh community, and I think it will be better for how we generally interact in the world around us, and feel more confident about who we are.

What does being Punjabi mean to you? As you grow up, being Punjabi plays a large part of who you are. Its why I love my mirchaa, spicy food, our music, culture and although we live in a very mixed environment with lots of different cultures, whether it be African, Chinese, English whatever, we have such a great diversity to revel in. We can bring our community to that and have all these influences on you. And its great to feel confident in who you are because then you can enjoy all these other cultures around you. I think the challenge is about handling the insecurity within, I mean if you don't feel secure about what it means to be a Punjabi/Sikh, or if your identity isn't clear to you then you find it difficult to understand how to relate to other cultures. I'm just quite happy that I had a great family and community around me within which I grew and then its up to you to make the most of it. What would your advice be to the young generation of Punjabis living in the UK? My advice to the younger generation would be to revel in being who you are especially if you're a British Punjabi. Take pride in your history, your culture, your food because other people do. The non Punjabis or non Sikhs take pride in what we and our ancestors have done. And make the best of who you want to be. Never feel there is anything you cant achieve - be inspired by lots of people but never feel that you are disadvantaged. You are actually advantaged to come from a rich history of which a lot of people are proud of, not just the Sikhs. In a way we have a lot to live up to, but in another way we have a great platform to keep building on and lets keep doing that.

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10th ASIAN ACHIEVERS AWARDS (AAA) 30th September 2010 The prestigious Asian Achievers Awards is hosted every year by UK’s leading news weeklies Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar to honour British Asians par excellence.

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Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 11:31 Page 50



An overview of Punjabis in Britain By Councillor Ranjit Dheer akshmi Mittal is the richest man in dreds of multi millionaires including Mr. Britain today and he is a Punjabi. His Sanghar, Mr. Gurdip Singh Gujral, Mr. story says it all! Punjabis have come Gurnam Singh Sahni, Mr. Loomba, Karan a long way from being the sturdy farmers Billimoria...The Sunday Times Rich List is a and the tough hardy soldiers who have roll call of the great Indian success story. been fighting invaders for centuries on the Punjabis have crated huge influence north western frontier of India. Exposure in Britain’s political parties also. The late to advanced western societies as free citiPiara Singh Khabra became the first zens of proud and independent India in Punjabi MP in 1992 which was a great the post war period has given them breakthrough for the entire non white unprecedented opportunities to translate community in Britain. He was soon joined their creative skills and enterprise into sucby Dr. Ashok Sharma, Paramjit Dhanda, cess in many areas of professional and Marsha Singh and more recently by commercial life. Virendra Sharma all of whom represented For nearly two centuries, Punjabis the Labour Party. Paramjit Dhanda made went to a large number of British colonies history when he was appointed a Minister as civil servants, skilled craftsmen, policeof State in 2003 by Tony Blair. Mr. Paul men, soldiers and small businessman. But Uppal has the distinction of being first now, there are settler Indian communities Punjabi to represent the Conservative in most countries of Europe, Middle East, Party in the House of Commons after winCaribbean and even south America. From ning in the elections this year. Lord Australia to the west coast of America it is Tarsem Kang is a member of the House of difficult to find a country where we do not Lords. Lord Swaraj Paul was one of the have small or large number of Punjabi Deputy Speakers in the upper house until migrants. During a visit to Britain in the the recent parliamentary elections. early seventies of the last At the local council levcentury the late Mrs. Indira els, there are approximately Gandhi paid tribute to the 200 councillors of Punjabi oriEinstein once said Punjabis for their skills of gin. Many have served as enterprise and adventure Mayors and cabinet memthat ‘a bag of by saying that she had bers. Others have achieved belongings is not found Punjabis living and success as Leaders and the only thing a working in even remote Deputy Leaders of local areas of many countries of Labour councils. There are refugee and a the world. also a large number of migrant brings to Einstein once said Justices of Peace in local his new country that ‘a bag of belongings is areas who serve as magisnot the only thing a refugee trates. Judge Mota Singh has and a migrant brings to his served as a judge of the new country’. And, Punjabis have literally Crown court. A large number now serve proved this to be true! Punjabis who came as Tribunal and District Judges, Queens to Britain after the second world war Counsels (QCs) and Crown Prosecutors. brought only three pounds in their pockPunjabis have also distinguished ets. The newly independent India could themselves as academics, medicos and not afford more at the time because of forscientists. In fact, it would be difficult to eign currency shortages. Short on cash find a university which does not have but rich in hard work, enterprise, ambition Punjabis on its staff. In the media field, and creativity...Punjabis have reached for there are dozens of daily, weekly and the skies in every field of life in Britain. monthly magazine together with radio And, now the richest man in Britain is a and television stations. Punjabis feature Punjabi! prominently in the annual awards list honBut he is not alone in the field of ours by the Queen. All in all they have business and industry. There are others, done India proud with their achievements too, Lord Swaraj Paul and Lord Bagri who and the contribution they have made to are also billionaires. And there are hunBritish society.


