London to enjoy Indian Summer - India Now festival launched

17 July 2007

Today, 17 July, London begins its Indian summer with the celebrity unveiling of an intricate replica of India’s most iconic landmark and symbol of eternal love, the Taj Mahal.

In an unusual move, the Taj Mahal is floating down the river Thames, past many of London’s iconic landmarks, a visual spectacle kicking off India Now, a three month series of events and exhibitions, backed by the Mayor of London, to Indian art, film, theatre, music, fashion, food and business.

Rahul Dravid, the captain of the Indian cricket team, actresses Joanna Lumley OBE and Shilpa Shetty, as well as Mayor Ken Livingstone are just some of the well-known faces celebrating the launch of India Now alongside the Taj Mahal.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said: 'India is an emerging economic superpower and also has one of the world’s most important cultures. The India Now season will be an opportunity to experience the richness of Indian culture and offers something for everyone. It will truly showcase the very best of modern Indian culture for to Londoners and visitors alike.'

India Now will see over 200 cultural organisations contribute to the season, including a selection of London’s most well known museums and galleries such as the British Museum and V&A. Over 1,500 events will take place during India Now, with well over one million Londoners expected to participate in events during the season.

India Now will recognise the existing strong relations between India and London and show that in the future, with India’s emergence as one of the world’s greatest economic powerhouses, this relation will become stronger still. If Londoners already think they know India, and Indians think they know London, both will be getting to know a lot more about each other in the future.

India plays a crucial role in the business and culture of London. In 2006 the number of Londoners of Indian origin was over 430,000 – accounting for 6% of London’s population, the largest national minority community in the city. India now has the second largest number of inward investment projects to London of any country – after only the United States. Over 212,000 Indian visitors came to London in 2006, for the first time spending more than Japanese tourists. Over 4,000 students from India are now studying in London, contributing an estimated £60m to London’s economy. In 2006, over 40 Indian film productions were filmed in London, with an estimated annual worth of £14m to London.

James Bidwell, Chief Executive of London Unlimited, the international marketing agency for London, said: 'India Now will connect with one of the most powerful emerging countries of the future on cultural, sporting and business levels as London cements its relationship with this rapidly growing economy.'

Standing at approximately six metres high and eight metres long this intricate replica of the iconic Taj Mahal has received a contemporary artistic treatment by famous Bollywood set designer, Bijon das Gupta, and modern Indian artist, Suchi Chidambaram.

The Taj Mahal is supported by a one metre high plinth, hand painted by London based Indian artist, Suchi Chidambaram, with modern Indian and London city scenes. 

The Taj Mahal will travel up the Thames past London landmarks old and new; the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the British Airways London Eye, St Paul’s, the Tate Modern and Tower Bridge before coming to rest at London Bridge where it will remain for the public to view throughout the day. In the evening , the Taj Mahal will be moored by the London Eye and then be relocated across London as the India Now season continues.

David Sharpe, Managing Director of the British Airways London Eye added: 'We are delighted to support London in a celebration of contemporary India - India Now.  As an emerging market, India will be key to the ongoing success of the London Eye and we are looking forward to welcoming many Indian visitors in the future.'

 

Event: INDIA NOW
Location: Venues across London
Date: July, August, September
Public information: www.visitlondon.com/india / 020 7983 4100

Key events include:

  • A three-week Indian themed Trafalgar Square Festival commencing on the Thursday 2 August. In the final week of the Festival, on Thursday 16 August a specially commissioned Bollywood display will see a giant canvas painted live by Mumbai poster painters who will re-imagine London as an Indian city at the foot of Nelson’s Column. A spectacular vertical Bollywood dance extravaganza performed by a team of fearless aerialists will then be played out against the background of this extraordinary vividly painted giant poster.
  • As part of the Film 4 Summer Screen and in celebration of the India Now season, on Thursday 9 August the Bollywood production Chak De India will premiere worldwide at Somerset House, attended by Bollywood superstar and lead actor Shah Rukh Kahn.  Chak de India will take place at 21:15 with music beforehand from 19:30. Tickets cost £12.50 and are available for purchase online at www.somersethouse.org.uk and via Ticketmaster 0870 4000 603.
  • The London Mela takes place in Gunnersbury Park on Sunday 12 August from 12pm-9pm, a free event for all the family with music and live performance, including new commissions, reflecting the diversity of Indian and culture. www.londonmela.org.
    A spectacular finale to the season on Sunday 2 September will be the Regent Street Festival which will see Regent Street transformed into an Indian streetscape, complete with music, spectacular sculptures, food and artisans.

