JUST about anyone can become a politician these days, but those who stand out possess two qualities that Sandip Verma holds dear – effective networking skills and self belief.
These character traits, Verma believes, has significantly helped her become a force to reckon with in the British political arena.
Born in Punjab in 1959, Verma and her parents moved to London shortly after she turned one. She grew up in Leicester at a time when there weren’t many in the city who looked like her, and this made life difficult.
“It was tough on two fronts – first, because the city itself was quite a racist place, but second, we had parents who still wanted to try and retain a part of India in the UK. Finding that balance for a kid growing up in the 60s was quite tough for a child of Indian origin,” Verma said.
The 70s also taught her an important lesson – that people of colour did not have access to same opportunities available to others. And that began to shape her thinking about being a voice for the community.
Right from a young age, Verma knew she was meant for public life. She was only 11 when she penned an essay describing her desire to become the prime minister of India.
But it wasn’t until she was in her 40s that Verma entered politics. And being an Asian trying to create a mark in British politics, Verma faced a number of hurdles. “I don’t think it’s easily understood by the Asian community how difficult it is to actually get into front-line politics. You still face a lot of barriers,” she said.
Verma served as parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for International Development from May 2015 until