BAW 26th June 2011

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Panna's_A4 Temp 17/06/2011 15:53 Page 1

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CB Comment_A4 Temp 20/06/2011 14:08 Page 3


My heartfelt namaskar to the British Asian women sian women have achieved conspicuous success in Britain in every field, starting with retailing to education to the professions. As mothers, sisters and wives, they have done admirable work in sustaining the family - whether through business or in a variety of other fields. British Asian women came to the fore in the aftermath of the Asian exodus from Uganda, from where the community was expelled by the dictator Idi Amin. Those 28,000 men, women and children of Indian descent, mainly Gujaratis, were graciously received by the British people. The sacrifices made by these Ugandan Asian women are worth recalling. After living a comfortable life in East Africa, where they had servants to perform most of the domestic chores, they adapted cheerfully to the tougher Britsh environment, took the rough with the smooth, ever willing to give a comforting shoulder to the menfolk in their travails. They were inspirational in reigniting the spirit of their forefather pioneers who had migrated to East Africa decades ago in a search of a better life. There are about 3 million British Asians in this country. Like their Caribbean sisters, who have borne many burdens and faced daunting obstacles, have contributed so much. Their competence and confidence have been, and continue to be, a shining light. Asian women in Britain have reached the highest pinnacle of responsibility, witness Baroness Shriti Vadera and many others in banking and commerce, law, politics, media and culture. Next to our offices at the Karma Yoga House there is a 115 year-old Church property, which in bygone years used to be a residential site for the servants and maids babus from India. Not too far from is an old building (all in the London Borough of Hackney) where the ayas and the maids of the sahibs of East India company and the British Raj stayed during the vacations of the 'sahibs' and 'memsahibs'. These women of yesteryear (and even now) performed menial jobs to augment the family income, raise its living standards and educating their children to a life of opportunity. Today's British Asian women are making their mark in medicine, pharmacy, accountancy and law and newer avenues of gainful employment In some areas of study and professional skills, Asian women outnumber men.. Recently I read an arresting book 'Into the diaspora wilderness' about the Goan community by Selma Carvalho. She has narrated in details about the Goan


men, who were renowned as 'bawarchis' for the 'babus'. There is every reason to believe that in the first batch of ayas, 'bawarchis' and maid-servants who came also had some Goans in them. From ayas to baronesses is a long journey, Our women have achieved spectacular success. By all accounts our younger generation are set to go further and further. To all my mothers, sisters and daughters, this special issue is a tribute to the manifold sacrifices you have made. It is also a sincere thank you to you and people like you, who have made us so very proud of the British Asian community. Needless to say my team at ABPL has worked particularly hard to present this special issue. In my Hindu Sanatan tradition, a mother, sister, daughter or wife is a form of the Goddess. So to all of you please accept my heartfelt namaskar! With Warm Wishes

CB Patel Publisher/Editor

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


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Women of substance – from past till present n the present day Britain, British Asian women have made their name in every field. Be it science & technology, banking or politics, our women are everywhere. There are women like Ruby McGregorSmith, the CEO of the largest outsourcing firm MITIE who have not only made their name in the corporate sphere in UK but have also done Indian proud. In this special issue we have profiled a number of British Asian women who have successfully made it to various fields. You will find inspiring profiles of Shernaz Engineer who specialises in recruitment, Ritu Sethi in the field of Law, Geetha Venkat in the field of Health, Dina Bhudia in the field of finance and real estate, Noor Ali in the Retail sector, Saran Shaliwal in Telecom, Gita Patel, a Venture capitalist, Sonal Thakrar in the field of Law, Bhavna Parmar from Royal Navy, Shalini Bhargava-Anderson Ross from Law, Misha Patel from KPMG, Meera Arnold, a CA among others. But how easy or tough was there journey in when they first came in to this foreign land? It is interesting to note that the history of British Asian migrants has mostly been recorded as a male experience. Women have been left out of the official studies of migration. It is worth mentioning about Cornelia Sorabji at this stage. Earlier this month, a special evening was dedicated to her life and career at the Nehru Centre. Known to be the first female barrister from India, she was devoted her life to emancipation of Indian women who were subjugated to the Purdah system. Women started making their way into official studies of migration in the 1980s when gender studies gained more importance. An academic from an Indian university who has been working on this subject says, “Asian women have always faced ‘triple patriarchy of gender, race and class outside India and of gender, caste and class inside India. When Indians went out to work in different countries, the


Spriha Srivastava

If progress has been made in the lives of even 5% of the entire community, then it is time women themselves start bringing about a change in their own lives. It is not to be done through a revolution or by launching a protest, but by strongly putting your point across and by standing firm on your principles.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

central focus was always the man. Women were confined to maintain the honour of the family and take care of husband and children.” More and more Asian women were brought in the country by the typical concept of arranged marriages and had little freedom of choice. In Sikh, Hindu, Pakistani and other Muslim communities male honour is vested in how their women behave and this has been sensationalized in media stories about ‘honour killings’ when women and girls break these strict codes, usually by wanting to marry an ‘unsuitable’ man. Thus girls are more strictly controlled and suffer more problems than boys. But things started changing slowly in the 1980s when British Asian women worked outside their homes and started making their way into diverse professions. Many Asian women from poorer backgrounds indulged in small jobs like home workers, tailoring and so on. The younger population started going to British universities and became more liberated that the earlier generations. They started moving into

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male-dominated areas like politics and finance. One example that immediately comes to my mind is B a ro n e s s Shreela Flather who is one of the oldest and most respected Asian British Woman. She has left a strong impact whether it is in the field of politics or Baroness Shreela Flather academics. Things changed to a great deal in 1990s and in the 2000s as more and more young women started taking up top jobs. They gained decision making power in their individual capacities. With every new generation becoming more liberated, things kept progressing towards a better and more independent life. However, looking at the statistics today, the progress is still very partial. A number of British Asian women are still oppressed. They are still exploited for

finding an “Unsuitable match” and they still do not have the freedom to do what they want. According to a report by Southall Black Sisters, “suicide rates among British women of Asian origin are twice the national average. Those under 35 are three times more likely to kill themsleves than other ethnic groups. The report cited domestic violence, abuse and arranged marriage as the main causes for high rates of suicide.” The problems continue, even though we can thump our chest and boast of those who have made it big. The reality cannot be ignored. There are still many women who suffer mental and physical abuse but are told not to speak in public for the fear of bringing shame to their family. There are still many who are trapped in a relationship that was arranged because the guy is a NRI in UK and running away from it will bring dishonor to her parents and her husband’s family. But I will take an optimistic approach here to say that things have changed to a great extent for the overall community. If progress has been made in the lives of even 5% of the entire community, then it is time women themselves start bringing about a change in their own lives. It is not to be done through a revolution or by launching a protest, but by strongly putting your point across and by standing firm on your principles. And to also go out and help those who are oppressed and are in need of help. If each one of us starts to do this, progress will surely be made in every direction. (Writern by Spriha Srivastava)

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


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Women are natural organisers busy day at Westminster. As people scrambled in an out of the Portcullis house, amongst greetings and goodbyes, I suddenly noticed a petite, yet confident looking woman in a navy blue dress walking across us. Priti Patel is not a new face in the public world. The first Asian woman MP, she has been interviewed by Asian Voice many times. But just never in the capacity of an MP representing a community so wide and vibrant. She is also the face of the Witham constituency, being the first MP to represent it. "I have grown up in Witham. I am aware of its problems, its issues. As an Asian woman, I have always have had support of my family to fight for my cause. My family has worked very hard to raise us. My home and early life has played a large part in forming my political beliefs. My parents have run a number of small businesses around the South East and the East of England and my family have always lived and worked by the strong traditions of selfhelp, the importance of family life and support of the local community. So, I exactly know what the problems of my neighbours are. British Asians always are influenced by their families the most, and I am no exception," said Priti. Previously a Director of Communications in a renowned PR firm, when asked about her favourite role as a working woman, Priti added with a smile, "I have worked in the corporate sector and I know that time is money. I admire the professionalism, smartness, ethical values and competence attached with the work in MNCs. World of politics is about patronage. I have two jobs now. One is that of constituency and one that of a MP. Each and every day I have to fight for the same cause and sometimes you can't see the end. But Witham is a new constituency and I am proud to represent it. My work is to support the SMEs, independent retailers, post offices etc and make sure they make wise decisions and can survive this time of economic turmoil with the right supports." Priti has worked around the world and has direct experience of dealing with a diverse range of issues including; bringing


