We know, we know – you all know this, by now. You’ve all probably got tickets to the event. You may even have volunteered your time to help organise it. We wouldn’t be surprised if you’re travelling from miles away to attend it. But we’re going to say it, anyway. It’s just a nice thing to say, isn’t it?
In two weeks from now – on 12th November, to be precise – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in the United Kingdom.
To say that the Prime Minister is eagerly awaited would be a grave understatement. Just ask some of the volunteers who are helping to organise his Olympic-style community reception at Wembley Stadium. Niravta Mathur, member of the Programme Committee, spoke to CF India about her excitement:
“One of the most striking features of ‘UKWelcomesModi’,” she says, “is the involvement of the greater British Indian community. Ever since preparations began, back in July, the team has kept growing and growing. British Indians of all ages and of all cultural groupings have come together in unity to collaborate on this project. It’s grown in a way that we could never have anticipated.”
The Wembley Stadium reception on 13th November is supported and organised by the British Indian community – around 2,000 individuals have offered their time and efforts to make the Prime Minister’s visit truly memorable.
“We’ve been flooded with ideas and initiatives from individuals as well as from private businesses,” Niravta continues. “The Modi Express, to name just one example, started out as a community initiative supported by an Indian-owned business, Golden Tours. British Indians are so excited about this event, and the event programme, especially, is really going to reflect that. Hundreds of individuals are volunteering their talent to produce what I believe will be a day to remember.”
Indeed, more than 450 community organisations (including Conservative Friends of India) have been confirmed as Welcome Partners for the reception at Wembley Stadium. Ticket applications have been coming in from all across the country – from as high north as Dundee, and from as far down south as Plymouth.
A spokesman for Europe India Forum (EIF) said earlier this year that “the response from the community has been overwhelming. It is unprecedented for such a large and diverse group of Indian community organisations to unify under one platform; such is the appeal of Prime Minister Modi.”
Lalubhai Parekh, President of Overseas Friends of BJP (UK) said that “the huge community response from across the UK is an illustration of Prime Minister Modi’s vision ‘Sab ka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. The Wembley Stadium event is truly for the community, by the community.”
The reception at Wembley will not only be the largest any elected foreign leader has ever received in the UK – it will also be the biggest any Indian Prime Minister has received anywhere outside of India.
The event programme (themed, quite wonderfully, if we may say so, “Two Great Nations. One Glorious Future.”) will feature cultural performances from some of the most renowned British Indian artists. And as if that wasn’t enough, the Prime Minister’s keynote address will be followed what is expected to be the country’s largest firework display (Happy Diwali!).
“The UK Government places huge importance on the special relationship with India,” said Priti Patel earlier this year. “Prime Minister Modi’s forthcoming visit and the community reception will only serve to strengthen the bond of friendship between our two great nations.”
As Team UKWelcomesModi keeps plugging away on preparations for the event, we have little doubt that the Prime Minister’s visit will meet (indeed, exceed!) all our expectations.
We can’t wait – can you?