Councillor Ranjit Dheer

About the author – The author Cllr Ranjeet Dheer is the Deputy Leader of Ealing Council. He is also a Justice of Peace and has served the Borough as Mayor in 2001 and 2002.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 11:31 Page 51



Making their mark in a foreign land By Councillor Jagdish Sharma ver the last fifty years, Punjabis have left their motherland, venturing to come to the UK hoping for a better life. Many looked to England for a new adventure, economic prosperity and even opportunities for educational advancement for their children. I was an MA postgraduate myself and a college Lecturer in Ludhiana, Punjab teaching Economics. Many Punjabis came from India, but many also came from Uganda and Kenya to make a life in the UK. As well as the many professionals who came here there were also unskilled workers who found good employment, education and prosperity in the UK. But the beauty which made settling into the UK so successful for everyone was the remarkable spirit of friendship and camaraderie that bound the community together. Friends and neighbours, family or not, helped each other with selfless abound to ensure that each other were looked after and able to put down roots in this new land. It wasn't long therefore, before the Punjabis started to create community centres and religious places to continue this spirit and keep the traditions of their motherland alive, forever in their hearts. Those early arrivals made sure they helped their fellow immigrants to settle in well and helped them find work. The Labour Party, then headed by Harold Wilson took very appropriate steps to open doors to immigrants to gain employment in the civil service - in fact there was no shortage of jobs in the 60’s and early 70’s. Many highly qualified people accepted white collar jobs just to gain a foot in the door, and then went on to make remarkable efforts to seek promotions so that within a few years many were holding very responsible positions within their fields. Entrepreneurs established their own businesses and were soon flourishing. They started to buy their own properties, which the local community found hard to believe. For some it was too much to fathom that their old Asian colleagues were now so wealthy. In the last fifty years, Punjabis, along with all other Asians, have become an incredible force in the UK, in all walks of life from the economic contribution they have made and continue to make, as well as the political involvement and progressivesness that has made Britain what it is today. There's even the massive cultural contribution they have made to British life, through the media and the arts. Further generations of British Punjabis have now been able to build upon the solid foundations their parents set up and have brought Punjabi culture and profile well into the British mainstream. From introducing traditional classical forms of art and literature into British life, we now see bhangra being played in mainstream clubs and celeb parties. Names that have made it in international music such as Jay Sean, from my own borough of Hounslow as well as actors and writers like Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar, also a Hounslow Punjabi lad. Punjabi Radio stations abound and there is the famous


Sunrise Radio headed by Avtar Lit. Kuljit Bhamra MBE is one of the most inspiring musicians on the British Asian music scene working on many famous British Asian films like Bend it Like Beckham and Bhaji on the Beach, and also Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bombay Dreams, another example of how the Indian culture has been taken to the hearts Councillor of the wider British public. Punjabis Jagdish Sharma is have made their niches in every walk the leader of London Brorough, Hounslow of life in the UK. In politics, there are many brilliant and dedicated people of Punjabi descent who have made a significant contribution to the House of Commons and Lords, the European Parliament and in positions as Mayors and Leaders of the Councils across the country. I consider myself privileged to have served the London Borough of Hounslow as the UK’s first Asian Mayor back in 1979 and inviting the Queen Mother to open one of our school sports halls here, and now leading the Council through significant times of change in 2010. It amazes me to see how the Punjabi community as well as other communities have flourished before my eyes from the days since I first arrived and became involved in politics. I am also proud to see the efforts of the community in providing social outlets such as those to the elderly and needy and the tremendous contribution of numerous philanthropists. Punjabis are indeed fully integrated into British society from the wonderful food to films to politics to community to music, sport and culture, enjoying their new and now established home away from home. For the younger ones this is the home they know, but imbued with the prints of their heritage. I am pleased to pay tribute to my fellow Punjabis in this special edition in order to commemorate a wonderful journey in this country from the days when I first came here and was helped by loyal friends to the present day when one can look with pleasant happiness at the great contribution we have made to this country and the great place this country has in our hearts. Jagdish Sharma was first elected in May 1974 as Councillor for Hounslow West and became the UK’s first Asian Mayor in 1979. Married with two sons, he spent thirty years as a teacher, mostly as a Head, and thirty-two years as a magistrate. He has been and is involved in numerous voluntary and charitable activities. Councillor Sharma became Deputy Leader of the Labour administration in 1992, Leader of the Labour Group in 2006 and was elected Leader of the London Borough of Hounslow in May 2010. In 1995 he was awarded an MBE for services to Local Government and in 2000, was given Freedom of the Borough to mark twenty-five years service. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 15:20 Page 52



By Sanjay Suri

The Magic Idiom hat one word that got spoken, eventually, between us two Punjabis, made all the difference. It was that word that is never as rude to sisters as those who don't use it seem to think; those who do are only spontaneously respecting the traditions set by our forefathers and shared by so many others that we share a world with. The word that's like a punctuation mark that marks also the tone of the language before and after, the word of only apparent abuse that more often announces endearment, the word that captures a world, at least the world of the north Indian male. The word that brings down barriers and opens hearts. I do here report my exhilaration when Mr Sidhu said it to me, but don't really expect everyone to understand my feelings on hearing it. Or the fact that Mr Sidhu and I really became friends only after that. Up until that time we had only shared some transplanted similarities of separately landed Indians; then on we became connected, rediscovered ourselves as members of a bonded community in a place where it could have been so easy not to. It was an unforgettably blissful moment. We'd gone out shopping in Hounslow for dinner that Mrs Sidhu was going to put together for us. I was struggling with something as simple as opening a plastic bag. Can't do even this, Mr Sidhu said, and that mild exasperation provoked the magic moment. Sometimes the banal, if not the ridiculous, can produce the sublime. In any case, we all have experienced those times when the expression of little irritations throw people apart, and less frequently, pull them together. Time and place had of course to be in place for the rest to become possible. We were both categorised NRIs because our separate postmen knew our address by heart by now. What we shared through what others saw as our mutual NRI-ness lay less in our adoption of both India and England than, in their separate ways, their formal but uneasy adoption of us. Or, the unacceptance. Indians disliked us for leaving, maybe


