History of Indian presence in Britain showcased

November 25th, 2011 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS) A showcase that opened here Friday celebrates the often overlooked history of Indian presence in Britain with reproductions of posters, pamphlets, diaries, newspapers, political reports and illustrations.

The exhibition “Beyond the Frame: India in Britain (1858-1950)”, now on at the British Council till Monday, is part of a larger project “Beyond the Frame: Indian British Connections” supported by several British organisations.

Spanning almost a century from the period of the Raj to the years of migration in post-World War II, the exhibition focuses on Asian-British engagement on British soil in a range of areas like cultural and intellectual life, resistance and activism, national and global politics, arts and sports, the British Council said in a statement.

It aims to build up a clear picture of the diverse contributions Indians have made to British life.

Abdul Karim was on the retinue of the Queen Victoria’s household staff and taught her Hindustani. Victoria was said to be closer to Karim than she had been to her Scottish aide, John Brown.

Mahatma Gandhi captured the imagination of the Britons when he visited London in 1931 and was mobbed by people at East End in London and by mill workers in Lancashire. Gandhi also met actor Charles Chaplin.

Dadabhai Naoroji was the first Indian to be elected as the Liberal MP in North London in 1892 while Sophia Duleep Singh, an erstwhile Indian princess and suffragette, marched alongside legendary women’s rights campaigner Emmeline Pankhurst to the British Parliament in 1910.

Renowned novelist Mulk Raj Anand was one of the early Indian programme writers for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) eastern service. He worked closely with the British literary icon George Orwell.

Such examples abound in the history of India and Britain in the late 19th century and the early 20th century when several young Indian men and women travelled abroad for higher education and the erstwhile Indian royalty established close ties with the British rulers.

A multi-media timeline, “Asians in Britain Website”, has been created by the British Council in partnership with the British Library to bring alive these stories.

The exhibition and timeline are based on extensive archival research deriving from the three-year project, “Making Britain: South Asian Visions and Broad - 1870-1950″ funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council between 2007-10.

The endeavours have been directed by Susheila Nasta in collaboration with Penny Brook of the British Library.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of educational activities under the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme.

The National Archives of India will Tuesday host the exhibition for a day and display alongside complementary materials from its own collection.

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