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India’s External Affairs Minister of India, Dr S Jaishankar was in London in November. To mark his visit, I was invited to a special event, entitled, How a Billion People See the World, organised by foreign policy agency Wilton Park in partnership with the High Commission of India in London. It was an in-conversation session, with Lionel Barber, ex-editor of the Financial Times with the Minister held at the Royal Over-Seas League.
It was a gritty conversation and Barber put Dr. Jaishankar in the hot seat, where China, Canada, Russia, oil, and India’s rise of secularism were discussed and climate change came up twice. On the issue of China, Dr. Jaishankar emphasised that the rise of China is a reality but there is an equal reality which is the rise of India, and said, “The rise may be different…quantitatively or qualitatively they may not be identical.” While on Canada’s allegation of India’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, he said, “Look, if you have a reason to make such an allegation, please share the evidence with us. We are not ruling out an investigation and looking at anything that they may have to offer. They haven’t done so” adding that Canada has not yet shared any evidence on Nijjar’s murder with India.
On the topic of secularism, he said it does not mean non-religious, but equal respect to all faiths, that the “appeasement” government policies of the past made the biggest religion of the country feel like it had to be self-deprecatory in the name of equality, adding that the political and social changes seen in India in the last few years have partly been a reaction “at an intellectual and political level” to this sense of unfairness. Jaishankar was also asked if India had changed since the Nehruvian era to become less liberal and more “Hindu majoritarian” under the BJP-led government. While asserting that India had certainly changed, Jaishankar was categorical that the change did not mean India being less liberal but rather “more authentic” about expressing its beliefs. “We are more Indian, more authentic. We are not today, either currying favour before a global audience or really trying to live up to some kind of left-wing liberal construct which a lot of Indians felt was not us.”
This question-and-answer session marked the minister’s final engagement in London as he concluded his five-day UK visit, oh and to add we were all given a copy of Dr. Jaishankar’s book that day, and I managed to get mine signed!
They say there’s no rest for the wicked and it’s true! Soon after the Business Show, I did a podcast conversation with Jo Salter, host of the Where Does It Come From podcast about greenwashing, corporate social responsibility (CSR), fast fashion, the power of local communities, fake news, and of course my book, CSR Is Not PR.
So if you have time, do have a listen to my dulcet tones and let us know what you think!
It was an incredible full-on two days at the Business Show at the Excel Centre in London on 22 and 23 November. We met lots of people, talked to lots of companies about corporate social responsibility (CSR), talked to many people about the book, CSR Is Not PR, sold lots of copies of the book, and just had a good time.
On the first day of the Show, which was 22 November, we also had an opportunity to create an interactive session about the book, which was very popular, where lots of people had to stand. I am grateful to Ben Walker, the award-winning business editor, for being such a great host and getting everyone involved. There were some great questions from the audience, with two questions that kept cropping up – what’s the difference between CSR and ESGs (environment, social, and governance); and how do you track CSR?
There was a lot of love for the book, and the two posters proved to be a hit, we had lots of attendees coming over to take photos for that Instagram moment! My highlights were when someone came rushing over to the stall to buy a copy of the book, because they had seen so many people carrying the book at the Show and had FOMO! The other moment was when the company, Print and Trees arranged to plant a tree in South America to acknowledge the book and support it.
I want to say a few thank yous – to my publisher, LID Business Media, and everyone who swung by our stall at the Business Show. I shall leave you with a few more photos from the event.
I will be in the hot seat with business journalist Ben Walker at The Business Show in London on 22 November at 1.15 pm in Theatre 7 at London Excel, talking about CSR Is Not PR. This will be a lively conversation, and we will be getting the audience involved!
This year the Business Show has a strong sustainability theme and quite rightly so! Businesses need to get with the programme and understand why being CSR-led, eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethical is extremely good for business and really no longer an option.
Ben serves as editor-at-large of Dialogue Review, the official leadership and management journal of Duke Corporate Education, published by LID business media…and there will be free copies of Dialogue for the audience.
So come join us and be part of the conversation. Copies of my book, Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations will be available.
Good to be working on the publicity campaign for My Silk Road, The Adventures and Struggles of a British Asian Refugee by author and businessman Ram Gidoomal, CBE with a foreword by Dame Prue Leith, DBE, which will now be in paperback from 19 November 2023 and is published by Pippa Rann Books & Media. This is a powerful autobiography of legacy, struggles, belonging, and hope – of a rich boy turned refugee who had his dreams and plans ripped away from him, and how he goes on to create success beyond his imagination.
Dame Pru Leith, DBE says in her Foreword, “The result is a book that is deeply stimulating and challenging, but also riveting, witty, and humorous – and therefore inspiring.”