Sanjay Suri


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

for getting to be the ones who left. The British, mostly, accept us the way some BJP moderates accept Muslims on the grounds that they can't after all be thrown into the sea. In India you call this kind of acceptance secularism, in Britain multiculturalism. Neither arises from the heart. It's like turning Gandhian because you've run out of ammunition. This state is quite commonly spoken of as a spanning of two worlds, or even a shunning by them. But it is really not about either or both, but a third. Our occupation, and the perception of others, creates something other than either, just as looking through differently coloured slides creates a new colour. Rather than a bit of both, the NRI really has citizenship of a third state, and it's a little surprising why this has not so far been duly recognised as Enaristan. It is our common citizenship of this third space, state really, that made it so deeply significant for Mr Sidhu to call me, yes, that. A word from one land spoken on the land of the other can take on quite different meanings; or at least, become meaningful in different ways. Like this magical connector of a word. But in London it had progressed from connection to mark a fusion of land, location and experience. That defining word of the Indian male unfettered by shyness or sahibdom had been spoken in London. On the well-established scientific and sociological principle that the whole is usually greater than the sum of its parts, this word too, in travelling from one world to find voice in another, developed into something more than a linking word between individuals; in travelling like us it became the language of our third world because it informed itself that in moving from one soil to another, it too had changed to take on a new meaning beyond inorganic juxtaposition. Anyone who isn't squeamish about these things will not quarrel with a suggestion that in India use of the world is traditional. In India those traditions are safe (as we hear all around us). In foreign lands you have to

Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 16:54 Page 53



work at them because you need to connect with others who are also reworking these traditions into their lives. It is a deliberate means of rediscovering fellow humanity in a newly installed world. In saying it, Mr Sidhu had reached out. Because he said it deliberately, and not by way of reflex release of cultural baggage; that might have been the case had he spoken it spontaneously on, say, dropping some of the shopping accidentally. Mr Sidhu said it like he was almost imploring appreciation over its use, in the full confidence that I'd take it as distance-cutter, not abuse. The word was delivered self-consciously – like a verbal hug that carries the depth of a cultural bond. The essential NRI never ever gives up saying the word – or something else of which it is the metaphorical equivalent, though somehow there isn't quite another bridging word as this one. And he must say it a little self-consciously, to emphasize linguistic rootedness that triumphed over physical transportation. Regular countries don't know these things. It's only the accompanied but immeasurable baggage migrants carry that can build new worlds within countries, with old building blocks that take on a new shape through the transportation. Mr Sidhu and I could theoretically have left that word behind, and England is of course too ignorant to know it. But the NRI is forever trapped between the business of

Rickie Sehgal, Transputec Computers Rickie Sehgal is Chief Executive of Transputec computers, founded in 1984. Transputec computers offers Professional services, Product fulfillment, Software development, Managed services and many other services. Through traditional Punjabi style of sheer hard work and determination, Sehgal has worked his Rickie Sehgal way up the entrepreneurial ladder where he now enjoys the successes of his IT solutions company. Apart from being his own boss, he is involved in many cultural organisations such as the Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisation, the Hindu Forum of Britain as well as being the brains behind the now prestigious Diwali in London. Talking to Mr Sehgal about the Punjabi standing in today's society he says, “They have begun to accept that we as Hindu Punjabis are quite valuable members of society, our ethics are very strong, we like business, we like to succeed and we're very competitive. Not that we've expanded from Southall we're in every part of the country. We've got everything that we want, we really don't need them, I think they need us more!”

shedding selectively and preserving carefully. There's no preservation like self-preservation, and no self-preservation that does not include a connection with accepting others -- because that is then the same thing as solitary confinement. At least as much as the hard currency he left for, the NRI seeks the currency of human connection and acceptance. Society gives us a few magic words sometimes that are a shortcut to acceptance. Between Mr Sidhu and me, one word, one moment, transported us from circumstantial similarity to cultural commonness. That magic moment worked for me and Mr Sidhu; no doubt other words, other ways have worked for others. But essentially, it's quite the same thing. The NRI is not just some being out to make money; he is essentially a being in a new habitat searching hard, even desperately, for connections and commonality. I shall for long carry the regret that I failed immediately to honour Mr Sidhu as he had honoured me. I did make up for this lapse later, but only well past the magic moment. I can only say in my defence that I was overwhelmed at the time. Mr Sanjay Suri is the Political Editor, Europe Television Eighteen UK Limited (Excerpt from 'Indian Essentials' published in July by Penguin India.)


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Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 12:27 Page 54



UK National Health Service – the contribution of Punjabi and Asian Doctors unjabi’s and Asians have contributed to the rich history and success of the NHS since its inception on 5 July 1948. It has been estimated by historians that in 1945 there were some thousand Asian doctors working in the UK, of whom approximately two hundred were in London, most of them GPs. The greatest influx of Indian qualified doctors did not begin in the UK until after 1948. These doctors were well suited to work in this country as their training had been in English and based on the UK Medical Curriculum. In order to deliver the health services envisaged by the NHS, especially after the end of the Second World War, Britain needed trained doctors from overseas and this initiative was ironically spearheaded by Enoch Powell. Indiatrained doctors have worked in the NHS since 1948 serving patients with respect, empathy and with conviction. Indian-trained doctors and nurses who came to work in the NHS often ended up practising in areas and clinical specialities which were not attractive to the UK trained health professionals. These areas included inner cities with high indices of social deprivation or specialities that were not financially attractive. Rosina Visram in her book ‘Asians in Britain’ documents many examples of the selfless work of Indian doctors in deprived areas and the reoccurring trend of their involvement in local politics. Notable examples include Dr Baldev Kaushal (1906-1992) who worked in Bethnal Green and was awarded an MBE in 1945 for his gallant services during the blitz in East London; Dr Sukhsaggar Datta (1890-1967) who worked in Bristol, and as an active Labour Party participant seconded the resolution at the 1945 Labour Party Conference calling on the British Government to withdraw from India; Dr Harbans Gulati (1896-1967), who worked tirelessly for over 40 years in the working class district of Battersea and was the pio-


