Dharmic traditions have so much to offer Labour Party

Dharmic traditions have so much to offer Labour Party

Krish Raval is a leadership expert who works with corporations around the world. He is Director of Faith in Leadership, Britain's principal leadership development for all major faith communities. Krish, who read law at the Universities of Sheffield and Cambridge and has a passion for youth work, was awarded an OBE for services to Leadership Education and to Inter-faith Cohesion.

In this special Guest Op-Ed for iGlobal, he uses the inspiring message of Diwali to reflect upon the British Indian connect with politics – against the backdrop of the Labour Convention of Indian Organisations (LCIO) diaspora group.

Let us start by acknowledging that our country is going through unprecedented hardship,

  • we’re facing the longest recession since records began,

  • mortgages and bills are impossibly high

  • public services are on their knees

  • more than 16 million people will experience fuel poverty this winter resulting in millions of deaths due to cold homes.

We have lived through a wasted 12 years resulting in an unfathomable black hole in the public’s finance and we have suffered five Prime Ministers in six years. Everyone knows a change of government is not just urgent but essential; and in that context, the LCIO team have asked me to draw a link with Diwali.

Labour Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner (right) & Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper
Labour Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner (right) & Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper

So here goes:

For one-fifth of the human race and especially for Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Hindus, Diwali is about illumination so that

  • we can identify our personal bad habits and correct them,

  • so that we can be beacons of goodness ourselves

  • and so that we live in trust that good will always prevail over darkness.

But light also helps to see reality for what it is. It enables us to name fuel poverty, economic incompetence, hatred and allows to organise against these and other horrors.

And here the dharmic traditions have SO MUCH to offer Labour.

For instance, our traditions tell us that in order to accomplish change we need to connect with others, especially with those who are suffering. And deep connections are unions. We in the Labour movement know about unions.


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But there is a specific dharmic term for union: It’s Yoga or Yog. Yoga means to create union. A union with the Almighty but also a union between mind, body and soul, and with one another so that we can make things better.

Three weeks ago, I was involved in small way in a historic between two great non-Dharmic faiths: Islam and Christianity when the Pope visited the Middle East. And I directly heard the Pope’s appeal for prayer, education and action.

To my ears the Pope was recommending types of Yog:

Bhakti Yoga – the yoga of prayer

Gyan Yoga – the yoga of education


Karma Yoga – the yoga of action

And this perhaps is what I am grateful to leave you with:

Let us work hard, with sincerity, as though it is a form of bhakti to get our Labour Party friends elected so that they may serve the wider good;

Let us have the gyan or wisdom to not be complacent and to ensure that we use every means at our disposal to ensure that no heartland or constituency is taken for granted.


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Let’s ensure that we are a Party of all faiths and none. This absolutely means understanding that community cohesion is not a zero-sum game, and on that may I commend Keir Starmer’s powerful rejection of all forms of religious hate, including against Islamophobia, against antisemitism and of course, against Hinduphobia.

And let us understand that we reap what we sow, that Labour’s karma is actually to govern, and as a government-in-waiting, one of our actions is to reject a colonial attitude towards India and instead treat its incredible economy, diversity and complexity with mutual respect.

In this, the 75th year of Indian independence heroically won by India under a Labour government, the Labour Convention of Indian Organisations has been restabilised to bring light, in the way I have described, into our national life and we look forward to serving you, in doing this.

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