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British Army's Blue-eyed Sikh Soldier

by RAHUL SINGH

 

 

They number just 80 in the 150,000-strong British Army, but Sikh soldiers have become the toast of the fighting force.

Private Ranvir Singh, a reservist with 151 London Transport Regiment, is now the UK government's ambassador tasked with building bridges with that country's formidable Sikh population.

He is credited with dispelling rumours about bullying, harassment and racism in the British army and also encouraging young people to enlist.

Ranvir has been visiting gurdwaras across England to reach out to the Sikh community and share his experiences in the Army.

The British army website quotes Ranvir's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Adrain Lee, as saying, "The work Private Ranvir Singh has done on behalf of the British Army has been exemplary. At a time when conflicts occur as much over ideals as over territory, ensuring good communication across community groups is critical."

The British army admits that his efforts have been instrumental in improving its relationship with the gurdwaras and engaging effectively with Sikhs. The Army Community Liaisons Office for London says, "They (Sikhs) now see a face they recognise and that builds up a trust with the Sikh community and the army."

Ranvir is not the first Sikh to be flung into limelight. Signaller Simranjit ‘Sim' Singh and Lance Corporal Sarvjit Singh made waves last year after they became the first Sikh soldiers to wear turbans on public duties guarding Her Majesty the Queen and protecting the Crown Jewels.

Iqbal Singh Dhaliwal, who heads an Overseas Youth Congress, said that young Sikhs were increasingly stepping forward to join the British Army.

"Sikhs have integrated well into the army. We are organising a blood donation camp this month for supplies to British troops in Afghanistan," Iqbal said.

Private Ranvir Singh has been a reservist for around four years and was earlier deployed to Bosnia with the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles.

There are also two female Sikhs in the British army.

 

[Courtesy: Hindustan Times]

May 15, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: N. Singh (Canada), May 15, 2010, 4:12 PM.

Great article! I know that over the last 20 years, Sikhs in Britain have campaigned hard to get a Sikh Regiment in the British Army. However, they were turned down by the Equal Opportunities Commission ... God only knows why since Britain has the Scots Guards and Irish and Welsh regiments as well. Anyways, congratulations to everyone mentioned in the article, including Private Ranvir Singh! As a side bar, what intrigues me is that this article would appear in "The Hindustan Times". Why in God's name would Indians be interested in the doings of the Sikh diaspora (especially considering that 80% of India is Hindu and less than friendly towards Sikhs in general). It never ceases to amaze me as to how 2% of the population including its diaspora would have such a hold over Indians in India. Don't they have their own news? Their own heroes? Their own history? What a pathetic lot!

2: R..Singh (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada), May 16, 2010, 12:34 AM.

Dear N. Singh, if it were not for the 2% Sikh population of India, the borders of Pakistan would stretch from the Khyber pass to the Bay of Bengal.

3: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), May 16, 2010, 4:23 PM.

Dear N. Singh ji, despite the population of Sikhs being a mere 2% in India, there are a lot of sacrifices by the Sikhs in defending the country, especially during the freedom movement of India. But India fails to recognized them properly. Looks like they want to change the real history of India because Sikhs are a mere 2%. This looks bad on the majority population.

4: Tsienwei Li (Pasadena, California, United States), May 10, 2011, 8:37 PM.

I was born in 1932 in Shanghai. In my childhood I had been impressed by Sikh constables who were seconded from the Royal Army.

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