The world is changing, with an ever-increasing desire to improve the inclusivity and diversity across all walks of life. One positive sign of this was when Trupti Patel was voted in as the first female President of The Hindu Forum of Britain (HFB) back in 2014.
Global Indian Stories caught up with Trupti Patel to ask her about her ground-breaking appointment and how she sees her role.
Can you tell us more about the HFB?
The Hindu Forum of Britain is the largest umbrella body for British Hindus with more than 320 Hindu member organisations from around the country. HFB is the first port of call from the central government and the most reported Hindu organisation in the British media. It is representative of the voice of the Hindus in the community as well as with Government, institutions, and organisations.
What experience made you ideal for the job?
I trained as a civil engineer, gaining a BEng in Civil Engineering at Sardar Patel University in India. It was a path that I continued to follow when I came to Britain, I’m a member of the Charter Institution of Highways and Transportation UK.
I found that I was the first woman civil engineer of Asian origin in the UK, so I already had experience as being the first woman in a field traditionally associated with men.
Over the years, I had also built up my experience with roles such as being the President of Hindu Council of North, Vice President North – Hindu Forum Britain, the First Hindu Chairperson of the Interfaith Forum Oldham, and President of the Indian Association of Oldham.
What core beliefs have you brought to your Presidency?
I strongly believe in ‘one world, one family’ main mantra of the Hindu Dharma. I respect all and believe that dialogue in caring and sharing good practices bring positive energy in the society and create harmony.
I also believe that a society that is well integrated will be a society in which peoples of all faiths and backgrounds have equal opportunities and share common civic values of law, human rights, solidarity, and trust.
I am totally committed to the interfaith working towards harmony and cohesion in the community in the UK.
How have you spread the message of Hinduism?
As the President of the HFB, I regularly attend Interfaith events, conferences and meetings to create awareness about Hindu dharma, humanity and advancement towards peace. I have also organised many Interfaith meetings and festivals during my voluntary work of 42 years in the UK.
How has your previous experience helped?
Over the years, I’ve been regularly involved in strategy reviews, support and assistance with developing and delivering business plans, and used my technical training and practical experience to assist and advise enterprises, organizations, and individuals in various aspects of community group start up, strategy, management and finance, and development.
My track record has shown that I carry out my duties whilst taking everyone else on board, plus I use transparent management and best value practices.
I also founded a Supplementary Arts school and successfully managed a number of local government and commercial organizations (including various divisions at Salford City Council, Manchester City Council, and Three Rivers District Council), a number of charities, and a temple.
All of these have helped me and given me skills that have supported my work as President of The Hindu Forum of Britain.
You support charities too, can you give us an example?
I’ve hosted fundraising events for national charities like the British Heart Foundation. Supporting charities allows me to promote integration and harmony, letting me participate in a way that makes me feel that I can achieve real social progress.
What do you do to relax?
I like yoga. More than that, I’m a trained yoga teacher. I’m qualified from both Gujarat Yog Sameeti and the Patanjali Yog Peeth Trust.
Smita is a multi-cultural freelance journalist, writer, and filmmaker based out of the US, London, Hong Kong, and India. Global Indian Stories is her brain-child. Created to chronicle diaspora stories written by Indians of all age groups, from different walks of life across the globe, Smita makes sure that the platform remains inclusive and positive.