Every year since 2005 a Hindu representative is invited to the European Parliament for an annual meeting with the President of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barosso, to discuss specific issues dealing with European Union’s growing population and diverse ethnicities and cultures. T
wo years ago Sivarama Swami took part in the meeting in the EU offering advice for poverty and hunger through the example of the Krishna Valley project in Hungary. This year the Hindu Forum of Europe’s (HFE) President Bharti Tailor with General Secretary Mahaprabhu Das (also the Director of ISKCON Communications Europe) represented the Hindu faith for this important meeting.
“Intergenerational Solidarity: Setting the Parameters for Tomorrow's Society in Europe” was the title of this year’s event; dealing with the two extremities of society, the youth and the senior citizens, and asked questions of how to resolve these demographic challenges throughout Europe. It is the seventh in a series of meetings brought together by the EU Commission, Parliament and Council in Brussels on the 12th of this month.
“We [the European Union] will only be able to come well out of this [economic] crisis and lay the foundations of a prosperous future, if we keep solidarity between people and generations at the heart of our actions”, said Barosso. Barossa also “encouraged religious leaders to engage in public dialogue and show the specific contributions that churches and religious communities can make to explain the need for solidarity”, said the EU Parliament press release.
What this means for the future of church and religious communities input on specific EU regulation is unclear, but the doorway has at least publically been open through this statement by Barosso. ISKCON, as one of the propounding forces within the HFE and generally for Hindu affairs in Europe and the UK, has a strong vantage point from which to voice such concerns and innovative strategies to tackle such issues as the disconnection between the youth and senior citizens and the subsequent problems that arise from it.
As President of the EU Council Herman Van Rompuy, said: "We cannot afford, socially, economically and in the first instance, humanely, a 'lost generation' in Europe […] African wisdom reminds us that when an older man dies, a library disappears. Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and their NGO's, schools and associations are bringing, at local level, persons together. They can, also therefore, play an important role in improving understanding and mutual learning between generations.”
The HFE is making a continual effort on behalf of Hindus in Europe to the EU and is making tangible progress, such as being invited to represent the Hindu faith at this meeting illustrates. The HFE has presently nine member organizations (each organization is an umbrella for other organizations within their particular country or region), of which five are ISKCON created and maintained organizations.
Mahaprabhu das, amongst his many responsibilities, is the one of the pushing forces and founder of the HFE organization as well as the Hindu Forum of Belgium (HFB) sub-organization, which is currently working on getting recognition of Hinduism in Belgium. This move towards recognition is very important to centers in Belgium, including it’s largest center Radhadesh.
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