Monday, November 24, 2008


The world famous London School of Economics boasts alumni of Indian origin in the thousands. Many of these are spread out all over the world, with some very eminent ones like Prof. Amartya Sen who won a Nobel prize and Dr. I. G. Patel, who was a former Director of the London School of Economics in the late 80's. Fortunately also, many alumni live in London and we all met on Monday 17th November to meet up with contemporaries and remember the 'good ol' times'. Among the attendees were Raj Patel MBE, who graduated in 1983, Ashish Patel of Intel, Kamalesh Kantaria, Mr. Anant M. P. Shah, Richa, Shrenik Davda, and the list goes on... See if you can recognise your friend or classmate in this photo above. We met at the Senior Common Room and had samosas and cocktails! Could you have imagined the LSE serving samosas in the 1980's? India is now a very important force in the global economy, and Indians the engine of this powerhouse. It is therefore apt for us to synergise and connect to one of the most prestigious sources of intellectual capital - the LSE. It is my personal hope that in time, this group also engages with the ethics of the knowledge base at LSE, where India's timeless wisdom also has a lot to add. Mr. Gautam Barua came to the meeting and is part of a unique alumni network working in this area - for details visit

At a time when networking is a big trend, alumni networks are the natural networks where friendship is built without any expectations. Our alumni are in many fields ranging from law and accountancy to development, banking, politics, and even media and broadcasting. Here you will meet a wide range of people under one roof and reminisce about the formative years. Also the numbers of Indian students at the LSE are increasing every year, and they produce an excellent variety show every year under the banner of Timeless. The next show is on 1st February 2009 at Sadlers Wells Theatre no less, and we encourage you to come and really enjoy this unique multi-cultural extravaganza. It will also be another opportunity for alumni to reunite. Details are at:

Mr. Anant Shah and I have suggested to the LSE a memorial donated by Indian alumni friends of the LSE to remember the huge legacy left by the late Dr. I. G. Patel, its former Director. This proposal is currently being considered, and if you wish to support it in any way, please do get in touch with me. We encourage you to forward this email to your friends and to come back and visit the new LSE which has changed so much and the atmosphere is very positive and upbeat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music as Bridge Builder

Last night, I saw this amazing documentary about the Sistema, a classical music orchestra cultivated from the grassroots of Caracas in Venezuela. Children brought up in poverty were given a chance by a visionary from a young age to learn, play and perform classical music. It lifted their lives and aspirations, and the music that came out was truly harmonious, passionate and sublime. Their conductor Dudamel is now regarded as one of the best in the world, and he was trained through Sistema and is only 25 years old. I had just written a book on Social Cohesion and when I saw this programme, my hope was reinforced. Music is a fantastic way to build cohesion, and in an orchestra harmony is required, created and opens the possibility of sustainance. The best part was the informality and fun of it all - classical music was not formal or stiff, but creative and fun, and this passion came out in the performances. Perhaps our problem today is that we have all become too formal and stiff, and need to loosen up and see the creativity of playfulness and experience true joy. I encourage you to watch this programme and see the power of music in building cohesion.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


The election of Obama in the US as President is excellent news for Black Britain. We now have the possibility of minorities becoming public leaders in this country at every level - government, civil service, institutions, - as Britain has to change now. There should be embarassment about the fact that so many doors of public life are still closed to black people at senior levels. Also, at a time when the global situation is so grave the world desperately needs new ideas and new solutions to pressing problems. Could black people have cultures and solutions which could heal the world and bring about positive change - I believe so, but because of racism, these ideas have been denied from getting a civic platform. Our new book on 'Social Cohesion - A Jain Perpective' is an example of one such 'black' idea which should be allowed its due platform and given a serious hearing. It is radical, authentic, thoroughly researched and a positive blueprint for a new Britain.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Once upon a time, Britain ruled the world. It exported its language and way of thinking and running a country to the rest of the world, trying to 'civilise' it. Along the way, Britons learnt a few things also - that other countries and peoples can be beautiful too, and that they do have something to teach the world. However, the relationship was one of power, and so Britons were too proud to admit it.

Fast forward to the present. Britain is no longer a world power. However, the world lives in Britain. However, has the attitude to 'foreigners' changed? Is it still 'we will use you, but not share power with you'? Recently, someone who was born and raised as a white Briton said to me that the British are very arrogant. Is there truth in this?

In an increasingly inter-dependent world, Britain needs to change its attitude. Especially its pride and arrogance. It also needs to admit its flaws and failures. And allow other cultures to help it solve its problems. The British mind needs to change its colour screens. It also needs to learn to see other cultures in their own terms. Here is an example - my daughter was asked by her friends whether she is going to have an arranged marriage when she grows up. The people who asked her come from a culture where one in three marriages break up, yet they had the arrogance to insult my daughter in this way. This shows the depth of ignorance in our society. This needs to change, especially among those in positions of power and influence.

Do you agree? Let me have your comments.