Queen Elizabeth II will host a special reception at Buckingham Palace to kick start the UK-India Year of Culture celebrations in Britain, the Indian high commissioner has said, noting that the bilateral ties have merged “truly exciting”.
In his address at the annual Republic Day event in London, Indian high commissioner to the UK Y K Sinha said a number of events are being planned to mark the “momentous” year.
“We are very happy that 2017 is the year of Indian culture in the UK. It is also the year India marks 70 years of independence. They both go hand in hand this year as we celebrate this momentous occasion and we are very honoured by Her Majesty’s decision to start off the year with a reception at Buckingham Palace,” Sinha said.
The reception is expected to take place towards the end of February, with a formal date announcement expected in a few weeks.
“The India-UK relationship has never looked better. It has stepped up to a level which is truly exciting, truly encouraging. This year’s agenda in particular looks very challenging and very exciting,” Sinha said.
Describing the bilateral trade in goods last year of $14 billion (£11 billion) and another $5.3 billion ($4.2 billion) in services as just the “tip of the iceberg”, he added: “With the United Kingdom exiting the European Union (EU), I think the time has come for India and UK to again re-engage to strengthen our economic engagement.”
The Indian envoy was joined by Nick Hurd, UK minister for climate change, as the chief guest of the Republic Day celebrations at Grosvenor House hotel in central London.
He welcomed Sinha’s appointment as Indian high commissioner to the UK, as a diplomat of “seniority and experience”.
“Republic Day marks a momentous turning point in India’s history and today we commemorate the thriving democracy it is. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the long-standing ties between our governments,” the minister said.
“At the heart of this relationship is our people to people ties or to use prime minister Modi’s phrase, the ‘living bridge’ that connects our two countries. The Indian diaspora plays a crucial role in deepening UK- India links. We are committed to harnessing our natural ties and making this an enduring partnership,” he added.
The event was marked by cultural performances representing different states of India.