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FIRST & FOREMOST ASIAN WEEKLY IN EUROPE Solicitors, Advocates Immigration Specialists Commissioners of Oaths Family & Divorce

Rashid A. Khan

Solicitor (Principal) ● Switching Visas Asylum & Immigration ● Over Stayers New Point Based System ● European Law ● Work Permits ● Nationality & Travel Documents ● Visa Extensions ● Human Rights Application ● Judicial Reviews ● High/Court of Appeals ● Tribunal Appeals ● ●

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Let noble thoughts come to us from every side


HITS GENERICS Priyanka Mehta Over 300 confirmed cases of Coronavirus were reported by Tuesday 10th March across the UK. As the country battles the virus outbreak, authorities have urged individuals not to panic-buy medical and hygiene supplies and asked pharmacies not to hoard essential generic medicines. This comes after India’s announcement last week where it imposed restrictions on the export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients and the medicines and vitamins made from them. The supply of drugs likely to be affected owing to such restrictions includes paracetamol, vitamins B12, B1 and B6 among various other antibiotics, leading to fears of a global shortage of essential medicines.

Continued on page 6

14 - 21 MARCH 2020 - VOL 48 ISSUE 44

inside: Jyotiraditya set to join BJP; Kamal Nath govt loses 22 MLAs SEE PAGE - 26

Gone with the vape: Is vaping better than smoking? SEE PAGE - 17

Gurkhas welcome Nepal’s request to the UK for reviewing Tripartite Act SEE PAGE - 16

Bangladeshi man becomes the first Asian to die of Coronavirus in the UK SEE PAGE - 6

2 UK




14 - 20 March 2020

with Keith Vaz ing a wilder beast migration, spending time with my father as he built a new family home in Bangladesh and becoming a father myself all pale in comparison to completing my Hajj in 2018 with my then pregnant wife. Truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Kamal Ali


Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in? I have had the pleasure of travelling across the world and have lived abroad for a period. From New York right through to the Serengeti however, no place on this planet has drawn me in the way Luton has. I learnt very early on in my career that my family are my anchor and, having been born and raised in what I perceive to be the most northern town in the south, Luton for me is home. For all the bad publicity

and the unfair media attention, the people of Luton will testify to the unity and strong community links, often in the face of financial struggles, as what binds us and helps us achieve so much.


What are your proudest achievements?

Graduating, being involved in several successful business endeavours, having written for the worlds most widely distributed football fanzine, getting married, witness-


And the worst?


What inspires you?

"What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?" William Henry Davies' words have been a corner stone to who I am and lay the foundations to how I approach my life. I am a passionate believer that we have but one life and it should not be squandered on the unfulfilling pursuit of such vulgar things as money, but more so in search of moments stolen away with family and loved ones. Why put ourselves through a life of servitude and sweat if you take no time to enjoy the fruit of your labour? Should we be work shy? No. Should we be frivolous with wealth? No. Should we however let work drain all attention and energy from our life’s? Most certainly not. All things in moderation, and work to live. These are the clichés that best describe me.

however, my income exceeds anything I could have expected to have earned by working a 9-5, and I hope to retire earlier having worked for myself than would be possible had I been employed by someone else.

I draw inspiration from nature, its ability to adapt to obstacles and its resilience to threats. Nature can be beautiful, violent and inspiring and from that constant revolution I can see parallels in how we too that we are all caught in one cycle. We build, we are challenged, we rise, we fall. A cornucopia of wonders.


What has been biggest obstacle in your career? Prior to working for myself, I was working within HR, and surmised early on that I did not fit the mould of a stereotypical HR Officer. As a result, I remember feeling that, if given the chance, I could prove myself. Adversely I felt my employer wanted me to prove myself before I was given a chance. I was caught up in a uroboros of my own making and It became frustrating quickly to the point at which I felt my energies were better focused building a business as opposed to a career.


Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date?

My father has been a Chef for over 40 years. Horrible working conditions, next to no employment rights, work based bullying, being exposed to colleagues with substance misuse and social issues, and being grossly underpaid were, and to some extent, still are prevalent features within the Indian Restaurant industry. However, none of this stopped my father from working, to ensure my siblings and I were given the best that he could afford. That work ethic will always inspire me to push on in the face of challenges and obstacles.


What is the best aspect about your current role? Being your own boss is a deception by nature. Owning businesses often means the businesses owning you. Even when you are not at work, you are at work. Although being self-employed does allow me the luxuries of laying in occasionally, the reality is privileges of being able to switch off at 17:00 are a distant memory, or the concept of having 28 days annual leave per annum are a mirage of my past. To balance this out

People management and motivating a workforce is one of the most difficult aspects of owning any business. Look after your people, and they should look after your business. However finding a balance between financial equilibrium and looking after your business interests is the golden formula.


What are your long term goals?

All my long terms goal centre around family, and what I can do to ensure that they are happy. My happiness lies with knowing that my loved ones are taken care of, and I do everything I can to ensure that my parents, spouse, siblings and of course my daughter are assured that I will support them in any way that I can. Money has never motivated me, and although I recognise the difference It can make to a person’s life, material gain has never equated to happiness for me.


If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change? Having visited the Middle East, and Jerusalem in particular, it always crushes me to think of the culture of disparity that can partially trace its roots back to our shores and the impact of the Balfour declaration. Although not absolving any party of responsibility or blame, If I were Prime Minister then I would use my political influence and power to try to lay down the foundations for a peaceful resolution to a complex issue that has affected British foreign policy across the world.


