An online photographic timeline documenting the impact of the historic Indian presence in Britain has gone live as part of India’s 69th Republic Day celebrations.
The launch of At the Heart of the Nation: India in Britain took place on Friday during a Republic Day ceremony at India House. The country’s High Commissioner to Britain, Mr Y.K. Sinha, was joined at the event by Mark Field, Britain’s minister of state for Asia and the Pacific.
The photographic timeline was created by the Open University and the University of Exeter, supported by the High Commission of India, the Nehru Centre London and India’s Ministry of External Affairs – designed to celebrate “fascinating yet forgotten stories of how the historic Indian presence in Britain has critically shaped the island nation we know today”.
Curated to coincide with the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence and the UK-India Year of Culture, the collection features historic and contemporary images that offer an insight into how India remains at the heart of the British nation.
According to the timeline’s curators, the photographs “challenge stereotypes of Britain’s ‘island story’ by revealing the contributions of those who settled in Britain from India, either directly, or via East Africa or the Caribbean.”
Key photographs from the timeline went on public display in Edinburgh, London and Leeds at the end of last year.
Speaking ahead of the tour, project director Professor Susheila Nasta said: “By touring this outdoor 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 Indian-British interactions across the divides of race, class, and gender, drawing public attention to the complex realities of both countries’ intertwined histories. The accompanying events and online tools will reach wide public audiences. We hope this will fire imaginations and provoke reflection so we remember the huge impact India and South Asia have had on contemporary British life.”
Main image: ©Photo by Thurston Hopkins/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images