OBV Profile: Harinder Mann


Mann, 30, is presently a lecturer at the London School of Economics (LSE) teaching
Information Systems but his political aspirations are more apparent in his other
profession as Political Secretary to John Battle MP for the government's Interfaith

The Envoy led by Mr Battle, was started before the bombings of September 11th
in 2001 and Mann was later hired by the MP in 2004. The envoy, which is charged
with trying to develop interfaith relations within the many religious groups,
attempts, for example, to get more Muslims to converse with Christians and vice

Mann, who regards Mr Battle as a mentor, says: "Interfaith relations has
an important role and it has grown in importance due to the current state in
the UK with faith and community cohesion. It is dealing with issues that's at
the heart of multicultural and multifaith Britain."

Today, Mann is also the trustee of the Citizenship Foundation and on the Appeals
Committee of 'Chance to Shine' which seeks to put cricket into state schools.
He is co-founder of the UK Sikh Healthcare Chaplaincy Group which was founded
in 2005 to help Sikhs in the UK seek adequate spiritual care while in hospital.

His many social ambitions include his role as ambassador for the 'Get On Board
Campaign', which he hopes will encourage people, especially young BMEs, to use
their skills and become trustees on boards of charities.

Mann launched himself onto the political map following his involvement in the
OBV MP Shadowing Scheme in 2001, where he shadowed Chris Smith MP, the former
Culture and Heritage Secretary.

Mann says: "I always had an interest in politics from a very young age.
My grandfather was in South Africa during the 1930s, before he went to Uganda,
and he was quite politically active there, he was a member of the African National
Congress (ANC). So in some respects it has always been in my blood."

He believes that the OBV scheme it gave him the opportunity to prove himself,
to network and eventually get a foothold in government.

Mann was born in Harrogate, North Yorkshire after his parents emigrated from
Uganda, east Africa in 1972. He says that he grew up in an area that was inherently
racist, where he says he experienced racism from his fellow class mates and
school teachers.

He attained a degree in geography from King's College London in 1998 and following
university he went on to work for an investment bank. He eventually left to
become chairman of his own company which specialised in online technology solutions.

Mann soon after went on to complete a Masters in Information Systems at LSE
in 2000 and has continued at the institution where he is.

The overlap he has made with IT and politics has been a continuous one. In
2004 he went to America to work on John Kerry's campaign for the US presidential
elections. There he observed how Kerry's campaign team targeted ethnic minority
voters while at the same time he looked at the IT solutions used for the election.

His first political memories he describes as unique experiences - like the
experience on the John Kerry campaign. He recalls the first time he walked into
the House of Commons where he passed Tony Blair, as a realisation of being in
the "centre of politics" and he also considers the first time he saw
his name on a ballot paper as an unbelievable political memory.

Mann, who is currently on the parliamentary panel list to stand as an MP, has
many more political aspirations, he says: "I do want to be an MP but its
also part of the fact that I'd be happy in my career if I could get another
10 or 15 Black and Asian MPs - that in itself I think would be an achievement."

Updated 14 Mar 2014