If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why? If Cleopatra was unavailable to bide my time with, then Ibn Battuta, of Tangier, Morocco would be my chosen historical figure. He was an explorer of note who lived in 1304 BC. Having read about some of his (disputed) travels, I know that I would be marooned with a man who had lived the type of nomadic life that I can only dream of, or that I would be trapped on an island with someone with a fantastical sense of storytelling and imagination. Either way, I think we could keep each other occupied.

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expelled. The anti-racism campaigner is being investigated over his comments in 2017 about Pakistani Muslim men sexually abusing children in northern British towns, according to the Times. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi in a recent report has accused Mr Phillips to be far removed from the 'actual' concept of race relations, after these allegations. But critics have pointed out this step may have come allegedly after 'Corbinystas' wanted to take a revenge on Mr Phillips because he was among the 24 public figures who wrote to The Guardian last year refusing to vote for Labour because of the allegations of anti-Semitism.







14 - 20 March 2020

Does Labour party only care for political correctness? Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has accused Trevor Phillips of having a ‘flawed’ view of race and integration after he was suspended from the Labour party over alleged Islamophobia, with news that he could be suspended. Phillips is reportedly being ‘investigated’ over his past comments including remarks he made about Pakistani Muslim men sexually abusing children. None of the Labour party leadership contestants have commented on the former Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) temporary ban. Some of the Labour MPs voiced fury over this ‘embarrassing’ suspension - accusing Corbynistas of bringing on these Islamophobic allegations as revenge as Phillips was among a group of 24 public figures who last year declared their refusal to vote for the Labour Party because of its association with anti-Semitism. Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Phillips, whose ex-wife was Parsi (of Indian-origin) reportedly defended his comment and said that he was being penalised for calling some Muslims ‘different’. He said he stood by the comment, and in fact he found that it was ‘admirable’ that some Muslims were actually ‘different’. In a column for The Times, Phillips questioned the motivation behind the sanction and accused Labour bosses of 'political gangsterism' and the Labour shenanigans. Let’s look at the larger issue around which Phillips faces his ‘investigation’- the child sexual grooming cases that groped Britain with horror. A report published in 2017 by the anti-extremism thinktank the Quilliam Foundation after a few high-profile court cases, the question of Asian and, specifically, Muslim grooming gangs became an issue of conflict, said Kenan Malik, a columnist with The Observer. The Quilliam report that was written by Haras Rafiq and Muna Adil, claimed that 84% of grooming gang offenders

were Asian, the majority “of Pakistani origin with Muslim heritage”. That figure of course quickly became headlines across UK media. But academics like Ella Cockbain or Lilly Allen criticised that report heavily because it used ‘extensive data mining methods’ and there was no proper information as where the data came from, how they derived it and how were the ethnicities determined. As it seemed, they probably found 264 convictions, out of which 222 were Asian- and arrived at the percentage of 84. But Nazir Afzal, the Crown Prosecution Service’s former lead on child sexual abuse and the prosecutor who was most responsible for bringing down grooming gangs reportedly said that the media jumped on cases that involved Asians, but often ignored those that involved white perpetrators. The Quilliam report blamed the “culture” of some communities. Though the percentage of Asian men involved in child sexual exploitation was just about 0.01% of the population settled in Britain. But the bigger question here is: why use the blanket term ‘Asian’ to describe the perpetrators? ‘Asians’ represents many religious communities beside just Muslims, - those who were never involved in such heinous crimes. Yet till date this issue has never been addressed! Trevor Phillips may have addressed what most media also criticised in general. He may have questioned the ‘integration’ issues, but unfortunately why the failure of authorities to take ‘such’ issues seriously was never debated with as much as zeal- remains worthy of questioning too. Is political correctness the only reason, one wonders. As Malik said rightly, the victims deserved better than this. And so does Phillips today. Witch-hunting for making ‘politically-incorrect’ comments have probably hurt less than its correct version.

Commonwealth Day celebrates unity in diversity This year the UK celebrated the Commonwealth Day on Monday 9th March. The Commonwealth is made up of countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, the Pacific and Europe, which is home to over two billion people combined. This year the Queen’s commonwealth message echoed of unity among the diverse countries perhaps speaking volumes of the recent split with the royal family. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended their last commonwealth ceremony as the Queen described the Commonwealth as a worldwide ceremony. However, this is also perhaps the best time to reflect on the issues that the commonwealth soldiers and their families face. Whilst the Gurkha soldiers are still fighting for receiving pension equivalent to the British soldiers, the Royal British Legion has drawn attention to the thousands of pounds that some Commonwealth veterans have to pay to continue living in the UK after leaving the armed forces. Over 6,000 Commonwealth personnel who are currently serving in the armed forces are

exempt from immigration controls, but this is removed immediately on discharge. For years now, MPs and cross-party groups have demanded that the Home Office abolish visa fees for Commonwealth soldiers who have served in the British armed forces. Now these service personnel who have served for over four years are eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. But if they cannot pay the complete visa fees then they risk being deported alongside their families. Recognising the challenges around climate change and countries working together in a post-Brexit driven world, in her statement, Her Majesty said, "For many, this awareness awakens a desire to employ our planet’s natural resources with greater care, and it is encouraging to see how the countries of the Commonwealth continue to devise new ways of working together to achieve prosperity, whilst protecting our planet.” However, she failed to acknowledge the challenges that veteran soldiers face in the country and how they can move ahead.

