INTERNATIONALLY renowned choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh, entrepreneur Rishi Khosla and celebrity chef Nadiya Hussian are among prominent British Asians named in the New Year Honours List unveiled on Friday evening (27).
Critically acclaimed choreographer Jeyasingh, whose work has toured across the globe, becomes a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was honoured for her services to dance. Businessman Paul Thandi, the CEO of NEC Group, has also been handed a CBE for services to the economy.
Khosla, the co-founder and CEO of fintech company OakNorth, has been named as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Oaknorth, a digital bank, is one of the most active lenders to SMEs in the UK, having made over £2 billion worth of loans. Since it launched four years ago, the business has helped create over 10,000 new homes and more than 13,000 new jobs.
British-Indian Khosla has been honoured for his services to business.
The businessman told Eastern Eye on Friday he felt “humbled” by the news. “I’m absolutely honoured to receive this,” he said. “I feel like we are still at an early stage of building our business so it is amazing to receive this recognition so early on.”
Asked if he had any stand-out moments in 2019, Khosla said that “everyday was a highlight”. “We have managed to help create thousands of new jobs and homes across the country and helping people grow their businesses is an amazing way to spend each day,” he enthused. “My highlights are a combination of all of that.”
Elsewhere, campaigner Nishma Gosrani has been honoured with an OBE in the 2020 list for her voluntary services to promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of British life.
Gosrani has been an active voice in the gender pay gap reporting and promotes education, financial/professional services and culture and the arts. A director at Deloitte Consulting, Gosrani also acts as a board member and trustee of Tamasha Theatre Company, a leading theatre company which champions BAME artists from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Referring to the news, Gosrani said she was “deeply humbled” to have received the honour.
“It is a great honour to be recognised for something I am passionate about,” she said. “Gender pay gap reporting has helped organisations move the dial but my work is not finished here. Both policy and cultural changes have to take place together to make a real impact and to drive equality – there should be no place for deliberate or unconscious biases in our society.”
Chair and Founder of the Muslimah Sports Association Charity (MSA) Yashmin Harun has been honoured with a BME for her services to female BAME representation in sport.
Speaking to Eastern Eye, she said the honour was “recognition of all the work MSA has done.” Reflecting on the charity’s impact, she said she wanted to make sport accessible to everyone – especially BAME women. She said: “Seeing the impact our activities have on these women is so rewarding. The impact is not only on physical health but also on their mental well-being which is so important today. MSA has given these women an opportunity to play sports they either once loved or never had the opportunity to experience and this is what keeps me going.”
Nadeem Javaid, a public affairs professional and grassroots campaigner, has been honoured with an MBE for services to community cohesion and young people. He called it an “amazing honour” and a “wonderful surprise.”
“The honour may have my name on it but it’s one I share with all the communities that I have worked with and taught me so much, as well as with all the amazing people I get to work alongside,” he told Eastern Eye. “But I won’t be celebrating for too long – we’ve got too much to do. This will only spur me to carry on trying to make our city and our country a more inclusive and equal society.”
Other prominent British Asians on the list include MEP Claude Moraes, who has been handed an OBE for charitable and political services, and Great British Bake Off star Hussain, who has been honoured with an MBE for her services to broadcasting and the culinary arts.
Activist Yusuf Patel, 25, has been given an MBE for his work in tackling extremism in London while 13-year-old Ibrahim Yousaf, the youngest person on the list, has been honoured with a BEM for his charity work in Greater Manchester.
A total of 1,097 names appear on the New Year honours list, 9.1 per cent of whom are from a BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) background.
Singer-songwriter and activist Sir Elton John and historian Sir Keith Thomas both become Companions of Honour while actress and charitable fundraiser Olivia Newton-John has been handed a damehood.
Over half of the recipients in the New Year’s Honours List 2020 are women, including 44 per cent of awards at the highest levels.