Wednesday, 7 February 2018

New Delhi/ London, 7 February 2018: 

British Council Patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sent a message of congratulations to launch the organisation’s seventieth anniversary in India marking her continued support for its work in India. The message was delivered by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex during his visit to the British Council in Delhi today. 

Alan Gemmell OBE, Director of the British Council in India, said, “We are delighted Our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen, has recognised the contribution of staff – past and present - and all those who have been part of the story of our 70 years in India. We’ve been inspired every day of the last 70 years by the artists, students, scientists and policy makers we’ve worked with across India.  This year, we want to share the stories of the great things we’ve done together, tell new stories, and inspire millions of young people to develop connections for the next 70 years”.

The British Council was first established in India in 1948. Today it seeks to partner India’s knowledge ambitions and economic growth through access to UK art and culture, education, and by sharing the English language. British Council programmes have supported over 1 million teachers of English in Government schools in 12 States. It is working in partnership with the Government of Andhra Pradesh to improve the English and employability of 100,000 college students in the State.   

To mark its 70th anniversary in India the British Council has launched its first scholarship scheme for women. In partnership with UK universities, the scheme will offer tuition fees for Indian women studying a Master’s degree at a UK University this year. The British Council 70th Anniversary Scholars will be announced at a Founders’ Day event in March 2018.

Her Majesty The Queen and Hon’ble Finance Minister Jaitley launched the Year at a star- reception at Buckingham Palace, London on 27 February 2017. Guests included Kamal Hassan, Suresh Gopi, Kapil Devi, Gurdras Mann, Manish Arora, Manish Malhotra and Anoushka Shankar.  The British Council commission British-Indian start-up Studio Carrom to project India’s national bird, the peacock, onto the façade of Buckingham Palace. 

The UK-India Year of Culture reached over 7.5 million people and 75 million online with programmes from Stornoway in the West of Scotland to Cohin in Kerala. Its aim was to celebrate the modern-day relationship between both countries, connect with young people, and, inspire them to build a relationship for the next 70 years. Many world-leading UK cultural organisations created new work and partnerships in India.  Anoushka Shankar composed and performed a score to accompany resmastered Indian silent movie Shiraz in partnership with the British Film Institute.  Hollywood choreographer Wayne McGregor toured India for the first time. The British Council created world-leading digital cultural experiences opening up the worlds of dance, music and theatre to millions of young Indians through their mobiles.

Notes to Editor

Some of the leading initiatives in 2017:

  • Anoushka Shankar’s new score to accompany the British Film Institute’s restoration of 1928 Indian silent film Shiraz.   Anoushak performed to sell-out audiences in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata.
  • The British Council commissioned mobile art works to connect with India’s mobile generation.  World-leading digital arts project Mix The City launched with musicians from Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.   In February 2018 the British Council launched Mix the City Northeast.  Working with British choreographer Wayne McGregor, the British Council launched Mix the Body, an interactive platform in which users choreograph and direct their own short dance piece on their mobiles.  
  • The British Museum and Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalya (CSMVS) opened landmark exhibition - India and the World: A History in Nine Stories.
  • British dance company Company Wayne McGregor  toured ‘FAR’, a production with a backdrop of 3,200 LED lights to Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai.
  • The Science Museum in London launched their first exhibition on Indian science and innovation.   lluminating India: 5000 Years of Science and Innovation, celebrated India’s central role in the history of science and technology.  
  • The British Council and award-winning Aardman Animations collaborated on Saptan Stories a giant game of consequences played out across the whole of India. Seven world-class artists, from both India and the UK, illustrated a seven-part story, resulting in 7 different visual interpretations of one unique story. 
  • Arts organisations from across the UK were funded to tour new work through partnership with Arts Council England, Arts Council Wales and Creative Scotland.  

For media information, please contact: 

 Aditi Hindwan I National Head – Press and Media | British Council Division | aditi.hindwan@in.britishcouncil.org I 83770 01450

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust.  We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body.