By Tasha Mathur (Twitter: @tashamathur)
Grosvenor House in Park Lane was greeted with a blast of Indian spice and colour as The Asian Awards celebrated yet another year of achievements by the Asian community last Friday.
Currently in its fourth year, The Asian Awards has become the most prestigious event for honouring Asian excellence across the globe. The ceremony attracted big names from all walks of life such as The Only Way is Essex’s Jasmin Walia, One Direction heartthrob Zayn Malik, England cricketer Monty Panesar, singer and former Eastenders actress Preeya Kalidas, singer songwriter Laura Mvula (donning a fantastic turquoise sari) and fashion designer Karen Millen. The Awards also hosted a charity auction aiming to raise money for their event sponsor, Oxfam.
Aiming to encompass not only South Asia but also other countries, including the Far East, in the term ‘Asian’ allowed television presenter, Gok Wan, to take home the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Television’ Award. Other categories included ‘Outstanding Achievement in Cinema’, ‘Outstanding Achievement in Music’ and ‘Outstanding Achievement in the Arts’. However, in this day and age, are ceremonies such as The Asian Awards still relevant and needed?
Founder of The Asian Awards and successful Asian businessman, Paul Sagoo, explained, “I wanted to create a platform where we could honour the very best of the Asian community at a global level rather than a national level. There are many awards that exist in the UK but they’re very UK centric and what I wanted to do was create an event where we could honour people who had achieved through their various endeavours globally.” Expanding their horizons on a global level, had allowed the ceremony to bestow The Fellowship Award to Hong Kong actor, Jackie Chan; recognising people’s achievements from across the world. However, the highlight of the evening was awarding The Founders Award to Ahmed Kathrada; a South African politician and former political prisoner who was sentenced in 1964 alongside Nelson Mandela. The award was aptly presented by Idris Elba who played Mandela in the biographical film, Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom.
Speaking specifically about South Asians in the UK, Sagoo tells me, “I think one of the things I really appreciate about South Asian people in this country is we’re triers. We’ve tried everything. We’ve gone into every aspect of every business that’s possible. We’ve tried television, we’ve tried cinema, we’ve tried music. We try everything and now we’re actually seeing the the fruits of those efforts and I think what’s interesting is that there’s more to come.”
However, as The Asian Awards only hold one category dedicated to media (Outstanding Achievement in Television), could this indicate that there is still a lack of Asian representation within the industry? “A lot of Asians have gone into the media industry, I think one in every three newscasters now is a South Asian. Now, if you say to your parents, “I want to go on television”, “I want to be in Eastenders”, your parents are supportive. They understand. The barriers have been broken by pioneers such as Meera Syal and Sanjeev Bhaskar. I think it’s important that we start to look at these other careers because they offer a massive opportunity in terms of us growing as individuals whilst living here. But also if you talk about social integration, it’s the best way for it to happen. A classic example is someone like George Alagiah; respected by anyone and everyone. Not just because he’s Asian, but because he’s a fantastic journalist.”
For more information about The Asian Awards, visit: http://www.theasianawards.com
The Asian Awards 2014 Winners:
Outstanding Achievement in the Arts: Sir David Tang
Outstanding Achievement in Television: Gok Wan
Outstanding Achievement in Cinema: Irrfan Khan
Outstanding Achievement in Music: Norah Jones
Business Leader of the Year: Dr Cyrus Poonawalla
Outstanding Achievement in Sport: MS Dhoni
Public Servant of the Year: Salil Shetty
Entrepreneur of the Year: Lui Che Woo
Outstanding Achievement in Science & Technology: Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
The Founders Award: Ahmed Kathrada
Fellowship Award: Jackie Chan