British Punjabis 2017

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November 2017

Faithful & Fierce

Jasminder Singh Chairman & CEO Edwardian Hotels London

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Securing Britain in an uncertain World

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British Punjabis Worthy of emulation Comment


uch of the developed world is going through profound demographic and cultural transformation and for the common good of all, diverse perspectives, cultures and values are now wholeheartedly accepted, appreciated and celebrated. Britain is a shining example of this transformation for it is here that the South Asian diaspora has a formidable presence, prospering and contributing immensely to every dimension of life. Within the British Asian community there exists a rich diversity of cultures, language, religious beliefs, cuisine and social practices. One community that stands tall is the Punjabi community which is one of the earliest South Asian communities to set foot on British soil. Some had served in the colonies as soldiers and some arrived due to socioeconomic reasons with little pecuniary means. British Punjabis are some of the most highly educated, hard-working and successful groups in the UK, contributing so much to our culture, economy and way of life. Some of the wealthiest Britons can be found within the Punjabi community thanks to their exceptional entrepreneurial skills. They have made a hugely positive and enduring mark in business, academia, entertainment, law, politics and sport. More recently Sir Rabinder Singh was promoted to the UK Court of Appeal, becoming the first Indian-origin Judge to be promoted to the post – a laudable achievement and one that should make every British Indian proud. At ABPL Group we frequently endeavour to highlight the achievements of various communities in order to inform, educate and inspire the community, especially the younger generation. This special edition has some exceptional success stories of women and men who have achieved much and contributed immensely and I believe that it is important that we record and disseminate their inspirational stories. I am especially delighted that Jasminder Singh OBE, Chairman and CEO of Edwardian Hotels London hospitality group, has contributed to this special edition with his view on what is so unique about the Sikh community’s contribution to the UK. I am confident that this special edition will not only make an enjoyable read but will enrich the lives of readers. CB Patel Publisher / Editor Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


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he history of Sikhs in Britain is long and diverse. It is a unique relationship dating back to the middle of the 1800s, through two world wars where tens of thousands of Sikhs lost their lives after stepping forward to protect King and country; and undoubtedly deepened since the 1950s and 1960s. The impact of Sikhs on the British way of life over the last five decades is impressive and varied, one only needs to look to the fabric of today’s workforce to see that. Our community extends across the UK, reaching from the South West to Yorkshire, into Scotland, and of course in London. It boasts skilled manufacturers, businessmen, campaigners, doctors, lawyers, and academics. There are more Sikhs involved in the arts, music industries and sport than ever before. We are perceived as successful, accomplished and focused. There is no doubt that Sikhs have a profound impact on both Indian and British way of life. We play a key role in British society, contributing to the nation’s productivity and are a vital component to the growth of the economy and the country’s future. For me, there are a number of success stories who clearly demonstrate the industrious personality of the Sikh community. Individuals such as leading cardiologist Professor Jaspal S. Kooner, whose dedication to medicine has led him to some major discoveries, including which genes are linked to heart disease, diabetes and obesity and Britian’s first turbaned Sikh Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, a British Labour Party politician elected as MP for Slough in the 2017 General Election; to Lord Indarjit Singh CBE who has tirelessly campaigned for religious tolerance and co-founded The Inter Faith Network, and CEO of Cancer Research UK Sir Harpal S. Kumar, who was knighted in the 2016 New Years Honours List for services to cancer research and now acts as a Trustee of The Francis Crick Institute in London. There are of course others - some well-known, some less so – who, like these are at the top of their profession, but maintain a humil-


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The Sikh community’s contribution to the UK today

Jasminder Singh

Chairman & CEO, Edwardian Hotels London

ity that is so prevalent within the Sikh community. As Britain prepares for a time of change, I think it is vital to remember and draw upon the values of Sikhism. We should continue to work hard and treat everyone equally, without distinction of faith, religion or background. Our younger generations have admirable role models, whose drive and commitment to their principles have helped to shape our community and make it what it is today. Their parents have a role to play in instilling this confidence and educating their children on the importance of remaining true to our values. This should give them the blueprint to hopefully become the best in their

chosen field and maximise their own potential. Our young people should have the confidence that they can make a positive impact on British society and the world. They should recognise, and harness, this accumulation of knowledge and expertise from the generations which have gone before them. They should want to preserve this and feel proud of such a varied and impactful heritage. This is an exciting time. Industries are growing, driven by technological progress; future jobs and businesses cannot even be imagined today, and it is up to us to keep a pace of this evolution and continue to spot the great number of opportunities it will bring.

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he Badshah of cakes, the Punjabi baker-guru Kulwinder Kumar Bagha is a classic rags-to-riches story of a man who was able to make it big because he was able to think out of the ‘cake box’. He is a quiet philanthropist, humble, innovative, hard-working and positive. “I came to this country empty- handed in 1983 and this country has given me so much, including a beautiful British wife Salinder Kaur and three loving daughters Jennyfer Bagha, Kiran Bagha and Priya Bagha” says Kulwinder humbly. He took to baking in 1990, and was the first Punjabi to open an eggless cake shop in Southall. He was also the first person to start eggless cakes in the UK. He regrets that he did not copyright it and taught the tricks of the trade to his professional bakers, who walked away and started out independently. But that hasn't stopped him from continuing to innovate and offer quality products at reasonable prices. Kulwinder started his first cake shop under the name of his younger brother, Paul in 1993. He kept adding one shop every year for the next 12 years in South Western London and took a sabbatical for three years. “I started working since I was 16, so I was happy when I leased out my businesses and spent quality time with my family. But the entrepreneurial bug in me soon made me partner with Asit Shah, and I reopened my businesses under the banner of Kool Cakes,” recalls Kulwinder. He is the founder of the unique and pioneering online cake ordering site Caker Street (, an online marketplace for cake makers to list their products and save them marketing & promotional hassles. The platform helps customers to explore cake makers in their local areas and choose from a range of colours, flavours and styles. “We had started the 'make your own cake' website nearly a decade back where customers could choose from listed options and see what their cake would look like, before ordering,” said Kulwinder. His expertise has won him

Kulwinder Kumar Bagha The Kool King of Cakes

Paul Kool Cake: Salinder, Kulwinder, Jayden, Rajiv, Jennyfer, Kiran and Priya

accolades. Kool Cakes Bakery took on the challenge of creating the world's largest cake sculpture at the Westfield London shopping centre in Nov 2014 and got recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. The cake measured 12.17m by 9.8 m with the highest point being 41cm which had to be made overnight within 8 hours so it would be ready for Westfield Shopping Centre's opening time. However, Kool Cakes Bakery were able to do it in a record 6 hours time. He also made the celebratory 40 inc x 40 inc and 5 feet tall cake for popular television series The Big Brother. Kulwinder presented Her Majesty The Queen with a special cake, blessed by a priest at the Gurudwara in 2012, during the celebrations of the Diamond Jubilee at the Buckingham Palace, as an appreciation of the opportunities and the beautiful civil life that the country has given to a small-town immigrant like him. “The cake was presented on behalf of the Asian community, cut by Her Majesty The Queen and distributed at Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I had gone through rigorous background checks for nearly six months before

my cake could reach the palace, but I never lost hope,” he chuckled. He is close to his roots and remembers the challenges he faced while growing up. Not being fluent in English was one such challenge he faced as a village boy in India. So now he has hired two teachers in the primary school in India to teach English and has been paying their wages for the past 13 years. “The children will learn their mothertongue, but it's important that they learn English from a young age to expand their horizons,” says Kulwinder. “I have put up street lights in the entire village in India where I grew up and have made a gym for the youngsters to use. I also help daughters from poor families to get married by paying for the shagun (engagement),” says Kulwinder. He also donates money to the local Gurudwaras in the UK to help out in various philanthropic work, but that he feels is his obligation and does not harp on it at all. “I do not believe in focussing the spotlight on myself. That is not my style,” he smiles. Kool Cakes Branches in Heston, Kingsbury & Harrow

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Make sure you have the hunger to tread the untrodden – Rami Ranger’s momentous journey


r. Rami Ranger CBE believes that when it comes to entrepreneurial mettle, a business is only as big as one’s imagination. As he puts it, “Think small and you will remain small.” He is the Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd. and Sea, Air & Land Forwarding Ltd, two of Britain's fastest growing companies, both of which have received prestigious awards from Her Majesty the Queen – the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in the year 1999, and the Queens Award for Enterprise in International Trade annually for five consecutive years, from 2009-2013.

