A pioneering principal has won a special award for her work to improve relations between India and the UK.
Dame Asha Khemka (pictured), principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College Group, was presented with the inaugural Dadabhai Naoroji Award for Education at the Foreign Office in London.
She was given the award for championing the role of UK further education colleges in supporting the Indian government’s ambition to train 500 million people in vocational skills by 2022.
Dame Asha married at the age of 15 and arrived in the UK from India with three small children and no ability to speak English.
She helped found AoC India, a partnership of 33 UK colleges aiming to help meet the sub-continent’s skills agenda, and has accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg on their respective three-day trade missions to India in February 2013 and August 2014. She was named a Dame in the New Year’s Honours list.
Launched by Mr Clegg earlier this year, the Dadabhai Naoroji Awards are dedicated to the first Asian Member of the UK Parliament and the man who brought the first Indian businesses to the UK.
Mr Clegg said Dame Asha had “worked tirelessly to strengthen the bond between the UK and India.”
Mr Doel said she was an “inspirational leader” whose dedication and commitment was “truly transformative”.
Dame Asha said she was “deeply humbled” by the honour. “While there is still much more to do, I am confident that the work we have started on joint projects such as the development of a number of community colleges, will result in further projects,” she said.
West Nottinghamshire College Group is currently working with the Cordia Group of Educational Institutes to establish a new construction college in Sanghol, Punjab.
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