Sikhs will be counted as a distinct ethnic group for the first time in US history, by the Census Bureau. This is a significant step towards establishing a separate identity away from the composite “Asian Indian” category for people from India who are broadly known as Indian-Americans. According to several experts, the step potentially gives ammunition to Sikh separatists who promote the idea of Khalistan from the comfort of their homes in the US, Canada and other western countries. Others, meanwhile, stress there is no cause of anxiety and counting will help Sikhs become less “invisible” in the context of US government policies.
According to a report with India Today, post the inclusion of Sikhs as a distinct group, the community will be allowed to “self identify” if they write “Sikh” in answer to the question on race and will be counted separately under a unique code.
Also, the community will go under the broader category of “Asian” and not under “Asian Indian” as was the case in the 2010 count when “Sikh” was seen as a “religious” response.
Meanwhile, the Census Bureau is currently engaged in a decennial count by mail, phone and online, and the process is expected to end September 30.
The Census Bureau’s decision is seen as a huge victory by Sikhs who were one of the first immigrants from India to arrive on American shores more than 120 years ago.
In the early stages, they suffered constant discrimination as they struggled to establish themselves as farmers. Seen as Hindus by immigration officials and barred from citizenship along with other migrants from India, Sikhs have struggled for long.