Sajid Javid has worked his way up to enter the British cabinet, as UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Son of an immigrant bus driver, he quit his career in banking for politics. On an official visit to India, he announced a 1.5 million pounds lottery fund to build creative connections between India and the UK. Just before his stopover at Humayun’s Tomb, he spoke about culture and politics
How is it for a person of Asian origin to promote British culture around the world?
I’m a British politician, representing British interest. My origin is helpful in this (current) context. My father was born in India and mother in Pakistan. I spoke Punjabi as a child, I understand Hindi and speak Urdu. Many in Europe think that everyone in India speaks English, but that is not the case — this kind of understanding helps. There is a huge interest among Indians to collaborate with the UK, and I hope that happens.
You met representatives of several museums in Kolkata yesterday. What kind of collaborations are in store?
It was a round table with representatives of museums from both countries. Our museums are independent, they decide whom they want to work with. We want to see more collaborations and can give incentives, it’s up to them to pick these up. The V&A is working with a museum in Delhi and National Library in India is working with the British Library; they are digitising and considering sharing a common platform. You have fantastic museums, we do too. Bollywood is successful all around the world. I grew up on Bollywood films, Sholay is still one of my favourite Bollywood movies.
There were some reservations about BBC’s coverage of Narendra Modi during elections. What do you think about it?
BBC has independent funding, and has complete freedom. It often gets criticism as well as praise, depends who it is; people can think differently about the same piece of news. It’s best to let an organisation like that run independently and be accountable for its own mechanism.
An Asian politician who inspires you?
If you could talk about your impressions of India?
I’m not new to India. I’ve come here several times, and love what I see. I’ll come with my wife next month.