Bracing to contain coronavirus Coronavirus or Covid-19 has become a global public health crisis. More than 4,029 people have died and 1,14,549 cases were reported from around the world. A global response is needed. While there continues to be uncertainty surrounding the extent of its spread, the fear and panic it has induced across the world is evident. There are many models for fighting the virus. Secretive ones don’t work. In UK the virus has so far claimed five lives and the number of cases is 319. The cases in India has touched 44. Protocols for approaching the infection are now well established across the world. Yet, different countries have shown very different attitudes in enforcing these protocols. As it walks the rocky road ahead, countries should choose transparency over secrecy. Information about how the virus spreads, how personal hygiene can help protect against it, what are the symptoms and the course of treatment etc needs to be widely disseminated across all available channels. Misinformation needs to be contained with equal energy. What has happened in Iran where the death toll has crossed 194 is a case study in how secrecy and a mishmash of contradictory measures are the most dangerous cocktail. Singapore on the other hand provides an example of how precise communication and a rational policy road map can keep down the mortality rate. Here no casualty has been reported in over 100 cases. Even as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been tweeting about having his temperature checked often, a live dashboard helps the public follow the virus behaviour objectively – keeping down the panic while enabling safety measures like avoiding cluster zones. Following expert advice to reduce mass gatherings, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided not to participate in any Holi Milan programme this year. Many of us may need to practise similar social distancing in the coming days. We need to mentally prepare for all this. On the other hand stocks of testing

kits, respirators and other medical supplies need girding. Yes, Covid-19 is very infectious but a majority of patients only show mild flu symptoms. Let us keep calm and cooperate with the experts. In UK, the government says that self-isolation could be a blessing in disguise. The official advice on self-isolation is – “remain in your home. Do not go to work, school or public areas. Stay in a well-ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened. Keep the door closed.” On the economic front, the longer the virus persists, the more extended and deeper the slowdown will be. Fear and panic, especially in countries where new cases are rising, are likely to restrict discretionary household spending. And as demand takes a hit, firms may respond by slashing wages and laying off workers. Further, as countries start to impose restrictions on travel, the tourism industry will also be hit. Downside scenario sees a $ 2 trillion shortfall in global income with a $220 billion hit to developing countries. Coordinated policy making is needed to ensure that localised incidents do not impact global markets. The so-called “Covid-19” shock will cause a recession in some countries and depress global annual growth this year to below 2.5 per cent, the recessionary threshold for the world economy. Even if the worst is avoided, the hit to global income, compared with what forecasters had been projecting for 2020 will be capped at around the trillion-dollar mark. An analysis suggests that losses of consumer and investor confidence are the most immediate signs of spreading contagion. For India, which is in the midst of a slowdown, the crisis could not have come at a worse time. While sectors such as pharmaceuticals, electronics, gems and jewelry and textiles, are expected to fare the worst, the government must undertake a comprehensive assessment of the fallout of the disruptions in supply. The top priority, however, should be to contain the virus.

Live out of your imagination, not your history. - Stephen Covey

Alpesh Patel

Five reasons for yoga and meditation One: Coronavirus, impending job losses, economic doom, school closures- it’s a stressful world out there. As the Dalai Lama said, “when every 8year-old child is taught meditation, then there shall be peace in the world”. Interestingly, schools in the UK have added mindfulness to the curriculum to help children cope with stress. Two: Over a year ago, I went to meditate with Buddhist monks in the jungles of Laos. The Hindus, Buddhists and surrealists all know the world is an illusion. So they can be detached from its pains. Happiness comes from that realisation and that realisation comes as the ancient Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, carrying the ‘Song of God’ Himself says, comes from meditation. Whilst some people are afraid of ‘too much faith’, I know I can carry a mandir around with me in my heart and soul. I like the Islamic, Hindu and Christian traditions of prayer beads – I used to have some on my wrist, I could just pull out at times. Of course to others, this smacks of ‘fanaticism’ – poor souls. Western scientists recently discovered that Hindu-Buddhist style meditation stimulates areas of the brain which cause a feeling of happiness. Three: When former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, took office he said he wanted a measure for happiness not just economic growth (GDP). Why? Because despite a relentless rise in British GDP since it’s ever been measured, our happiness has not had the same trajectory. Indeed, some of the happiest people in the world live in countries which have the lowest GDP. The American Founding Father revolutionaries under their Constitution even sought to rid themselves of the British ‘in pursuit of happiness’. Happiness is therefore a legitimate political goal. Even though over 200 years since its founding, the country with the world’s largest GDP does not have the greatest happiness. Indeed, some parts of the world think that country brings the most unhappiness – but that’s not right. Four: I recently judged a competition at London Business School. Meditation - Steve Jobs did it. As you take your MBA and try to emulate the greatest businessman of the century, don’t forget it was his meditation he referenced time and again to success. When was I happiest here in Laos? When cycling down a remote jungle hill or a moonlit deserted street at midnight. Why? It was the meditation the monks here told me of. My mind was empty. Tom Singh, founder of New Look and friend, mentor and investor in my hedge fund said to me recently he maintains happiness by keeping his mind empty at times. Five: In Islam they pray five times a day traditionally. You could meditate five times day. Most wouldn’t find time for it five times a week. Time away from your screens, and work. Politically maybe more thinking time and less shouting and screaming time may improve the quality of our politics, which whilst outstanding compared to most countries, is at something of a low point after Brexit. Editor: CB Patel Asian Voice is published by Asian Business Publications Ltd Karma Yoga House, 12 Hoxton Market, (Off Coronet Street) London N1 6HW. Tel: 020 7749 4080 • Fax: 020 7749 4081 Email: aveditorial@abplgroup.com Website: www.abplgroup.com INDIA OFFICE Bureau Chief: Nilesh Parmar (BPO) AB Publication (India) Pvt. Ltd. 207 Shalibhadra Complex, Opp. Jain Derasar, Nr. Nehru Nagar Circle, Ambawadi, Ahmedabad-380 015. Tel: +91 79 2646 5960 Email: gs_ahd@abplgroup.com © Asian Business Publications

