British Indian community champions celebrated in New Year’s Honours List

British Indian community champions celebrated in New Year’s Honours List

Global Indian frontline workers, academics, actors and musicians are among 1,239 people recognised for their extraordinary contributions in the UK’s annual New Year’s Honours List for 2021.

Bhaven Pathak, Founding Trustee of Yog Foundation and Head of Mergers and Acquisitions at Canopius Group, has been awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen for Services to Business and to British Hinduism.

“I am deeply humbled to receive this honour, and I take the opportunity to acknowledge my late Mother, whose abiding example of ‘sewa’, or dedicated service, inspires me, both at work and in the community," says Bhaven.

London-based father to three, Bhaven Pathak MBE was raised in a single parent family, spent a part of his childhood in care and has risen from poverty to become a successful corporate executive in the City. His early experiences have motivated him to advise, mentor and invest in young entrepreneurs, small business owners and others who come from similarly underprivileged backgrounds.

He has cultivated a deep knowledge of the Hindu scriptures and is fluent in the Gujarati, Hindi and Sanskrit languages. A regular contributor to BBC Radio 2’s Pause for Thought series, Bhaven is considered a community leader to Hindus across the UK. He is also an editor and mentor for Tattva Press, which seeks to upskill writers of Indic heritage.

The award-winning Yog Foundation was founded in 2015 with a mission to improve community cohesion and inclusivity, serve the vulnerable, celebrate diversity and improve the mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing for all. Over the last five years, the charity has hosted free regular moral value, music and language lessons, raised thousands for local charities, and set up outreach programmes for the vulnerable in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amish Tripathi, Director of Nehru Centre in London shares his gratitude of Bhaven's hard work and well wishes: "I am most impressed by Bhaven’s commitment to India's ancient heritage and culture, while also continuing to work for the good of the UK. As a British-born person of Indian heritage, he has helped keep alive the rich and ancient culture of India through the promotion of Indic languages, bhajan performances, speeches and festival celebrations. He has inspired British Indian youth to embrace and take pride in their heritage and faith. I am delighted that his contributions have been recognised by Her Majesty."

As Head of Mergers and Acquisitions at Canopius Group and a community leader, Bhaven manages a heavy workload inside and outside work. Michael Watson, Cheif Executive and Chairman of Canopius Group shared his heartfelt congratulations with Bhaven: “At Canopius we place great value on leadership, diversity and social responsibility. I am therefore very proud that Bhaven Pathak, a key member of our team, has been recognised by Her Majesty for giving back to the wider community. That he has done this while successfully discharging a demanding role in our company says much about his drive, capacity and professionalism. I look forward to even more accomplishments from Bhaven in the years ahead.”

Sharing his vision for the future, Bhaven says, "British Hindus have overcome many barriers in order to find their voice in our society and we still have a long way to go. This wonderful award spurs me on to help my community play its full potential in the regeneration of our country at this time of immense global vulnerability. In this, I know I have the blessings of my Guru and my other teachers. This award is ultimately a reflection of their guidance and encouragement.”

Community cohesion

Sanjay Kara, Trustee, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (Neasden Temple, London) has been conferred a Medallists of the Order of the British Empire for services to community cohesion and public and charitable service in the UK.

The citation reads: Sanjay Kara, Trustee, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (Neasden Temple). For services to community cohesion and public and charitable service in the UK.

“Congratulations to Sanjay, his family, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and the entire Hindu community for inspiring thousands of volunteers to serve the community under the visionary blessings of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the current inspiration of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj,” a British Hindu community message reads.

Influential work

Anita Goyal, 48, from Brentwood has been recognised for her influential work on addressing female genital mutilation, menstrual discrimination and human trafficking.

Currently the CEO of the Hemraj Goyal Foundation, Anita is also an author of 'Voices from Punjab: The Strength and Resilience of 15 Punjabi Women Living in the UK' and she is heavily involved in the charity sector, having raised £191,000 for the FGM appeal in her role as an honorary lead with Barnardos.

Community action

Ravi Bhanot, 60, from Essex, has been appointed an MBE for services to wellbeing and community action.

During the pandemic, Ravi co-ordinated 3,000 lunches a week for NHS staff, homeless people and those who are self-isolating.

As well as being a pharmacist by day, he played a key part in campaigns to encourage more black and minority ethnic groups to donate blood and sign up to donate organs and learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

"My mother almost died in pregnancy with my sister but for a blood donation from a stranger, and I wanted to repay that single act of kindness," he says.

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