An Indian American woman who was a spy during World War II became the first Indian-origin woman to get a memorial plaque in London.
Noor Inayat Khan Aug. 28 became the first Indian woman to be honored with a memorial Blue Plaque at her former family home in central London, according to reports.
The Blue Plaque scheme, run by the English Heritage charity, honors notable people and organizations connected with particular buildings across London, according to a Press Trust of India report.
Khan's plaque has gone up at 4 Taviton Street in Bloomsbury, where she lived before she left for Nazi-occupied France in 1943 as an undercover radio operator for Britain's Special Operations Executive, the report said.
Noor, the daughter of Indian Sufi saint Hazrat Inayat Khan and a descendant of the 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, was killed at the Dachau concentration camp in 1944, having revealed nothing to her captors, not even her real name, the report added.
The SOE was an independent British Secret Service set up by Britain's war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1940 and Noor Khan became its first female radio operator sent into Nazi-occupied France. She was posthumously awarded the George Cross for her bravery in 1949, PTI said in its report.
Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar are among some of the other Indian historical figures to be honored with similar Blue Plaques at buildings associated with their stay in London, it said.
Noor Khan joins the likes of Ada Lovelace, the pioneer of computing, and Rosalind Franklin, the scientist who helped discover DNA, to make up only 14 percent of over 950 such Blue Plaques celebrating women across London.
According to Wikipedia.org, her father, Inayat Khan, came from a noble Indian Muslim family; her mother was a descendant of the uncle of Tipu Sultan. He lived in Europe as a musician and a teacher of Sufism. Her mother, Pirani Ameena Begum (born Ora Ray Baker), was an American from Albuquerque, New Mex Albuquerque, New Mexico, who met Inayat Khan during his travels in the United States. Ora Baker was the half-sister of American yogi and scholar Pierre Bernard, her guardian at the time she met Inayat Khan.
As a young girl, Noor Khan was described as quiet, shy, sensitive, and dreamy. She studied child psychology at the Sorbonne and music at the Paris Conservatory under Nadia Boulanger, composing for harp and piano, her Wikipedia.org page notes. She began a career writing poetry and children's stories, and became a regular contributor to children's magazines and French radio. In 1939, her book, Twenty Jataka Tales, inspired by the Jataka tales of Buddhist tradition, was published in London.