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A weekend of The Beatles, Indian history in London

Many people gathered at the British Library in London over the weekend for music, dance and conversation on topics ranging from The Beatles to Partition at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

world Updated: May 22, 2017 18:56 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Indian high commissioner YK Sinha delivering the inaugural address at the Jaipur Literature Festival, part of the UK-India Year of Culture, at the British Library in London.
Indian high commissioner YK Sinha delivering the inaugural address at the Jaipur Literature Festival, part of the UK-India Year of Culture, at the British Library in London. (HT Photo)

A large number of people converged on the British Library over the weekend for music,dance and conversation on subjects ranging from The Beatles‘ links to India to Partition to the Constitution at the Jaipur Literature Festival. 

Philip Norman, biographer of The Beatles, and journalist Ajoy Bose got together for an engaging session on the magic and mystery of the band’s experiences in India during the event, which is part of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017.   

Bose pointed out the irony that the younger generation of Indians embrace The Beatles as symbols of modern Western culture, while rejecting their own traditional values, whereas the musicians repudiated their own culture to embrace India’s ancient values.

Norman suggested that George Harrison was perhaps the most inherently spiritual of the four band members, and because they were all very close, he got them all hooked on meditation.

Whilst most of the band’s songs were written by the creative partnership of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the Indian connection gave Harrison a power point in his relationship with the group, he said.

Indian high commissioner YK Sinha recalled the visit by his father (Lt Gen SK Sinha) to the British Library for research, and reiterated the tradition of Indian culture transcending borders is being kept alive by the festival.

Speakers at the event included Shashi Tharoor, Swapan Dasgupta, William Dalrymple, Patrick French, Shrabani Basu, Namita Gokhale and Karan Johar.

Other events in the year of culture include India@Edinburgh in August, The Independence Gala at the SouthbankCentre in October, a season of dance and theatre, and the UK premiere of the Bharat Symphony by L Subramaniam and the London Symphony Orchestra in November.

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