Lockdown is a time to connect with the world in new ways
Reena Ranger, Chair of Women Empowered, is In Conversation with Anila Dhami as part of her regular series for 'iGlobal' to explore some inspirational facets from the life and achievements of prominent Global Indians.
Anila Dhami is a UK-based Journalist and Presenter, passionate about connecting with people and uncovering the truth. As co-founder of the Global Indian Creatives, her focus is on under-represented talent from the Indian diaspora. Here she tells Reena about seizing moments, campaigning for equal opportunities and the importance of taking each day as it comes through the coronavirus lockdown.
Given your usual busy schedules, how have you found the stillness and quiet of lockdown?
The lockdown has been a time of opportunity: to seize moments, connect with the world in new ways, and deepen bonds with family, friends and one's self.
I've had the opportunity to present the BBC World Service's pinnacle programme 'Newshour' to around 7 million people worldwide. Working from home, I've interviewed the likes of Adil Ray on Zoom for news packages. And instead of doing live reports outside Parliament, I now stand outside my home in Essex with my mum filming!
Because connecting with people fulfils me to the core, I've found new ways to connect with others. I tweet the day's top stories every morning to continue informing people. To lift people's spirits in lockdown, I've started Sunday sessions, having inspiring conversations with incredible people like Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Naughty Boy, and I support charities through these sessions. And to give people lifelong skills in lockdown and give back, I have begun successfully delivering “Create Public Speaking Confidence” sessions via Zoom.
Being spiritual, I always make time to meditate and recuperate. Focusing on my breath, connecting with my soul and coming from a place of truth helps me connect with the outside world more authentically.
I've loved strengthening the knowledge that my friends and family may be apart in distance but never by heart. I am usually the one organising Zoom calls!
I'll miss quality time with my parents but will ensure we continue making time for each other after lockdown.
As an advocate for the rights of women and girls, what does the word feminist mean to you?
Choice. Everyone in society should have equal opportunity, and a right to choose. While I advocate for the rights of women and girls, I also recognise the rights of men and how we need to work together to create an equitable society.
What has been your career highlight?
Every moment! So many! I cried a little after interviewing Hollywood actor Will Smith because I knew it was a big deal. I was only one of five people selected to ask a question in a room of about 200 national and international media outlets.
Interviewing one of my idols, News Presenter Jon Snow. Working on BBC 'Newsnight' with the incredible Emily Maitlis. Presenting on the BBC World Service. Interviewing #MeToo movement's Rose McGowan on her sofa in her home. Discussing the role of Sikhs in World War I and World War II on ITV's 'Good Morning Britain'. The list is endless..!
If you could go back and speak to your younger self, what is the one piece of advice you would give her, and why?
One thing the coronavirus pandemic has taught me is to take each day as it comes. Often, and particularly as women, we are taught that life is a sequence of events with a certain order. School, graduate, marry, kids, grandkids, end. Life is so much more exciting than that! It's a true adventure!
And I am someone who always plans my life goals. Now, I love living every moment in its entirety. Every second is a chance to create an impact, live your best self, and learn. Every minute, we have a hand in making history. And with every passing moment we have the choice to laugh and smile. Live for now and make every moment count!