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British Indian ex-minister Alok Sharma knighted; 30 more PIOs to be honoured

By Aditi Khanna
December 31, 2022 09:37 IST
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Alok Sharma, an Indian-origin former UK minister, has been knighted for his contribution to combatting climate change through his leadership at the COP26 summit by King Charles III in his first New Year Honours list released in London.

IMAGE: Indian-origin former UK minister Alok Sharma. Photograph: Reuters

Agra-born Sharma, 55, who was a Cabinet-level minister until October, is named on the 'Overseas List' and leads a tally of over 30 Indian-origin campaigners, economists, academics, medics and philanthropists to be honoured in the annual list issued in the name of the British monarch for their 'incredible public service' across the UK and abroad.


"Alok Sharma receives a Knighthood for his contribution to combatting climate change through his leadership at COP26 and driving the UK to agree a historic agreement from individual countries that will have a major impact in addressing climate change in the future," reads a UK foreign, commonwealth and development office statement with reference to the list honouring overseas contributions.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow was held last year in Scotland from October 31 to November 13.

Sharma was the president of the conference, the first since the Paris Agreement of COP21 that expected parties to make enhanced commitments towards mitigating climate change.

"The UK's impact around the world depends on exceptional people like those recognised in His Majesty the King's New Year Honours list. I am grateful for their outstanding contribution," said Sir Philip Barton, permanent under-secretary at the FCDO and head of the diplomatic service.

In keeping with the climate theme, professor Sir Partha Sarathi Dasgupta receives a Knights Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire for services to economics and the natural environment.

The Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge was in the news earlier this year for his independent global review to lay out a comprehensive economic framework for biodiversity.

'The Economics of Biodiversity', commissioned by the UK's Treasury department, called for a fundamental change in how we think about and approach economics to reverse biodiversity loss.

Among others knighted by the monarch include Indian-origin business chief Ivan Manuel Menezes, CEO of Diageo, for services to Business and Equality.

Dr Mayur Keshavji Lakhani, chair of the faculty of medical leadership and management and general practitioner at the Highgate Medical Centre in Loughborough, has received a knighthood for services to general practice.

In other high honours, the new Commanders of the Order of the British Empire include Vengalil Krishna Kumar Chatterjee, professor of endocrinology, University of Cambridge, for services to People with Endocrine Disorders; Dr Ramesh Dulichandbhai Mehta, president, British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, for services to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Nageshwara Dwarampudi Reddy, portfolio director, labour market and plan for jobs, department for work and pensions, for public service; Dr Gurdial Singh Sanghera, founder and CEO, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, for services to the technology sector are also on the list.

Jatinder Kumar Sharma, principal, Walsall College, for services to Further Education; Jasvir Singh, chair, City Sikhs, for services to charity, faith communities and social cohesion; and professor Keshav Singhal, for services to medicine and the community in Wales also figure on the list.

Among the British Indian officers of the Order of the British Empire include Nishi Chaturvedi, professor of clinical epidemiology and director, lifelong health and ageing unit, University College London, for services to medical research; Ravinder Gill, founder, college of accountancy, for services to higher education.

Others include Puneet Gupta, co-founder and chief executive officer, PG Paper, for services to business, charity and the community in Scotland; Sharon Kaur Jandu, director, Yorkshire Asian Business Association, for services to international trade; Dr Krishna Rohan Kandiah, founder, the sanctuary foundation, for services to refugee integration; and Hitan Mehta, executive director, British Asian Trust, for services to the British Asian community.

The cabinet office said the list released on Friday, the first since the passing away of Queen Elizabeth II in September, recognises a breadth of service across the entirety of the UK, including members of the Order of the British Empire for the likes of Dr Minal Bakhai and Dr Jyotiben Shah for services to medicine and contributions in the field of education by professor Prashant Pillai of the University of Wolverhampton and Bhavena Patel, senior relationship manager, Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Recipients in the New Year Honours List are awarded for their outstanding contributions across all parts of the UK in areas including sustained public service, youth engagement and community work.

Guitarist of the band Queen, Sir Brian May, has been appointed a Knight Bachelor and England World Cup-winning women's football team caption Leah Williamson has been conferred an OBE.

The musician, astrophysicist and animal welfare advocate is knighted for services to music and charity, after more than 50 years in one of Britain's most popular rock bands.

Of the 1,107 people on the main Cabinet Office honours list for 2023, 60 per cent of the recipients are people who are recognised primarily for having undertaken outstanding work in their communities, either in a voluntary or charitable capacity, and women make up 50 per cent of the total.

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Aditi Khanna in London
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