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  • Writer's pictureNasim Azad

Ms Saroj Lal: Interfaith in Action

Ms Saroj Lal

23 April 1937 – 12 March 2020

A statement on behalf of Edinburgh Interfaith Association (EIFA) in support of naming South Morningside Primary after the late Saroj Lal by EIFA Trustee, Nasim Azad

Ms Saroj Lal amongst her long list of achievements was one of the founding members of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, and is better known as the first ethnic minority school teacher in Edinburgh, beginning her teaching career in 1970 at South Morningside Primary School. She sadly passed away in March 2020, aged 82.

Ms Lal was born in Pakistan and moved to India during the partition. She graduated with an MA in Economics from Punjab University in India, shortly after, she and her husband moved to Edinburgh in the late 1960s where she gained further qualifications at Moray House, Edinburgh. Throughout her long career she could only be described as a “trail blazer”. She was at the forefront of race relations campaigning for equality including serving as a director of Lothian Racial Equality Council (LREC) and became the first Asian women in Scotland to be appointed as Justice of the Peace. She also worked with Lothian and Borders Police; fed into literature used widely by the NHS and was a founder of the Edinburgh Hindu Temple in Leith, Edinburgh. Since her death in recognition of her achievements a scholarship has been created in her name by the University of Edinburgh.

More recently a campaign has been set up by her son Vineet Lal to name a primary school in her honour, which is being built in Canaan Lane, Morningside, Edinburgh. The campaign has gained overwhelming support from many, but sadly racism has raised its ugly head with comments such as “Saroj Lal is not Scottish”. It is distressing to read that whilst Ms Lal worked extremely hard to tackle racism, this campaign is now facing that very same racist attack. Ms Lal has contributed in many aspects of society in Edinburgh, she has founded and shaped many organisations, it is only fitting that this honour goes to someone who has worked tirelessly to bring about equality, positive change and has encouraged and inspired many.

Edinburgh Interfaith Association is proud to support the campaign to name the new primary school in Saroj Lal’s name. By showing support we salute Ms Lal and her work including race relations. Please join us in supporting the campaign, naming the school after Saroj Lal would be a fitting legacy and show that together as a city we stand against racism.”

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