It is often said that rich maketh the riches. However, success for Rami did not come from inheritance or privilege. His early life was full of inordinate struggles. He was born two months after the assassination of his father Shaheed Nanak Singh, who lost his life trying to save 600 students in a school in Multan during the communal riots as a result of the 1947 Partition of India. His mother had to flee the city with her eight children in order to keep them safe. Rami started life in a refugee camp in India and was brought up by his mother who was a teacher. The values that she instilled in him became what he calls the “bedrock for his success”. From the day of his arrival in the present day India on a train’s coal-car, covered in dark soot, to achieving unprecedented success in Britain, Rami’s story continues to astonish us all. Since the family had migrated


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Dr Rami Ranger with his wife Renu

to Punjab in India, Rami completed his Bachelors from Govt. College, Chandigarh. Soon after, he arrived in Britain in 1971 to study law. It was

“I’d like to leave a legacy for my children so that they appreciate that their dad was not just a money-making machine! He was a little bit more than that.” Rami Ranger the lack of funds that resulted in him working in a London branch of KFC for 35p an hour. He was made redundant after seven years and following a brief stint working in retail, he set up his own freight forwarding company

with merely £2, a car, a typewriter and a self-storage unit. His companies now sustain thousands of British jobs with their export activities. In 2005 Rami was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his services to British business and the British Asian community. His sustained contribution in business, community affairs and philanthropy was further recognised when Her Majesty The Queen elevated his Queens honour from an MBE to a CBE, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in the 2016 New Year’s Honours List. Rami is also the proud recipient of two honorary doctorates, one of them being a Doctor of Letters (D.Litt)

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Young Rami Ranger

which is regarded in the UK as being a higher doctorate, awarded by the University of West London last year. His initiatives to strengthen democracy and social cohesion in the UK have particularly helped to raise the profile of British Asians in the country. Owing to the work done by the British Asian Conservative Link (BACL), which Rami co-founded, the Conservative Party, which previously lacked Asian representation in House of Commons, went on to have five MPs of Asian origin. Rami felt that it was imperative for the public to know and recognise the Hindu religion so he co-founded the Hindu Forum of

“Ambition is very important. An ambitious person benefits his family, his community and his country. I’ve got many ambitions; to write a book is one and I also try to put back into society from where I’ve benefited so much.” Rami Ranger Britain. The Pakistan, India & UK Friendship Forum, that was set up soon after the 7/7 and 21/7 bombings of the London Underground by Rami, aged 20 in 1967, at Mahendra College, Patiala, wearing National Cadet Uniform

Her Majesty the Queen greeting Dr. Rami Ranger CBE, Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd., and winner of the Queens Award for Enterprise 2009 & 2010 in International Trade at the Buckingham Palace, London

British citizens of Pakistani origin, also had Rami as its founding father. Rami felt the need to streamline a conscious effort to build bridges with the Muslim community which was feeling isolated and dejected post the incident. The list of his awards and recognitions is filled with his myriad contributions to British Society. In 2015 he was made a Freeman of the City of London to reward his charitable work and his support for British trade and industry. A few of his recent recognitions included the prestigious IOD Director of the Year for London and South East Region from the Institute of Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


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"My story shows that one does not need a rich father, an elite education or the old schoolboy network to help one in life. What one needs is self-respect, work ethics, commitment, vision and empathy for others," Ram says in his book, From Nothing to Everything the 11th Asian Achievers Awards in London and the Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the Asian Achievers Awards in 2010, among others. The Indo-British Partnership presented him with an award for increasThe Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills presenting Dr. Rami Ranger CBE, FRSA, CEO of Sun Mark Limited with the award for Business Person of the Year at the 11th Asian Achievers Awards in London. Present also is Mr. Allirajah Subaskaran, Chairman of Lyca Mobile who sponsored the Award

Directors, the Lifetime Achievement award at the Red Ribbon Awards 2015 hosted by the Family Business Place, the Diversity Award at the House of Lords from the World Peace and Prosperity Foundation, and the Turkish Community Award for his contribution to the Turkish Community in

the UK. He has been the proud recipient of several prestigious awards, such as the International Businessman of the Decade by India Link magazine in 2013, the GOPIO Community Service Award in 2012, the award for Business Person of the Year 2011 at

Dr Rami Ranger CBE, Chairman of Sun Mark Ltd and Sea, Air and Land Forwarding awarded Honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon DLitt) by Laurence Geller, Chancellor & Professor Peter John, ViceChancellor of the University of West London

With the Kentucky Fried Chicken company car outside his home in Downs Road, Beckenham, Kent, 1974. Rami was district manager, with responsibility for ten stores around southwest London until 1976


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

ing bilateral trade and business investment between the two countries. Rami was also bestowed with a Community Service Award by the Secretary of State for Families, the Rt. Hon. Ed Balls MP on behalf of the Asian Voice. He is patron of the Punjabi Society of the British Isles, promoting Punjabi culture in Britain and raise money for welfare causes, and has received the Pride of India Award by the PSBI in 2008. Additionally, he is a patron of HAVEN a UK registered

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charity providing medical and educational facilities to poor and needy people in India, and a patron of the India International Foundation which celebrates success of British Indians. As a patron of the Shaheed Nanak Singh Foundation he works to encourage British Indians in becoming more public and politically spirited. He is also the patron of the Ethnic Minority Business Group supporting ethnic businesses in the UK. To add to the long list of his well-earned achievements, he is the Chairman of the Golden Heart Club at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow that helps raise money for research into

the cure of stroke and heart disease. Rami is also the Chairman of the British Sikh Association, promoting interfaith dialogue. Rami Ranger was appointed Vice President of the UK Institute of Export (IOE) in 2013, and he is a member of the Memorial Gates Commemoration Committee which keeps alive the memory of the fallen soldiers of the Commonwealth. In his pursuit to give back to the

Dr Rami Ranger FRSA Receiving The MBE (Member of British Empire) For Services To The British Business & The British Asian Community from HRH Prince of Wales

society from which he has benefitted much, Rami supports the cause of improving the quality of education in the UK. His mother, who was a teacher, remains the most influential figure in his life. He donated £250,000 to London South Bank University to set up a fund for Enterprise Excellence and to establish the Dr Rami Ranger CBE Centre for

Sun Mark is the only company to have ever won the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise for International Trade five times in a row. Having founded his first enterprise with just £2 and a typewriter in 1987, Rami now oversees Sun Mark, a £160-million-a-year operation that has become one of Britain's fastestgrowing and most decorated businesses.

Playing with an early home computer in Dixons in Cheapside, 1984. Rami became the company’s leading store manager during his two years with the firm

Graduate Entrepreneurship, a hub and workspace for students and graduates on enterprise programmes. He contributed £40,000 to the University of West London towards a new group pavilion in the campus library. He was appointed by the UK government to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador, a new body whose main aim is to spearhead the drive to engage new employers to commit to Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


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Dr Rami Ranger CBE on his 70th birthday celebrations with his daughters Ms. Sabina Ranger, Mrs. Amita Sabharwal, Dr Rami Ranger and Mrs Reena Ahuja


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apprenticeship delivery in England. Another feather in his cap is the Fellowship of the Princes Trust, as Rami spends his time mentoring underprivileged youth.

"Rami is a tremendous businessman, an inspiring philanthropist and a kindhearted gentleman. What he lacked in terms of a formal education, he has more than made up for with effort, determination and entrepreneurial skill. He has helped to make Britain a better and more successful place and I am delighted he has taken the time to tell his story."- Lord Popat of Harrow The Gandhi Memorial Foundation Trust, which supports fundraising to build a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament

Square, London, received a staggering sum of £100,000 from Rami. He believes that the world owes Gandhiji a huge debt of gratitude for liberating one fifth of mankind through nonviolence thereby creating a better world. He has helped raise £100,000 for Dr. Rami Ranger CBE receiving the Asian Voice’s research into the cure Entrepreneur of the Year Award on 25th Feb. 2010 at the for AIDS and cancer for House of Commons. The award was presented by the Deputy Speaker of the British House of Commons, the Northwick Park and The Rt. Hon. Sylvia Heal MP and Mr. CB Patel St. Marks Hospitals in him in his endeavours – his friends, Harrow as a patron of the ‘Great colleagues, and customers. His Walk’ undertaken by the Chairman of mantra is simple, “You inspire people the India Association UK. He donated who will also follow suit. Celebrating £25,000 to the Indian Gymkhana to success is important and my only build accommodation for athletes, we don’t celproblem is that in Britain and helped raise £20,000 through ebrate success enough. You should walk for heart and stroke campaign at celebrate because success is not just Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow. for you and perhaps my story will help Rami feels strongly that hidden others try that much harder and talent is no talent, as he fervently achieve more for themselves as a advocates celebrating success with result.” those who have worked alongside

The Family home in Gujranwala where Rami was born and spent the first few weeks of his life before his family was evacuated to Ferozepur in 1947 Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


