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First of its kind, cultural pact to boost arts

columns Updated: Aug 25, 2010 18:30 IST
Amitava Sanyal

The cultural pact India will sign with Britain for the first time during David Cameron's current visit will be a boon for artists, art administrators and researchers in the two countries.

Apart from nurturing exchanges in the visual and performing arts, literature, architecture, museology and conservation, the agreement will grant experts in either country online access to the other's collection of historical texts and images.

Jeremy Hunt, British Minister for Culture, Media and Sport who's in India as part of Cameron's team, told HT: "This [British] government recognises India as an emerging superpower and one with which we should have closer links…."

On why Britain is signing such a pact with India two decades after it did with China, Hunt said, "We should've done it 20 years ago."

The pact, to be inked on Thursday by India's culture secretary Jawhar Sircar and Hunt, will make the UK the 123rd nation with which India will have such a pact.

Among the large projects under the pact will be digitisation of most of the 8,000-plus 'Company paintings' held by various institutions such as the Victoria Memorial Hall (VMH) in Kolkata and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The digitisation will be followed by Internet-based access to the images in both the countries.

A similar project in the works is digitisation of parts of the India Office records maintained by British Library.

Jet deal signed

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Wednesday signed an agreement with BAE Systems and Rolls Royce, finalising modalities for supply of 57 Hawk trainer aircrafts to India. The announcement came during the two-day visit by UK delegation. India had received 66 Hawk aircrafts following a similar agreement signed in 2004.

"This is an outstanding example of India-UK defence and industrial partnership, and this agreement will bring significant economic benefits to both countries. It is evidence of our new, commercial foreign policy in action," Cameron said.

Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable, who witnessed the signing of the agreement at the HAL Airprot here, said that he looked for further cooperation between the UK and India on defence.

India is also considering the Eurofighter Typhoon in a bid supported by all four of the Eurofighter partner nations - UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.