Additional statistics

Business:

  • There are over 10,000 Indian-owned businesses in London employing 49,000 people.  Together they generate a combined turnover of $14.4 billion and represent 5% of London’s economy.
  • India’s overseas investment in Europe has multiplied ten times in the past eight years, London accounts for just over 32% of all European investment from India.
  • Almost two thirds of all London-based Indian businesses operate in the software market, with the second-biggest grouping represented by financial and business services.
    (Source: Think London)

Tourism:

  • Flight routes from India to London are the country’s busiest, with approximately 100 flights a week to and from seven Indian cities.
  • Flight numbers have increased 38% in the last six years with 212,000 Indian visitors to London in 2006.
  • India is the world’s ninth largest economy with a population of over 1bn. India’s economy is expected to grow by +7.3 percent in 2007. Source: UN, IMF World Economic Outlook Sept 2006.
  • India is London’s second biggest Asian market after Japan and enjoys steadily rising visitor figures with 212,000 visits from Indians in 2006, up from 166,000 in 2005.
  • Visitors from India spent £139 million last year, up from £107 a year earlier. Compared to this, some 230,000 Japanese nationals visited London last year, spending a total of £123 million.
    (Source: Visit London)

Academic:

  • It is estimated that London’s international student population contribute approximately £1.5 billion to the London economy (in the 2005/6 academic year).
  • Indian student numbers in London have doubled in the last five years from 2,190 in 2001 to 4,320 in 2005. It is estimated that they collectively contribute £60 million to London’s economy (in the 2005/6 academic year).
  • For students currently studying in London, the leading course choices for Indian students are in Business and Administrative (32 percent), followed by Computer Science (18 percent) and Engineering and Technology (16 percent).
  • India represents a large potential student market for London, especially for postgraduate students with 75 percent of Indian students studying postgraduate degrees (MScs and PhDs).  There are also a growing number of collaborative programmes between Indian and London universities where students study in both locations.
    (Source: London Higher)

About Bijon das Gupta

  • Bijon das Gupta is one of the premier Bollywood Art Directors of his time having worked on over 50 feature films to date.
    These include: ‘Saagar’, ‘Mr.India’, ‘Shehenshah’, ‘Tridev’, ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’, ‘Dil’, ‘Khalnayak’, ‘Roop ki Raani
  • Choron Ka Raja’, ‘Vishwatma’, ‘Hum Aapke Hai Kaun’, ’Mohra’, ‘Prem’, ‘Hum Saath Saath Hai’, ‘Dhadkan’, ‘Escape From Taliban’, ‘Umrao Jaan’ and ‘Dhamaal’.
  • Bijon is also known for his work with Western Directors; most recently ‘The Mighty Heart’, directed by Michael Winterbottom.
  • Bijon is currently working on three Bollywood projects one being Sanjay Gupta’s movie ‘Alibaug’ and he is the permanent designer of Sahara’s internationally renowned dream city ‘Amby Valley’ at Lonavla.

About Suchi Chidambaram

  • Suchi is a 32 year old Indian artist based in London.
    For further information on all her exhibitions to date please visit www.suchis.com
    Previous Exhibitions:
  • Participating in a two man show at the Light Gallery, 5A Porchester Place, London W2 2BS from the 24th to the 29th of April 2007
  • Participated in a group show at Clarion Contemporary Art, King Street, London in Dec 2006
  • Participated in a group show held at Travancore Palace, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi, India, in August 2006
  • Solo exhibition at The Nehru Centre, London W1, in March 2006

Notes to Editors

  1. Cultural institutions and organisations participating in India Now include the National Film Theatre, Victoria and Albert Museum, the South Bank and Barbican centres, Watermans, Thames Festival, the Institute of Contemporary Arts and Akademi.
  2. In November the Mayor will be visiting both Delhi and Mumbai with a delegation of representatives from London business. With plans to open Mayoral offices in both cities the trip will highlight the growing links between London and India.
  3. In Delhi, in addition to business and culture, the aim is to discuss what the two cities can learn from each other about staging the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  4. In Mumbai, film will represent a significant part of London's programme of activity.
  5. The Mayor is also working with Think London to improve support for Indian companies investing into London.

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