Asian Voice - Saturday 3rd December 2011
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Hindus and Christians shake hands to forge a stronger link A new network, the Hindu Christian Forum, which aims to strengthen relationships of trust, mutual respect and understanding between Hindus and Christians in the UK has been launched. The launch, held at Lambeth Palace in London last week, brought together over 100 Hindu and Christian representatives. Guests were welcomed upon arrival by Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and his secretary, Dr Toby Howarth. The Forum’s inception has come partly in response to the findings of the ‘Bridges and Barriers to Hindu Christian Relations’ report, authored by Dr Jessica Frazier of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. According to the report, the larger barrier preventing the two communities from coming closer is “the overall ignorance about Hinduism on the part of the Christian community, and the corresponding difficulties that many Hindus have in explaining their religion.” In Britain, there are an estimated 800,000 Hindus. And, around 60% of the British population describe themselves as Christian. The Church of England has the largest following of any denomination or faith in Britain. It has over 16,000 churches compared to 135 Hindu tem-
ples in the UK. In his address, the Archbishop said: “We’re not playing for victory; we’re seeking understanding from one another, by learning the depth of one another’s commitment and vision. Dialogue and depth is what we all hope for.” Then spoke “one of the country’s most influential spiritual leaders” Shruti Dharma Das, President of Bhaktivedanta Manor, home of the Hare Krishna Movement. “Let’s celebrate our differences,” he said. “Effective dialogue can bring about cohesion to build stronger communities based on peace and harmony.” Guests included Mayuraben Patel from Gayatri Pariwar, Shri CB Patel, editor and publisher of our newsweeklies, Bhartiben Tailor and Arjanbhai Vekaria from Hindu Forum of Britain, Councillor Manjula Sood from Leicester, Ameet Jogia from British Asian Conservative Link and Pranav Bhanot, voice of Hindu youth in Britain. The evening was compered by softly-spoken Rameshbhai Pattni, of Hindu Forum of Britain. Other speakers included: Lord Dolar
Pair caged over toddler death A Birmingham magistrate and his former girlfriend have been jailed for the killing of a two-year-old girl who died of septic shock after she was held under a scalding hot shower. Rashpal Chana, 49, (pictured, left) who has served as a JP for almost 20 years, was jailed for four-and-a-half years and Eva Logina, 26, (pictured, right), for six years. The pair were convicted of the manslaughter of Kristiana Logina. A monthlong trial heard that Chana, who showed little emotion as sentence was passed, and Logina both failed to summon medical assistance for Kristiana, who died around 12 days after being scalded. Chana had advertised for a female partner on dating websites while he was being investigated by police, it has emerged.
Landlord fined A landlord from Walsall has been fined £2,000 for putting his tenants at risk by failing to provide a gas safety certificate. Khalid Hussain, who pleaded guilty, was also ordered to pay £3,000 costs.
News in Brief Tenancy deposits Average tenancy deposits paid to landlords when renting properties in the West Midlands now stand at £781, according to a new survey by mydeposits.co.uk
No cash, no fun Three in ten people in the West Midlands are unhappy about their social lives with more than one in five saying money worries keep them at home on Saturday nights. One in ten said they did not want to miss their favourite TV shows, according to the poll by Badoo.com Lord Popat gives his address as the Archbishop, Shruti Dharma Das and The Ven Richard Atkinson listen on
Popat, a Hindu born in Uganda who went to a Christian school. His speech centred around three values – truth, love and compassion – which he has adopted from his spiritual guide, Shri Morari Bapu, an internationally-renowned Hindu spiritual leader; Baroness Richardson OBE, Moderator of the Churches Commission on Inter-Faith Relations; and Andrew Stunell MP from the Department for Communities and Local Government, which funded Dr Frazier’s study. In his eloquent address, Shruti Dharma Das posed this most important question: Will the Forum make a difference to the lives of people? Well, only time will tell. First, the Forum should build trust between the two commu-
nities, nationally. How? By acting upon its vision, mission, aims and objectives. Otherwise, it may risk falling into the common ‘talking shop’ category, which benefits only a selfish minority at the expense of the majority. Whilst the name suggests this Forum is exclusively for Hindus and Christians, we hope it will be inclusive and embrace the contributions of people of all faiths or none, in a bid to genuinely promote cohesion between all communities. As one attendee, Gaurav Kumar, aged 29, from the Hare Krishna Movement, put it: “It’s just a crack on the ice. I’m keen to see how the Forum will develop.” Let us keep faith and hope in the Forum and ask its ‘drivers’ to keep us posted on developments.
