British speaker honours Indian icons in London

London, April 24 (IANS) Parliament Speaker John Bercow urged the Indian diaspora in Britain to engage more with mainstream politics and get proper representation in parliament.

“The community makes a huge contribution to British life, and I hope its members will continue to build on its successes, both in terms of representation in Parliament and more widely across our national life,” the Asian Lite daily quoted Bercow as saying.

He made the speech last week while presenting the Asian Lite Pranam Awards to seven prominent members of the British Indian community.

The award recipients were economist Lord Meghnad Desai, British-Indian politician Shreela Flather, BBC’s former sports editor Mihir Bose, refugee-turned-multi-millionaire Rami Ranger, Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan Executive Director Mattur N. Nandakumara, rights activist and writer Zerbanoo Gifford, and T. Ramachandran, CEO and MD of Bristol Laboratories.

The event, held at Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan, was attended by several prominent members of the Indian community and British MPs including Bob Blackman.

The Pranam Awards were instituted by the Asian Lite daily to honour members of the Indian community for their contribution to British culture, economy, business, media and sport sectors.

Seven members of the third generation British Asians — poetess Divya Mathur, media personality Rafeek Ravuther, London junior chamber former president Nahas Abdul Jaleel, Here and Now 365 MD Manish Tiwari, and journalists Dhiren Katwa and Navdeep Singh — paid tributes to the award winners.

Flather was the first Asian woman to receive a peerage and the first from the ethnic minorities in the House of Lords. She has worked for several humanitarian causes, fighting for social justice, refugees, community, race relations and those in prisons.

Meghnad Desai is a Labour Peer and spearheaded the campaign to install the Mahatma Gandhi Statue at Parliament Square in London. Desai, an ardent supporter of the Labour Party, wrote several books on economics. He was a former professor at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Rami Ranger is one of the most successful Indian-origin businessmen in Britain. His firm Sun Mark Ltd won six Queen’s Award. Ranger, the youngest son of Indian freedom fighter Nanak Singh, began his life as a refugee boy in Delhi and now runs a $280 million turn worth company.

T. Ramachandran helped Bristol Laboratories to grow from a company with one person and one product in 2001 to the one that employs over 600 people across Britain now.

Mihir Bose, who came to England to study engineering but was trained in accountancy, became one of the most respected journalists. He has worked with Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph and became the first sports editor for BBC.

Mattur Nandakumara is a Sanskrit scholar who teached at Cambridge and Eton. He hails from the only Sanskrit speaking village of Mattur in Karnataka and holds a PhD in devotional literature from School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Zerbanoo Gifford was the first non-white woman to stand for British Parliament in 1982. She won several recognitions for her involvement in national and international humanitarian activities.

Zerbanoo was elected to the Liberal Party’s Federal Executive, again the first non-white to be elected onto any governing body of a British political party.



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