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Language: English / Gàidhlig

Chamber and committees

Meeting of the Parliament (Hybrid)

Meeting date: Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Agenda: Time for Reflection, Point of Order, Business Motion, Topical Question Time, Covid-19, Made Affirmative Procedure, Nationality and Borders Bill, Decision Time, OVO Energy (Redundancies)


Time for Reflection

The Presiding Officer (Alison Johnstone)

Good afternoon. I remind members of the Covid-related measures that are in place. Face coverings should be worn when moving around the chamber and across the campus.

Our first item of business this afternoon is time for reflection. Our time for reflection leader today is Pall Singh, project director, Building Bridges.

Pall Singh (Project Director, Building Bridges)

Presiding Officer, members of the Scottish Parliament, thank you for the opportunity to address you this afternoon.

Chicken tikka masala is the nation’s favourite dish. It is a dish that was invented here in Scotland by the south Asian community and Glaswegians. Scotland is increasingly becoming an intercultural country that welcomes people from different parts of the world and celebrates the richness of all our cultures.

Understanding new Scottish communities, such as the Syrian community, and their backgrounds is crucial to our ability to live together in peace and harmony. There is a risk of creating what we might call parallel communities, where we live side by side without discovering the beauty that others can add to our society. Each emerging community, such as the Sudanese community, has something new to contribute in our towns and cities.

There are two ways in which we can imagine that happening. One way is like creating a smoothie, where you blend different fruits such as strawberries, bananas, blueberries and other fruits together and liquidise them. The smoothie might taste great, but the fruits lose their identity and individuality.

The other way is to see it like a fruit salad, with the ingredients cut up in small pieces in a bowl. Each complements the others without losing its flavour and uniqueness—there is diversity yet oneness, as they all have some to contribute to the whole. I imagine Scotland as a fruit salad bowl that can celebrate difference and values the taste that others bring to our nation.

However, this is not a one-way conversation, with the host nation doing all the listening and learning. Rather, it is a mutual dialogue that highlights the many aspects of life here in Scotland that recently arrived people appreciate in our Scottishness, history and values—perhaps things that we have taken for granted, such as freedom of speech, education, health for all and desire for equality and fairness.

I have lived in the United Kingdom since the age of nine. This is my home, yet I still get asked, “How often do you go home?”—to which I reply, “Every day!”

Scotland is home for the new emerging communities; a place of welcome and belonging for the new Scots, who have a vital role to play in shaping the future of our country. Let us be aware of what is strong in these communities and not what is wrong. We have much to celebrate together with those we welcome into our land.