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unjabi’s are known to be avid connoisseurs of fine cuisine, adorning opulent attire and enjoying their loud and proud social gatherings. That’s why British Punjabi Arun Luthra is a natural at running his market leading Events Management Business, Ragamama Ragasaan. Naomi Canton from Asian Voice caught up with him. Ragamama was founded over 20 years ago from its humble roots in London specialising in catering and events management. The company, which was started by Arun and his brother Rocky quickly organically grew to become a full facility events management business providing its ever-increasing loyal customer base a one stop service for full events design, planning and implementation along with one of the most globally diversified cuisine offering within the Asian catering industry. By 2005 it expanded its offering and operations to provide weddings, receptions, corporate events, VIP parties, product launches, birthday parties, conferences, charity galas and a whole host of other events. Ragamama also moved into its new state-of the-art facilities and was rebranded as Ragamama Ragasaan, as it is called today. “The Sanskrit word Raga means colouring and tingeing and it is also a melodic mode in Indian classical music,” Arun Luthra, managing director of Ragamama Ragasaan, explained. Indeed

Arun Luthra


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Loving a party is the key to throwing one Raga, the melodic frameworks for improvisation and composition, are the most important concepts in making traditional Indian music and each one reflects different times of the day, moods and seasons. “Raga also means love and passion - a perfect word to use in our company name as it evokes the fusion of fragrances, food, love and moods that Ragamama Ragasaan can create to suit any occasion. “Raga also has the letters of my brother and I : R for Rocky, A for Arun and so on. “Mama Ji” was my grandfather’s nickname when I was growing up and “Shaan” my father’s, so that is how the name of our company came about,” he said. Arun’s family hail from Gujranwala in Punjab, Pakistan. In 1947 after partition they moved to Amritsar in Punjab and from there to Delhi, where they carried on with their family’s traditional food business. So, the passion for fine food and catering is in his blood. Headquartered in Northolt, Ragamama Ragasaan operates throughout the United

Kingdom and even further afield carrying out specialist events for its clients in prestigious locations all over the globe such as Cannes and Monte Carlo to name a few. Our business is built on the strong foundations of long term relationships and our clients are elite UK-established businesses and professionals. “Northolt for us was a great choice and is conveniently located to motorways, with easy access to London and Heathrow,” he explained. Ragamama Ragasaan will meticulously manage all aspects of any event from sourcing a suitable venue such as a stately home or a luxury hotel, to the catering, entertainment, design, décor, scheduling and all aspects of event management on the day. The business specialises in Indian, Gujarati, Punjabi, Sri Lankan, Muslim events, and is also known for multi-cuisine product offering. Ragamama Ragasaan can cater for a range of cuisines from Punjabi, Gujarati, Mughlai, South Indian, Indo-Chinese, African and Sri Lankan. Dishes are based on original recipes with a fusion twist made by chefs from all over India including Punjab. Arun says being Punjabi himself he understands the culture which makes him a natural at event planning. The renowned hospitality of India, which he has inherited, also gives him an edge. “Punjabis are fond of good food and the culture of Punjab centres on strong familial ties and celebrations,” he explains. “Punjabis are a very social people. That is why our parties are so big, not because we know that many people, but because we love being social. Sure, most Punjabi events have free-flowing alcohol, traditional and modern music along with all the opulence. It is all about throwing a big bash to show off how well you can

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socialise. It creates a beautiful atmosphere where everyone shares duties and enjoys themselves.” “Moreover, these elements are at the heart of why I love being Punjabi. This is not to say the other states in India are vastly different.” “The most significant asset, however, is, Indians are friendly, Godfearing, hospitable, hard-working, informal, robust and with a tremendous zest for living,” says Arun. Indeed, planning events requires a specific set of skills, especially dealing with unforeseen circumstances. “You need to be organised, diplomatic, have great communication skills, attention to detail, be able to make the right decisions, nerves of steel, be creative, a people-pleaser and flexible,” he explains. Event planning is a competitive market-place. So how does he make sure his business is known? “Our bride and grooms are our greatest spokespersons and they do our work for us. We find that once they have experienced our services they become our customers for life,

and we are their first choice when it comes to all their occasions,” Arun says as a matter of fact. “We have the experience to make each event as timelessly classic or extravagantly elegant as the client desires,” Arun says. “We listen to clients’ ideas and translate that into a vivid reality. We make the process seamless and straightforward

making sure the event is meticulously planned and flawlessly executed, even down to the finest detail. We have rapidly built a reputation within the industry for being innovative, professional and flexible in reacting to clients’ requirements and changing trends which has resulted in our enviable fame and successful business,” concludes Arun.

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The Exceptional Medic

r Ajay Rajan Gupta, a simple man from the small town of Patiala, with a manner steeped in humility, has embarked upon an ambitious and complex medical programme to bring the best of the NHS model of healthSimple solutions to complex problems requires care delivery to India. His goal is to develop 11 Medicities, combining the extraordinary ideas. What appears simple on the best healthcare systems in the world surface, has often got layers of complexity concealed with the best medical facilities that money can buy. under the surface Dr Gupta's vision is to bring healthcare to Narendra Modi, wants to inauand framework for Universal and India which is available, gurate that, so there's a lot of Affordable Healthcare. affordable and pressure to deliver. Our teams in 2014 - ‘Medical Maestro Award’ accountable for all India and UK are working by Mr Richard Harrington, Vice through the Indo UK actively to reach these targets. Chairman of the Conservative Party at Institute of Health (IUIH) We are also accountable Medicities to the Indian and UK govProgramme. A ernment’s who continuConsultant Dr Ajay Rajan Gupta ously monitor the project, Orthopaedic Surgeon at with an aim to deliver the NHS, Ajay is leading a team of UK 11,000 beds to the Indian healthand India-based promotors with the care system across India,” said support of both Indian and UK governAjay. ments to bring the dream of high-qualiDr. Gupta has had extensive ty care to India. experience in the areas of health“The hospitals are going to be care policy, management, and multi-speciality, but at price-points that research whilst also being an are going to be suitable to Indian peoadvisor to various government ple,” said Ajay. “20 per cent of all our Signing of Healthcare collaboration by PM Sh agencies and organisations. “I healthcare is free at the point of care, Narendra Modiji and former PM Mr David trained in India as an orthopaedic Cameron on 12th September, 2015 as a part of our CSR. So we have an surgeon and came here in 2004.” IUIH Constitution, similar to an NHS the House of Lords, London. He has several accolades to his credit, constitution, starting from the CEO to including: “I think if we desire to do some the junior doctors and karmacharis. 2011 - ‘Young Entrepreneur work for India, the time is now – with a The foundation stone in Nagpur Award’ in Dubai for his work on progressive Prime Minister like Modiji. It was laid on 13th August 2017, Healthcare Excellence across the UAE. all started when I was introduced to Amravati was laid on 16th August 2017 2012 - ‘Achievers Healthcare him. His dynamism and progressive and Hyderabad foundation stone is Award’ in India for his contributions to vision drove me to think of this venture. planned for in 2018. Construction will Affordable Healthcare in India. After On 12th November 2015, the commerce at Nagpur on 25th 2013 - ‘Young Scientist Award’ in British Prime Minister, Mr. David December 2017. Las Vegas for drawing up strategies Cameron, and the Prime Minister of The complete list of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, signed an Indian states where IUIH will historic Health Collaboration Agreement develop are: Maharashtra, to support the development of 11 IUIH Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Medicities across 11 states in India. In Haryana, Karnataka, Gujarat, November 2016, Theresa May and Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Narendra Modi met at the Indo-UK Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tech Summit and the vision was West Bengal. “We are plancemented further.” ning to open up our services “I want to bring about the NHS in the seven sister states of ethos of equality in health care, where the North-Eastern states of there is 100% ethical healthcare for India,” he said. 100% of the Indian people. What the In October 2019 we are NHS offers is accountability – someUnveiling of Foundation stone of IUIH Nagpur on aiming to open the first thing that India does not currently have. 13th of August, 2017 by CM Sh Fadnavis (3rd from Medicity in Nagpur. The honright), with Dr Ajay Rajan Gupta and Dr Limci Gupta Doctors should be doing what they can ourable Prime Minister of India, (1st from right) among other dignitaries


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to help people rather than worry about what is commercially profitable. Affordability should not be a factor.” “The NHS is free, so that anyone who walks into the IUIH hospital will have the affordability. This is very close to the PM and our vision. Patients below the poverty-line don't have to pay, the government pays for them.” confirmed Ajay. Under his leadership, IUIH is in the process of creating an eco-system that will offer medical services through super speciality hospitals, ancillary facilities, research institutions, health centres, rehabilitation centres, and residential apartments. It will translate into a self-sustainable township, providing training for the medical manpower whilst generating jobs and ensuring the overall development of the region. “We cemented an 18-month updated report of the project in India regarding the progress we made with them. The construction work is going to be eco-friendly. So we are working with Larsen and Toubro as one of our construction partners, with IBI as designers and Cushman and Wakefield as our project managers. The hospitals will be eco-friendly projects, using solar power for heating, cooling shading and water harvesting. We have partnered/signed up with PwC as our fund-advisors, KPMG as our tax advisors, EY as our programme assurance, and KPMG as our auditors.”

