Would Hindus in Britain be more powerful with one voice? It is often asked, ‘why can’t we Hindus be more like the Jewish people; who are powerful, united and speak with one voice, never neglected, oftentimes feared, at least feared of being offended.’
As an intern in Congress I studied AIPAC – the Jewish lobby – the most powerful political lobby in America. You do not get to be the President of the United States, leader of the free world, without AIPAC’s endorsement.
I asked last week how true it was that Indians don’t help Indians; or more specifically that Hindus do not help Hindus as a general rule. So that when the victims of Bhopal seek the help of those with political access, their messenger is attacked and the message of the victim ignored.
Well this week I noted that Sewa Day has resigned from ‘A Year of Service (AYOS)’ a Government initiative to celebrate service and the Jubilee. They resigned because they discovered that the Government has awarded the lead member of the AYOS committee (Mitzvah Day) a sum of £65,000. Repeated requests by Sewa Day for clarity on the application of these funds have met nothing but a stone wall.’
That is not a case of Indians or Hindus lacking influence because of persons from their own community blocking their way, but rather it seems blockages from outside the community. How to make a more power Hindu community in Britain? One that is not trampled, ignored, second classed?
For all our wealth, all our MPs and Peers and Councillors – where are the brave articulate souls who will stand up and say, ‘I am a Hindu, and without fear, I will represent my community – stuff the consequences. I take my instructions from my conscience, not from your promise of reward for obeyance and silence.’.
No instead what do we get? We have Parliamentarians who have resigned from the House of Lords so they could save tax on their non-dom status. At least they recognised they no longer deserved to be called a ‘Noble’ Lord. Nobility dies at the hands of self-serving greed. Character is not to be found in such people. They are in any event not worthy to represent a great and ancient faith, so we shed no tears for their dereliction of duty.
So wealth will not bring influence – as our wealthiest, seem ignorant or incapable to fulfil their duties to their community in the political arena. What of youth? Sewa is largely composed of youth. As is the National Hindu Students Forum, as is the City Hindu Network. Here we have hope.
To all those in my community, to those for so long who have hogged ‘political access’, been gatekeepers and insiders – I say this: your time is up. We will go around you, under you and over you, if we cannot go through you. You will be made irrelevant.
I write to you from a hotel in Mumbai. Like most hotels there is in the bedside drawer the Bhagavad Gita and the Holy Bible side by side. I remind those obstructionists in my community the words from the bible, ‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.’ Beware. Your time is up.
And to those outside my community, who for too long have in secret deals and cosy relationships and cliques and cabals kept us on the outside – we make strong friends and even stronger adversaries. Your time too is up. We are an army of lawyers and accountants and bankers and entrepreneurs and yes, political activists. We are not only more industrious, but younger than you, cleverer, more industrious, more connected, more networked, more resourceful and we come in legions. The hidden deals and secret negotiations and scratched backs and quid pro quos are coming to an end – don’t scratch your back – watch your back. You can stand on our shoulders for we are giants, but not on our heads, for we are not pygmies and no longer will we behave like it. We are a confident people. Our time has come. Give us our rightful dues and respect. For we too have earned it, at the end of a sword, in wars and battles. We are the Hindu nation.
I am reminded of the lyrics of the popular song, ‘The higher you build your barriers
The taller I become; The farther you take my rights away; The faster I will run; You can deny me; You can decide to turn your face away; No matter, cos there’s something inside so strong;
You thought that my pride was gone; The more you refuse to hear my voice; The louder I will sing; You hide behind walls of Jericho; Your lies will come tumbling; Deny my place in time; You squander wealth that’s mine; My light will shine so brightly; It will blind you’.