The Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, delivered a Special Address during the three-day ‘iGlobal’ launch celebrations with .
The trained economist, who has been raising some tough questions in the House of Commons during the course of the coronavirus pandemic government response, reflected on the value of the Indian diaspora to the UK – from their entrepreneurial drive to healthcare initiatives.
“Despite the challenges, I am thankful to ‘iGlobal’ and India Inc. for stepping in and organising this tremendous event and I want to commend you for the remarkable work you are doing,” said Sir Ed, in reference to the biggest-ever virtual Diwali festivities this weekend.
Here is his message in his own words:
Happy Diwali to everyone celebrating here in the UK and across the world. It is a real honour to be invited to say a few words at DiwaliFest 2020.
Diwali is such a special time of year and it is a key period in our national calendar. Every year, we see homes and streets aglow with wonderful lights and decorations all to celebrate the festival of lights.
Festivals like Diwali speak to our shared human experience and the values we all share regardless of our background.
I personally love Diwali’s message – the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. Given the uncertain times we are living in, this is a message that resonates with all of us, regardless of our faith or worldview.
Diwali is also a wonderful time to celebrate the rich diversity of our nation and to appreciate the communities that have contributed so much to the cultural and economic landscape of our country.
I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the important relationship between the UK and India.
As internationalists, the Liberal Democrats recognise India as a key strategic partner for the UK.
And as a party that champions diversity, we recognise and value the importance of British Indians to our national identity.
British Indian communities play a role in every corner of society; be it the entrepreneurs who boost our economy, the teachers in our classrooms, our dedicated NHS and care staff, as well as police and armed forces who work tirelessly to keep our country safe.
I want to personally thank you because our country wouldn't be the success it is without your hard work and efforts.
As leader of the Liberal Democrats, I am committed to strengthening our party’s ties with the British-Indian diaspora as we keep working to build and safeguard an open, inclusive and diverse society.
As Diwali celebrations get underway, I’m reminded of some of the values in Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Buddhist faiths that mirror my own, such as respect for the environment.
In these religions we see a respect for the natural world and a call for all of us to live responsibly and selflessly.
As former Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, I understand our duty to respond to the climate emergency, that’s why I’ve proposed a Green Recovery Plan that will create jobs, grow our economy and stop climate change.
There is no denying that this Diwali will be very different. New lockdown measures have been introduced in the interest of saving Christmas but there has been a failure to recognise the huge impact these measures have on Diwali celebrations.
I know that this time of year is just as important to Hindu and Sikh communities as Christmas is to Christians, and the insensitivity in the government’s messaging has been nothing short of appalling.
In places like Birmingham, London and Leicester, usually home to some of the biggest Diwali celebrations outside of India, celebrations will be held online.
For many, video calls will replace the warm embrace of friends and family.
This, coupled with the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority communities means that many families are also dealing with loss this year. My thoughts are with you.
Despite these challenges, I am thankful to ‘iGlobal’ and India Inc. for stepping in and organising this tremendous event and I want to commend you for the remarkable work you are doing.
I also want to thank the temples and community groups organsing other virtual events this year.
To end, I wish everyone celebrating a peaceful Diwali, Shubh Diwali!
*Get involved in the virtual festivities for Day 3 of the DiwaliFest2020