"To accept the MBE would be to co-sign it.”
Author Nikesh Shukla has said he refused an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
He said it was because he does not wish to be associated with what it stands for, ‘Member of the Order of the British Empire’.
In a tweet, Nikesh said: “Last month I was offered an MBE for services to literature. I said no thanks.
“I do not wish to be a member of the order of the British Empire.”
He went on to say: “The main reason for not accepting the MBE was because I hate how it valorises the British Empire, a brutal, bloody thing that resulted in so much death and destruction.
“To accept the MBE would be to co-sign it.”
Nikesh was born in Britain but has origins in Gujarat.
He is best known for editing the 2016 collection of essays, The Good Immigrant.
Nikesh followed it up in 2019 with The Good Immigrant: 26 Writers Reflect On America.
He is also the author of three novels. Nikesh says they were written partly to give his daughters a sense of who they were.
The honours system is a legacy from the days when Britain had an empire.
Although they are given out in the name of the Queen, the list is actually drawn up by a government committee.
After revealing that he turned down an MBE, Nikesh Shukla received a lot of praise on social media.
However, one person said:
“You want to make damn sure we all know you were offered it. Congratulations.”
Another said: “Sometimes it’s another form of gaslighting — we offered to honour and recognise you and you turned down our honour and recognition so don’t complain next time we treat you in a way that does not honour or recognise you.”
In relation to the Queen’s Birthday Honours, a government statement said:
“The honours system strives to be inclusive of all of the UK society.
“Of the 1,129 people who receive an award: 15 per cent of the successful candidates come from an ethnic minority background: 6.8 per cent of recipients are from an Asian ethnic group.”
The youngest recipient was 21-year-old Amika George, who received an MBE.
She founded the ‘Free Periods Campaign’, which champions the distribution of sanitary wear in UK schools.
Amika was honoured to receive an MBE but admitted that she had to think twice before accepting it, given its association with Britain’s colonial past.
In accepting, Amika said she wanted to “draw attention to our lack of education around the Empire and Britain’s history, but also to show other young people, particularly from the Asian community, who maybe don’t feel very empowered politically or don’t feel seen”.