A large number of tents have sprung up on the outskirts of London for a three-day event from Friday to celebrate 50 years of the British version of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose chief Mohan Bhagwat arrived here on Wednesday, July 27.
The event, called “Sanskriti: MahaShibir 2016”, marks 50 years since the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) was established in 1966. Registered as a charity with regulator Charity Commission, it is headed by Dhiraj D Shah, based in Birmingham.
Bhagwat, who arrived with senior RSS functionary Dattatreya Hosabale, will live in a tent at the sprawling Hertfordshire County Showground near Luton, and address a gathering of HSS members and invitees on Sunday, July 31. He will then move to London for several engagements during his week-long stay here.
Shah said: “From a very humble beginning in 1966, HSS has grown into a national organisation with over 110 shakhas. During this period, we have ventured into diverse areas across the length and breadth of society, including religious, cultural, social, educational, intellectual, student, legal and of course sewa.”
HSS says it expects “over 2,200 Hindus from across the UK and Europe” to participate in the event, and they will have a busy schedule for three days. Organisers say “Sanskriti presents the very best of Sangh, from ‘khel’ and yoga to ‘baudhik’ and ‘charcha’”.
Topics for discussion during the event include “Geopolitical situation and how Hindutva is the solution”, “How can we shape the next 50 years”, “Yoga: beyond the mat”, “Spirituality beyond religion” and “Dharmic capital”.
The organisers say the open air venue in the countryside has been transformed into a fully tended township, with more than 400 tents, infrastructure built from scratch and amenities required during the three days.
According to Shah, the theme of the gathering is ‘sanskar’ (value of life), ‘sewa’ (selfless service) and ‘sangathan’ (community spirit). Every effort was made to use recyclable materials to generate awareness of environmental sustainability, the organisers said. The Hertfordshire County Showground said it was “delighted” to welcome HSS, but added: “Please note this is a private event.”
With an average weekly attendance of 2,000 at more than 110 shakhas, HSS has a presence in most parts of Britain. MPs with large Hindu populations in their constituencies – such as Bob Blackman (Conservative, Harrow East) and Barry Gardiner (Labour, Brent North) – support its activities.
HSS functionaries were involved in organising the diaspora event at Wembley Stadium addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his November 2015 visit. Several RSS ‘pracharaks’ and functionaries have travelled from India over the years to work in Britain for certain periods and some organisations of the Sangh Parivar have branches in Britain, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
According to the latest annual statement filed with the Charity Commission, HSS’s main objective is to advance Hinduism and “educate the public in the Hindu ideals and way of life”.
Its activities include setting up branches “where Hindus of the UK could congregate, provide facilities for training of body and mind and develop good character”, organise leadership courses and arrange lectures and discussions.
In February 2015, the Charity Commission launched a statutory inquiry after an undercover investigation showed a teacher at a camp organised by HSS for children in Herefordshire making strong remarks against Christians and Muslims.
HSS launched its own inquiry, extended full cooperation to the investigation and said it will in future take “even greater care that no views are expressed from its platform that could directly or indirectly promote interfaith discord”.
In the financial year ending March 2015, HSS said its income was £201,381 and expenditure £201,332. One of its largest expenditures mentioned was for “Shakha – hall hiring”. HSS said in the annual return it rented part of its property in Birmingham to Sewa International, another registered charity organisation, of which HSS is the sole member.
Birthplace of the Beatles and home to the current football Champions of Europe, Liverpool is a northern great of a city that has a ton of opportunity, and a constant hum of inspiring energy. In recent years, Liverpool’s energy has spilled out from the heart of the city centre and its surrounding streets, and now has branched out throughout the entirety of the area, no longer concentrated at its core.
Here’s a more specific look at the Baltic Triangle, one of the most popular and desirable pockets of the city at the moment.
Trendiest place to live
Often drawn in parallel with the likes of London’s Shoreditch, and at one point deemed ‘the coolest place to live in Britain’ by the Times, the Baltic Market has an abundance of bars, restaurants, and attractions, perfect for a city that is known for its nightlife. Here are some of the highlights:
A great place to startis the Baltic Market, a grand bazaar containing food stalls from some of the best and most diverse food spots in the city, complete with a bar and live music. This place is constantly packed, and perfect for friends who can’t decide where they want to go to eat.
Bongo’s Bingo is a must-visit attraction for a night out, situated in the Camp & Furnace restaurant across from Cain’s Brewery. It’s very different from your average bingo night, that’s for sure, with anything from rave intervals to dance-offs around the corner. Weird prizes are also on offer here, but whether you’ll want them or not is a different story.
Again situated in the heart of the area is Ghetto Golf, a fully indoor mini-golf course, decorated with snazzy neon lights and loud music. Again perfect for a night out with friends, the out-of-the-ordinary course has some ‘interesting’ hole choices and a fully-fledge cocktail bar.
Investment strong spot
While Liverpool in general is one of the best places in the UK to invest, with comparatively affordable house prices (currently sitting at £174,232 according to Zoopla, as opposed to £644,215, for example, in London) and high average rental yields, the Baltic Triangle specifically is an outlier and opportunity for investors. As a prime example, RWinvest are aiming to keep on top of the demand from tenants to live in the area, preparing high-quality buy-to-let apartments and housing at the centre of the area. There are even plans in motion for a £70m hotel, allowing more people to stay and enjoy the area.
The Baltic Triangle is where many digital businesses call home, inhabiting the once unused warehouse buildings of yesterday and giving them a new purpose. These companies have not only thrived in recent years, cultivating an exciting sense of community in the city, but they are also contributing significantly to the city’s overall economy.
Additionally, while the area is already heavily populated by a large number of young business and professionals, the city’s makeup of creative and talented young people will also surely push it forward as developments continue. Many students living and working at the surrounding universities will no doubt want to continue to contribute upon graduation, and there are even schools such as The Studio situated on the doorstep of the Baltic Triangle, with programmes and skills aiming to give them all they need to make the most of the facilities nearby to them. For a young person looking to garner experience and digital skills, it’s an exciting place to be.