Two prominent Britons of Indian origin - a jurist and a businessman - had a surprise New Year’s gift on Thursday when they were honoured for their contribution to British society.
Mota Singh, QC, Britain’s first Asian judge, has been given a knighthood and would now be known as Sir Mota, and Paramjit Singh Bassi, chairman of a private investment firm, an MBE.
They are among more than 900 British citizens named in the New Year’s Honours List, a much-awaited annual event.
In a sign of a move towards greater official recognition of immigrant groups, some six per cent of those honoured this year are from ethnic minority communities.
But in another sign of the times, not a single politician has been honoured, and there is just one banker who made it to the list. This is seen to reflect Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s acknowledgment of the widespread public anger against politicians and bankers who are perceived as architects of Britain’s worst economic crisis.
But controversially, senior police officer Cressida Dick - who supervised the botched operation that led to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent young Brazilian shot dead by police commandos after mistaking him for a potential suicide bomber in the wake of the July 7 London bombings - has been awarded the Queen’s Medal.
“Rewarding Ms. Dick after her role in the biggest policing scandal of the decade displays woeful disregard for both the Menezes family and broader public opinion,” a spokesman for the Menezes said.