Celebrities Root for British Indian WW-II Spy to be Face of New GBP Bill
The British-Indian World War II woman spy and a descendant of Tipu Sultan Noor Inayat Khan, who spied for the British against the Nazis in France, is among the choices, as they mount pressure on the Bank of England to ensure that the redesigned note reflects "modern multicultural Britain".
Image for representation.
London: Over 200 celebrities, politicians and cultural leaders, including British Indian actors Meera Syal and comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar, on Sunday launched a campaign demanding a historic ethnic minority figure should feature on the redesigned 50 pound currency notes, set for printing in 2020.
The British-Indian World War II woman spy and a descendent of Tipu Sultan Noor Inayat Khan, who spied for the British against the Nazis in France, is among the choices, as they mount pressure on the Bank of England to ensure that the redesigned note, set for printing in 2020, reflects "modern multicultural Britain".
In an open letter to 'The Sunday Times', the campaigners, including artists and politicians noted: "Ethnic minority communities represent 14 per cent of the British population.
"We do not lack candidates, and arguably their achievements were the greater for having been made at a time when many careers and were effectively closed to them, whether through colonial rules, racism, or the legacy of slavery.
"However, no one from an ethnic minority has yet featured on a banknote".
Noor, a daughter of Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Inayat Khan, was killed by the Nazis during World War II.
She had emerged a frontrunner of an online campaign to become the first ethnic minority British woman to be honoured as the face of the new currency a few months ago.
However, the Bank of England went on to open the public nominations for a British scientist to feature on the note.
Indian physicist and physiologist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose emerged as one of the names on an initial long-list of hundreds of nominees, which included the likes of computing pioneers Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell and physicist Stephen Hawking.
However, the campaigners' latest intervention stresses that a member of Britain's ethnic minority population is yet to be featured on a bank note.
"Changing this would send a message that the contribution of ethnic minorities to Britain's history, culture and economy is recognised and valued. What better representation of 'global Britain' could there be," they question.
Besides Noor Inayat Khan, some of the other suggestions include Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, composer and writer Ignatius Sancho, who fought to end the slave trade and became the first black person to vote in a British election, and John Edmonstone, a freed slave from Guyana who taught Charles Darwin taxidermy in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile, nominations for the new polymer note closed on Friday and the Bank of England's Banknote Character Advisory Committee is set to consider all the names before Bank of England governor Mark Carney announces a final decision next year.
Steam engine pioneers James Watt and Matthew Boulton appear on the current GBP 50 note, issued in 2011.
The new 50 pound note will be the final redesigned note to go into circulation, after notes in the denomination of 5 and 10 have already been reissued in polymer.
The new 20 pound polymer note will go into circulation from 2020.
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