Thursday, October 01, 2009


One of the festivals in the Hindu calendar of the world is Navratri. It is a festival of nine nights. It is a time when people of all ages come together to celebrate the beauty of creation and give thanks to God for giving us a healthy and prosperous life. It is a festival of motherhood, giving thanks to Mataji for enabling mothers to nurture creation. In the UK, it is celebrated all over the country, and as always, I made a lot of effort to invite the media and civic leaders to come and enjoy the celebrations and see social cohesion in practice. I have always believed that many of the solutions to our intractable problems lie in the past, and they need to come off the boundaries of faiths and cultures, and be shared more widely to enrich the whole world. Navratri is such a festival, and we had two full colour pages in the Gazette this year and a national BBC radio broadcast on the festival - you can view it by clicking this pagelink and listen to the broadcast:( The awareness of the festival and its virtues are spreading everywhere.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I wrote the above article on the need to see the big picture of Diversity in Colchester and to embrace it positively for the Colchester Gazette. Small town Britain is a microcosm of the world. That is the huge strength that we have. However, we are failing to harness this positively. Small creative steps can make a huge difference to community life in these towns and cities. Suggestions for these are highlighted in the above article.

I would be interested to hear your opinions.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Race for Opportunity have just published a report on the state of British workplaces, which makes for interesting reading. It calls for greater transparency and celebrates organisations which collect data on the ethnicity of their employees and their progress through the workplace. The publication of this benchmarking study is noteworthy, and for me, it is as interesting what is not in the report as what is. For example, the report claims that in the top 100 companies, the number of ethnic minorities (5%) is lower than the total UK population of minorities (10%). If you go to Grammar Schools in Britain, the proportion of ethnic minorities is more like 30%! So why should we even settle for 10% in the Boardroom, if minorities are so able and so resourceful. Also, if the top 100 British corporations are global corporations, then surely they should outward facing rather than inward looking? In which case the target percentage of diversity in the boardroom should be more like 80%!

There is an admission that something is going wrong in the middle of these organisations - not enough people are rising up the ladder. Here again corporate culture and attitudes has a very important role to play. Some organisations like American Express and the MoD have introduced mentoring as a way of enabling people to rise through the ranks and support them in the process. This is very important and laudable. But it is a slow and gradual process. And as the report highlights, the recession can set back some of these long term schemes very easily.

My real fear is that the leadership in Corporate Britain is still resisting diversity and pushing it under the carpet. The genuine commitment in this area is very weak. As a result, the significant structural changes needed in the organisations do not happen. And minorities certainly lose out big time. For many, workplaces are like torture chambers, especially as they climb the ladder. And in the recession, these chambers become traps. Sadly a large number of minorities give up their identity on their way to the top. That is the only way they can 'adapt'. I am sure this has a big impact on their 'inner' personal life.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


One of Britain's most famous poets, Benjamin Zephaniah, has a profound and deep love of people. He has written a wonderful poem called 'The British' which is linked below:

It creatively shows the melting pot of Britain, described as a recipe - a recipe for fun, joy and creativity, a recipe for respect. In a few words, Benjamin shows that equality is not a statement or a policy guideline but a practical act of connection and dignity. Each and every person is important, each and every voice is important, and peace is the most important of all.

Words can be used to build bridges. In workplaces, we can use words to inspire, to motivate, to respect, to encourage and to build a better Britain, proud of its diversity, keen to embrace it and profit from it. The BBC's poetry season is a great reminder of the power of words and their importance in inspiring people and uplifting everyday lives. Raise your life today - read a poem, or write one.