Priti Patel, MP

I know women are natural organisers. They can fit in so many things in a day, yet devote the maximum to their family...Women are excellent in multi tasking. They can do more than a man, if given a chance. They have equivalent capacity to serve, if not more.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

education to communities in Africa and India, to foreign direct investment around the world and agricultural issues in the UK. Priti fundamentally believes in the principles of accountability, transparency, fair play and in putting Britain first when it comes to issues such as Europe and immigration. Asked about her son- Priti's face lit up! She spoke about the wonderful elements of being a mother as well the challenges faced when the job is as demanding as hers. She said, "I am very driven, focussed and passionate. I need to be ruthlessly efficient. Sometimes I don't even get to meet my son when I return home. But I know women are natural organisers. They can fit in so many things in a day, yet devote the maximum to their family. In fact so is my case that I have no ideal holiday destination anymore. Wherever I can go in leisure, be with my toddler and my husband-is my favourite place of vacation." In that light, talking about hindrances to the success ladder as a woman, Priti made some very thoughtful comments. She said, "Women are excellent in multi tasking. They can do more than a man, if given a chance. They have equivalent capacity to serve, if not more. Think about Margaret Thatcher. One of my role models, she revolutionised the British politics. She gave aspirations and hopes to people who came from East Africa. She liberated the world of politics. It was and is a world obviously more dominated by men. But earlier it was them v/s us. Reaching this place of individual freedom as a woman wasn't a cake work!" When asked if an Asian Prime Minister is a possibility in Britain's history, Priti added with a vehement nod, "Yes why not? Racists are there every where. But Britain is the most multi cultural nation ever. People of ethnic origin have made tremendous progress here in the last 30-40 years." Concluding the interview Asian Voice asked Priti for her valuable tips to the aspiring politicians. To that Priti said with a firm tone, "My only advice will be to keep your eyes open, be resilient and stoic." (Interviewed by Rupanjana Dutta)

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Ruby McGregor-Smith: Success comes to one who strives for it t was a lovely office facing the Thames on South Bank. While we waited, I enjoyed the sunny day, with a whiff of summer in the air. I had never known about MITIE. I only knew it was an outsourcing company. And with out sourcing all that I could think of was a BPO or a call centre based somewhere in India. The room suddenly filled up with a lot of life and vibrancy as Ruby McGregorSmith, walked in a suit and stunning silver jewellery. It was Ruby, who introduced me to the core of MITIE, in a way nobody would. MITIE is an outsourcing company. True. But it is that company which cleans Tower of London or takes care of Rolls Royce's all the facilities or appoints guards at the British Museum. It has 61,000 employees across UK, including 30,000 in in the South East and 20,000 in London. Recent results for the FTSE 250 group showed a 17% rise in pre-tax profits to ÂŁ91.7 million for the year to March 31st. Ruby is the CEO of MITIE, and perhaps the only Asian Woman CEO in Britain. Born in Lucknow, Ruby grew up in the UK and is a trained Chartered Accountant. She worked in Serco for 9 years, took a break to raise young children and joined MITIE, later to become the CEO. Ruby told Asian Voice, "I had a wonderful childhood. But the only thing I missed was growing up with my first cousins. I have 54 cousins. And I love to spend time with some of them!" When asked about family and leisure, Ruby added with a short pause, "My hobbies are running and gardening. I am a 5k runner and recently started 8k. I love cooking, spending time with the children and family." A great fan of the Tudors history, Ruby is looking forward to visiting India with family sometime. "I am a part of a big family. I would love to visit my birth place with my children." Ambitious, yet a very doting mother, thinks 'positivity' is the 'key to any success'. Talking about work she added with a laugh, "I have no typical day. It starts with my children who are 14 and 12 now. I am a full time mum, I need to make sure I get the


Ruby McGregor-Smith

If you are good at what you do, if you are passionate about what you do, then you should do well in any field. The best thing is not to worry about barriers. You are an individual. Find the best support, move on with your goal.

best of every minute of what I do. Then I spend time with external people, look into new areas of business. Talking about challenges, every group has its challenges. Bigger you become, people know you less. I like non hierarchical, open plan or rather a flat style of management. Positive environment helps. It makes one realise about what she or he is capable of. The best thing about being an entrepreneur is- it's never the same. I love growing ideas. It's the fun bit!" Asked if she ever faced obstacle on her ladder up to success as an Asian woman, she said, "I thoroughly support diversity. I think cultural inter mix makes environment more positive. Yes I work in a male dominated profession. But I have never noticed on whether I have ever been held back because I am a woman! I just get on with a job. If you are good at what you do, if you are passionate about what you do, then you should do well in any field. The best thing is not to worry about barriers. You are an individual. Find the best support, move on with your goal. " It's crucial, she says, that people are encouraged. "We work with a lot of SMEs. What we provide the Asian businesses is to help them becoming more professional. The best part about small businesses is that often the SMEs are extremely innovative. We have created an entrepreneurial fund of ÂŁ10mn. People with the greatest business idea in outsourcing is entitled to it. Our office culture is very direct. It is self driven, service oriented, fun, fast moving, changes quite fast and remains direct." Concluding the interview Ruby added, though the government and council have been asked to cut down cost and driving harder bargains, she is confident MITIE will grow further. "We are a very young industry. The market is expanding all the time." Not many chief executives have been heard saying so in this economic climate, at least not an Asian woman CEO! (Interviewed by Rupanjana Dutta)

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


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Road to Success isha Patel, formerly of Clifford Chance, is now the Assistant General Counsel at KPMG. Her corporate finance expertise covers domestic/cross-border M&A, private equity, JVs, restructuring and general company/commercial advisory. She’s already been recognised as a high flyer – selected by Management Today as a rising star under 35, by Square Mile Magazine in its 2011 top 30 under 30, by Real Business’s 2010 Women of the Future Awards and by Financial News/the Sunday Times as a key rising star for the City (being in the top 6 out of 100 stars). In her interview with Asian Voice Misha discussed her background, her work, motivation and her work-life balance as an Asian woman. Tell us something about your background and your family. My parents are originally from Kenya and settled in England where my sister and I were born. We have our own family business in Richmond and my sister Sheena is a pharmacist. I read Law at UCL and completed a LLM at the University of Warwick before undertaking the legal practice course at BPP in London. How it is like to work for one of the Big 4? What people don’t often realise is that KPMG is so much more than an accounting or auditing firm – it’s a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services and is the largest integrated accounting firm in Europe. In the UK, it is subsidiary of KPMG Europe LLP and operates from 22 offices across the UK with nearly 11,000 partners and staff. The invitation to join KPMG’s Office of General Counsel team was a unique opportunity as such a role doesn’t arise very often and was one which KPMG made extremely difficult for me to decline. How important have your employers been to your success? Finding the right work culture has been very important to my career. Of course, luck and opportunity come into any career progression and this plus having mentors – formally appointed or not – who give you support, guidance and help you enhance your inner confidence is vital.


Misha Patel

Try to discover the road to success and you'll seek but never find, but blaze your own path and the road to success will trail right behind.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

Undoubtedly I would not be where I am today without the support of others coupled with my hard work and desire to strive for excellence. KPMG has a really ambitious growth agenda and I’m excited to be part of it! What motivates you? Seeing my parents build up their own business through hard work inspires me to strive for the same success that they have had. My family keep everything in perspective and support me unconditionally. They’ve instilled me with strong values and given me the courage to make choices I believe are right. I believe in never regretting anything as everything truly happens for a reason and everyone’s story makes them who they are. There are certainly chapters of my life that I have enjoyed more than others, but each has brought me to where I am today and for that I’m grateful. As an Asian woman have you ever faced any hindrance when climbing the ladder of success? Regardless of your background, there’ll always be obstacles you need to overcome and people who test you more than others but such hurdles should only make you more resolute in fulfilling your passion and ambitions. I believe that if you are truly good at what you do nothing ought to hinder you from being successful. Hard work, tenacity and the drive to not do anything by half has to date enabled me to overcome life’s booms and busts. As a Brit Asian woman how difficult is it for you to balance your work and life – given your work is so demanding? I think that for any woman the balancing act of work and life is always a difficult one. As a Brit Asian woman coming from a large extended family and a large community there are always social commitments and times when you need to prioritise but on balance I find I try to work hard and play hard in equal measure! Ultimately you have to find your own way of succeeding and therefore in the words of Robert Brault “Try to discover the road to success and you'll seek but never find, but blaze your own path and the road to success will trail right behind”.

