In 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, 189 world leaders adopted a historic pledge to significantly reduce poverty, hunger and disease by 2015. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a roadmap to deliver this pledge with a total of eight time-bound measurable targets. Thursday 25 September 2008 marked the halfway point of the journey to 2015.

On this day, as the UN Secretary-General convened heads of state and government from around the world in New York to review progress and identify concrete actions still needed to honour the international commitment, thousands of ordinary Hindus in the UK showed their support in their own unique way.

For example, thousands of members of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha demonstrated their support for the MDGs by fasting for the whole day. Other BAPS Hindus, some of them too young or frail to observe a full fast, skipped a meal or simplified their food intake.

The initiative was part of a larger campaign entitled Be The Change where “Hindus and people from other faiths can show solidarity and support for the plight of those less fortunate around the world suffering from hunger and poverty, denied access to education, and affected by environmental degradation.”

Backing the campaign, Prime Minister Gordon Brown MP said: “People with a shared moral sense are the most powerful weapon for change and faith groups through their network of followers have the power to mobilise millions across the world to make poverty history. This is why I am delighted that Britain’s Hindu community are marking the 25 September, the day of the UN’s High Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals, with a call to action for British Hindus. The Be the Change campaign sends a strong message that we each have the power to help the world’s most vulnerable and to play our part in efforts to relieve global poverty. It is through working together – as governments, business, faith communities, and civil society – that our promises to the poorest, the Millennium Development Goals, can be met.”

The fasting, while a relatively small gesture, was still a poignant reminder of the sacrifices still needed to be made to meet the MDGs, and was a powerful message that BAPS Hindus in the UK share the concerns of the world’s most underprivileged people.

The Be The Change campaign is also supported by several other leading Hindu organisations and bodies in the UK.

For further information about the Be The Change campaign, click here.

To learn more about the MDGs, click here.

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