Dr Indarjit Singh becomes the first Turban-wearing Sikh peer
Dr Indarjit Singh OBE CBE has become the first Turban-wearing Sikh to be appointed a life peer in the House of Lords.
Dr Singh, who is the director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, will sit as an independent Lord.
He played a central role in the landmark case of Mandla v Dowell Lee in 1982, which established an important degree of protection for Sikhs to wear the symbols of their faith.
He also has played his part in promoting inter-faith understanding, having been a founding member and current vice chair of the Inter Faith Network UK. Dr Singh is also head of the Sikh Chaplaincy Service, which works for the pastoral care of Sikhs in prisons. He is also the co-coordinator of pastoral care for Sikhs in hospitals and in the Armed Forces, and a trustee of the World Congress of Faiths.
Dr Singh has represented the UK Sikh community on national occasions, including the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph and the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey. In 2008 he became the first Sikh to address a major conference of at the Vatican, when he gave a keynote address on the need for respect and tolerance between world faiths.
Dr Singh said he was honoured to become a life peer and wanted to use his position to further promote harmony and tolerance between different communities
I'm delighted to be the first turbaned Sikh in Parliament. It gives me a new opportunity, to do what I have always tried to do; to work with people of all beliefs to increase tolerance and understanding and work for greater social and political justice in society.
As Sikhs we have a glorious history of commitment and sacrifice for uplifting ideals. It is important that we see this as inspiration to work for a better present and future, not simply for ourselves, but for all people in line with our Gurus' teachings. The mantra of today's times to look after ourselves, because we are important, is creating a selfish and fragmented society. We saw the worst features of this in the recent riots. As Sikhs we see a wider society where the focus is away from an unhealthy obsession with self to the needs of wider society I would like, in my small way to work with like-minded people to reverse this trend. Sikh teachings are a unique blueprint of how to move in this direction.
Picture: Dr Indarjit Singh OBE CBE