OBV Profile: Karamjit Singh

Over the last 20 years Karamjit Singh has played instrumental roles in shaping and influencing communities. As one of five commissioners to The Electoral Commission he is responsible for the regulation of political parties, promoting political participation and dealing with local government boundaries in England.

Not only is Singh a commissioner, he is also very much a humanitarian. For the past 10 years he has been travelling to the Punjab region of India organising free medical camps for 50 villages in the area. This year alone 220 people had eye operations and to date, 2,000 people have had free medical health checkups.

Explaining why he decided to start a free medical service in India he says: “I feel it’s one way of doing something for other people. This gives me a real personal satisfaction. I recognise people in developing countries are facing great hardships and disadvantages particularly in health and education.”

Singh, 56, became a commissioner in 2001 and was reappointed in 2006. The commission worked in partnership with OBV on its 2006 MP Shadowing Scheme.

“I was really pleased that the commission was able to support OBV because it’s doing such an important role in trying to make our political institutions even more representative of the community as a whole” he says.

Presently Singh is a trustee of the British Lung Foundation and a member of the selection panel for the Queens Counsel. In February this year he was appointed as an independent non-executive board member of the Government Office for the West Midlands with the responsibility for equality and diversity.

In his previous positions he sat on national government bodies where he helped select senior civil servants, deal with complaints against police, parole, train judges, and investigate suspected miscarriages of justice.

The married father of two has always worked at the grass roots level. During the 1970s, he worked in the voluntary sector as a case worker and headed up an investigations team for the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE).


Singh was born and raised in Coventry as the eldest of seven children. Describing his formative years, he says: “At the time there were relatively few people from BME communities in Coventry. Therefore, my experience growing up has been very much about social change.”

He adds that his late parents, who were both from India, were very socially conscious. He explains: “My father told me when he was growing up he had to walk six miles every day to go to school. The point he emphasised was the importance of education and to take up every opportunity that presents itself.”

At the age of 15, Singh was asked by his father to interpret for new arrivals from India and to help fill out any necessary documentation for them. Of the experience he says that it made him very mindful “with issues to do with discrimination and disadvantage”.

Singh attended Warwick University where he completed a post-graduate degree in Industrial relations. He later went on to become a research assistant at the university examining industrial relations and the role of trade unions.

Explaining why he wanted to pursue a career within political engagement he says: “I have always felt that the democratic process is really important and I saw an opportunity to get involved and make a contribution to it. The majority of things I’ve done in previous positions have been linked to social policy issues. That’s what interested me.”

In 1990 he won the Harkness Fellowship where he was selected to spend six months in Chicago and six months in Texas to study the relationships between systems of government and local communities. He also looked at the policing in urban areas and how the use of deadly force led to civilian review systems that monitored police organisations.

He was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 1999. Describing the moment he says: “I think one of the memories that gave me great pleasure was that my mother was still alive when I went to collect my CBE.”

Singh has no other set plans for the future but to continue working in his current field and to hopefully venture into other interesting opportunities that emerge. He adds: “It is important that whatever career path you take you have to believe in yourself – for me there is a personal commitment to make a difference in the society I live in.”