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Sikhs in US to be counted as  separate ethnic group

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Sikhs in US to be counted as  separate ethnic group

What to study?

For Prelims: How are ethnic groups classified in the US?

For Mains: Implications of this move.

What’s the News?

Sikhs in the US will be counted as a separate ethnic group in the 2020 census for the first time.


Over a million Sikhs are estimated to be living in the US. One of the reasons for advocating the inclusion of Sikhs as a separate ethnic group is so “that action can be taken to address Sikh issues of significance such as bullying, intimidation and hate crimes against the community.”

 How are race and ethnicity defined under the US Census?

The US Census Bureau considers race and ethnicity as two distinct and separate concepts. It adheres to the 1997 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) standards on race and ethnicity.

  1. There are five broad categories under which race is categorised. These are White, Black or African American, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. This is a social definition of race recognised and not an attempt to define race biologically, anthropologically, or genetically.
  2. Ethnicity determines whether a person is of Hispanic origin or not. For consideration under the US Census, ethnicity is broken down into two categories: Hispanic or Latino and Not Hispanic or Latino.

What are the benefits of this move?

  1. Ensure an accurate count of Sikhs in the United States.
  2. Help in tracking and measuring hate crimes against the community.
  3. Ensure an equal and accurate representation of Sikhs.
  4. Useful in providing access to members of Congress and other essential government services for the needs of the community.


Apart from the US, Sikhs in Britain have also demanded inclusion as a separate ethnic group. In November 2019, British Sikhs took the government to court over the “unlawful” refusal to treat them as a separate ethnic group. It is estimated that there are over 800,000 Sikhs in the UK.

Furthermore, Sikhs are one of the fastest-growing religious minorities in New Zealand, where they are considered to be a distinct ethnic group. Other ethnic groups in New Zealand include Punjabis, Bengalis, Indian Tamils and Fijian Indian, among others.

Sources: Indian Express.