Hindu Council UK (HCUK) Annual General Meeting (AGM) held:
ON: Saturday 28th April 2012
AT: Shree Ram Mandir, 22 King Street, Southall UB2 4DA
TIME: 2.00pm – 4.00pm
The Hindu Council UK (HCUK) is the oldest and one of the largest Hindu umbrella bodies linking Hindu Temples and Hindu Faith Organisations and works with them for the benefit of the Hindu Community across the UK.
Hindu Council UK was founded in 1994 for all Hindus domiciled in the United Kingdom, combining all the Hindu faith denominations, whilst representing various Hindu communities and Hindus from different parts of the world settled in the United Kingdom. Its main purpose is to give the UK Hindus an effective voice on policy matters with the Government and Statutory Authorities whilst enhancing mutual understanding among the major faiths predominant in the UK. Hindu Council UK is itself a non-partisan faith organisation.
Hindu Council UK represents an amalgamation of various Hindu denominations in the UK through their temple bodies and cultural organisations. In addition community, youth and women organisations are represented.
The Hindu Council UK (HCUK) Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 28th April 2012 was a momentous occasion. Even though on the day there was torrential rain, the meeting was successfully attended by over 40 representatives from many Hindu Organisations and Temples from across all regions of the UK.
Following Prayers and Introductions the minutes of the last AGM (Sunday 18th December 2011) and Annual Accounts (for period ending 31st March 2012) were unanimously approved and passed by all present and will now been submitted to Companies House and The Charity Commission.
This was followed by extensive reports of the activities that Hindu Council UK has been involved with in the UK together with reports by HCUK Executives leading on issues affecting Hindus in Kashmir, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. It was resolved that a Task Force consisting of various Executives be formed to lobby and consult with the UK Government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to raise and highlight the issues and the Department for International Development (DFID) to identify and recommend countries where international aid should be targeted using reputable and established grass-roots organisations working on the ground.
Discussions were held on how HCUK should lead on raising awareness of ‘Sanskrit’ within the UK by organising a Sanskrit Exhibition Project involving renowned Hindu scholars. Suggestions to hold the exhibition at the British Library or similar high profile venues was initiated. HCUK will lead on this initiative and look to secure a venue and date(s) as soon as possible.
The meeting resolved that there was an urgent need to support Temples within the UK and help with Capacity-Building, Applications for Grants, Funding and Good Governance. It was felt that this would strengthen the Hindu representation and presence with the Government and Statutory Authorities. Mr Yash Tara – a veteran community leader with extensive experience in running a Hindu Temple in Leamington Spa offered his services to help lead on interaction with Hindu Temples in the UK and offer all guidance, advice and consultation as necessary. Furthermore, Mr Tara donated £1000 towards the website costs of HCUK: (www.hinducounciluk.org) as it was acknowledged that our website is a crucial marketing tool and a source of useful information for everyone.
The Following Report was given of the current activities that HCUK has been involved in the last year:
HCUK will continue to work with the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Education Authorities, Dept for Communities & Local Government (DCLG), Dept for International Development (DFID), Dept for Trade & Industry (DTI), Dept for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Greater London Authority (GLA), Metropolitan Police, Interfaith Network UK, RE Council for England & Wales, SACRE, Hindu Christian Forum, Council of Dharmic Faiths UK, Tony Blair Faith Foundation, National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), Schools, Colleges and Universities & Local Multi Faith Forums and Councils.
Throughout the last year HCUK has continuously been asked to advise and consult on various matters relating to interfaith dialogue, community consultations and capacity building, and has challenged legislation and policies that affect the British Hindu Community in the UK. HCUK has also participated in various Government and Statutory Authority meetings, interaction and forums.
- HCUK is also one of the faith bodies on the Faith Community Group, London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) – supporting the initiative to engage people from the Hindu community to take up volunteering roles for the Olympic Games.
- HCUK has also participated in legislative debates relating to religious conscience, including over the role of religious adoption agencies and civil partnerships taking place in religious institutions, exceptions for organised religions and religious organisations in the Equality Act 2010, while freedom of speech issues have been raised in debates relating to the banning of books and plays etc which various religious organisations have found insulting. In addition, HCUK has raised various issues relating to religion or belief, including the expression of religious views by frontline staff in delivery of public services; the recognition of religious observance in the workplace; the right to wear religious symbols in the workplace and the right not to do so; refusal of a place in a local school with a religious ethos; and dismissals due to a refusal to undertake work conflicting with religious conscience.