4 UK




14-20 March 2020

PPP capital inaugurates Hexagon Court

Nandy wants an extension of Brexit transition period owing to Coronavirus

A real estate investment company officially inaugurated Hexagon Court the first all rental development in Balham, London. PPP Capital had previously hosted a private launch event on 27th February 2020 attended by prominent figures from Wandsworth Council and the commercial and residential property space. The 25,000 sq ft development took almost two years to complete and has a Gross Development Value (GDV) of over £15 million. “Hexagon Court is our flagship project and one which we feel could set a precedent for how brownfield infill property development could be done. It combines retail & residential uses, incorporates a lot of technology, utilises creative design and considers the evolving needs of residents. “We tried to think of every possible aspect that’s important for residents and deliver an all- inclusive living space that every resi-

On 9th March, Monday a labour leadership candidate has urged the UK prime minister to strike a deal to extend the EU transition period because of coronavirus epidemic. dent wants to call home from the minute they see it,” said Sanjeev Patel, CEO of PPP Capital. Hexagon Court was developed as a series of individual, quality homes. It provides a range of stylish one, two and three bedroom apartments and townhouses in a secure setting, with high-quality amenities such as Wi-Fi included in the rent, ensuite layout and a residents’ gym. All properties benefit from outdoor space and access to on-site storage units. The development includes retail stores on the ground floor thereby providing additional amenities for all residents. Retailers include an As Nature Intended organic super-

In her column in The Gaurdian Lisa Nandy, said it was necessary that Boris Johnson must seek for a delay in the Brexit transition period even as chancellor Rishi Sunak stressed that there was no need fo that to happen under any circumstances. However, Nandy, insisted that businesses and communities could not cope with the uncertainty of leaving the transition as well as the impact of the growing coronavirus crisis. The MP for Wigan wrote, “British companies who trade with the EU do not know what terms they’ll be trading on in 10 months’ time. Add to this the falling demand and disruption created by coronavirus and it is rea-

market as well as a British Heart Foundation store. Standout features that differentiate Hexagon Court from other developments include a fully equipped residents’ gym, games room and private storage rooms. New residents are automatically offered all-inclusive rents including electricity, gas, water and WiFi. PPP Capital is a real estate investment company established in 2016 that incorporates multiple assets from previous private property partnerships. The company is a part of the CNG Family of Companies, founded in 1971 and a sister company to GroupSP.

sonable to expect many businesses will not survive. The government has boxed itself into a corner by legislating to end the transition period in December come what may. “It now faces a direct choice between narrow partisan ideology and the interests of the nation. An extension will mean that British citizens living abroad will be able to access free healthcare for at least another year, that we are able to continue to access the early warning

and response system [EWRS] that helped us coordinate Sars and bird flu. Public safety is at stake. This must happen now.” According to a poll by YouGov and Sky News, Nandy is lagging behind in the third position in the Labour leadership contest with a mere 16% vote share while Keir Starmer is predicted to win the first round of the contest and eventually replace Corbyn. The results will be announced on 4 April.

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14 - 20 March 2020

From 20th May 2020

the law around organ do onation in England is chang ging Unless you choose to opt out, you will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when you die. To find out more about your choices, including how to opt out: visit organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 303 2094






14 - 21 March 2020

Continued from page 1

Covid-19 hits generics

UK imports 40% APIs from India and China Dr. Bharat Shah CBE is the CoChairman of Sigma Pharmaceuticals which distributes packets of medicine every month, supplying pharmacies, hospitals and dispensing doctors via a next-day service. Speaking to Asian Voice, he said, “For the last few months, there has been shortages of various generic medicines in the UK owing to several reasons including a shortage in raw material supplies from China, issues in regulatory and technical areas of production, issues in consolidation of pharmaceutical companies and finally the Brexit cloud. To make things worse, we now have a coronavirus issue developing in the UK. “Now India’s declared restriction on the export of 26 pharmaceutical APIs (Approved Pharmaceutical Ingredient) directly applies to the finished formulations such as tablets, capsules, creams, and liquids. The pharmaceutical industry relies on supply ‘just in time’ and therefore, any issue that delays the delivery of APIs will result in disruption of the supply chain. “The restriction of exports of the 26 pharmaceutical ingredients will certainly have a huge impact in the UK as it will further de-stabilise the already disrupted generic market.” Shah says that his company imports essential medicines related to diabetes and other ‘painkillers’. Although it represents a small percentage of their total business, he is concerned about a domino effect in the market, where according to him, pharmacists are purchasing “more than normal quantities of medicines (‘in other therapeutic areas’) from us causing stock issues at not only distribution level but also at the manufacturing level”.

