UK–South Asia Season

The British Council’s UK – South Asia Season 2013 promotes opportunities to connect, create and collaborate in the fields of education and culture between the UK and countries across the region, namely India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Iran. At a time of rapid progress and growing challenges, there is an increasing need for us to come together to foster an exchange of knowledge and ideas and develop opportunities for future collaboration

It is a new concept to facilitate a better understanding of cultural relations between the UK and the diverse countries across the region. It will emphasise the importance of strong, lasting and mutually beneficial relationships in the cultural and educational spheres through a programme of events highlighting key issues of common interest, enabling the exchange of views and experiences and offering opportunities for future collaboration. 

The Season begins on 23 September and culminates in the South Asia Forum from 5—8 November – an event which positions the British Council as a partnering organisation willing to listen and share knowledge and ideas with existing and potential new partners. The programme will primarily be focused in London but some activity will take place in Edinburgh and Manchester and there will be an interactive online dimension involving audiences in the UK and in the region. 

The Season aims to highlight: 

  • Why South Asia matters to the UK and why the UK needs to remain relevant to South Asia. 

The current relationship is increasingly focused on shared interests and challenges in business, culture, education, security and development. We need to work together more effectively to capitalise on new opportunities and build stronger partnerships for the future. Connect!

  • The importance and potential of cultural relations between the UK and South Asia.

Investing in cultural relations is more important than ever as building trust and understanding is the foundation for closer collaboration and addressing shared challenges more effectively. Create!

  • The British Council’s commitment to working in partnership and our willingness to share experience and expertise and learn from others. 

In order to strengthen the UK – South Asia partnership, the Season aims to engage key stakeholders and partners from government, civil society, the creative industries, media and the private sector and explore opportunities to develop opportunities for collaboration. Collaborate!

Send an email to Julia Rawlins for further information. 

See below the India's participation in various events in the UK-South Asia Season.

Booked! Addictive Cities

Mumbai, Calcutta, Karachi. Certain cities in South Asia have long been inexhaustible sources of inspiration for several generations of writers who have chronicled the ongoing transformations of these multifaceted metropolises through the eyes of everyday people. The story of each of these cities is entwined with the lives of those who live in the shadows. Drugs, and people's relation with them, have also inspired storytellers, travellers and literary historians for generations. 

Meet acclaimed writers Amit Chaudhuri, author of The Immortals and Calcutta, and Jeet Thayil, poet and author of Narcopolis, which was shortlisted for both the Man Booker and Man Asian Literary Prizes, as they discuss their work. Moderated by Ted Hodgkinson. 

Event venue: Freeword Centre

Date: 1 November

Time: 7.00 pm

Event partner: South Asian Literature Festival 

*Open to all

Battle of Ideas: Debating Matters Competition International Final 2013

The Battle of Ideas will host the fifth UK versus India Debating Matters International Final, a showdown between the winners of Debating Matters Competition UK 2012/13 and the winners of the Debating Matters India Competition 2012/13 organised in partnership with the British Council. Students from Bangalore, India and Manchester, UK, will debate the motion Megacities are bad for the developing world.

Event venue: The Barbican, London

Date: 19 October

Time: 5.30 pm to 6.45 pm

Event partner: Institute of Ideas

*Limited tickets available, for details please email

The Djinns of Eidgah

New play by Abhishek Majumbar (India), directed by Richard Twyman (UK) that paints a tragic portrait of a generation and a landscape lost to conflict in Kashmir. The Djinns of Eidgah was developed in 2010 as part of a project in collaboration with the Royal Court Theatre, Rage Productions Mumbai and the British Council, which challenged 12 writers from all over India to write a play asking urgent questions about their changing country. 

Event venue: Royal Court Theatre

Date: 18 October to 9 November

Time: 7.00 pm

Event partner: Royal Court Theatre  and Genesis Foundation 

*Open for public bookings; click here for more details

Re-imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century (book launch)

A new volume of future-forging pieces by leading thinkers in India and the UK exploring the evolving relationship and tracing not only the shared history but also its contemporary ramifications will be presented by the editor followed by a panel discussion on “Will the different modernities of India and the UK in the 21st Century allow a special relationship to develop?”

Chaired by the book’s editor, Shrabani Basu, the panel comprises — Nasreen Munni Kabir, documentary filmmaker and author, Tom Bird, Executive Producer at Shakespeare's Globe, Nick Robins, author of The Corporation that Changed the World: how the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational and Andrew Dickson, theatre editor for Guardian News and Media. 

The book includes essays by  Shrabani Basu, Mike King, Phillip Knightley, Indrajit Hazra, Tom Bird, Sanjoy K Roy, Nasreen Munni Kabir, Pradeep Kar, Sita Brahmachari, K. VijayRaghavan, Nirmalya Kumar, Jack Spence, Mihir S Sharma, Kapil Komireddi, William Crawley, David Page and Jo Johnson

Published by Bloomsbury India (ISBN: 978-93-82951-34-6)

Event venue: British Council, London

Date: 5 November

Time: 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm

Event partner: Bloomsbury India

*By invitation only

Making a better world? A Re-Imagine Open Forum

An open discussion with experts from India and the UK to explore the underlying themes of The Djinns of Eidgah by Abhishek Majumdar.

