Rajan Zed

Special to Earthpages.org

The much-glorified European Year of Intercultural Dialogue (EYID) 2008 initiative of European Union (EU) has failed to meet its own stated goals, Hindus assert.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that while one of major goals of EYID was to “promote knowledge, respect for and openness towards other beliefs”; Hinduism and Hindus appear to have been largely ignored.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says that idea behind EYID was highly commendable and interfaith dialogue should be promoted, but EYID’s framing and implementation lacked its real spirit. Dialogue brings us reciprocal enrichment and aids us in seeing inter-reliance and interconnections between religions and even resemblance in doctrines.

Zed says that out of over 750 EYID events being organized during 2008 by EU, its member states and partners mentioned on the EYID website, none appears to have been exclusively devoted to Hinduism, while many other religions seem to be well covered. Hinduism is many times misunderstood outside India and EYID was a good venue to explain its concepts and tenets to Europeans, he adds.

Zed points out that Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion followers and a rich philosophical thought and EU should take it seriously. An estimated two million Hindus reside in Europe where every country has some Hindu presence.

EYID, established by the Decision N° 1983/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and a budget of ten million Euros, was meant to be inclusive and representative for Europe as a whole, but doing search with words “Hindu” or “Hinduism” on EYID website resulted in “NO results found”. Interestingly one of the target groups of EYID was “disadvantaged social groups” and one of the main objectives was “promotion of cultural diversity”, Rajan Zed argues.

During 2008 as a part of EYID, various religious leaders were invited to address the European Parliament plenary, but reportedly none of them was a Hindu. When Zed contacted the European Parliament President’s office sometime back requesting to address European Parliament as part of EYID, he was told “sorry”. It may be recalled here that Zed recited the historic first Hindu prayer in United States Senate in Washington DC in 2007 during its 218 years history.

Zed further says that Hindus have made a positive contribution to the multi-cultural society of Europe. They believe in peaceful coexistence, and respect for all religions, traditions, beliefs, and cultures. Europe should give due respect to its Hindu brothers and sisters which they well deserve.