And enjoy the dialogue with your soul.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I had an excellent meeting this week with Lord Dholakia, the former president of the Liberal Democrat party and one of the most prominent ethnic minorities in British politics today. He was very complimentary of our recent book entitled: 'Social Cohesion - A Jain Perspective' by Dr. Aidan Rankin and Dr. Atul Shah and he cogently argued that the Jain faith and community have a critical role to play in British political and civic life. Such a community has the potential to enrich the whole of Britain through the sharing of its culture, values and heritage. He had huge praise for Jain art, temples and community and said that our philosophy of uncompromising ahimsa (non-violence) is a very useful barometer for Britain. By coincidence, the next day on Radio 4 'You and Yours' there was a representative from the Ministry of Justice saying that the government is actively seeking to help ethnic minorities play a greater civic role in British political life.
Lord Dholakia explained at the meeting that communities should develop a strategy of engagement and question politicians about their commitment to different values and belief systems. He particularly emphasised the need to involve the hugely articulate young people from the Hindu/Jain communities in Britain today. They have great potential and the space needs to be created for their participation in civic life.
The social enterprise Diverse Ethics has as its central aim the improvement of inter-cultural relations and understanding and we have a strong background in this area, as writers, trainers and consultants- visit We can provide excellent support to both communities and government in the processes of civic engagement and improving the understanding of British political life. We firmly believe that in doing so, we will improve the lives of both - minorities who feel marginalised, and government and political institutions which want to be more representative and improve their creativity and wider public appeal.
Our aim now is to create a Jain panel for civic engagement, and there are already a number of persons interested in this. More widely, Diverse Ethics will now directly engage with public bodies to facilitate their community engagement and educate ethnic minorities about the processes and benefits of civic engagement.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I am just completing a very interesting course on leadership organised by the charity Common Purpose It is an experiential course, and one of its central themes is 'Leading Beyond Authority' - as the most common approach to leadership seems to be through the use of status and power, and Common Purpose would like to show other approaches which in the long run are more 'empowering'.

I come from a whole culture and community of leaders. It has very long roots, in fact 3000 years old, and it is fair to say that the Jains are not just leaders but oftentimes, leaders of leaders. We have a beautiful temple in London which is dedicated to our 24th Tirthankar (Prophet) Mahavir who was our pioneering spirit. Born as a prince in northern India in 599 BC, he was well-educated and from a young age, had a deep spiritual quest. At the age of 30, he decided to leave his home and family and go into the forest to meditate on the real science and purpose of life. A deep and intense reflection over a period of twelve years resulted in him attaining 'Kevalya Gnan' (perfect knowledge and wisdom) one day, and after that, he established the Jain Sangha and gave sermons on the science and philosophy of ahimsa (non-violence).

The connections with Common Purpose are obvious. The Jains also believe very strongly in interdependence and this philosophy is extended to all living beings (parasparopagraho jivanam). There is a strong emphasis on values and self-discipline. Every Jain is encouraged to minimise harm to any living being and live a life of simplicity and respect. The environment, animals and nature are given a very high status, where humans are trustees and fully responsible and accountable for their actions.

When such values are practiced, leadership becomes a 'natural' act. People are automatically drawn to you as there is no agenda, and one leads through example. Knowledge and learning are regarded as very important for the progress of the soul, and the combination of a scientific approach with a deep sense of ethical accountability are key ingredients for success in leadership. Even in the area of thought leadership, Jains have had a huge role in the history of India. Mahatma Gandhi, regarded as the greatest leader of the twentieth century, drew his inspiration from the Jain philosophy of ahimsa. Our latest book on 'Social Cohesion' can be seen as an example of responsible thought leadership being given to this very pressing problem in Britain.

In the guided tour of the temple on 9th May, I will explain these concepts and show how Jains replenish their leadership values and commitment through regular worship and prayer. For us, Common Purpose is a cosmic law. We are very pleased to be associated with this charity and to help them with their diversity outreach.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The above link shows details of a programme for University students from diverse backgrounds to have a paid internship in the Civil Service. There are details of case studies of individuals who have worked and their experiences of the programme. Special training is also provided during this time, with the aim of attracting the students to permanent jobs and also to act as ambassadors for the Civil Service.

This is a positive, practical example of how the diversity mix of staff in an organisation can be altered and barriers to entry and perception broken. It is not the only solution, as often there are barriers to promotion after minorities are recruited, but it is definitely a start in the right direction.

As we have maintained with earlier blogs, the real problem in the British public sector is with senior level recruitment and retention. This is often where diversity is weakest, and there are huge cultural and ethical barriers which need to be faced and addressed before there are results. This is a particular expertise of Diverse Ethics (the social enterprise that I have founded) and we would be very happy to help organisations implement sustainable practices to embrace diversity for the medium and long term.

