The event, which will coincide with International Women’s Day on Monday, will bring together senior officials, dignitaries, students, staff and stakeholders from both nations. The roundtable will diversify UK-India relations, and celebrate the outcomes and achievements of the inaugural ‘The Kaifi Azmi Global-India Virtual Paired Internships’ programme, which had talented students from UK and India working passionately in pairs to deliver impactful outcomes on live community development projects.
Led by Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS), a leading NGO championing sustainable development and empowering women and girl children in rural India, this project was facilitated by the University India Centre in collaboration with GRD College of Science. Student interns participated in two live projects: Rozgar Dhaba, a community information hub for boosting job opportunities and mitigating unsafe migration in rural areas, and Project Samridhi, aimed at developing digital infrastructure and e-commerce for supporting women entrepreneurs across villages in India.
This prestigious roundtable will feature a special address from the veteran Bollywood actress and President of MWS, Shabana Azmi, along with key note addresses from dignitaries including the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to UK Charanjeet Singh, the British Deputy High Commissioner to India Jan Thompson, Ruth Kattumuri, Senior Director, Economic, Youth & Sustainable Development of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Rebecca Fairbairn, Director of UKRI India.
One of the key highlights of the event will be the felicitation of Aditi Subedi, a young girl born and educated in Mijwan village, who recently made a successful debut in the Indian film industry. Baithak UK, a London-based non -profit organisation promoting the rich legacy of south Asian arts founded by Sangeeta Datta, in partnership with the University of Southampton India Centre, the India Business Group London and GRD College of Science in India will honour Miss Subedi with the ‘2021 Most Inspiring Youth for Social Change’ award.
Shabana Azmi shares, “I am delighted to see Mijwan Welfare Society’s partnership with University of Southampton growing strongly and significantly over the last few years. It is so refreshing to see how a simple, innovative model of a paired virtual internship programme, engaging a high calibre of talented students from Southampton and GRD College of Science, generated meaningful impact on ordinary lives and livelihood in rural communities. Kudos to India Centre for supporting our work at Mijwan Welfare Society and realising our aspirations to fruition”.
Professor Jane Falkingham OBE, Vice-President International and Executive Director, University India Centre states, “We are delighted to support bilateral social enterprise initiatives engaging bright young minds and strengthen our existing collaboration with Mijwan Welfare Society, as a part of our continued global commitment to changing the world for better”.
Professor KK Ramachandran, Vice-Principal of GRD College of Science, says “Mijwan Welfare Society is connecting our students from the India and UK to address real life challenges in Indian villages and enabling a positive impact at grassroots level has empowered our students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, and preparing them for the new global job market”.
Amarjit Singh, CEO of India Business Group and founding co-Director of University India Centre, adds, “This transformative collaboration between Mijwan Welfare Society and stakeholders in delivering cross-border enterprise projects amid the COVID-19 pandemic is refreshing, and adds significant value to the growing UK-India partnership as they embrace the Government of India’s flagship initiatives such as digital India and Make in India”.