LONDON: Several hundred-thousand British Hindus have
begun a high-pitched "reclaim the swastika" campaign
in an attempt to prevent a Europe-wide ban on the
5,000-year-old Sanskrit symbol of good fortune.
Ramesh Kallidai of the Hindu Forum, an umbrella
organisation of 250 groups of Hindus up and down
Britain told TOI that the UK's Hindus were alarmed and
deeply pained at the prospect of a European ban on the
swastika "just because no one in the West now
associates the symbol with Hindu ideology and as a
positive symbol of the cosmos."
The Hindu Forum, which counts roughly half the UK's
estimated 700,000 Hindus as members, says its campaign
to redeem the swastika is urgent and pressing.
Discounting thousands of years of positive Hindu
association with the swastika, the West, it said,
lamentably sees the most famous irregular icosagon or
20-sided polygon in history purely in terms of its
more recent, 70-year-old link with Hitler and the Nazi
The Hindu campaign to reclaim the swastika is seen as
British Hindus' first major political initiative with
Kallidai admitted it signalled a political
coming-of-age of Hindus in the West because the Forum
planned a four-pronged, mass-outreach programme of
awareness about Hinduism in its campaign to save the
swastika from the sins of Hitler and the Nazi doctrine
of racial purity.
Many believe it may turn into a hands-on test of Hindu
power and pelf in a multi-cultural Britain that is
heading for a general election. The Hindu community is
thought to be the crucial, secret swing vote in at
least 15 electoral constituencies, claimed Kallidai.
The continent-wide swastika ban was proposed within
days of an international outcry over Prince Harry's
much-hyped choice of a swastika armband and Nazi
military uniform as fancy dress for a private party.
Many believe the proposed ban is a politically-correct
over-reaction to a prankish private party piece by a
young British prince.
The swastika is already banned in Germany, Austria
and Hungary. But Hindus such as Kallidai say they are
alarmed by the proposal to make it an offence across
all of Europe.
Just imagine the future, said Kallidai. Europe's
Hindus would no longer be able to use the swastika as
they always have for 5,000 years, as a symbol of good
"If there's a swastika on a building, no one in Europe
sees it as anything other than a symbol of the
Holocaust, pain and anguish and all that was suffered
by the Jews," he added.
But Hindus admit it may be difficult to reverse years
of European indoctrination – and aversion – to the
swastika. Even so, Kallidai is indomitable. "One has
to make a start somewhere. We want to tell the West
that the wrong use of the swastika has just 60 or 70
years of history behind it. The Hindus have 5,000
Just 24 hours ago, in a widely-condemned attack on
race relations, vandals daubed swastikas on the walls
of a mosque in the English city of Birmingham, in an
attempt to signal suppressed menace to the Muslim
The swastika reclamation campaign includes a mass
education of Western publics through the national,
regional and ethnic media; a programme to educate
faith communities throughout the West, with a special
emphasis on the Jews and a major conference in London
in March to remind the world about the
long-and-lamentably forgotten history of the swastika.
The conference is expected to crucially invite members
of the European Parliament, British MPs, leading
academics, educationists, historians and religious
The fourth aspect of the campaign will include a
sustained lobbying campaign of Britain's 659 MPs and
hopefully, a parliamentary motion by a Hindu-friendly
British MP calling for the UK to oppose a Europe-wide
On Wednesday, Indologists recalled that the ultimate
empire-builder writer Rudyard Kipling, who was
strongly influenced by Indian culture, had a swastika
on the dust jackets of all his books until the rise of
Nazism made this inappropriate.