A year long-programme to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and UK cultural ties has been announced by David Cameron.
The Year of Culture 2017 will see a range of events celebrating the cultural history of the two countries.
Top UK institutions will partner with their Indian counterparts to strengthen cultural and economic ties between the two nations, and showcase British creativity on the global stage.
Cameron said: “The great partnership between India and the UK extends beyond economic ties to the boards of The Bard and the beaches of Bollywood. We have some of the best cultural exports in the world – and it’s about time we celebrated this, together.”
To mark the start of this cultural pairing, the British Library will be digitising 200,000 pages of their South Asian archives. Two Centuries of Indian Print will be part of a major programme to make the wealth of Indian printed books held by the British Library dating from 1714 to 1914 accessible to anyone around the globe.
Madame Tussauds – whose Bollywood figures are some of the most popular in London – has also announced its first Indian venture in New Delhi, scheduled to open in 2017.
Parent group Merlin is set to invest £50 million in India over 10 years, rolling out other UK favourites – such as Sea Life aquariums and Legoland Discovery Centres – across Indian cities.
Two iconic British texts will tour India as part of the programme. The British Library will showcase Shakespeare’s First Folio – the first collected edition of the Bard’s plays – and the 1225 edition of the Magna Carta.
One of India’s premier museums – the CSMVS Mumbai – will tell the story of Indian civilisation in the context of world history using some items on loan from the British Museum.
Last year, a record 400,000 visits to the UK from India and in the first half of 2015 Indian tourists spent £199 million during their stays.
Culture secretary John Whittingdale said: “The UK has an incredibly special relationship with India – not just economically and through our historic ties – but culturally, through our music, our theatre, our design and much more.
“An India-UK Year of Culture is a great opportunity for both our nations – strengthening this dynamic cultural partnership and driving even more innovative ways to work together to make great art.”