CONTRIBUTION: Priti Patel hosts celebrations


SECRETARY OF STATE HOSTS DOWNING STREET DIWALI RECEPTION

SECRETARY of state for international develop­ment, Priti Patel, paid tribute to British Indians as she hosted Diwali celebrations at Downing Street on Monday (16) evening, praising their “great contribution” to British society.

Patel was standing in for prime minister The­resa May, who was in Brussels at the time.

The British Indian MP, who represents Witham, said the festival of lights is an occasion for “family, friends and community to come together” and is a time to “reflect on our past, look forward to the future and… commemorate the victory of good over evil, light over dark, and right over wrong”.

She added that Indian communities “consist­ently punched well-above [their] weight” and thanked them for their contributions within edu­cation, medicine, law, finance and science.

Some 200 guests attended the event, among them India’s high commissioner YK Sinha and Sruti Dharma Das, from the Bhaktivedanta Man­or, Iskcon. Dr Mayank Patel, a trustee of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in London, was master of ceremonies at the reception.

The secretary of state noted the “flourishing” relationship between the UK and India and referred to the Indian government as a “great friend” to the nation. Britain is looking to secure trade deals with India, prior to leaving the EU, she added.

“Our country, global Britain, will have a strong and successful future,” Patel said. “The contribu­tion of British Indians and our partnership with India, will be a cornerstone of that future.”

Jitu Patel, a fellow trustee of the BAPS Swami­narayan Sanstha, greeted Patel with a garland while Das said a prayer, about never giving up or giving in, to commemorate the celebrations.