Indian-origin British director Gurinder Chadha has been honored with the 2017 Sikh Jewel Award for her immense contribution to British cinema. Chadha, whose films include “Bhaji on the Beach,” “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Bride and Prejudice,” received the award from Michael Fallon, U.K. Defense Secretary, at the Vaisakhi dinner organized by the British Sikh Association at the Lancaster Hotel here March 23.
The high commissioner of India to the U.K., Y. K. Sinha, who was the guest of honor, was also present on the dais. Chadha’s latest film, “Viceroy’s House” tells the true story of the final five months of British rule in India and coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Independence of India and the founding of Pakistan.
Upon receiving the award, Chadha said, “Some people use religion to divide – that is the theme of my film – and also the atrocities inflicted on us. It is a fair film.” Jasminder Singh, OBE, chairman and founder of Edwardian Hotels, writer, broadcaster and communications consultant Jagjeet Singh Sohal, and Khalsa Aid, founded in 1999, also received the Sikh Jewel Awards.
In his address, Sinha said, “We were really touched when we saw the films screened on the occasion depicting the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers, mostly Sikhs and Gurkhas in the two world wars, winning more laurels than others.”
“Sacrifices made by Sikhs are always remembered in India. The Government of India and the people of India gratefully acknowledge the contributions made by Sikhs,” added Sinha.
Fallon said he would be visiting India next month and will “utilize the opportunity to have greater defense cooperation between Britain and India.”
“Sadly, the contribution of over a million Indian soldiers in each great war is not taught in British schools and if it were, there would be a better understanding about our shared history,” said Dr. Rami Ranger, CBE, chairman of the British Sikh Association.
He urged the defense secretary to convey “our request to the education secretary that the contribution of Commonwealth countries in preserving our freedom is taught in schools, especially in the wake of Brexit when we will need to revisit and renew our tried and tested bond of friendship with these allies.”
Ranger also asked Member of Parliament Virendra Sharma and Councilor Julien Bell, leader of the Ealing Council to grant the association the opportunity to erect a “befitting memorial in Southall to pay tribute to a community for its supreme sacrifices for our freedom.”
The British Sikh Association also signed the Armed Forces Covenant alongside Fallon, to formally recognize the strong ties between the Sikh community and the armed forces.