The Labour Friends of India, a Diaspora group supporting the Labour Party, organised a virtual celebration on Zoom to mark  Indian Independence Day on 15th August. 

The event was chaired by Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, Cabinet Member for Economy and Jobs in the London Borough of Croydon.  

The programme started with traditional hoisting of Indian National Flag followed by National Anthem.

Angela Rayner MP, Chair & Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Gaitri Issar Kumar, the High Commissioner of India to the UK were the special guests at the celebrations. The event was also attended by Rajesh Agrawal (Deputy Mayor of London), Darren Jones MP,  Preet Kaur Gill MP (Shadow Secretary of State for International Development), Gurinder Singh Josan CBE (Labour Party National Executive member) and Navendu Mishra MP.

During the celebrations, Angela Rayner MP launched ‘Mahatma Gandhi Future Leaders Programme’ to encourage greater participation of Indian diaspora in the elected offices of the party. The programme is aimed at providing Labour members from the Indian diaspora to put themselves forward and represent the party in a wide range of areas such as community engagement, communications, social media, campaigns and leadership.

Angela Rayner said “I am delighted to join Labour Friends of India as Indians around the world celebrate Independence Day. All across our society, positions of power do not reflect the diversity of our country and our communities so I am really pleased that Labour Friends of India are launching a leadership programme to encourage more people from Indian origin to get involved in politics and to stand for elected office.”

“I’m determined that we use all of the talent and potential in our Party and support people who haven’t previously considered getting involved in politics before.” she added.

The Indian high commissioner to the UK, Ms. Gaitri Kumar, who took over the post very recently, shared the support from the High Commission to our communities during the challenging time of Covid-19 and the future plan to continue the relationships between UK and India.  Her message to the communities was really powerful as she mentioned the India UK relationship as, not only a living bridge, but a loving bridge. 

Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London & co-chair of Labour Friends of India said, ‘The Labour Party needs more diverse candidates coming forward to stand for election and this programme which starts in October will provide Indian Labour members with really useful skills and information to take that step’.

Darren Jones MP, co-chair of Labour Friends of India said, ‘As the Parliamentary lead for Labour Friends of India, I would love to see more Indian origin representation in Parliament and across all levels of government in the UK.”

Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, who chaired the event said: “I am delighted to see the Labour party is bringing in innovative steps to attract people of Indian origin to take active positions within the party.”