Temple bosses seek glory as priests ‘bullied’ Hindu priests must not suffer in silence. That’s the message from the Home Office and West Midlands Police, two authorities which are looking into claims of bullying and harassment suffered by two Hindu priests in the Midlands. One priest was forced to resign, whilst the other is worried about his well-being, and that of his family. Both priests told this newspaper their stories over the telephone, but asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals by certain temple committee members who are alleged to have created an “intolerable” working environment for the priests. A spokeswoman from West Midlands Police said: “We take all reports of harassment very seriously, and would urge anyone who is a victim of this type of crime to contact their local police immediately.” Asian Voice raised this issue with Brij-Mohan Gupta, President of the National Council of Hindu Temples (NCHT) UK on Nov 3. He failed to provide a response by the deadline (Nov 9). His colleague Madhubhai Shashtri also failed to provide a response by the extended deadline (21 Nov). Our reporter met, by chance, the gents at the launch of the Hindu Christian Forum and confronted them. Suit-clad, photogenic Mr Gupta said he had been “very busy”. Mr Shastri, NCHT UK’s spin surgeon, said the same and boasted about his trip to Switzerland. (Apparently, Mr Shashtri is in the process of setting up a separate forum for Hindu chaplains in the UK, supported by a prominent Hindu priest from Birmingham). Then, shockingly, he suggested that this issue should be dropped. This appalling behaviour of two ‘pillars of the community’ begs the question about their leadership, integrity and decency, does it not?
Speeding when running late A shocking 93% of West Midlands motorists would be willing to speed if they were running late, a new poll by market researchers OnePoll has revealed. The region came third, ahead of East Anglia (92%), London (91%) and the East Midlands (90%). The most conscientious areas for road safety were the South East (13%) and Wales (18%).
Heartless loan sharks Young single mums in Birmingham are being forced into prostitution in a bid to pay off their debts to loan sharks, according to the England Illegal Money Lending Team. They are either made to sleep with the loan sharks themselves or other men. To report a loans shark call the confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or email reportaloanshark@ stoploansharks.gov.uk
Drop in shoppers The West Midlands has seen the largest drop (10.4%) in shoppers of any UK region in the past quarter, new data from British Retail Consortium shows. The fall in the region is significantly larger than the UK average of 2.3%, compared with the same period last year.
Staff dilemma Birmingham’s main maternity hospital was forced to close its doors to pregnant women due to a lack of midwives. One expectant mum had to give birth on a general ward and was then taken into intensive care at the Women’s Hospital in Edgbaston. An insider said: “Morale is low and a lot of midwives are off with stress after a shake-up that involved changing their pay levels.”
Gay club goes bust The Nightingale, the oldest gay nightclub in the centre of Birmingham, has gone into administration after more than 40 years in business. The club is facing mounting cash-flow difficulties and the jobs of 50 staff are currently hanging in the balance.
Catering with Charisma Three cheers to the outstanding youth catering team from Birmingham Rathbone who collectively prepared and served a sumptuous fourcourse meal for the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Anita Ward, and 40 other guests. The annual event is a live training session for the hospitality and catering students, results of which contribute towards their qualification and work experience. Each year, Birmingham Rathbone supports around 1,000 people with learning difficulties. Photo: Lord Mayor with Birmingham Rathbone student Ricky.