London, Dec 12 (BAN): Can one ever anticipate what impact our choices will have on the rest of our lives? Voices from Punjab are a collection of fifteen stories celebrating the strength and resilience of Punjabi women living in the UK. From highly influential individuals living in politics to award winning leaders, inspirational philanthropist to ordinary women who have embraced British life, all share their personal experiences of racism, gender inequality and the partition of India and Pakistan. Together and alone they overcame adversity and dealt with the complexity of embracing dual identities and balancing a career with family life.
The crowd poured in at Foyles bookstore at London’s Charring Cross on December 02nd, 2019 greeted by the author Anita Goyal and co-author Aastha Singhania on the evening of the book launch. Avnish Goyal greeted the audience in the introduction and said, “The Hemraj Goyal Foundation has been heavily involved behind this and we want to make it absolutely clear that every single penny spent on the book tonight will go towards a livelihood project in Punjab.”
Suzi Mann hosted the evening and on speaking to British Asia News said, “it is an absolute honour for me to be part of this amazing book launch especially when I am a Punjabi woman myself.”
She added on by saying, “What I learnt from reading this book is that every single one of us has a story to tell a lesson to teach and wisdom to share. Voices from Punjab is not just a book that celebrates the strength and resilience of 15 Punjabi women but in these stories you may find yourself, your mum, your dadi (paternal Grandmother), nani (maternal grandmother), your daughter-in-law, your cousin or even your friends because life is a beautiful master piece and it is all about our experiences we have had which, not all, unfortunately, are pleasant.”
Amongst all the amazing things Anita does, being a CEO of Hemraj Goyal Foundation is one. Suzi asked how she managed to write a book to which she responded, “I am a great believer in having a vision. If you want to do something you just got to do it. One has to schedule it in their diary and make things happen, and also what’s helped me is having Aastha alongside me on this book. Aastha has kept me on track. It has been an incredible journey for us both.”
Aastha adds on and said, “She told me about her vision and I agreed immediately. I could just visualise what she wanted to do. I am Punjabi by birth, so for me it was very easy to mould into the whole thing smoothly.Anita completely pushed me to achieve my dream.”
Some of the women from the book who had attended were called upon the stage and spoke about what it meant for them to have this opportunity to voice their story. A very emotional Dr Kamel Hothi OBE tells her story how she rose from being a cashier to the company’s first woman Asian Bank Manager and then Director. She experienced first-hand the struggles of smashing glass ceilings, discrimination and gender imbalance across the banking sector over 4 decades resulting in her forming the BAME and Women’s network to help others realise their talent.
Baroness Sandip Verma spoke about being the ‘Daughter of Amritsar’, as titled in the book, “My mother went for prayers in the Golden temple and me being the difficult child I decided to go into labour for her and so from the Golden temple we went straight to the hospital and then here I am. I was extremely blessed to have been starting my journey off in such a phenomenally spiritual place.”
Voices from Punjab also explores the lives of everyday women who have made great sacrifices to bestow a wealth of opportunity upon future generations. Each and every story illuminates the immeasurable contribution Punjabi women have made to British society. Through their words of wisdom, we truly begin to understand how values and persistence are key to triumphing over adversity.
Anita and Aastha signed the books in the latter half of the evening, by selling the books at £10 per book, with 100 percent proceeds being donated for a women’s livelihood project in Punjab, India. The event was hosted for an amazing cause and the book is still available to order www.hgf.org.uk. The book is also available at Amazon UK, Waterstones, WHSmiths and Troubador online.
You can watch exclusive interviews below with Kalbir Bains, Sandeep Verma, Mandeep Rai and many more whose voices have been lent to this book.Also, watch theexclusive interview at the book launch with the author Anita Goyal and Aastha Singhania.