In this time of austerity the squeeze on income comes from both rising prices and increased revenue pressure on the taxpayer. Alleviating the fallout of austerity means that government money has to come from somewhere. Hence the duel pressure as taxation increases through various mechanisms combined with inflation and falling real wages.
It is perhaps ironic that with less money to spare charities, community groups and voluntary organisations mushroom at precisely this point to tug at our guilty conscience to help others less fortunate, decrying us as inhuman, selfish and egotistical if we do not part with our hard earned cash. But the flip side is where is the accountability if our bank accounts are going to be raised very month with our written consent? For many people it will come as a shock that the ‘representatives’ they pledge money to do not even work for the charity, but are in fact sales staff employed by promotions companies. Accountability? In this case very tenuous to say the least, when public donations are spent on hiring sales staff and funding lavish gourmet dinners in the name of the starving millions. This is not just lack of accountability. It is ironic and fundamentally nauseating.
We face the same problem with ‘community’ groups. In an effort to prove ‘equality’ successive governments have thrown taxpayers’ money at various manifestations of the above. Now while all communities have their problems and clamour for government recognition of their particular needs, let us just focus on Hindus for the purpose of this discussion. Hindu organisations feel they are less well-treated and are not on a par with other communities.
This is often blamed on inherent anti-Hindu bias by the government, a legacy of colonialism, racial prejudice and the vestiges of cultural imperialism. In this year alone caste discrimination was included as part of the equality legislation which combines previous piecemeal attempts at tackling victimisation based upon race, gender and sexual orientation.
Hindus were pointedly excluded from the research and findings, and yet ‘Hinduism’ was blamed for the prevalence of caste discrimination in Britain. Anti-Hindu diatribes flowed like a broken sewerage system from the very pulpit of Castewatch. In this they were joined by Dalit Solidarity Network and Voice of Dalit International.
The poisonous anti-Hindu atmosphere was further polluted by the anti-Hindu crusades of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Dalit Freedom Network, Operation Mobilisation, Pipe Village Trust and a motley crew of India’s most toxic export: Stalinist professors and their unshakeable belief in Marxist colonialist racism. So the government listened to these people, and not Hindus.
But is it so simple as all this? After all the state has spent thousands of taxpayers’ money on Hindu groups. But what has this spent on? More precisely who exactly has this been lavished on? What ‘community’ do these shadowy self-appointed organisations represent? These questions are so hard to answer because the individuals and gangs concerned are not exactly willing to speak openly, unless they are wanting free cash handouts from the very governments which they claim are anti-Hindu. Yet scratch the surface and the groups are not hard to find. Hindu Forum and Hindu Council are two of these. Or should I say four of these? That is the problem.
There are in fact so many Hindu Forums and Hindu Councils it is hard enough trying to evaluate if these groups are genuine or merely exist on paper. Hindu Forum of Britain for example now has a rival Hindu Forum of Europe.
Both Hindu Forum of Britain and Hindu Council UK claim to be representative by virtue of the fact that they have so many Hindu temples supporting them. The number of 400 is usually touted. But how can the same temples belong to both groups? And since when was this even representative of Hindus as a whole? Does this even qualify as ‘community’ work when we try and understand where all that money went?
This is the uncomfortable elephant in the china room but one which can no longer be avoided. Let us compare with other communities. Many mosques and Islamic centres run programmes for drug rehabilitation and countering extremism. Indeed the Quillam Foundation run by ex-Islamist Majid Nawaz has taken some noble steps in the latter category. While overall church membership has declined nevertheless many churches and Christian organisations are active with youth groups, helping the elderly running toddler groups and support for refugees; including Hindus from war-torn Sri Lanka. And you do not even have to be affiliated to any religion. Humanists run Camp Quest where volunteers help children understand the world around them through various character building activities.
By contrast what do the state-funded Hindu organisations do? With the money they get does the Hindu Forum and Hindu Council do anything approaching what has just been mentioned? Again the question remains where has all that taxpayer money gone? What has it been used for? These unanswered questions are compounded by the hand-wringing and evasive response of Hindu Forum, Hindu Council and other such groups. Contrast this with how they stampede at breakneck speed just to pick up an old 50 pence which has been stuck to the pavement with some chewing gum as part of some mischievous prank.
The latest attempts to make the British government take Hindus seriously had the same unfortunate start. In the wake of caste being included in equality legislation various groups came together to form the Alliance of Hindu Organisations or AHO. I am sure that even the most ardent secularist and atheist would start believing that this venture was cursed from the outset with a rather regrettable name like ‘AHO’. Again Hindu Council and Hindu Forum in one of their latest and many incarnations were prime movers behind this. Yet they went silent when asked about financial accountability over taxpayer funding. Now it is important to break the cycle by understanding what is really going on here. Such groups are not set up to serve the community. Civic values and ideas of public service simply do not exist with these groups.