Dr Onkar Sahota MBA FRCGP

About the Author Born in Punjab and Dr Sahota came to the UK with his parents in 1961. Schooled in England he qualified in medicine from Sheffield University, later specialising in Family Medicine. In 1999 he obtained an MBA from London Business School and has worked on World Bank and DFID funded projects in Russia and Uzbekistan. He was elected Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners in 2009. He heads a group of NHS practices in West London, striving to work in the community for social reform and is active in politics.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

neer of “meals on wheels” service. The role of doctors trained in the Indian sub-continent in the NHS has been long recognised, as evidenced by the comments of Lord Cohen of Birkenhead in the debate in the House of Lords in 1961: “The Health Service would have collapsed if it had not been for the enormous influx of junior doctors from such countries as India and Pakistan” Lord Taylor of Harlow in the same debate said: “They are here to provide pairs of hands in the rottenest, worst hospitals in the country because there is nobody else to do it”. Many of those doctors who have settled in the UK since 1948 and particularly those who arrived in the 1960’s either had retired or were approaching retirement in the earlier part of this century and it was difficult to find doctors to ‘step into their shoes.’ This, combined with the expansion of the NHS since 2000 meant that again the UK Health Service had to look overseas for recruitment of doctors and nurses. Prime Minister Tony Blair said in an interview in 2003: “More staff are being trained and recruited within Britain, but that takes time, so we are now working with other nations to welcome well qualified health professionals from other countries to work in the NHS whether it be for a short stay or an extended period” It is estimated that currently nearly one third of doctors practising in the NHS are from the overseas and that the majority of these overseas doctors are from the Indian sub-continent. This is quite a surprising statistic given that the ethnic minorities only represent 8% of the general population. Doctors and nurses from the Indian Sub-Continent, including Punjab, have helped to make the NHS a success story of which the world is envious and continue to form its back bone.

Sec 35 to 66_A4 Temp 05/07/2010 14:55 Page 55



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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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Punjab shining in Northern Ireland By Lord Diljit Rana ver one million Punjabis now live and work in the United Kingdom. Many are among the most successful and widely respected entrepreneurs, writers and parliamentarians. The size of the community throughout the UK, including Northern Ireland, the region where I have lived since 1966 and developed one of Ireland’s biggest chain of hotels, has resulted in Punjabi becoming the UK’s second language. This is also reflected in the fact that the number of entrants for GCSE and A-level examinations in Punjabi exceeds those for all other Asian languages. After almost 50 years in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, we can laud a thriving Punjabi community. The industrious and enterprising first generation is now giving way to self-confident and increasingly successful second and third generations. Punjabis are now at the forefront of life in the public, private and community sectors. In virtually every walk of life, members of the Punjabi community are prominent and successful. They are also distinguish themselves by their commitment to the well-being of the United Kingdom. They include industrialist and parliamentarian Lord Paul, Lord King, businessmen Dr Avatar Lit and Ramjet Singh Bali, politicians such as Virendra Sharma MP, former Mayor of London, and Baroness Sheila Flather, the first Asian woman to gain a seat in the House of Lords, Baroness Usha Prashar, Chair of the UK Judicial Appointments Commission and many others. What sets Punjabis apart from other communities in the UK is their entrepreneurial achievements and their willingness to be bold risk takers in business. This characteristic can be traced back to their native Punjab, a state in which people have had to surmount the turmoil of invasions stretching back into the mists of time, back, in fact, to the era of the historic Indus River Valley Civilisation in 2000 BC. Invasions through the Khyber Pass by the likes of the fearsome Huns and Mongols have given Punjabis a steely determination to survive and overcome. This gritty characteristic is now evi-


Lord Diljit Rana


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

denced in the willingness of Punjabis to take calculated business risks, to be bold where others are hesitant. It underpins my own approach in business. Over 30 years I’ve seen my businesses destroyed in the terrorism that gripped Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1994. I was determined not to be beaten by the terrorists and focused on rebuilding my businesses, investing in property, fashion shops, restaurants and building a strong chain of hotels under established brands such as Ramada, Holiday Inn Express, Ibis and Days. Punjabis have been residents of Northern Ireland since the 1930s, settling in Belfast and many other urban areas. They began in business, selling clothes, textiles and other products door-to-door, then moving into their own factories and catering businesses. Today, Punjabis in Northern Ireland make a major contribution in business, creating jobs particularly in shirt making, as well as in education, medicine and law. Punjabi’s are integrated and are highly regarded in Northern Ireland. Over the past decade, with the support of the Government, but driven largely by the voluntary efforts of the Punjabi community, our culture has blossomed and spread throughout our whole societyfrom dance, Bhangra, music, traditional and modern, to film, drama, theatre and television. Punjabis also play an important role within the Indian Community Centre in Belfast, an organisation now completely integrated and widely respected by local political leaders and other sections of the community. Leaders from other sections, including civil representatives and local politicians of the Northern Ireland community regularly join in celebrations at the centre such as Diwali and Independence Day. A further measure of the integration of and respect for Punjabis in Northern Ireland was my election as President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, the region’s pre-eminent business body and my elevation to the House of Lords in recognition of my work to promote peace and political progress in the region.

