Sikh policemen in Shanghai

Sikh policemen in Shanghai copyright Meena Vathyam

Prior to 1949 several foreign communities residing in Shanghai’s international settlement configured its multifaceted history. One such community was that of soldierly Sikhs. They were engaged as Shanghai Municipal policemen, watchmen, troopers manning traffic intersections and providing security. In 1900 British Indian army regiments were transported to China to quell the Boxer uprising. For almost fifty years the Sikhs impacted Shanghai’s landscape always inviting attention for their stalwart appearance and mighty flame red turbans.   But, much of the historical documentation on them has been one dimensional. Mainly because of absent Sikh narratives. One objective of the Sikhs in Shanghai and China Oral and Visual history project is to interpret, analyze and disseminate the less explored Shanghai Sikh perspective from the unheard Sikh angle. Oral and visual histories will serve as essential tools to broaden the scope of China Sikhs’ historical research  as well as stand as testimony to the Sikh community’s distinctive presence in the Orient.

If your friend or family had members serving in China prior to 1949, then you can participate in this public project to record and preserve a community’s sojourn and experiences in China. Apart from understanding their adaptation and assimilation issues the project will serve as a one-stop source to delve into currently scattered memorabilia such as photographs, articles, certificates and more  and to generate historical literacy.

China Ghadr activists such as Gajjan Singh, Dasaundha Singh spread the message of freedom, publishing pamphlets highlighting the discriminating attitudes of the then British rulers.There are so many other stories to tell -The Shanghai Sikhs who boarded the Komagata Maru in 1914 to Vancouver, Canada. The Shanghai Sikhs who made their way to America for a better life.  Sharing their stories will present a picture of history that is much more authentic and in the end more complete.

To participate email