Today, as part of UK-India Year of Culture 2017, the University of Cambridge launches a year-long celebration of its ties with India, which stretch back 150 years.

The announcement coincides with a visit to India by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Professor Borysiewicz will address alumni and donors in New Delhi at an event to celebrate the fundraising campaign for the University and its colleges. He will also reconfirm the University’s commitment to attracting the brightest and best students from India.

“I am extremely proud of Cambridge’s long-standing and deep-rooted relationship with India,” says Professor Borysiewicz. “Many of India’s leading figures – academics, scientists, industrialists and politicians – have enjoyed a Cambridge education. Together we have achieved great things, and I know that by continuing to work together we will rise to even greater heights.”

Speaking at the event, the Vice Chancellor will announce that the University is renewing its commitment to attracting talented Indian students to study at Cambridge. From this year, admissions staff will be coming to India to visits schools and meet students face-to-face in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. In autumn, a team of academics will visit India to conduct admissions interviews, so that applicants need not travel to the UK for that part of our application process.

“We believe that diversity – of nationality, of background, and of opinion is one of Cambridge’s greatest strengths,” he adds. “We are a University that is open to the world and must remain so.”

The centrepiece of Cambridge’s 2017 celebrations will be India Unboxed, a programme of exhibitions, events, digital engagement and installations organised by the University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden. Rooted in the museum collections, the programme will explore themes of identity and connectivity for diverse audiences in the UK and India.

A series of profiles – This Cambridge-Indian Life – will look at the people at the heart of the relationship between Cambridge and India: Indian scholars and students who study at Cambridge, Cambridge researchers working in collaborations based in India, and notable Indian alumni from the University.

Throughout the year, the University will highlight key research collaborations that sit at the heart of Cambridge’s relationship with India. Cambridge leads three major joint UK-India centres: in cancer research, anti-microbial resistant tuberculosis, and crop science. It has 85 collaborative research partnerships across India in fields from the arts and humanities to entrepreneurship to the sciences and technology.

“The world today faces critical challenges – in the fields of education, energy, food security, health, and politics - to name but a few,” says Professor Borysiewicz. “These challenges are serious, complex and urgent. My deeply held conviction is that Cambridge has a responsibility to address these challenges. We know we cannot solve any of these problems in isolation and are working with partners in India to find local solutions to global issues.”

Notable Indian alumni from the University of Cambridge include:

  • Sir Dorabji Tata (Gonville and Caius College 1877):  played a key role in the development of the Tata Group, especially in the steel and power sectors
  • Prince Ranjitsinhji (Trinity College 1888): considered one of the greatest cricketers of all time and played for Sussex and England. In India, he did much to improve conditions in his home state of Nawanagar
  • Three Indian prime ministers studied at Cambridge: Jawaharlal Nehru (Trinity College 1907), India's first prime minister; Rajiv Gandhi (Trinity College 1961); Dr Manmohan Singh (St John's College 1955)
  • Srinivasa Ramanujan (Trinity College 1913): largely self-taught mathematics genius. He was the second Indian to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society
  • Harivansh Rai Bachchan (St Catharine's College 1955): Hindi poet best known for his lyric poem Madhushala
  • Jayant Narlikar (Fitzwilliam House and King's College 1957): co-developed the conformal gravity theory, commonly known as Hoyle–Narlikar theory, which synthesizes Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Mach's Principle
  • Amartya Sen (Trinity College 1957, 1998): Nobel prize-winning economist. His reputation is based on studies of famine, human development theory and welfare economics. He plays a key role in the debate on globalisation
  • Camellia Panjabi (Newnham College 1961): marketing director of Taj Hotels and co-director of Masala World, which own businesses that include the Bombay Brasserie, London
  • Zia Mody (Selwyn 1976): Indian legal consultant, considered an authority on corporate merger and acquisition law
  • Karan, Lord Bilimoria (Sidney Sussex College 1985): founder of Cobra Beer and founding chairman of the Indo British Partnership Network
  • Prathiba Singh (Hughes Hall 1991): leading intellectual property lawyer

For more information on Cambridge and India, see our new India site


Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For image use please see separate credits above.