High-achieving Indian alumni honoured in UK

Published 29/02/2024

The National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK honoured a group of high-achieving Indian alumni from British universities, celebrating the ‘living bridge’ between the two nations.

The winners were announced at a prestigious ceremony in London, which included keynote speeches from parliamentary peer Lord Bilimoria, assistant secretary general of the Commonweath Luis Gabriel Franceshi and the director of The British Council India, Alison Barrett.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also sent a personal message to the winners recognising the ‘exceptional talent’ and the strength of the ‘special’ UK-India partnership.

Also speaking this week was Labour’s shadow minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Catherine West, who urged more youth from India and the UK to engage in international exchange of education and culture.

At the India-UK Achievers Honours’ reception on February 27, West suggested that the UK is “the best place to be an international student in”.

“We hope that [this event] will encourage students… in India to consider the UK as their main choice and we also hope to encourage our students to go to India,” said West.

The India-UK Achievers Honours celebrate the professional and social contributions of Indians who have studied in the UK.

Alison Barrett MBE, director of British Council India, stated that strengthening the education partnership between the two countries is a “really important part of British Council’s work”.

“This will also help future generations of Indian origin people here to keep in touch with their roots”

“We are delighted to see the real depth and success of the finalists that have been nominated for the awards, think that really demonstrates the quality of the world leading institutions that we have in the UK,” said Barrett.

Speaking with The PIE at a conference day event on February 27, Virendra Sharma said that annual event in London “strengthens the relationship between India and Britain, culturally, academically and professionally”.

“This will also help future generations of Indian origin people here to keep in touch with their roots,” said Sharma.

The winners of the Achievers honours 2024:

Arts, culture and education

Asma Khan | Graduated from King’s College London
Khan founded the Darjeeling Express after starting the business as a home supper club. It is thought to be the only Indian restaurant in the world run by only women. Her success led to roles as UN World Food Programme’s chef advocate and on the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory. Her culinary fame includes recognition in Netflix hit series ‘Chef’s Table’ and topping Business Insider’s 2019 coolest food and drink list.

Atul Khatri | Graduated from University of Manchester
Khatri was honoured for his transition from Mumbai entrepreneur to comedian! He has blended his engineering and management background for comic effect, including ordering soup ‘one by two’ solo. He was celebrated among India’s top 20 comedians by CNN-IBN and is a former winner of ‘CEOs Got Talent’. He also features in hit Netflix series ‘Comedians of the world’.

Business and entrepreneurship

Harish R. Bhat | Graduated from University of Leeds
Bhat has spent over 36 years with Tara Sons, a conglomerate with a wide ranging portfolio. His roles have included brand custodian, managing director of global beverages and COO of Titan’s watches and jewellery. Recognised by Forbes as a top CMO in 2022 and 2023, he is also the author of several bestselling books.

Government and politics

Conrad Sangma | Graduated from Imperial College London
Sangma is the current chief minister of Meghalaya, assuming office in 2018. A member of the National People’s Party he comes from a political lineage. He received the Best Project Award at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2022 for Meghalaya Enterprise Architect, showcasing his commitment to technological advancements.

Jayesh Ranjan | Graduated from LSE
Ranjan is the principal secretary for industries, commerce and IT within the government of Telangana. His role includes policy development, investment attraction and leveraging technology for citizen improvement. Telangana has become a prime investment hub for sectors such as IT, life sciences, aerospace, textiles and food processing.


Samridhi Arora | Graduated from the University of Oxford
A seasoned advocate ate the Supreme Court of India, Arora serves as a member of the UNESCO-IFAP (WGIA) and chairs the A141A conference. She earned a postgraduate degree from the University of Oxford and completed her executive education at Harvard Kennedy School focusing on public policy. She has championed landmark judgements benefitting the underprivileged and disabled.

Media and journalism

Sonia Singh | Graduated from Cardiff University
Singh has been a journalist, senior television anchor, author and editor of Indian network NDTV. In the last three decades she has interviewed prime ministers, presidents, Nobel Laureates and senior government officials. She anchors the interview show ‘The NDTV Dialogues’ which brings together thought leaders in different fields for conversation on Indian contemporary challenges.

Society and policy

Elsa Marie DSilva | Graduated from University of Oxford
Founder of the not for profit Red Dot Foundation (India) and president of Red Dot Foundation Global (US), DSilva has pioneered the Safecity project, a platform that crowdsources experiences of sexual violence worldwide. Launched in 2012, Safecity is the largest crowd map on the issue in India and beyond. Elsa Marie also co-founded the Brave Movement to end global childhood sexual abuse and Beyond Black, an art-driven social enterprise.

Education, science and innovation

Raghu Ram Pillarisetti | Graduated from Royal College of Surgeons
Dr Pillarisetti has revolutionised breast cancer care in India, founding South Asia’s first comprehensive Breast Health Centre and a charity for national awareness. He led South Asia’s largest population-based screening program now expanding nationally across India. He also founded the Association of Breast Surgeons of India.

Best student society

Warwick India Forum | University of Warwick
Warwick India Forum was formed to raise awareness about India and provide a platform to address its socio-economic, political, cultural and environmental issues. Hosting events year-round, including debates and socials, they’ve featured renowned speakers like Shashi Tharoor and Kiran Pedi.

Acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter Zoya Ahktar, was also honoured with a special achievement award and participated in a Q&A with students on the impact of the creative industries in India.

Additional reporting by Nicholas Cuthbert.

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