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From left, Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire Mike Kapur, Consul General Dr Aman Puri and University of Birmingham Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Robin Mason.

University of Birmingham Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Robin Mason joined hundreds of people celebrating the 71st anniversary of Indian independence at a special event in Birmingham.

Professor Mason, who is also Director of the University’s India Institute, gave a speech at Birmingham Town Hall as part of the celebrations organised by the Consulate General of India.

In his welcome address, Dr Puri shared his pride as an Indian belonging to the world’s largest democracy and paid tribute to those Indians who are working consistently towards making a better India.

He also spoke of India’s contribution in the cultural, economic and scientific fields – focussing on the Gagan Yaan project, which aims to take the country’s first manned mission to space by 2022.

Consul General Dr Aman Puri also welcomed Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands John Crabtree, Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr Yvonne Mosquito, and West Midlands MEP Neena Gill to the stage, among other speakers, before a range of performers marked the independence anniversary with traditional dance, music and poetry.

Professor Mason said: “It was a great honour to join the celebrations marking the 71st year of independence and India’s remarkable progress as a vibrant and dynamic nation—indeed, an emerging global economic powerhouse.

“The University of Birmingham is a civic university with a global outlook. There exists a special bond between Birmingham and India which stretches back to the arrival of our first Indian students in 1909.

“Our India Institute affirms our deep and continued commitment to engagement with the country. We are determined to contribute to Indian society, as our researchers forge links with their counterparts to change millions of lives for the better.”

The University of Birmingham’s India Institute was established in January and will hold its Inaugural Distinguished Lecture on 24 October 2018 in the Elgar Concert Hall at the University. The lecture will be given by former Foreign Secretary of India Dr S Jaishankar. A former Indian Ambassador to the US, China, and Czech Republic, Dr Jaishankar is now serving as President, Global Affairs, at Tata Group.

University Chancellor, Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea will take part in a panel discussion following Dr Jaishankar's lecture. The evening will be opened by Sampad Arts presenting their new performance Converse, featuring outstanding dance and music artists Vidya Patel and Shammi Pithia.

Registration for the event begins in early September. In the meantime, anyone interested in the work of the India Institute can sign up for a free newsletter.

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