Panic-buying and stockpiling He asserts that the class of medicines restricted by India is commonly prescribed in the NHS. According to him panic buying and stockpiling is bound to affect the supply chain and will cause price increases and possibly, medicines being bought from unregulated supply chain such as some internet companies. India's drug makers rely on China for almost 70% of the active ingredients in their medicines, and industry experts have warned that they are likely to face shortages if the epidemic continues. The U.K. medicines regulator estimates that Chinese manufacturers make around 40% of all APIs used worldwide. Restricted supplies both

from India and China will have a cummulative effect on the UK’s pharma industry among other global countries. However, urging pharma companies to remain calm, a spokesperson for the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), in a statement to Asian Voice said, "The Indian Government’s action applies to 1% of Indian pharmaceutical exports and is not a blanket ban. Due to the high levels of API held by manufacturers, our assessment remains that it is extremely unlikely that disruption due to COVID19 will impact medicinal supplies in the UK in the short to medium term. “We continue to assess the situation, working closely with the Government and other industry and official bodies, to mitigate the effects of potential longer-term impacts to supply, which could be exacerbated as a result of similar actions by other countries. Part of these efforts include companies conducting thorough risk assessments of their global supply chains."

Restricted dental masks and hand gels Amidst concerns around the manufacturing of these medicines is also anxiety around their distribution as key travel systems (flights, ship containments et al) from China remain suspended. While none of the high-street pharmacies have yet reported of panic-buying or shortage in supplies of generic medicines, other medical equipment is fast running out of shelves. Earlier, last month the British Dental Association (BDA) had warned about the shortage of face masks sparked by the coronavirus outbreak unless rationing is eased. The BDA reports rationing has now left some practices unable to order more than 2 boxes of masks per day around 100 masks irrespective of their size. "In recent weeks dentists have been hit by panic buying and rationing that has left many larger practices with few options. Unless we see a rapid increase in supply dentists without face masks will have little choice but to down drills," warned BDA Chair Mick Armstrong. Boots and Lloyds have already confirmed that they are limiting customers to two bottles of hand sanitiser each as bulk buying of the product increases with the spread of the coronavirus. Tesco has limited shoppers to buy no more than five packets of certain goods, including antibacterial gels, wipes and sprays among others. Demand for the hand sanitiser gel has sky-rocketed following the outbreak of coronavirus with some online pharmacies such as Medino reporting a 1000% increase in the sale of these products. “We’re in regular contact with both our members and the Government about any impact that the coronavirus could have on medicine supply in the UK. “There are robust procedures in place to manage the supply of medicines in the UK, and companies will be taking all possible measures to secure supply for patients - in line with Government guidance,” Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said in a statement. As part of the NHS’s ‘containment’ program, it has now unveiled a range of measures to stop fake news around Coronavirus to be spread on the internet. The government has also announced that it will extend shop delivery hours to ensure that supermarkets have basic items, amid stockpiling concerns. In the meantime, ahead of delivering his first budget chancellor Rishi Sunak has already re-written a quotient of the budget stressing that the NHS will be well-equipped with essential resources to combat the virus. In a statement to The BBC, he pledged, "I can say absolutely, categorically, the NHS will get whatever resources it needs to get us through this crisis. And I am keen to make sure when we get through the other side, we haven't lost these great small businesses permanently."

Bangladeshi man becomes the first Asian to die of coronavirus in the UK Rupanjana Dutta The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK has risen to 373, with a sixth patient dying after testing positive, as we went to press. The man, who was in his early eighties, was being cared for at Watford General Hospital. The latest figures included 324 cases in England, 27 in Scotland, 16 in Northern Ireland and 6 in Wales, as we went to press. All major operators have cancelled their flights in and out of Italy till beginning of April. On Sunday a 60 year old Bangladeshi man died, becoming the first from the Asian community to die of this virus in the UK. He is believed to have contacted coronavirus in Italy, where he went on a holiday for two weeks like every year. He lived in Italy for a long time, making it one of his favourite cities. 5 years ago he moved to Britain permanently with family. The man's son told BBC Bengali service, that his father returned to Manchester on 29 February, when the virus started spreading widely in Italy. On 3 March his father went to the local health centre for his routine check up due to his pre-existing health issues such as heart problems, high cholesterol, arthritis and asthma. His son had bought him a mask to wear on UK streets. When the doctors asked him why he was wearing a mask, he said he had just returned from Italy, the BBC reported. That alerted the doctors and he was immediately isolated. Emergency service arrived from North Manchester General Hospital and he was then transported to the hospital. He was alright for a bit, but oxygen saturation in his blood started decreasing with irregular heartbeats. He passed away on Sunday, after 5 days of being in the hospital. The family is currently in isolation, and Public Health England is reportedly checking on them regularly. So far the family has shown no symptoms. The body of their father will be kept in the morgue till the family is out of quarantine in another week's time.

