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News ->City Hindus Network, a saffron revolution in the City of London?

City Hindus Network, a saffron revolution in the City of London?
4 November 2009

L-R: Dhruv Patel, Chair of the City Hindus Network with former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.The meteoric rise of the City Hindus Network, set up in 2005, has led many folk to consider whether there is a quiet saffron revolution going on in the City of London. Founded by Dhruv Patel (26), the City Hindus Network (CHN) is a not-for-profit network with a membership of professionals from the Hindu community who work in the financial services and related industries in the City of London and Canary Wharf. While the network encourages members to take an interest in finding out about Hindu philosophy, its remit is a lot wider and includes a mentoring scheme, charity fundraising and Hindu community representation.

Its educational remit is to train and develop future generations of Hindus who are likely to work in the City of London. "I wanted to set up an organisation that develops community spirit in the Hindu community," explains Patel. "And what I knew at the time was the City. If you walk around trading floors in the City of London, you do see an increasing number of brown faces, so it seemed natural for me to set up a network specifically for Hindus". All CHN services are offered to the Hindu community free of charge and the committee and organisers work for the network on a completely voluntary basis.

Set up in 2005, City Hindus Network is quite a young organisation both in its membership and in the period that it has been running. Patel's idea was to emulate the success of networks like 'The City Circle' and 'The City Women's Club' in taking up the reins where the "old boys network" was seen to be diminishing. However, he has pushed the boundaries further in increase Hindu influence in the agenda setting of the UK. "As one of the most successful minority communities in Britain it is surprising how little our thoughts and views are taken into account when policy decisions are made" Patel explains.

Through his efforts and those of a ten-strong committee who are all volunteers, the City Hindus Network has had some significant achievements to date, including:

  • A growing membership that currently numbers approximately 750 individuals
  • Consulting with national and local governmental bodies including The Department for Communities and Local Government, The Department for International Development, The Greater London Authority, The Tony Blair Faith Foundation and The Government Equalities Office
  • CHN has established a mentoring scheme where senior members coach younger professionals to aid their development and progress.
  • CHN runs a popular events program, organising around three or four major events each year, including a reception in 2007 that was hosted by Ken Livingstone, when he was Mayor of London, to celebrate the contribution that young Hindu professionals have made to London
  • CHN has become a full voting member of both the Hindu Forum of Britain and the Hindu Council UK that are national faith-based organisations in the UK.

Images from the City Hindus Network Reception at City Hall, London, 2007:

The CHN has also raised considerable sums of money for leading British charity Sewa International: on 13 September 2008 CHN member undertook a charity night walk in aid of Sewa International; in December 2008, members took part in a candlelight peace vigil for victims of the Mumbai attacks which was organised as a Sewa Volunteers event and in June 2009 the CHN committee entered a team into a Sewa Volunteers competitive sailing event to raise money for Children in Need. The Asian Foundation for Philanthropy, IndiCorps and Connect India are other charities supported by the network.

Perhaps The City Hindus Network greatest success has been its increasing influence in the political arena. It is widely consulted by Local and National Governmental bodies and other non-profit making organisations. The CHN attends the majority of meetings between the Hindu community and the Greater London Authority as part of their stakeholder engagement programme and the network is a member of the City of London Inter Faith Forum and the Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum. The CHN has also undertaken the following:

  • In January 2007, CHN submitted a response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion's consultation document 'Your chance to tell us what you think'
  • In June 2007, Gareth Thomas MP, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, invited the CHN to discuss the UK's plans to help reduce poverty in India.
  • In October 2008, Patel addressed the Shaheed Nanak Singh Foundation on the subject of Hindu young professionals' perceptions of working for the public sector.
  • In February 2009 CHN committee members attended a breakfast consultation meeting hosted by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
  • In May 2009, CHN Chair Dhruv Patel spoke at an event organised by the Mayor of London that promoted the opportunities for the Hindu business community to engage in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • In June 2009, CHN committee members attended the Public Appointments Reception hosted by Harriet Harman QC MP and organised by the Government Equalities Office

The network seems destined to grow. In early 2010, CHN is planning an event in association with Patel's former employer Barclays Capital and the network has already spawned a number of 'in-company' affiliated groups at city firms like Deloitte, PwC and Ernst & Young and UBS.

Click here to read about Dhruv Patel, Chair of the City Hindus Network
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