£1.65m - The British Price of Equality and Moral Values

Press Note – 10th August 2017

The Bank of England announced its decision regarding the use of tallow in pound notes as follows:-

"The Bank is today, Thursday 10 August, announcing that after careful and serious consideration and extensive public consultation there will be no change to the composition of polymer used for future banknotes. The new polymer £20 note and future print runs of £5 and £10 notes will continue to be made from polymer manufactured using trace amounts of chemicals, typically less than 0.05%, ultimately derived from animal products.

(The full statement can be found here)


The decision by the Bank of England to take no heed of the contributions of 88% of respondents who submitted details of a value based position to the Bank, although not unexpected, is disappointing. The Banks decision is based upon what is offered as “value for money”, itself a strange concept in the context of the production of money, but we are deeply concerned that the Bank has chosen its own perspective in determining what is deemed as “value” and has completely ignored what is perceived as value by those not limited to the materialistically bounded perspective of a Central Bank.

The Bank has determined that there is a monetary value to the ethics and morals of a rapidly increasing number of British citizens i.e. the vegan and vegetarian community, and also of the religious and spiritual values of the members of the Dharmic traditions who view all of life as one family.

The Bank of England has stated that it has taken account of the Equality legislation but what it has in essence done is established that the spirit of Equalities legislation in the UK does in fact carry a price tag and a level at which the spirit of human rights which is enshrined in Equality legislation, becomes “unaffordable”, a paltry £1.65m per annum for a decade. Has Great Britain become so poor?

It is undisputed that until this decision, currency was a neutral medium of exchange of value and its use did not physically, emotionally nor intellectually cause any conflict in the hands of the citizens and although the decision satisfies the value systems of bankers and lawyers, they are not the custodians of society’s evolving values, its morality and the increasing sense of connectedness with the Earth and all of life. 

From this perspective they appear to have forgotten that the sole function of currency is facilitating the attainment of prosperity, happiness and tranquil existence through exchange of values, values which are not only confined to numbers on bank statements and promissory notes.

Some traditions will not use the proceeds of gambling, being attuned to the corruption such activities introduce into society, playing upon and exploiting human vulnerabilities and other traditions have learned that it is possible to corrupt human well-being as well as our relationship with other beings, when we undervalue their right to life and existence. 

These are wisdom principles acquired over many generations and the argument that 0.05% is acceptable is seen to be grossly devoid of the perception of the nature of moral principles and surprising in its lack of relevance to the core issues. If a human finger were to fall into the production line of 100,000 bars of chocolate at which quantity level would it become “cost effective” to permit it? 0.05%? This shallow logic is deeply flawed.

The decision of the Bank establishes that there is a cost based rationale upon which these decisions can be made - the previous example establishes the falsehood of this line of thinking. If it were simply down to molecules and percentages, we could justify the repulsive suggestion that human cadavers also contain the same constituents and on precisely the same basis are eligible for industrial utility. It is not a monetary decision which prevents us from making this choice, it is something far deeper and many feel the same level of repulsion when applied to other sentient beings. It is disappointing that this dimension of understanding appears to be valueless and still absent from the Bank of England’s view of existence.

For many Hindus Sikhs and Jains, and for vegans and vegetarians as well, the spirit of all monetary transactions will be tainted to varying degrees and the donations and monetary activities of our Hindu Temples will be now be felt to be polluted on a moral and emotional level and we did hope that the Bank would recognise the seriousness of this decision. To taint spiritual moral and religious transactions, the values which help us to connect with our own Divinity and the Divinity in all of life, is a costly choice.

For many Karma is an inescapable principle, Hindus recognise that karma exists at an individual level, a family level, a societal level and a national level. We will do what we can to mitigate the ill effects of this choice and will continue to work also to assist the Bank of England to recognise that in its capacity to harm and hinder societies' non fiscal values, it is more than a mere printing press.

Please add your voice to the petition raised by Doug Maw which has already attracted over 140,000 signatures by clicking here Petition


Pt Satish K Sharma B.Sc. (Hons) Econ MBCS FRSA
General Secretary, National Council of Hindu Temples (UK)

Chair, British Board of Hindu Scholars

Chair, City of London InterFaith

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