A US-based Hindu group has welcomed Hindu descent Dr. Leo Varadkar, 38, on being in line for being the youngest and 13th Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of Ireland.
Varadkar was elected as Leader of the Fine Gael Party on June 2, 2017, following the retirement of Enda Kenny, and it is expected that he will be appointed as PM later in June. During the 2015 Irish Marriage referendum Varadkar became the first openly gay Irish government minister.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), said that Hindu community world over was pleased at Varadkar’s possibility of becoming PM and was hoping that he would ensure that minorities were treated with equality and respect they deserved in Ireland under his command.
Ireland needs to understand that it is becoming diverse and thus pluralism and co-existence would be a wiser and more mature approach, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said.
Rajan Zed urged Varadkar to fix Ireland’s education system and make it fair for minority religions/denominations and non-believers as the Ireland Government appeared to have failed to put an end to religious preferences in admissions to schools. Religion should not play any role in admissions to Irish schools and religious discrimination in tax funded schools was quite unfair and should be unacceptable in 21st century Ireland. Practice of religious majority controlling the school doors and schools indulging in kind of state-sanctioned indoctrination was simply wrong and should end, Zed noted.
Zed further said that either all major religions/denominations and non-believers’ viewpoint should get equal time in the curriculum of state-funded schools or no religion should be taught or religion should be taught after school hours to those who opted for it. Imposing a different religion/denomination on primary school age children while they practiced another religion/denomination or no-religion at home could be very confusing and conflicting for the little kids.
Rajan Zed also urged Varadkar to work with both the houses of Ireland Parliament (Oireachtas)—Senate (Seanad Éireann) and House of Representatives (Dáil Éireann)—to re-evaluate the matrix of opening prayers by revising the Standing Orders of Dáil and Seanad, so that prayers of other religions could be read by invited diverse religious leaders. Ireland was a diverse society now and the Parliament of a parliamentary democracy like Ireland should be representative body of all its citizens, including the minorities, Zed added.
Moreover, Ireland needs to urgently empower and integrate its maltreated and vulnerable Traveller community; the largest minority of the country and a distinct group that existed for centuries; who reportedly faced blatant discrimination and social exclusion, Zed stated.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Traveller community in Ireland reportedly regularly faced prejudice, poverty, racism, hostility, stereotyping, scapegoating, harassment, illiteracy, unemployment, and distrust; experienced discrimination at an individual and institutional level; lacked in accommodation and access to credit; received inadequate healthcare; frequently denied access to various goods, services, and facilities; deficient in access to decision making and political representation; lacked equality of access, participation and outcome in education.