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Working With The Gandhi Foundation

Sometimes your ancestors call out to you and make things happen in your present. This is how this story goes…Late last year I started to explore my family history from my mother’s side, regarded as one of the pioneering Indian families in South Africa. I knew that my great-grandfather worked with Gandhi when he was in South Africa and helped Gandhi establish the South African Indian Congress; and that my grandfather was very active with the Indian Congress too and was instrumental in creating change, bringing sport, particularly football to the Indian community in South Africa.

Anyway, I started to think a lot about my grandfathers and their work with Gandhi, fast-forward to September last year, when I was invited to speak at Threads of Change, organised by Khadi London, at the Nehru Centre. At this event, the chairman of the Gandhi Foundation, Mark Hoda came to speak to me. He said he followed his instincts to talk to me (this is why we should always trust our gut instincts, that inner voice) and well, as they say, the rest is history. I am now very proud to be working with the Foundation.

The principles of Gandhi are so relevant to everything that is taking place today – we need to be the change to tackle climate change; we need tolerance for each other and more than anything we need collective people power for peace, and harmony and to create balance.

 

Photo Credits: The Gandhi Foundation

New Bhajan Album Launch, Sama

 

Growing up one of the weekly things I did with my mum was go to something called a bhajan, which I would describe as communal singing of spiritual songs. Bhajan is a centuries-old musical genre and a Sanskrit word that refers to any devotional song with a religious theme or spiritual ideas. So, when international musician and vocalist Bhavik Haria, asked me to work on the launch of his bhajan album, ‘Sama’ I knew it was the right PR project for me.

‘Sama – songs of virtue’, is Bavik’s defining new album, and is music that honours the essence of bhajans, with a contemporary sound. To celebrate the album, we are hosting a special event on 5 June 2024 at the prestigious Nehru Centre, Mayfair London. Where Bhavik will be playing music from the album, performing with talented musicians, which includes a saxophonist and violinist, bringing traditional Indian and Western instruments to create a modern form of bhajan. The event includes special guests and the opportunity for the audience to interact with Bhavik at the end with a Q&A session.

Kaykay Chauhan has produced the album with lyrics by Ajay Chandaran and is in partnership with Arts Council England and Atlantic Electrics. It is also a UK-India production, where the sound includes celebrated musicians from the UK and India. ‘Sama’ takes the listener on a soulful journey of transformation, transcending religious labels. The album explores gratitude, compassion, and the liberating power of forgiveness, important reflections in today’s troubled world.

Bhavik has just returned from a sell-out tour of South Africa and to celebrate ‘Sama’, he will be doing a three-city UK tour this summer, that includes London, Birmingham, and Manchester. Bhavik has evolved the sacred vibration of bhajans to engage new audiences. His concerts are hugely popular drawing ethnically diverse people of all ages, from as young as 10 to 70 plus.

‘Sama’ is part of Bhavik’s mission to #KeepBhajansAlive which he successfully started in 2020 and to help further this work the album has a QR code which gives an English translation of the lyrics from Hindi.

‘Sama’ has already earned praise, and Mark Hoda, Chairman of the Gandhi Foundation says, In today’s conflict-torn world, we need more harmony. We are delighted to support Bhavik Haria’s new album, ‘Sama’, which perfectly aligns with our values to promote unity, peace, and balance. We are behind Sama’s journey for goodwill and compassion.”

Bhavik Haria says, “Sama is a special album, that reflects a universal journey we all share – a search for connection, unity, and balance in a world that often feels chaotic. It goes beyond religious boundaries, to resonate universally with everyone, exploring themes of gratitude, compassion, and the power of forgiveness. It has also been a personal quest to instil the timeless tradition of Bhajans with a new perspective that resonates with today’s generation and is part of my mission to #KeepBhajansAlive. Sama is music that explores unique compositions.”

 

For more information about the event on 5 June or ‘Sama’ drop me a line at sangeeta@serendipitypr.co.uk

New Book: Hindu Astrology – Myths, Symbols And Realities By Dr Anthony P. Stone

 

Why does Hindu astrology work? That is the central question explored in the book, Hindu Astrology by the late Dr. A. P. Stone, a book campaign that Serendipity PR & Media is now working on.

Originally published in hardback, it is now being published in paperback by Pippa Rann Books after being out of print for decades. Its publication date is 20 June 2024 and is available for pre-order from all bookstores and online retailers.

Hindu Astrology transcends all cultures and is a classic, answering questions from – where and how Hindu astrology developed; to what are its similarities with other astrological systems; when does it not work; and everything that the professional astrology and general reader would want to know about this intriguing topic. The book foreword is by Garima Garg, expert and author of, Heavens & Earth: The Story of Astrology through Ages & Cultures.

The author, Dr. Stone, was a mathematics graduate, with a PhD in theoretical physics, both from the University of Oxford. He learnt Sanskrit specifically for the purpose of reading the source documents in their original language and went on to write this authoritative book.

Originating in ancient India, and based on the Vedas (the oldest sacred text of Hinduism), Hindu astrology tracks planets, stars, and constellations to predict the future, while Western astrology uses the position of the Sun. Hindus believe that their astrological system gives an insight into personalities, and trust it for decision-making regarding everything from marriage to moving home, to business deals, and even when or what to eat or drink.

