Scottish Hindu Foundation hosts inaugural 'Dharmocracy Works' meet for youth engagement

Scottish Hindu Foundation hosts inaugural 'Dharmocracy Works' meet for youth engagement

The Scottish Hindu Foundation held its inaugural 'Dharmocracy Works' meet recently at the Fred Paton Centre in Glasgow.

The aim of the event was to engage and inspire Scottish Hindu youth to fully understand and actively participate in the political system. The cross-party gathering brought together representatives from all the major political parties, including:

  • Alison Thewliss, candidate from the Glasgow Central region – Scottish National Party (SNP)

  • Paul Sweeney MSP from Glasgow Region – Labour

  • Pam Gosal MSP from the West of Scotland Region and Deputy of the Scottish Conservative Party 

  • Susan Murray, Councillor and MP candidate for Mid Dunbartonshire – Liberal Democrats

  • Naveed Asghar, MP candidate for Glasgow North and Chairman – Conservatives

  • Abdul Bostani a former refugee and councillor from the Maryhill ward – SNP

Youth engagement and insights

The program kicked off with introductions and an interactive session where questions by young members of the community were posed to the panel of politicians. Young aspirant Shreya Deshpande, 12, asked if they had always wanted to go into politics or had other career aspirations. The panelists shared how most grew into politics after time in either the private sector or through the ranks of their respective parties.

Another question posed concerned professional skills gained in their time in politics, the politicians uniformly agreed on – listening skills and problem-solving abilities.

The panel was also asked for their insights for the next five years on the Scottish economy, expected to be a central issue following the recently called General Election on July 4.

Alison Thewlis shared her vision on how future industries will be connected to the environment whilst Paul Sweeny offered an integrated example referencing the Beatles record label also being an investor in Medical Technology leading to breakthroughs in CT Scans.

Bostani said Scotland’s inability to borrow means we can’t put money back into the economy as we should.

Asghar raised his concern on rising taxes in Scotland and supporting the best of existing industries, health care etc and ensuring that higher professional earners are not de-incentivised from staying in Scotland due to punitive taxes. This must be controlled to make Scotland more lucrative for people to move.

Gosal talked about how AI as an industry can fuel growth. All the panelists concurred that Scotland had a pivotal role to play and the next generation is capable of thriving and succeeding.


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Hindu representation

Dhrishti Bhardwaj, 17], the first elected Hindu MSYP (Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament) from Dumbarton and the Vale, shared her inspiring journey into politics. Driven by a desire to explore her Hindu and Scottish roots and a passion for public service, she gained experience with more than ten organisations and charities, from food banks to youth groups and work experience with MSP Jackie Baillie.

Dhrishti emphasised the crucial need for Hindu representation to ensure their voices and needs are considered in politics. She highlighted the difference Scottish Hindus could make by being involved and the pride they would feel through participation. She also highlighted that professional career and politics are not mutually exclusive and can be balanced efficiently. As the only Hindu MYSP, she proved it is possible despite the underrepresentation of Hindus in the political system. Hindu youth can make strides over the coming generations and represent the best of both Scotland and the Hindu Community.

Dr Yatish Rangappa, the Scottish Hindu Foundation's Public Relations Officer, explained the unique 'Dharmocracy' concept, a compound word combining 'Dharma' (righteousness, truth and Justice) and 'Democracy.'

Dr Richa Sinha, Chairperson of the Scottish Hindu Foundation, shared insights on future Dharmocracy Works engagements planned across various cities due to significant community interest. She also highlighted their "Register to Vote" campaign to ensure Hindus, including those new to Scotland from Commonwealth countries and a large number of Indian students coming to Scotland, are registered for the upcoming July 4 elections.

The event concluded with a networking session over chai and samosas, allowing youth to interact informally with various party leaders. Some youth were even roped in for campaigning!


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