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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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The Punjabi kuddi who 'just keeps going' r Gunveena Chadha, Director of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), who has been posted at the UK chapter on a two year secondement has a slightly different story to tell of her transition to UK. Unlike how immigrants felt when they moved here decades ago, with no friendly or familiar face, miles away from home and having distanced all communal ties, Gunveena settled in quite comfortably. She says, “I don't feel out of place, out of country or out of home at all. Every street I walk into, I run into Punjabi Indians. Anytime I think today I want to eat roti, I can smell the roti. I just walk into the restaurant and someone would definitely come and speak to you in Punjabi, so culture wise and family wise, it's been very easy to settle down here.” At times she does reminisce about the wonderful grape vines outside her grandparents' house and the mango trees which she and her friends used to pluck fruits from. She remembers the many wonderful vacations she spent in Punjab. But this is more of a reflective recollection of an adult. Dr Chadha spoke of her delightful and serendipitous encounter with the CII ten years ago. It was when she was working in Dar-e-Salaam that CII had organised one of its 'made in India' shows, where they organise


Walk supported by


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

trade fairs across the world, showcasing Indian industries, Indian products etc. As a business participant from her company of that time, she first got into contact with CII. She says, “Honestly speaking, I was really impressed by the way the organisation worked, by the way it just did such amazing work for the industry. And Dr Gunveena Chadha, a strong woman this was my expewith undying spirit rience as a person who did not know about CII, was not working with CII at that time and then when I was thinking of relocating back to India – CII was right there at the top of my mind.” She has done a variety of work at the CII and each experience began with a challenge at first, however these very challenges have kept her interest in her work alive. Being an economist by qualification her first work was in the economics division. It was exciting at that time as India was bringing around a lot of changes in the industrial policy and the CII would actually sit with the Government and the industry leaders and work with them. All this used to amaze Dr Chadha who was then new to the business. But today, she is a proud Director at the same organisation with over a decade's experience and has successfully organised an international meet of UK and Indian businesses and government just as we speak. Her success can be attributed to her hard work, perseverance and her Punjabi spirit of 'just keep going'. Talking about Punjabis she says, “My Mom says we are perhaps an amalgamation of everything that is best in the Indian culture. We have everything that belongs to the Indian culture, at the same time Punjabis are so free because we are not tied down by anything in our religion which tells us not to do this or that, or this is right and this is wrong.” To her, being Punjabi is like the concept of religion – gives you freedom to be yourself and excel. “I think that the freedom of idea and thought is really amazing.” Lastly this Sikh Punjabi kuddi bids adieu saying,“Be fiery as Punjabis are, always be that and just keep going as Punjabis have always done.”

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Untraceable Nightmare By Kailash Budhwar t was early 1980's. My English colleague introduced me to this visiting young Punjabi Journalist that evening, when she sprung a surprise on us. She took out from her bag a newly printed passport and a pack of currency notes of the "Republic of Khalistan". She had been gifted these; invited to a secret meeting when visiting Canada. My colleague saw the foreboding of trouble for his friend but I kep t explaining to him not to worry as this pipe dream of a few fanatics could never materialize. The news from Punjab kept growing like an ominous shadow day after day. The danger looked imminent for anyone, any day over there. I explained to my colleague: mixing religion with politics has always been the most lethal virus. Even the most sophisticated, the most intelligent, lose their commonsense when pois oned. India had been partitioned in the name of religion in 1947. My colleague asked me "HAD PEOPLE NOT LEARNT ANYTHING FROM HISTORY?" Then yet another capital of the " Republic of Khalistan" was inaugurated in Bayswater. The people of Punjab, the most prosperous state of India, suffering bouts of violence, blamed sinister elements active abroad. I was invited by my English colleague to meet his family in Cornwall. They were curious to find out the background of the trouble that my colleague's Punjabi friend was in. The Punjab which had ushered in the green revolution in 1960's became the anvil of terror with so much blood shed for nothing. I had to go into historical background as his grandfather was in the Punjab in the British Army during the Raj . He knew why Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan. He was mystified how then the troubles in Punjab flared up. I had to tell him how the ISI devised a plot to create mayhem in the Punjab so that Kashmir along with that state would segregate from India in one throw. The unemployed youth there were being brainwashed, herded, trained, armed and funded from somewhere


Kailash Budhwar

else, definitely not in Punjab. When my English colleague returned from his posting in Africa in 1990, we met again. The trouble in Punjab had become a memory; the nightmare disappearing like a shadow. He kept asking me why his Punjabi friend's family had remained confident that Punjab could not break apart. I had to take him to a Gurdwara Langar to show him how an outside conspiracy could not tear apart the two communities who were so intertwined. They prayed together at each other's place of worship , observed common festivals, shared common inheritance. He could observe there that both Hindu and Sikh families had sons-inlaw or daughters-in-law in intermarriages. I told him that traditionally in the Punjab, in very many Hindu families the first born son became a Sikh. That is how there was no trace left now of the bitterness anywhere between them that had been injected and infected by sinister vested interests from abroad. I inquired later whether he was keeping in touch with his Punjabi journalist friend. What he told me shocked me to my bones. I knew how close they were. During the troubles he had been advised every time by his Punjabi journalist friend to cancel his planned visit. When he did not hear from her for a while, he was really mystified and worried. Then one day to his horror he was confided, on phone, by the younger sister of his most beautiful friend that she had been brutally murdered by some goons accusing her of being an informer. Kailash Budhwar is a International Consultant , Political Analyst and regular Commentator on South Asia. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Journalist Association (UK). Budhwar has worked with All India Radio and the BBC in London, where he was Head of Hindi and Tamil Sections. He currently engages in regular lectures at International centres, seminars and conferences. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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Tadkas and Tandoori: Punjabi cuisine goes global unjabi cuisine, known for its diverse dishes and rich food originates from Northern India. In rural India, Punjabi food is mainly served at a dhaba, a roadside food joint that is visited by truck drivers and travellers. When the British conquered Punjab, they found that on the periphery of every village there was a special Dhaba where food was offered to most by passers. Even today you can't come out of a Punjabi home without having enjoyed and in some cases, forced its hospitality. The aroma and spice of Punjabi food has travelled around the world and today has become ingrained as part of British culture, with restaurants brimming all over the UK. Whilst holding a great reputation for being pioneers of good food, perhaps their even greater reputation lies in their indulgent consumption of these mouth watering foods.