Event venue: Royal Court Theatre

Date: 30 October

Event partner: Culture + Conflict and Royal Court Theatre

*By invitation only

The changing shape of gender equality in South Asia; shifts, challenges and a new global partnership

This conference will explore the shifts that have taken place in South Asia as well as the challenges still to go. A stimulating panel of speakers from South Asia and the UK, led by Professor Naila Kabeer, LSE, will celebrate progress and plan action to remove the challenges. They will go on to create a platform to explore how a new global partnership can be mobilized to achieve gender equality in this exciting region.

Event venue: Asia House

Date: 4 November

Event partner: LSE Gender Institute, GADNET

*By invitation only

South Asia Forum

A week long programme of events addressing key issues in Education and Society, the Arts and English in order to strengthen the UK – South Asia partnership.

Event venue: British Council London 

Date: 5 to 8 November

*By invitation only

Not What, But How

Screening of documentary ‘A Village in a School” and WORKSHOP ARCHITECTURE in conversation with Vicky Richardson in advance of the exhibition ‘Not What, But How’ featuring Project Hariharpur, India. 

The exhibition that opens on 15th November is about WORKSHOP ARCHITECTURE’s work in the field with local communities in a responsible, inclusive and sustainable process in Philippines and in India.

Event venue: Architectural Association,  London


  • Screening and discussion evening: 8 November
  • Exhibition: 16 November – 14 December

Event partner: Architectural Association,  WORKSHOP architecture

*Screening open to public and exhibition and event open to the public from 16 November

Booked! Reporting Pakistan Across Borders: India and Pakistan

Partition - Pakistan's Perspective

The Partition of the British Indian Empire in 1947 led to the creation of Pakistan. It was a highly controversial arrangement, and 66 years on remains a cause of much tension on the subcontinent today. How did the Partition affect the Muslims who migrated to their new home? How have Pakistanis identified themselves? And what are their views on the formation of Bangladesh in 1971? 

Join New York Times correspondent Declan Walsh and executive president of the Times Group in India, Rahul Kansal, as they discuss the preconceptions that writers work against on a daily basis and how seemingly unlikely bridges can be formed when a story is printed. Moderated by Shreela Ghosh.

Event venue: University of Westminster, Regents Street 

Date: 26 October 

Time: 1.30 pm

Event partner: South Asia Literature Festival

*Open to all


Booked! Epic Stories - From Mythology to Imagination

Epic Stories - From Mythology to Imagination

The Indian epics, such as the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Shiva stories, have been written and re-written by writers, storytellers and mythologists for hundreds of years, each of whom have interpreted the stories in their own style. Writers in India such as Ashok Banker and Amish Tripathi have given these myths a makeover and taken them to another level, transforming them into popular series books, reaching new readers and making this one of fastest growing genres in South Asian literature.

Join Ashok and Amish, as they share the stories of their successes for the first time in the UK. Introduced by Cortina Butler, Director Literature, British Council. Moderated by Bhavit Mehta.

Event venue: Conway Hall  

Date: 29 October 

Time: 7.00 pm

Event partner: South Asia Literature Festival

*Open to all

Booked! "Bangla Sahityo" - Influences of Bengali Literature on both sides of the Border

Bengali literature, be it from Bengal or from Bangladesh, is one of the oldest and richest literature in South Asia, giving the world intellectuals such as Rabindranath Tagore, Raja Rammohan Roy, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. 

Join writers Kunal Basu and Professor Kaiser Haq as they come together to exchange thoughts, influences and more. Moderated by Shreela Ghosh. The event ends with a musical treat by Indo-Jazz artist Arun Ghosh and his group.

Event venue: University of Westminster, London

Date: 26 October 

Time: 7.30 pm

Event partner: South Asia Literature Festival

*Open to all

Raising standards in English language learning - new research and approaches from South Asia

The half-day conference pulls together, evidence and researcg generated across the region to trigger a wider debate around the capacity and capability of existing educational systems to improve English language learning outcomes at school level. The event will highlight research findings from studies conducted in India and Pakistan; the former a research collaboration between the British Council, the ASER Centre in India and the Centre for Literacy and Multilingualism at Reading University; the latter a collaboration between the British Council, The Punjab State Education Board and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) in Pakistan

Event venue: British Academy, London

Date: 12 November

Time: 10.00 am to 2.00 pm

Event Partner: Pratham ASER Centre and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)

*By invitation only

Future Collaboration in Design and Education

From 7-13 October a delegation from leading universities in India will take part in a visit to the UK  to share knowledge with their counterparts and explore possibilities for future collaboration. Join us to discuss trends and advances in design education to engage conversation about future opportunities over breakfast.

Event venue: British Council, London

Date: 11 October

Time: 9.00 am

Event Partner: National Institute of Design, School of Design Ambedkar University, DJ Academy of Design, Srishti School of Art, dESIGN AND tECHNOLOGY

*By invitation only