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December 2005 - January 2006


Home Secretary Charles Clarke Champions Community Values at Bhavan's Diwali Banquet

At this year’s Diwali banquet, the Bhavan was honoured by the presence of the Home Secretary, The Rt. Hon. Mr Charles Clarke MP, together with the High Commissioner for India, His Excellency Sri Kamalesh Sharma and Smt Sharma. The event was held in the Radisson SAS Portman Hotel, London and was attended by many distinguished members of the Indian community in Britain, including Lord and Lady Paul, Lord and Lady Dholakia, Lady Slynn, Mr Keith Vaz MP and the Deputy Mayor of Hammersmith and Fulham, Cllr. Mercy Umeh.

After wishing everyone a Happy Diwali, the Bhavan’s Chairman, Mr Maneck Dalal OBE, welcomed the Home Secretary and thanked him for sparing the time to attend the function. He was particularly grateful in view of the extraordinarily busy time Mr Clarke was having in the House of Commons with new legislation. In welcoming the High Commissioner for India, Mr Dalal said that the Bhavan had great kindness and support from India House.

Mr Dalal went on to say that the Bhavan had made substantial progress over the last year or so, having spent some £2m on improvements to its premises in West Kensington. For this, help had been received from the Millennium Commission and the Arts Council of England. In terms of the local community, Mr Dalal said that the Bhavan had an excellent relationship with the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and especially with the local police force. He concluded by saying that the UK was a great and fair-minded country.

In his speech, the Home Secretary recalled that we were living in the aftermath of terrible events. He took as his text, the Bhavan’s motto, The World is One Family. One of the most powerful things being done by the Bhavan was to emphasise the culture, civilisation and quality displayed by the Indian community. It was very important for the community to assert its right to play an active and cultivated role in the life of this country. This was being done and it was the right way. Furthermore the community expressed respect for others and for the peaceful life which most people wanted. The values of civilisation which the Bhavan sought to convey were extremely important and should be expressed with courage, confidence and certainty. This Diwali Banquet celebrated the strength of the community and the way in which it gave great quality to the life of this country. He asked that the values of respect and democracy which were so important, should be spread far and wide and should be defended at all costs. He was aware of the enormous contribution made by the Indian community and urged everyone to take pride in this contribution.

His Excellency, Sri Kamalesh Sharma, also thanked the Home Secretary for finding the time to be present. He said that he was proud of the community of Indian origins in the UK. One thing which was notable was that the Indian community was fanatical in its pursuit of learning, education and skills. They wanted their children to achieve more than they did. He was pleased to see that in Indian families, the entitlements of learning were as much for daughters as for sons. He too felt that this country was a great one which had a very high respect for values of decency in public life. The Indo-British encounter was a model one.

After the dinner and a short cultural programme, the vote of thanks was given by Mr Joginder Sanger, the Bhavan’s Vice Chairman. Mr Sanger thanked all the friends of the Bhavan who were present and asked them to help the Bhavan in whatever way they could.

The Bhavan Centre, 4a Castletown Road, LONDON W14 9HE: Tel: 020 7381 3086 Fax 020 7381 8758. e-mail

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