When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the list of cabinet ministers, there was something missing – a turbaned Sikh. India is home to over 20 million Sikhs however, there has been very little representation for the Sikhs in India’s ministry. Before the NDA Government took charge, the Congress had given a huge surprise by nominating Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister. However even aside Dr. Singh, there were no Sikh ministers.
However contrary to India, Canadian Prime Minister’s cabinet features four Sikhs, out of which two are turbaned and amritdharis. The inclusion of Col. Harjit Singh Sajjan and Navdeep Singh Bains in the cabinet has been rejoiced by the Sikh community. While Navdeep Singh Bains has been given an important role in economic development, Harjit Singh Sajjan is now the leader of Canada’s defense. Sikhs are known as a martial nation, however this is the first time a Sikh has taken up charge of leading a country’s defense after the Sikh kingdom was taken over by the British.
The Sikh and Punjabi communities in Canada and other countries have rejoiced at the surprise inclusion of the four Sikhs in the cabinet. Even in India, Sikh leaders have appreciated the development. S. Manjit Singh Calcutta, an intellectual who has played a key role in Punjab’s politics stated –
“The inclusion of four Sikhs in the cabinet of Canada and recipient of high end portfolios is highly elevating. Every Sikh, world over, feels proud of this unique achievement and bows their head to Guru Sahiban and Almighty in all humility for His grace.
In contrast ,there is only one Sikh, Harsimrat Kaur Badal in the Indian Cabinet which pales into insignificance before the achievements of Sikhs who migrated to Canada not even half century ago.
I heartily congratulate the Sikhs.”
Sarbjeet Singh Ghuman, a noted Sikh leader of the Dal Khalsa said –
“This news have brought great joy while reminding me of the state of the Buddhists in India. While they have been marginalized in their own mother country India, however internationally, Buddhists have achieved a lot. The same is the state of Sikhs. Sikhs have been forced out of India and are continuously being robbed [of their dignity] however in other country, they are doing very well.”
United Sikhs, a Sikh advocacy group based out of the United States said –
“United Sikhs congratulates the two Amritdhari (initiated Sikhs) named in the Canadian cabinet today after an election that saw the following Canadian Sikhs elected, including 5 who wear turbans, 5 women, and 4 who have been named cabinet members:
Harjit Singh Sajjan was sworn in as Minister of National Defense; Navdeep Singh Bains was appointed as Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Bardish Kaur Chaggar was sworn in as Minister for Small Businesses and tourism, and Amarjit Singh Sohi was sworn in as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.”
The Sikh Coalition, which has fought hard to allow inclusion of the Sikhs in the US, said –
“Congratulations to Lt.-Colonel Harjit Singh Sajjan on being named the new Minister of Defense in Canada! Lt.-Col. Sajjan is a turbaned Sikh War Veteran and recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal for reducing the Taliban’s influence in Kandahar Province. When our allies are recognizing the service and contributions of its Sikh citizens, our own government should do the same. Let’s call on the US military to lift its discriminatory ban and #LetSikhsServe.”
The World Sikh Organization also issued a press release congratulating the Sikhs across the worlds.