Award honour for leading University of Wolverhampton Sikh researcher
A Black Country university lecturer has celebrated after winning a major award.
Dr Opinderjit Takhar, director of the centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies at the University of Wolverhampton, was the recipient of the Influencer of the Year award at the seventh annual British Indian awards.
The awards, held at the Birmingham Conference and Events Centre at the Holiday Inn Birmingham City Centre on Friday, July 26, celebrated success, excellence and perseverance across all industries, with some of the top professionals and businesses from the British Indian Community being awarded for their ingenuity and achievements.
Dr Takhar was among 19 nominees in 12 categories from the Black Country and was one of two award winners.
The Influencer of the year award recognises those who promote and support the Indian community in the UK and make a positive difference.
Dr Takhar has spoken about her award and the reception she has had from the community.
She said: "It's very flattering and humbling to receive this award and, to be honest, I really wasn't expecting it and I don't know who nominated me for the award as the awards body won't tell me.
"The reception I've had has been great and I would like to send a message of thanks to everyone for their kind words."
Her work with the University of Wolverhampton has also led her to travel to India to encourage interfaith dialogue, with Vice-Chancellor Geoff Layer joining her on a trip to the Punjab in February of this year.
She is currently working to engage younger Sikhs in the community and get them involved in the centre and continue her research into the grass roots of Sikhism.
Dr Takhar has said that the award will help her work in the community and aid towards finding a permanent home for the Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies.
She said: "I would like to use the award to promote the centre and help it make a real impact in the community.
"We are also aiming to find a permanent space for the centre as, currently, we only exist as a virtual space in the faculty of Arts building."
Dr Takhar's achievement has been praised by Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton.
He said: “Dr Takhar has worked for the University for nine years as Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies in our School of Humanities.
"As well as teaching, she undertakes a variety of research, specialising in subject matter that relates to the Sikh community as well as topics including caste and gender balance.
“Engaging tirelessly with local, regional, national and international community groups and governing bodies, Dr Takhar is consistently raising awareness of issues that affect the Sikh community in the UK and abroad.
"Her work as Director of the Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies, in particular, has made a significant contribution, having an impact on people’s lives by bringing communities together as well as helping to raise the profile of the University.
“Her award is very well deserved and is most certainly a result of her hard work, commitment and dedication to promoting equality and diversity as well as enriching the lives of our students and our communities.”
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