Eight Punjab-origin leaders who made it big in corridors of world politics
One of the largest ethnic groups of the Indian diaspora, the community has successfully carved out a place for itself in the socio-cultural and political space.punjab Updated: May 22, 2018 17:33 IST
Gobind Singh Deo became the first member of Malaysia’s Sikh minority to be appointed a federal minister, on Monday. He was first elected as an MP in the 2008 general election and then re-elected with an increased margin in 2013.
Like Deo, several personalities, with their roots in Punjab continue to make it big in the corridors of world politics.
One of the largest ethnic groups of the Indian diaspora, which constitutes around 12 million of an estimated 25 million NRI population, the community has successfully carved out a place for itself in the socio-cultural and political space in developed nations like the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Its immense political contribution in Canada, which has four Sikh ministers compared to one in India, is all too well documented.
Here is a look at 8 prominent Punjabi-origin or Sikh personalities who rose to political prominence in countries across the world:
1. Jagmeet Singh
Present position: Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP)
Jagmeet, a lawyer, made history after he became the first person belonging to a visible minority group, and the first of Indian and Sikh heritage, to be elected leader of one of Canada’s three largest national political parties. He is likely to take on Canadian PM Justin Trudeau as he leads the NDP in the next federal elections scheduled for 2019.
2. Harjit Sajjan
Present position: Minister of National Defence, Canada
Sajjan of Canada’s Liberal Party was given the crucial defence ministry in the federal cabinet of Justin Trudeau in 2015. A retired lieutenant colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, Sajjan was deployed to Kandahar in Afghanistan three times and received several military honours. He was born at Bombeli village in Hoshiarpur district.
3. Bardish Chagger
Present position: Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Small business and tourism minister, Bardish became the first woman to hold the position of leader of the government in the House of Commons.
4. Nikki Haley
Country: United States of America
Present position: United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Nikki Haley, whose birth name is Nimrata Randhawa, was given the cabinet-rank position never held by anyone of Indian descent before. She has also served as the governor of South Carolina.
5. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi
Country: New Zealand
Present position: Member of New Zealand Parliament since 2008
Bakshi was the first Indian (and first Sikh) to hold the position of MP in New Zealand. A marketing manager, Bakshi took oath in Hindi in 2017.
6. Tanmandeep Dhesi
Country: United Kingdom
Present position: MP from Slough (UK)
Dhesi, who hails from Jalandhar, became the first turbaned Sikh MP in the UK in June 2017. In his maiden speech in the House of Commons, Dhesi had said a glass ceiling was broken and expressed hope that more MPs like him would be elected in future.
7. Preet Kaur Gill
Country: United Kingdom
Present position: MP for Birmingham Edgbaston
Last year, Gill became the first Sikh woman elected to the UK House of Commons. In early 2018, she was appointed a junior minister for international development, which reflected a rapid rise in her political career.
8. Harinder Sidhu
Present position: Australian high commissioner to India
Sidhu previously served in Moscow and Damascus. A big fan of Bollywood films and the fashion circuit in India, Sidhu is a self-confessed fan of Shah Rukh Khan. Sidhu holds Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Economics degrees from the University of Sydney.