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Migration & Sikhs in Britain Today

Sikh migration to Britain began as result of Britain's colonial relationship with India, but did not really begin until after the Sepoy mutiny of 1857 when they were recruited into the British army and entrusted with safeguarding the interests of the empire.

Mass migration, though, began after the second world war with mostly Sikh males seekingresidence. With a shortage of industrial jobs in India as well as increasing pressure on land, Britain seemed a perfect outlet as there was a labour shortage and an economic boom that made finding work relatively easy. Most new arrivals settled in London, Birmingham and West Yorkshire and took up jobs as either unskilled labourers or in foundries and textile factories. A further wave of second and third generation Sikhs migrated from East Africa in the seventies.

The British Sikh community is now in its third and fourth generations, with many having firmly established their roots in the UK. They number just over half a million, though their impact on British culture has been much more significant. Hard working and resourceful, Sikhs can now be found in every corner of society, working on factory floors and driving buses to lordships and barristers. At community level, too, Sikhs have created a place for themselves with around 200 Gurdwaras serving free langar (food) and providing services to the elderly, disabled and needy.