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Want to be successful? Be 'Healthily Stubborn'! ward winning communications professional, Sonal Thakrar is the Head of Communications UK & Ireland at Cisco systems. Her role involves managing Cisco's messages to employees, the media, customers and partners. Asian Voice interviewed Sonal about her career, family and support towards the SMEs In the era of outsourcing , how much networking work is done in the UK? Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet and networks are an essential part of business, education, government and home communications. We have a 4,000+ strong workforce in the UK & Ireland and over the past two decades we have been creating solutions that allow organisations to increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and strengthen competitive advantage. We also understand the importance of partnering with best-in-class providers to ensure our customers receive support and solutions of the highest standard. As a woman have you ever felt any obstacle in reaching your goal? No. I have been brought up to believe that hard work will be rewarded with success. I think it’s important to drive results and establish your personal brand based on this principle, irrespective of gender or background. Obstacles affect each and every one of us in different ways and overcoming them is about being confident in your role and aspiration. I have also been fortunate to work with teams and companies like Cisco, who understand the importance of an inclusive culture, which ultimately encourages people to be open, be themselves and bring their perspectives to the table. How difficult is it to balance a professional and family life- in a demanding job like yours? If you genuinely enjoy your job, or anything for that matter, you will put your heart and soul into it and I personally don’t see it as a balancing act. Work-life balance is very much down to an individ-


Sonal Thakrar

Once you have a goal or interest it’s generally easy to focus on it, work hard, gain experience and define a path for yourself. Tell everyone what you hope to achieve and you will often find that people will help and support you.

ual and I also have access to technology which allows me to work flexibly, from anywhere, at any time, ensuring I meet my professional and family commitments. What support are you providing to the SMEs or businesses run by women? Cisco has pledged support for efforts to generate a long-term investment of money, technology and manpower that will help support the design and implementation of an initiative called the British Innovation Gateway (BIG). This marks the start of a five-year effort to catalyse sustainable growth of innovative high-tech SMEs in the UK. In addition, this year, Cisco’s Business Heroes competition recognised UK SME businesses that are truly out of this world and we gave the “Business Heroes” title to six firms from across the country in a variety of sectors. One of the best ways to encourage and support SMEs is to highlight examples of successful women and men who have achieved great things and Business Heroes does just that. Who is your role model? I have different role models in my life and the most important principles I embrace come from my parents who have inspired me to work hard, be happy and achieve great results. What are your tips to women who want to have similar career path as yours? My advice to anybody is to be ‘healthily stubborn’ about what you want to do with your life. Once you have a goal or interest it’s generally easy to focus on it, work hard, gain experience and define a path for yourself. Tell everyone what you hope to achieve and you will often find that people will help and support you. It’s very important to be passionate about what you do, because this will also inspire others. If you are seen as somebody who drives positive change and results, you are on a good path.

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


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Catering to the ethnic taste or people residing far away from their country of origin, getting the right type of food that suits their taste can be a matter of concern. It can be rather easy to accommodate with the new environment but giving up one's own eating habits can be a tough task. Thankfully, there are a few professionals who have understood the significance of providing these ethnic communities in the UK with the specific taste they have grown up with. Mrs Noor Ali, buyer for the ethnic team with ASDA has been acknowledged to have boosted the ethnic range from a regular few to thousands of lines since she stared in her buying role. Noor Ali reveals, “In 2007, we launched 1200 ethnic products in one review. This was a huge change of range for us and it was a massive success. We held Road Shows across the UK and invited Store Managers and our People Managers as a trading and diversity link to share what we are doing.” Being from Lahore, Pakistan, Noor Ali is well acquainted with the ethnic taste of her community and a few others that mingle well together in South Asia. However, with ASDA wanting to cater to the taste of all the ethnic communities residing in the UK, she has acquainted herself with a variety of cuisines like Polish, Oriental, West-Indian, Middle Eastern, Jewish and many more. With the aim to give more communities a chance to fill their shopping baskets with their ethnic products,. “have offered a range of Ethnic Foods since 2006, comprising of ranges to meet the needs of the diverse community that live here. We have been the first to land these ranges and our ranges are demographically arranged.” Noor Ali has been with ASDA for 11 years, however she was initially employed in the HR department and later moved to a buying role in the ethnic team which at the time consisted of just her and the Director. But with due time the ethnic products at ASDA witnessed diversification and resulted in a massive sales growth. Today, there is a team of seven who manages across chilled food, grocery, frozen and non-food. Although this type of dedication towards one's own work is generally reflected in workaholics or single professionals,


Noor Ali

I enjoy sharing my culture, knowledge and experience. I have a strong passion to coach and develop both individuals and businesses, mentoring and supporting them to achieve their goals


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

Noor Ali has been able to perfectly balance her personal and professional life as she reveals, “Family life is very important to me and with two growing children, both at high school, I make sure I have time to listen and support them, as they go through their most crucial years. I also ensure I have time for my mum who lives on her own – she is the most precious for me. Meeting regularly with her and with my children ensures she is given the importance she deserves.” She has not been just an ideal figure for her company and at home but also for the society by making her presence count in worthwhile issues. She mentors as a part of the 'Race for Opportunity' and 'Race to the Top' programs of BAME Women which supports women in both private and public sector organisations. “I enjoy sharing my culture, knowledge and experience. I have a strong passion to coach and develop both individuals and businesses, mentoring and supporting them to achieve their goals”, she adds. Noor Ali looks up to two women as her real life role models, Sandra Kerr who is the Director of the Race for Opportunity and CJ Antal-Smith who is a Category Director in ASDA. They represent the modern woman, getting the balance right between both their personal and professional lives. At the same time Noor is also looked up to by many for being a successful professional, culturally aware individual, acquainted of social issue and most importantly as a source of inspiration and confidence. She tells Asian Voice, “The most important thing is to be yourself and understand what it is that you want in life and drive their goals with passion and commitment as nobody else will.”

Anderson Ross New_A4 Temp 22/06/2011 15:53 Page 11

Success comes with client satisfaction halini is a Partner in Anderson Ross Solicitors. From a family of lawyers, Shalini's role model is her fatherMahendra Kumar Bhargava. Shalini told Asian Voice, "My father was an extremely dynamic, intelligent and enterprising man, he is my inspiration. My mother has been a pillar of support and God has always been my best friend." In an interview she shared her experience as a British Asian woman, her firm and role as a lawyer. What is your role for Anderson Ross? I am one of the two partners in the firm. I started setting up this business in January 2010 and registered the business with the Law Society of England and Wales on the 29th April 2010. It has been a challenging and a very satisfying experience until now with moments of nervousness, pride and joy. Some had genuine concern that maybe I was taking steps that would only lead to disaster. The necessity to survive and survive well has been the drive behind success which gives the ability to empathise and contribute with a passion. What services does Anderson Ross specialise in? Anderson Ross Solicitors is a UK based immigration specialist firm providing legal services to businesses and individuals. We also assist and advise on family and criminal law. For all our staff at Anderson Ross Solicitors our clients are not just a "file", our clients emergency is our priority, that may be our business client who may be a high net worth individual wanting to invest a million pound in the UK or an individual who may have overstayed his leave in the UK. I am passionate about doing the best for my clients and ensure that every client is catered for with the best option and outcome possible. We do pro bono work for Asian women with language barriers who find


Shalini BA (Hons) F.Inst.L.Ex Solicitor

The more Asian women take the plunge and are on the road of success and achievement the more quickly we Asian women will overcome this barrier.

themselves away from home and family with no one to turn to; help them and put them in the right direction and guide them through their difficult time, this may not just be limited to legal advice. Anderson Ross Solicitors also provide the opportunity for children at school and university to do work experience. What is your future plan? It has only been 18 months since Anderson Ross Solicitors was set up in the midst of an economic crisis,considering that, we are progressing well. In the next few years I see myself with a team who will work with a passion and compassion for the clients and establish offices overseas. To build and expand our high street firm and provide a service as expected from a top city based firm but at a competitive fee and in the process help Asian women in need. Your message for Asian women who would like to set up their own business? Setting up a business is not an idea that should be taken lightly, especially in the present times it is not easy to set up a business and then to be a woman and not just a woman but an Asian woman. One not only needs a business vision and business sense but you need to be strong and brave to survive in this male dominated society, it is disappointing to note these undercurrents still exist in our society and to overcome it is a challenge in itself. But, I would say if your gut instinct is that you are ready then the only way is forward. It is very important to make a promise to yourself that you will move forward and progress with self respect and dignity, then you will surely make your place and leave a mark and will not only make your friends and family proud but make yourself proud. The more Asian women take the plunge and are on the road of success and achievement the more quickly we Asian women will overcome this barrier.

