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University academic named inspirational woman of the year


A University of Wolverhampton academic has been named as an inspiration in achievement awards which recognise contributions by people who make an impact in their community.

Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar MBE, Director of the University’s Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies and Course Leader for the Master’s in Sikh Studies degree course in the School of Humanities, has been named Inspirational Woman of the Year in the Asian Today Achievement Awards 2020.

The awards recognise the top ten individuals and organisations that have made a significant impact in their communities in the past year and celebrate and appreciate the achievements and commitment to the wider community.

Dr Takhar is an internationally recognised researcher within Sikh studies and her work on Panjabi Dalits and identity formation has been published in a number of books. Her publication on ‘Sikh Identity: An exploration of Groups among Sikhs’ (Ashgate 2005) is used as a key text in universities around the world.

Dr Takhar said:  “I am absolutely overwhelmed to have been recognised as Inspirational Woman of the Year in this year’s prestigious awards.

“This is most certainly an honour for me especially considering the talent and expertise of some of the women named in the top ten – in fact, it’s wonderful to see so many strong women excelling in their chosen careers and really putting Asian women firmly on the map.

“I have been honoured to have been recognised for my research around the globe and for the work that the Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies has been doing in relation to bringing communities together as well as continuing to raise the profile of the University.”

Dr Takhar, from Derby, undertakes a variety of research, specialising in subject matter that relates to the Sikh community as well as topics including caste and gender balance. She is well-known in the region for her research work – especially in the Sikh community in and around the West Midlands.

A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Dr Takhar is also an Editorial Board member for The Journal of Understanding Sikhism in Canada, on the editorial board of the Journal, Sikh Formations, she sits on the Steering Committee of Special Interest Group on Teaching Religions of South Asia and is a Board Member of the Inter faith Wolverhampton Network.

Dr Takhar has presented her research in Universities across the world, she has produced textbooks and a Teacher’s guide for the OCR GCSE syllabus on Philosophy and Ethics, used in secondary schools across Britain and she has written numerous educational resources for RE Today Publications, a national resource for teaching Religious Education across schools and colleges in the UK. Her 2005 book on Sikh Identity is used as a key text in Universities across the world.

She is a regular participant on discussion programmes and panels on Sikh media channels. She has regularly contributed to the British Sikh Report, as well as the UK Sikh Survey, and is also one of the authors of the Sikh Manifesto, produced by the Sikh Network (UK) in preparation for the 2015 British Parliament elections. She was awarded an MBE in 2018 for her services to Higher Education and the community.

The University of Wolverhampton launched its new Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies earlier two years ago - the first of its kind in the UK. The Centre offers PhDs and Master’s level courses in Sikh studies, as well as continuing professional development (CPD) courses for teachers and managers of diverse workforces such as national and local government, the NHS and the emergency services.

Find out more about the Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies.


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