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UK to honour 75 Indian students, alumni to mark South Asian country’s 75 years of Independence; nominations open

The results of the application process will be unveiled in New Delhi on December 10.

Sanam Arora (C), chairperson & founder, NISAU UK, with Virendra Sharma MP (L) and Gareth Thomas MP. (Picture: NISAU UK)

By: Shubham Ghosh

The UK is set to honour 75 Indian students and alumni for excellence in fields such as education, professional achievement, and making contributions to society, on the occasion of India’s 75 years of Independence. On Wednesday (12), the nomination process for India’s 75 achievers — the Achievers Honours was declared open at an exclusive event held at the British parliament.

It was attended by a number of dignitaries, including British parliamentarians, vice-chancellors of leading universities, and many other important stakeholders in the UK-India education corridor.

India UK Achievers Honours
Sanam Arora (C), chairperson & founder, NISAU UK, speaks at the launch of the India UK Achievers Honours event in London on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. (Picture: NISAU UK)

The project has been initiated by the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU UK) in partnership with the British Council in India, aligned to their year-long cultural programme ‘India/UK Together Season of Culture’.

For the last 10 years, NISAU has been working with Indian students and alumni, universities, sector bodies, and the governments of the UK and India to offer support to Indian students and promote educational exchange between the two countries. The UK government’s department of international trade is also one of the partners in this project.

“The UK’s higher education system has a proud reputation and is one of our most valuable exports. Our International Education Strategy commits to sustainably growing education exports to £35 billion by 2030, with India as one of the five priority markets. The launch of today’s event is a strong reminder of the long history of international exchange between our two countries, building bridges with the power of education and creating the next generation of high achieving individuals” said minister for exports Marcus Fysh.

India UK Achievers Honours
Lord Karan Bilimoria (fourth from left) speaks at the launch of the India UK Achievers Honours event in London on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. (Picture: NISAU UK)

The initiative also comes at a momentous time for UK-India relations as the two democracies negotiate a Free Trade Agreement, which is expected to bolster opportunities for Indian students to study in the UK, and boost collaboration in fields such as pharmaceuticals and life sciences, apart from pioneering innovative commercial ventures in fields such as emerging tech, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity.

The launch of the Achievers Honours was hosted by Lord Karan Bilimoria, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students and president of the UK Council for International Student Affairs; and Virendra Sharma, Member of Parliament from Ealing Southall and chair of the Indo-British All-Party Parliamentary Group.

India UK Achievers Honours
Lord Jo Johnson speaks at the launch of the India UK Achievers Honours event in London on Wednesday, October 12, 2022. (Picture: NISAU UK)

“The bridges that are built are absolutely phenomenal. My 86-year-old mother in India to this day keeps in touch with her Birmingham University friends who have been her best friends for life,” Bilimoria said.

“The Indian Institutes of Technology are now opening abroad and we at Birmingham are talking to one of them and there is a very good chance that we will have an IIT campus within Birmingham University. Can you imagine the research and exchange of students?” he added.

Sharma said the ties between India and UK have strengthened over time and the Indian students and the diaspora in the UK form a “living bridge” between the two countries.

“This century belongs to India. Everyone accepts it, economically and politically,” Sharma, who has been a steady champion for Indian students in the UK, said.

“Young students are the future leaders of the world, and they are the visionaries who will strengthen the ties between India and the UK,” he added.

The educational partnership between India and the UK is already witness to a significant momentum with nearly 118,000 Indian students being granted visas to study in the UK, and with the recent agreement between the two nations to recognise each other’s qualifications.

Lord Jo Johnson, the UK’s former minister of state for universities, science, research and innovation, said, “This campaign is incredibly timely…We take for granted the huge benefits international students bring to us. They bring in not just economic and social benefits but international students form friendships that we hope go on to form ties of trade, commerce and diplomacy.”

“We should as a community also work harder to promote more UK students going to benefit from study in India so that this relationship in international higher education becomes more balanced over time”, he added.

Sanam Arora, chairperson and founder, NISAU UK, said, “Historically, many prominent Indians have attended British universities. In the pre-Independence era, Mahatma Gandhi, who led India’s independence movement; Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, who drafted the county’s constitution; Jawaharlal Nehru, who was India’s first Prime Minister; and Cornelia Sorabjee, the first woman in the British Empire to plead before an English judge – had all studied in England.

“They were just four of the many tens of thousands of Indian students who went on to make a major contribution to society: from health to justice, science to the arts, from politics to philanthropy.”

“In this 75th anniversary year of Indian Independence and the 10th anniversary of the NISAU, our aim is to celebrate the achievements of Indian students and alumni and inspire future generations of learners to use their global education to contribute to nation-building in India and for the wider global good,” Arora added.

“International education is fundamental to the ties that bind UK and India together, to the interests we share in common and work alongside each other to pursue bigger global objectives,” Vivienne Stern, chief executive officer, Universities UK, and also a member of the eminent jury that finds the top 75 achievers, said.

“The 75 individuals we choose will help us to illustrate to the people why international education is precious and matters and why we should fight to preserve it. I hope we will be able to use the brilliant stories that this initiative produces to help us illustrate the case using individual human beings and the contributions they make,” he added.

About the nomination:

Current Indian students and alumni of British education institutions can nominate themselves under five categories — Business & Entrepreneurship; Government, Politics, Law & Society; Education, Science & Innovation; Media & Journalism; and Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Sports.

The criteria are simple — Be under 49 years of age by August 2023, and hold an Indian passport during the year of study in the UK.

While students and alumni can apply themselves, individuals can also nominate their friends and family.

The nomination will undergo a rigorous selection by an eminent jury drawn from several leading universities, including the University of Oxford; London School of Economics; King’s College London; Imperial College London; SOAS; and University of Reading.

The results of the application process will be declared at a gala ceremony at the British high commissioner’s residence in New Delhi which is expected to be attended by important stakeholders, including ministers, vice chancellors, business leaders, and celebrities.

The date is December 10, 2022.

Applications for the Achievers Honours to be recognised as India’s 75 at 75 are now live. Visit www.achieversshowcase.com to submit nominations.

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