Project Plans

Phase 1 Healthcare Delivery Clinical Support Services NHS E-Health

Phase 2 Expanding the Phase 1 Services Nursing colleges Medical Manufacturing Research and Development Staff Accommodation Training and Education colleges Phase 3 Healthcare delivery at capacity commercial services Medical college Manufacturing Support and Integrated Research Hospital hotel Wellness and holistic medicine

Ajay wants to impart world-class training to fellow Indians through the medical college, nursing college, Indo UK Research Centres on Genomics stem cells and Translational Research, postgraduate training academies in partnership with the industry and the Indian government. A bilateral India and UK task force involving government representatives is helping drive forward delivery of the proposed eleven Indo-UK Institute for Health and foster greater collaboration in other areas of this important sector. “We are adopting technology in a big way, so we are partnering with IBM, and other technology partners to deliver healthcare all over India. There will be

Receiving an award at the BAPIO conference on behalf of the Indo UK Institute of Health Management team

40 strategic industry partners, with Stryker and Zimmer Biomet already partnering with the IUIH programme as equity partners. “There will be a chain of Indo UK clinics strongly linked up to a central database through ehealth and mhealth platforms, where electronic records can be exchanged, and patients will be able

IUIH gets the prestigious UK India Award 2017 on 12th of May, 2017. Received by Dr Limci Gupta (third from left) on behalf of IUIH, with MD of Healthcare UK Ms Deborah Kobewka (1st from left) among other dignitaries

to communicate with us using modern technology, with facilities such as telemedicine, and teleradiology for diagnostics. There will be centralized back-end offices, supporting the pan India programme. “All our records are in a single database. I can get tele-radiology to deliver images from villages where I can't get consultants to travel. I can get tele-pathology to places where I can't get pathologists. IBM, Toshiba, and Google and other providers will enable provision of tele-pathology, radiology, and tele-medicine to a different level.” “IUIH starts construction in Nagpur in December 2017. When fully implemented, the projects in the 11 medicities will amount to a £1 billion investment into India's healthcare system, accompanied by strategic clinical and training partnerships with UK's finest NHS organisations, universities and private sector companies,” says Ajay. Ajay is the true Punjabi – staying true both to his roots and his country of residence, creating harmony and happiness through healthy practices.

Foundation stone Unveiling ceremony for IUIH Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh on 16th of August, 2017. Chief Minister of Andra Pradesh Sh Nara Chandrababu Naidu (4th from left), Minister of State for Health Smt Anupriya Patel (5th from left), IUIH MD & CEO Mr Ajay Rajan Gupta (6th from left), Chairman of Kings College Hospital Lord Kerslake (7th from left), Rt Hon MP Mr Andrew Mitchell (8th from left ), among other dignitaries Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


16 Anita Chopra.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 13:45 Page 16


stni ePl r vhi ei ne29kep i oenl a wr msyaoneci p wahei nel ahentg a nr eoanemvenl aeci p ebthg eNi ndl I r ctdtnr hokeovadti ctotsyets Lumdi ntr seTi pAeWl ae. r mnt- maebthg So aBvahntoaedr f ahoeovadti ceaumdi ntr si c saauokeaBdcmotr sokei ug tootr sok . mccwtsykeodl r r cedr g vci tsnoei suei dntr s i yi tsonevhtf i naeaumdi ntr si c tsontnmntr soAeI l aevi ootr si nacwep r h' o r sedr g g mstnwetoomaoei oei eg ag . aher b nl aei uf tor hwevi sacebr henl aei uf r di dw br heaumdi ntr seoahf tdaep tnl enl aeCi ntr si c , mntontdeI r dtanwA qsehadasnentg aoenl aeg auti el i o bha- masncwedr somcnaue, stni er s Lumdi ntr seTi pAeI l ael i oei vvai hauets g i tsonhai g evhtsneg auti kehi utr ei su nacaf totr sep l tdl el i f aeor myl nel ah aBvahntoaer seLumdi ntr seTi pA

Tackling community issues

Excelling in Education Law

Nurturing our future's two biggest assets, children and education, Anita makes sure her legal acumen and endless energy create a true difference in the lives of many. The true Punjabi kudi

MI r g antg aoep l asewr mei haebi dauep tnl smg ahr moeoanx. i d' oetneuhtf aoewr m af aseg r haenr ei dl taf aep l i newr mep i sn nr Aeqbewr meur sSnel i f aeasr myl evi ootr s br hep l i newr meur kei bnahei ebap e' sr d' x . i d' oewr mep tccevhr . i . cw ytf aemvei suenhw or g anl tsyecaoo dl i ccasytsyAe” mnenl i n p i osSnenl aedi oaep tnl g aAeqneuhr f aeg aenr ep r h' af asel i huahetsei s aBnhag acwedr g vantntf a asf thr sg asnkj eoi wo , stni A Wl toetoep l aha , stni eol r p oel ahenhma &msEi . tebtyl ntsyeovthtnex nr esaf aheytf aemvAe“ tnl l ahemsvi hi ccacau ' sr p cauyaer b

“ tnl tsenl ae, oti sedr g g mstnwevar vca p tnl eutoi . tctntaoebi daemst- ma dl i ccasyaoetsdcmutsyeor dti ceontyg i A , stni eoi wokeM toi . tctnwedahni tscwetoer sa r benl ae. tyyaonetoomaoetsehaci ntr senr p l i nep aeur ei suenl ae, oti sedr g g mstnw btsuoetneutbbtdmcnenr ei ddavnenl i nedl tcuhas g tyl nel i f aei eutoi . tctnwAeWl aweur sSn p i snenl athedl tcuenr e. aei oor dti nauep tnl nl aep r huAeN we. motsaooevi hnsahei sueq i haedr g g tnnauenr easomhtsyenl i n p aei haeaumdi ntsy nl ae, oti s dr g g mstnwets vi hntdmci hAeCr n l acvtsyenl aedl tcuetoei bi heyhai naheutooahf tda nl i senr ei dnmi ccw i d' sr p cauyaenl i nenl a dl tcuesaauoeyhai nah l acvAj ” atsyei se, oti s p r g i sei suei ecayi c rs Solicito f Match vhr baootr si cel i oetno o r e d n ou wji, Co-f dl i ccasyaokeaovadti ccw lima Ma a S h it p l asewr mei haenhwtsyenr Anita w aumdi ntr si ceci p ei suei g i ' aei eutbbahasdaenr f t. hi sneovthtnke, stni el i o or dtanwei neci hyaAeMqe. actaf aep r g asei ha oaaseg i swedr g vctdi nau i ebr hdaenr ehad' r sep tnl ei suenl awei ha cayi cedi oaoedr g aenr ei ur tsyeor eg mdl eg r haenl i se. abr haets bi f r mhi . caedr sdcmotr sA nr ui wSoeor dtanwe. mneoi ucwetnSoeontccei “ l anl ahetnetoebtyl ntsyebr h dl i ccasyaAe” atsyei eci p wahetsenl toeui w onmuasnoebi dtsye. mccwtsy i suei yaetoei cor ef ahwedr g vantntf ae–etn r heni ' tsyemvei hg o ha- mthaoei ecr ner bel i huep r h' ei su i yi tsoneaumdi ntr si c vi ootr sAe” mneg wei uf tdaenr e, oti s tsontnmntr soemsEmoncw p r g asetoenr esaf aheytf aetsenr esayi ntf a i ddmotsyevi hasnoke, stni nl ts' tsykj eoi woe, stni A


, oti seVr tdaeGeDmEi hi neI i g i dl i he

l i oeoaasetnei ccei suedhai ntf acwe. hr myl n nl ag ei hr msuA Pl i g . ahoeGe&i hnsahoei cor dr g g asuauel ahebr hel ahetsontsdnexer sa nl i neol ael i oeuaf acr vauer f ahewai hoer b nhmaeyhtnei suep tnl ei setsur g tni . ca ovthtnAe

Anita Chopra

17 Capt Makhand Singh.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:44 Page 17


ive for something rather than die for nothing – said General George Patton. This message holds true for all Army personnel who dedicate themselves to ideals that demand the ultimate sacrifice. Asian Voice spoke to Captain Makhand Singh MBE RLC who served in the British Army in Germany, Belize, Bosnia, Hong Kong and UK about his life as an officer.