Friday, April 17, 2009


We took a group of managers from the arts, education and heritage sectors for a tour of the Jain Temple in London to help them experience an ancient Ayambil festival. Festivals are a handbrake on life - they are great opportunities to recharge and reflect. Where we have an ancient festival based on a timeless philosophy of 'respect for all life' (Ahimsa), the meaning behind the festival is very special and timely given the modern age of disrespect and mass animal cruelty.
The experience was truly uplifting for everyone who came - it enabled them to see an ancient culture from the inside, and admire its integrity and genuine spirit of hospitality and welcome. When we learn and celebrate these ancient wisdoms, we inspire and enrich modern life by really seeing how much we have to learn from difference. Prejudice or ignorance gets reduced by such experiences. Creativity is sparked from within by simply being in beautiful surroundings. Possibilities and positive thoughts emerge spontaenously.
We recommend that when we have an opportunity, we should use different cultures as a way or stretching our minds and expanding our horizons, without necessarily losing our personal identity. Culture tours are one way, but there are so many other ways. Media should not be the only source of such information - we should actively seek it out ourselves. And children should be exposed at a very early age in their life.
For more pictures and articles, visit

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Ordinary people are extra-ordinary. Ordinary people matter. Ordinary people is where life and its problems and challenges, are real. When Michelle Obama visited a girls school in inner city London, she remembered her 'ordinariness' and showed great courage and humility by not playing to the tune of the media or any 'middlemen' about how she spent her time here. In the process, she ignited good values about education - hard work, perseverance, even that it is 'cool to be smart'. She went on to Harvard, in spite of being raised in an ordinary Chicago family.

There are many similar stories of ethnic minority successes in Britain - perhaps not as powerful, but significant nevertheless. For most of them, success has been won through hard work, perseverance, and sheer guts and determination. Examples include the founder of New Look, poet Benjamin Zephaniah, the writer Andrea Levy, artist Shanti Panchal, actress Meera Syal, and we can go on.

As a country, Britain still fails strongly to embrace this talent for its own progress and betterment. This is because the media is still strucuturally biased, and very powerful. But we do not need the media. We should recognise and support our own success stories, and use our networks and contacts to help them go far and wide. As ethnic minorities, we need not be jealous of others in our communities, nor ashamed to help them. In their achievements and successes lies our own. This is the only way we will open channels for our young to climb the ladder of opportunity and empowerment that they so deserve.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The above article details the recent wave of high-level resignations at the Equality & Human Rights Commission. This is a body set up to enforce equalities legislation in this country and is now itself in crisis, in some cases because of unfairness and inequality.

In Britain, the issue of race will not go away unless Britain addresses its deep cultural 'will to power'. There is a strong desire for people to have power over others and control them so that they themselves can rule the roost. As long as this cultural trait prevails, there is very little chance for ethnic minorities to progress, except in very competitive commercial organisations or in their own 'ghetto' businesses and bodies. And paradoxically, most ethnic minorities are not after power - in fact, in their cultures, power is seen in a very different way. In my own culture, power is not over others, but it is sought to overcome one's own inner vices and greed. This is the key to lasting freedom and happiness, not the temporary and fragile power over others.

Diverse Ethics can help guide leaders in organisations to overcome this will to power. In fact we are already successful in doing so with some significant national organisations. However, we can only do so if the leaders make a determined effort to re-create an organisational culture toward sustainable values and ethics. We can draw on differing ancient wisdoms on power to show how its fears and insecurities can be overcome to create a new dawn for the individual and the organisation.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I have become hooked on the above new BBC TV series, 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' based on the books by Alexander McCall Smith. I have seen many series on crime, but this one is striking because it is set in Botswana with all the colours and the different scenery, the actors are non-white, and the plots are so simple and realistic. I often find that with crime fiction, the modern approach is to show power, use all the weaponry and science to commit or decode the crime, and show a clear divide between the criminals and the good people.

Here on the other hand, the detective has a small pick-up car, is a 'fat' woman, and charges based on the ability of the payer - sometimes doing work for free. Also there are children involved throughout, there is very little of the usual sex and violence formula, and the approach is to use imagination rather than powerful and expensive resources. No attempt is made to ignore or bypass that which is not 'normal' and instead every attempt is made to be inclusive. Also in one episode, there are three or four crimes solved, so it is diverse in itself. The first pilot film was shot by the late Anthony Minghella and he did a superb job. The series is really living up to his high standards of production and direction.

To me, this series shows the power of diversity and the mosaic it weaves through everyday life. Without it, life would be so dull. I strongly recommend it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


There is a lot of ignorance about the true benefits of diversity. If asked, people might define it as equal opportunities, equal chances, fair treatment, respect. I have even encountered educated people who ask me 'what's diversity'!

