Ravi Lakhani is the National Coordinator for Vichaar Manthan UK, a platform dedicated to addressing the challenges facing British society through a sustainable and liberal lens. A Senior Analyst in Private Equity, he is currently pursuing his Master’s in Finance at London Business School (LBS).
In this exclusive Guest Op-Ed, he reflects upon the findings of a recent Henry Jackson Society (HJS) report on the violent clashes in Leicester and the lessons to be learnt for the future.
If we wish to continue living in a truly liberal society, the recent events in Leicester taught us three key lessons: narratives matter, we as individuals can and do make a difference and, money talks.
As highlighted by the Henry Jackson Society report on Leicester, the reality on the ground was often far removed from both mainstream and social media channels. The false narratives blaming external “Hindutva” were quick to hit the news in a coordinated fashion. Conversely the truth took weeks to filter out, firmly identifying a minority of Islamists who had peddled fake news to fan the flames between communities.
In the clash of narratives often those who shout loudest and first win regardless of the truth. Are we as British Indians proactively promoting narratives that build a liberal, plural society whilst doing enough to challenge those who seek to incite?
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I congratulate the community for its rapid response during the Leicester events. The mandirs and mosques which called for peace and condemned violence. The various community organisations who worked tirelessly for two weeks, logging and debunking fake news, supporting locals who were affected, communicating and liaising with the police to aid them in bringing calm, drafting letters to bring the truth out and the countless other activities that were carried out from a feeling of empathy and responsibility.
The impact of many individuals coming forward offering their time and supporting the local community cannot be overstated. I felt in those moments that as individuals we all felt responsible and wanted to help, it was the coming together in an organised manner which allowed all of our efforts to make a difference. It is clear that we are not alone in wanting to build a liberal society for ourselves and for our families.
What was achieved on the ground in the media and in the policy sphere was done by volunteers. Many came forward offering their time and professional expertise. With the support of the community and wider British society, the truth is now beginning to emerge and the targeted Diu Daman community is receiving much needed support. If this is what can be achieved with volunteers, imagine how different both the narrative and the ground reality could be if we had funded institutions supporting local communities, promoting the truth and working in the policy space.
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Our success as British Indians is in large part due to the liberty and governance systems of the UK. As part of our responsibility towards maintaining these we can and must put money behind ideas and institutions that promote the universal values of sustainability, liberty and individual flourishing.
I hope that you will read the full report by the Henry Jackson Society and decide to put your time, skills and money behind institutions which build the type of society we wish to live in.