• Tuesday, April 23, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Knighthood for Sajid Javid in New Year’s Honours List

Sajid Javid (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Sarwar Alam

Former chancellor and home secretary Sajid Javid described his knighthood as a “tremendous honour” after he was recognised for his achievements in the New Year’s Honours List announced last Friday (29).

Javid, who represents Bromsgrove, served under three different prime ministers in six different Cabinet posts, including as culture secretary, business secretary, housing secretary and health secretary.

He revealed last year that he would be standing down as an MP at the next general election.

Javid told Eastern Eye last week: “It’s a tremendous honour. I wish my late father was here to see it.

“I’m deeply humbled to be recognised in this way. It’s a testament to the collective efforts and dedication of everyone I’ve worked with in public service.”

The former banker was among several Asians recognised by the King, among them doctors, politicians, educators, authors, community leaders, equality and diversity champions and philanthropists.

This year, 13.8 per cent of recipients were from an ethnic minority background, with 7.4 per cent of those recognised of Asian origin.

Another Asian who received a knighthood was Professor Amritpal Singh Hungin, rewarded for his services to medicine.

Currently an emeritus professor of general practice at Newcastle University, Hungin’s career of more than three decades was spent in clinical research, across primary and secondary care.

He is a former president of the British Medical Association (BMA).

Naguib Kheraj pic credit: Gavi the Vaccine Alliance

Banker and philanthropist Naguib Kheraj received a CBE for his services to business and the economy.

Kheraj spent 12 years at Barclays, serving as group finance director and vice-chairman. He was also CEO of JP Morgan Cazenove, a London-based investment banking business and deputy chairman of Standard Chartered.

Kheraj is currently chairman of Rothesay Life, a specialist pensions insurer, and chairman of Petershill Partners, an asset management company. He is also a member of the finance committee at the University of Cambridge and an independent board member of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.

Kheraj could have easily been awarded the CBE for his philanthropic work.

He told Eastern Eye he stopped his full-time executive career in 2011 to focus on his work for the Ismaili community.

Kheraj is a senior advisor to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and serves on the boards of various entities within the AKDN, including the Aga Khan University and the University of Central Asia, and is chairman of the AKDN Endowment Committee.

“His Highness, The Agha Khan, is both a religious leader and also a philanthropist and community leader. He sponsors a very big development network globally that operates in over 25 countries and it’s in some of the poorest parts of the world in central Asia, south Asia and Africa,” Kheraj told Eastern Eye.

“We work across many different domains, that includes rural development, sanitation, water, education, healthcare, cultural heritage preservation, and many more different fields. We have 90,000 employees in the system globally.

“I work across many of these different organisations the Aga Khan sponsors and also work on the financial planning and financial management of that work.”

Kheraj said: “In my family, for generations we’ve had a tradition of service.

“It’s also a huge part my faith. All faiths speak of the same concepts of looking after those less fortunate than you are, sharing the benefit of your wealth with others – they are very central tenets of every single faith around the world.

“They happen to also be important tenets of the Ismaili faith and Muslim faith, more generally. But I don’t think it matters whether you’re Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Christian – every religion basically propagates the same idea of using your education and your capability for the benefit of others.”

Of the 1,227 honours in the list, 588 were women, representing 48 per cent of the total.

Community champions, role models in sport, pioneers in the arts, health workers and supporters of young people were all rewarded by the King.

Meena Nagpaul

Meena Nagpaul, clinical director at Harrow East Primary Care Network in north London, received an MBE for services to the NHS.

As a GP, alongside her husband Dr Chaand Nagpaul – who is a former head of the BMA – Meena has been serving the community in Harrow for almost 30 years.

Their Honeypot Medical Centre in Stanmore includes a substantial proportion of Asian patients.

The couple were one of the first to setup a Covid vaccination centre in north-west London and delivered more 60,000 vaccinations at the height of the pandemic.

Meena Nagpaul also led in the establishing the first virtual ward in Harrow East. Its multidisciplinary team, involving specialists, delivers care at patients’ homes and is aimed at older, more frail patients.

She told Eastern Eye, “I’m deeply honoured and touched. As a GP, it’s been a privilege to have cared for my community of ethnically diverse patients.

“This award is a reflection of the support and dedication of an amazing team of staff, colleagues and volunteers at Honeypot Medical Centre and Harrow East Primary Care Network, where we strive to make a positive difference to the health and lives of our patients and our local community.”