These groups are there to serve themselves. They are there to promote themselves. While they are quick to rage against colonial vestiges in prejudice towards Hindus, Hindu Forum and Hindu Council, as well as other AHO elements, actually harbour a very colonialist attitude themselves reminiscent of Third World despots who siphon off the country’s wealth into Swiss bank vaults, in the name of revolution.
By posing as ‘community’ groups to the state, this allows successive governments to raid the hard-earned savings of British taxpayers in order to pay off some rather unpleasant social misfits who claim to be ‘leaders’, so that they can deflect any charges of community bias. In reality we have a parallel economy running with a system of unofficial bribes and payoffs. While not wanting to sound melodramatic, I return to the original question? What do these supposedly ‘Hindu’ groups actually do? More to the point who do they represent and serve? From the information and evidence gathered, the sad fact that emerges is that they serve themselves and those very interests which work for the political breakup of India.
Nothing gets the AHO crowd dripping at the mouth with desperation as that coveted knighthood. Now normally this is awarded for community work, service and generally an unselfish voluntary effort. In some way the recipient will have contributed to making the world a better place. But in the warped upside down world of political correctness which seeks to be ‘even handed’ the self-appointed leaders of the AHO set have been awarded OBEs and the like.
If they felt the government was so anti-Hindu then if they had any honour they would return them. This has been done in the past most notably by John Lennon: whose contributions to music and overall image was hardly affected negatively. If they are so against the colonialist mentality which keeps anti-Hindu prejudices alive when why accept honours from the empire which did this? Is it not a moral absurdity? Order of the British Empire, the same empire which was responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 , the torture camps in Kenya in the 1950s, and laying the foundations of apartheid in South Africa. Actually Rabindranath Tagore renounced his Knighthood in protest for Jalianwalla Bagh mass killing in 1919.
It is easy to romanticise about this especially with the imperialist nostalgia in vogue through the writings of Niall Fergusson and Andrew Roberts. But under colonialism India suffered constant famines which killed millions. The Bengal Famine of 1943 killed 5 million alone. Churchill diverted food away from the Indian masses to feed British troops, as people were forced to eat vomit in order to survive. At the same time India contributed the largest volunteer army ever, which fought fascism and defended the British Empire. Yet this gets scant mention and even less recognition. Yet Hindu Forum and Hindu Council fight each other to get that imperialist medal pinned to their chest while millions who are closer to them in DNA than their former imperialist rulers, languish unrecognised and unrewarded.
Any criticism of these groups invites allegations that HHR is envious that it has less access to parliament and use of intemperate language alludes to requirements of psychiatric treatment. For the record HHR has had meetings in Parliament since 2001. The democratic machinations of this country are open to anyone, not just select few, and certainly not self-appointed leaders who represent only themselves. Surely these people are in need of psychiatrists to make them understand what century we are living in, and that accountability, scrutiny and freedom of speech are all essential elements in the very networks and parliamentary access which they boast about to the point of mental imbalance. Where were all these critics who flaunt their pictures with MPs and others when HHR was arranging meetings at Westminster itself on human rights abuses on Hindus in Bangladesh or Pakistan ?
Now if these critics of HHR were even correct in small measure, why has all their supposedly high-level access to VIPs, as well as regular appearances on BBC and Sky News, never actually led to anything constructive? We all make judgments but it is important to do this by looking at the results not some veneer cosmetic mirage provided by the use of misleading social networks. After all it is not just a free market economy. It is an even freer market of ideas, red in tooth and claw (or at least in thought and word). Those ideas which are irrelevant will meet their Darwinian nemesis. Psychiatric analysis will remove them from the body politic as self-destructive social misfits, at least as far as the wider community is concerned.
We have to ask ourselves what would happen if groups that make up AHO did not exist? Would Hindus be left in a dire situation? I would argue that they would in fact be in a better position. The slate could be wiped clean and grassroots community work with voluntary effort will then flourish. At present the accepted Hindu mindset does not allow this. I have concentrated on Hindu Forum and Hindu Council as they have received the lion’s share of taxpayer funding. But go to any Hindu organisation and you will encounter similar mentality.
It is a brave person indeed who stands against these developments because in the pursuit of money, power and influence. Morals, values and the very spirituality which Hinduism has contributed to the world are almost absent. In actual fact these groups that have formed AHO stop genuine Hindu aspirations from being heard, and from community groups and voluntary efforts being allowed to make real difference, as opposed to a few cases which smack of the shallow celebrity culture of X Factor, replete with voyeurism and narcissism which is their hallmark.
The good news is that without having to go too deep into character flaws and trying to change mindsets, all that is needed is an investigation into where did those state funds go? What were they used for? At this time when ordinary working people are struggling to make ends meet and are increasingly apprehensive about the future, is it not sickening to see so-called community groups and self-appointed ‘leaders’ living it up at the expense of the masses? What is needed is scrutiny and accountability.
Once that is completed these fake community groups can for once do the honourable thing. While they will no doubt recoil with horror at returning their OBEs, they can at least pay all that money back.