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Hindu groups starved of funds

The groups in this S African province complain that the art deptt has been ignoring them and sending grants to African bodies in recent years.

india Updated: Jun 04, 2007 19:56 IST

Hindu groups in South Africa's KwaZulu Natal province are being starved of funds by the province's arts and cultural department allegedly on racial grounds.

The organisations are claiming that the art department has even sidelined them and most of the grants-in-aid have gone to African bodies in recent years.

"In a country that boasts of a democracy that generates equal opportunity and recognition of all cultures, it is sad to learn that the KwaZulu-Natal Arts Council seems to have lost all interest in funding any cultural organisation except black groups," said Thlosiah Naidoo, director of the Indian Academy of South Africa.

Many Hindu organisations have alleged that they have encountered serious problems in trying to promote cultural and religious activities. "This is blatant discrimination -- when one realises that cultural organisations from non-black communities, whose track records and integrity are flawless, are passed over in favour of black organisations, many of whose methods of operation and delivery are notoriously devoid of good administration," Naidoo added.

The Natal Tamil Vedic Society has also taken a knock after the department stopped its grants-in-aid few years ago, the iol.co.za reported.

"We have contacted the department on numerous occasions about this issue but have not received a reply. We had to resort to fund-raising and donations from businesses and individuals dedicated to serving the community," said Dorie Moodley, spokesperson of Tamil Vedic Society.

"There has been no good reason forthcoming from the department for stopping our grant-in-aid. It is our constitutional right to practice our culture, religion and tradition."

Another group that has been hard hit is the nearly 60-year-old Hindi Shiksha Sangh that supports cultural and educational needs of the Hindu community, including the popular Hindvani radio station.

Sangh President Avi Bhoora said: "Although this has caused some financial constraints, we launched a fundraising drive and received assistance from the financial turnaround of Radio Hindvani."

But the department has denied any form of discrimination and said funds were allocated according to needs. "It was not the department that allocated the grants-in-aid, but an interim committee of the KwaZulu-Natal Arts Council. Any suggestions of discrimination or racism are strenuously denied. Grants are awarded according to a process and not along racial lines," said Ncumisa Fandesi, a spokesperson of the department of arts and culture.