Dutch Singh Makes Progress With Identity Battle

AMSTERDAM—Sardar Bhupinder Singh is most famously known for the research he began in 1996 based on the Sikhs’ sacrifices during the two world wars. He collected information and photographs—most of which was not previously known to the general public—and collated these findings into two priceless masterpieces in the form of books.

The two books received special commendations from scholars, statesmen and other prominent people. Singh then later wrote a third book based on the history of Dutch Sikhs.  All of Singh Ji’s compilations are of esteemed historical significance and are held in archives and museums across the world. Singh Ji was also honoured by Jathedar Avtar Singh the President of the Shromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) in January 2008 for his dedication to Sikh history.

The Books are entitled:

  • How Europe is indebted to the Sikhs, Role of Sikhs in Europe during World War One 1914 – 1918.
  • How Europe is indebted to the Sikhs, Role of Sikhs in Europe during World War Two 1939 – 1945.
  • The Dutch Sikhs – A Brief History.

In addition to Singh Ji’s literary achievements, he has earned several awards including the Ambassador for Peace for his contribution to Dutch society and has been honoured by many Sikh organisations and Gurdwaras around the world. He is now chief of the ISYF (Holland Unit), World Sikh Writers Conference (Holland branch), and a member of the Sri Nankana Sahib Foundation.

Not surprisingly, Singh Ji has had active involvement in the community in which he lives and has been working towards ensuring that a number of injustices towards the Sikh community in the Netherlands are corrected.

After much persistence, Singh Ji was pleased to write, “I am mailing you important news for the Sikhs from the Netherlands with pleasure, honour and pride. This will further help to resolve our Turban issue and identity problem, especially in Europe. However, much more has to be done and those unacceptable issues will be persuaded strongly. We will continue our best efforts until the Sikhs can attain a respectable deserving position in the European Community according to their great contribution in both World Wars, given for the freedom of mankind and Europe”.

Due to Singh Ji’s ongoing commitment to these issues, he recently received a letter from Mr. Leers, the Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum in the Netherlands, which highlights that Sikhs can join the police force, military and the judiciary without being prohibited from wearing a turban or other symbols of their religion. It also clarified the controversy around Sikh names and that Sikh children can now be registered in accordance with Sikh traditions.

The controversy around Sikh names was due to children not being able to take the name Singh or Kaur due to a Dutch policy that children must take the name of a Dutch national parent and cannot take the name of a non Dutch national parent. Sikh names that have been registered incorrectly due to this rule can now be changed in accordance to the new policy and Mr. Singh was reassured that officials are now aware of this.

This is significant progress with the Dutch authorities to recognise the needs of the Sikh community, especially in relation to Sikh articles of faith, and it is hoped that such recognition will continue to grow—not only in the Netherlands but across the world.

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