Temple shuts after positive coronavirus test result

The Hare Krishna temple in Watford closed following the news of a member of the congregation testing positive for coronavirus, a Hertfordshire newspaper reported. The same man in his 80s who was being treated at Watford General Hospital has become the sixth person to die from coronavirus. Bhaktivedanta Manor, on Hilfield Lane, announced on their Facebook page that all planned events from March 6 until Tuesday 10 were cancelled. Managing director Gauri das said, "Sadly a member of the congregation tested positive for COVID-19. The person has not been to the temple but others have been in contact with them. "The temple will be deep cleaned after which it will again be open. The cleaning may take anything between 24 to 48 hours.” It is thought the start of the UK peak of the coronavirus will begin within the next fortnight. While Barking and Dagenham and Waltham Forest have seen their first case of coronavirus, the biggest number has been so far in Kensington and Chelsea area- with 8 affected. Ealing has 5 cases, Hounslow 3, Harrow and Redbridge have so far reported one case with none in Brent,

Tower Hamlets and Newham, as we went to press on Tuesday.

Community comes forward to help

Many restaurants are taking extra care and offering hand sanitisers to customers as well as offering printed paper menus, so that people do not transmit germs from touching the menus. In the meantime the community has come forward to help other people who have had to self-isolate. In fact Dave Jones, a butcher in Dewsbury tweeted saying, “If anyone near our shop has to isolate over the coronavirus and are on benefits, I will put together food parcels that will be delivered to your door.”

Taxi drivers live in fear

Drivers at Redwoods of Heathrow are spraying all parts of their vehicles which passengers touch with anti-bacterial spray after every journey, a news report said. Mohammed, who drives taxi at a private London company, told us, “I am self-employed. The very thought that London city coming to a standstill is going to be a big blow on us. I can’t stop driving - as my family depends on the money that I earn.” Mir, also a taxi driver said, “What is the UK doing to prevent people coming from anywhere with coronavirus? I am a taxi driver, I pick up people from airports. What’s the guarantee they don’t have germs? Our company has said we can wear masks when we drive with passengers, but you can’t sit with a mask for the whole day! It’s uncomfortable!" It is rumoured that a taxi driver in Southall has been affected by coronavirus, due to his recent travel to Italy. All his passengers so far have been contacted, asked to self-isolate and report any symptoms of the virus immediately to NHS.

Travel to India

India has already brought in travel guidance for passengers coming from abroad. All visas granted to passengers from Italy, Iran, China, South Korea, Japan, France, Germany and Spain via any route, who have not entered India yet are suspended. Those requiring to travel to India due to compelling reasons, and who were granted visas after 5 March 2020, need to carry 'Tested Negative for Covid19' medical certificate. Visas of all foreigners in India remain valid. Holders of diplomatic passports, official passports, UN officials, OCI card holders and air-crew from the above 8 countries are exempted from such restrictions. However medical screening is compulsory. All have to furnish a pair of fully filled selfdeclaration forms including address and phone number in India and travel history that need to be submitted to health and immigration officials at all arrival ports in India.

Victims of fraud

On the other hand, Action Fraud has notified that the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has identified 21 reports of fraud where coronavirus has been mentioned with victims losses totalling over £800k. 10 of these reports were made by victims who attempted to purchase face masks from fraudulent sellers. Reported numbers are expected to rise. They are asking people not to click on any links, attachments or purchase from companies you can't trust. The cost of hand sanitiser and liquid soap have skyrocketed. It is believed a shop in London even hiked the price of a small hand sanitiser bottle to £9.






14 - 20 March 2020

8 UK 14 - 20 March 2020


As I See It CB Patel

Numbers are important but they are not Supreme Dear Readers, The heading of my column this week may create some confusion. No, this article has nothing to do with maths. Allow me to explain. As you already know, most of my articles are products of my daily deliberations and musings. This too, is one such creation. During my recent trip to India, I had the good fortune of meeting several esteemed leaders and businessmen. During my short stay at Gujarat's Vallabh Vidyanagar, I met not one, but seven prominent lawyers. As conversation took place organically, and with natural ease, two of them informed me that they and their families are considering migrating abroad.  I was oddly surprised and asked them why they would want to uproot themselves from their perfect lives? Their answer was shocking, to say the least. Both of them said they believed their children and grandchildren may grow up in an India that is dominated by the Muslim community.  Yes, I am aware of the underlined absurdity of the statement. Now, you may be wondering where numbers come into play here. Well, owing to my incessant habit of reading, I bumped into an article published by the Financial Times. It said that every single month, a few hundred financially well-off Indian families migrate abroad. It went on to say that on an average, these people bring over £5 million with them, and considering UK's legal provision that allows migrants with certain financial privileges to set up businesses in the country, the rich creates more enterprise here.  Now assuming more and more people feel inclined to leave India owing to “increasing” Muslim presence, I decided to debunk a couple of myths. World population is touted to be 7.7 billion at present. Out of these, there are about 2.2 billion Christians, predominantly divided into two groups. Christians in the first world nations are prosperous and widely known. However, those in the Africa, Latin America, and in Asian countries like Philippines, Vietnam, and others, are not so well off.  Then come the Muslim community around the world. They account for approximately 1.8 billion people. The Greater Middle East, with its Muslim-dominated countries, is blessed with oil and minerals. While their GDP is large, their per capita income is very low. Countries like the Saudi Arabia, Emirates, Kuwait, and Iraq are loaded with money, but at the same time, the gap between the rich and poor is phenomenal.  My point here is that one has to accept that nor wealth, nor numbers give you either power, influence, or quality of life. What about the mighty Sheikhs and Emirs of the Middle East ? Whether they would like to admit it or not, they are dependent on the West, especially USA for security. Also, how can we forget the persecution of Muslims by their fellow community members? The terrorism, the violence, the killing of their own citizens happen overwhelmingly in the region on a daily basis. More and more Muslims are killed by fellow Muslims every day than anything else. Saudi Arabia, since the 1973 war, when the oil prices rose four times is completely awashed with wealth, used bulk of the money to spread Wahhabi Islam. Some believe that preachers of this doctrine either misinterpret Islam, or deliberately use it to spread brutality. More and more Muslims know about it but certain intimidation or fear does not let them publicly speak against it according to an American survey. Meanwhile, Muslims within the Indian subcontinent – your Bohras, Ismailis,

