Remarks by Bharat Joshi, British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai at the Queen’s Birthday Party, Thursday 18 February 2016
Many thanks to HighKicks, Stagefright, Blessing Chimanga and band, DJ Eddie, and the amazing Violin Sisters – Nandini and Dr Lalitha. Please join me in thanking them……
Friends, Indians, Countrymen, lend me your ears. It’s hard to believe that just a couple of months ago, this city was starting to recover from a horrible calamity. The way in which this city came together reminds me strongly of the Horace quotation ‘In adversity those talents are called forth which are concealed by prosperity’. It is those talents that will drive this state forward.
2015 was a big year for UK and India. Last November, we welcomed Prime Minister Modi to the UK. That visit resulted in over £9 billion of business deals and built on the long traditional links between our two countries, including the one and a half million Indian diaspora. Her Majesty spoke of ‘an enhanced partnership’, with India a key government priority. Our Prime Ministers also discussed how we could work together for global prosperity and security, and on delivering Prime Minister Modi’s vision for India, by transforming its economy, building 100 smart cities, skilling 500 million young people, providing around the clock electricity for all; building 10,000 km of roads. These are massive projects. Britain will help to transform this vision into a reality, including by leveraging the strengths of the UK financial markets. In Prime Minister Modi’s words, ‘after James Bond, Brooke Bond we go to Rupee Bond!’
We were proud to support the Tamil Nadu government as partner country at the Global Investors Meet in September. UK companies did significant business – OPG signed an MoU with the Tamil Nadu government worth £2.4 billion. And several UK companies signed a further £30 million worth of MoUs and commercial deals. This year we celebrate the fact that 64 years ago on 6 February, Queen Elizabeth acceded to the British throne. In September, she overtook Queen Victoria as the UK’s longest reigning monarch. And in a couple of short months, she will celebrate her 90th birthday. This is an extraordinary achievement for a monarch and her Consort Prince Philip who have dedicated their lives to service for the British Crown, including as the Head of the Commonwealth. May I ask you to please join me in raising a toast to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
23rd April marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, playwright, poet and actor. The language of Shakespeare is the language of the world. English is the most widely spoken language on the planet, and the language of choice in business, diplomacy, science, education, IT and entertainment. 2 billion people will be studying English by 2020. Look out for a range of events across India throughout the year.
Today is our opportunity to thank all of you: our friends and partners that have helped us strengthen what is already a powerful partnership. So on behalf of the UK team here - not just the BDHC but; our sister organisation the British Council which reaches places we can’t: and the UK companies – including our generous sponsors - that employ in excess of 50000 people in Chennai alone, and are as much Ambassadors for the UK as we are.
Thank you: we are proud to work with you.
We hope you enjoy our carefully selected British Indian fare tonight including the most popular UK dish, the exalted chicken tikka masala and - of course - fish and chips. I will end with another quote from the Bard. ‘And to be merry best becomes you; for, out of question, you were born in a merry hour’. I enjoin you all to have a very merry evening!
Further information on Queen’s Birthday Party in Chennai – 18 February
The British Deputy High Commissioner Chennai, Bharat Joshi hosted the Queen’s Birthday Party on 18 February 2016. This year is special because UK also celebrates HM Queen Elizabeth as the longest reigning Monarch, and marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, playwright, poet and actor. Exciting strands marked this event for Chennai’s business, academic, cultural and civil society guests, and will showcase the Best of Britain.
- Stagefright, an innovative theatre group, “re-imagined” Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, with a tongue-in-cheek twist
- High Kicks, Chennai’s all-girls contemporary dance crew will perform a highly-stylised dance piece on the James Bond theme
- “Violin Sisters”, Kalaimamani Dr M Lalitha and Kaliamamani M Nandini played the Indian and British national anthems
- Blessing Chimanga and Band, a popular live band from Zimbabwe and DJ Eddie from Exodus played a range of popular music
Background on performers
- Stagefright Productions:
A Chennai-based theatre and music company, led by Freddy Koikaran, a theatre professional with over 25 years of stage experience. Starting with the musical “Grease” in 2004, Stagefright has staged over 30 different productions in music and theatre across South India.
- High Kicks:
Dance on Bond Theme: An all-girls dance contemporary dance ensemble created by Aparna Nagesh. They have represented India at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Fest in 2014 in Glasgow.
- The Violin Sisters:
Dr M Lalitha and M Nandini are Fulbright and Charles Wallace Trust Fellows in performing arts. The only female duo in Asia to perform World music, South Indian classical, fusion and Western classical at Le Mauricien.
- Blessing Chimanga and band:
A 24-year old talented musician who plays the Drums, Marimba and Percussion. He is also a music director, arranger, songwriter and singer. Blessing has played with many musicians in the UK and internationally.
- DJ Eddie, Exodus:
Exodus started and founded by Edison Prithiviraj focuses on music festivals such as “Global Isai Festival”, “Madras Jazz Festival”, “Himalayan Blues Festival” and “October Music Festival”. Exodus also promotes Artists / Bands & DJ’s and their music by organizing music workshops and concerts.