Hindus are dismayed at Northern Ireland (NI) Census 2021 Questionnaire developed by Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) for not having independent category for Hindu and other minority religions.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that although NISRA claims that census “looks at who we are and how we live. It provides vital information about us, our society”; but it seemed that it did not consider minority religions part of “us, our society”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged NISRA Chief Executive Siobhan Carey to apologize to the minority communities for the omission and urgently update the Census 2021 Questionnaire to include Hindu and other minority religions as independent choices under “individual question” 13 & 14 about religion.
Rajan Zed also urged NI First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey to launch an enquiry into this second-class treatment of Hindu and other minority religions. Taxpayer funded government agencies should not be in the business of discriminating among religious beliefs.
Zed pointed out that Census 2021 Questionnaire of England, Wales and Scotland did include Hindu and some other minority religions as independent choices to be checked in.
Although NI Census 2021 Questionnaire found space for two religion related questions (What religion, religious denomination or body do you belong to? What religion, religious denomination or body were you brought up in?); but it did not care to list Hindu and other minority religions as an independent choice; Rajan Zed noted.
In individual questions 13 & 14 in the NI Census Questionnaire, choices given are: Roman Catholic, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Other, None. There are no independent categories of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, Pagan, Baha’i, etc.
Census Day is March 21, 2021 and census happens only once every 10 years. The first census in NI was in 1926. It is stated on NISRA (headquartered in Belfast) website: You must complete the census by law or you could be fined up to £1,000.