IMMIGRATION SPECIALIST 79 College Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 1BD - Tel: 020 3170 6030 Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


Positive Developments to women r Venkat has more than fifteen years of experience in various fertility clinics around Harley Street. Her focus has been to tailor treatments to the needs of her patients while incorporating the latest developments in the discipline. Dr Venkat presents her work regularly in conferences and has published articles in many peer reviewed journals. She has also contributed two chapters to the authoritative book on 'Donor Egg IVF', published in 2008. She offers advice to the community on fertility matters in television and radio programs. She spoke to Asian Voice about the future of IVF treatment in the world. How many British Asians are currently venturing into IVF treatments? There appears to be very little difference between the local population and those of Asian origin in their attitudes to Assisted Reproduction. Currently about 4% of the population of UK is of Asian origin. Based on my experience in the past ten years, the percentage of Asians coming for treatment is also around four percent. It appears that those who have settled here, especially the second generation have shed their prejudices against Assisted Reproduction. Do you support the concept of freezing eggs for career advancement? Do you think it is a healthy option? Yes, I think this is one of the positive developments that has happened to women. In recent times, women attach as much importance to professional success as to bringing up a family. It is only proper that the society recognises this and respects the change in attitude. Also, women are more particular about finding Mr. Right and hence marriages get delayed. Freezing eggs offers them the opportunity to plan their family at the appropriate time rather than being pressured to get married and bear children at an early age. Would you like to explain to the common public what is involved in IVF? IVF is popularly known as test tube baby. It is an acronym for In-Vitro Fertilisation which means fertilisation outside the body. In IVF, the woman is given daily injections of hormones to encourage her grow multiple eggs. When the eggs reach maturation, they are extracted under anaesthesia and mixed with her partner’s sperm in a cul-


Dr Geetha Venkat

Women are more particular about finding Mr. Right and hence marriages get delayed. Freezing eggs offers them the opportunity to plan their family at the appropriate time rather than being pressured to get married and bear children at an early age.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

tured medium. Within a day, the eggs are fertilized by the sperm to become embryos. The embryos are allowed to grow for another 3-5 days under incubation. Whey they have grown sufficiently, one or two of these are transferred to the uterus of the woman. Whey they implant in the uterus, the woman becomes pregnant. How do you react when people object to the idea of IVF as an artificial form of pregnancy? Yes, I realise IVF is not a natural method of conception. However, when some women/couple are not able to conceive by natural methods, they should have the opportunity to utilise the advancement in science to achieve their ambition of having a child. IVF comes close to natural pregnancy and gives women nearly the same level of satisfaction as from natural conception. Why did you choose to be a Fertility Specialist? I started my life as a Gynaecologist. While I did many surgical procedures, the one that gave me lots of emotional satisfaction was performing the Caesarean section. The joy of bringing a new life into the world with my own hands filled my heart with a unique sensation of thrill and joy. During my early days, one of my colleagues had a baby by IVF and when we chatted I realised how much it meant to her. Then and there, I decided to opt to specialise in this field and I have always enjoyed that decision as I continue to share the joyous moments with my patients when they are blessed with children. How difficult is it for you to balance a demanding professional life with your personal life? Yes. My job is a very demanding one. Not infrequently I have to be in the theatre during weekends. Telephone calls from patients seeking advice is a common feature during evenings and even late in the night. However, I plan my daily routine to ensure that I spend quality time with my family. I rarely missed being at my son’s school during parent’s evenings and special occasions like Christmas Carols, sports day etc. I make it a point to visit the gym at least twice a week along with my husband. My family is as important to me as my professional life. Do you plan to set up an IVF clinic in India? Have you already made any

Greeta Venkat_A4 Temp 22/06/2011 14:39 Page 13

moves? How successful they have been so far? I am extremely busy with the work in my clinic in London and do not have immediate plans to set up one in India. Having said that, I am often invited to give lectures at various places in India and I make it a point of offer free consultations for a day or two during these visits. I find these professionally very rewarding. Do you foresee any breakthroughs in IVF in the next twenty five years? Recent developments in stem cell research are very likely to lead to breakthroughs in being able to grow egg and sperm from stem cells thus avoiding the necessity of donor sperm and donor eggs in some cases. Lots of laboratories are working on methods to improve this by better estimating the quality of embryos, development of more appropriate culture media and several other related factors. In a matter of years, we should be able to improve on our success rates significantly. What was you childhood like? Lots of fun. I grew up in a large family and remember my childhood days with great joy. I still remember playing with numerous cousins and friends. Summer was the most glorious period when we wandered around the streets of Chennai totally unmindful of the scorching heat. Who is your ideal? Mother Theresa. She sacrificed her entire life for the well being of downtrodden and never felt she made any sacrifice. A truly great woman.

Hard work never fails to pay off Sasi Sivaganesh came to London in 1992 from Jaffna, Sri Lanka. She studied BA/BSC at Brunel University in 2001 and then joined Wilson Financial. Though she was enjoying her work there, entrepreneurship was always in the blood as she craved to start something of her own. And so she did. In 2006, Sasi with the help of Sasi Sivaganesh her husband formed Affno Financial and in no more than five years it has established its roots strongly into financial services, mortgage, house and life insurance. She has achieved this in a time span that would be required to only stabilise a new company. Moreover, with economy being haunted by inflation in the past few years, her tireless efforts and hard work have kept her business immune to it. Today Affno Financial provides services to more than 1,000 clients in London but Sasi aims to expand her client database around the UK in the coming years and also expand the services by providing commercial insurance. Not too many British Asian women have been able to reach a milestone that Sasi has already, that too with lots of fuel still in store. However, with feet on the ground Sasi feels if her journey so far motivates any woman in the community, that itself would be her greatest achievement.

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Ritu Sethi_A4 Temp 20/06/2011 14:18 Page 14

When the dream is big enough, the odds don’t matter itu Sethi is one of the most acclaimed solicitor, not only in the Asian community but also in the wider British society. She is a senior partner of The Sethi Partnership Solicitors in Harrow, London, which provides legal advice in the fields of crime, immigration, litigation, divorce, property and probate. She became the first British Asian to win all three accolades that are awarded in the legal profession. Moreover, she has also been awarded the Asian Business Owner of the Year Award in 2000, Business Services Award and the prestigious Asian Business Woman of the Year Award in 2008. Born in Kisumu, Kenya, Mrs Sethi came to the UK as an eight-year-old with her parents in 1971. Her parents, Mr and Mrs Bhanot, were both teachers, with her father teaching History and Mother, Geography. Hence education was of great significance right through her childhood. She also learnt the basics of business and the hard work that goes behind it looking at her parents, who kept their shop open for business 12 hours per days, 365 days in the year. But she recalls her childhood by saying, “No matter how hard we all worked, there was always laughter in our home, mainly through my father's distinctively warm personality.” She spent her early years in the UK in Ilford but later went to Bristol to attain a degree in Law, LLB(Hons). She also met her husband, Sudhir Sethi there, who is a director of Abbacus Computers based in Harrow. Ritu Sethi took up law as a profession with an aim to fight for the people whose voices often go unheard. She says, “I saw a programme called 'Paperchase' in the 1980's and was in awe by looking at brilliant people studying and working hard to make a difference in the lives of ordinary people. That is why I wanted to take up the challenge.” With now a well established solicitor, Mrs Sethi says, “I can truly say I have loved it all, the trial and tribulations of


Ritu Sethi

Be confident in your abilities and knowledge. However, a lawyer has to be relied upon and be total trustworthy- so make sure you are just that. Walk the walk, talk the talk and do it with 100% integrity.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

being a lawyer, the clever arguments used when you think you are going to lose a case- only to then go on and win.” Asian Voice asked Mrs Sethi about the essential ingredients to become a successful lawyer and she says, “ First and foremost, it is necessary to be professional and be detached from the emotional side of each case because if you get emotional, you cannot be strong for your clients. It is necessary to have a healthy life outside office; I did that by being a Fitness Instructor, Beauty Therapist and a Motivational Speaker.” She adds, “But when in the office, be the best lawyer you can be. Be confident in your abilities and knowledge. However, a lawyer has to be relied upon and be total trustworthy- so make sure you are just that. Walk the walk, talk the talk and do it with 100% integrity.” Ritu has also been involved in enlightening and training women by speaking at major business conferences and events. She has also appeared on a series of programmes discussing the role of women and the law. For professional women, balancing family and professional life comes in tricky. But Ritu who is maried with two children, Avinash and Nikhita, says, “It is a mind set. At home I am a fully dedicated mother and wife. At the office, I am a fully dedicated professional. The two should not be confused or mixed and that way everyone knows what you stand for and the balance finds itself. It is not so hard.” Asian Voice asked Ritu Sethi about her ideal woman and she reveals, “I always look up to my mother for raising and teaching me right from wrong and giving me the confidence to excel, no matter what the difficulty. But I also admire qualities of Oprah for making it in media, Beyonce in singing, Madhuri Dixit for the dignity she gave female actresses and Hilary Clinton for holding her stand in men's political world.”

