Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP for Brent North in London and founder of Labour Friends of India (LFIN), was conferred the Padma Shri in recognition of his contributions in the field of public affairs back in 2020 but could not receive the award – India’s fourth highest civilian honour – at a presidential palace ceremony in Delhi due to the Covid lockdown.
British theatre director Peter Brook, behind an epic adaptation of ‘The Mahabharata’ which toured the world in the 1980s, was conferred his Padma Shri for contributions in the field of art in 2021. He died, aged 97, last year and the honour was accepted by his son Simon Brook at a special ceremony organised at India House in London last week.
Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami said: “We felicitate two very distinguished friends of India; honouring them for their friendship and the long years of service to the friendship between our peoples and to fostering greater understanding.”
An emotional Barry Gardiner, fondly referred to as “Barry Bhai” by many of his constituents, said: “India is the most extraordinary democracy in a part of the world where democracies are sadly all too uncommon. Not only now the largest population of any country, overtaking China, but a democracy that is vibrant.
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“I think it's the most important relationship that we can develop. I have thought that for more than 25 years; and I'm humbled by this award.”
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Director Simon Brook, who had travelled from Paris to receive the Padma Shri conferred on late father, noted: “He was a very close friend of India, very much inspired by India and I think India changed his life.”