A range of activities reflecting the historical and contemporary links between India and Britain – from the Kama Sutra to Magna Carta to Shakespeare to the diaspora – will mark the Year of Culture 2017 to be launched by Queen Elizabeth and finance minister Arun Jaitley.
The launch event at Buckingham Palace is scheduled for February 27, but related events have already begun, with one scheduled for Monday at the British Library: a selection of romantic and erotic tales by storyteller Seema Anand, titled ‘Love, Lust and Liabilities’.
Anand told HT: “The selection will be mainly from the Mughal era ‘Hamzanama’ and Ismat Chugtai’s ‘Gharwali’. The very first story from India to come out to the west was the ‘Kama Sutra’. Indian literature over the centuries has been heavily influenced by its writings”.
“The literary heritage is layered with romance and seduction and the beauty of physical love. It is an inseparable part of our stories and it is time to celebrate and explore the ideas of Love, Lust and Liabilities.”
The iconic Kew Gardens in south-west London is showcasing a giant Indian flag put together with 900 chrysanthemums, while thousands of orchids from Assam, Sikkim and other states are the highlight of its annual Orchid Festival, drawing a large number of visitors.
A copy of one of the most famous books in the world - ‘Shakespeare’s First Folio’ (printed in 1623) – is on display at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalay in Mumbai, on loan from the British Library in London.
The Science Museum in South Kensington will open a season of exhibitions and events related to India later this year. One exhibition is “an ambitious and unprecedented survey of photography from the emergence of the medium in the 19th century to the present day”.
Another exhibition will highlight the tradition of scientific thought in India, looking at the country's expertise in observation, calculation and innovation, emphasising the importance of science in India as a way of understanding the world and creating a better society.
Also on the cards are a series of India-related events in Manchester, a travelling exhibition showcasing the history of Indian immigrants to Britain and their contribution, and a Festival of India by Indian cultural organisations based here.
The Indian diaspora represents the largest ethnic group in Britain (1.5 million people) and three of the top six languages spoken are Indian: Punjabi, Bengali and Gujarati. Its members hold frontline positions in every walk of British life, including politics, arts, sciences and the economy.