Among the many religious groups in Britain, Hindus have been the most prosperous and influential, but have rarely acted in unison. In fact, Home Secretary David Blunkett, some time ago, regretted that not many Hindus in Britain turn up to cast their votes in the elections.
To address such anomalies, over 100 Hindu organisations from different places in Britain have come together to form ?an umbrella body with a difference, to make a difference?.
The Hindu Forum of Britain was launched last week by member organisations from the regional councils of Brent, Harrow, Birmingham, Leicester and the north, besides many other regional bodies and temples.
The organisation was formed as a result of the mandate given by the community at the Hindu Security Conference in December 2003, which was attended by more than 500 representatives from over 150 Hindu organisations. The security conference came about after the attacks on the Ealing Road temple in London, during the Diwali celebrations in 2003.
Ishwar Tailor, president of Gujarati Hindu society, which has the largest temple in the north, was elected president of the Hindu Forum of Britain. Tailor explained that the forum would focus on practical issues for Hindus in Britain.
?We have project plans for two or three main agendas in the first year. Education is one of our key priorities, and so is building an infrastructure for communication and networking within the community. The Hindu Forum will engage in community consultation at different levels to identify the needs and requirements of the community at the ground level,? he said.
C.B. Patel, publisher of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar, was elected Chairman of the Patrons Council of the Hindu Forum. He said: ?The national agenda we have defined clearly and it identifies a gap in what is being delivered and that which Hindus expect. We will closely work with other organisations and establishments to narrow this gap.?
Genetic study link to language diversity across Himalayas
eneticists from the University of Leicester are involved in an international collaboration carrying out the first ever study of human genetic diversity in the Himalayas, and its links to the languages that are spoken across the region.
This unique study is expected to have a lasting impact on the theories of language relation-ships and ideas about the origins of many population groups and languages across the Himalayas and the surrounding area.
Scientists of University of Leicester are working alongside academics from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, the University of Ferrara in Italy and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute near Cambridge. They include both linguists and geneticists in the European Science Foundation-a sponsored project, funded through the UK'sArts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB).
Dr Mark Jobling, the Leicester geneticist in the team, said: ?This is the first time that the AHRB has funded a project outside the Faculty of Arts in Leicester, and is a reflection of the multidisciplinary nature of the project, with input from both linguists and geneticists.?
The greater Himalayan region is one marked by enormous diversity. The level of diversity of peoples and languages in the area is the greatest on the Eurasian landmass. In fact, hundreds of different languages are spoken along the Himalayas-the highest standing land barrier in the world.
Trips to Nepal and Bhutan to gather DNA samples for testing have already taken place and a further trip to Assam, in north-east India, is planned. In total, samples will be collected from over 3,000 individuals for analyses in Leicester and other institutions involved in the project.
Dr Jobling said: ?The focus in Leicester will be on the diversity of slowly and rapidly evolving loci on the male-specific Y chromosome. These data will be compared with both linguistic and archaeological records with the aim of creating a better idea of the history of the peoples and languages of the region.
?Existing models based on linguistic and archaeological understanding will be assessed statistically to find out just how accurate a picture of the history of the peoples of the area they actually present.
?The study is being carried out with the cooperation of the local people, who are very interested in their own history and origins,? he said. (The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])