Last Wednesday the NSO held its UK Parliament Week event in the House of Lords with guest speakers Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP, Mandip Sahota and Gurpal Virdi.
The NSO was an official partner with UK Parliament Week in a year we commemorate the centenary of women’s suffrage and the right for women to vote in Britain.
Opening the event Lord Singh told the audience, ‘everyone of us can make a real difference in not only articulating our concerns but also making others aware of our incredibly modern religion and we’ve failed to do this properly.’
Giving an example of how individuals can make a difference, he described how he used a pen name ‘Victor Pendry’ to highlight discriminatory treatment of Sikhs in Punjab, at a time when the largely Hindu owned media in India automatically rejected anything coming from a Sikh.
Dhesi the MP for Slough, highlighted the importance of being proactive and talked of his efforts to lobby (cross-party) for The National Sikh War Memorial Trust (NSWMT). He talked of how ‘socially minded activists’ also have a key role in today’s digital age.
Echoing these views, Mandip Sahota Strategist & former Civil Servant said, ‘We’re all change-makers – so it’s important to understand how to navigate structures of power. This is your Parliament.’ She was clear that ‘megaphone diplomacy’ has its place, but conversations in private are sometimes also as powerful and that we must build relationships to succeed.
Summing up, she emphasized effective engagement is achievable, but we must be strategic, clear and ambitious.
Gurpal Virdi, former Councillor and Community Activist, gave pointers on how to get involved encouraging people to join local resident’s groups. He said, ‘You’ll need to start building your profile with local people and working out your position on local ‘hot’ issues such as crime, traffic, the environment and schools.’
Lord Singh concluded the meeting by saying, ‘I urge you all to get fully involved in understanding strengthening and improving the democratic process in this country, in a way that is consistent with Sikh teachings.’
An attendee e-mailed the NSO following the event showing appreciation, ‘for hosting and delivering a wonderfully enthused and innovative meeting.’
You can access the UK Parliament Week resource produced by the NSO in partnership with UK Parliament Week here.