Marking 75 years of India’s independence and 10 years of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU), the first-of-its-kind gala ceremony was organised in London on Wednesday 25 January, to celebrate the achievements of Indians who have studied in the UK.
A breakfast reception at the Parliament was followed by a gala ceremony near Trafalgar Square in the evening, ringing in India’s 74th Republic Day.
Organised by NISAU UK in partnership with the British Council in India, the India UK Achievers Honours recognised the achievements of young Indians who have undertaken a British programme of study and made significant contributions to their field and society.
Sanam Arora, Chair of the NISAU UK, who has conceptualised and led the delivery of the Achievers Honours said, “As is demonstrated from our list of Achievers, the truly outstanding impact that young UK Indian alumni are having in India, the UK and globally can be seen in every field. Working on the Honours has been an unforgettable experience for the NISAU UK team. We have always known that the work of Indian graduates of British universities was extraordinary, but I don’t think even we realised just how profoundly world-changing it is. We are delighted to have been able to shine a spotlight on some of these brilliant individuals. In doing so, we want to be able to take policy decisions around international students away from numbers & statistics to these human stories of success which demonstrate why international education must be cherished.”
Accepting the Lifetime Achievement Honour, Dr Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India and MP (Rajya Sabha), who studied at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and was credited with the transformation of the Indian economy, said, “…The India-UK relationship is indeed especially defined by our educational partnership. The founding fathers of our nation, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr BR Ambedkar, Sardar Patel and many others studied in the UK and went on to become great leaders, leaving a legacy which continues to inspire India and the world. Over the years countless Indian students have had the opportunity to study in the UK. I am delighted that a number of exceptional alumni have been honoured as Achievers tonight. I congratulate them all. I urge all of you to work hard to excel in your fields and to strive towards building not only a good career but a better world.”
Bestowed with the Living Legend Honour, the Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE DL said, “All of you here who have won awards are the living bridge that is spoken about by both countries. Your achievements create inspiration here in the UK and in India. That inspiration creates aspiration, that aspiration creates achievement; and this is a virtuous circle. NISAU has created this virtuous circle and none of us can leave here tonight without being utterly, utterly impressed.”
While some achievers were based in the UK, many flew in from India and other parts of the world.
Also bestowed with the Living Legend Honour, Virendra Sharma MP said, “India and the UK are natural collaborators, allies and friends. Where once was a relationship based on exploitation, now rests a partnership of equals, representing democracy, industry and technology.”
Award recipients also included, actor Parineeti Chopra, Serum Institute of India’s CEO Adar Poonawalla, Raghav Chadha, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, India, Film Director Anu Menon, Actor Parambrata Chatterji and Soha Ali Khan to name a few.
UK-India TOEFL® NISAU Scholarships worth $75,000 which will be awarded to 25 outstanding Indian students for higher education at any UK university was also launched on the day.