October 24 2016
London’s Mayor tops Power List and was named as Hammer winner – but his absence didn’t undermine a sense that diversity is the future…
THERE was an expectant air at the GG2 Leadership Awards on Thursday (October 20).
A unique gathering in some ways of politicians, celebrities and members of our armed forces, it has to be one of the most eclectic collections of different people and organisations (including the Daily Mail!) to be found anywhere – even in London with its myriad communities.
Some hours earlier, it had been announced that Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, had topped the GG2 Power List, an annual study of Asian influence in Britain.
The publication, revealed exclusively at the GG2 Leadership Awards at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge on Thursday (October 20), profiles 101 of the country’s most influential Asians, according to senior executives and journalists at the Asian Media & Marketing Group (AMG).
Khan was expected to attend the dinner as No1 on the list, but the incident at North Greenwich tube station on Friday meant he could not make it.
He was also – unknown to him – to be announced as winner of the GG2 Hammer, the most prestigious of all awards given on the evening and the one handed to an individual who has done most to break the proverbial glass ceiling.
With Khan being unavailable, Labour Shadow Secretary for International Trade and Climate Change, Barry Gardiner MP collected the GG2 Hammer on his behalf at the end of the evening.
And despite Khan being detained on serious matters elsewhere, another Labour figure, ‘stole’ the limelight.
Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal is an ‘epochal history maker’ and she stood in for Khan at the now customary GG2 Leadership Awards special Q&A with Nihal.
Born in the West Indian island of Dominica, she regaled the audience with tales of a mixed upbringing (her mother was Catholic, her father Protestant) in Walthamstow, East London – an unlikely starting point for a future, much decorated barrister, Queens Counsel (a prestigious legal title) and the first woman Attorney General since the post was created in 1315.
She was also the youngest QC ever at 35, and become this year, the first ever woman Secretary General of the Commonwealth, a position of high diplomatic standing and second only to the Queen in terms of the organisation’s power structure.
She emitted a humility and warmth that would be hard to find in a someone of similar stature and achievements.
She touched the audience and embodied the spirit of the GG2 Awards.
For in her achievements, she said she was guided only by a belief that she should try her utmost and that her background, colour, and family circumstances (she was born to a large family that did not have much money) should not hold her back.
Fittingly enough, she was presented with the GG2 Woman of the Year Award on the evening.
The Media & Creative Arts Award went to Indhu Rubasingham, the director of the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, London.
It has been another great year for Rubasingham at the helm; she directed “The Motherf***er with the Hat” – which went onto win the Evening Standard Best Play Award, and transferred successfully to the West End.
Last year, there was a similar effect with “Handbagged”, which started out at the Tricycle and then enjoyed a substantial West End run.
There are few Asian theatre directors, especially running mainstream outfits such as the Tricycle, which has an international reputation. Few women also occupy such positions of power within UK theatre and her achievements should act as an inspiration to others.
In the short Q&A with all the winners on the evening, she told the audience that her father had advised her to do ‘her theatre thing’ on the side and get a proper career job. She, on the other hand, focused on her passion and its testament to both her self-belief and ability that she is where she is today and picking up awards.
Another artist who is known to readers of www.asianculturevulture.com will be the musician Baluji Shrivastav.
Blinded not long after his birth, his education at a blind school in India and his introduction to instruments was the making of him.
He has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry including Stevie Wonder, Annie Lennox and Shakira, among many others.
His Inner Vision Orchestra, made up of other blind musicians, has toured the country and produced a successful album last year to much acclaim.
He continues to teach and his music featured in the hit Disney film, “A Million Dollar Arm” which AR Rahman scored.
Annabal Bagdi of the Oxford Mail was named GG2 Young Journalist of the Year for her exclusives on domestic violence, the child sex abuse scandal in the region and her work as a court reporter.
In perhaps his most warmly appreciated speech in recent times, Kalpesh Solanki, executive editor of AMG, said it was important for people to come together and laud those who they felt had made a really strong contribution to a good society.
He felt post-Brexit Britain was leading to a souring of community relations and that hard-won freedoms and acceptance were now being questioned.
He called on people to show solidarity and to hold up the best of British in a society that welcomed and celebrated diversity.
Urging people to look around the room on the evening, he said: “These are the real life heroes. Heroes who make our world better.
“And this is why tonight is important so we can take time out from our busy schedules and recognise their great work and take a moment to say thank you for all that you have done.”
GG2 is the English section of the original Garavi Gujarat magazine first established in 1965 by Ramniklal and Parvatiben, his wife. As the magazine grew, so did the number of publications and associated awards. Today, the group is widely recognised as the country’s biggest British Asian publishing house with offices in the US and India. It also produces Eastern Eye and has done so since it took over the paper in 2009.
Sailesh Ram, editor of www.asianculturevulture.com and contributing editor to the GG2 Power List 2016
All pictures – Gulshan Swani for GG2, unless indicated
Full list of winners
GG2 Woman of the Year sponsored by Edwardian Hotels
Baroness Patricia Scotland of Asthal
GG2 Entrepreneur of the Year sponsored by Sun and Sand
GG2 Spirit in the Community Award sponsored by Royal Navy
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani
GG2 Pride of Britain Award sponsored by Sun Mark Limited
GG2 Achievement through Adversity sponsored by AMG
GG2 Young Journalist of the Year sponsored by Daily Mail
GG2 World Food Award sponsored by Waitrose
GG2 Inspire Award sponsored by Army
GG2 Media & Creative Arts Award sponsored by Hearst Magazine UK
For more on the GG2 Leadership Awards, see
For the GG2 Power List, see http://www.gg2.net/
More pictures – click and go to ACV FB