Hitan Mehta, a long-serving volunteer of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK, has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by His Majesty King Charles III in the New Year Honours List for 2023.
The citation reads: Hitan MEHTA: Executive Director, British Asian Trust. For services to the British Asian Community
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V.
Hitan was awarded the honour in recognition of his 15 years of service to the British Asian community, particularly as Executive Director of the British Asian Trust. He worked closely with The former Prince of Wales as well as distinguished British Asian business leaders to establish the Trust in 2007 to help tackle development challenges and opportunities across South Asia.
During his time with the British Asian Trust, Hitan has worked on impactful programmes in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the areas of education, livelihoods, child protection, mental health and conservation. Under his guidance and leadership, the British Asian Trust has galvanised support from the British Asian diaspora and helped to improve the lives of almost 7 million people.
As a senior volunteer at Neasden Temple (BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London) for 28 years, he has led on various important community projects, such as encouraging vaccine uptake, developing interfaith relations and, more recently, channelling support for Ukrainian refugees.
Hitan Mehta OBE shared, “I am honoured and humbled by this award. The British Asian diaspora is a significant part of the United Kingdom, and it has been a privilege to have been able to serve the diaspora through the British Asian Trust and BAPS.
“All that I have learned can be attributed to growing up in the Mandir among my mentors, the swamis and senior volunteers at Neasden Temple, and in particular my gurus Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj. Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired me with his life and teaching, ‘In the joy of others lies our own’, and guided me through every stage of my life, including when working for The former Prince of Wales.”