Letter to artists at the Science Museum’s ‘India Lates’ event

Dear Chila, Amish, Lucy and Monish,
We are progressive artists, writers and academics writing to you out of concern that you are involved in the Science Museum’s Lates event which this month is about India. We urge you as highly reputed artists to show your support to the people of the global south including India and stand against companies that have supported both political repression and environmental destruction. India Lates is supposedly an event celebrating Indian culture but it is hosted by an institution whose sponsors are companies which causes massive harm to large numbers of Indian people and environments

Perhaps you are not aware that while a very large number of other institutions have distanced themselves from fossil fuels, the Science Museum Group, once a highly respected and progressive organisation, has accepted sponsorship from fossil fuel companies which are not only deeply implicated in climate change but, literally, have blood on their hands, and that it is supporting them directly by helping to greenwash their images. These corporates include Shell which in its pursuit of oil has been involved in a series of horrific crimes, particularly in Nigeria and Adani which is spreading death and irreparable environmental damage on a massive scale in India, Indonesia and Australia.

We don’t know if you are aware that at this time of climate emergency the Adani group continues to mine billions of tonnes of coal. In India, this coal is being mined on land grabbed from Adivasi (indigenous) communities. As a result, thousands of families face displacement and destitution while vast swathes of the central belt of India undergoes irreparable environmental damage.  Representatives of the thousands of Adani-impacted communities have called on the Museum to listen to them and drop Adani but have been ignored.  

Another chilling aspect of the Adani empire is that it has been built almost entirely through the patronage of Narendra Modi and in return Gautam Adani has and continues to fund the BJP and whole-heartedly supports Modi’s fascistic programme of Hindu-supremacy, violent Islamophobia and casteist violence. The BJP is the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant paramilitary organisation modelled on Mussolini’s Black Shirts and inspired by the Nazis. It is well-known that the RSS backed Britain’s colonial rule in India and that one of its former members assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. Currently its openly stated aim is to turn India into a fascistic Hindu supremacist state. Since Modi came to power there have been not only daily lynchings, rapes, and humiliations of Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis by state-sponsored killer gangs across India but ethnic cleansing and calls for the genocide of Muslims. So close is Adani to Modi and the BJP that in some areas the Adani Group is indistinguishable from the Indian State.

The Adani Group’s attempted takeover and corporatisation of India’s agriculture was resisted by the iconic two million-strong farmers movement. If it had succeeded it would have led to acute impoverishment of small farmers, food shortages within the country and further acceleration of hunger and starvation deaths. As it is, under Modi, India’s rating on the Global Hunger Index has dropped to abysmal levels lower than countries like Sudan and Rwanda while Adani has become the world’s third richest man, gaining $61 billion so far this year.

The Director of the Science Museum Group, Sir Ian Blatchford, has justified sponsorship as a means to “engage and challenge companies and other partners to do more to make the global economy less carbon intensive”. However there have been no challenges from the Science Museum Group, only a dramatic growth in their sponsorship by the fossil fuel industry while Adani is actually increasing coal extraction showing his total disregard for the relevant science.

For all these reasons we urge you to withdraw your support for the Science Museum Group and refuse to participate in the Lates event with its greenwashing of climate crimes and whitewashing of grave human rights abuses.

Best wishes,

Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, India

Julie Christie, Actor, UK

Ken Fero, Filmmaker, UK

Anupam Roy Visual Artist, India

Ruhi Hamid, Documentary Filmmaker, UK

Dilip Mehta, Filmmaker, India and Canada

Mukhtar Dar ( Artistic Director- Kalaboration Arts) UK

Shailja Patel, Playwright, Poet, Kenya

Fahim Qureshi Creative Producer & Art activist ( Luton Mela )

Dr. Vinit Bihari Artist and Lecturer Chitkara University, India

Chaiti Nath, Artist and  Art Historian, Vishva Bharati University, India

Sonali Bhattacharyya Writer, UK

Samantha Asumadu, Writer, UK

Monoj Mondal, Digital Artist, India

S. Chandramohan, Poet, India

Hywel Morgan, Actor, UK

Rez Kabir, Actor, Director, UK

Nina Ashton, Musician, UK

Amrit Wilson Writer, UK

Philippine Velge – Actor, UK

Professor Anandi Ramamurthy

Professor Shakuntala Banaji, LSE

Professor Hakim Adi University of Chichester

Professor Navtej Purewal, SOAS

Professor Virinder Kalra, Warwick University

Professor Elke Krasny, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Professor Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex

