Apr 21, 2018
The London connection
The Khushwant Singh Literary Festival, which began six years ago, will take place this October in Kasauli as usual, but on May 17 it will be coming to London for the first time, his journalist son, Rahul Singh, tells me. The theme of the event will be “Indo-Anglian” and it will “showcase writings on the mutual influences and confluences of the Eastern culture of India and the Western nuances of the UK”.
Rahul, who has invited journalist and now foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, explains the family connection: “Boris’s mother-in-law (Dip Singh), a Sikh, was married to my father’s youngest brother, Daljit Singh, a national junior tennis champion. They got divorced and she then married Sir Charles Wheeler, the BBC correspondent in Delhi.” Their barrister daughter, Marina Wheeler, is Boris’s wife and mother of their four children. On April 18, when Narendra Modi arrived at Heathrow from Sweden, it was Boris who met him.
The festival will begin with a brief introduction, “KS: Not a Nice Man to Know”, and reflect Khushwant’s close connections with Britain. He read law at King’s College London, and later served as press officer when Krishna Menon was independent India’s first High Commissioner in London. “My father was always something of an Anglophile and loved English writers and poetry,” adds Rahul. “He regarded England as his second home.”