The sound of crickets outside in the evening, fresh coconut water available from the street stalls and an amazing group of 40 "leaders" from UK and India coming together in Pune bodes well for a stimulating and challenging week networking with people minded to social change. It's the first round of the Dishaa and a few hours in I'm already feeling humbled by the achievements and drive of those I'm meeting. Journalists, consultants, social entrepreneurs, corporate financiers, industrialists - just sharing stories of who we are and what we are doing is itself truly inspirational. Over dinner we talked about life as an Asian in London, tackling poverty in Bihar and how Bihar is a next great unfolding story of Indian progress, innovative vocational education programmes being run by Lend-a-Hand India in rural schools, textile industry across the world and legacy of decline of UK textile base, infrastructure bonds and their use in India and potential applicability to UK. And the week hasn't even yet formally begun.
Seema Malhotra is co-founder and Director of the Fabian Womens Network and a former National Chair of the Fabian Society. From May-Oct 2010 she was Political Advisor to Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP in the Leader of the Opposition's Office. She was the West Midlands Labour Party's regional policy coordinator and adviser to Regional Ministers Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP and Ian Austin MP. She is active in the Co-operative Party and Unite and speaks and writes in national media on gender issues, regional and national politics.
Seema is a freelance business and public services adviser and has over ten years experience with leading firms Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She has worked with a range of government departments in the UK including Revenues and Customs, Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. She led the cross-Government programme Increasing Diversity in Public Appointments working with Whitehall, headhunters, business and community groups. She has also advised the video games industry on their child safety agenda.She is a former school governor and candidate for the London Assembly. In 2007 she was shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement awards.