Common Purpose

Launched by former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Dishaa is a programme for emerging leaders that expands, enriches and energises relations between India and the UK.


Launched by former British Prime Minister David Cameron on 28 July 2010 in Bangalore, India, Dishaa is a programme that will expand, enrich and energise relations between India and the UK. Common Purpose has developed the Dishaa initiative in partnership with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

The aim of Dishaa is to expand, enrich and energise relations between India and the UK by investing in the next generation of leaders. By fostering discussion amongst a network of diverse leaders, the initiative develops shared approaches to 21st Century political, economic and social challenges in both countries. It expands the existing partnerships, friendships and dialogues that are already taking place. As David Cameron said at the Commonwealth Business Conference 2014:

"As Dishaa shows, this is not just a business to business, commerce to commerce relationship - it's a political relationship, it's a diplomatic relationship, it's a cultural relationship and contains a lot of people to people contacts."

Each year, 40 leaders (20 from the UK and 20 from India) gather for four days - either in India or the UK - to address a central challenge. Participants explore the context of the challenge in detail before coming up with ideas to feed back to both governments, as well as the Advisory Group.

Watch a video of David Cameron, Dishaa’s first Patron, discussing Dishaa and hear more about a previous Dishaa Challenge.

Former British Prime Minister David Cameron's message to the participants of the first Dishaa programme, January 2011

The Dishaa Challenge 2011: $1000 (USD) heart surgery

About the Challenge

Each year participants are immersed in a compelling Challenge, chosen by the Dishaa Advisory Group, which is relevant for leaders from the UK and India. The Challenge is designed so that participants can work together to create practical and meaningful solutions to an issue which can have a real impact.

Previous Challenges include:

  • What makes a city SMART?
  • How can we produce a step change in the interface between the private, public and not-for-profit sectors and create transformational models that would allow them to work more effectively together?
  • As economies are driven by technology and knowledge, how do we ensure appropriate skills development to bridge the gap between education and employment
  • Unique carbon cutting measures are happening locally in India and the UK. How do we accelerate and multiply our actions to reduce carbon emissions by 50% in the next five years?
  • Heart surgery at $1,000 (USD) - what has to change in how society operates and innovates to make this a reality?


Who is Dishaa for?

Dishaa is best suited for mid to senior level leaders from across India. Previous attendees include a strategy consultant from an international professional services form, an asset manager in the petroleum industry, a desk editor in the national media and a programme lead in the health service.

Dishaa is ideal if you want to:

  • broaden and deepen your knowledge by experiencing how another city or country works
  • develop your 'Cultural Intelligence' (the ability to cross divides and thrive in multiple cultures)
  • build new networks by gaining access to a peer-group and leaders that you might otherwise never meet
  • develop your problem solving and influencing skills by being thrown into a complex challenge, with a diverse group, under pressure
  • stretch your analytical and creative skills by being exposed to new approaches to innovation.

Sudhakar Rao, Former Chief Secretary of the Government of Karnataka

"Dishaa enables future leaders to see how much can be gained through links between the UK and India as they set the direction for their lives and careers."

How to Apply

Applications for Dishaa 2016 are not yet open (dates and locations to be confirmed).

If you are interested in applying for the programme please get in touch and we will keep you updated as more details are available.

The application process

Applications are invited from exceptional leaders in the mid stages of their careers from India, who are keen to develop as they move towards more senior roles within their organisations or sectors.

Applicants need to demonstrate:

  • a track record of leadership
  • ability to work with a diverse group to solve complex problems
  • commitment to engage with wider society/public life
  • interest in the UK/India dimension of the network.

All applications will be reviewed by the Dishaa Advisory Group after which some applicants may be invited to an interview.

What is the cost to attend Dishaa?

For further information regarding fees please contact Farhad Merchant

Bursary support

Applicants who cannot pay the full fee should not be deterred from applying. There are a few part-scholarship places available for applicants who can demonstrate a clear need for financial assistance and who are unable to meet the full fee. Requests for scholarships can be made via the application form but if you would like to discuss this further then please contact the Dishaa team.