It is probably the best of time for India-UK relations and it can’t get more royal than this.Come February 27, the celebration of Indian culture in the United Kingdom will begin at Buckingham Palace, the abiding symbol of British royalty, with a reception to be hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
The reception by the 90-year-old Queen, the world’s longest reigning monarch, is expected to attract guests from across various fields in India, including Finance Minister ArunJaitley, and the UK’s senior-most minister of Indian origin Priti Patel among other key Cabinet ministers.
The Palace came out with the date of the reception as February 27 in the calendar of engagements of the Queen. “Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh will give a reception to mark the launch of the UK India Year of Culture 2017.” The decision to celebrate India-UK cultural bonding in 2017 was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to London in November 2015.
The celebration of the Indian Culture in Britain this year was announced by the then British Prime Minister David Cameron during his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK in 2015-end.
“Throughout the year, we are going to see great works of art, great collaborations, all the cultural aspects coming together and a real demonstration of how strong our cultural ties are. It is going to be really exciting,” Patel, Minister in the Department for International Development (DfID), said.
Late last month, India’s High Commissioner to the UK Y. K. Sinha had said a number of events were being planned to mark the “momentous” year in India-UK bilateral ties.He had said the celebration of Indian culture in the UK and 70 years of Indian independence “go hand in hand this year as we celebrate this momentous occasion and we are very honoured by Her Majesty’s decision to start off the year with a reception at Buckingham Palace.”
“The India-UK relationship has never looked better. It has stepped up to a level which is truly exciting, truly encouraging. This year’s agenda in particular looks very challenging and very exciting,”Mr Sinha said.
There will be a slew of events to celebrate the vibrant cultural history of the two countries in which top and Indian and UK institutions will partner. The India programme in the UK will be led by the Ministry of Culture in India, the Nehru Centre and other Indian cultural organisations in the UK, working with the British Council as partner.
The British Library will be digitising 200,000 pages of their South Asian archives. “Two Centuries of Indian Print” will be part of a major programme to make the wealth of Indian printed books held by the British Library dating from 1714 to 1914 accessible.
Madame Tussauds – where wax figures of Bollywood icons, including Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, are a big draw with Indians in London – has also announced its first Indian venture in New Delhi, which is scheduled to open in 2017.
The British Library will showcase Shakespeare’s First Folio – the first collected edition of the Bard’s plays – and the 1225 edition of the Magna Carta. One of India’s premier museums – the CSMVS Mumbai – will narrate the story of Indian civilisation using some items on loan from the British Museum.