Attendees from around the world gathered in London for the 21st annual Asian Achievers Awards, which saw leading South Asians from across the UK honoured for their contribution to building British society. The event was hosted by Eastenders actor Nitin Ganatra alongside Pakistani Balu Mahi actress Ainy Jaffri Rahman, with more than 500 attendees from business, entertainment, and public service.
Amongst the winners was WBC silver middleweight champion, Hamzah Sheeraz, coming hot off the 18th knockout of his career the previous weekend. In an exceptionally difficult time for healthcare workers in the UK over the last few years with the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis and historic pay disputes, the night saw three NHS workers win coveted awards.
Former paramedic Salman Desai BEM was awarded for his outstanding work for the North West Ambulance service, and Dr Lalitha Iyer for her dedication during the COVID-19 pandemic targeting a reduction in deaths for ethnic minorities. Chief Clinical Officer of NHS Bexley CCG Dr Nikki Kanani won Professional of the Year.
Music composer Jasdeep Singh Degun was commemorated for his contribution to the Art and Culture category, Dr Harren Jhoti FRS OBE won the Business Person of the Year award for being at the forefront of British science and innovation, particularly his leadership in discovering and developing drugs in oncology and diseases of the central nervous system. Other victors included Tani Dulay as Entrepreneur of the Year, artist and photographer Poulomi Desai for Community Service, and ITN presenter Anila Dhami in the Media category. For his work in the British real estate industry and the charitable sector, the Lifetime Achievement trophy went to Shashikant K Vekaria.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The Asian Achievers Awards provide a great opportunity for us to recognise the outstanding accomplishments of British Asians in the UK. It is good to celebrate the positive impact and contribution all the nominees have made in creating a more modern, dynamic and globally-facing economy in the UK.”
Indian singer Kanika Kapoor was bestowed with the Special Award for Contribution to Music honour as her songs have been streamed nearly 200 million times just on Spotify. She said:“After more than a decade in the film and music industry, I am delighted to receive this special recognition at the Asian Achievers Awards. With the Prime Minister of the UK himself commending these Awards, it gives me great pleasure to be in a room full of change-maker.”
The event was organised by global advisory firm EPG alongsidebridging loan company Market Financial Solutions (MFS). Paresh Raja, CEO of MFS, said: “We need to celebrate British South Asian successes given just how unlikely they could have been. It takes a lot for generations of families with overseas roots to adapt and fit in with a different society. Not to mention all the other civil challenges they may face such as culture clash, or potential xenophobia. Yet, even with odds against them, we’ve seen British South Asians not only integrate but thrive.”
Attendees included Deputy Mayor of Business for London Rajesh Agrawal, founder of Sigma Pharmaceuticals Dr Bharat Shah CBE, the first Gujarati to represent the Conservative Party in the Upper House Lord Dolar Popat, and novelist Lord Jeffrey Archer as well as several stars of leading Marvel, Netflix, Nickelodeon and BBC shows.
Lord Archer ran a charity auction on behalf of charity partner One Kind Act, which provides grants for poverty alleviation and education causes across Africa and South Asia, raising £200,000. The charity said this figure would help uplift several thousands of young people out of poverty in the neediest areas of the world. With this fundraiser, it takes the total raised for good causes by the Asian Achievers Awards over the last two decades to over £5m.
Pratik Dattani, Managing Director of EPG, said: “The last year was a watershed for South Asians in the UK. Leaders of the government or main political parties in Westminster, Scotland, Ireland and London are all from a South Asian heritage. It was important for this year’s Awards to recognise the gems in our community across the country. Our community is leading the way in helping Britain to level up, something sorely needed in a cost-of-living crisis.”
The event was organised with support from the specialist finance company Market Financial Solutions (MFS), the Royal Air Force (RAF), bank SBI UK, clothing leasing firm Ayrela, translation specialists Language Interpreters, Moussaieff Jewellers, as well as think tank Bridge India, media partners Asian Voice, Gujarat Samachar and Sunrise Radio.