It’s not exactly an uprising on the scale of the 1857 revolt, but Hindu organisations, vegetarians and others in Britain are not amused at last week's revelation that the new £5 polymer note issued by the Bank of England uses tallow as part of its production process.
As the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK) recalled the use of tallow in cartridges that sparked the 1857 uprising in colonial north India, the bank said an “extremely small amount” of tallow was used in an early stage of production of the note.
The bank said: “We are aware of some people’s concerns about traces of tallow in our new five pound note. We respect those concerns and are treating them with the utmost seriousness. This issue has only just come to light, and the Bank did not know about it when the contract was signed.”
“Information recently provided by our supplier, Innovia, and its supply chain shows that an extremely small amount of tallow is used in an early stage of the production process of polymer pellets, which are then used to create the base substrate for the five pound note,” it added.
The supplier, the bank said, was working intensively with its supply chain and would keep it informed on progress towards potential solutions.
Amid reports that some temples in Britain were refusing to accept the new polymer notes, Satish Sharma of NCHTUK said: “From the Hindu and Dharmic perspective, producing currency and casually incorporating substances which are derived from acts of violence upon vulnerable non-aggressive creatures is not the behaviour of civilised beings.”
“The £5 note ceases to be a simple medium of exchange but becomes a medium for communicating pain and suffering and we would not want to come into contact with it. Hindu temples are centres of positive holistic compassionate humanity and we can fully understand that Hindu temples would consider that they wish to remain free of a symbol of the wholesale barbaric slaughter of tranquil, vulnerable and fully sentient beings,” he added.
The Hindu Forum of Britain widely circulated and encouraged people to complete a petition calling on the bank to withdraw the note, which had been signed by over 125,000 people by Saturday afternoon.
The new £5 note introduced in September was described by the bank as one that can survive a splash of Claret, a flick of cigar ash, the nip of a bulldog, and even a spin in the washing machine. It was introduced with the idea that it is cleaner, safer and stronger than the current cotton-paper generation of banknotes.
Of the four denominations - 5, 10, 20 and 50 - the first to be introduced in polymer form is the fiver, featuring an iconic image of Winston Churchill on one side and that of Queen Elizabeth on the other.
The fiver features Churchill’s portrait, and behind the portrait is an illustration of the Houses of Parliament.The hands on the Big Ben are set to the time on 13 May 1940 when Churchill made his inaugural speech to the House of Commons as Prime Minister.