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Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 17:34 GMT
Canadian Sikh gains high office

Ujjal Dosangh at meeting
Ujjal Dosanjh: One of the first successful politicians from South Asia


By South Asia analyst Nayab Chohan

A Sikh who was born in the Punjab has become the first Indo-Canadian to serve as a premier in the province of British Columbia.

Ujjal Dosanjh is one of the first politicians with connections to South Asia to hold a senior political office in Canada.

In fact, he is regarded by some Canadian political commentators as the most sucessful Asian politician in North America.

Illustrious career

The 52 year-old has had an illustrious political career.

He was an attorney general in British Columbia before his recent election as the leader of the province's New Democratic Party, which means he automatically takes over as premier of the province.


"I am Indian by heritage. I am proud of that"
Ujjal Dosanjh
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Dosanjah said that his mixed cultural and religious background would be no impediment to his handling of the job.

He said: "I am Indian by heritage, I am proud of that. I am Punjabi by my mother tongue, I am proud of that."

He added: "If religion enters my life at all, it is only because I was born and raised in a Sikh family."

'Never experienced racism'

Mr Dosanjh says that he has never experienced racism in Canada, although he says he is aware that it exists.

His appointment has generated considerable interest amongst Canada's Indian commmunity, and many have joined the ranks of his party.

But he is keen to play down the ethnic element to his success.

His appointment, he says, is a credit to all Canadians.

He says that he has been a politican in British Columbia for many years, and that people in the province now judge him by his politics rather than the colour of his skin.

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