On Monday, Ratan Tata became the first Indian to be awarded an honorary KBE (Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire) in over half a century. The honour was bestowed upon him by The Queen on the advice of Her Majesty’s Government.
Ratan Tata is the Chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, an Indian multi-national company. In the past, the UK has benefited from inward investment from the Tata Group, which took over Jaguar Land Rover in 2008, and is currently the largest manufacturing employer in the country.
In 2009, an honorary KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) was granted to Mr Tata. This year, he will be honoured with a GBE (Knight Grand Cross) by The Queen for “services to UK/India relations, inward investment to the UK and philanthropy.” He is one of five foreign nationals to receive the honorary Order of the British Empire.
The GBE, or fully Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is a grade within the British honour of chivalry, and one of the greatest honours which can be bestowed upon a citizen in the UK. It recognises service to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations and public service. The honour was created in 1917, by King George V, to honour those people who were helping defend their country during the First World War. The Order of the British Empire is the first order of chivalry which is bestowed not only upon Englishmen, but also upon women and people from overseas.
Ratan Tata was presented the honour by Sir James Bevan, the British High Commissioner to India, on behalf of Her Majesty. Upon having the GBE conferred on him, Mr Tata became the first Indian to receive the honour since India became a republic in 1950. As a citizen of a country where Her Majesty is not head of state, Mr Tata will not be able to use the title of ‘Sir’ before his name like substantive GBE holders.
After receiving the honour, Mr Tata issued a statement, saying: “It has been a privilege to endeavour to have our enterprises contribute positively to the growth and standing of the UK. I am also deeply appreciative of the support we have always received personally from Mr David Cameron and his government, through good and bad times.”