Salman Rushdie, the Mumbai-born author of the Booker Prize-winning novel ‘Midnight’s Children’, leads a list of over 40 professionals and community champions of Indian-origin to be honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Mr Rushdie is named a Companion of Honour, an exclusive club with membership limited to just 65 people at any given time, for services to literature in a list released yesterday night as the Jubilee Honours to mark the Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years of service to the UK.
“It’s a privilege to be included in such illustrious company, both past and present,” said the 74-year-old author, who was the subject of a fatwa by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini for his controversial novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ over 30 years ago.
The Companion of Honour is a special award granted to those who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time.
Very few receive this high honour, which has been conferred on the likes of former British Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and John Major and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking in the past.
“Born in Bombay, he later attended Rugby School and King’s College, Cambridge, where he read History,” reads the citation for Salman Rusdhie, author of 14 novels.
“Beginning his career in advertising, ‘Midnight’s Children’ was twice (1993 and 2008) voted Best of the Bookers by the public. He was knighted for services to literature in 2007. He is also a storied author of non-fiction, an essayist, co-editor and a noted humanist,” it notes.
Others honoured with some of the higher royal awards coinciding with celebrations of the 96-year-old monarch’s 70-year reign, include a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for Avnish Mitter Goyal, Chair of Care England, for services to social care and philanthropy.
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBEs) include hotelier Kishorkant (Vinu) Bhattessa for charitable and voluntary services, particularly during COVID-19, and Liverpool headteacher Rohit Naik for services to education.
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) recognise a large number of British Indians who have contributed to their local community, including Councillors Pranav Bhanot and Ameet Jogia.
In the healthcare sector, Professor Indranil Chakravorty of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) and orthopaedic surgeon Professor Srimathi Rajagopalan Murali are among those to be conferred with an MBE.
Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman, Sandeep Mahal, Professor Daljit Nagra and Dr Chithra Ramakrishnan are among those honoured with MBEs in the field of arts, culture and literature.
“I’m thrilled and humbled to receive this significant recognition for my academic and voluntary work,” said Dr Nikita Ved, Research Fellow and Lecturer in Medicine at the University of Oxford and co-founder of the 1928 Institute dedicated to British Indian research, who received an MBE for services to COVID-19 Response.
“Although myself and others have reservations on the phrase ‘Member of the British Empire’, I am accepting this award in the spirit of being acknowledged, particularly at my age as I feel many young people are overlooked for their hard work,” said the 32-year-old academic.
Further down the list, Varsha Kumari Mistry – a Forensic Practitioner at Scotland Yard – has been conferred a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for services to diversity and inclusion in policing and to the Hindu community.
In tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, recipients have been awarded for their outstanding contributions across all sectors, but in particular for sustained public service, the environment and sustainability, and youth engagement.
“This historic Platinum Jubilee is not only a celebration of the monarch but of the qualities she possesses,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The honours she confers this week reflect many of those qualities that have been invaluable from all different walks of life and to communities across the UK. I pay tribute to all of this year’s winners. Their stories of courage and compassion are an inspiration to us all,” he said.
A total of 1,134 candidates have been named for honours across different fields by the UK Cabinet Office – which compiles the list, with 13.3 per cent of the successful candidates from an ethnic minority background.
Others to receive high honours include a knighthood for crime writer Ian Rankin and CBEs for actor Damian Lewis and fashion designer Stella McCartney.
The honours list is annually published to coincide with the Queen’s official birthday celebrations in early June. This year is being marked with added pomp and ceremony as the Platinum Jubilee of the longest-serving British monarch.
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