What are the contributions of Punjabis in the British Army? Capt Makhand: Punjabis figure in all walks of British life and at the highest level, be it in business or public service. They have made a huge contribution to the British-Indian Army over the last couple of centuries and currently there are over 200 Sikhs serving in the British armed forces across the board in combat, medicine, engineering, logistics and HR. We are keen to achieve proportional representation of all faiths in the army. The Army awarded you with the Meritorious Service Medal and All Party Parliamentary Group Culture Award for promoting Punjabi culture in the UK? Capt Makhand: The Meritorious Service medal is awarded to someone who has demonstrated faithful, valuable and meritorious service over a long career and it was a huge honour for me to receive the honour. The Army focuses on teamwork and if you want to experience “belonging” it doesn’t get any better than this. It allows its people to flourish and brings out the best in them. I was fortunate to have a mentor who encouraged me to join the Army and in my role as the Community Liaison Officer for the West Midlands I was linked into the community. This gave me the opening to engage with the youth and the older members of the Punjabi community, not just to promote a career in the forces but the culture too. There are many soldiers who give their spare time freely highlighting the many values of selfless service to the community. There are Punjabis living all over the world and they are connected to the Punjab

Continuing the Warrior Legacy Coming from a defence background, Captain Makhand Singh is a proud Punjabi Army officer who symbolises the best of his culture in the British military

through their culture and music. Through music it is possible to achieve great things and it brings people together. You come from an Army background – how do you think an Army upbringing and training shapes an individual? Capt Makhand: I was born in Malaysia into an Army family and had the good fortune to travel from an early age. I was sent to Punjab for my primary education before re-joining my family at the age of 14, in the UK. My secondary education was in Germany where my father was posted in an all-military environment. I think it helps to become independent and forge new relationships as you move from one country to another. It is also an opportunity to experience different cultures and teaches you to respect others.

age our young people to enquire about a career in the forces and I think you will be pleasantly surprised to learn what is on offer. Having served for over 3 decades, knowing what I know about the Army now, if I was 18, I would join again.

What would be your word of advice for the youth to join the army? Capt Makhand: The British Army is always recruiting and it has a place for you. We are looking for young people who have a sense of service and want to be part of a wider family. The values and standards are in tune with our cultural and religious principles. I would encourSamachar Captain Makhand Singh


18 Harleen.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:53 Page 18


t the young age of 18, Harleen Kaur is a 2nd Dan karate black belt, and an accomplished mixed martial arts competitor. She won gold in British kickboxing (2015) World Martial Kombat Federation [WMKF] – 65kg, silver medal in her World Championships debut, becoming the first British-Asian female to represent England in the process. She is her school's head girl, and ambassador of Sporting Equals – an organisation that encourages participation from minority and ethnic black minority people in sports. You recently said that you will leave no stone unturned to achieve your Olympic Taekwondo dream. How do you strike a balance between studies and your dreams? Harleen: It is hard to maintain a healthy balance between training, studying and social life. Training and the knowledge that I have somewhere to go on school nights lets me stay focussed on studying, because I have to get my revision out of the way before training. You have been travelling abroad, competing, taking workshops at such a young age would you like to share your experiences with other younger girls on how sports has helped you shape your personality? Harleen: I am lucky to have visited several places to attend competitions. Travelling has helped me gain knowledge and opened my mind to try new things. It expanded my horizons, making me sensitive and wellrounded. I use my talent to help the less advantaged, and learning alongside. I worked with YFC in Punjab, visiting schools, teaching sports whilst delivering important messages and individually holding selfdefence camps with hundreds of kids. The trip taught me to appreciate what I have, realise life is not about materialistic things and gave me a tremendous sense of self-fulfilment.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

The Fighting Machine

It is not very usual for Asian women to be in sports... Harleen: That is a shame. The traditional Punjabi parental mindset is for girls to focus on education, get a degree, secure a job and a husband. In India, there is a pool of talent but unfortunately, not enough opportunities. Those who have the potential to become Olympians are trying to make a living as lowly paid cleaners in villages. While training girls in Punjab, I was impressed by the dedication and talent of a particular student. It was really upsetting when she told me she does not go to school but cleans houses during the day to ensure that her family can get by. When I visit my nanke (mum's side of the family) one thing my nani always says is that I should stop doing sport because I will 'get hurt' and no one will marry a girl

who looks beaten up. It sounds funny but goes to show the traditional Punjabi mindset.

How has your upbringing helped you - anything in particular you remember as a Punjabi? Harleen: I think that the biggest impact it has is probably on my diet! It is so hard for me to be on a diet because my mum cooks amazing food and we eat Punjabi food at home which at times is not the healthiest. I love my mum's pinniya (alsi ladoo) as a pre-workout. I get her to make them healthily with different seeds (flax seeds) and nuts. When someone asks me what I eat I say it's a special Punjabi energy ball (laughs). I love the rich Punjabi heritage I can proudly say I belong to. Apart from sports, what are your other hobbies? Harleen: I I enjoy dragon boating and our team, Appleton Crusaders came 2nd at the national dragon boating championships last year. I don't really get to see my friends much due to my hectic schedule, so in my free time I make sure something is organised so we can catch-up and have some fun. I love experimenting with different types of foods and it's even better when I do it with my besties. After all, you can't be Punjabi and not have a love for food (laughs)!

Harleen Kaur

19 Arjun Panesar.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:44 Page 19


orn in a Sikh family, Panesar's paternal Sikh grandparents came to the UK during the 1970s from East Africa, and they settled in the north. Growing up, Panesar's family moved around a fair bit in the UK, and young Arjun went to university in the Imperial College of London. Raised by his grandmothers, Panesar has a mixed heritage, with a half white-British and half IndianBengali mother, and Sikh entrepreneur father, who met in college. Interestingly, his maternal white British grandmother went to live with his Hindu Bengali grandad in Kolkata for 5 years. “My white grandmother could speak fluent Bengali”, says Panesar proudly, who growing up, had the luxury of a multilingual and multicultural background. Now the CEO of, Arjun founded the charity with Charlotte Summers, whilst in his first year of university in 2003, as a result of his grandfather’s quadruple heart bypass and diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. At that time, was the world’s first digital community for people with diabetes. is a technology organisation, which has evolved into a global community, focusing on improving health outcomes through digital means – whether that’s on the Diabetes Forum, an education program or any other app or service. Arjun has led the organisation to become the world’s largest diabetes community and provider of evidencebased digital health interventions. A self-confessed data geek, Arjun holds a first-class honours degree (MEng) in Computing and Artificial Intelligence from Imperial College, London. His award-winning Masters research demonstrated the benefits of intelligent webbased systems in improving user experiences through collaboration, machine learning and data mining. Benefiting from a decade

Arjun Panesar, challenging the global diabetes community of experience in big data and affecting user outcomes, Arjun now leads the organisation’s development of intelligent, evidence-based digital health interventions that harness the power of big data and machine learning to provide precise and personalised care to patients, health agencies and governments worldwide. The approach is redefining chronic disease and wellness, with over 250,000 people using a digital health intervention within the last 18 months. Speaking about his challenges as a young professional Arjun told the

British Punjabi magazine, “The greatest challenge has been dealing with people who have more experience than me and are stubborn because of it. Some of the biggest hurdles I have had to overcome are people. What we have done has redefined a number of medical paradigms and understanding of chronic health conditions. From redefining paradigms to explaining new ones, being able to deal with people, and in particular, egos, is key as a young professional.” Winner of the Lloyds Bank National Business Award for Positive Social Impact 2016, Arjun has been named as a disruptor in the Sunday Times Business Maserati 100 List 2017. In his spare time, Arjun likes to spend time with his 2 daughters and is currently writing a book on the topic of machine learning and AI for healthcare, scheduled for publication in 2018. What are Arjun's tips to people who want to pursue a similar path as him? Panesar added with a smile, “Don't be afraid to fail. You only learn from your mistakes or those of others. Unexpected events will always occur. It's about dealing with these nondeliberate and often random problems, without losing your focus. Set a goal, and don't be afraid to fail along the path to success.”

Arjun Panesar Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


20 Kunwal Toor.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:45 Page 20


anwal Toor launched JADAU range of Jewellery in 2016. JADAU is an intricate and complicated age-old traditional technique used by artisans to hand-craft semiprecious stones, gems and beads with gold.

Global platform for Indian artisans Kanwal mobilised artisans in Rajasthan and Delhi giving their work a global audience. She has popularised Indian jewellery by customising it for the British mass market bearing in mind women of all ethnicities and cultures. “There is a gap in the market when it comes to jewellery with lots of colours and rough cuts, and I want to bring a change to the straight-cut western jewellery,” says Kanwal. Amidst all the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry, Kanwal has never forgotten her Indian roots and the idea of 'seva' remains deeply ingrained in her. Even though her venture is just a year old, she sets aside a part of the proceeds for charity.

Brand with a cause “JADAU is a brand with a cause and we would like to give back to society. A percentage of all our sales goes to charity. We have a charity of the month and we collaborate with them to raise funds,” says Kanwal. In 2015, she co-founded Collective for Women and Children (CwC), a charity to raise funds for the careworn sections of women and children in India and the UK. “We’ve been working closely with healthcare and education bod-


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

Combining glitz and glamour with philanthropy ies and the overall welfare of sex workers and their children in Kamathipura, one of India’s largest red light areas in Mumbai,” says Kanwal. CwC has partnered with Apne Aap Women’s Collective in Kamathipura where most of the women are victims of sex trafficking. The charity focusses on the prevention of inter-generational prostitution by empowering them with finance, literacy, healthcare awareness and education.

