The Report Connecting British Hindus, launched at the House of Commons today by Ruth Kelly Secretary of State for Communities, identified that some Hindus feel ‘excluded’ in the race dialogue and urged Government, media and public service providers to ensure that Hindus are included in any work undertaken to tackle racism in communities. The report was commissioned by the Hindu Forum of Britain, researched by the Runnymede Trust and sponsored by the Cohesion and Faith Unit of the Department of Communities and Local Government.
The report which was compiled by consulting 800 Hindus from different ages, gender, regions and economic backgrounds in focus group meetings and online surveys. It highlights the excellent integration of Hindus into British society and urges the Government to work closely with British Hindus in building its capacity and improving public services catered to the special requirements of the community. The report recommended that schools and communities should work together to teach Hinduism at schools; community organisations should be provided media and leadership training; an umbrella body should be empowered to monitor and negotiate planning issues surrounding Hindu temples; Government and community should work together for fuller and active engagement of women, older people and youth; and to in crease an understanding of human rights issues that affect the Hindu community.
A key finding of the report was that Hindu community organisations need to find sensitive ways of responding to fears and misinformation in order to reduce tensions, and to work with other faith communities, especially Muslim communities, to build dialogue and understanding
Commenting on the importance of the findings of the report, Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
“This research raises important issues that exist between Hindu communities and the Government. It helps us and service providers tackle the challenges that impact on the everyday lives of Britain’s Hindu communities.
“British Hindus have made a positive contribution to both the social, cultural and economic prosperity of our rich and diverse society. Many sections of those communities, including women, youth and older people, are often hard to reach.
“Last month I announced the Commission on Integration and Cohesion will consider how local areas deal with increasing diversity and respond to the tensions it can sometimes cause. We hope the Hindu community will make a vital contribution to the commission’s work.
“All of us, including central Government and public services, have a role to play in helping Britain move towards an inclusive society, based on mutual respect, tolerance and understanding between people of all faiths.”
Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: “The Hindu community has now entered its second-generation status and is well integrated into the larger British society. The community is debating issues of identity and ‘Britishness’ with a view to playing a more active role in mainstream society. The 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. However, Hindu community groups and organisations face multiple disadvantage and discrimination. The Connecting British Hindus report is one of the first sources of authentic and credible information that will seek to understand some of these issues.”
Dr Robert Berkeley, Deputy Director of the Runnymede Trust and principal researcher to the Connecting British Hindus project added, “By creating a better understanding of Hindus we also hope that some light will be shed on the ongoing debate about the role of faith communities in relation to the state. Often this debate is coloured by the considerable tensions that Muslim communities are facing in Britain, and the deliberations of the Church of England in developing a modern relationship with the state. By considering the needs of Hindus in Britain we hope to be able to offer a view of faith-based communities which gives a different perspective to the debate and encourages deeper thinking about appropriate responses to the needs of members of our community of communities and of citizens.”
The full text of the Connecting British Hindus Report can be downloaded from www.hfb.org.uk.