Sir Keir Starmer tells schoolchildren of his determination to connect with British Indians

The UK’s Opposition Labour Party Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, addressed a wide range of questions – from vegetarianism and mediation to why British Hindus should vote for him – in a rare question and answer (Q&A) session for ‘iGlobal’ DiwaliFest 2020 with British Indian children from Avanti schools in the UK.

Here is a snapshot of the very engaging and enlightening encounter.

Q: What was your dream career whilst growing up?

A: When I was young, I wanted to be a footballer because I love football. I still love football and watching my team Arsenal. But unfortunately, I was not good enough to become a professional, but I was really happy being a lawyer and love being the leader of the Labour Party.

Q: I would like to know why British Hindus should vote for you?

A: The values that British Hindus hold dear are the ones I want the Labour Party under my leadership to reflect. Hard work, the importance of family, and the love of both tradition and progress, but more than anything it is the idea of dharma, that each of us is bound by duty, civic responsibility, and the right way of living. I want to see these values echoed throughout British society.

I recognise that the Labour party has much more to do to connect with the British Hindu community and I’m utterly determined to do so.

Q: Were you always vegetarian and if not, why did you decide to become one?

A: Another great question – I haven’t always been a vegetarian, but I have been now for many years. My wife actually has been a vegetarian for a lot longer than I have.

For me, it was a matter of principle, based on health and environmental grounds, and it’s great to see it’s become more mainstream in recent years, and there are a lot more tasty options.

Q: How worried are you about the planet and what is the one thing you would like citizens to change in their lives?

A: Now, this is a really good question! And a massive issue because of course we’ve only got one planet and it is the challenge of our generation, your generation to protect it. I have been so impressed with young people’s determination to get politicians to listen and to act.

A lot of this has come from young people and it is vital that as we rebuild after this pandemic our recovery is a green one. That green recovery should be a matter of real excitement, the jobs of the future in manufacturing are going to be in those green industries.

Now our country is perfectly placed to be a world leader, from science and development through to creating new high-skilled manufacturing jobs. We can take inspiration from the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Kingsbury – a traditional Hindu temple in this country and the first in the world to be considered as an eco-temple.

That blend of tradition and technology is precisely the ambition and innovation we are going to see through our country. It is a challenge I can’t wait to take on as Prime Minister.

Q: Have you ever done meditation or Yoga? And have you found it helpful?

A: I haven’t meditated but I do know a lot of people who do, and it can of course be an incredibly important tool for anyone, whether for spiritual reasons or just for mental health. In our busy lives with everything going on in the world, it can really help people to spend time contemplating and reflecting.

I think everyone could do with taking some time to pause and to reflect.

Q: Why do you think Diwali is important?

A: Diwali is important because it celebrates the victory of good over evil, lightness over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. I think these values are particularly significant this year.

We will of course be missing many traditional Diwali celebrations due to the restrictions. Many of you will not be able to see your friends and family in person, which will be incredibly difficult and upsetting, but as you light the lamp and pray for good health, happiness, and prosperity for all – I want to wish you on behalf of the Labour Party a very Happy Diwali.

*For more such incisive interactions and fun, music, dance and more, catch all the Diwali Fest & Awards 2020 action here

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