OBV Profile: Sunder Katwala

For the past three years Katwala, 32, has worked for the Fabian Society. Since 1884, the society has challenged and initiated progressive policies to encourage the development of ideas and principles within the Labour Party.

Katwala, who is a regular political commentator for the Guardian, feels passionate about the work he carries out through the independent organisation. Much of his political interests have included foreign policy and multiculturalism, especially the ongoing debates surrounding "Inclusive Britain" and "Britishness".

Discussing the work of the organisation he says: "Through the society I think we have brought equality and inequality to the political table. The language of politics has changed and we can see this through government policy changes and the ongoing discussions about these important issues."

Alongside his political endeavours part of Katwala's career has been shaped through his work as a journalist. Before he took on the role of general secretary for the society he was internet editor and leader writer for the Observer newspaper. Prior to that, he was the research director for the Foreign Policy Centre from 1999 to 2001 where he carried out research on topics such as Reinventing the Commonwealth. He also spent nearly four years as the commissioning editor for McMillan Publishers.

Katwala recalls his first political memory when in 1990 the Conservative politician Norman Tebbit questioned whether Asian immigrants were supporters of England during cricket matches or supporters of their own country of origin. Katawla says that at that moment that comment made him question the whole issue of inclusiveness and identity.

Katwala was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire and is of mixed parentage. His mother is Irish and his father Indian. He spent much of his formative years growing up in Cheshire and later in Essex during his mid teens.

He explains that although he is of mixed parentage, he found that while growing up he faced a lot of racial abuse from people who could not see beyond the colour of his skin.

He says: "It was because of my experiences with people who were prejudiced towards me that I became politically aware at a young age and in a sense the reason why I got engaged with politics."

Katwala was educated at Oxford University where he attained a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 1995. It was during his last year at Oxford that he joined the Fabian Society and became engulfed in politics.

He explains: "At that age, in my final year of university, I found being a member of the Fabian Society very useful. It provided an opportunity to be in an open network where people could join political discussions. In a way it was my first introduction - skimming the surface of think tanks."

Today, in the current political climate Katwala finds that the biggest challenges for the society is to try to stay influential, engage members of the public socially and challenge political groups without losing the organisation's independence.

For the future he says: "I plan to continue to make a difference in politics by showing and challenging ideas and encourage the public to be engaged in practical politics, ideas and values that they too can plug into."