PM Narendra Modi may address Cambridge senate

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Oct 08, 2015 16:31 IST
University Of Cambridge Senate Building. (Shutterstock)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the senate of the University of Cambridge during his three-day visit to Britain in November even as a section of the British Indian community announced a ‘day of protest’ on 12 November, the day he arrives here.

University sources told HT on Wednesday that “nothing is confirmed yet”. It is understood that the vice-chancellor, Leszek Borysiewicz, has invited Modi to address the senate, which is one of most influential bodies in the ancient university.

As officials finetune details of several events during the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister in nearly a decade, there is also a possibility that Modi may visit the Warwick Manufacturing Group (MWG) headed by Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya.

Both Cambridge and WMG (part of the University of Warwick) have close links with India. Three former prime ministers studied in Cambridge — Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. WMG has links with IIT Kharagpur as well as the Tata Group.

Besides meeting Prime Minister David Cameron in 10 Downing Street, Modi is expected to address British MPs in the Westminster Hall of Parliament, visit Buckingham Palace, inaugurate B R Ambedkar memorial in north London and address business meetings.

Some MPs are contributing to the over £1-million cost of organising the community event at the Wembley Stadium on 13 November, which is billed as an ‘Olympic-style’ event.

Awaaz UK, a collective of several campaign groups, said Modi was “not welcome in London” and announced the ‘day of protest’ on November 12. The protest is to begin at 10, Downing Street, and move to Parliament Square.

Declaring that it was not affiliated to any political party or ideology, it says that “Awaaz is opposed to the violence, intolerance and hate that Hindutva represents, just as Awaaz is opposed to religious hatred, intolerance and violence in any form”.

Members of the network include Indian Workers Association, Indian Muslim federation (UK), Dalit Solidarity Network, Southall Black Sisters, India Forum and Campaign Against Racism and Fascism.

Protests by other groups are also likely. Indian high commissioner Ranjan Mathai had called on the British Indian community to present a “united front” while welcoming Modi.

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