Prime Minister hosts Diwali reception at 10 Downing Street

Rupanjana Dutta Monday 27th October 2014 15:47 EDT

The British Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron organised a Diwali reception at his residence in 10 Downing Street on Monday 20 October, where he addressed a room full of MPs, Peers, including that from Labour and Lib Dem party, such as Rt Hon Keith Vaz, MP (labour), Lord Gulam Noon (labour), Lord Navnit Dholakia (Lib Dem), Lord Raj Loomba (Lib Dem) with Lady Loomba, organisational leaders and community stalwarts.

For the first time the had an Annakut display, by the BAPS Swaminarayan Temple, Neasden. The evening started with lighting of a diya, followed by a short welcome speech by the High Commissioner of India to Britain, HE Ranjan Mathai, followed by a formal address by David Cameron.

Addressing the gathered audience, the PM said, “It is the contribution that British Hindus and Jains make to our country, over 800,000 British Hindus, perhaps 20,000 Jains. And when I look around, whether it is politics, whether it’s business, whether it’s arts, the sports in our country, you can see the scale of the contribution.

“And every year I say this, but every year I mean it: there’s still more to do. It is great that when we look around politics we people like Shailesh Vara, Dolar Popat, Alok Sharma, and Keith Vaz. We see people at the top of our politics, but I want to see more in the House of Commons, in the House of Lords. I want to see more at the top of our military, more at the top of our judiciary, playing the fullest possible part in British life. But you are certainly making a huge contribution, and it’s a contribution that we should celebrate tonight.

Speaking of the shared history between Commonwealth countries and Britain, he added, “This year we think of the 100th anniversary of the First World War, where over a million people from the subcontinent, from India, served in the Armed Forces and made such a contribution, winning medal after medal, VC after VC. And we celebrate that this year, and it’s quite right that we do: the huge contribution that India made to that great struggle to prevent the domination of Europe and to fight for freedom...

The PM went on to speak about the upcoming statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Parliament square and Gandhi's principles that inspired many leaders. He celebrated the history of the relationship between Britain and India, rejoiced the values that unite us, helping us strengthen our societies and build a better world. The PM concluded, “I was looking at the values that Hindus celebrate and the goals of life, and it’s such a good way to bring up your children. Talking of dharma, virtue and duty, not always as present as it should be in public life, but it is present and it must be. Thinking of karma, pleasure and fulfilment; thinking of moksha, liberation and release. And thinking of artha – thinking about your career, your skills. Thinking of those things together, good, strong values that we should teach our children, and so often when we look at each other’s religions we can find values and lessons and morals that are so valuable for our children, for our future...You’re hugely welcome here tonight and thank you for all you do for our country. Thank you very much indeed.”

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