A London Assembly member has called on the Government to add Jainism to the list of religions on the census.

Navin Shah, who is himself a practising Jain, presented his petition – which has more than 5,000 signatures – to Downing Street last Thursday.

Mr Shah, who represents Brent and Harrow, was accompanied by Nemu Chandaria, the chairman of the Institute of Jainology and Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Jains, along with other community representatives.

Mr Shah said adding a distinct option for Jains would allow the Government to collect more accurate data on the UK population.

Jainism is an ancient Indian religion dating back over 5,000 years. There are around 7 million practitioners – with between 25,000 and 35,000  in the UK, according to Jain charity The Mahavir Foundation.

Currently Jains can record their religion on the census by answering the ‘What is your religion?’ question with ‘Other’ and writing their faith on the form.

But Mr Shah said the religion should be recognised in its own right as well.

He said: “It is critical that this is added to the census because Jainism is one of the oldest religions – it is an international and world faith.

“To have recognition of this ancient religion, what it stands for, and the community is really important.”

He added: “This is not purely the Jain community banging its drum – this petition has been about different faith groups joining hands, and I’m very proud of that.”

The next census will take place in 2021, and campaigners hope that a change can be made by then.

We have a new Twitter account

For more breaking news, local headlines, What’s On features and sport, follow our brand new Twitter account: @TimesHarrow

We also have a Facebook page. ‘Like’ our page to keep up-to-date with news in Harrow.