The British Council had recently organised the Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 on March 19 in New Delhi to honour outstanding success in Entrepreneurship, Professional Achievement, and Social Impact by Indians who have graduated from UK higher education institutions.
The winners were Ankit Mehrotra for the Entrepreneurial Category who graduated from University of Essex and founded Dineout, a premier table reservation service in India; Nishad Chaughule for the Professional Achievement category who had studied at Leeds Beckett University and had made a name for himself as a filmmaker and student Academy award winner; the Social Impact award was won by Ria Sharma, an alumnus of Leeds College of Art for her initiative Make Love Not Scars, an organisation that has helped over 60 survivors of acid attacks medically, legally and financially.
The three winners were invited for the Queen’s Birthday Party celebrations that were held at the British High Commissioner’s residence. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton were the guests of honour for the evening. The winners individually got the opportunity to interact with the Royal Couple.
Ankit Mehrotra, winner of the Entrepreneurial Award, shared his views on meeting the couple; he said “My first impression was “What a beautiful couple”. I was introduced to them as the winner of the Education UK Award for Entrepreneurship. They congratulated me for winning the award and highlighted how important entrepreneurs were for creation of new jobs in any economy. Both of them were very keen to know more about my venture. As I started explaining more to them, the Duke interrupted me and asked me if my business was similar to Opentable in the UK. As I said yes, he immediately mentioned that he exactly knew what Dineout was all about and what a great idea it was as he and The Duchess always had problems reserving tables in London and used similar services. We also spoke about my time in the UK and when I mentioned that I had lived in London for 10 years, and worked as an Investment Banker and then returned back to India to start Dineout, he mentioned that the next decade of business growth will be fuelled by entrepreneurs such as myself creating value for the society. They congratulated me once again, wished me for my continued success and then proceeded towards the stage.”
Writing about her experience, Ria Sharma, winner of the Social Impact Award said “I was ecstatic when I first received an invitation to the queen’s 90th birthday party to be held in Delhi and I was completely overwhelmed when I received a second email saying I would personally get to meet the Royal Couple. The experience in itself was a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from very happy to beyond elated. I had the opportunity to talk to Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge about the issue of acid attacks. We spoke about numbers, how frequently acid attacks happen and also about why they happen. The high number of cases stunned the Duchess, even though she had heard that acid attacks were very frequent in India. In the end she congratulated me, shook my hand and made her way towards the stage for the cake cutting. All in all, it was an experience I will never forget, I actually got to represent my survivors in front of the royal couple and it was an absolute honour.”
Nishad Chaughule, winner of the Professional Achievement Award said “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me by the British Council to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was an extremely surreal experience to meet the future King and Queen of England. I was delighted to be invited to such an event and feel that I am extremely lucky to be one of the few people to actually interact with their Royal Highnesses. They asked me about my work, and they both seemed genuinely interested in the kind of films I am working on or involved with which in itself was a great validation for me to continue doing what I am doing.”