Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday announced 2017 as the UK-India Year of Culture to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence, on the first of day Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit here.
The Year of Culture 2017 will see an exciting festival of events celebrating the vibrant cultural history of the two countries, when top UK institutions will partner Indian counterparts.
Cameron said: “The great partnership between India and the UK extends beyond economic ties to the boards of The Bard and the beaches of Bollywood. We have some of the best cultural exports in the world – and it’s about time we celebrated this, together.”
To mark the start of this cultural pairing, 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 to anyone around the globe.
Madame Tussauds – whose Bollywood figures are some of the most popular in London – has also announced its first Indian venture in New Delhi, scheduled to open in 2017. Parent group Merlin is set to invest £50m in India over ten years, rolling out other UK favourites – such as SEA LIFE aquariums and LEGOLAND Discovery Centres – across Indian cities.
Two of the most iconic British texts will tour India as part of the programme. 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 tell the story of Indian civilisation in the context of world history using some items on loan from the British Museum.
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.