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Motherhood to a Successful Business Woman ina Bhudia is an ideal face for the British Asian women in the Financial Services, for the community. Also a non-executive director of Unesta, Dina has over 10 years’ experience in the Financial Services Industry and successfully heads an Asset Management Company - P2M, based in UK. She is regulated by the Financial Services Authority and as an Independent Financial Advisor she offers consultancy in Pensions, Investments, Mortgages and Protection. She also runs a Sales and Letting Real Estate Agency successfully in West London that manages a large portfolio of properties for UK and overseas Investors. In an interview with Asian Voice, when asked about the property market in India and UK in the current financial climate, Dina said, "My professional opinion is the property market in Britain is stable and as interest rates are at their lowest, many investors are taking opportunities to purchase and build property portfolio’s. In India the two most buoyant cities are Mumbai and Ahmedabad." Whilst balancing the demands of Work and Home life she manages to find time for her community and volunteers to teach Gujarati to children over the weekend, she has also been privileged to host many Charity and Education Award Events. Talking about the balance of work and life, Dina added, "Time management is the essence. It is very difficult balancing both my professional and personal life, as my priority is my children, and making sure I am there when they need me. It does mean long hours, however with technology at its best and a solid loyal customer orientated team, I find myself delegating a lot of the work. I enjoy the challenge of running, multiple businesses and providing direction to a team of committed and inspired individuals." From experience, it is evident that Dina has also faced many obstacles to reach so far - not only as a woman but also as a multitasking mother. " I believe the opportunity maybe equal however it is far harder for women to break into the market, and they seem to have to work twice as harder in the


Dina Bhudia

Your inner passion is the key to success, and building relationships is the foundation to any infrastructure and the people whom you work with are the tools to a thriving business.

field, this could be due to the Work, Home Balance that Asian women are committed to. One of the biggest is working with the opposite sex, the Finance and Property Industry is full of men, so it has been a hurdle in itself, this has been very challenging as I need to make sure my voice is heard, however over the years, I have actually made it work to my advantage. I have built my clientele through referrals, and once clients know you can deliver, on a high quality and efficient basis, it does not seem to be an issue, but starting up was difficult and there is a very few women in the financial sector whom run their own business.

Being a woman, does not just have obstacles in my working life, but being a mum has its own challenges, it means that I have to run around making sure I pick the children up from school on time, making sure that I get them where they need to be and they don’t miss out on extra curriculum activities, and tuition, it just means that I am sitting in the car on my laptop whilst other mum’s are having a chat and coffee." As a mother, Dina feels it's her duty to provide not just a good foundation, but be a mentor to them, help them to feel that they can be just as successful by following their dreams, be a role model -especially for her daughter. Dina's effort makes her - a very special mother - with extremely proud children! When asked about a few tips to a successful entrepreneurship, Dina added with a smile, "I believe that your inner passion is the key to success, and building relationships is the foundation to any infrastructure and the people whom you work with are the tools to a thriving business. Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


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XLN: The United Nations aran Dhaliwal has over fourteen years of experience in Credit Control. Currently heading a team of 10, she has previously worked as a Credit Controller herself, in a range of roles from sole charge to legal including issuing action through the Courts, both pre and post Woolf Reforms. At XLN Telecom, she has helped write the specifications for and overseen the implementation of a Credit Control Funnel allowing automation of Dunning letters, text messages, Interactive Customer Messaging and dynamic ledger updates. Tell us something more about your back ground and how did you get to where you are at the moment I started my working life as an Administrator at the HQ of a mobile phone provider, before working in various Credit Control roles – everything from collections to issuing legal action in the County Court to managing internal and external debt collectors - for a music copyright company and as the entire Credit Control function for a company servicing the Healthcare sector. I currently manage a team of 9 and together we are responsible for reducing bad debt whilst maintaining customer satisfaction levels. Tell us something more about what XLN does (Role in the telecom market , Number of staff the company has, what services does XLN provide and what sort of clientele does the company have) We provide telephone lines (inc. ISDN, PBX & VOIP), broadband, mobile and calling cards to the SME market. The aim is to provide the highest level of service at the most competitive price and we’re happy to say that a lot of customers tell us that we’re doing just that. As a one-time small business started by 3 people - who were fed up of paying over the odds for services that bigger companies with more buying power were getting at discounted rates – we have a deep understanding of the needs of the SME market. Within 8 years of trading we have gone from 3 members of staff (the founders, who were also running another business) to over 250, and a customer base of 130,000. What percentage of Asian Women work within the company ? The employee population represents a cross section of society - my family refer to XLN as ‘The United Nations’ due to the eth-


Saran Dhaliwal

One of the most important things for anyone starting a new business is keeping costs to an absolute minimum without sacrificing quality - that’s exactly what we help our customers to do.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

nic, cultural and general diversity of the workforce! One of the great things about working here is that I’ve seen so many colleagues start at the so-called bottom and work their way up to more senior roles based on pure merit. We’re equal opportunities not because it’s PC but because we simply want the best people, and we recognise that the best people come in all ‘flavours’. XLN has a special department target-marketing the South Asian Business community in the UK (Karamjit Nandha – Manager UK South Asian Business). Tell us more about why XLN has chosen that particular sector for promoting their business? We consider ourselves the champion of the small business owner. We try to provide a service to small businesses whose unique requirements aren’t always as well met by our competitors. Amongst our staff we have fluent speakers of most of the major languages from the Indian subcontinent (several non-Asian languages are also represented), so we can usually converse with Asian customers in the language that they are most comfortable with. It seemed a natural fit. Asian Women play a vital role when it comes to contributing to the economy and especially by venturing into new start ups. How do you think XLN can provide a unique service and support to these newly run start ups by Asian Women. One of the most important things for anyone starting a new business is keeping costs to an absolute minimum without sacrificing quality - that’s exactly what we help our customers to do! In addition to this, we have a Business Community area on our website where we regularly publish and comment on anything from legislation to new innovations that affect small businesses so that it’s easier for busy professionals to very quickly find and digest that information. We know it’s difficult out there when you’re first starting up because we were in that position ourselves less than a decade ago, so we’re more than happy to share the benefit of our experience with our customers. After all, their success helps to ensure ours. Who is your Role model and why? The late Aneuryn Bevan, MP; as Secretary of State for Health he was responsible for introducing the NHS in 1948.

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A stitch in time saves nine hernaz Engineer was born in Karachi and came to the UK whilst still a school girl. She says it was an idyllic childhood. Karachi in the 60s and 70s was a peaceful city to grow up in. She, being a Parsi Zarathushti, went to Mama Parsi Girls School and although it was an English medium school was taught to read and write Gujrati and is still Shernaz Engineer proficient in it after so many years!! After failing her Physics ‘A’ levels, Shernaz started working for a recruitment company as a clerk considering it as a gap year activity but never went back to finish her studies. She joined a High Street Recruitment Agency where, she was a trailblazer as they had never taken on anyone from the ethnic minorities. Shernaz was very successful and was made a branch manager within four months. After working for a smaller agency for 11 years and becoming a director there, she decided to jump ship in the recession of 1993 to start her own agency. She says she never realised how much money she was making for her employers until she started Verity Recruitment which deals with office based staff and temporary teachers. Starting Verity in the recession was very difficult.


