The Hindu Council UK expresses its disappointment at the misrepresentation of our faith following recent newspaper articles where Shaun Bailey (candidate for London Mayor) allegedly said: “Accommodating Muslims and Hindus robs Britain of its community” and risks turning the country into a “crime-riddled cesspool”. He also voiced concerns about the marking of Muslim and Hindu festivals, and claimed children were being taught more about Diwali than Christmas, and argued Britain “removing the religion that British people generally take to” had allowed immigrants to bring their countries’ cultural problems with them.
This recent issue reaffirms the strong view of most Hindus that we continue to face systematic disadvantage and discrimination. We face a legacy of inequality, targeting and stereotyping in daily life and by the media.
Two core tenets of the Hindu faith are, “Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti (Meaning: “That which exists is one” – Rigveda) and “Vasudhaiva Kutambakam” (Meaning: “The Entire World is One Family”).
Hindus have had a presence in the UK since the early 19th century. According to the 2011 Census of England and Wales. More than 97% of the UK Hindu population living in urban areas, with more than half living in London and the South East where they make up 5% of the population.
The Hindu diaspora in Britain has flourished. Hindus are well established in professional fields such as law, media, medicine, engineering, and accounting – and in many branches of business. Hindu students often top the charts in academic achievement. Furthermore, many magnificent, purpose-built temples, replacing the converted church halls, testify to the growing prestige and influence of the Hindu community.
The Hindu Faith and Tradition, with its rich culture, accomodating nature, and emphasis on personal spirituality, not only endures but makes a positive contribution towards British life. Hindus have integrated well and developed high degrees of social and cultural competence in a pluralistic society.
The Hindu community’s diversity and the strength of its voluntary and community sectors continue to play a great role in its successful integration and progressive cohesion. The sheer range of groups and organisations meeting social needs, from faith-based initiatives to campaigning groups contributes to the richness of civic life in this country and, are essential to the representation of a range of interests in local communities. Activities like ahimsa (non-violence), meditation, yoga, ayurveda (holistic medical treatments) and sewa (selfless service) – all of which have the origins in the Hindu culture – have also been taken up by the wider British community with enthusiasm.
Britain today is a multi-faith society as much as it is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society. British life has been greatly enriched by the contributions of all faith communities.
Furthermore, London is the most diverse and vibrant city in the world, made up of people from all walks of life which make our Nation what it is. We hope that understanding and mutual acceptance flourishes among all people.
Regardless of whichever Political Party in the UK a Politician represents – it is important that every Politician should take due care and attention and not undermine or discriminate against any faith or religion. With the recent increase in discriminative comments by Politicians from all Political Parties – it is high time that all Politicians must have diversity training as a mandatory requirement to serve in public office.
Hindu Council UK (HCUK)