P Sital Maan, owner of the oldest Punjabi restaurant in UK, ‘The Punjab’

Dishes of Punjab

The famous Sarson Da Saag and Makki Di Roti


Punjabi cuisine means no fuss, frills, or fancy accompaniments. Punjabi food is all about flavour to the max! The winter there brings about the defining dish of the Punjabis; Makki Di Roti and Sarson Da Saag. In many a Bollywood films we are taken to the endless yellow mustard fields of Punjab which makes this characteristic Punjabi dish. Saag, a gravy made out of mustard leaves, is enjoyed with Makki Di Roti, an Indian flatbread made out of corn flour. But no meal would be complete without a sizeable serving of Lassi (sweet or salted curd drink), a popular and refreshing drink amongst the Punjabis. Other dishes, which belong exclusively to Punjab, are Maah Di Dal’ (lentils), Rajma (kidney beans) and Parathas (a shallow fried type of bread). It's cuisine is defined by its flavoursome masalas (spices) and liberal use of desi ghee (clarified butter), probably why many of our Punjabis sport a fuller figure! Also known as the land of ‘milk and honey,' milk and its products are an essential part of every day cookery, with curd and buttermilk being a essential accompniant with every Punjabi meal.

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

Punjab’s Parathas

Punjabi tandoori cooking is also celebrated as one of the most popular cuisine's throughout the world. Huge ovens, half buried in the ground and heated with a coal fire, cook marinated meat, paneer, rotis, naans and many other scrumptious varieties of food!

Punjabi cuisine in Britain Food in Punjab is tailor made for the Punjabi lifestyle in which most people burn up many calories while working in the fields. For us UK residents however, eating just one dish is enough because life in the cities is rather inactive in comparison. Today a typical British Punjabi household meal would consist of roti (chappati), daal, yogurt and curried vegetables or meat. The base of these Punjabi meals known as the thurkha includes onions, tomatoes, cumin, turmeric, ginger, masala, and spice all cooked with oil or butter. Taking home cooked food to restaurants, Punjabi food has come to be amongst one of the favourite cuisines in Britain today. And Punjabi food has proven to stand the test of time with the oldest Punjabi restaurant in the UK - 'The Punjab' established1946, still serving the tastes of the land even today. ‘The Punjab’ restaurant has served generations of diners in Covent Garden London, and has even attracted the likes of Martin Short, Raj Kapoor and Kulveer Ranger. Speaking to Sital Maan the owner of ‘The Punjab’ he reveals the success of his restaurant is sticking to the traditions of Punjabi cooking; strictly no deviation from authentic Punjabi food! He says, “When you put haldi (turmeric) and all the other masalas, its a different flavour. You get addicted to it.” And let's hope Britain continues to be addicted to this well travelled and distinctive cuisine for many generations to come.

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Bhangra: Punjabiyaan di Shaan hether you love it or hate it, there's no denying that Bhangra music has become a phenomenon worldwide. It's injected it's shoulder rising, light bulb busting and feet thumping sound to the masses. The UK has been home to some of the top Bhangra artists and producers, who have come to express a new style of Bhangra through the sounds of Punjab and the West. Taking it right back to its roots, it is speculated that Bhangra has existed as far back as 300 B.C. There was a time when Bhangra only existed amongst wheat farmers in the Punjab, who used to dance in the fields and sing Bhangra songs to pass time. People sang Punjabi bolis (small couplets written in the Punjabi language) with the beat of the dhol drum and instruments such as the tumbi and chimta. Gradually it became more widespread and people used Bhangra for celebrating diverse occasions, such as weddings and the new year. Bhangra then travelled to the UK with the migration of Sikh Punjabis in the 1960s-1970s. It was then that the first wave of Bhangra began with groups such as Heera, Alaap, Apna Sangeet and A.S Kang. Their success created a fanbase both in the UK and Punjab and became a way of keeping their culture alive in the foreign land. The 1980s inspired an era known as the “bhangraheads” which refers to the age of Bhangra music which lasted from 1985 to 1993. emphasis during these times was on the melody played on a synthesizer, harmonium or guitar. This era saw the first Bhangra boy band The Sahotas come together as well as the legendary Gurdaas Maan and the “Golden voice of Punjab” Malkit Singh. In the nineties, artists began to return to the original folk beats incorporating more dhol and tumbi sounds. The new generation of British Punjabis began to express a style of Bhangra by infusing it


The new generation of British Punjabis began to express a style of Bhangra by infusing it with western styles such as dance, hip hop, garage, and pop music. It soon became a vessel to explore their cultural identity and Punjabi roots in the UK

with western styles such as dance, hip hop, garage, and pop music. It soon became a vessel to explore their cultural identity and Punjabi roots in the UK. Prominent artists include DCS, Bally Sagoo, Jazzy B, B21 and Panjabi MC. But it was in 2003 that Bhangra reached mainstream recognition with Panjabi MC's track ‘Mundian To Back Ke,’ which got to number five in the UK charts as well as topping the charts around Europe and the US. The Rishi Rich project featuring Juggy D and Jay Sean also contributed to Bhangra’s crossover into the mainstream. Their track ‘Dance With You,’ mixed rap and Punjabi lyrics which shows just how much Bhangra has Rishi Rich, music producer changed from when it originated in the Punjab. But with all its change, have we come to lose the true sound of Bhangra music? Speaking to music producer Rishi Rich he says, “The thing with Bhangra music is if you stick to being traditional, its always going to be traditional. If you fuse it out with different music and collaborate with different artists, its going to reach a different audience, otherwise its gonna remain in four boxes, and its not gonna step out of that.” But Bhangra is certainly taking new directions, in the form of theatre. This year saw Bhangra crossover to the stage with ‘Britains Got Bhangra.’ The lead singer from DCS, Shin fronted the show lending his superb vocals. Speaking to Louise Rogers from Rifco arts, who produced ‘Britains Got Bhangra’ said, “I don't think there's anyone who doesn't really like Bhangra music, I was on the train the other day with a friend chatting. There was quite an elderly white man sitting opposite us who was listening to what we were saying and he said, 'Oh are you doing a show about Bhangra music?' and I gave him a flyer and he said he loved Bhangra music!” With Bhangra transcending cultural, racial and age barriers, it has come to make it’s way into the homes and hearts of both Punjabis and non Punjabis. And suffice to say, Bhangra is here to stay. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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GAMES 2010

