British Council comment on Prime Minister's visit to India

Wednesday 20 February 2013

The Director of the British Council in India, Rob Lynes, commenting on David Cameron’s visit to India, said:

“The current relationship between the UK and India is good, but it could be much better. Although we have a shared history of 200 years, neither country has invested actively in building a contemporary relationship. Our new research has found that India does not know contemporary Britain and Britain has little idea of how the new India is emerging. Britain has not engaged with the emerging cities in India - and an Indian relationship solely with London is equally limited in scope. There’s a lot more to this Prime Minister’s visit than drumming up trade. While trade is an essential part of this relationship, we also need to invest in our cultural and educational ties which help build understanding and create trust in the long term. I’m pleased to announce that the British Council will launch a new five year £5m UK-India arts programme this year, in order to stimulate a much-needed modern, mutual, UK-India relationship that isn’t relying on the past, but looking to the future.”

Notes to Editor

Over the past twelve months, the British Council conceived and ran a cultural relations mapping project entitled Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century. The aim of the project was to understand what the cultural relationship between the two countries will look like in the future and how it can be shaped for mutual benefit. The British Council worked with Counterpoint, King’s College India Institute and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on the project.

The project assembled over 45,000 pages of research documentation, and reached audiences of 35,000 through the web and social media platforms. As part of the project a series of debates and dialogues were held in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, London and Edinburgh, which was an opportunity to listen to a wide range of stakeholders in the relationship, including business leaders, civil servants, development workers, academics, cultural entrepreneurs and artists both from India and the UK.  

Re-Imagine findings have particular resonance in the arts, where both sides feel there are many areas for deeper collaboration, but no clear infrastructure to support new relationships. This has prompted the British Council to work with partners in the UK and India to develop a new five year arts and culture initiative, drawing on the themes raised by the research and building on recent programmes with the arts sector that sees incredible social, economic, political and environmental change, and wants to engage with that process, critically and constructively.

The Re-Imagine arts initiative -- working across a wide range of art forms, including performance, visual art, literature and design – will see a minimum of 5 million pounds invested towards new artistic collaborations and two high profile seasons of showcased creative work. Its success will depend on engaging with at least 10,000 arts and creative professionals and reaching audiences of over 10 million in fast growing urban centres, face to face and through digital media. The process will open up new markets for the creative industries in both countries, bring together a wide range of Indian and British partners.

For more information on Re:Imagine, please see http://reimagine.britishcouncil.org.in/

For interviews or more information on the British Council’s work in India, please contact or Anjoo Mohun (Delhi), Head of Communications, British Council India, Anjoo.mohun@britishcouncil.org, +91 (11)  41497335 or Tim Sowula (London), Snr Press Officer, British Council tim.sowula@britishcouncil.org +44 (207) 389 4871

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The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations.

We work in more than 100 countries, and our 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes.

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