• Sunday, December 10, 2023


Padma awards: Barry Gardiner, Peter Brook’s son collect honours

Gardiner’s constituency in north London has a large population of Asians, especially Gujaratis and the MP has often travelled to India to attend investment summits

British MP Barry Gardiner (L) and Simon Brook (R) son of late British theatre director Peter Brook, received the Padma Shri from Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami at India House, in London, on Friday. (PTI Photo)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

LABOUR MP for Brent North, Barry Gardiner, collected a prestigious honour bestowed on him by the Indian government at a ceremony in London last Friday (23).

Gardiner, who founded the Labour Friends of India more than two decades ago, was presented the Padma Shri, a civilian award, at India House by the Indian High Commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami.

Although he was recognised in the 2020 Padma awards list, pandemic restrictions meant Gardiner could not travel to Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi to receive the honour from India’s president.

At a ceremony last week, Gardiner and the late theatre great, Peter Brook, were both recognised for their efforts in strengthening British Indian ties.

Brook’s son Simon collected the honour on behalf of his late father.

In his remarks, the high commissioner said of the MP and Brook, “We are honoured to have the opportunity to call you friends.”

Doraiswami read the citation for the Labour MP and said, “As founder and chair of the Labour Friends of India, Shri Gardiner was responsible for increasing the understanding in the UK parliament of India’s role as an immediate emerging power and critical nation.

“He has led many delegations of MPs and business leaders to India and has served as a strong advocate and friend of India.”

Gardiner’s constituency in north London has a large population of Asians, especially Gujaratis and the MP has often travelled to India to attend investment summits in Gujarat, when India’s prime minister Narendra Modi was chief minister of the state.

Describing how “unexpectedly moved” he was by the ceremony, Gardiner praised India as an “extraordinary democracy”.

He expressed hope that under a future Labour government, “there will be a transformation of the security relationship between our two governments and our two countries – because India has to be a guarantor of global security in that part of the world”.

He added, “India, as a security partner, is vital for the UK.”

Gardiner also noted how key “businesses in the world are coming together in London, to engage with each other because of the opportunities the Indian market provides”.

“Indian companies also want to engage; it is our future; it’s the future of our peoples,” he said.

Indian students studying in the UK were a vital part of the bilateral relationship, the MP said.

“If we want to train and trade into the future, there is no better way of security than young people coming here with brilliant ideas to form friendships and relationships, that in later life, they will then think, ‘yes, that’s where I can do business’.

“Those connections are absolutely vital for our future partnership.”

He added, “I’m humbled by this award. Thank you for it.”

Brook, who travelled from Paris to collect the award, reflected on his father’s enduring relationship with India and said, “My father was a very close friend (of India). He was very much inspired by India. And I think India changed his life.

“His curiosity about the world, about everything, was really one of the great drivers behind everything he did.”

He recalled how the Mahabharata (which Brook directed on stage) took 10 years to develop and how it was staged in India and abroad.

Among those who gathered at India House to watch the presentation ceremony were deputy high commissioner Sujit Ghosh, Lord Meghnad Desai and Lord Swraj Paul, as well as community leaders.

Eastern Eye

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