The Asian Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC), based in the London Borough of Brent, is one of the oldest Asian women's organisations of its kind in the United Kingdom. Set up 30 years ago, the Centre provides advice, support and information within a culturally sensitive, confidential and non-judgemental framework. It is one of the pioneering organisations dealing with gender and equality among Black and Minority Ethnic and refugee women (BMER). The main funders are London Councils, Brent Council, Charities,Trusts and Private Benefactors (including individuals and companies) AWRC provides a range of services to support BME women and children across London. The services include: provision of advice, information, counselling and advocacy services to those affected by domestic abuse (which includes domestic & sexual abuse, forced marriages and honour based violence), a domestic

Shernaz says, ‘I just could not get any bank to finance me as there was the recession, I was a woman and Asian to boot. The banks did not take you seriously. I then had to borrow £20,000.00 from a private financier at 30% interest which I was sure I could pay back as I had a lot of confidence in my abilities and I did pay all of it back, plus interest, within two years’. Shernaz thinks that these days it is easier for Asian Women to seek finance and banks actively encourage Asian Women as they have been exposed to them much more and realise how talented and hard working they are. The recruitment industry is the first to suffer when there is a recession. Simply, people stop taking staff. She says ‘we have looked to our costs, rationalised and are ready for the good times’. There is still a future for recruitment agencies but they have to move with the times and find new ways and new careers to specialise in.’ Being a professional recruiter is not a 9-5 occupation, when she first started Verity, Shernaz worked round the clock but now she has more time and is more relaxed about the business. She says that Professional women should not insist on doing everything themselves but to seek help from other professionals such as cleaners, childminders etc. Shernaz admires women who have achieved much in a man’s world such as women who are board directors of Footsie 100 companies. In 10 years time, she hopes to take a backseat and try and play professional bridge.

violence support group, activities, workshops, a luncheon club, crèche provision, family planning services, and children’s summer play scheme. The Centre is the only place where women can seek out culturally and linguistically sensitive services in a safe, non-secular and non-judgemental environment. The AWRC provides practical and same language services in five community languages (Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu), so that women can make informed choices about their own lives and that of their children. Our services are not restricted to women and children from BMER groups. We have an open door policy towards all women and their children who may be in need. The Centre relies heavily on donations to sustain existing services. If you are interested in making a donation please contact the AWRC at or through our website:

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Decade of venture funding ita is a co founder and director of Stargate Capital and a fund manager. She launched Europe’s first investment fund targeting women-focussed businesses. Gita is seen as an influential leader who is frequently approached for her insights by decision makers internationally and her contribution in driving change is well recognised in the accolades she has received. Gita spent most of her earlier career in banking after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. She is a graduate of LSE where she now serves as a governor and sits on the Finance Committee. She also serves on the boards of a number of companies including Oxfam GB. Gita is listed in the Asian Power 100. Tell us about your background? My family, like many East African Asians arrived in the UK in the exodus of 1968 having fled Kenya the country of their birth. We grew up with the gift of an educated mother whose thinking was ahead of her time. This helped us to manage conflicting cultural and traditional barriers underscored by unconditional love. My father, an engineer, to this day smiles with pride at his most prized assets – his five daughters. What was your dream career as a child We had limited aspirations and there were no role models so it was difficult to dream! It was sheer accident that I fell in love with ‘Economics’ at school and ended up going to LSE which became the stepping stone to becoming a Chartered Accountant. When did you end up on the road of entrepreneurship? This happened much later – recognising I had outgrown the corporate environment but still had a burning desire to use my broader skillset, knowledge and connections more effectively. What was the motivation behind it? I have always been fascinated by business and saw opportunities and trends others didn’t and was confident of taking calculated risks. I was also motivated by a question my sister asked ‘What is your legacy? ’ Which was your first business venture? Most of my early ventures were in the form of Angel investments where I took equity stakes in a wide ranging early stage companies. Also backed the passion, drive


Gita Patel

Small companies and new ideas are exciting. They give access to invaluable market intelligence and opportunities. And you get better at knowing what is going to work and what isn’t.

and tenacity of a 26year old who created a children’s brand and we won the ‘make me a million’ program on TV –this was very exciting! What type of business excites you the most and why? Small companies and new ideas are exciting. They give access to invaluable market intelligence and opportunities. And you get better at knowing what is going to work and what isn’t. Meeting people, building relationships and opening doors for small companies creates a great feel good factor. Women face major setbacks and are often discouraged by others while setting up their own business. Please share with us your experience This is all changing fast! I see a brain drain from the corporate to the entrepreneurial sector. You have been promoting entrepreneurship, especially amongst women. What do you aim with such initiatives of yours? Trapezia Fund led the way in Europe and has become international inspiration for other countries to create similar funds. Micro Finance was for the last decade –this decade is about venture funding. Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of many economies and women’s businesses sit at the heart of this! They represent the biggest emerging market more than twice the size of the two hottest developing markets, India and China, combined. Have you felt any gender based discrimination? I never saw myself as the victim and no one should because it is disempowering. How do you balance personal & professional life? A compatible partner and a supportive environment are great enablers that make the balance possible. My husband who I met at LSE is an actuary, I have a son who is an engineer and entrepreneur and my daughter is at university. What sort of global issues do you worry about? The ever widening wealth gap -this inequality will cause social destruction and unrest. We will fail to leave the future generations with a better legacy. I worry about the prospects for our youth! Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


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Proud to be part of a great history ieutenant Bhavna Parmar is a Training Manager in the Royal Navy. She is involved in instructing naval personnel in the up-to-date technical skills and knowledge needed to improve their careers with in the Royal Navy. As people are our most valuable assets a great deal of effort is placed on their education, training and the development of teaching our people. Bhavna plays an important part in that training, putting her right at the heart of operations, with a crucial role maintaining effectiveness and morale. Asian Voice had the privilege to interview Bhavna as a British Asian woman in the Royal Navy, especially from the Hindu background. What made you join the Naval Service? I think the Navy is a fascinating career it is one of the few professions in the world where you get to change your environment every 2 years and try something new without looking for a new job. You also get the opportunity to go see the world which is great. I did also check the other 2 Services but the Navy came up trumps. What is your typical day like when you are on a ship or shore? Normally if I am instructing then it is a pretty full day 0800 to 1630 and I teach anything from basic maths to thermo dynamics and I also teach other instructors. If I am not instructing then I work on my secondary duties and on other projects within the department and the establishment which involve liaising with people in and out of HMS Sultan. What’s it like to be part of the Naval Service? It is a privilege because as corny as it sounds it is a way to give back to the coun-


Lt Bhavna Parmar

There is so much of our history that we celebrate and with every thing that is happening in the country it is important from my perspective to be part of something and the Navy allows me to do that.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

try and you are part of a great history. There is so much of our history that we celebrate and with every thing that is happening in the country it is important from my perspective to be part of something and the Navy allows me to do that. Who do you work with in your team or have contact with every day? We have range of characters but there is one common theme with all of them is that they are extremely helpful. They might be busy but will always find time to assist you with a problem. They also have a great sense of humour which makes the working day all the more enjoyable. Where have you been on deployment since joining the Naval Service? During my initial phase of training I spent several months onboard HMS Westminster. I flew out to India to join the ship and we spent the next few months in the Indian ocean visiting a number of places on the way. Apart from that I haven’t been deployed but I am due to go to Afghanistan later in the year. What would be the one bit of advice you would give to someone thinking about joining? I would say go for it even if you didn’t want to do it long term it is a really good experience and a great opportunity. I would say that the way you develop in the Navy offers you so many opportunities both in and out of the Service. Was the fact that you were a Hindu a problem with you family? I think my mother was a little shocked at first because no one in my family was in the Navy and I know no other Hindus in the Navy. Although she never actively encouraged me she never put obstacles in my way because I was going into an environment which no one she knew had any prior knowledge of. Have you experienced any form of racism or discrimination during your time in the Navy? No. The Navy has a very firm policy on discrimination in whatever form. There is continuous education to all staff on how to recognise it, report it and deal with it. I am happy with the way I have been treated during my time in the Service.

