It was widely assumed that electors from the Asian community could be vital for this General Election. However, I was very disheartened to see that many of our people chose not to come out and use their vote. I hope that the Asian silence does not mean that no one cares about the importance of Elections?
There were more Asian candidates standing for the main parties than ever before – 89 compared to 68 in 2005. In particular, it was pleasing to note that a record 22 Asian women were running to become Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs in England and Scotland, of which 6 were successful. In addition, many Asians candidates were successful in being nominated as local Councillors across the country. This for me is a great start for our community – well done to them all!
Personally, I feel that over the last 12 years, the Asian community have built strong links with the Labour Government, who in turn made great strides to interact, involve and realise the aspirations of our community. It is evident that our community has had a greater say over these last 12 years than ever before. The fact remains however that the biggest issues bothering Asian voters today are immigration, the economy, NHS, education, crime, anti social behaviour, foreign policy and electoral reform. I feel that the next Government whoever it may be needs to be clear and tougher on all of these aspects. We look forward to a similar interaction, if not better from them.
Elections can succeed in bringing the Asian community together for a common goal. It can show that the community can gather as a group and have a voting voice. But it’s also a message saying to the political parties and to other electoral bodies that the Asian voice is worth going after. The Asian community needs to build on this election by getting more leaders involved in the political system. All Asian Organisations and Places of worship need to regroup and unite behind Asian candidates and support these candidates, economically, with volunteers, contacts and influence. I firmly believe that in order to effect change at the very highest level we need more people within our community to be politically savvy and be involved.
The far-right party BNP was also kept at bay and now looks to be in tatters after resounding defeats in its stronghold areas. The high profile campaign by anti- BNP campaigners successfully mobilised a high number of voters to keep them out. This is a tribute to the people of the UK who have demonstrated decency rather than hatred.
With UK being led by a coalition government it is highly possible that another general election could be on the cards within months and no one will accept a replay of the chaos that led to thousands of people being disenfranchised. It is a cause for serious concern that many people who wanted to vote were unable to do so by 10pm when polls closed. There should have been sufficient resources allocated to ensure that everyone who wished to vote was able to do so. I am glad that the Electoral Commission will be undertaking a thorough review of what has happened.
Having said all the above, the immediate future looks uncertain. Perhaps the UK should look towards India who has had its ups and downs with similar coalition Governments in recent times……
National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHT)
ABOUT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF HINDU TEMPLES UK (NCHT):
The National Council of Hindu Temples UK (NCHT) was established in 1978. It is the oldest and one of the largest Hindu umbrella bodies linking Hindu Temples and Faith Organisations and works with them for the benefit of the Hindu community across the UK.
NCHT acts as a resource centre and one of the main consultative & advisory bodies on the matters relating to the British Hindu community, culture and religion and regularly interacts with many Government and Statutory Departments – e.g. Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Education Authorities, Commission on Integration & Cohesion, Dept for Communities & Local Government (DCLG), Dept for International Development (DFID), Dept for Trade & Industry (DTI), Equalities & Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Greater London Authority (GLA), Dept for Works & Pensions (DWP), DEFRA, Food Standards Agency (FSA), Metropolitan/West Midlands Police, Interfaith Network UK, The Faith Communities Forum, RE Council for England & Wales, SACRE, Hindu Christian Forum, Council of Dharmick Faiths UK, Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Hindu Faith Bodies Steering Group, National Association of the Chaplains to the Police (NACP), Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy, Schools, Colleges, Universities, Local Multi Faith Forums and Councils.
NCHT also advises and consults on matters relating to interfaith dialogue, community consultations and capacity building in Temples, and advises and challenges legislation and policies that may affect the Hindu Community in the UK.
The main aims and objectives of NCHT UK are:
~ To act as an Umbrella organisation to Hindu Temples and Faith Organisations across the UK;
~ To support and assist with Capacity Building within Hindu Temples and Faith Organisations;
~ To provide advice and information to Government Departments, Local Councils, Public Bodies and Education Authorities;
~ To work with other faith groups for mutual appreciation of each others religion, interfaith dialogue and community cohesion;
~ To promote the advancement, achievements, consensus, cooperation and unity of Hindus in the UK;
~ To establish a position for the Hindu community within UK that is fair and based on Human Rights;
~ To work for the eradication of discrimination faced by Hindus due to caste or background.
~ To arrange Temple visits for Schools, Colleges, Universities and other Organisations;
~ To support Hindu Temple’s applications to be added to the Home Office Borders and Immigration Agency’s Register of Sponsors in order to approve individual Priests’ visa applications to work in Hindu Places of Worship in the UK;
~ To assist Hindu Temples in their search to find appropriate and registered Hindu Priests to work in their Temples;
~ To recommend and provide contact details of Hindu Priests to conduct weddings, religious functions and ceremonies.