“Sport is big business now and not just a game any more. Sportsmen and women must realize the world over that with fame and fortune come an incredible responsibility which may affect the lives of people in different countries” Vijay Amritraj, TENNIS CHAMPION , HUMANITARIAN he 2010 Commonwealth Games are the nineteenth edition of the Commonwealth Games, and the ninth to be held under that name. The Games are scheduled to be held in New Delhi, India between 3 October and 14 October 2010. The Games will be the largest multi-sport event conducted to date in Delhi and India generally, which has previously hosted the Asian Games in 1951 and 1982. The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi. It will also be the first time the Commonwealth Games will be held in India and the second time the event has been held in Asia (after 1998). In addition to the Commonwealth Games, the city of Pune, India hosted the 3rd Commonwealth Youth Games between October 12 and 18, 2008. The Youth Games offered nine sports : athletic, badminton, boing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. Delhi already has many international features of a modern and well-planned city. However, to get ready for the huge influx of tourists visiting Delhi during the Games, the Government of India has taken many steps to improve the city. This includes city beautification, transportation development, upgrading of many old structures. According to official estimates, two million foreign tourists and 3.5 million domestic tourists are likely to arrive in Delhi in 2010 as a result of the Games. To make these games even more special, the organising committee has taken upon itself the mission to host 'Green Games' by using effective carbon emission miti-



Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

gation, reduction and offset techniques. India is know for it's rich artistic heritage and these games are no different. Expect a slew of events celebrating the diverse cultural panorama of India including its folk and classical dances, classical music, theatre and films as well as other creative skills, arts and crafts. Events displaying Indian culture, heritage and folklore will also be held throughout the Games at several locations across the city. While taking the time to enjoy Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk, one can also enjoy modern parts of Delhi like the Khan Market and Oxford bookstore. Delhi is a city filled with many incredible paradoxes and Pune is a must visit area, making the trip to witness the games even more special. Visiting the Golden Traingle of Agra, Jaipur and Delhi, during this season will make for a very insightful trip that is a feast for the eyes. The Queen's Baton Relay is a major part of the whole experience for commonwealth fames and it will commence from Buckingham Palace, London and travel through 70 other nations and territories of the Commonwealth – a historic journey that will cover a distance of more than 170,000 kilometres in 240 days. On its 100-day national tour, the baton will visit the capital of each of India's 28 states and seven union territories, plus many other cities along the way, covering more than 20,000 kilometres. By the end of its journey, the baton will have traversed over 190,000 kilometres in 340 days, making the Queen's Baton Relay 2010 Delhi one of the longest relays in the history of the Commonwealth Games.

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f we think of shopping in India we think of beautiful crafts fashioned from the hands of artisans. Delhi's shopping delights are no exception. Taking its name from the Sanskrit word meaning 'close to perfection,' House of Ishatvam on Mathura Road sells everything you could possibly need for the home, as well as beautiful gifts. The stores sells products such as baby Ganeshas, cushions, rugs and decorative art laid out in a way to help customers with the creative planning of their own homes. If you are looking for those perfect Feng Shui items for the home in Delhi try Kirti Creations in Khan Market where gifts are suited to most budgets and start from a matter of rupees. Meanwhile lifestyle store Bandhini, stocks an exquisite range of products, from cushions, bolsters, and bedspreads to throws, tableware and fabric to name a few. A popular with celebrities such as internationally acclaimed actresses Jane Fonda and Shabana Azmi, Bandhini is a must if you're looking for some fine home furnishing. First established in 1990, Kala Mandir in Kirti Nagar, offers its customers elegant, comfortable and stylish wooden furniture along with a vast range of household accessories including mirrors, diwans, gar-


den furniture and dining ware. All products in the store are exclusive, whilst in-house designers can create unique, tailor made collections at excellent prices. A perfect if you're looking to pick up some one-off pieces for your home. Over the past few years, Delhi has seen a steady increase in the number of foreign designer boutiques opening around the city. Whilst cladding yourself in designer wares at home often breaks the bank, shopping in a designer Delhi boutique will leave you with more than enough loose change in your pockets. Bon Ton one of Delhi's leading opticians offers a number of sleek and stylish designer sunglasses at competitive prices when compared to the UK and America. With five stores in Delhi itself, including a branch in Janpath Marker, Bon Ton premium collection includes international labels such as Giorgio Arman, Calvin Klein, Cartier and Christian Dior. South Extension is home to many a department store including the Ebony a one-stop shop, selling everything from clothes, home-ware to children's toys. Ebony's has an extensive fragrance and cosmetic department, stocking designers such as Elizabeth Arden, Escads, Gucci, YSL and Bulgari. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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The Golden


Located at the foothills of the Himalayas, the Northern region of India is richly blessed with a number of tourist attractions. The Golden Tourist Triangle that includes Agra, Delhi and Jaipur falls into this region. It offers some of the best and most visited attractive destinations in India. Some of these are the Taj Mahal, Lal Quila, Qutub Minar, the Amber Fort and many other places of significance.

