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Understanding A Historical Relationship

Updated: July 19, 2014 5:25 pm

Two hundred years of shared history is much too long a period to know each other, but both India and United Kingdom invested actively in building a contemporary relationship. As a result, India does not know modern Britain and Britain has little knowledge of how the new India is emerging .The book emerged out of a project of the same name, Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century, attempting to understand what the relationship between India and the United Kingdom may look like in the future. The essays here draw on historical anecdotes, personal history and current policies to reflect on a special relationship forged on a common love for cricket, curry, parliamentary democracy and the English language and how it can be taken forward gainfully in the decades to come.

Each writer discusses in their inimitable style topics critical to the evolving relationship between India and the UK. Shrabani Basu, who as editor provides the overview that strings together all the essays, traces the people to people links over four hundred years and their contemporary consequences. Mike King, one among many descendants of people who made India their home, is still unravelling family history to discover new links. Phillip Knightley writing about the media’s attitude and influence in India and the UK, maintains that Britain’s love affair with India never abates whilst Indrajit Hazra argues that the growing acceptance of Hindi as the link language of India has led to a less complex approach to the way Indians speak, understand, read and write in English these days.

Tom Bird went in search of Shakespeare in India and found that in Indi Shakespeare has transcended Englishness and Sanjoy Roy’s essay is a reminder that intervention through the Arts creates wealth in a sustained manner. Nasreen Munni Kabir, producer-director of Indian cinema on British TV, records the emotional response of the Diaspora to their country of origin. Sita Brahmachari explores the complex identity of the young readership in Britain and how they connect to a wider world.

Pradeep Kar provides a view of Geek India, connecting the dots to draw new and exciting futures that have special relevance to the UK. Indian science can have a positive influence globally, writes K Vijay Raghavan, and this provides great avenues for collabora¬tion between India and the UK. Nirmalya Kumar recounts the extraor¬dinary experience of collecting Jamini Roy in London and through it discov¬ering his own identity. Jack Spence’s article is about stretching the mind of both the teacher and the student and acknowledging the moral and political complexities of international relations. Mihir Sharma writes about the young in India, focussing on the solid core who hover around the official poverty lines and Kapil Komireddi writes about young Britannia living on the edge. William Crawley and David Page recount the heydays of BBC in India and reflect on its current impact. Jo Johnson focuses on the trade and investment relationship with India, in the context of the UK’s need for export and business investment-led growth and the on-going negotiations for an EU-India Free Trade Agreement. The book is essential reading for all those who are interested in the India and United Kingdom relationship and its ramification on the psyche of the two Diasporas.

By Nilabh Krishna

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