Born in Riga, Latvia, Sigma Ankrava was the eldest of three sisters who enjoyed a happy childhood, going skiing and ice skating with friends in winter.

Graduating in English literature from the University of Latvia, and, after her Master’s, Sigma was offered the opportunity to do her PhD at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Academy of Sciences, Moscow. She published her thesis on the Indian poetess Sarojini Naidu as a book.

Now professor emeritus of the University of Latvia, her love of Indian culture led her to receive a two-year scholarship to the University of Madras by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in 2012. She organised an international expedition along an ancient route that linked Latvia and India in amber trade and also brought a team of colleagues, PhD students and a TV crew to India to make four films on southern India.

As a result of all this activity, the University of Latvia decided to open the Centre of Indian Studies and Culture, headed by Dr Sigma Ankrava. In 2015 Sigma also helped to organise the first Indo-Baltic Forum on the Humanities and Sciences.

Sigma’s daughter Stella – purely coincidentally – was offered a position at the Latvian embassy in New Delhi. So Sigma took a two-year sabbatical from her university and headed to India once again, this time to live with her family in Delhi.

“Both countries developed their ideas of national consciousness around the same time, and began their fight for independence in the same century – the Indians from the British, and Latvia from the Soviet Union.”