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US census to count Sikhs as separate ethnic group

Close to a million Sikhs in the United States have reasons to cheer.

The community will be counted as a “separate” ethnic group in the 2020 census, according to the US Census Bureau.

“The Sikh community’s efforts have come to fruition. This has paved the way forward nationally not only for the Sikh community but also for other ethnicities in the United States,” said Baljeet Singh, President of Sikh Society of San Diego.

The move is the result of efforts by the United Sikhs group since 2010 that has advocated for the Sikhs to be added as an ethnic group as they meet the criteria for representation in the US Census as a distinct ethnic group.

Previously the US Census grouped Sikhs into a general Asian-Indian category in the “2010” US Census.

“After the 2015 survey, we realized the need and importance to include Sikh ethnicity in surveys moving forward,” US Census Director Nicholas Jones from Race & Ethnic Research and Outreach Population Division stated.

“A separate code recognizes the unique identity of Sikhs and gives us an opportunity to have an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States to better serve the community’s needs,” said US Census Deputy Director Ron Jarmin.

According to the United Sikhs, there are currently 10 lakh Sikhs living in the US, who can trace their ancestry back to the 1880’s. A lot of Sikhs came to California to work on the rail, roads, agriculture, technology, and other industries. The community continues to face bias, racism and xenophobia in the US.

Last year, the UK had rejected similar demand with the high court in London dismissing a judicial review application brought by a British Sikh group for a separate Sikh ethnicity tick box in the next UK census in 2021, the Wire reported.

Justice Beverley Lang ruled that the application was dismissed on the grounds that it is “premature”, and in breach of parliamentary privilege and the constitutional convention of the separation of powers.

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