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Appointing a British Scholar of Sikh Origin to a Prominent Position at Singapore’s National University

The prestigious National University of Singapore (NUS) has hired British scholar Jasjit Singh as a visiting faculty member to spread knowledge about Sikhism throughout the world. On Wednesday, the world was introduced to a new and exciting effort to increase its understanding and admiration of the Sikh faith and culture.

British-born Jasjit Singh, now 51 years old, is widely recognized as the preeminent expert on Sikh religion and culture. He is an associate professor at the University of Leeds. His work with UK minority groups has been very fruitful, and his knowledge of British Sikhism is second to none.

The Dean of NUS’s FASS, Professor Lionel Wee, is very pleased to have Singh as the first Visiting Professor in Sikh Studies funded by the Central Sikh Gurdwara Board (CSGB). Wee stressed that Singh’s job would deepen academic views on Sikh beliefs and practices, creating a greater understanding among students not just in Singapore but throughout the globe.

Together with NUS FASS, the CSGB raised an endowment of S$1.06 million, an amount matched by the Singaporean government, to create the first visiting professorship (Chair) in Asia outside of the Indian subcontinent.

The new academic year (2023 – 2024) and Singh’s start at FASS began on August 7. He is now teaching a course named “Introduction to Sikhism” to undergraduates. This course explores the central beliefs of Sikhism as well as the religion’s development throughout pre-colonial and colonial India.

In addition to teaching this introductory course, Singh will also speak in the undergraduate courses “South Asia in Singapore” and “World Religions,” therefore exposing more students to Sikhism’s many traditions.

Singh will be leading a study of the effects of the Internet on Sikh religious practices, with an emphasis on the digital activities of Sikhs in Singapore, as part of the South Asian Studies Programme at NUS FASS.

The Sikh community will benefit from Singh’s outreach efforts as he leads seminars and gives a public talk hosted jointly by CSGB and NUS. The expected happenings are likely to occur in the month of November in 2023.

Jasjit Singh reflected on his appointment, saying, “This position provides me with the opportunity to teach students from a different social and cultural context to my own, and to learn about how they perceive Sikhs and how these perceptions have developed.” As a result, I am able to investigate a little-studied but critically important segment of the Sikh diaspora.

Through his work at NUS, Jasjit Singh has helped usher in a new age of scholarly inquiry and cross-cultural understanding that has increased respect for the Sikh way of life throughout the world.

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