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London Honours Sikh Icons

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The World’s Richest Sikh, Malvinder Mohan Singh, wins Businessman Award at Fifth Annual World Sikh Awards

London saw the fifth annual The Sikh Awards take place at the Plaza Hotel Westminster Bridge. Among the prestigious winners were Pardeep Singh Bahra, a rising young fashion entrepreneur and the face of international brand Samsung’s 2014 Alpha Smart Phone campaign, and Sardar Tarlochan Singh MP – India, who was awarded the Sikh Lifetime Achievement Award. Navtej Singh, the world’s first Sikh bodybuilder won the Sikh in Sports Award.

 

The event was hosted by Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Director of Environment and Digital Londonand its former Director of Transport Policy, and Kiss FM’s DJ Neev. The Sikh Awards recognised the pivotal contributions made by the Sikh community across a variety of fields, from business, charity, education, entertainment, professional services, seva (selfless service), and sport, with winners coming from Asia, USA, Canada, Europe and Africa. The winners of the night included: Sikh Helpline – Birmingham, who won the Sikh in Charity Award, Swaran Singh Gharial – Kenya won the Sikh in Seva Award. Bhai Baldeep Singh – India won the Sikh in Entertainment Award, Sangat Television – Birmingham, Sikh in Media Award. Gursharan Kaur – Canada, the Sikh in Education Award and Amrit Singh Uppal – Singapore won the Sikh in Profession Award. Sukhi Ghuman – Nottingham won the Sikh Entrepreneur Award, Malvinder Mohan Singh – India won the Sikh Businessman Award and Parminder Kaur – Netherlands won the Sikh Business Women Award.

 

The prestigious event saw 750 guests in attendance from elite international dignitaries to public figures, community heroes, sports stars and celebrities. Last year the UK Prime Minister the Rt Hon. David Cameron was the recipient of a Special Recognition Award for the several “firsts” he had instigated between the UK and the Sikh community in India, including becoming the first serving UK Prime Minister to pay his respects at the Darbar Sahib (The Golden Temple, India), laying a wreath and signing a book of condolence at the memorial site in Jallianwala Bagh Gardens, in Amritsar. He also commenced the annual Sikh traditional festival of Vaisakhi, which has been celebrated at 10 Downing Street since 2011.

 

Each year, The Sikh Awards takes a theme as its central focus for the evening’s celebrations and this year the event recognized and honored the sizable battlefield contribution made by Sikh soldiers during the Great War, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary. Although the Sikh community only makes up two per cent of the British Indian population, they formed 20 per cent of the British Indian Army, which saw 130,000 active Sikh soldiers. As a result of this theme, speakers at this year’s event included representatives from the Royal Army, Royal Navy, the Tower of London and other well-known historians and two  of the evening’s highlights included the staging of the Lottery-funded SOAS exhibition about Sikhs in WW1* and a special trumpet rendition by the Army’s band.

 

A further highlight of last night’s event, which was hosted by the media organisation The Sikh Directory, was thelaunch of the third edition of The Sikh 100 Power List, which details the most prominent Sikhs in the global community.

 

The Sikh Awards was founded by entrepreneur Navdeep Singh Bansal, who following the event commented: ‘We were delighted that The Sikh Awards have been such a success, not only last evening but also looking back five years since its inception. Our purpose with the awards continues to be to recognize, honor and celebrate the enormous achievements of the successful, hard-working and ambitious Sikh community as they tirelessly contribute to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of societies globally, as well as making a difference to people’s lives through philanthropy. This year’s event however had a special focus on Sikh soldiers who contributed during WW1 and as such we wanted to pay special homage and show our due respect to the thousands of Sikh soldiers who fought and lost their lives during the First World War. 

 ‘I would also once again, like to congratulate all of this year’s winners, who have shown that they are beacons that shine out to our future generations and will encourage them to continue to strive for excellence in their chosen professions.’

 

Sikhism is a religion founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji 544 years ago with over 26 million followers worldwide. It is ranked as the world’s fifth largest religion. The 2013 awards was a precursor to the event in 2014, which marked two important anniversaries: the first being the 160th anniversary of the first Sikh arriving in the United Kingdom in 1854 and secondly  the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, where several thousands of Sikh soldiers fought for Britain on the front line.