She added, “Our Asian population were disproportionately affected by Covid, so it’s particularly important to have culturally sensitive care.

“We have other inequalities within our ethnically diverse population and we have created a lot of initiatives to improve health promotion, such as increasing childhood immunisation and cervical screening in ethnic groups where there’s been a much lower uptake.”

Moni Mannings

Moni Mannings received an OBE for services to cultural philanthropy, business and charity.

After a 30-year career in law, Mannings launched EPOC (Empowering People of Colour) in 2021, an organisation aimed at increasing diversity on the UK’s private, public and not-for-profit boardrooms.

She currently sits on the board of Hargreaves Lansdown, Landsec and Easyjet.

Mannings held several non-executive director positions, including at Polypipe Group, Dairy Crest Group, Breedon Group, Investec Bank and Cazoo Group.

“I feel honoured to be recognised for the work I’ve been doing to advance the increase in people of colour on in boardrooms,” Mannings told Eastern Eye.

“It’s quite straightforward to me; we live in a society in the UK where just under one-fifth of the population are people of colour. But when you look at the governing bodies of pretty much any organisation in this country, whether it’s the biggest FTSE companies, public sector bodies, charities, sports bodies, cultural bodies, regulatory bodies – they just don’t reflect the society that they serve in terms of ethnic diversity.

“It’s important to me that the best of us, those most capable and skilled, are in all the spaces which make decisions about our lives.”

Sanjay Bhandari

Sanjay Bhandari, chair of football anti-discrimination charity, Kick it Out, was recognised with an MBE for his work in equality, diversity and inclusion.

Bhandari had a 30-year business career in law, technology and compliance, including 12 years as a partner at international consultancy business EY. He was involved in their diversity and inclusion strategies, leading many of their award-winning race and ethnicity activities.

Bhandari is also a board member at the Lawn Tennis Association and Greater Sport (the Local Active Partnership for Greater Manchester) and is part of the government-sponsored Parker review into the ethnic diversity of UK boards (focusing on FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies).

Previously, Bhandari was a member of the Premier League’s Equality Standard Independent Panel for four years.

He told Eastern Eye of his desire to help others succeed.

“It’s just about trying to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed, no matter their background,” Bhandari said.

“The fact that I came from quite a poor background was probably more of a battle than the disadvantages of race. Class disadvantages were even more stark and I felt lucky that I had interventions from teachers suggesting I should apply to scholarships for schools, or to go to this university. I was lucky that I acted on them.

“I want to make sure other people also have these same opportunities – because my life could have been very different if other people hadn’t made those interventions for me.”

Bhandari added: “It’s getting much harder for people from poorer backgrounds to succeed because the I think the opportunities are getting less and less. Talent is distributed evenly, but opportunities are not.”

Bhandari said this applies across football as well, saying: “There is a stark lack of representation of south Asians in British football.

“If you assume that talent is distributed evenly, but opportunity isn’t, then we need to address that lack of opportunity given to Asians.”

Vinai Venkatesham

Arsenal CEO Vinai Venkatesham received an OBE for services to sport.

He joined the north London club in 2010, having previously worked with the British Olympic Association and London 2012.

Alongside co-chair Josh Kroenke and manager Mikel Arteta, Venkatesham has overseen a resurgence in Arsenal that has saw them challenge for the Premier League title last season and this season.

He has also been a champion of women’s football, saying last year the club’s long-term ambition was for the women’s team to share Emirates Stadium permanently with the men’s side.

“I was blown away, actually, but pleased to get the (honours) letter,” Venkatesham told Eastern Eye.

“Everything I’ve done in my career has always been as part of working in brilliant teams; (so) to get an individual award, in some ways (it) feels a bit strange.

“I guess it’s recognition of the amazing teams I’ve been part of, throughout my almost 20 years in sport, across lots of different organisations, whether that was Arsenal, the Olympics and Paralympics in London, World Athletics Championships in London in 2017.”

Venkatesham strived to ensure Arsenal represents its diverse fan base.

“For many of our supporters, and many of our staff, having diversity right at the top of the football club is important. But it’s not just me, we have a very diverse executive team with 50:50 male, female split.

“As a football club, we take diversity and inclusion really seriously, because we believe that diverse organisations perform better and ultimately, we’re a football club in London, which means we have a very diverse fan base and we should be representing the fan base that we’re there to serve.”

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