By Prasun Sonwalkar
Sunaina Mann has continued her family'srecord of making employment history by becoming the first Asian woman Principal of a further education college in Britain.
Mann, Vice Principal of Exeter College in Devon, takes over as head of North East Surrey College of Technology (Nescot) in September.
She believes her mother was the first female Asian immigrant to be employed in post-war Britain.
The Black Leadership Initiative (BLI), set up four years ago to encourage the promotion of ethnic-minority managers, is claiming her appointment as its latest success.
The BLI has a target, set by the Learning and Skills Council, of having nine ethnic-minority Principals in place by 2009. Mann'sappointment brings the total to seven.
It is celebrating this week after winning the education section of the 2005 British Diversity Awards in London, beating 15 other entrants.
Mann said: ?My parents were both teachers in India but, when we arrived here, in 1966, my mother took up a job as a cashier in Sainsbury'sand later became a postwoman, before she set up her own clothing business.
?She was my inspiration when I took my first job in a college at the age of 24. I decided then I would be the first Asian woman Principal. It has taken me 19 years to achieve that ambition.?
Mann said she was interviewed for two posts of Principals on the same day but it was the Nescot post that appealed to her most.
?Nescot gave me a warm feeling and I felt drawn to that place,? she said.
?I could feel the energy there with people wanting to change and make a difference,? she added.
Asked if she would keep the strict dress code the college has just put in place, banning staff from wearing jeans and combat trousers, she replied:
?I was asked if I supported the code in my interview and, of course, I said, yes.?
Bollywood dancing?growing craze in Britain
Bollywood dancing has become one of the new fashions in Britain and it'snot just Hindi film fans flocking to classes to learn the right steps either.
Young people throughout Britain have taken to the eyelid-fluttering, hip-dropping, shoulder-shrugging and wrist-flicking dance form as the new way to develop flexibility and build stamina.
?People love it because it is so full of expression and energy,? said Bollywood dance teacher, Rakhi Sood.
?It is growing more and more not only within the Asian community here but also within British mainstream entertainment. The Asian theme is in at the moment and
Bollywood is like one big musical melting-pot where the style is a mix of classical forms of Indian dance and Arabic music and contemporary and jazz forms,? she added.
Rakhi, who runs Rakhi'sSchool of Dance and Entertainment in Hounslow (London), has been teaching Bollywood style dance for the last 13 years and she testifies to the fact that the increasingly popular flavour of Asia is affecting both the young and the old generations of the Borough'sresidents who are rediscovering the drama and romance of Bollywood with the same gusto that they once showed for disco bhangra.
So it is no surprise that auditions for the 2005 Bollyidol chose Hounslow as its first point of call.
Hounslow is a place where the local library offers Bollywood movies for hire and where beauticians will dye your hands with henna in intricate designs for Indian festivities and where butchers are reluctant to sell beef because the Hindus don'teat it.
The auditions in search of the next Bollywood theatre-star kicked off last weekend with the Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford as its first port of call and many hopefuls turning out to compete in the event.
Competitors who make it into the semi-finals will have the chance to participate in a two-day workshop on performance with Anupam Kher. Rakhi, who has performed in the film Khabi Khushi Khabi Gham, stressed: ?Talent is important but training is the key.
?To do a performance takes a lot of training because sometimes you have to rehearse for upto eight hours straight at a time. Dancing is the core element in
Bollywood films, so you need to be a strong dancer and confident with the training you have had.
?The directors want so much of energy on the sets for films. It was very demanding. There was no time to rehearse; they wanted things done then and there.?
She added: ?It is also very important to know Hindi. Many people underestimate how important this is. Knowing the language is a big plus.?
The inability to speak Hindi has not however deterred the growing numbers of audiences attracted to Bollywood.
Rakhi said: ?The Bollywood craze started really around 1998 and 1999 when shooting films in London from India.
That'saround the time when people started to want to learn the dance and that'swhen I started teaching it.?
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])