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UK: NRI wins award for community service

April 26, 2006 10:23 IST
Non Resident Indian industrialist Nat Puri, who donated 1 million pounds as relief for victims of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake has been honoured with the inaugural Hindu Forum of Britain's award for Excellence in Community Service.

The award was presented to 65-year-old Puri, the dynamo behind the Nottingham-based Melton Medes Group, by Geoff Hoon, leader of the House of Commons in the presence of India's High

Commissioner to Britain, Kamlesh Sharma.

Over 500 of Britain's Indian top business leaders joined government ministers, civil servants, celebrities, diplomats and community leaders at the inaugural HFB Annual Ball 2006 at Hilton Park Line on Tuesday night.

Prominent among them were Lord Navnit Dolakia, Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords; Keith Vaz, member of Parliament; former minister, Tony McNulty; Minister of State for Immigration; Paul Collins, MP; Barry Gardiner, MP; Minister of State in the Department of Trade and Industry and Paul Goggins, MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Home Office.

"I am deeply honoured by the award and I have no words to describe it," Puri said.

The industrialist, who is now worth about 100 million pounds, first realised his grit and determination to succeed in the aftermath of the Partition in India in 1947.

After a tough childhood, he came to Britain in 1966 and trained as an engineer.

In a message on the occasion, British Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulated the forum on its success at promoting the positive achievements of the Hindu community.

"The Hindu community has a long and proud tradition in Britain and makes a huge contribution to the economic and social prosperity of this country. The forum in particular has taken a leading role in profiling the success and achievements of the Hindu Community in British society," he said.

"This is an exciting time for the Hindu Forum of Britain and I am impressed by the many exciting projects and initiatives it is leading," Blair added.

According to Rami Ranger, Chair of the HFB Fundraising Committee, the HFB Ball is a "Celebration of the phenomenal contributions made by British Hindus in every sphere of life."

"We would now like to play a more prominent role in British society and British politics," he said.

In his address, Geoff Hoon referred to the tremendous contribution made by the Indian community to the British society while Kamlesh Sharma said though the Indian community constituted only 2 per cent of UK's population, it contributed 4 per cent of the GDP.

Forum General Secretary Ramesh Kallidai said, "The inaugural Ball celebrates the successes of HFB since it started two years ago. The Forum has campaigned on behalf of the community, commissioned ground-breaking projects and been the voice of British Hindus."

A cancer awareness campaign was also launched on the occasion.

The highlight of the Ball was the singing of HFB Mantra by Bollywood playback singer Kavita Krishnamurthy and dances by various groups. The Mantra is adopted from the 5000-year old verse on inter-faith unity and community cohesion from the holy Rigveda.

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