In truth there are no short answers. But if we recognise that all organisations depend on people and their quality and integrity as its very core, then diversity starts to take a whole new world of meaning. Because if we are dealing with people, then we need to understand what it is that really stirs them from the inside - what they believe in, value, like, dislike, and so on. Until we understand that and acknowledge it, we will be working superficially rather than holistically. In reality, this is where most organisations operate - they have a goal, and want to use people to get there. They feel dealing with people's cultures and values is messy and for some, maybe even a breach of their privacy.

Let us take the example of the current financial crisis. How much emphasis was given to evaluating the ethics of bankers, their integrity? What about the economists who teach and write on banking matters - how much do they care about the impact of their writing on society? Are they doing their work just for themselves?

Diversity is about understanding and respecting culture, harnessing the variety of opinions for the steering of the organisation, and building trust and values to make the culture truly global and open. It is not about 9-5 but 5-9 - what the employeed lives and breathes outside of work and how those passions can be harnessed. It is by nature soft, non-mechanical, even unpredictable, but therein also lies its strength. Diversity can cushion an organisation during difficult times, opening new horizons, new ideas for getting out of the mess.

Yes, organisations need to do cultural hedging, improve cultural competence, and see culture as a way of building sustainable wisdoms.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Britain is in a real crisis. At the root of it is a lack of integrity. So many people in public and private office have been deeply mired in the present economic scandal that the mind boggles. I was fortunate to have been researching this area 17 years ago and published a series of papers on bank regulation, critiquing it and raising serious concerns. But I was ignored, partly I am sure because of my ethnicity. How can someone speaking with an accent know the science? And bankers were right because they were making money - and I was not. I chose a poor career out of a deep concern for ethical reform. I inherited a 3000 year old culture of humility and integrity. So little of this is valued today, especially by those in positions of power. But this is the price we are all paying now, for the lack of integrity of those in financial and political power.

Serious reform is needed, and it cannot be undertaken by the elites. It is their time to leave now, and give up the mantle to those with real integrity, not manufactured power.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


President Barack Obama's unique book, 'The Audacity of Hope' has three key chapters devoted to the subjects of values, faith and race. As one of the most visionary leaders of the modern era, it is worth noting that he has identified these subjects as key agendas for the future. These are also the very arenas for which Diverse Ethics has been established - to build bridges of respect and tolerance, and even transform societies by drawing from the wealth of diversity wherever it may come from. This is the huge opportunity waiting for us to tap. The 21st century offers the potential for us to really connect with one another like never before and take our knowledge and understanding to new heights. Our recent book 'Social Cohesion' is an example of the new sets of ideas which can enrich the world by drawing from the wells of ancient wisdom and experience. It is attracting significant interest among policy-makers and thinkers everywhere.

Faith is so often dismissed and misunderstood by the intelligensia. Race is also subjugated by powerful interests, and for so many, values are not of any concern whatsoever. I get shocked when I meet senior leaders who have no concern for the world and its betterment. Here is a simple example - when Britain is in this mess, why is Gordon Brown so keen to get re-elected? Is his aim simply power and status? Who would want to do this dirty job? Only those who are ethically minded should have positions of power - Barack Obama clearly brings this to the fore and is the right person for the challenges ahead. Integrity and values are the key to a better future, and neither of these can be manufactured overnight. We have to actively look for cultures and communities which infuse integrity and remove double-speak or a duplicity in thought and action.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Yesterday, I was at a business breakfast about the London Olympics and the opportunities for businesses to tender for contracts in this space. There was hardly any mention of the importance of cultural diversity in the presentations, and there were only two ethnic minorities in the audience of a total of fifty people. I stood up and reminded the panel that one of the key reasons why London won the bid was because of its huge cultural diversity, and therefore it is a legal duty that ethnic minorities benefit from the contracts that are awarded.

This is the reality of race equality in Britain - having a diversity and equality policy will help you tender for Olympics contracts - it does not matter if the owners and directors are mono-cultural to win, except perhaps for the really big contracts, where companies have rushed to hire some ethnic consultants/advisers to win the tenders. The tick-boxing culture is so rampant in Britain and the understanding of race issues so weak among the majority culture, that there is a huge amount of work to be done. Above all, prejudice is deep and real.