Professor Firoze Manji, Carleton University, Canada

Professor Dibyesh Anand, Westminster University

Professor Meena Dhanda, Wolverhampton University

Chris Roberts, Emeritus Professor, University of Manchester

Akash Poyam, Asian College of Journalism,Chennai, India

Dr Kalpana Wilson, Birkbeck, University of London

Aidan Jolly, Theatre Worker and Researcher UK

Dr Milly Williamson, Goldsmiths, University of London

Dr Rumana Hashem, Nottingham University

Marcy Newman, educational consultant

Dr Teresa Wilkie, Nottingham University

Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya, writer and editor, UK

Tanya Singh, Filmmaker, UK

Dr Rajesh Patel, Huddersfield University

Dr. Shahid Abusalama, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Jenna Ashton, Manchester University

Dr John Piprani, Manchester University

Darren Tolliday, Artist, UK

Claire Louise Dixon, Artist, UK

Chryssy Hunter, London Metropolitan University

Lotika Singha, Independent scholar, UK

Shiraz Durrani, writer and publisher, UK and Kenya

M Ghazali Khan, writer and journalist, UK

Avik Debdas, Artist and Researcher, India

Anondo Goldar Artist and Art Educator, India

Sambaran Das, Artist, India

Rajesh Deb, Artist, India

V B Harilalkrishnan, Creative designer, India

Ranjan Kaul, visual artist, writer, India

Dr Shivani Nag , Ambedkar University, India

Aman Negi Artist, India

Imon Chetia Phukan, Artist, India

Tish Turl, Writer, UK

Monoj Mondal, Digital Artist, India

Sanjib Mondal, Artist, India

Aakshat Sinha, Artist, India

Ritaban Ghosh; Artist, India

Vinay Seth, Visual artist, editor @ Desee Art India

Adam Turl, artist and editor at Locust Review,Uk

Navid Tschopp, artist, UK

Sue Piper, Head of Education. Prior Court, UK

Narendran Nair, Artist, India

Dr. Rosemin Najmudin, Writer, UK

Sampurna Pal , Visual Artist, India

Shibayan Halder, Artist, India

Ajith Nedumangad, visual artist, India

Shanmukh Gollu. Visual Artist.

Albert Jacob Aji, Artist, UK

Sarah Beddington, Artist and Filmmaker, UK

Tajender Sagoo, Artist.UK

Tariq Mehmood, Writer, UK

Kausikan Rajeshkumar, Pianist and Composer, UK

Reena Jaisiyah, Caste Away Arts, UK

Jatin Vaghela, Artist, UK

Sarbjit Johal, Artist, UK

Georgie Wemyss, University of East London

Anushka Rajendran, Curator, India

Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, SOAS

Moonis Visual artist, India

Dharmendra Prasad, Artist, India

Nityanand Gond , Artist, India

Megha Sreyus, Art historian India

Subhankar Sengupta, Photographer, India

Dr.Rashmi Varma, Warwick University

Rahul Jain Filmmaker, India

Dr Penny Vera-Sanso, Birkbeck, University of London

Sanaz Raji, Independent Scholar

Vidya Dinker writer, journalist

Dr Subir Sinha, SOAS, University of London

Saqib Deshmukh, Writer, UK

Furqan, Journalist and Filmmaker, UK

Noor Zaheer, Writer, UK

Dr Alice Tilche, Lecturer, Leicester University

Devang Anglay , Visual Artist, India

Dr Fatima Rajina, lecturer, De Montfort University

Bajrang Bihari, Writer, India

Shweta Asvin, Artist, India

Marcus Bernard, Creative Producer, UK

Divya Ghelani Writer, UK

Yasmin Whittaker-Khan , Music Impresario, UK

Dr Annapurna Menon, Westminster University

Babar Luck, Musician, UK

Dr Paul Kelemen retired academic Sheffield University

Dr Rinella Cere , Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Gholam Khiabany, Goldsmiths, University of London

Freny Manecksha, Writer, India

Dr Tom Wakeford, Researcher, Exeter University

Jan Birch writer and charity worker, UK

Ananya Rao-Middleton, Illustrator and Disability Activist,

Vrinda Gopinath, Writer and  journalist, India

Goldie Osuri, Warwick University

Malika Das Sutar, Artist, India

S.Vidyun, Artist, India

K.C.Nikhil, Artist, India

N.R.Jitinlal, Artist, India

Soumen Bhowmick Artist, India

Dr Akanksha Mehta, Goldsmiths, University of London

Emily Ross, Musician, UK

Ranjeeta Kumari, Artist, India

Image (C) Crispin Hughes

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