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One amazing woman reading this could help Ahmed very morning Ahmed runs into her room, places his hand on Sadia’s empty belly and says, “When, mummy when?” It is always the same fruitless action and he doesn’t know that Sadia’s heartache has filled the space inside with misery. She struggles to find a way to live with the disappointment she believes that she has brought upon herself, her husband and Ahmed. They long for a brother or sister for Ahmed and feel the expectation to complete the family. Even with one child, the need for a complete family unit has helped create a feeling of exclusion within the community. Secondary infertility has made Sadia and her husband finally recognise they need help and they have an appointment with a clinic. It has taken them a long time to agree to see a doctor, but it’s the longing of Ahmed that is so hard to bear and which has got them to this point. Her menstrual cycle has now stopped and Sadia knows and recognises the


look of loss in her child’s eye. It is a reflection of herself. Every month for the past five years Ahmed has prayed to send him a brother or sister and Sadia a child. He wonders and thinks that perhaps God is no longer listening even though he asks every day. The doctor’s words are laden with hopelessness and now their only hope is to find an egg donor. There is no other possible way of having a child; and Sadia is so young. She has no one she can ask and doesn’t know where to go for help, and her misery is palpable. Altrui will help Sadia to find an egg donor because she cannot ask for herself. She is real, she is in need of our help and we are here to try and do this for her. The task is difficult as there are so many reasons that rule out women who are prepared to help. But if you are between 18-35, fit and well you may be able to do this. Just find

out how without any commitment by ringing 0800 324 7872(free). Or email Names have been changed to protect Ahmed.

Will you help Mummy and be an egg donor for us? I wish I had a baby brother or sister to play with. Mummy is sad and says I can’t unless some other mummy will help her and daddy by giving some eggs. If you are of a Pakistani or Indian origin, healthy, under 35 and appreciate family life and what this will mean to us, please contact: or ring FREE on

0800 324 7872 In association with HFEA Licensed Treatment Centres/R19

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

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Kinari_A4 Temp 22/06/2011 14:55 Page 24

Natural looking Hair Magic innari Patel is a beautician with magic fingers. She can transform any average looking woman into a fashion diva. She offers cutting edge hair styles to suit anybody's needs, including other facilities like colouring, cutting, blow drying and even hair loss treatment. Her dedication, commitment and natural ability has earned her the reputation of a 'beautician’s beautician'. Before giving beauty treatment to any one, she always keeps in mind the age of that woman, her looks and the occasion (ie. marriage ceremony, parties or other functions). The personal care provided by her is noteworthy. Kinnari started with a training in hair and beauty care in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. She underwent further courses in hair colouring and cutting as well as attended numerous bridal care workshops in the UK. She also learnt the valuable skill from a renowned L’oreal professional as well as a technical course from Tony & Guy and received a diploma in advanced hair styling. Now with her own successful salon in South London, she trains her staff to incorporate the latest techniques into the most desirable styles of the moment including henna treatment, slicers, dicing, razor–sharp cuts, perms, texturing are some of her specialities. She is also an expert at hair extensions, sourced especially from the American Dream School where she underwent training in blending and styling synthetic hair according to the client’s existing style, length, colour and shape. “Hair is my passion, my drive – I love nothing more than transforming a woman into something she never imagined she

K Kinnari Patel

Hair is my passion, my drive – I love nothing more than transforming a woman into something she never imagined she could look like.

could look like.” "In case you think that your hair is limp to work any wonders, I offer remedy for that too. I also offer high protein hair treatment, especially for hair loss and dry hair along with an exotic Indian head massage and eco-friendly dye with no ammonia, guaranteeing that your hair is protected from harmful chemicals," added Kinnari with a smile. Since 2007, Kinnari has been providing an all-in-one package, perfect for brides-tobe, threading eyebrows, eyelash trimming, herbal remedies, diamond and pearl facials and of course her specialist bridal hair and make-ups. “I know the difficult roles a working woman has to undergo and loves to prepare her for weddings and parties,” said Kinnari.

As a working woman for the last 28 years, she acknowledges the immense support she has received from her friends and family, especially husband Subir Patel(well known civil contractor, SGP Contracts ltd) and elder sister. Kinnari told Asian Voice, "Before selecting a beautician, you must check the following points: the beautician must have an experience of 8-10 years in the field, she must have an appropriate diploma or degree in the field and finally a good reference from your relatives or friends."

kinnari’s Saloon

1361 London Road Norbury, London SW16 4BE Tel: 0208 679 0169 Mob.: 07886 980 012 Email:


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

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BRITISH ASIAN WOMEN SPORTS:Isa Guha is an international cricketer for England's Women team. She represented the country in 2005 Women's Cricket World Cup in South Africa. Ashpal Kaur Bhogal is an England Hockey Player and the first ever Asian to represent the country in the sport. Her family has five international hockey players. Ayesha Abdeen represents not only her nationality but also her religion through football. She is a member of British Muslim Futsal (indoor football) team and has represented Britain in Iran's 2005 Women's Islamic Games. Birmingham based Aisha Ahmad is also a member of British Muslim Futsal team and represented Britain in Iran's 2005 Women's Islamic Games. Rimla Akhtar is one of the founder members of Muslim Women's Sport Foundation and has worked endlessly to raise awareness and fight issues which often restrict women to participate in sports. Hunisha Bharat Patel started learning Martial Arts as a child. She is one of the very few Asians to master the skills of the highly competitive sports. Salma Bi plays for Middlesex County Cricket Club and has won a lot of recognition for her contribution to sport by coaching young girls from ethnic minorities.

EDUCATION:Honey Kalaria is a dancer, choreographer and a Bollywood specialist. She has been involved in movies like Bombay Dreams, Merchants of Bollywood, Bride & Prejudice etc. She has also worked with Beyonce, Aishwarya Rai, Shahrukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and many more.


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

Ruzwana Bashir was the first British Asian Woman to become a president of Oxford Union. She helped to build a primary school in Tanzania and has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Dr Usha Menon is a professor of Gynaecological Cancer at the UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute of Women's Health and Consultant Gynaecologist for UCLH NHS Trust, London. Dr Nina Salooja is an Oxford University alumni and has a glittering academic record. She is a professional haematologist and a lecturer at Imperial College, London.

MEDIA & ARTS:Sonia Deol is a BBC TV and Radio presenter and started off her media career at an early age of 14. She has presented on prominent shows like The Big Question, The Politics Show and The Heaven and Earth Show on BBC One. Renu Patel, who has trained in Kathak, has made a name for herself in the Indian as well as British Film Industry. She has performed shows for the Commonwealth Institute, British Council and the UNO. Preeya Kalidas is a regular actress on the popular soap, Eastenders. She also performed a lead role in Bombay Dreams and worked in Bend it Like Beckham, East is East, Bollywood Queen etc. Saira Khan shot to fame through the TV series, The Apprentice. She is involved with various BBC programmes and presents shows like Beat The Boss, Children In Need, Around The World In 80 Days etc. DJ Neev Ranu's Radio shows attracts close to a million listeners and her presenting skills have made all her local programmes go national. She works with BBC Asian Network, Sunrise Radio and Star 106.6 FM.

Sport Media/Poli_A4 Temp 22/06/2011 14:46 Page 27

After studying in London, Laila Rouass travelled to India where she became a VJ on popular music channel, Channel V. She has also worked with BBC World and TNT. Veronica is an internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter and producer in the South Asian music scene. She made her screen debut in the movie Kya Kool Hai Hum and also composed and featured in the hit soundtrack U & I from the movie Hum Tum. Gurinder Chadha OBE began her career as a news reporter with BBC Radio, directed several award winning documentaries for the BBC and has also directed award winning movie, Bend It Like Beckham, Bride & Prejudice. Sheena Bhattessa, British Asian actress and rising star. Sheena trained with the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York as well as drama schools in the UK. This is whilst studying Business with Law and Kings' College, London. She has also started her own Public Relations company (Its a PR Company ( She worked in theatre in London and has had choice roles in Bollywood productions including Love Aaj Kal and Jhoom Baraber Jhoom.

POLITICS:Lisa Nandy, a Labour Party politician, became the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Wigan, Greater Manchester in May 2010 general election. Valerie Vaz is a lawyer, member of the Labour Party and the Member of Parliament for Walsall South since 2010 general election. Baroness Afshar is a professor and a life peer in the House of Lords. She is a prominent Muslim feminist and socialist with having worked towards equal opportunities in Britain, land reform and development in Iran. Priti Patel is the Member of Parliament for the Witham constituency and an officer for the Conservative Friends of Israel group. She is a Conservative Party politician and was first elected in the 2010 general election.

