Civic Engagement And Sikh Community Leadership

We are seeing how political power is harnessed and used by the Sikh community as we engage in more civic engagement projects initiated by our own Sikh institutions. Civic engagement is not new to our community per se. The first Asian congressman was a Sikh-Dalip Singh Saund. As a child I remember local Sikh business leaders and professionals brought governmental representatives to our Gurudwaras to give speeches. These politicians were later recogonized with a saroopa and more opportunities to address their Sikh constituencyat mela award ceremonies that seemed to last longer than the actual musical performances. Often these politicans were talking in English to a community that primarily understood Punjabi. It seemed more like anopportunity for the local Sikh leaders to secure their political connections for their own business interests than really an opportunity to hold politicians accountable to meeting their Sikh constituency’s needs. These political connections were often rooted in the capacity of the Sikh “leaders” to donate money than actuallyrepresent the needs of the Sikh community in a sustained way. I don’t want to paint this picture with too broad of a brush stroke because there are some Sikh business leaders, professionals, and activists who did build political power in our community to meet our needs; but they are definitely a minority. These Sikhs pushed along despite all the obstacles of being immigrants, They should serve as inspiration for the new generation of Sikh activists. This new generation needs to remember that we are not breaking as much untouched ground as we sometimes think we are doing. Our work should attempt to build off of those who came before us.

As we attempt to civically engage our Sikh community as a whole our ultimate goal is to empower the community by developing leaders that represent our class, education, generational, age, and gender diversity. Although we have been in the United States for a century our numbers only recently increased. We have a growing immigrantpopulation and a sizeable group of 2nd generation Sikhs. However many Sikhs do not want to engage in any kind of “politics” because too often they have seen the ultimate goal of political leaders is self-promotion than actually getting something done. Also, when they have seen someone enter the politicalarena to get something done the issue actually becomes personal politics than finding tangible and effective solutions. However, the Sikh community’s civic engagement should not end at signing a postcard or petition. It can begin there but should end with more Sikh community leaders. But how do we encourage segments of the Sikhpopulation that have stayed away from “leadership” positions in our community to become community leaders? How do we nurture community leaders who don’t come from the traditional spaces of gurdwara management committees and wealth? How do we create a new framework ofSikh community leadership?


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


2 Responses to “Civic Engagement And Sikh Community Leadership”

  1. JarBackwards says:

    It is SUPER easy to get involved in local politics. They're clamoring for diverse perspectives and views.

    One day, I decided to find out what civic engagement. I went to the website of my local city government and looked at interesting commissions. I decided to show up to the Human Relations Commission because it sounded much more interesting than something like the environmental planning commission.

    I emailed the chair and showed up as a spectator to the meeting. It was a great experience, they were asking for my opinion on city related issues in about ten minutes into the meeting. In no time, I was interacting with the Mayor of the city.

    The point is, that there are very easy means to engage at a local level. The first step to nurturing Sikh community leaders is to show them how easy it is.

  2. JarBackwards says:

    It is SUPER easy to get involved in local politics. They’re clamoring for diverse perspectives and views.

    One day, I decided to find out what civic engagement. I went to the website of my local city government and looked at interesting commissions. I decided to show up to the Human Relations Commission because it sounded much more interesting than something like the environmental planning commission.

    I emailed the chair and showed up as a spectator to the meeting. It was a great experience, they were asking for my opinion on city related issues in about ten minutes into the meeting. In no time, I was interacting with the Mayor of the city.

    The point is, that there are very easy means to engage at a local level. The first step to nurturing Sikh community leaders is to show them how easy it is.

Leave a Reply


We love hearing from our visitors, so please do leave your comments! No profanity, name calling, or discrimination, please - we try to keep The Langar Hall a clean, open, and hate-free zone. We reserve the right to edit or remove inappropriate comments.