Veteran community leader, Dr Prem Sharma OBE, has received the rare accolade of being added to the “Wall of Honour” at the Royal Society of Medicine. The inscription was unveiled at a special ceremony last Friday– coinciding with the auspicious start of the Hindu New Year – in the Central Atrium of the Royal Society’s building in London’s Wimpole Street. Attended by family and close friends and associates, the gathering heard of Dr Sharma’s outstanding contribution not just to veterinary medicine but also to community relations, political participation and the cause of peace.
The Royal Society of Medicine was founded over two centuries ago in 1805 and is one of the major providers of accredited postgraduate medical education in UK and home to one of the largest medical libraries in Europe. The recognition for Dr Sharma’s achievements was instigated by two eminent clinicians: Professor Anan Shetty, Orthopaedic Surgeon specialising in complex knee surgery and Professor Gopal Krishna.Mahadev, a leading Oncoplastic Surgeon from Manchester.
Dr Sharma, himself a Veterinary Surgeon and Chartered Biologist by profession, served as Permanent Secretary to the Kano State Government in Nigeria (1969-1976) and was Director of a major World Bank-funded agricultural project in Saudi Arabia (1976-78) before establishing his own international consultancy specialising in agriculture, trade and technology.
Dr Sharma has also been a pioneer in connecting the British Indian Community with the Conservative Party and educating British Parliamentarians about India. As founder patron of the Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India, he lead a high profile delegation to India in 2003, including an important security briefing on Kashmir, and advised the Department of Trade and Industry on promoting bilateral trade between India and the UK as part of the Indo-British Partnership. Dr Sharma continues to serve as Honorary Life President of the Reading East Conservative Association as a mark of the respect in which he is held locally.
Dr Sharma is also founder-chairman of the India Development Trust and was awarded the Hind Rattan (1991) and the Nav Rattan (1995) for outstanding services to the British Indian community. He is also actively involved in local charitable and social work, including serving as Chairman, Patient Panel, Royal Berkshire Hospital NHS Trust. Dr Sharma was conferred OBE in the 2010 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to community relations in the UK.
Dr Sharma has played a key role in encouraging younger people to be involved in civic, local and national political life, regardless of party politics. He is a passionate advocate for peace, leading various peace initiatives both in the UK and abroad, including a series of peace conferences initiated by South Asia Development Partnership. He was acknowledged as an ‘Ambassador of Peace' by the Universal Peace Federation when he addressed their conference in Seoul, South Korea, in 2007.
The felicitation ceremony at the Royal Society of Medicine was attended by Dr Sharma’s son Alok Sharma MP (Reading West), Minister of State for Housing and Planning and his wife Ingela; Baroness Usha Prashar CBE and leading solicitor Vijay Sharma; Lord Jitesh Gadhia; Rami Ranger CBE; Joginder Sanger, Chairman of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Sunita Sanger; Dr Mohan Kaul, former Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council and Mr CB Patel.
Commenting on the occasion, Lord Jitesh Gadhia, said: “Dr Prem Sharma’s story reminds us all of how much has been achieved by the British Indian community in a single generation. He has played a truly pioneering and trailblazing role in connecting British Indians with the important spheres of politics, philanthropy and civic duty – paving the way for so many other people to make their own contributions. This latest honour is richly deserved and I hope Dr Sharma will keep inspiring successive generations to play their full role in the national life of our country and also help build peace around the world – a cause dear to his heart.”