“In the UK, the Collective focuses on reducing domestic violence experienced by women from India and Pakistan who move to the UK after marriage,” says Kanwal. Kanwal was the Deputy Chairman of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association and Deputy Chair Fundraising of the Beaconsfield Ward. She was assigned the role of Campaign Officer during the Mayoral elections in 2016. Kanwal juggles her professional life with a hectic family life, raising her three year old son Kabir and nine year old daughter Sundari, with graceful ease. “I think all women have certain mechanisms that helps them multitask, I’m a typical woman who works very hard” she laughs.

Kanwal epitomises the synergy between Indian roots and British lifestyle – bringing the age-old Jadau traditions to the UK, while supporting charities back home

Kanwal Toor

21 Jason Wouhra .qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:46 Page 21


ason Wouhra is the Company Secretary and Operations Director of £200 million company East End Foods. He is the IoD's youngest Chartered Director and also the youngest person in history to become it's regional chair for the West Midlands. That is not all. What makes this second-generation bourgeois unique is his Sikh ethics and principles that are deeply entrenched in his way of life. The core values of community service is both a passion and a hobby for this young business person and he indulges in charitable work outside East End Foods. “My wife Bally and I have an annual dinner and we do a lot of fund-raising for different charities. We've raised £70,000 for McMillan. We've raised money for the Philippines Typhoon Appeal. This year we will be raising money for Cure Lukemia and the Girl Child. They are English charities, but you do not have to segregate between English and other charities, and race or religion,” said Jason. Jason also donates his most precious possession – his time, in several advisory work. He chairs the Board for Aston University and the Institute of Directors for the West Midlands. He is the chairman of both the Child Poverty Commissioner for Birmingham and the Midlands and the advisory board for Birmingham’s new library and works with various charities including the Prince’s Trust and Marie Curie.

Work and business ethics He joined the business in his early teens, working part-time during the weekends and holidays, running one of the depots in Birmingham full-time after he got his degree in law. “I'm Operations Director and Legal Head – so I handle HR & legal for the group. I'm Company Secretary and handle all the intellectual property and protection for the company. It's quite a broad role.” “Work ethics developed from a young age and that is most important because these days you don't really find people who have strong work ethics. All the charitable and pro-bono

Blending Sikh values with capitalism

work I do out of East End Foods helps me to develop my skills – they may be learning a bit from my experiences but I learn a lot more.” “Purity of the product is most important, and it filters back into our values and the fact that we wouldn't sell anything that we wouldn't want to consume ourselves. The quality of the product and the way it is produced is key,” says Jason.

The business and his vision The company started by Jason's father and uncles is now a £180 million business with 1,300 products and 350 employees. “The important thing for me is to build a legacy for the family. My parents have come here and worked hard from the ground

up. The important thing for me is to help develop that legacy by building our brand and business in such a way that it becomes globally significant,” adds Jason. East End exports to Europe, the Middle East and even India – and there are plans to expand still further, both in existing markets and potentially into the US too. “Global growth is the most important thing – to try to make it a household name. We've been very successful and lucky and by the grace of God we've got a very good name. But there's always hope and with hard work surely, East End's potential is absolutely huge, he adds. “My father always said: “The only thing in your hands is hard work, everything else is up to the almighty. So I try to do the best in what I do, results will come eventually,” he says proudly.

Jason Wouhra Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


22 Monica Lakhanpaul .qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:46 Page 22


t is said that you can do two things at once, but you cannot focus effectively on both at the same time. The saying does not hold much weight if you are Professor (Dr) Monica Lakhanpaul -Professor of Integrated Community Child Health at the Institute of Child Health, as well as being an Honorary Consultant Community Paediatrician, Whittington Health (working in one of the most deprived boroughs in London). She lives a busy life juggling roles between being a wife and mum, doctor and professor. “If you have passion for what you do, you find time,” laughs Dr Lakhanpaul. .

Children- the most valuable resource “I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work with children, because it takes a particular skill to work out what is wrong when they can't talk to you. They are our future and miracles in themselves, incredibly brave despite living through some very difficult circumstances. Every day they are an inspiration to myself,” she says. As the head of department, she manages a team of 140 researchers and also pursues her own research with diverse communities in order to keep children out of hospitals, particularly working with South Asian families and other ‘seldom heard’ communities in areas like asthma, nutrition and with children who have Down Syndrome.

Monica Lakhanpaul


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

Making a world of difference Supermom, paediatrician, researcher – Professor (Dr) Monica Lakhanpaul shows how it's all possible through dedication, hard work and passion

She is currently working with Bangladeshi families in the Tower Hamlets to find out how to improve the growth and development of South Asian children and how women in their own community can take leadership for this. “As a health service we need to be very mindful of the culture and religious environment within which the families live. Traditionally the NHS has a very top-down approach and we need to be working together and more holistically with families and communities to help improve the health of our children. We need to be more considerate about how people live within their families, thinking about their extended families and roles they play and the support they can provide.”

Close connection with her roots Dr Lakhanpaul is closely connected with her roots in India. She attributes her zeal for life to her mother, driving inspiration from her struggles as a refugee from Karachi, and her father who gave her the best education so she can now give something back to society. She has been working closely with her Indian partners and will be travelling to India through the Health, Education Engineering, and Environment (HEEE) programme that she and her colleagues (Marie and Priti) set up. This is aimed at sharing her expertise with local Indians through the bi-directional exchange of knowledge, and develop solutions for typical health problems faced by Asian communities across the world. Dr Lakhanpaul's work has been recognised globally. Amongst other things, she was one of the first NICE Fellows between 2010-2013. She won the HSJ Patient Safety Award for 'Spotting the Sick Child' (Patient Safety in Diagnosis) 2011. She has many leadership roles whilst staying grounded and dedicating herself to her patients. “This cannot happen without the support of one’s family including my husband Sandeep Lakhanpaul and my daughters Maya 19, Ayesha 18 and son Aran 15. I wake up every day excited about what I do, leading my research team and developing solutions for the future, contributing to improving the health for children. Someone one told me‘ you can sleep when you die,' so live every minute of today,” signs off Monica.

23 Sikh report Jasvir Singh.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:47 Page 23


ince its foundation in 2012, I have been proud to be the Chair of the British Sikh Report. During that time, the BSR team had developed robust and unrivalled statistical information about Sikhs living in Britain. This highly influential annual document has often been quoted by MPs and Peers, referred to in several pieces of research and white papers regarding faith in modern society, and used by a multitude of public authorities and private companies in identifying the needs of British Sikhs. The BSR’s experienced team has worked with a large and diverse group of Sikh organisations throughout the country to create the questionnaire and collect the data. The BSR team includes research analysts, lawyers, academics, senior consultants and managers amongst many others who have volunteered their valuable time and expertise to the project. The 5th British Sikh Report (BSR) was launched a few weeks ago, and it has highlighted several issues affecting the British Sikh community.

Woes and joys of the

British Sikh Community

by Jasvir Singh OBE, Chair of the British Sikh Report not clear whether that figure is any different from mainstream British society, but in it is a very worrying statistic in any event. One surprising figure was that 69% of British Sikhs said they would support their son or daughter joining the British Armed Forces. That is despite the fact that there are only around 170 Sikhs currently in the

outside of it. Cold hard numbers are of great assistance when looking at what a group of people think of one thing or another, and that is why data such as this is so important. It helps guide and influence decisions about resources and funding, and highlights issues which may otherwise go unacknowledged. This year’s focus on British Sikh women is no doubt controversial,

Armed Forces. There is also great concern that not enough is being done by mainstream organisations such as museums and film companies to promote Sikh heritage and culture, with 75% of Sikhs holding that view. The aim of the BSR has always been to hold a mirror to the British Sikh community and ensure that people are aware of the views of British Sikhs, both within the community and

especially when it comes to the concerns regarding violence and sexism. However, the Sikh faith was founded on the notion of equality between all people, including the genders, and it would be remiss for such issues to go unchallenged or unreported. I sincerely hope that the British Sikh Report will continue to inform and educate people throughout the country and elsewhere for many years to come.

The impact of the EU Referendum in June 2016 has been intense. According to our research, 13% of British Sikhs have been victims of hate crimes since the EU Referendum. The BSR 2017 has also found that 65% of Sikhs voted to remain in the EU, but 75% would now vote to remain if there was a second EU Referendum, suggesting that 10% of Sikhs regret how they voted less than a year ago. The BSR 2017 also asked about issues affecting British Sikh Women. Over 72% of respondents believed that violence and sexism were issues of particular concern. It’s

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


24 Manjit Mann.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:47 Page 24


erhaps not yet a household name among British Asians, Manjeet Mann is a rapidly rising star. Manjeet, from Walsall in the Black Country, West Midlands, is an actress and playwright and has widely featured on stage and on screen, including Greg Hall's awardwinning BBC film, The Plague.

