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UK Hindus list demands before may election

Repeal of Act relating to caste and acknowledgement that J&K is an integral part of India on agenda of British Hindus.

Antonia Filmer  London | 11th Apr 2015

istorically, British Hindus have been relatively apolitical, despite their huge contribution to British business. But times have changed and the 817,000+ Hindus (Census 2011) in the UK are being encouraged to vote Conservative. British Hindus feel safe and accepted in Britain, they appreciate the entrepreneurialism allowed here and have a self-dependent ethos and are also unlikely to be welfare dependent. Hindu organisations in UK hope that all this will free them from their loyalty to the Labour.

The National Council of Hindu Temples UK and the Hindu Forum of Britain, the largest and fastest growing umbrella body representing British Hindus in the UK, under the presidency of Trupti Patel have jointly adopted columnist and commentator Kapil Dudakia's 10-point Hindu Manifesto. The document released this week is a means of communicating to UK's political leaders, faith based issues, over and above all the issues that affect every British citizen. These points are fundamental to the Hindu community, which has a strong connection with India but are seeking active engagement in British politics.

Some of these are:

* Repeal the Regulatory and Reform Bill (via the 2013 Lord Harries amendment) which introduced an obligation on the government to put into action the 2010 Act in relation to "caste". This Act gave ministers the power to add caste as a discriminatory aspect of race to colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. During the Caste Amendment Bill, 134 Conservatives, 31 Liberal Democrats and 3 others voted in favour of Hindus, whereas 132 Labour, 18 Liberal Democrats, 1 Conservative and 30 others upheld the amendment.

* An acknowledgement that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and any plebiscite on Kashmir in Westminster is no longer relevant and the resolution thereof should be an internal matter for India.

* Greater representation in Parliament for the Hindu community. Presently the Conservative Party has three Hindu MPs (Priti Patel, Shailesh Vara and Alok Sharma) and five Hindu Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC). But only Rishi Sunak, Richmond (Yorkshire) is in a winnable seat. Labour has 2 Hindu MPs and have not selected any black and minority ethnic PPCs in the winnable seats.

* Dedicated Free Schools funding for a greater diversity of Hindu faith schools to serve the whole community and provision for students to study Hinduism to GCSE and A Level standards. David Cameron plans to open more than 360 "free schools", including another Avanti School in Croydon. OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) has found all three existing Avanti Schools to have "good" standards of teaching, achievement, leadership and management, with the behaviour and safety of pupils classed as "outstanding".

Regarding the security fears of the Hindu community, the Conservatives are confronting extremism and have taken down thousands of pages of extremist material from the internet, excluded foreign hate preachers and succeeded in getting rid of Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza. They have scrapped Labour's intrusive ID cards and strengthened the committee that oversees the agencies' work.

The odds for David Cameron are compelling, in comparison to Labour's Ed Milliband. At the launch of the Hindu Encyclopaedia in 2014, David Cameron praised the contribution of Hindus from all walks of life in the UK. Cameron is the only British Prime Minister to have visited India three times and since 2010, British diplomatic presence in India has become the largest overseas with 350 diplomats posted in India.

In comparison, in December 2014, without notice, the Labour Council in the Borough of Newham closed the Upton Park Community Centre for financial reasons to do with the boiler. This centre served the Hindu community for 35 years and many holiday events were cancelled. The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh offered to help with the necessary funding, but a consultation into the future of the centre only began last month. Neighbouring Tory candidate Festus Akinbusoye organised an alternative venue for Holi celebrations. Perhaps worst of all, Ed Miliband failed to censure his donor Anish Kapoor for calling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi a mass murderer on BBC Newsnight.

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