News from Navin Shah: Assembly Member calls for Jain religion to be added to UK census
Assembly Member hands in petition to Downing Street calling for the inclusion of the Jain religion in the UK census
On Thursday, London Assembly Member, Navin Shah AM, handed in a petition at Downing Street calling for the inclusion of the Jain religion in the UK census. Mr Shah underlined the importance of the Jain community being “formally recognised” and “duly considered when it comes to public bodies making policy decisions” so their “needs and aspirations” are taken into account.
With the next census due to take place in 2021, the petition has collected over 5,000 signatures online and offline after being promoted by Mr Shah in partnership with ‘One JAIN’, the Institute of Jainology and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Jains. Mr Shah was accompanied at 10 Downing Street by Chairman of the Institute of Jainology and One JAIN, Nemu Chandaria, Chair of the APPG for Jains, Gareth Thomas MP, alongside three other representatives of One JAIN, Amit Lathia, Jaysukh Mehta and Himamshu Jain.
The national census informs policy and funding decisions made by public bodies such as local authorities, central government departments and the NHS.
Those behind the petition argue that the inclusion of the Jain faith on future censuses would ensure that it is more widely considered in decision making processes and will boost its recognition as a key religion in the UK.
On the current census form, the voluntary ‘What is your religion?’ question contains tick boxes for ‘No religion, Christian (including Church of England, Catholic, Protestant and all other Christian denominations), Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh’ and an ‘Other’ option.
The Jain religion is one of the oldest in the world, established around 5,000 years ago and is estimated to be followed by seven million people globally.
The Mahavir Foundation, a Jain charity based in London, have determined the number of Jains in the UK to total between 25,000 to 30,000. However, Gareth Thomas MP has claimed that studies show the figure is likely to be much higher at around 60,000. The 2011 census recorded 20,000 Jains in the UK under the ‘Other’ option.
London Assembly Member, Navin Shah AM, said:
“The Jain community makes a significant contribution to our local community and to the UK as a whole.
“Belonging to a religion of major significance, we need to ensure that they are formally recognised in future censuses and duly considered when it comes to public bodies making policy decisions so the needs and aspirations of Jains are taken into account.
“I was pleased to take this petition to Downing Street with support from Nemu Chandaria of the Institute of Jainology and One JAIN and Gareth Thomas MP.
“It is vital that we continue to celebrate and educate future generations about the diverse array of faith communities in our capital and across the country. I look forward to the success of our campaign by due recognition of the Jain religion in forthcoming and future censuses.”
Notes to editors
- The full text of the petition can be found here;
- The Mahavir Foundation, a Jain charity based in London, have determined the number of Jains in the UK to total between 25,000 to 30,000;
- Gareth Thomas MP has claimed that studies show the figure is likely to be much higher at around 60,000;
- The 2011 census recorded 20,000 Jains in the UK under the ‘Other’ option;
- Navin Shah AM is the London Assembly Member for Harrow and Brent.