A Look At The British Indian Women Who Made The Headlines In 2020

Many British Indians achieved a great feats this year especially in the political frontier. Let us take a look at some of them who made headlines in 2020.

Malavika MS
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The community of Indian-origins in British have a different story to tell as compared to when the first Indians migrated to Britain.. British Indians now occupy some very important positions in politics as well as have achieved great milestones for the country. It should come as no surprise as British Indian women also play a major role in this.


Here are some of the British Indian women who made it to the headlines this year.

Manali Desai

Manali Desai had shone in the headlines in September this year for being the first woman of colour to be appointed as head of a department at Cambridge University. Desai was born in the United States and had moved to India where she studied in Delhi. Later she then studied Economics at the University of Michigan and received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles where she studied comparative and historical sociology.

Desai came to teach at Cambridge in 2013. Before coming to Cambridge in 2013, she was teaching at the London School of Economics. Now she is a Reader in Sociology as well as the head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She is also a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge.

Manali Desai was featured in The Guardian for her work on inclusion, diversity, and equality within academia. Her feats are an inspiration to defeat all odds to be successful and happy.

Also Read: Meet Manali Desai, first Indian-origin woman to head department at Cambridge University


Lisa Nandy

Lisa Eva Nandy is a British Labour politician who is serving as Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Affairs. Nandy will be working in the new Shadow Cabinet led by Keir Starmer. She was the Member of Parliament for Wigan since 2010. Nandy is an Indian origin MP and was born in Manchester. Her father Dipak Nandy is an Indian origin and her mother Louise Byers is a British native. Nandy's grandfather Frank Byers was was also a Liberal Party politician. She studied politics at Newcastle University and had worked for the Children's Society too.

Priti Patel

Priti Sushil Patel is a member of the Conservative Party and is now serving as Secretary of State for the Home Department. She previously served as Secretary of State for International Development from 2016 to 2017.

Priti Patel, originally from Gujarat had emigrated to Uganda. Later her parents, Sushil and Anjana Patel moved to the United Kingdom and settled in Hertfordshire. She was educated at Keele University and the University of Essex. Patel made history as the senior most Indian-origin cabinet minister to be appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July last year. Patel has been in controversy, and was reportedly in a political scandal involving unauthorised meetings with the Government of Israel which breached the Ministerial Code, ending her tenure as International Development Secretary. Under Boris Johnson's premiership, she became Home Secretary in July 2019.

Patel was accused of bullying at her office as well which kept her in the headlines for most part of 2020.


Poornima Nair

55 year old Dr Poornima Nair succumbed to coronavirus in Country Durham in United Kingdom. The doctor, originally from Kerala, died at the University Hospital of North Tees Hospital at Stockton-on-Tees after a prolonged battle with COVID-19. Nair was one of the earlier General Practitioners to die on the frontlines of the UK's medical community fighting the coronavirus.

Noor Inayat Khan

Indian-originBritain World War II spy Noor Inayat Khan was honoured with a memorial Blue Plaque at her former family home in central London. A Blue Plaque, run by the English Heritage charity, honours notable people and organisations who were connected with particular buildings.

Noor Inayat Khan's plaque went up at 4 Taviton Street in Bloomsbury, where the former spy lived before she left for Nazi-occupied France in 1943 as an undercover radio operator for Britain’s Special Operations.

The following 5 Indian origin-women engineers based in the UK are among Top 50 Women in Engineering for 2020 awards judged by a panel of industry experts on Tuesday. The list was put out on the International Women in Engineering Day.


Ritu Garg

Ritu Garg is a senior transport engineer at Arup, a multinational professional services firm in London. Her work includes policy making, feasibility studies, operations, delivery, and financing of major transport infrastructure and strategies in the UK and US. She recently produced a paper providing practical guidance on addressing climate emergency in transport. Garg is also part of a global initiative helping national governments unlock the economic power of zero-carbon sustainable cities.

Barnali Ghosh

Barnali Ghosh works as a technical director at Mott MacDonald consultancy in the United Kingdom. Her main focus is to develop seismic resilience in infrastructure, using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In fact, she was seismic lead on a sustainable water project in Dhaka, which will supply drinking water to 4 million people. Ghosh also has undertaken research project on effects of climate change on anti-seismic devices.

Anusha Shah

Anusha Shah is the director of project Resilient cities at the global engineering and management consultancy Arcadis. An engineer, Shah works to support organisations to meet net zero targets and become climate resilient. As a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and UK’s Environment Agency account leader, she is working to achieve the net zero target by 2030. She uses many different platforms to raise climate change awareness.

Kusum Trikha

The 10.3 MW electric Birmingham Bio Power Plant renewable project is a biomass gasification plant in the UK. The  plant effectively captures all the carbon dioxide it produces to generate clean electricity. Kusum Trikha who specialises in multi-million-pound low-carbon energy projects had managed the multi-disciplinary design team for the same. Trikha is now working as a senior engineer at WSP (management and consultancy service firm). She also has won several tech awards for her feats in science, research and engineering.

Chitra Srinivasan

Chitra Srinivasan has previously worked on UN's SDGs related to poverty eradication and solving climate crisis. She has been doing research to produce zero carbon energy while working towards environmental sustainability. Srinivasan is currently a real-time control software engineer at the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

Also Read: A look back at economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia and her Illustrious Career & Life

Dr Amruta Gadge

India born physicist Dr Amruta Gadge created the fifth state of matter, while working from her living room, during the coronavirus lockdown. Lab News reported that Dr Gadge, who works in the Quantum Systems and Devices Laboratory at the University of Sussex created a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)  which is considered to be the fifth state of matter.  Amruta first attended St Xavier’s College in Mumbai and then did her masters at the University of Pune. She also worked at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

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