- HCUK along with other Hindu Organisations came together and endorsed a statement which lent support for the establishment of a renewed Christian-Hindu Forum. Going forward it is hoped that the forum debates issues concerning missionary activity, conversion, caste discrimination and how Indian politics impact on Christian-Hindu relations. It is hoped that dialogue between the two religions therefore aims to overcome misunderstandings and to develop relationships of trust that are respectful of difference. As a result and success of this Forum, HCUK are keen to develop discussions with the Muslim community to establish a Hindu- Muslim Forum and the Jewish Community on the Hindu-Jewish Forum.
- HCUK has provided help, support and advice to NASACRE, SACRE, the Religious Education Council of UK and various other Authorities and Stakeholders on all aspects of Hinduism together with providing theological material.
- HCUK were one of the key stakeholders in the Task Force which was set up to recruit Hindus to serve on public appointments. The Task Force had various meetings with the Government’s Equalities Office (GEO) and representatives from the Cabinet Office and other departments. The Task force has also published its UK Public Appointments Strategy Document that identifies several key factors to ensuring equality in the Public Sector. This document has been praised by many Ministers and Peers in the House of Commons and House of Lords. HCUK will forge links with Hindu individuals and offer help and support to ensure that they are fully prepared to take up positions of Public Appointments as and when they become available.
- HCUK has participated as a stakeholder with National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and taking part in various consultations in particular regarding high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes amongst the south Indian community,
- Hindu priests applying for Minister of Religion visas from India find the current standard of English language required too high as these priests are trained in their native language and Sanskrit and are able to speak English only to a certain standard. Following consultations HCUK has found that only a few Temples have been successful in recruiting a Minister of Religion who has passed these high standards since this ruling came in force. HCUK has recommended to the Borders and Immigration Authority that the grading required is revised for this category of visa. Furthermore, HCUK has supported visa applications for Hindu Organisations who wanted to call Hindu Swamis, Monks, and Spiritual Leaders who come for short periods of time to address their devotees and who are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain a visitor’s visa.
- HCUK supported the protest outside No 10 Downing Street to highlight the issue of forced conversions of young Hindu women to Islam.
- HCUK continues to raise concerns that there is little or no public funding for Hindu groups, which is indicative of an incoherent Government policy which is leaving many minority groups drastically short of funds.
- HCUK also made meaningful inroads into engaging with the national media on key policy issues. HCUK Executive Ano Rao was recently interviewed by BBC at Open University forum on minority rights. HCUK was also consulted at international conferences on foreign policy issues. HCUK’s Company Secretary Gautam Banerji recently represented the organisation at The Ditchley Foundation Conference on Multiculturalism and Religion in Foreign Policy.
The above are just some of the examples of the work that HCUK has been engaged in the last one year along with many more strands. However, we need more help and support from Temples/Individuals who can share the workload of attending and representing HCUK at key meetings, forums and seminars.
The meeting ended with the nomination, selection and ratification of the HCUK Executive Committee as follows:
It was resolved that a Company Secretary be appointed to the Board of Hindu Council UK. The Company Secretary will be the Honorary Secretary to the Board of Trustees of HCUK to work closely on general management policies and procedures and governance issues. The position does not in any way overlap with the position of the General Secretary, who will hold the overall responsibility for coordination and engagement with the community. Gautam Banerji’s name was proposed for the position, given his professional expertise and experience. He accepted the challenge and dedicated to work for the good of the community.
|Board of Directors|
|Mr Anil Bhanot OBE||Managing Trustee/Director|
|Mr Umesh Chander Sharma||Chairperson|
|Mr Sanjay Jagatia||General Secretary|
|Mr Chris Gopaul||Treasurer|
|Mrs Krishna Bhan||Kashmiri Hindus & Educational Matters|
|Mr Dipen Rajyaguru||Equality and Diversity|
|Mr Surinder Sund||Dalit Empowerment|
|Mr Mahanta Shrestha|
|Mr Gautam Banerji FRSA||Governance|
|Miss Muna Chauhan||Gender Equality|
|Dr Shiv Pande MBE||Health|
|Mr Amarjeet Bhamra||Ayurveda|
|Dr Rishi Agarwal||Sanskrit Heritage|
|Mr Balmukund Prasad Joshi|
|Mr Siva Sivaraman||British Tamils and General|
|Mrs Ano Rau||British Hindus from Malaysia|
|Mr Yogesh Teli||Political Focus|
|Mr Mangat Rai Sharma||General Temple Issues|
|Ms Jagriti Bhuva|
|Mr D Ratnasingham|
|Mr Harmohinder Bhatia Upashak|
|Mr Yash Tara|
|Dr Surendra Sharma|
With kind regards,
Hindu Council Secretariat
Registered Office: Hindu Council UK (HCUK)
126-128 Uxbridge Road, London, W13 8QS
Phone: 020 8840 8844
Fax: 020 8840 8899