Prabhu Guptara, Founder, of Pippa Rann Books & Media says, “Hindu astrology is a fascinating subject and a powerful tool that is trusted by over a billion people to provide valuable insight and guidance on every aspect of life. I wanted to reprint this book and release it in paperback so that the work of Dr. Stone becomes accessible to all who want to understand more about this ancient system”.

Both the publisher, Prabhu Guptara and Garima Garg, who wrote the book foreword are available for any media interviews – contact us for any media queries.

 

More about the author – Dr Stone arrived in India in 1956, and taught mathematics at colleges in Bengal, Kerala, and Delhi. He became intrigued with the Hindu obsession of astrology and learned Hindi at Delhi University and Sanskrit at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to understand the subject. He was accepted as a Fellow of the Indian Association for History and Philosophy of Sciences, and a Life Member of the Indian Mathematical Society and of the Indian Society for the History of Mathematics.

The renowned psychologist Carl Jung, in his book Psychology and Eastern Religion, says about astrology, “Everything that we are not consciously in contact with, appears to us as destiny”.

India’s 75th Republic Day Celebrated In the UK

What a brilliant night it was here in London, celebrating India’s 75th Republic Day on 26 January at the Guildhall organised by the High Commission of India. It was a colourful affair, truly representing the ‘living bridge’ between these two nations of sharing innovation, knowledge, and culture.

 

Republic Day is a national holiday in India and commemorates the adoption of the Constitution of India and the country’s transition to a republic which came into effect on 26 January 1950. The day is celebrated with a colourful parade, where this year French President Emmanuel Macron was the chief guest, which I believe shows how everyone wants to do business with this powerful country.

Part of the parade is always a display of the country’s cultural heritage as well as its military might and for the first time, an all-women contingent of the army, air force, and navy also marched in the parade.

This strong woman military theme from India carried over, here to the UK, where the highlight of the evening for me was meeting the invincible “Preet Chandi, known here as Polar Preet, who crossed Antarctica, and broke two Guinness World Records in Jan 2023, for both the longest solo unsupported one-way polar ski journey for a woman and also the longest solo unsupported one-way polar ski journey overall and is also breaking stereotypes.

They say never meet your heroes as they often disappoint, but this wasn’t the case when I met Polar Preet who was warm, kind, and generous with her time…not just to me but to everyone who wanted to meet her.

Polar Preet was with her colleagues from the British Army, and it was good to see them, fully immersed in the evening, representing the harmony between the UK and India, and a friendship that is highly valued.

 

India’s External Affairs Minister of India, Dr S Jaishankar In London

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!

 

 

 

Best Seller MY SILK ROAD Now Available In Paperback

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 – sangeeta@serendipitypr.co.uk

Threads of Change 2023 DAY 3 – Responsible Business and Co-creation

 

 

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

In Conversation With: Celebrated Fashion Designer, Rina Dhaka on 23 August, 6pm to 8pm

Calling all fashion lovers on 23 August, from 6 pm to 8 pm, I will be in conversation with the celebrated and much-loved designer, Rina Dhaka who the BBC has called the ‘Gautier’ of the East. Rina has dressed Naomi Campbell, Uma Thurman, and many more…she is known for her combinations of traditional Indian fashions with modern fabrics like Lycra and jersey, bridging traditional rich and contemporary styles in her fashion collections.

At India Fashion Week, her work was recognized as the best collection in Milan! Rina Dhaka entered the Indian fashion scene in the 1980s and since then her work has represented India globally in France and Germany and been exhibited in New York, London, and too many cities to mention; she won the best designer award in Miami Fashion Week 2004.

My favourite bit is that Rina has created collections which focus on sustainability as the way forward in fashion and is a PETA India Ambassador. Collaborating with the NGO Smile and Honour, Rina has dedicated profits from her Indian Couture Week show to their operations in raising awareness for girl child empowerment.

This is a Bridge India event, an influential think tank, whose events are always a relaxed affair. On 23 August I will be chatting with Rina about her career, what inspires her, discovering her epic global journey of Indian fashion and there will be an opportunity for the audience to ask their own questions.

My other favourite bit is that after the session, we will have time for drinks, snacks, and networking. Click to book

One more thing is that the venue is the famous, eccentric, and much loved The India Club, 143 Strand, London, so if you have not been here yet, you have been missing out.

Values20 India – Official Communiqué

 I am very proud to have been part of the V20 India and to have edited the official Communiqué of the V20 India 2023, which provides a comprehensive summary of the key recommendations of all three task forces, where climate change and sustainability had big roles throughout this report.

The V20 India Summit was held on July 7th and 8th and received resounding acclaim as it placed a significant emphasis on Values, encapsulating the shared objective of forging a brighter future. The V20’s unwavering commitment is to #LEADwithValues and is its driving force.

The Communiqué was recognised by the United Nations in India, acknowledging the significance of the V20 India Summit in the global arena. Mr. Shombi Sharp, UN Resident Coordinator, India, placed value on the work of the V20 India and highlighted India’s growing role as a provider of development solutions on the global stage, considering India’s presidency of the G20.

To view the full Communiqué you can see it by clicking here. Enjoy the read!

Talking Points With Keith Vaz

 

I had great fun speaking with Keith Vaz on his radio show, Talking Points on Lyca Radio, who is a wonderful warm host, who keeps his guests on their toes. We talked about lots of things from brands, PR, my book, Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations, Donald Trump, speech writing, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

If you want to listen to the show, you can catch it here and you will also find out what’s my favourite Bollywood film song and why…