UK Punjab Heritage Association Virtual Book Club
1381. Hardeep Bath
1382. Avninder Singh Rao
Hardeep Bath and Avninder Singh Rao, from West London, have launched a virtual book club for the UK Punjab Heritage Association, bringing together authors, academics, journalists and broadcasters to present on topics related to Sikh and Punjabi culture and heritage.
Hardeep and Avninder wanted to provide a way to support those from the Sikh and Punjabi community during lockdown and invite discussion on a range of topics related to arts and history in a virtual capacity. Fronted by fellow Point of Light Amandeep Madra, co-founder of the UK Punjab Heritage Association, the Virtual Book Club takes place every Monday with an interview from a leading speaker, followed by a Q&A session from participants based around the entire country. So far over 1,000 users have taken part.
In a personal letter to Hardeep, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I want to congratulate you and Avninder on the fantastic success of your virtual book club.
“At a time when many of our cultural pursuits have been restricted, it is wonderful to learn how you are bringing together more than a thousand people every week to cherish and explore Sikh and Punjabi heritage.”
In a personal letter to Avninder, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Together with Hardeep, you have pioneered a thriving online book club that is reaching more than a thousand people every week.
“It is a wonderful way to celebrate Sikh and Punjabi heritage and to strengthen and enrich our communities through a profound love of culture.”
“The last few months have been testing for us all. The normality that we took for granted, such as meeting friends and enjoying culture, are simply no longer possible. The idea of the virtual book club is to make culture as accessible to the community as an informal chat over a cup of masala chai. In the past few weeks we have been privileged to work with many talented authors and academics to bring some fantastic stories to our listeners. It has become a weekly highlight in the calendar, and we hope has gone some way to break the monotony of social distancing and isolation.”
“The pandemic continues to be a very difficult time for Asian communities. By helping launch the UKPHA Virtual Book Club I hope I’ve played a small part in helping communities get through this period of social isolation. We’ve been lucky to attract some wonderful authors and experts on Punjab’s heritage, arts and culture. The feedback from our growing audience has been amazing. Being recognised by the Prime Minister for this work is a great honour.”