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. She has now become the first women Hindu Faith representative and Trustee to the Interfaith Network UK, elected by receiving nominations from three national umbrella organisations namely The HFB, National Council of Hindu Temples and Vishava Hindu Parisad UK. Trupti will be representing Hindus and Hinduism in all key global platforms, including the United Nations, DFID and beyond.
globalindianstories.org 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 utilise my skills gained in my professional career and my continual voluntary work
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, along with working full time , I achieved post graduation in Highways and Transportation from the City University and became fellow of the Charter Institution of Highways and Transportation UK.
In 2004 , I became the first woman civil engineer of Asian origin in the UK to hold highest office in a Local Government so I already had experience as being the first woman of Indian origin 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 of the HFB, the First Hindu Chairperson of the Interfaith Forum Oldham and President of the Indian Association of Oldham. My involvement with community engagement spanned over 40 years and was so sad to retire form the trusteeship of the Community Arts Northwest and Voluntary Community Faith Partnership in 2016 when I moved back to London from the North West.
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. I regularly participate with BBC Asian and other radio networks and help BBC School to produce the first Diwali awareness programme in 1978. The best experience was working for Granada TV when I participated in two episodes of My Favourite hymns with my dance students .
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, organisations, 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 organisations (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 education charities in the UK and in India allows me to promote integration and harmony, letting me participate in a way that makes me feel that I can achieve real social progress.
In 2002 Commonwealth games and celebrations of Queens Jubilee created opportunities for communities across the region and beyond to working together and showcase their work to the mass audiences
My volunteers and I set up an organisation called Nrtya Jyoti, a community arts organisation and a supplementary school of Indian Association in Oldham to participate in many of the festivals, conduct workshops and conferences and continued our activities for 17 years. Under my project management, we took over 300 women and children to participate in closing ceremony of CG, QJ celebrations, urban skies and in the mix by CAN.
Over the years we trained over 200 students and artists in various art forms besides dancing traditional classical and folk dances and performing arts along with training them in Indian traditional handicrafts like tie-dye and block work printing, story-telling, script writing, music, film-making, making the traditional Rangoli; the list is endless.
We regularly participated at events organised by various local authorities and faith organisations like Adam’s day celebrations, fundraising for Rotary, a 5K run for Cancer research, cycle4 sewa and for sewa international.
What do you do to relax?
I love Bhartiya Arts , like teaching yoga to intergenerational groups as I’m a trained yoga teacher and qualified from both Gujarat Yog Sameeti and the Patanjali Yog Peeth Trust .
Do you encourage the common man to reach out to you?
Yes, I am happy to hear from you. Please feel free to write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact me at: 07875015865
To summarise who this fiery, passionate and yet amicable person is, Mrs Trupti Patel is an FCIHT, MSc. Highways and Transportation, BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering, MISTD -Visharad Bharat Natyam (B Arts ), a Yoga Teacher, and most importantly, a tolerant and educated Hindu believing in inclusivity, empowerment of women and an equal world that will pave a way for a brighter future for the generations ahead.
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.