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Striking a Chord

The first Punjabi cultural awards in the UK will create awareness on drug and alcohol abuse.

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published: December 10, 2013 1:58:32 am

The turn of a New Year will mark a new milestone in UK-based NRI Nirpal Singh Riat’s (OBE) life. A businessman passionate about music,Riat has been instrumental holding musical activities in UK for many years,and promoting the likes of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,Ustad Mehdi Hasan,Jagjit Singh,Reshma and Ustad Ghulam Ali Khan.

On January 24,he — under the Punjabi Circle International — will host the first-of-its-kind UK Annual Punjabi Cultural Awards. The platform will be used to raise funds to create awareness on the rising drug and alcohol problem in Punjab and West London.

“Although I was born in Kenya,I am attached to Punjab. I still remember the three years I spent as a kid in Jalandhar,and this love brings me back,” says Riat,who set up PCI at Southall,London,in 2009,which aims to recognise talented Punjabi artistes. Riat also plans to hold cultural exchanges between India and UK. “Music is my route to connect with my roots,and it’s all the more important now because a large number of youth in Punjab and West London are using drugs and turning alcoholic. Due to recession in the UK,the Punjabi immigrants are unable to find jobs,” says Riat. He also plans to organise cultural evenings in Punjab and raise funds for fighting the alcohol and drug menace. “The money raised from such shows will be donated by PCI to charities in Punjab. The aim is also to create training/learning camps where we assist in rehabilitation with in Punjab’s villages with experts from the UK,” he says.

Meanwhile,the award function,which will be held at Hounslow Middx,UK,will honour more than a dozen prominent Punjabi singers in the UK such as Jazzy B,Balwinder Safri,Didar Pardesi,Mohinder Bhamra,Bally Sagoo and Johny Kalsi. Punjabi broadcasters,media personalities and writers will also be honoured. “These people have been active cultural contributors for many and never been recognised for their service,” says Riat.

Riat is also the President of Bucks Punjabi Society International,a UK-based society supporting charity,culture and community cohesion,and was awarded with the highest honour of OBE by the Queen for services to charity and Punjabi people in 2011.

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