THE SPICE OF LIFE

EX­HI­BI­TION SHOWS HOW IN­DI­ANS HAVE EN­RICHED CUL­TURE IN BRI­TAIN

Daily Record - - NEWS - BRIAN McIVER b.mciver@dai­lyrecord.co.uk

THE TWO na­tions lie thou­sands of miles apart – with dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent cul­tures, cli­mates and his­to­ries.

Scot­land has had gen­er­a­tions of close links with In­dia.

From Queen Vic­to­ria’s his­toric meet­ings with her In­dian friend Ab­dul Karim at Bal­moral – as doc­u­mented in the new movie Vic­to­ria & Ab­dul – to bonds over lit­er­a­ture, in­dus­try and trade, Scot­land and In­dia have forged bonds well beyond the sun­set of the Bri­tish Em­pire.

Now, a trav­el­ling out­door ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brat­ing the cul­tural and so­cial crossovers be­tween the UK and In­dia is com­ing to Scot­land.

At the Heart of the Na­tion: In­dia in Bri­tain opens to­mor­row in Ed­in­burgh’s Mound Precinct.

It fea­tures a col­lec­tion of images show­ing the links be­tween Bri­tain and the sub­con­ti­nent. From Pun­jabi pedd­lars go­ing door to door with their wares to nan­nies re­turn­ing with formerly colo­nial fam­i­lies to forge lives in Scot­land and mod­ern trail­blaz­ers such as vet­eran marathon run­ner Fauja Singh, the free ex­hi­bi­tion shows how deep the con­nec­tions go.

Napier Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Bashabi Fraser is di­rec­tor of the Scot­tish Cen­tre of Tagore Stud­ies, who cel­e­brate links to In­dia.

She is hold­ing a talk as part of

the ex­hi­bi­tion and said: “There is a strong cul­tural his­tory be­tween Scot­land and In­dia.

“The ini­tial phase was in the 1930s, with many im­mi­grant work­ers and itin­er­ant pedd­lars mov­ing to Scot­land and go­ing door to door sell­ing things women might need in the house. “There were also a lot of stu­dents who would come to Scot­land – to Ed­in­burgh for medicine, Glas­gow for en­gi­neer­ing and Dundee for jute tech­nol­ogy. Jute was a great link be­tween Scot­land and In­dia. There was a di­rect link be­tween Dundee and Cal­cutta and the for­tunes of the two cities were tied with a global mar­ket in­flu­enc­ing ev­ery­thing.

“Scot­land was very wel­com­ing to stu­dents, with the in­cen­tive that they could stay and work for two years to pay off their stu­dent loans but that has stopped now be­cause of im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

“More re­cently, there have been cul­tural links in mu­sic and film. Since the un­rest in Kash­mir, many films have been shot in Scot­land as it of­fers a sim­i­lar land­scape, if not so warm.”

Prof Fraser added: “There are frag­ments of In­dia in many Scots, whether it’s un­cles born there or grand­moth­ers mar­ried in In­dia, so as­so­ci­a­tions run deep.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion has been put to­gether by Pro­fes­sor Susheila Nasta of the Open Univer­sity in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dr Flo­rian Stadtler, of Ex­eter Univer­sity, and the Open Univer­sity’s Dr Maya Par­mar. It is based on archival sources and co­in­cides with the In­dia-UK Year of Cul­ture for 2017. Prof Nasta said: “By tour­ing this ex­hi­bi­tion, we want to swivel the per­spec­tive and ex­am­ine In­dia’s role within Bri­tain rather than Bri­tain’s well-doc­u­mented his­tor­i­cal pres­ence in In­dia.

“The images trace In­di­anBri­tish in­ter­ac­tions across the di­vides of race, class, and gen­der, draw­ing public at­ten­tion to the com­plex re­al­i­ties of both coun­tries’ in­ter­twined his­to­ries.

“We hope this will fire imag­i­na­tions and pro­voke re­flec­tion on the huge im­pact In­dia and South Asia has had on con­tem­po­rary Bri­tish life.”

ROAD RUN­NER Cen­te­nar­ian Sikh marathon run­ner fauja Singh in Ed­in­burgh in 2011, above

MA­TER­NAL IN­FLU­ENCE Two nurse­maids from Madras (Chen­nai) with their young charges in Glas­gow‘s Great west­ern Road in 1925, right

ROYAL BOND Queen Vic­to­ria with in­dian friend ab­dul Karim at Bal­moral Cas­tle in the 1880s. Pic: Bri­tish Library

LINKS Prof Bashabi fraser

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