BURNABY – Hindu Cultural & Community Centre of BC , Burnaby is the oldest Hindu society in British Columbia. The society is incorporated in Victoria and registered as a charity in Ottawa.
In almost forty years of its history, the first democratic election was held on last Sunday, December 4th. A new executive board consisting of Bipen Seth President, Shanker Chowdry Secretary, Rajinder Soni Treasurer, Directors Vanita Puri, Roshan Kochhar, Ashwani Kalia, Mahendra Kwatra, Dharam Chopra, Nutan Prasad, Om Gaind, Naresh Shukla, Vineet Kirpal, Pushpanjli Matharoo, Rajesh Nayyar, Chand Sharma, Rathod Dayabhai, Ram Gopal Mohan, Unadkat Popat was elected. There is also an advisory committee consisting of Harcharan Datta, Hari Om Sharma, Mohan Dhir, Chander Mohan Puri, Ravi Mathur, Ram Kochhar
For the last twenty five years the temple is controlled and operated by “Dynasty” rules by only few of its members without any transparency or information to the general membership. Consequently, many of its prominent members who contributed so much in terms of time and funds left or became inactive. As the wisdom says “by listening to the viewpoints of others, you don’t surrender but you make the society stronger”.This approach was missing.
A group of 86 members signed a petition in August 2010 requesting a proper democratic election which was ignored by the board. Due to this inappropriate approach and financial mismanagements some of the members took the society to court.
Hindu community in Vancouver and its surroundings has been growing and there was genuine need for a bigger place for our religious, social and political functions. The same group of members are trying to build the temple as shown in the picture for the last twenty five years without proper business plans and community involvement. There are some funny examples which I think are worth writing for the public.
About twenty years ago, a group of 6 members went to India, they purchased and shipped the deities (murties) to Vancouver, since then these deities are stored in a warehouse collecting dust and costing thousands of dollars per year. Its obvious that the deities were brought without any planning as it takes only couple of months for shipment from India.
Last year the society again started the temple construction without a proper financial business plan. The budget for this temple building is approximately 5-6 million dollars which is beyond the financial means of the society. Borrowing against the present temple could be disastrous and should have been presented to the general membership for approval. They borrowed without consultation.
As per the society treasurer, “some board members of the unelected board who were not even members of the society had receipt books printed without the authorization of the board. The irony is that the board knew about it and did nothing and those members are still part of the board.
Well, the election was held very peacefully and both parties have accepted the outcome. 15 Directors for aone year term, the President, Secretary and the Treasurer for two years and 6 of the Advisory Councilors were elected for 4 years. Hopefully, the society will democratically elect 15 of these directors next year.
In Canada, these charities are operated with taxpayers and membership donations so the elected boards are obliged to follow its constitution and manage their funds very carefully.
Harmesh Sidher is a life term member of the Hindu Temple in Burnaby.