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Sunak hails impact of British Asians on country’s economy and society

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Prime minister Rishi Sunak paid tribute to the “incredible contribution of south Asian people to our economy and our society” as he congratulated winners at the annual GG2 Leadership and Diversity awards.

Sunak also witnessed the unveiling of the GG2 Power List which profiles the country’s 101 most influential and powerful South Asians in Britain.

“I love the GG2 awards – and what an honour it is to be at the top of this phenomenal list,” the prime minster told those in attendance.

“But I must tell you that there’s been a mistake, as the dad of two daughters, I’m not the most powerful Asian in the country, I’m not even the most powerful Asian in my Home!”

He added: “But just look at this list, from Leena Nair to Adar Poonwalla, Indhu Rubasingham to CS Venkatakrishnan, Vis Raghavan to Ambika Mod, and many, many more. It is absolutely bursting with legends and rising stars – leaders in business, the arts, academia, law and much more.

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“It is a reminder of the incredible contribution of South Asian people to our economy and our society. It’s a reminder too of the values we share: hard work, family, education and enterprise.

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Prime minister Rishi Sunak speaks at the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards 2024

“I am so proud of everything you have achieved. I am so proud to be part of this special community. There is so much for us to celebrate.”

Held at the Park Plaza Hotel on Tuesday (5), the 25th anniversary of the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards celebrated the achievements of Britain’s ethnic minorities. The event brings together prominent politicians, entrepreneurs, celebrities and community leaders.

They are hosted by the Asian Media Group, publishers of Garavi Gujarat and Eastern Eye news weeklies, as well as Asian Trader and Pharmacy Business magazines.

Sunak acknowledged the sacrifices of previous generations and said that those in attendance were “standing on the shoulders of giants”

He described the likes of his own grandfather as “pioneers”.

“Just think of the improbable journeys that brought us here,” said Sunak.

“Like my Nanaji, a lifetime ago, saying a tearful goodbye to her children, boarding a plane in East Africa, for the first ever time the first she had been on and, without a job or a home to go to, flying to Britain to build a better life for the whole family. I can’t imagine the courage that must have taken.

“Years later, just after I was first elected as an MP, I brought my Nanaji to visit Parliament.

“We were walking through Westminster Hall when he suddenly stopped and took out his phone to call someone. I didn’t even know at that point if phones were allowed, so I was like, ‘Nanaji, do you have to do that you do that right now? ‘

“He replied that he was calling his old landlady from when he first arrived in the UK because, he said to me, ‘I just wanted to tell her where I was standing’.

“Everyone on this list – everyone here today – can share stories like this.”

Sunak also paid tribute to the late founders of AMG, Ramniklal and Parvatiben Solanki who he said used their platform to “fight prejudice and discrimination wherever they found it”.

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Prime minister Rishi Sunak at the GG2 Leadership and Diversity Awards 2024

“Many of us at some point in our lives, have experienced hatred because of who we are. Today, as tensions are running high, we must dedicate ourselves once again to the fundamentals that our parents fought for,” he said.

“By standing together for freedom of speech, against prejudice of all kinds, proud both of our heritage and our Britishness because in modern Britain they are the same thing.

“I’m proud of our diversity as a nation. I’m proud to be the first British Asian Prime Minister, but even prouder that it’s just not a big deal.

“Thank you for all your support. Let’s get on and build that future, together.”

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