Minutes of the 1st meeting between the UK Hindu leaders and the UK Govt. officials

published on March 14, 2007

Friends,


 


Please find below the minutes of the 1st meeting between the UK Hindu leaders and the UK Govt. officials to discuss the above issue. The report was prepared by Anuja Prashar in consultations with people from India, UK, USA and other places. It is worth reading for future actions by this group. Please advise as to how you can all help in creating a PR campaign to fight the British colonialists. It is a matter of life and death for all Hindus and the Hindu civilization.


 


Rgds


 


Dhiru Shah


—————————————————————————————-


 


 


 


First meeting of Hindu leaders with Government officials Foreign Commonwealth Office


 


Great Charles Street , London


 


11.00 am TO 1.30pm  09/03/07


 


 


MINUTES OF THE MEETING:


 


Attendees:


 


Oriell Willock (Host – International Policy lead for Human Rights and Freedom of Religion)


Andrew Brand ( India Team at Foreign Commonwealth Office)


David Jones (Communities and Stakeholder Management, DLGC)


Paulette Rommaine (Cohesion & Faith – Hindu Stakeholder Management, DLGC)


Jay Lakhani (National Hindu Representative for Religious studies & Director of Vivekanand Centre)


Umesh Chandra (Executive of National Council of Hindu Temples & Ex Mayor of Ealing)


Anuja Prashar (Founder and Executive Director of TII & Editor of Conversion report)


 


Apologies : Dr. V.P.N Rao (Wife unwell) of Balaji Temple – will also share representation with Shaiva Federation for this project


 


1.0    Introductions


 


All participants introduced themselves and explained their various roles as per listed in Attendees section. Oriell Willock started the meeting by saying that they were here to listen and ascertain what the Hindu leadership wanted.


 


2.0    Anuja Prashar explained how the letter from Andy Reed MP and 16 other MPs to the Indian High Commission, denouncing Indian Conversion Laws and Religious Freedoms and indicating the concerns for Dalit populations, had served as a trigger for the production of this report, after several Hindu organisations and academics voiced concerns about this intervention.


 


2.1    Anuja explained the how the data came from the involvement of contributors from across the globe. The evidence based methodology undertaken to put the report together required that all data was validated, sourced and referenced, always being mindful of the negative impact of these developments for Community Cohesion in the UK. As editor of the report, Anuja made it clear that her role is as advisor and co-ordinator for the Hindu organisations that have grave misgiving about these issues.


 


2.2    Anuja described the startling and unexpected evidence demonstrating how the targeting of disadvantaged people, by evangelical Christian organisations and the use of the Humanitarian Aid agenda to further the evangelical mission of mass conversions in India, and particularly towards so called, Dalits. The Dalit issue is also surrounded and couched within much evidence of implicit and explicit rhetoric of Hindu denigration.


 


2.3    Anuja also described how piecing together the evidence revealed the global multinational structure of the Evangelical movement with connections into various national and international governance structures. This was a first research and the report indicates that there is much greater scope to better define these relationships.


 


2.4    Further research on the background and involvement of Andy Reed MP and the other 16 MPs also revealed a deeper connection with larger humanitarian aid and Christian organisations which were all linked to the Christian Democratic Union and these in turn are linked to the International Democratic Union founded in 1983 by the Conservative party leaders of UK, USA, Germany & France. Several of the MPs had assistance paid for by Evangelical Christian organisations. Anuja indicated that these interventions could have far reaching consequences for the Indian identity and its future relations within the UK .


 


3.0    David Jones asked Anuja to explain how these activities might impact on community cohesion in the UK .


 


4.0  Anuja described the events that have followed on from the MPs intervention. A supposed Dalit group in the UK , sponsored by a Quaker Evangelical organisation, has recently published  a report also suggesting that caste discrimination is rife within the Hindu community in the UK and particularly towards Dalits. If MPs are also going to condone this type of stereotyping and denigration of Hinduism there is very likely to be a sense of betrayal felt by the Hindu community in UK . The evidence of this report also suggests that there is an alarming amount of denigration towards India and we all belong to India as our place of origin, even though I am 4th generation born outside of India. This would have an effect on all forms of relationships especially with the younger generations.


 


4.0    Jay Lakhani explained that very bluntly the Hindu community was upset by all these activities and negative rhetoric against India and Hinduism in particular.


 


4.1    Jay described how the Historical record of India for Religious Freedom is excellent and that all peoples who have suffered persecution have found refuge in India . eg. Jews, Bhuddists, Christians and Muslims.


 


4.2    The Right in India today have reacted to the historical denigration of India and Hinduism by various platforms and that now there will be the rsik of this taking hold in the UK too.


 


4.3    What is clearly winding Hindus up is the practise of Proselytising and particularly by means of force, Fear, Fraud and Financial inducements. These practises are inappropriate in these modern times.


 


4.4    Jay has just returned from India where the crude practise of tricking innocent villagers with a breakdown of a car that restarted only when Jesus was invoked and failed to start when Krishna was invoked in prayer.


 


4.5    Jay affirmed that Conversion is a perversion and that he is often called upon to comment in the media on these issues. Within the UK the BBC research propagates the caste system, but caste is actually being practised in Buckingham Palace . There is no hierarchy in your location within the Hindu family, which is now expressed as a benevolent CLAN system or Family Network. Only in the remote villages may these practises of discrimination be seen toady.


