Noor Inayat Khan,the first Indian-origin World War II spy for Britain, and Khudadad Khan, the first soldier of the British Indian Army to become the recipient of the prestigious Victoria Cross - the highest military award for gallantry in the face of the enemy given to British and Commonwealth forces, are among those in the running for a new series of commemorative coins.
Plans have reportedly been submitted to the UK's Royal Mint to work out firm proposals Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak reflects upon a campaign to put influential ethnic minority figures from history on a set of coins titled “Service to the Nation” to celebrate Britain's diversity.
Zehra Zaida, a Global Indian Conservative Party candidate behind the campaign, wrote a recent letter to Sunak: "We propose a specific next theme of service to the nation by black, Asian, and other ethnic minority people, both in military conflict and on the home front.
“This theme will unite people, especially now as the nation has come together through the pandemic, and is collectively recognising the heroic work by ethnic minority staff in our health and care services. It is surely essential that this country does not lose another opportunity to demonstrate that the contributions of black, Asian, and other ethnic minority groups are truly valued. Symbols matter, and we urge you to support our campaign."
UK Treasury minister John Glen has told 'The Sunday Telegraph' that Sunak is "keen to support" the "timely proposal".
“The Chancellor [Sunak] is reflecting on the letter from Zehra and will reply in due course. We are obviously supportive and keen to be positive about it, we need to see some firm proposals from the Royal Mint but we are keen for this to happen,” he said.
Zaidi's campaign is supported by several historians including Shrabani Basu, the author of 'Spy Princess: The Life of? Noor Inayat Khan', and politicians such as Conservative Party MP Tom Tugendhat and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
“I am absolutely delighted that the story of? Noor Inayat Khan has inspired so many people and that she has become an icon.Noor?was an extraordinary war heroine,” said Basu, the Founder-Chair of the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust.
Zaidi?was previously behind a campaign to get the Bank of England to select an ethnic minority heroine for a newly-printed £50 note, proposing Noor Inayat Khan among the?options. However, Britain's computer pioneer Alan Turing was the choice for the new bank note which goes into circulation from 2021.
by Nadia Hatink