THE DELIGHTS OF DELHI The perfect place to start exploring the North is of course Delhi. The capital of India is a city of fascinating contrasts. And the first thing is to set off sight seeing. Look out for the Qutab Minar, the tall victory tower built in 1199, the splendid Red Fort and the majestic Jama Masjid with its striped domes and tall minarets. Among other architectural delights are Humayun's Tomb, the Jantar Mantar, the Purana Qila and the magnificent gov-

ernment complex on Raisina Hill – the Rashtrapati Bhavan framed by the secretariats ad the circular Parliament House. Then after a little shopping at its fascinating bazaars – and of course one of the best Indian meals in the world – take off on the Golden Triangle Trail to Agra and Jaipur for glimpses of historic India. At Agra gaze in awe at the Taj Mahal – a memorial to immortal love and meander through the amazing perfectly preserved ghost town of Fatehpur Sikri, built by the Emperor Akbar in red sandstone. Jaipur will stick in your mind because of its vivid colours. You might like to stay in one of its many palaces or mansions that are now heritage hotels and ride off on an elephant's back to view the Amber Fort or the Hawa Mahal, an imposing building framed for its delicately filigreed red sandstone construction. Beyond Jaipur, in Rajasthan are fabulous towns with magnificent forts and palaces

other places to visit nearby l The Lotus Temple Located in the south of Delhi this is a place of worship for the Bahai faith. Built in the shape of a lotus, consisting of three ranks of nine petals thought to represent the manifestation of god. The temple can be seen from many parts of Delhi and is a marvel of modern architecture with a 2500 person capacity. l India Gate Built by Edwin Lutyens in honour of the soldiers who fell during World War One and the Afghan Wars, stands 42 metres high and tributes the sacrifice of Indian soldiers. Situated on the Rajpath, names of the soldiers are inscribed on the walls of the monument whilst an eternal flame known as the Amar Jawan Jyoti is lit.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

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that reflect the state's old feudal spirit. Among them are the familiarly named Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Udaipur. If you'd like to go off the beaten track, why not discover the beauty of the desert on a camel safari and sleep under the stars at night? And if you feel like heading for the hills, there is an entire panorama of magical retreats waiting for you along the Himalayan ranges. Beautiful resorts in the mountain state of Himachal Pradesh include Shimla – once the “summer capital” of British India – Kullu Manali, Dharamsala, Dalhousie, Sarahan and a whole range of other scenic spots such as Kufri, Naldehra, Chail, Naggar and Narkanda. Te state of Jammu and Kashmir is a region of widely varying people and geography. In the south, Jammu is a transition zone from the Indian plains to the Himalayas. Correctly, the rest of the state is Kashmir but, in practice,this title is reserved for the beautiful vale of Kashmir in the North where a spell on the houseboat on Dal Lake has always been one of the India's finest treats. Kashmir also offers some delightful trekking opportunities among unsurpassed scenery. The major city in the Punjab is Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs. Many get a real sense of history there, and visit the Golden Temple. Haryana, which has a proud history, dates back to the Vedic age. The state was once home to the legendary Bharata dynasty, which gave the name Bharat to India. Historically, Haryana goes back to Mahabharat times, for it was then, at Kurukshetra, that Lord Krishna preached his divine message The Bhagavad Gita. Haryana has a network of 43 tourist complexes, named after birds. These have been set up along the national / state highways and at districts , towns and at places around Delhi. Ready for something new? Then make for Madhya Pradesh, the heart of India, which has an entire range of new experiences, including medieval cities such as Gwalior, Orchha, Mandu, marvelously-carved temples at Khajuraho, little hill stations and the forests

that Kipling so faithfully described in the Jungle Book. Lucknow, the famous Siege City, is the ultimate remnant of the Raj and capital of Uttar Pradesh, which also offers an entire pilgrimage trial along the holy river Ganga. From the foothills of the Himalayas to the pilgrimage centres of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh is a vast territory of rivers, monuments and temples. It is also a state of renowned workmanship. Hand-knitted wollen carpets from Bhadoi and Mirzapur, terracotta from Gorakhpur, wood carving from Saharanpur, brassware from Moradabad, glassware from Firozabad and hand printing from Farrukhab – all are proof of the amazing craftsmanship that is alive in the state. And is home to Uttaranchal, one of the most beautiful and enchanting regions in the area.

essential tours l The Golden Triangle Delhi – Agra – Jaipur 6 day trip involves taking in the sights and sounds of Old Delhi taking in the Red Fort, Rajghat memorial of Mahatma Gandhi, a rickshaw ride through the silver street in Chandani Chowk. From Delhi depart for Agra stopping en route at Sikandra to see the Tomb of Mughal Emperor Akbar and the Taj Mahal. Don't forget the Agra Fort, the Pearl Mosque and the Tomb of Itamad-ud-Daula. From Agra drive to Jaipur en route visit old deserted town of Mughal Dynasty – Fatehpur Sikri. In Jaipur explore the Pink City with an excursion to Amber Fort, visit City Palace, Central Museum and Jantar Mantar. l Palace on Wheels Delhi – Jaipur – Jaisalmer – Jodhpur – Ranthambhor – Chittaurgarh – Udaipur – Bharatpur – Agra – Delhi This exquisite 14 saloon train described as a mobile palace starts its journey in Delhi and stops at Jaipur, where you can see the Hawa Mahal or the Palace of Einds. Don't forget the Amber Fort, City Palace and the Jantar Mantar, then depart for Jaisalmer in the heart of the Thar Desert. The yellow sandstone fort is an imposing sight, as are the latticed havelis or mansion. Jodhpur is the next stop renowned for its Mehrangarh Fort. Ranthambhor's Sawai Madhopur follows with a trip to the Ranthambhor National Park and its tigers. Chittaurgarh Fort leads on to Udaipur, the Lake City. Enjoy the dream-like marble Palaces – the Jag Niwas and the Jag Mandir. From here the return is set for Agra then Delhi after a trip to Bharatpur's world famous bird sanctuary at Keoladeo Ghana National Park. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010


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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2010

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