Rushanara Ali became the Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow in May 2010 general election. She is a Labour Party politician and Associate Director of the Young Foundation. Shabana Mahmood became the Member of Parliament for Birmingham, Ladywood in May 2010 general election. She is a Labour Party politician and also an Oxford University alumni. Baroness Flather became the first Asian woman to receive a life peerage in the House of Lords on 11 June 1990. She is a member of the Consevative Party and also a teacher. Baroness Vadera, PC is an investment banker and a politician. She was a government minister jointly for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Cabinet Office. Baroness Prashar, CBE, is a cross bench member of the House of Lords. She was appointed as chairman of the Judicial Appointments Commission in September 2005. Baroness Uddin is a Labour Party politician and a community activist. She has also served as the Deputy Leader of the Tower Hamlets Council. Baroness Verma is a member of the House of Lords, a Government Whip and a spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, International Development and Equalities and Women's Issues. Baroness Warsi is a lawyer, politician and the current cochairman of the conservative party. She is the first ever unelected Muslim and the first ever female Muslim to serve as a minister in the UK. Yasmin Qureshi became the Member of Parliament for Bolton South East in May 2010 general election. She is a Labour Party politician and a barrister practicing criminal law. (This is not an exhaustive list)

Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011


P28 Smeeta+Archana+Meera_A4 Temp 22/06/2011 15:14 Page 28

Trust works both ways Meera Arnold & Co is a London-based firm of accountants established in 1995. Partner of the firm Meera, is a Sri Lankan Tamil, born in Jaffna. Doting mother of three children, a working woman, she is a face of a modern British Asian Woman. Meera migrated to Florida, US at the age of 12 with her parents. She finished her education in the US. On a vacation to London she met Anandan Arnold, her husband. After marrying him, she finished her training as a certified Chartered Accountant in Britain. A part of her husband's firm BBK initially, she was trained there and then started her own firm Speaking to Asian Voice about growing up and work culture in America and the UK and her work life balance as a woman, Meera said, "I used to work in the US in a law firm since I was 17 while going to High School and then University. The University education in the US is very expensive. You need to work to pay your fees in the university. I got many scholarships, but since public transportation there is so bad, I had to buy a car by the age of 16 to go to University and work. The law firm was run by a father and daughter team. I learnt about balancing the professional and family life from there. As even in the early 1990s the internet and emails were already being used to make work more efficient while also having a good family life. My company has grown from a one staff member to a 7 staff firm. We work efficiently and never miss a deadline or let clients down. We also have a friendly and sharing approach towards work in that we all work as a team. We believe in helping each other as professionals, and we maintain good relationships within and outside the firm." Asked if she has ever faced any hindrance as a woman in the ladder to success, Meera added with a very serious nod, "Initially it was really difficult. People wanted a male accountant only. Even though I said the same thing as perhaps all of the male accountants would, still people would try to run it past my husband. But now, 10 years down the line things have changed. I have many clients from all over the world who come to me through recommendation alone. Trust works both ways and it has to be earned."

Feels great to be a woman Sonal Teli is currently a GDL student at the College of Law, commencing on the LPC next year. Her under-graduate degree is in Politics from Queen Mary University of London. As a child, her family life was fabulous, and she believes not much has changed. She said she owes a great deal to both of her parents who have stood by her. Sonal's mother has a very strong personality and an infectious sense of determination, her strong character and high standards have definitely been Sonal's benchmark. Sonal works for a charity which aims to support and empower those who do not usually have a voice in society, inspiring social change and educating. Charity work is vitally important for any aspiring carer woman, instilling discipline & forcing you to be humble. Sonal told Asian Voice, "Whilst it is important to establish yourself as a person, family life is equally central. I think I’m lucky- having no pressure to get married now, nor was I forced to take the educational path that I have. I am a firm believer in woman’s rights & equal treatment; it frustrates me that I have to be labelled a ‘woman’ and ‘Asian’ as if it is holding me back! I think being a woman is a great thing and being Asian even better, I embrace both emphatically. I understand the challenges that this may pose and have yet to come to loggerheads with them."


Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

Empowerment through confidence and skills Archana Master is a wife and a mother of two beautiful daughters, Maya,17 and Sonal, 13, a housewife and the owner of Archana Hair & Beauty Training Academy. She commenced as a Beauty & Massage therapist when her daughters were babies and decided to do something where she could have a career whilst raising them. She studied Beauty and Massage courses at college and Hairdressing at Toni & Guy where she worked part time for three years and also worked as a mobile therapist. Archana acquired a teaching qualification in Hair & Beauty 3 years ago and now teaches beauty courses at colleges and Academies throughout the UK. Her Academy was established about 2 years ago and all her 20+ courses, (one-day intensive) are accredited and certified through a professional body allowing the students freedom to do the course whilst not being away from their family or business for too long. All courses cover theory with practice and end with a test about knowledge gained. Archana's mission is to empower pupils with the confidence and the ability to carry out the relevant skills by the end of the course. So ladies! Enrol now on her courses and do something different! Call Archana at 07886 736754 or visit the website:

Right spirit is the key A proud Maharashtrian, Smita Gadkari was born in a middle class family where herdad was the bread earner and her mother was a home maker. She, being the youngest in the famil, was given all the freedom in the world to do whatever she wanted. According to her, this developed the confidence in her to achieve anything in her life. The values imbibed in Smita by her parents and their emphasis on significance of education shaped the way she grew and enhanced Smita’s personality. Smita went on to do her bachelors degree in science, PG Diploma in Business Management and Masters degree in Human Resource management. The greatest motivation in Smita’s life has been herself as her inner self has always emerged stronger than anyone else. Smita works with Stanmore college in Stanmore as an International Coordinator; and is responsible for recruitment of overseas students from across the globe. When asked if she has ever felt challenged as a British Asian woman to climb the success ladder, Smita told Asian Voice, “To be honest, I never felt challenged being an Asian woman, because if you have the right spirit it doesn't matter what country or background you come from, success is bound to come your way.” Talking about work life balance as a woman, Smita added, “It actually is extremely difficult to handle work and personal life as a professional woman, since I not only have to take care of my family but also make a mark as an individual. But again only since I am a woman that I am able to strike a balance between the two as women have a special strength.” As a tip to other aspiring entrepreneur/professional women in her field, Smita told AV with a smile, “Have faith in yourself and be proud of what you are!”

GS-Ad-BAW-2011_A4 Temp 20/06/2011 14:27 Page 29

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TOPICS PAGE NO Women of Substance – from Past till present: Spriha Srivastava 4-5 Women are natural oraganisers: Priti Patel MP 6 Success comes to one who strives for it: Ruby McGregor-Smith 7 Road To Success: Misha Patel 8 Want to be successful? Be 'Heathily Stubborn': Sonal Thakrar 9 Catering to the Ethnic Taste: Noor Ali 10 Success comes with client satisfaction: Shalini Bhargava 11 Positive developments to women: Dr Geetha Venkat 12-13 Hard work never fails to pay off: Sasi Sivaganesh 13 When the dream is big enough,the odds don't matter: Ritu Sethi 14 Motherhood to a successful business woman: Dina Bhudia 15 XLN The United Nations 16 A stitch in time saves nine: Shernaz Engineer 17 Decade of venture funding: Gita Patel 19 Proud to be part of a great histroy: Lt Bhavna Parmar 20 Asian Women Supporting St Luke's Hospice 22 Natural looking hair magic: Kinnari Patel 24 British Asian Women: Sports, Media & Politics 26-27 Trust Works Both ways: Meera Arnold 28 Family Inspiration: Archana Master 28 Feels great to be a woman: Sonal Teli 28 Right spirit is the key: Smita Gadkari 28 Editor/Publisher: CB Patel Associate Editor: Rupanjana Dutta

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ADVERTISERS INDEX COMPANY NAME PAGE NO MesmerEyez 32 Sveta Vajir 31 Simple Call 5 EZ Remit 18 Asian Woman Resource Centre 17 P2M Asset Management 23 Sethi Solicitors 18 EGI Interiors 23 Priory 30 Altrui 21 Russell Automotive Centre 18 HPCCG 23 Panna restaurant 2 Veda Aid 13 Life Policy Reclaim 25 Miraj 21 Gujarat Samachar/ Asian Voice 29

Editor/Publisher: CB Patel Managing Editor: Kokila Patel Consulting Editor: Jyotsna Shah News Editor: Kamal Rao Chief Financial Officer: Surendra Patel Accounts Executive: Akshay Desai Advertising Managers: Alka Shah & Kishor Parmar Business Development Managers: Urja Patel, L George & Nikhil Gor Media Consultant: Rovin J. George (Project Co-ordinator) Graphic Designer: Harish Dahya & Ajay Kumar Customer Service: Ragini Nayak


There is hope. Kiran is 34 and a teacher from Birmingham; she was helped by Priory hospitals when she was suffering from depression and her life is now back on track. At Priory hospitals we know that depression is treatable and through our specialist help and therapy we can improve your life.

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Asian Voice & Gujarat Samachar - 2011

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