By Aline Dobbie
It was a great pleasure to meet Mrs Anju Ranjan the new Consul General of India to Scotland this week at her offices in the elegant old building at the Consulate General of India in one of Edinburgh’s most perfect and prestige heritage squares in the West End of Edinburgh – Rutland Square.
Anju Ranjan is married to a fellow senior IAS Officer and they have three children aged from 12 to 2 years. She is a very qualified lady being a Gold Medallist in her Masters in Chemistry (Inorganic and Complex formation). She also studied for her MTech in Chemical Engineering and she holds an MBA (Finance) from IGNOU, Delhi.
This talented and knowledgeable lady has come to represent India in Scotland and for me, a Scot and child of India having been born there, I am so proud to see India being represented by a multi-talented woman who is eager to represent her country with diligence and expertise and conviction – I view India as the land of my birth.
This is an auspicious year to take up office in that it is the 70 years of Nationhood Anniversary for India and the Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and our Prime Minister Mrs Theresa May declared that it should be the Year of Culture for India and the United Kingdom.
We talked of the various ideas being put forward to celebrate the shared cultures, and the individual cultures, and I know we will be in for a real treat once the various dancers, musicians, artists and men and women of learning come to share their talents and showcase India in Scotland.
The fact is that Scotland’s interest in India goes back for centuries and indeed until immediately post-World War Two, two out of every three Scots families had members of family serving, living, working and sadly dying in India. My own family was just such a generational record of that great number of, at first, men and then men and women who went out to the Sub-Continent to carve their futures. Some stayed in India, some died out there in those early days but many people returned to these shores and their interest in India never waned and that interest was passed on to their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to this day.
Today we look forward, not backward to a future when the world’s largest democracy is forging ahead and making huge progress but sometimes asks for this small nation’s expertise and very often exports her own knowledge of IT and other disciplines here to Scotland. The 21st Century is about a sharing of knowledge, a respect for diversity, and an eagerness to learn about each other’s priorities and values.
At the end of November I had the great pleasure and privilege of being shown in private some of the India Archive held in the University of Edinburgh’s Library; the whole Archive is immense and would stretch to 60 km I am assured, but the India section is broad and fascinating and with some very old pieces; this again demonstrates how over the centuries Scots went to India and returned to their native land full of experiences, stories, maybe some wealth, and of course a breadth of knowledge of another ancient culture with all its diversity.
This year there are many events and functions planned to demonstrate the beauty and diversity of Indian art, culture, literature and music and dance. We from the United Kingdom are doing likewise in India and the British Council is responsible for that endeavour. For those coming to Scotland it is under the aegis of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. There are moreover over fifteen hundred Indian students studying in Scots universities and colleges of Higher Education.
The Lord Provost of Edinburgh has made Mrs Ranjan welcome and indeed jointly they are to host the celebration of India’s Republic Day on the 27th January in The City Chambers of Edinburgh.
I look forward to the Year of Culture ahead and am confident Anju Ranjan will be welcoming all who take an interest in India.
Aline Dobbie was born in Bareilly, in Uttar Pradesh and grew up in India. She is a Scot and lives in Scotland with her husband; they return to India annually for several weeks. She is the travel Editor for India Link International magazine and a guest blogger for a number of different travel websites and print media.