The author-actor avatar Among her most recent successes, Manjeet was one of 12 writers selected to take part in the WriteNow mentoring programme. She was among 2,000 applicants and was chosen based on the quality of her writing for the programme which is run by the publishing group Penguin Random House. Manjeet feels that the Midlands tends to get forgotten. “So through my writing, I’m determined to make the Black Country accent popular,” she smiles. So far, she has performed in a number of stage plays both regionally and in the West End. Her recent theatre credits include: Behind The Beautiful Forevers, directed by Rufus Norris at the National Theatre, Blue Sky, Hampstead Theatre Polarised, That Pesky Rat, Soho Theatre, Endless Light and Born Again, Southwark Playhouse, Camel Station, West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Duel, Lyric Hammersmith, Counted, Theatre Royal Plymouth, The BFG and James and the Giant Peach, Polka Theatre, Polarised, Kali Theatre. Manjeet has also been filming Raised by Wolves for Channel 4, a brand new comedy series by Caitlin Moran. Other TV credits include Eastenders (BBC), Primeval (ITV) Emmerdale (ITV) and DCI Banks (ITV).

Flying solo and inspiring others

From the depths of the Midlands to the glitz of the London theatre circuit, from being the queen of the silver screen to the solitary writer - Manjit Mann celebrates flying solo “Throughout my childhood it was Meera Syal,” says Manjeet whose ancestral origins lie in the Punjab, in India. “Now I have lots of role models,” she says, “Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Brit Marling to name a few.”

Start of a dramatist Manjeet’s first play, Flying Solo, was prompted by the death of her father in 2008 and her subsequent mental breakdown, when she was severely depressed and unable to cope with normal life. She dealt with these issues candidly in the hour-long, one woman

Awards and Inspirations She is the recipient of the Norman Beaton BBC Radio Drama Award and has appeared in over 60 radio plays and comedy sketch shows most notably, The Party Line, written by Punt and Dennis. She was also a regular on Silver Street, the BBC Radio Soap Opera, which came to an end in March 2010. Asked about her role model,


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

Manjeet Mann

drama, in which she played different characters. Flying Solo was inaugurated at the Birmingham Rep. Since then she has taken her play around community centres. Says Manjit, “It helped people to open up about their own experiences, especially around mental health. I don’t see it as my story any more. I see it as a story that is shared and experienced by many people.” The play was inspired by a whole series of events and memories from her childhood. “I’ve always been interested in how childhood trauma can affect adult mental health, which is one of the main themes running through Flying Solo,” she says. Manjeet's recent work includes A Dangerous Woman - the story of one woman’s struggle to carve her own path in a family of six women. Based on Manjeet’s own experience this bold and unapologetic new play explores what happens when you dare to challenge conformity and make your voice heard. Last year Manjeet ran the London Marathon. “I wrote a play about a woman running the London Marathon, so figured I should run it for real. When someone comes up to you after a play and says the play has helped them think about something differently or they’ve really related to a character and it’s helped them come to terms with something in their own life, it’s really powerful. Also, weirdly, as a writer I’m really enjoying the solitude. It’s the polar opposite to acting and it’s great just scribbling away for days on my own and not seeing anyone,” says Manjeet.

25 Cary Sawhney.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:48 Page 25


ary Sawhney is hard to track down. He is a jack of many trades and master of several. He is a writer and director; Executive & Programming Director at the London Indian Film Festival; a diversity consultant for public sector organisations, formerly the Head of Programmes for INIVA, and head of diversity at the British Film Institute. And despite all the impressive titles, he will greet you humbly with a big warm smile.

The nutty filmmaker and activist

Sawhney is a multi-award-winning director in the short-films category. His movies, which are mostly made on shoestring budgets, have unique and diverse themes that strike the sensitivity of film critics. His 17-minute film 'A Secret Heart' is a prime example of his genius, having recently been selected for the NY Indian Film Festival. “It's a mystery romance set in East London. It's about a Caribbean man who falls in love with a beautiful woman he sees leaving the building every day. It's a spirit/ghost story made with a multi-cultural cast and crew. We had an Indian team, Nigerian finance, the special effects were done in Mumbai, the sound design was in India – all on a shoestring budget,” said Cary. Despite the London location of the film, he claims he is not as well known in the UK. “I seem to be a lot more popular in the US than here, Americans like my films,” Cary laughed.

Crazy about movies

Cary moved from Kolkata to London at the age of three, but his Indian and Punjabi roots are deeply ingrained in his artistic consciousness. He has made working with Asian artists and giving their offbeat work a global platform his mission in life. He is now the Executive & Programming Director at the London Indian Film Festival (LIFF), Europe's largest annual South Asian film festival. “The role of a festival director is a multitasking one from building finances and teams,

Cary Rajinder Sawhney

A creative multidimensional genius

Films to him - are not just about making money but a process to connect people with their creative energies. Asian Voice caught up with the multifaceted and restless, Cary Rajinder Sawhney

programming great films, managing strict deadlines to delivering a final live event. By contrast, to be a writer-director requires contemplation and having the brain space to think creatively and come up with new ideas. Filmmaker, or film festival director, both require huge energy levels and determination," said Cary. Despite the challenges, he has brilliantly managed multiple roles. LIFF recorded over 110m PR reach globally in 2016, with a significant social media following in the UK and worldwide. It also provides an annual platform for award-winning and innovative Indian independent films, premieres of independent films, filmmaker and actor talks and industry events.

The cool Punjabi munda

Cary moved from being the Head of Diversity at the British Film Institute, to being a senior diversity consultant. He worked for a range of public sector organisations, engaging with diverse communities to develop new markets and audiences. He used creative means including film outreach projects for ethnic minorities and disability groups, offered diversity internships, HR planning, and diversity strategy development. He attributes his global and diverse outlook to his family. “My mother's a blonde English and my father a Punjabi but our family has a secular Nehru-Gandhian idea of India. I actually have Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian cousins." “I was invited to meet HM the Queen recently on behalf of the UKIndia Year of Culture. I decided to wear my heritage and dressed in a turban and sherwani like my great grandfather when he came to study here in the 1890s. I probably stood out because many were wearing western suits to fit in. HM The Queen seemed quite pleased that I had made an effort” chuckled Cary. Money isn't his main life goal. “My films don't make me rich,” he smiles. “But the entire team comes together to follow its passion, and that cannot be undervalued, life is good.” he says with conviction. For more information on LIFF check out the website Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


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young Lecturer in the Department of Economics at the prestigious LSE, Dr Swati Dhingra is a global academic whose work stems from diverse socio-political and cultural experiences; having lived and worked in three continents.

Early life experiences Dr Swati grew up in Saharanpur, U.P., venturing into the world of Economics through India's premier institutes - Sri Ram College of Commerce, and the Delhi School of Economics. She pursued her Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and was an IES fellow at the Princeton University. She arrived in the UK in 2011 to be a part of the globallyrenowned research culture at LSE.

UK-based research and contributions She has published extensively on economics, trade and industrial policies, and more recently on Brexit. One of her crucial contributions is her argument that there is no correlation between the numbers of immigrants that enter the UK, and the real wages or unemployment of workers born there. In the run-up to the referendum, she spoke to various people to popularise this research-based rationale to counter the anti-immigration rhetoric. However, mainstream media biases, was an impediment. Anti-immigrant sentiment exists and her research will go a long way to dispel the prevalent hate-mongering. She believes the younger generation to be more liberal in their outlook and enjoys a strong bond with her students to communicate and debunk the myths associated with Brexit. “When people of Indian origin join the universities here, they often work on technical subjects and tend to shy away from the substantive issues that


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

Crucial research on dispelling hate mongers after BREXIT go beyond their respective subject matters. I believe that is where the British influence is pertinent owing to its culture of understanding through reading, debating, and understanding,” she says. Swati continues her research work to help policy-makers minimise the existent and impending economic costs of Brexit.

Fighting the glass-ceiling

Being a female academic of Asian origin, she raises concerns that resonate across academia in the country. She says, “There still exists quite a thick glass ceiling for women. We have over forty research staff members in our department and merely 7 of them are women. Even though the intake of students in Economics in general is roughly 30-50%, when it comes to becoming professors, there is much sexism that most women face. I think the unconscious biases are really strong.” So what does being Punjabi mean to her? As she puts it, “It is the joviality of Punjabi culture and the openness of it that I particularly like.” On a lighter note, she adds, “My friends say that I have this Punjabi tendency to spend cash very quickly.” Outside the world of Economics and academia, her interests range from Indian socioeconomic policies to theatre in London.