Ishnasaris, Memons, Ahmadiyyas, they are well educated and highly revered. They know the values of tolerance, education, professionalism, entrepreneurship, and consequently not only are their numbers more on the level of Hindus, there is a certain stability with the Islam they practice. Over 1.1 billion Hindus are on this planet. I have also noted that some minorities within the Indian community, like the Lohanas, Anavil Brahmins may be a million or less in numbers. The Jains, who are just 10.3 million in population, are highly educational, entrepreneurship represented in Indian diplomatic services, civil services, philanthropy, etc. They are not only successful in India, but in East Africa, Canada, the UK, USA, and other countries too.  The Patel community, which is broadly divided between Kadva Patidar and Leuva Patidar, has literature written on its success. They are building huge temples and memorials in Gujarat costing millions of pounds. The Patidar community accounts for some 20 per cent of Gujarat's population (13 million). They have migrated in large numbers to North America, UK, East Africa, and other countries and have progressed in the line of other migrants, if not more.  Let us look at the Jewish community for a minute. There are some  16 million Jews across the world. There are, if not more, Jews in North America as in the State of Israel, but Israel with determination dedication and achievement of its own population, with help of the World Jewery has a very high capita income, much more than Saudi and Emirates. This small state is politically so powerful that they can withstand more than 200 million Muslims surrounding them. This is enough proof that numbers alone are not enough.   As poet Allama Iqbal said in his 'Saare Jahan Se Achcha' poem :  “Yunan-o-Misr-o-Roma Sab Mit Gaye Jahan Se, Ab Tak Magar Hai Baki Naam-oNishan Hamara; Kuchh Baat Hai Ke Hasti Mitati Nahin Hamari.” It means, so many civilisations, the Roman, Greek, Persian, Egyptian all were demolished by the onslaught of Muslim invasions, but Hindustan continued to stand strong. Why do you think that is? The concept of Sanatan Dharma is much more than just idol worshipping. While it has several deities and worships all of them, in reality, these deities represent values and virtues. Like Ganesha, who represents wisdom, Laxmi, Saraswati represent wealth, knowledge respectively. Sanatan Dharma has survived and will survive as our faith is not just rituals, or deities or idols – its values and virtues.  The decentralisation of sub-sects in Hinduism further helps people connect to faith through gurus. Take Swaminarayan dharma for example. There are 22 different sects within the belief, and each Sampraday teaches one to have faith in its own way.  My submission is that poverty, ignorance, and eternal warfare by Muslims over fellow Muslims has created one of the biggest problems of bloodshed in modern world. There are refugees making a beeline to Europe and other countries every day. My whole message is that sheer numbers are not everything.  People constantly ask why does India keep voting Narendra Modi into power despite its economic problems and other issues? The truth is, for centuries Hindus have been marginalised, threatened and exploited in one way or the other, and for the first time in years, a man who follows with pride his faith, has taken the country's reins in his hands. Modi is not anti Muslim, or proHindu. It is important that one learn the difference.



British Indians criticise Guardian for 'Hinduphobic' cartoon portraying Priti Patel Rupanjana Dutta A cartoon in the Guardian portraying the Indian-origin Home Secretary Priti Patel as a cow with a massive nose ring, in larger than her actual frame, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a bull sitting next to her protecting her, during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQ)has created major controversy. The cartoon by Steve Bell, an awardwinning British political cartoonist, whose works appear in many publications including The Guardian, on March 4 drew a cartoon of Patel and Johnson with the headline “Steve Bell on Boris Johnson defending Priti Patel at PMQs."

“The Guardian has not only acted as a cheerleader in this shameful campaign, it has gone far beyond misogyny in its coverage. It has crossed the boundary from legitimate reporting into blatant racism. “The cartoon by Steve Bell published in your paper on Wednesday 4 March has caused huge offence in the Hindu community and beyond. It depicts Priti Patel as a gruesome and distorted cow with a ring through its nose. Calling any woman a cow is clearly misogynistic and offensive: this cartoon should never have been printed for that reason alone. However, the clear reference here is to Priti Patel’s Hindu religion, since the cow is sacred to the Hindu religion. To use

