The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) has intensified a drive to raise awareness about the need for British Hindus to actively engage with the 2021 Census, scheduled for March 21.
Trupti Patel, President of the HFB, recently presided over a seminar with the twin focus of supporting the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme and Census 2021, both highlighted as extremely important community issues. Patel provided updates on her consultations with the government and how the HFB is taking the lead in the dissemination of information to ensure British Hindus are able to ensure complete access to state services through full engagement with the census process.
“The census allows the government amongst other matters to assess social, health and economic needs. For members of the Hindu Forum of Britain, this means help in planning permissions for temples, community centres etc, obtaining grants which our community lacks, facilities in education of Hinduism, Hindu chaplain in government institutions, diet requirements etc,” the HFB explains.
An information campaign, to be run in several languages including Gujarati, Panjabi and Bengali, is being undertaken to better inform communities about the importance of completing their census forms.
Given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, field workers will be appointed to assist communities with this process, with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) being used and advice facilities mainly conducted via telephone.
“The invitation letter with an access code unique to that household will be sent to around 90 per cent of addresses in the UK and Wales. More people are able to complete census electronically. Around 10 per cent less likely to complete online will be sent paper questionnaires, with paper forms also having optional access code,” the HFB added.
Besides, the HFB has been undertaking a focussed drive to counter doubts and myths around the Covid-19 vaccines and encouraging the community to take up the life-saving jabs.
HFB collaborated to create the HEART – Hindu Emergency Action Response Group – consisting of all major Hindu umbrella bodies so that issues facing the community can be dealt with in a concerted manner. The vaccine awareness programme is being led by the HFB medical team comprising of Dr Bhavana Pandya, Dr Sapna Bhansali and Dr Pratibha Datta from the VHP, together with Anand Vyas of SEWA International.
Dr Pandya has prepared a leaflet to be distributed to the community through various channels. This gives an accurate picture about the vaccine, its preparation, ingredients and rollout. She emphasised that as far as the medical aspects are concerned, there are no risks from the vaccines for community members. On the question of whether it is appropriate for the Sanatana Hindu Dharma (religious) community, if it is vegetarian or not, she reiterated that there are no concerns around the method of preparation or the ingredients used in the vaccines.
*Info: Census 2021