Dr. Swati Dhingra

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28 Sgt Harpeet Kuar.qxp_A4 Temp 10/11/2017 12:49 Page 28


ergeant Kaur chose a tough career making a difference to the lives of others. She works as an intensive care nurse at the NHS. Whether it's for the betterment of the children in remote Kenya or saving the lives of soldiers in combat, Sgt Kaur is a fine example of a Punjabi determined to serve Queen and country.

What is life like in the British Army and what qualities does one need to serve? Sgt Kaur: Life in the Army can vary depending on your job profile. It varies from working in an NHS hospital to living out in the field doing military exercises. Life in the army is very fast paced and doesn't get monotonous. I am an intensive care nurse and work shifts in an NHS hospital. Once a week we have a military day consisting of military training. We start our day doing some physical training under the direction of military physical training instructors. It ranges from doing a circuit, a 6-8 mile run or 6-8 mile tab carrying 15 kg weights or some kind of sports. A soldier needs to be physically fit and have the mental strength to adapt and work in challenging environments. I was not physically fit before I joined, what I had was a lot of passion and dedication to work hard and learn new skills. The training you get from the military is second to none and prepares you to work in challenging situations. How do you reconcile saving lives whilst working for an outfit that often ends up having to take lives? Sgt Kaur: There are more than 100 different types of jobs in the Army and only a handful of them involve front-line work. Majority of the jobs are providing Combat Service Support which I am part of. When in the UK, I work as a normal civilian nurse. When on operations we still work as nurses in the field hospital and treat casualties as normal. When you enter through the military doors, it does not matter if it’s a civilian or military personnel. Everyone gets equal treatment.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

Saving lives and more

From NHS ICU wards to the fields of combat, Sergeant Harpreet Kaur feels privileged to dedicate her life as an intensive care nurse and serve the country in various parts of the world Are there special skills that an army nurse needs? Are there times when they need to be extra resourceful because of limited supplies/ unusual situations that only an army nurse would encounter? Sgt Kaur: What differentiates a civilian nurse from an Army nurse is the defence training we receive. When on operations, weapons handling in order to protect ourselves or our casualty is part of our job. We are fully trained in using the common military weapon systems. During operations, we have to work with very limited resources. Working in a field hospital is different to working in an NHS hospital. This is when your Army skills and training comes handy. It’s all about adapting to adverse situations How did your perspective towards life change after joining the Army? Sgt Kaur: I always feel fortunate and grateful to have had this wonderful opportunity to serve in the Armed Forces. The training and work experience has definitely transformed me as a person. I have learnt to live in harsh conditions- for example, when we go out on exercises, we live

out in the field, eat food from ration packs, sleep under ponchos and the weather could be freezing. Experiences like these teach you to value what you have and learn to appreciate the small comforts in life. Any words of wisdom for British-Asian women about joining the Army? Sgt Kaur: I always say if I can do it, anyone can. People worry a lot about physical training. You do not need to be super fit. The Army provides you with all the necessary training. However, it is not for everyone, one needs a strong will to be in the army. You need a positive attitude and willingness to learn. I have been in the Army for nearly 10 years and feel privileged to be a part of this organisation and serve my country.

Sgt Harpreet Kaur

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ercussion is an important element of any music and India provides a wide spectrum of rhythm instruments. So far, the tabla is the only instrument that seems to have breached international music boundaries. Musician, songwriter and producer Johnny Kalsi has taken Punjabi Dhol from Bhangra to the international stage by creating the Dhol Foundation, fusing it with acclaimed western music, in a manner that has not only appealed to the global audience but has also magnified the versatility of Indian percussion. Johnny is in the last leg of releasing his new world album Basant, that represents the spirit of his music. “Dhol Foundation always puts out world music albums because just putting out a bhangra or dhol album may not make it easy for the public's ears. Unless you are a musician, understanding complex beats and the science behind the rhythm can be rather tough. Being able to put the two together in such a way that it works and appeals to the listening ear is something I wanted to bring to my fans and listeners. I want to expose the versatility of the Dhol and introduce the instrument to as many ears worldwide,” he says. Johnny learnt the Dhol without any formal introduction to the instrument. He had gained some knowledge of phonetic language on the tabla under the guidance of Gurmeet Singh Virdee. But there was nobody to teach him the Dhol.

The Beat of Punjab Johnny Kalsi has brought the rustic Dhol out of the field of Punjab, in the process, adding a new element to British music

He invented a formal syllabus through his cognition of tabla and started the Dhol Foundation to teach youngsters interested in the Indian percussion instrument in Slough. “I took it upon myself to hire a church hall and teach there independently without any grants or seed fundings from the council or local authorities, and charged a minimal fee. Even today its £5 an hour for kids to learn,” he says. Johnny's methods and practices have since been copied all over the world. Tabla and Dhol accompanied Kalsi's jamming sessions worldwide. He began his music career with popular Punjabi music band Alaap, before being spotted by the legendary Peter Gabriel. He joined Gabriel's nascent world music organisation, which was a

mixed bag of ethnic, indigenous, neo-traditional, popular western and ethnic music and that gave Dhol a truly global platform. “In a tour in Sri Lanka, the drummers used an instrument called Taval. They are played with cymbals in their hands, and produces rather complex

Carnatic rhythms. We had a little stand-off with them and it was fantastic. Collaborations do come about all the time,” he says. His collaboration with musical group Afro Celt Sound System - a fusion of electronic and traditional Irish and West African music produced several fantastic performances globally. He was recently invited to perform at a world music forum, The Globe, in Ireland. Johnny will be jamming with Afro, Brazilian, Chinese, Irish and other percussion artists. He got his first album recorded in 2002, under Peter Gabriel's label, Real World Records. His songs have also featured in Hollywood movies 'Gangs of New York' (Martin Scorcese) and I'ncredible Hulk' (Louis Leterrier). He worked with teenage pop singer Avril Lavigne when he was selected to give the track “Knockin' on Heaven's Door” an ethnic-Indian-percussion feel. “Producing music is a big passion. I am thankful to my drum and the music because it has shown me the world, and I've got paid for it,” says Johnny. Like a true Punjabi, Johnny is humble and grateful for all his achievements. Through his performances, he has raised funds for Stand up to Cancer, Sikh Welfare Awareness and the marginalised Londoners. Johnny is full of positive energy. “Don't burn bridges, don't begrudge anyone just keep moving forward,” he said before trailing back into his world of music in his recording studio. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar


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oonam Maker is a teacher in Vienna and a Punjabi. She is the wife of Ambassador Dinesh Patnaik, Deputy High Commissioner of India to the UK. While speaking to British Punjabis about migration, she reminisced about her own mother's experiences which helped her to be the woman she is today.

“Kabul ke fruits aise hote hai,” my mother Pratap Kaur Maker used to say as she proceeded to tell me stories of how they had the best dry fruits in Kabul. As we settled in Orissa, India, mother would always compare her life in Kabul to our childhood. She had to leave her secure and stable life and move with her newly married partner and child with nothing but two layers of clothing. She tried to provide us with all the amenities taken away from her when she moved to India. My mother was thrown into a totally new way of living, where people followed different cultures and traditions. She raised 7 children, gave them the best values and education, and provided a secure and normal childhood. She appreciated her local environment but at the same time followed her own traditions. Growing up I remember doing all the Hindu poojas as well as going to the Gurudwara ever week. I grew up in a very secular environment where my education was in a convent school and I spoke Hindi, Punjabi, English and Oriya at the age of 3. Today, children are trained to adapt to a global world, to be open minded, empathetic and listen to other people’s perspective. I wonder how my mother was doing all that without any formal education. My father spent time with the locals, collaborated with local partners and established a lucrative business. There were times when the local Oriya people displayed their displeasure at our success and prosperity. When I left India we had all the assurance and security that comes with a secure job. They were times when we missed our families, home and food. But we drew strength from the fact that if my parents could defy


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar

A Glimpse into Migration By Poonam Maker

all odds, I could do better than that and not complain. So I went on to learn about the local culture by first learning the local language. I explored the country and once I learned the language I understood so much about the new surroundings. I realized that I had to change my preconceptions about western culture. I considered each country that I lived in as my own home as my mother had done.

I realized that I had to be a role model to my children like my mother had. I had to be a risk taker like her and face new challenges. If she could live and flourish in a totally new surrounding, then why could I not do the same with better amenities and security? When I look around I see that each face has a story to tell. The laugh lines tell us of all the fun we have had and the lines on our forehead tell us about the worries we have had as we continue on our journeys to new terrains. To all those who have made foreign lands their home I would say that we all have the innate resilience to face new challenges and make new lands our home. Continue to tell your stories so that future generations can draw strength from them. As Isabel Wilkerson said, “What I love about the stories of the Great Migration is that this is not ancient history; this is living history. Most people of colour can find someone in their own family who had experienced a migration of some kind, knowing the sense of dislocation, longing and fortitude”.

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