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Knighted Indian son, father create history

Professor Ravinder Maini has been given the title 'Sir', like his father, for his research into a cure for rheumatic arthritis.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 21:39 IST

Like father, like son. The phrase seems tailor-made for Professor Ravinder Maini, head of the Rheumatology Department at London's Imperial College, who was made Sir Maini by the Queen at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, for his pioneering research into a cure for rheumatic arthritis.

Forty-six years ago, at the same place, the Buckingham Palace, the same honour was accorded by the Queen to Professor Maini's father Amar. He was knighted for public services in East Africa, in the days when Uganda was a British colony.

Sir Amar was mayor of Kampala and a leading politician before retiring to Britain prior to Idi Amin's 1972 purge of East African Asians. Aged 45 at the time, Sir Amar was knighted for public services in East Africa.

In the annals of the knight of bachelor, a son following a father is thought to be unique in recent history. "Our records go back to 1257, so it would take an age to check whether this has happened before, but we cannot recall a similar event in living memory," said a spokeswoman for the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor.

Whatever it be, the Mainis are the first pair of Asian-origin to be so honoured. Sir Ravinder was born in India, grew up in East Africa and came to Britain at the age of 15. Sir Amar was born in Nairobi and came to London to study at the London School of Economics.

Sir Ravinder was accompanied by his son Ashwin, a barrister, to the investiture ceremony. Will he follow the family's tradition, is a question many Indians are asking.

First Published: Dec 27, 2003 21:39 IST