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UK: outstanding Indian alumni recognised

Outstanding Indian students who studied in the UK were celebrated at a lavish awards ceremony held in central London on Thursday as the valuable “living bridge” between the two countries was celebrated. 

Sector representatives gathered in London to celebrate Indian alumni of UK institutions. Photo: The PIE.

The awards recognise 75 Indian alumni of UK institutions

Recipients of the prizes included Parineeti Chopra, a Bollywood actress, Aditi Chauhan, goalkeeper for the India women’s team, and Raghav Chadha, India’s youngest MP. 

The India UK Achievers Honours was launched by the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK, in partnership with the British Council, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Indian independence. 

The awards recognise 75 Indian alumni of UK institutions who have excelled in fields including business, science and the arts. 

Many awardees travelled from India to attend the event, where they were joined by the representatives from the British Council, the Department for International Trade, UK universities and the higher education sector, among others. They also attended a parliamentary reception in the morning, at which MPs including former home secretary Priti Patel congratulated the achievers

Attendees had the chance to share their stories of studying in the UK. Pratishtha Deveshwar, the first Indian wheelchair user to attend the University of Oxford, spoke about the opportunities that studying abroad had given her. 

“I have not been able to shut up about how much I loved studying in the UK”

“I have not been able to shut up about how much I loved studying in the UK for the past one year,” she said. Deveshwar told the audience that when she first became disabled, people warned her father there was “no use investing” in her education.

“Double whammy,” she said. “A daughter with a disability in India. Not quite a cool idea for people, but I wanted to convert it into a double opportunity.”

Deveshwar said that studying at Oxford had improved her confidence. “Apart from all the glory and magnificence of Oxford, I think one thing that stands out is the kind of inclusion that we see in the UK that we do not have in India,” she said, explaining that her accommodation was wheelchair accessible and that she could travel by accessible transport. 

“That is something that people with disabilities in India cannot even imagine,” she said. 

Chadha also shared that studying at the London School of Economics “really opened the doors of the world” to him. 

NISAU parliamentary reception held at the House of Commons

In the evening, Maddalaine Ansell, director of education at the British Council, commended the achievers. “Studying abroad is such a powerful way to immerse yourself in another culture and develop a deep understanding of other ways of life. I feel humbled and very grateful that over 126,000 Indians chose to study in UK universities last year,” she said. 

New data shows that the number of Indian students in the UK in 2021/22 rose by 50% compared to the previous year.

Sanam Arora, founder and chair of NISAU, said the organisation is “intimately aware of the sheer impact that Indians who study in the UK are having, not just in India, but worldwide. It is something we have felt is not celebrated enough.

“International education students are almost always… talked about in numbers,” she added. “Policy decisions can often be made just on the basis of those numbers and statistics.

“We want you to take this conversation beyond numbers and beyond data and to a place where the value of these international experiences are… understood, are appreciated and are enabled because it is these experiences that go on to shape the ties of trade, of diplomacy and of culture between our great nations.”

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