Sitar player Anoushka Shankar seeks Jaishankar’s help to secure visas for UK musicians


Indian-origin sitar player Anoushka Shankar has sought External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s help to get visas for accompanying British musicians ahead of her India tour to celebrate her father Pandir Ravi Shankar’s 10th death anniversary.

Anoushka is set to perform six shows in India after a gap of three years this December.

“Performing six shows in India after a gap of three years this December, during the 10th anniversary of my father @ragaravishankar passing. But now the tour seems shaky as my accompanying British musicians are unable to get visa appointments! Please help @DrSJaishankar@MEAIndia,” she tweeted.

Also a film composer and an activist, London-born Anoushka was the youngest and first woman to receive a British House of Commons Shield. She has also had seven Grammy Award nominations and was the first Indian musician to perform live and to serve as presenter at the ceremony.

Due to a last-minute change in visa requirements, British nationals wanting to visit India have been forced to postpone trips to India because they must appear in person at UK visa centres to apply for tourist visas, media reports said.

Earlier, travel agents could bring visas which were then processed in batches and the turnaround was faster.

The Indian High Commission in the UK said on October 7 that in-person visa application rule will prevent illegal fee charging by travel agents to get visas processed for travellers to India.

The High Commission added that it aims to improve visa services by streamlining processes and addressing “any delays and shortfalls”.

“First and foremost, we understand that there has been difficulty in getting these appointments. We are doing our best to ameliorate the situation,” Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami had said in a video message.

Many see the move as part of the Indian government’s retaliation to UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who had said that some Indian migrants “overstay” their visa in the UK.

However, Doraiswami assured that more visa slots would soon be released online and efforts are being made to ramp up capacity.

Anoushka was born to Sukanya Shankar and Ravi Shankar, who also fathered American singer Norah Jones (born Geetali Norah Shankar). Jones has won the Grammy nine times and has sold over 50 million records.

As a teenager, Anoushka lived in Encinitas, California, and attended San Dieguito High School Academy. A 1999 honours graduate and Homecoming Queen, she decided to pursue a career in music rather than attend college.

Now 41, she had married British director Joe Wright in 2010 and they have two sons. They separated in December 2017 and finalized their divorce in September 2019. She lives in London with her sons.

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