Profile: Naginder Singh Sehmi
TRINITY NEWS – A Dublin University Weekly Thursday, 7th February 1963
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When Naginder Singh Sehmi and some of his Sikh friends go into the more remote parts of Ireland they are often besieged by the local female population clamouring for autographs, in the conviction that because they wear turbans they must be princes or maharajahs.
In Trinity itself his being the sole possessor of a turban has the practical advantage of enabling him to be recognized infallibly at a distance, even by the short-sighted. Although he seems the embodiment of everyone’s romantic conception of an Indian, his home is in fact in Eldoret, (“64”), Kenya, numbering as he does among the thousands of his countrymen who have settled abroad.
In Kenya he was an instructor for the Outward Bound Course, taking part in such activities as expeditions to Mt. Kenya and Kilimanjaro, he is also a fine hockey player and athlete. He sings, and plays the “Tabla” (Indian drums). His interests range from science and technology to world affairs and politics, and he is one of those rare people who can talk in an interesting way about their own religion without getting worked up. Believing that each has something to offer, and has a good knowledge of He has represented the Societies at world-wide Student Conferences in The Hague and Stockholm, and although the badge “Irish Delegate” pinned to his chest must have come as a surprise to those who were expecting something savouring more of a bog and a brogue, he was nevertheless a great success. In Sweden he was filmed on television, and appeared in papers under the heading “Exotica”. Among the many interesting people he met was a Swedish couple who invited him to be a Family Father at an International Children’s Camp held last summer near Klosters. Any thing approaching blowing his own trumpet is unnatural to him, so he is very reluctant to talk about himself or his affairs to most people, and one can only get an idea of the true man from his attitude to problems and his approach to people and to his work. He feels slightly reserved when meeting people socially for the first time, but anyone who knows him at all well finds him delightful (and intelligent) company.Perhaps one of the reasons for his taking so active a part in College life is that he feels restless unless he has something specific to do. In addition to his General Studies he has taken on extra work like a Diploma in Geography and a second year Diploma in Public Administration. As well as being Chairman of D.U.A.I.A., he works for similar organizations in Dublin, such as the Irish U.N. Students’ Association. Recently he was awarded the Omolulu Trophy for the “promotion of understanding between students of all nationalities.” Few could have been more deserving than he was of this recognition of the amount of time and effort that he devotes to the benefit of other people.
He is not a man to parade across Front Square with a girl on each arm; anything smacking of exhibitionism is totally alien to his nature. However, we believe girls do find him extremely attractive, and when they do the chasing, he is content to let them.
It is largely his exceptional capacity for organization that makes him such an outstanding Chairman on the International Affairs. His whole approach is down-to-earth and practical, and, when there is extra work to be done, he will do it himself rather than delegate it to his Committee. He has little time for those who talk endlessly.
In the Autumn he will be going back to Kenya to teach. (He did a Teachers’ Training Course and had three years’ practical experience before coming to Trinity). He hopes sometime to serve his country in another capacity. Having a real sense of compassion and sympathy for the underprivileged people of the world, he likes to work for improvement in the living-conditions of so many of his countrymen who come onto this category. One can be sure that there is a very good chance of him putting his ideas into practice, for he is not a man to talk ideally.