Going back to yesterday, one local Councillor came to me and said 2 per cent of Essex is ethnic so we were proportionately right in the room - he somehow forgot that it was this proportion which helped him win the Olympics in the first instance, even though I had said it loudly in my question. Another Business Link representative said that the event was open to all - so it is upto minorities to make the effort to come - he somehow forgot that Chiness takeaway workers are that because they cannot get any other work nor has anyone taken an interest in their training and development for them to learn and progress - they remain stuck behind the counter and sometimes suffer the swearing and taunts they get from their customers, quietly. This in spite of feeding Britain.

Where does one begin in this dialogue? People are so ignorant of their own prejudices and ethnic minorities so incapacitated that there is much to be done. And when Sir Trevor Phillips says that there is no institutional racism in Britain, I strongly disagree.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The latest report on race in Britain from Race for Opportunity shows yet again the real difficulties for ethnic minorities to attain senior positions in both the private and public sectors - the report actually shows that the gap is likely to widen in the future, rather than narrow. None of this is surprising and there is very little embarassment even after Obama has attained the highest leadership position in the world. The real truth is that there is widespread ignorance in Britain about culture and the benefits of diversity and a real fear of difference, especially among people with positions of power and influence. They would rather have workers whose behaviour is known and predictable. Also all too often, the opportunities, mentoring, training and experience that is required at middle-management levels is denied to them. There is a club mentality and people of different cultures are not allowed to be in this club. Even worse, the phrase 'glass ceiling' suggests you can look but not touch or reach. However, if the ceiling is dark, one cannot even look. There are so many public and private sector organisations which have no visibility among ethnic minorities and therefore, we are not even aware of the possibilities for career potential and progression that lie in these organisations.

If there is a serious commitment to change, then work needs to be done at several levels - leadership training to allay fears of diversity, targets to force leaders to change habits or leave, a communications audit to test how the organisation is perceived by minorities, and a culture of innovation which requires organisations to come up with new ways of operating and involving minorities in the innovation process.

If we look at Universities and Grammar Schools in Britain today, they are disproportionately dominated by high achieving ethnic minority students. If there are such strong blockages to leadership, you can rest assured that many of the cream professionals of this country will be migrating out of Britain in the coming years, leading to a brain drain. At a time of economic crisis, Britain simply cannot afford to lose its best brains. Urgent and decisive action is necessary. No less will do.

Friday, January 09, 2009


Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and one of the foremost animal welfare campaigners in the world, makes the most beautiful and compelling statement about the reasons for treating animals with love, respect and dignity that I have ever heard. The above link is a video of her address at the International Conference on Non-Violence in Bethlehem. I strongly recommend you to watch, listen and share in your classrooms or meeting rooms with friends and family.

The real crux of respect is that we do not see others as separate from us. We need to understand our mutuality and inter-dependence, and she argues, animals are a key part of that inter-dependence. Human wars are not disconnected from our daily war on animals. They are simply another symptom or our machoism and arrogance in the world, a far cry from our innate capacity for peace and compassion.

Ingrid has experienced so much violence in her life, so much bullying, yet she has struggled on and it is so surprising that her voice is filled with compassion in spite of her experiences. Her very life is an expression of inter-dependence and ahimsa. I hope after listening to this, you will find time to explore PETA's excellent website full of free and constructive information and resources and promote it to your friends and family. They also have offices in UK and India and work globally to promote the protection of animals - a charity worthy of support from all who believe in peace.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Children are the innocent victims of war. They become pawns in a struggle they do not understand and whose consequences they can only fear. How do we explain the current Middle East monstrosity to children? My ten year old son looked away when I tried to talk to him. It was as if the whole thing was too confusing and cruel to discuss.

But when has society seen children as a barometer of progress? When have adults given voice to their feelings, hopes and aspirations? How will the credit crunch impact on children? All I can see in UK is vote-buying and white collar corruption for power. The innocence of children is worthy of abuse say the politicians, in a subtle tactless way. Well they are wrong. It is children who remind us about love, kindness, sharing and happiness. It is they who show us selfless and unconditional love.

I heard a programme on BBC Radio 4 about how the Affluenza virus is a particular problem for English nations and someone asked whether this has any cultural causality. To me this is a clear problem, but rarely is there such a self-examination, except perhaps through humour. There is far too much pride at stake. British culture really needs to be put under the microscope to build lasting peace in Britain. No less will do.