Mahendra Jadeja is a prominent member of the Indian community in Britain. He is on national media in India and other parts of the world after his organisation the Rajput Samaj called to boycott the screening of controversial Hindi movie Padmavati in Britain. Mr Jadeja, a Business Consultant, is an Ambassador for the Loomba Foundation. He is also part of the Executive of National Congress of Gujarati Organisations and President of Rajput Samaj of United Kingdom. Asian Lite’s Ragasudha Vinjamuri speaks to him on his initiative of organising the International Men’s Day at the House of Commons on 29 November.
You are celebrating the first ever International Men’s Day at British Parliament House. How did you get this idea?
I thank the International Women’s Day for that, which I was supporting for many years now. There are lot of problems for men too and there is lack of awareness in men’s health in the community. I was surprised to find through Google that there is an International Men’s Day too. After looking at it closely, I noted Movember that started in America. I spoke to few like-minded people and realised that men also needed much help. Hence, I just had to reverse one alphabet and change the IWD to IMD. Wanted to launch it at a memorable place, in cooperation with good friends. It is nice Virendra Sharma MP came forward happily to host it, the earliest possible day was 29 November though the actual IMD is on 19 November.
What according to you are issues that need attention?
More men commit suicide than women under the age of 39, according to statistics. Transgender issue in Asian community is not explored much and mental disorders and loneliness in men need much attention. Similarly, Prostrate cancer is another key issue. I had an opportunity to attend an event for Combat Stress. Those who come back from army face stress with life after returning. I wanted to create awareness on these and then many others can take it further.
What is the agenda and objective for the celebration?
Speakers from Minister of Defence shall bring awareness on Combat Stress. Ashok Chauhanji is helping with it. For the issue of Domestic Violence, Varsha Mistry from MET Police is helping to cover the men’s stories. Brahma Kumaris shall speak on their research on men’s issues. There are different aspects that shall be covered by few other key dignitaries. Although it is called International Men’s Day, there are lot f ladies who are supporting this initiative.
You are marking the day this year. What is the sustainability of this initiative for the future?
Very good question. We have many community organisations here. It will be good to invite the leaders of different organisations. They become brand ambassadors for their organisations and take it to their own groups. This is the stepping stone in the right direction. This is the aim.
You are launching the very first the IMD. What are your other firsts?
In around year 2000, pujya Atmanswaroop Swamyji has guided me towards becoming part of national executive of the retail sector. Though Indians were leading in the retails sector, in the Executive surprisingly there were no Indians. Swamiji gave me the spark which led me to climb the natural ladder. I first became Deputy Vice President in the key election. I made history as the first Asian to hold the position of Vice President.
I also have other good memories. Jacqui Smith once wanted me to be the panel member for the committee to scrutinise identity. I advised her to create a national ID, using which you can travel without passport. Conservatives scrapped the system later. I am however proud that I was part of the team of the public panel who created that. I was also part of the team of 7 people for creating Oyster Card, based on Octopus card of Singapore. I was the first one to introduce no cost ATM in the country.
You seem to have done a variety of things in your life so far. Tell us your area of expertise.
I am a qualified Civil Engineer. I worked in Transportation- Docks and Railway. My first assignment was in Australia. Went to Dubai temporarily but did not like it there. I met my would-be wife in India. I came to the UK in 1976. I was brought up in an affluent family, but arrival in the UK changed my whole perception of life. In 1985 I started my business and won many awards in retail sector. I have created such wealth of knowledge in the industry that I wished turn that knowledge into consultancy. The motto is “If you work hard in this country, you get the fruits”.