Royal honours for Indian-origin Covid-19 heroes

Indian-origin doctors, nurses and pharmacists are among nearly 1,500 people awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 for ‘outstanding contribution’ to British society, including during the Covid-19 pandemic, reflecting the Indian community’s significant presence again in the royal list released on Saturday.

The list is usually published in June, when Queen Elizabeth celebrates her official birthday, but it was postponed to include individuals who played key roles in the first months of the pandemic. Several Indian-origin doctors and nurses have died earlier in the year while dealing with the virus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the recipients were “a testament to the sort of country we are – caring, compassionate and resolute in the face of a global pandemic. The hard work and dedication of these local, often unsung heroes has helped carry us through”.

The list includes several leading individuals from the Sikh community, such as Rajinder Singh Harzall – the ‘Skipping Sikh’ – who receives an MBE for encouraging elderly people to stay active in lockdown; and Yadvinder Singh Malhi, professor at the University of Oxford, for services to Ecosystem Science.

The Issa brothers – Zuber and Mohsin – who recently bought the retail giant Asda, have been named for the OBE for services to business and charity. Members of the 1.5 million-strong Indian community jn the UK have figured prominently in the royal honours lists over the years.

Individuals honoured for medical and other services during the pandemic include Harmohinder Singh Bhatia, Sarbjit Clare, Sandeep Singh Daheley, Jatinder Singh Harchowal Archowal, Manvir Hothi, Sanjeev Kumar, Lavina Mehta, Gurjinder Singh Sandhu, Chandni Sejpal Shah, Carter Singh, Vinod Bhagwandas Tailor, Rita Chohan, Rani Kaur, Manju Malhi and Neeraj Kumari Singadia.

They will be handed the honours at special ceremonies by members of the royal family at various venues in the coming months.

Others named for significant services in other walks of life include Neeta Patel (entrepreneurship and technology), Deesha Chadha (faith communities), Herminder Kaur Channa (education), Sanjiv Nichani (medicine and charity), Alpesh Bipin Patel (economy and international trade), Sarabjit Singh Purewal (health and safety, and cyber security), Anant Meghji Pethraj Shah (education, health and animal welfare).

The 1,495-member list for 2020 also includes Neeta Avnash Kaur Atkar JP (small business finance), Yadvinder Bolina (law and order), Bijna Kotak Dasani (diversity and inclusion in finance), Manjit Kaur Gill (provision of menstrual products to women in developing countries), Pushkala Gopal (South Asian dance), Rita Hindocha-Morjaria (education), Parminder Kaur Kondral (services to the Sikh community), Vasant Patel (adopted children and their families), Hemantkumar Kiritbhai Patel (museums and heritage), Baljeet Kaur Sandhu (equality and civil society), Jayantilal Shah (promoting anti-racism in Southampton and Hampshire), Gurpreet Singh (healthcare, equality and fairness), Amolak Singh Dhariwal (business), Parbir Kaur Jagpal (diversity and inclusion in health), Parminder Singh Purewal (hospitality), Satyavir Singhal (services to community in Belfast), Bharat Thakrar (voluntary and charitable services), Paul Chakravarti (services to national security).

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