Poversity and Diversity- The Hindu Female perspective
On 3rd March Ms Tailor gave a presentation hosted at Portcullis House,
House of Commons, UK. The event was hosted by the The Board of Deputies of
British Jews Women’s Group and Social Action Group to a Joint Forum on
Baroness Ruth LIster- Professor of Social Policy, Loughborough University
Julie Siddiqi- Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain
Bharti Tailor- Executive Director to the Hindu Forum of Europe
Event Host and Chair
Louise Elman MP, and a Deputy on the BoD of British Jews.
Pranam and Namastey
Thank you to the Board of Deputies Women’s Group, and Social Action Group,
for inviting me to speak at this event.
What does it mean to my community and in my community?
Well, according to Sanatan Dharma- Hinduism, there are many types of Wealth
and therefore many types of poverty, not just financial.
*Having our voice heard,* my community in the UK feels poor in this respect
We feel the British politicians are disrespectful of our community and that
this was proven by the passing of the Caste amendment without proper
*Knowledge*, we are told and taught to pursue knowledge, all knowledge not
just scriptural knowledge. We endeavour to do that with the record number
going off to University, but sometimes we are poor in imparting knowledge
of our Faith and tradition in order to be able to answer questions about
*Beauty,* for a woman there are 16 items of beautification. She may not be
able to afford them all, but she may be able to afford, bangles and kumkum
and that is sometimes enough. For Hindu women these can be a part of Goods
and services needed to integrate into society. But also being able to
afford hair dye or facials etc also makes one feel less wealthy than
others. This of course comes in under financial poverty.
*Financial Poverty*; In Britain we are known to be a financially stable
community, number of home owners is high, number unemployed is low. Numbers
in prison are below average, which also bears out the above. Mirabai a
reformer within Hinduism wrote *If one does not run out of housekeeping;
the thief does not steal.*
However there are many who are under the radar; who do not count in the
statistics. Ones who feel they cannot ask for help who are struggling;
pensioners and families with children fall those with responsibilities back
home and so on.
Some workers work for small wages, as low as £2 per hour or less. I knew a
lady of pensionable age who was working 10 hour day for that money. But she
felt like a Queen because the boss called her Baji and she felt rich in the
respect he offered her. But there are also adults of working age working
for such little money.
So, what can one afford on a wage like that? Basics.
At least one meal a day, but one does not think about balanced meals, just
filling the belly. Cutting fruit out of the diet for example, because fruit
Dithering between hope and reality;
It means having to decide between a bag of apples or a lottery ticket;
Because one does not have money for both.
Some temples offer meals daily, sometimes that is the one meal of the day a
person might eat. And in some cases the only decent meal a person gets. I
know of pensioners who travel to the Shirdi Sai Temple Wembley, to pick up
the pre-packed container of food, and make it last 2 days.
The only celebratory meal may be the one at the temple on high days and
holy days, because there is never enough money at home for a special
Basic toiletries, Basic clothing. No winter/summer wardrobe, just wear a
broader smile. ‘Renewing’ your winter coat year after year, rather than
buying a new one. Having just two bras, wash one wear one.
Hindu Groups are now giving to Foobanks and Hindu Families are going to
Sometimes this poverty is created by the fact that there is a family back
home that relies on you to send them money, and their situation is worse.
No Holiday, no rest day, Not being able to afford a trip to the Cinema for
the whole family so only buying tickets for the children and telling them
one does not want to see the film.
Never visiting family because you can’t afford the fares to get there. They
never visit you because they know you do not have money, and the things
they take for granted. Unless of course they are in the same boat as you.
Shopping in the boring (Charity) shops instead of exciting ones. Even then
there is a hierarchy, there are expensive Charity shops and there are
Making savings wherever you can to pay for those things you really can’t
live without. So, instead if nappies, disposable or towelling, going back
to the old way of cutting up old saris. Baby does not care as long as it is
warm and dry. Problems come when your daughters do not want to wear suits
made from your old saris, because they know and they want the clothes with
the labels inside.
Can’t afford a car, or insurance for a car, or Emergency cover. House
Insurance or contents insurance. So there are many families who have
nowhere to turn when the worse happens…
It means giving your children dinner money but telling them to walk to
school because it is a nice day/good for your health (But really it is
because you don’t have the fare money).
It may mean living in an extended family/joint family or a shared dwelling,
including sharing ones’ bedroom, because, these are cheaper option and
affordable on small incomes.
Opting or family deciding it is better that you stay home to look after
family/elderly relatives is not unusual in my community, again it is a
cheaper option then care homes, but also it is part of the Dharmic duty.
There are many Hindu students who would have had to return to their
countries if the Temples in London had not opened their doors during the
recession. The Jalaram Temple at Greenford being one the chief ones in this
Women sometimes face another layer of poverty, the poverty of Isolation. No
access to family, friends or money created out of violence created by
Towards the end of the last Century a Community leader said to me, “There
is no poverty in our community, even if you go looking with a Diva lamp you
will not find any poor people.” I said to him that is because you hold your
lamp too high. Meaning there were plenty below the level the light reaches.
Today some 20 year on that is still true.
Attitudes need to change in my community and acknowledge that there is not
a man behind every women; Also that ‘You should be fine, you have sons…’; *That
we need to offer help, directly to women in the Hindu Community, in the UK
Just in case you are wandering about Apples or the Lottery ticket. I chose
to buy the Apples.
Thank you for listening.
Yours in Prayer
✵*R G* *E**NTERPRISES * A *Diversity Consultancy*
*Equality, equity, diversity,
ethnicity…Helping you look beyond the words*
*Ms BHARTI TAILOR BA HON. *
*Ms Tailor is currently a Member of the European Council of Religious
Leaders and serving as Executive Director to the Hindu Forum of Europe and
the Hindu Forum of Belgium*
Contact details: email@example.com
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