It is such a great joy to be with you this evening in these particular surroundings particularly with my Mehabooba here, who has merrily booba'ed her way here this evening with her constantly meddlesome Mehaboob!

It has been a remarkable year for the British Asian Trust and I am so proud that it continues to focus on addressing so many issues that are of critical importance to communities in South Asia. 

Informed by the insights of the Pakistani diaspora, including some of you gathered here this evening, a growing focus of the B.A.T. is on the issue of livelihoods in Pakistan.  There are incredible opportunities for growth and development if enhanced skills training can pave a path to meaningful employment for Pakistan’s burgeoning youth population.

Needless to say, I am particularly pleased that my British Asian Trust has identified effective forms of intervention through independent research and established a dedicated fund to deliver high impact initiatives partnering with local organizations in Pakistan.

For instance, one of my Trust’s most successful partnerships has been in the area of Mental Health in Pakistan.  This has been supported in country with match funding from Arif Naqvi’s Aman Foundation, for which I really am really enormously grateful. We couldn't do it otherwise.

Looking ahead, it is hugely encouraging that my B.A.T. is tackling the very difficult issue of human trafficking and its devastating impact on women and girls.  

Very shortly, my Trust will show you a short film featuring two survivors of trafficking.  Hearing of the horrific ordeals these young girls suffered is heart-breaking, but I was so very struck by their tremendous courage and could not be more encouraged by the local organizations working tirelessly to rescue, care for and rehabilitate women and children who have been victims of this appalling practice.    

Prime Minister Modi has himself sought to highlight the sometimes precarious position of girls through his campaign in support of the girl child, and Kailash Satyarthi, whom we are so fortunate to have with us this evening, has been an unwavering campaigner for the transformative power of education and its essential role in bringing an end to modern slavery.

As you can perhaps imagine, I am extremely proud that my Trust is making its own contribution to these overall efforts by this year launching its Anti-Trafficking Fund, which I hope will help in a small way to prevent and address violence against women and children.  

This evening I am delighted to announce that the Reliance Foundation in India has very generously agreed to match fund my Trust’s Anti-Trafficking Fund pound for pound and I am deeply grateful to Mrs. Nita Ambani for enabling me to launch this partnership with her Foundation.

The B.A.T.’s Anti-Trafficking Fund will be dedicated to helping women and girls through a range of mechanisms from thwarting trafficking at its source to prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims through access to education, skills training and livelihoods.  The Fund is all about building resilience and restoring confidence.

Many of you, I know, have played a hugely significant role in the launch of this Fund.  So I particularly wanted to thank: 

•    Clare Mathias and Shalni Arora who have helped to crystallise our thinking.

•    Mike and Shalina Tobin who, I hear, have climbed proverbial mountains to raise vital funds and awareness of this important issue. 
•    The ‘wonderful’, and I use this adjective with my wife’s permission, Rani Mukherji, who is with us this evening and who, I understand, holds this issue very close to her heart too. 

•    Manoj Badale, the Chairman and all of the Trustees of The British Asian Trust, without whom, we couldn't do anything.

•    The outstanding team that works at The British Asian Trust led by Hitan.

•    Ella Henderson and Romesh Ranganathan for performing on the night and all the various celebrity Ambassadors who support the Trust through the year, such as Sanjeev Bhaskar.

My Trust is a collaborative endeavour and it would not be possible to achieve meaningful outcomes without all of your contributions, for which I am really very grateful.

On behalf of myself and my magnificent Mehabooba, thank you again for being here this evening.