As the general election looms, all three major political parties have been on a schmooze blitz with the British Asian community in recent weeks.
During the annual Diwali reception at 10 Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron had called for more British Asian representation in the highest echelons of British politics, the judiciary and armed services.
Speaking during the GG2 Leadership Awards in London on Wednesday night, Mr Cameron ramped it right up saying he wants to see a British Indian Prime Minister in the near future.
“When I hear ‘sir’, ‘your honour’ or ‘right honourable’, I want them to be followed by a British Asian name”, Mr Cameron said.
“One day I want to hear that title ‘Prime Minister’ followed by a British Asian name”, he continued before adding the caveat “although not just yet”, doubtless keen to return to Downing Street for another five years next year.
Continuing a theme of his speeches to British Asian audiences this year, Mr Cameron reiterated the need for the establishment to do more to engage with Britain’s most important ethnic minority community.
“In Britain today there are still too few people from ethnic minorities in top positions.
“The absence is glaring in the boardrooms of the FTSE250, in the Chambers of the Houses of Parliament, football managers’ benches, on High Court judges benches, and in our fighter jets, our naval ships, our armed battalions around the world and I am clear this has to change, not to tick boxes, not to fill quotas but to realise our full potential.
“Britain will only be the best it can be when all its people are able to be all that they can be. We must remove the barriers that stop people getting on”.
The GG2 Leadership Awards honour the most influential Asians in the UK and this year’s winner was something of a no-brainer, a sentiment that is not often associated with Asian award ceremonies.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid – described by Mr Cameron as “that brilliant Asian man ” – topped the list this year.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid – The Most Influential Asian in Britain
Mr Javid is the only British Asian in cabinet and is widely touted as Mr Cameron’s successor as leader of the Conservative Party and a future Prime Minister.
The son of a bus driver, Mr Javid worked as an investment banker in New York and the City, amassing a fortune estimated at £20 million, before turning to politics.
He rose swiftly through the Conservative ranks and was appointed Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport and Minister of Equalities in April 2014 – thereby becoming the first British Pakistani to lead a government department.
He dedicated his honour last night to his parents, in particular his father, who was born in British India and fled the horrors of Partition, arriving in Britain in 1961 with just £1 in his pocket.
Referring to Mr Javid, Mr Cameron said: “Doesn’t it say something that in two generations you can go from coming to our country with so little to sitting around the Cabinet table.
“That is the sort of country we are building in the United Kingdom.”
However, none of the speeches by Messres Cameron, Javid as well as Labour MP Keith Vaz, made mention of the fact that Mr Javid’s father would not have been able to get into England in 2014 under the Conservatives’ increasingly stringent visa rules for non-EU citizens.
Business Tycoon Rami Ranger – ‘Man of the Year’
Other winners on the night included business tycoon Rami Ranger, who was named ‘Man of the Year’, and Dame Asha Khemka – ‘Woman of the Year’: both personally honoured by Mr Cameron who referred to them as his “close friends”.
Dame Asha Khemka – ‘Woman of the Year’
The diverse list of Asian influencers this year also includes mainstays such as Keith Vaz, Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti as well as British Pakistani One Direction star Zayn Malik among others.