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Indian-origin student wins first Noor Inayat Khan Prize in London


London: An Indian-origin student was awarded the inaugural Noor Inayat Khan Prize consisting of 1,000 pounds for a dissertation which was in “keeping with the spirit” of the famous World War II heroine.

Geetakshi Arora of SOAS South Asia Institute has won the first Noor Inayat Khan Prize, the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust announced in London on Thursday.

The Trust is awarding the annual prize to the post-graduate student from SOAS, University of London, working in the area of gender studies and South Asian history.

The prize which consists of 1,000 pounds and a certificate — is for a dissertation which is in keeping with the spirit of Noor Inayat Khan, a descendant of Tipu Sultan.

“We are delighted to award the prize to Geetakshi for her excellent dissertation. We hope the annual award keeps the memory of Noor Inayat Khan alive in the student community,” said Shrabani Basu, founder and chair of the trust.

Noor was born in Moscow in 1914 to Indian father Hazrat Inayat Khan and American mother Ora Ray Baker. She was a secret agent in World War II and was sent behind enemy lines. She operated from Paris, doing crucial work for the allies.
Noor was betrayed, arrested and killed in Dachau Concentration Camp at the age of 30.

Her last word was ‘Liberte’.

Noor was a Sufi and believed in non-violence and religious harmony. Hazrat Inayat Khan was a descendant of Tipu Sultan, the famous 18th-century ruler of the kingdom of Mysore.

In November 2012, after a high-profile campaign by the Trust, Princess Anne unveiled a memorial to Noor in Gordon Square in London, near the house where she lived.

The Square, which is part of the University of London, is often visited by students.
Geetakshi was presented the award in Delhi by Michael Hu, head of SOAS South Asia Institute.

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