(Daily News Scan - DNS English) British-Indian Spy Noor Inayat Khan : Why in News?
Until recently, Noor Inayat Khan ( an Indian origin) British spy’s name didn’t mean much to anyone. But, after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s consideration to a proposal to feature historical figures from the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community on a set of coins titled ‘Service to the Nation’ has brought her some recognition. If the same proposal is accepted, it will be the first time when non-white people will be featured on British coins or notes.
In today’s DNS we will know about Noor INAYAT KHAN
Noor INAYAT KHAN, was born in Moscow to an Indian father and an American mother, her family moved to London and then to Paris during the First World War. She started her career as a children’s writer in Paris. Later on, at the time of the fall of France (when it was invaded by Germany) during the Second World War, she fled to England.
In November 1940, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, an arm of the UK’s Royal Air Force to train as a wireless operator. She then did a stint at the secret intelligence organisation set up by Winston Churchill called Special Operations Executive (SOE). She was the only Indian-origin woman to have worked as a Special Operations Executive (SOE) in World War II.
She was just 29 then, and had signed up for a job in which people were not expected to be alive for longer than six weeks. She became the first radio operator to be sent to Paris to work for SOE’s Prosper resistance network under the codename Madeleine. Khan got arrested in 1943and was executed at the Dachau concentration camp in southern Germany near Munich. Noor was awarded the highest honour in the UK, the George Cross, in 1949, and the French Croix de Guerre with the Silver Star posthumously.
Noor khan is connected to India through her father Inayat Khan. Her father was the founder of Sufi Order of the West, which is now known as the Inayati Order. Not only this they were also descendants from the line of Tipu Sultan.
Noor khan has been rewarded with some great honours for her
contribution. In 2014, Britain’s Royal Mail had issued a postage stamp in honour
of Noor as part of a set of 10 stamps in the ‘Remarkable Lives’ series.
In 2012, a memorial with a bust of Noor was unveiled in London by Princess Anne.
Last year in 2019, Noor’s London home at 4 Taviton Street in
Bloomsbury, the house that she left for her final mission, was honoured with a
blue plaque. She was the first Indian-origin woman to be awarded the plaque.
Noor has been represented in present culture very well. Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust has been setup in ENGLAND.
Various documentaries on women agents and the SOE have featured her story, such as Netflix’s ‘Churchill’s Secret Agents: The New Recruits’. In 2018, a play titled ‘Agent Madeleine’ premiered at the Ottawa Fringe Festival.
In 2012, Indian producers Zafar Hai and Tabrez Noorani obtained the film rights to the biography by Basu. In the film ‘Liberté: A Call to Spy’, an American historical drama, actor Radhika Apte played the role of Noor. The film had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival last year.
If the proposal to feature BAME community is passed, it will be the first time that non-white people will be featured on British coins or notes. The plan has been submitted to the Royal Mint, which is to come up with proposals and designs.
Among the proposed names to feature on coins and notes were the Indian-origin British spy Noor Inayat Khan, as well as Khudadad Khan, the first soldier of the British Indian Army to receive the Victoria Cross. Khudadad Khan, who belonged to the Chakwal district of Punjab in present-day Pakistan, died in 1971.
All these developments are the outcomes of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in the United States. Which was triggered by the killing of George Floyd by a police officer. This incident has put a spotlight on the lack of BAME representation in the UK, and have forced authorities to take appropriate steps.