Hindu problems weighing heavily on their minds, 25 dedicated Executive Committee members of the World Hindu Federation jetted into Mauritius for a series of tough decision- making sessions on September 17th and 18th.
With a global organizational vision that would have staggered Ghengis Khan, the farsighted executive committee members divided up the world into seven "zones" with a chairseat responsible for each. Hindi, English and Nepali were unanimously established as the three working languages of WHF.
Another resolution passed courageously calls upon the United Nations to protect the freedom of religion for Fiji's Hindus. The chief causes for this concern are statements made by the leader of Fiji's 1987 coup, Major General Sitiveni Rabuka, calling for eventual conversion of all Hindus in the island nation to Christianity and reports of two recent attacks on Hindu temples, one of which resulted in minor damage to a Siva shrine. While Fiji's new constitution under consideration by the civilian government of Prime Minister Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and President Ratu Sire Penaia Ganilau does guarantee freedom of religion, it is not yet adopted. In the meantime, the Hindus' uncertain fate worries many.
Other meetings healthily broached sticky in-house matters of WHF's self-identity, policies and formal objective. Vice-President Dr. O.P. Atmaja fearlessly questioned, "What exactly is the function of WHF? We need a 'job description.'" Another vice-president Yogendra Duraiswamy, venerable Sri Lankan international politician, cautioned everyone to "prioritize projects," and not make the mistake of trying to do too many large projects at the same time.
Money talk got its share of time and attention. A first-draft annual budget of U.S. $300,000 was set, with 25% of its revenue promised by the government of Nepal. The balance is slated to come equally from each of the "zones," mainly through publication sales, donations, and an energetic membership drive.
Wealthy South African businessman Mr. Narayan Singh, carefully argued that if people see WHF "deliver the goods" money will come. The U.S. $300,000 annual budget seemed small to him and others.
Expenses, salaries and administration quickly took a third of the pie, while $67,000 was earmarked to "propagate Hindu Dharma." Youth Activities procured $26,000, Women and Child- welfare was allocated $10,000 and $1,250 was set aside for the Hindu Encyclopedia project and $10,000 for new religious publications.
Women and Youth
Articulate WHF executive Mrs. Angur Joshi of Nepal instructed her male peers to better tap Hinduism's greatest unused potential - women. "If you spiritually educate a woman, she trains the whole family." She illustrated her message for the need for youth education with a story of a daughter who came home from boarding school and innocently referred to a picture of Siva and Parvathi as "Mr. and Mrs. Siva.
WHF was founded in 1982 and made Nepal its international headquarters, securing formal support and honorary patronage from King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya. A Religious Council of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist leaders serves as advisors. WHF's next meeting will be on the banks of the Ganges at the Kumbha Mela in January of 1989.
Article copyright Himalayan Academy.