Yes, India is the Land of my birth. On one side five generations and four on the other have served, worked, lived, loved and died in India. My late Father is still considered a Hero of the Indian Army, my ancestor was Commander in Chief in second half of nineteenth century, and my grandfather served with Lawrence in Mesopotamia and my great grandfather built revetments up on the north west frontier when he stopped being a general, and had a long relationship with the then HH Patiala. We as a couple returned to India in 1997 for me, but first time for my husband Graham. For me it was a sort of pilgrimage and then people said write it in a book… which I did, primarily to keep my mind off the worry of our eldest son being, as a British Army officer, on his second tour of Bosnia. One thing led to another and four books later, and one as it were waiting to be published, I continue to try and promote India as a tourism destination but also the Living Bridge and general understanding of mutual respect and appreciation between India and the United Kingdom. I still speak rusty Urdu Hindi. It was fluent as a child.
We are in troubled times; not only has the global threat of a life-threatening pandemic overwhelmed, but big countries have behaved oddly and irresponsibly. The one that perhaps is the origin of the virus keeps trying to push the blame elsewhere and yet gain influence and domination. I studied Imperialism at university with a tutor who was a Sinologist, and he reckoned the Chinese were the last great imperialists, but they would fail as they are not as cohesive a nation as other surmise. He loved India and was intrigued by my family connections. Fundamentally, I keep saying that India is the world’s largest democracy and that is the vital difference. A great developing mass of 1.3 billion people who have choices (albeit sometimes very challenging ones) but they have choices and can show their likes and dislikes and make decisions as with the rest of the developed world where democracy was supposed to have established itself in the 20th century. Then there are others still developing in the African continent. As for the USA that is an unfolding saga currently… I know something of southern Africa having lived there in the first nine years of our marriage and been an active member of the opposition party and a member of the Leader of the Opposition’s think tank in the dark days of the late 1970s. We left South Africa in mid-1979 but were harassed. Life was a challenge back in the UK having lost 60% of our piggy bank to the SA Government (they take possession you see). But we succeeded and our fine sons grew up and are now men approaching 50 content in their own lives with families. The UK has many challenges, of which you will be aware; negotiators battling to reach Agreement over Brexit currently. I pray good sense prevails. I believe in Brexit as the EU had become overarching and a supra state with aspirational ideas of its own defence forces and unelected persons telling our nation what we can and cannot do. We will succeed. However, here in Scotland we have a tiresome bunch who are bent on trying to gain independence. Nonsense – we are a nation united by the Scottish and English Crowns in 1603 when the Scots king inherited the throne of the English queen, and then in 1707 by the Act of Parliamentary Union as Scotland was very poor and impoverished by a most futile attempt at colonialism in the Darien Scheme in the Isthmus of what we know as Panama now. My Scots family is a noble one that has held office and supported wide actions from the 12th century onwards. The Age of Enlightenment started in Scotland and spread throughout Europe – ours was a most literate society and the people ambitious and hard working and they went out to India by the hundreds to help develop India. India is evolving and has her challenges but you are a young country with entrepreneurs, innovators, IT specialisms, manufacturing industry, venue for others to carry out industry more economically, huge diversity of culture and religions, mountains, holy rivers, valleys, jungles, beaches, metro cities with all the exoticism that goes with that and the cuisines, the music, art, heritage archaeology and architecture, origin of four great religions and the literature.
Philosophers, gurus, Ayurveda, early science, engineering maths, astronomy all originated in what we know as India. My own book Quicklook at India was commissioned in 2010 to say in only 25,000 words what is India, to teach would be businessfolk who go there to try and do business. Without knowledge and respect and understanding of India they make their aspirations more difficult. Quicklook at India starts in 2,500 BCE to the present day. It can be read in 100 minutes that is why it was essential to be so short. It was updated in 2012, but sadly the publisher didn’t go further, whereas I would like a paragraph about Mr Modi’s election victory of 2014 and then re-election in 2019. The diplomats approved of it. It would be of immense value currently when so many post Covid are beating a path to India for business. I was travel editor for 15 years for India Link magazine but retired in 2018. I did a lot of writing – about ten years – for We Blog the World a huge Californian travel site, I am active on LinkedIn and social networking and I have my own website below. In 2006 I was presented with The Pride of India Gold Award, and in 2019 with The Art and Culture Award by The India Awards of the India Business Group at the Houses of Parliament. We both, Graham (who is a retired distinguished veterinary surgeon) and I hope to return to India just as practicable after receiving the vaccine to ensure our safety. I sit on HH Udaipur Mewar Maharana Foundation Colonel James Tod
Committee, and I work with HH Jodhpur who has so kindly written a Foreword to my new book, as
has Amitabh Kant whom I have known since he was in charge of tourism for India.