My Silk Road aims to encourage everyone who is struggling to move forward in life. Gidoomal shares stories that demonstrate the difference made by a can–do attitude, a spirit of generosity, and prioritizing relationships. Through all these, he shares the secrets of living a life that marries deep compassion with success, a generous life that reaps unexpected rewards.
This memoir is reflective of what’s happening today globally, with people being displaced by conflict, and needing to start their lives again in a different country. The author, Ram Gidoomal, was born into a family that fled British India during the partition of India and Pakistan, who became an Indian immigrant family of silk traders in Kenya, where he enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Mombasa. As he turned 17, his family faced a devastating second deportation to London. Starting from scratch, Gidoomal built a successful high-profile career in business, where he was on the road to prosperity and fortune when a life-changing journey led him to dedicate his business skills and profits to those who need them most.
My Silk Road is Gidoomal’s ninth book. He has received numerous recognitions for his books and other contributions, including Honorary Doctorates from three UK universities. In 2021 was included in High Flyers Global 50, which recognises the 50 most eminent people of Indian origin living and working outside India. In 1998, his contributions to the community were recognised by the award of a CBE from Her Late Majesty The Queen.
Below is just a sample of the praise that My Silk Road has received:
“wit, verve, and searing honesty” – Lord McColl of Dulwich
“Once you start reading, you cannot put it down” – Lord Vallance of Tummel
“Lifts the heart and spirit” –Baroness Cumberlege CBE DL
“Extraordinary” – Vice-Admiral Sir Adrian Johns KCB CBE DL, former Second Sea Lord and Governor of Gibraltar
Interested in the book and/or the author do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
I am delighted to be able to participate in the Threads of Change event that is being organized by Khadi London and Chelsea College at the prestigious Nehru Centre in London, where I will be talking about corporate social responsibility and the themes from my book CSR Is Not PR. This is a free event that runs over five days, from 16 to 20 October.
Natural fibres, regenerative practices and heritage textile crafts all have a key role to play as the world faces choices in its journey towards a sustainable future…could the fashion and textiles industry drive the change, thread by thread? This curated exhibition is aimed at everyone, from those in the global fashion and textiles community to all of us as consumers who want to see revolutionary change and who recognise our collective power to make it happen. This is where CSR comes in as we as consumers are voting with our wallets and want to buy from businesses and brands that care about the planet.
Khadi London is a UK-based social enterprise focusing on sharing knowledge and skills in regenerative textiles. This five-day event will feature a range of discussions from the regenerative production of fibres to talks from businesses working with these fibres to the steps that must happen to enable the wider adoption of these approaches. Craft Demonstrations including natural dyes, spinning and block printing will be a part of the exhibition.
Each day is themed as follows:
Monday & Tuesday – Climate Change and Social Justice
Wednesday – Responsible Business and Co-creation
Thursday – Education, Heritage, and Culture
Friday – Culture and Inclusive Eco-System
I will be speaking on Thursday 19, between 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm and you can find out more and book tickets here on eventbrite.
Photo credit: Khadi London
And I am pleased to say that CSR Is Not PR was well received by the PR community. Sir David Attenborough has called the plight of the planet a communications issue and yes it does start with us in the media industry…we can help brands be more accountable, to do better, and be authentic about their values and storytelling. There is no room for any business or brand to be making up fairytales, as that’s just greenwashing. Consumers are savvy and voting with wallets, loyal to brands and businesses that are eco-friendly, ethical, and doing right by the environment. After all, there is no business without the planet.
I was invited to interview author Kate Rawles about her book, The Life Cycle – 8,000 Miles In The Andes By Bamboo Bike for the Thames Ditton Nature and Climate Festival that ran from 8-10 September, and what a conversation we had! Kate shared with us the devastation that she witnessed as she rode her bike, called Woody through this great landscape. The Andes is among the world’s longest mountain ranges, with a varied terrain that encompasses glaciers, volcanoes, grassland, desert, lakes, and forest. The mountains shelter pre-Columbian archaeological sites and wildlife including chinchillas and condors. From Venezuela in the north, the range passes through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
Kate is a fabulous storyteller and had us enthralled with her honest account of what she saw and experienced, threaded with some lighter moments of humour, leaving us with a message of hope…that we can make the change needed by our planet as a community.
Christiana Figueres, former head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change has said about this book, “A heart-wrenching and heart-warming ride through South America and into the punding soul of the vibrant biodiversity we have ignored for way too long.”
Did you watch this brilliant and honest conversation with Ingmar Rentzhog CEO and Co-Founder of We Don’t Have Time about the climate crisis? Well don’t worry, you can watch it here. This video since its release on 7 September has had 947K views alone on Twitter also known as X.
And yes the cat is out of the bag, I am writing my third book, for publication in 2024. It is a pro-planet book, about legacy and climate change, with a diversity of voices. This book draws on the inspiration from the success, of CSR Is Not PR and includes ‘in conversations’ with global change makers about the climate crisis.