 


4.6    The Evangelical movement is comparing the worst aspects of our teachings with the best of theirs. Jay asserted that you can no longer propagate these issues of Socio-Economic differences as religious hereditary situations.


 


5.0    Anuja also reminded the meeting that the evidence of the report and particularly that from the website of the Joshua Project, uses the caste differences to promote conversions and thereby actually reinforces the boundaries without empowering the people.


 


6.0    David asked how would all these issues then affect public relations between Christians and Hindus within the UK .


 


7.0    Jay explained that when the most vulnerable people are targeted in this way then there is a social and cultural rift that is created. The education of negative images of Hinduism cannot be tolerated and will cause tensions.


 


8.0    Anuja described how Socio-political identities which are stereotyped in this negative  fashion have many ramifications for all levels of social and political engagement. The initial intervention from MPs will require a redress at the Parliamentary level, to disassociate from supporting the evangelical movement that practises aggressive forms of  Proselytisation, and that is why the original letter of request for a meeting was made to Ruth Kelley who is responsible for Community Cohesion.


 


9.0    Oriell said that Ruth Kelley would not be in a position to make that type of statement and that causing offence to a community may be undesirable but could not be condemned if there was no breach of the law, and from the position of FCO the breach of International Law.


 


10.0 David said he was still unsure how all these issues would affect public relationships, and then he asked what the Hindu community is doing to make her community understand the distinction between evangelical Christian movement and the main body of Christians.


 


11.0 Umesh Chandar said that from his position on the National Council of Hindu Temples, which represents the majority of temples in the UK , he spoke on behalf of the people who actually visit Temples regularly and who are most affected by these negative activities and rhetoric.


 


11.1The Hindu public hear from Ministers and MPs about how we should behave as citizens and how we should integrate into UK society. We treat these issues and statements as coming from people of integrity. So if these evangelical activities are condoned by these MPs then we will have a real affect within the public. So Hindus are looking for MPs to disassociate themselves from this movement.


 


11.2 Umesh asserted that we (Hindus) have in the past 30 years always worked towards integration and given our whole lives for this. Don’t ignore us now.


 


11.3 Umesh said he had also done some research into who these 16 MPs were and maybe some of them were simply motivated by political reasons. We (Hindus) look for a dialogue with MPs to become clear about these motivations.


 


12.0 Jay also reiterated that our (Hindu community) track record for community cohesion has been excellent and now there is a the real danger of losing all that ground if we (Hindus) are to be ignored.


 


13.0  Umesh said he knew of no temple in the UK where there has been an incidence of caste discrimination or anyone has ever been denied access into a temple.


 


13.1 There maybe one or two individuals who have some personal agenda but  this cannot be attributed to everyone else, because it is not true.


 


13.2 In India caste discrimination is a criminal offence and they now have a reservation of proactive protection for disadvantaged groups.


 


13.3 As Hindu leaders we keep the society from reacting negatively. However,If we don’t get the disassociation by MPs and Ministers from this form of Christian aggression then we can anticipate unhappy relations in the future.


 


14.0 Jay suggested that globalisation makes our links with India even stronger than before, so we need to make a proactive programme to ensure that these issues do not cause more disruption.


 


15.0 Anuja asked David to clarify his question about the separation of Evangelical Christians from the main body of Christians.


 


15.1 Anuja asked why he thought that Hindus should be doing this? Hindus did not raise these issues in the UK, it was the MPs and the supposed Dalit organisations that have denigrated other religions and Hindus in particular.


 


15.2Where do you draw the line about what is denigration within the law and what is mere offence as religious freedom? How to get the balance right?


 


15.3 The issues of bad practise amongst Evangelical Christians is not a new or unknown one, even amongst Christians. The Pope and the World Council of Churches convened a meeting in May 2006 to discuss the appropriate  conduct for Proselytising and so Christian aggression is not a Hindu creation and therefore cannot be their responsibility.


 


16.0  Jay explained that in his work on the education level, they were getting support from the Muslim groups but that the Christian lobby is very exclusive and doesn’t support the tenants of pluralism.


 


16.1 Jay suggested that to make Religion a cohesive force you have to become cohesive even to secularists and non religious people.


 


17.0 David responded that as far as drawing the line  the floor is very low and the ceiling very high for what Hindus want. As long as people are working with each other then there is room for causing offence.


 


18.0 Jay had to leave at this time (12.10am) for another meeting and the meeting continued without him.


 


18.0 Oriell said that for the Foreign Commonwealth Office the balance is International Law and that even within that there is no agreement on what is coercion or incitement.


 


18.1The other aspect to this situation is that the behaviour of individuals supporting any cause or movement, unless it is criminal, we cannot condemn this as a government.


 


18.2We get petitioned by all types of groups, both religious and non religious. So it is not just Christian issues that we get petitioned from. He suggested that the best start might be to deal with the individuals involved.


 


19.0 Anuja reaffirmed that because the MPs had initiated this intervention with the Indian High Commission, the Hindu community would be expecting an active disassociation from this evangelical movement to be made at the Parliamentary level. Surely there can be no objection from any Ministers to making a statement condemning any fraudulent and coercive behaviours or practises for the purpose of conversions and/or denigration of other religions?


 


20.0 David stated that the Secretary of State cannot impinge the MPs right to their own opinions.


 


20.1 The laws on religious freedom does not dictate how appropriate it is for a person or organisation to express thei

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