1 lakh put ‘Sikh’ as their ethnic group in latest England census

LONDON: Nearly one lakh British Sikhs chose Sikh as their ‘ethnicity’ in England’s most recent census, even though they could have selected ‘British Indian’ as ethnicity.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) for the first time on Friday published the data on people who identified as Sikhs in the 2021 census in England and Wales.
As many as 97,910 people (18.6%) identified themselves as ‘Sikh’ through both ethnic and religion question; 1,725 (0.3%) identified as ‘Sikh’ through only the ethnic question; and 4,26,230 people (81.1%) identified as ‘Sikh’ through the voluntary religion question.
Of the 1,725 who identified themselves as ‘Sikh’ only through the ethnic question, 55.4% did not report their religion, 13.6% reported their religion as Muslim, 8.7% reported their religion as Christian, and the rest said they had no religion.
The ONS added all three figures up to come to the conclusion that there are 5,25,865 Sikhs in England and Wales. This is an increase of 22% on the 2011 census when 4,30,020 identified as ‘Sikh’, which is more than the general population increase of 6.3%.
Respondents could choose a tick-box response categories to the ethnic group question, which included “Indian” and “Pakistani”. There was a “write in box” also.
Dabinderjit Singh, principal adviser of the Sikh Federation (UK), said: “We encouraged Sikhs to register a protest by rejecting the options given and write in Sikh. Around one hundred thousand Sikhs did this. But we estimate the total number of Sikhs to be closer to nine hundred thousand. How many Sikhs did not answer the optional religious question or chose ‘no religion’?”
In 2020, Amrik Singh Gill, chair of the Sikh Federation UK, had brought a judicial review against the Cabinet Office in the high court, challenging the lack of a specific ‘Sikh’ ethnic tick-box. The judge rejected the legal challenge, saying: “There are diverging views as to whether Sikh is an ethnic group.”
The ONS said: “Most people who identified as Sikh did so through the religion question. As many as 5,24,140 people identified as Sikh through the religion question. This is 99.7% of all people who identified as Sikh.”
The census shows that 56.5% of Sikhs were born in England and 34.1% in India. The next most common countries of birth were Kenya (2.5%) and Afghanistan (2.5%).
In England, the most common “national identity” for Sikhs was “British only” (75%), whilst 13% identified as “Indian”.
Sikhs have higher rates of home ownership and marriage than the general population, but a higher percentage of them reported having no qualifications.

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