Cartoon published by The Guardian

The cartoon was meant to be showing Johnson's reaction to Jeremy Corbyn during one of the recent PMQs, where Corbyn asked the Prime Minister why was Patel appointed as the Home Secretary when she has had a history of “shocking and unacceptable behaviour” and has also been accused of “repeated bullying and harassment” across departments that she has represented, especially after the latest one led to resignation of senior civil servant Sir Philip Rutnam. Johnson however replied that Patel was doing an outstanding work and he had “every confidence in her.” Rutnam, the Home Office's most senior official, resigned citing a "vicious and orchestrated" crusade against him. The cartoon has caused outrage in the UK, especially among the Indians and Hindus terming it an expression of religious and racial hate. Trupti Patel, President of Hindu Forum of Britain, writing a letter to the Guardian said, “On International Women’s Day, we’re reflecting on a week during which we have seen shameful misogyny and racism directed towards one of the foremost women in our political life in the UK, the Home Secretary, Rt Hon. Priti Patel MP. The one-time comprehensive school girl from Watford deserves our respect in rising without the help of privilege or networks to become one of the pre-eminent women in UK political life. Instead, this week she has been on the receiving end of a malicious campaign of smears and denigration. We’ve heard allegations of bullying unsubstantiated by a single solid instance which holds water! Today, new evidence has emerged that indicates Priti Patel was attacked simply because she is a strong and determined woman.

such an image in this context represents the extreme of racism. To further show a ring through her nose adds even further unacceptable connotations. “It is appalling that a racist attack like this has appeared in a national paper. Your cartoonist should never have produced it, but it’s perhaps even more shocking that you and the Guardian team were prepared to print such a hatefilled image This is such a serious instance of racism and has caused such widespread offence, particularly amongst the Hindu community, that it has been construed as 'hate crime among many British Hindus' which we believe should be investigated by the police. “Before taking the step of bringing it to their attention, we wanted to give you an opportunity to explain why you thought it was an acceptable action to published this hate-filled image in your paper. We wish to complain in the strongest terms.” British Tamil Conservatives tweeted saying, “Its anti-Hindu. It portrays the Home Secretary, of Hindu origin as a cow. A sacred symbol for Hindus. It's racist and misogynist. It’s plainly unacceptable! It may constitute a hate crime.” US Presidential candidate Tulisi Gabbard tweeted saying “Unfortunately, Hinduphobia is very real. I've experienced it directly in each of my campaigns for Congress & in this presidential race. Here's just one example of what Hindus face every day in our country. Sadly, our political leaders & media not only tolerate it, but foment it.” Hindu Council UK tweeted saying, "The image is offensive. It's Hinduphobic and an expression of religious/racial hate. HCUK condemns it and demands an apology from The Guardian for hurting Hindu community feeling."






14 - 20 March 2020

Law firm celebrates new office The creation of a 5 trillion USD Indian economy Rohit Vadhwana India aims to become a USD 5 trillion economy by 2025. The basic requirement for economic growth is infrastructure, both physical and social. Cognisant of this fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day 2019 speech announced that India will invest INR 100 lakh crores in infrastructure over the next five years. The direction was set clearly. Finance Minister constituted a Task Force to draw up 'National Infrastructure Pipeline' for FY 2019 to FY 2025. It was chaired by Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs and held the first meeting in September 2019. It had wide-ranging discussions with stakeholders like banks, financial institutions, infrastructure developers, industry organisations, equity funds, and government departments. Finally, on 31 December 2019, the Finance Minister Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman announced the creation of National Infrastructure Pipeline intending to have total project capital expenditure of over 102 lakh crores by FY 2025. During these five financial years between 2020 to 2025, there will be a huge investment in various sectors of the infrastructure of which energy (24%), roads (19%), urban (16%), railways (13%) are major areas. Airports, telecommunication, irrigation, rural infrastructure, water and sanitation, ports, agriculture, food processing and distribution, higher education, schooling, sports, tourism, sports, health and family welfare, industries and internal trade, steel, and some other areas will be covered under this ambitious National Infrastructure Pipeline. This will open up opportunities for domestic and foreign investors for investment in India. This development of social and physical infrastructure will boost economic activities, provide jobs and accelerate economic growth in India. There will be a monitoring mechanism for the timely implementation of the pipeline. Review meetings and policy interventions will further help in their success. India is a vast country with over 1.3 billion people. The appetite of the economy for investment is huge and the potential for growth is incomparable. Various measures to promote economic growth, policy incentives for investors, liberalisation of FDI rules and the possibility of attractive return on investment will help the country grow faster in the future. The goal of being USD 5 trillion economy will be dependent on successes of such initiatives of the government, for which the whole machinery is at work.

On Wednesday 4th March, a leading law firm hosted a networking event as the team celebrated the inauguration of their new office in Harrow. Vijay Parikh and the Partners alongside the staff of Harold Benjamin invited their key clients, referrers and other delegates to celebrate the opening of their new Harrow office. The firm has moved from its long time premises of Lowlands Road to the Hygeia Building on College Road, Vijay Parikh, Partner, Harold Benjamin hailed as Harrow’s “best space and treated to the office building”. firm’s stellar hospitality Long-established clients provided by Black Pot caterwho attended the event ers. were shown around the new A charity fundraiser also modern 4th Floor office

formed part of the evening and £4,000 was raised by way of free legal services provided by Harold Benjamin with the fees

being offset and sent to charity. Vijay Parikh, managing partner said, “It was wonderful to have the opportunity to host some of our most important clients and contacts in our new premises. The new state of the art office is part of my vision to consolidate the metamorphosis of Harold Benjamin into one of the U.K.’s first and foremost property specialist firms. John Kajani, Managing Director, JMK Group said, “I have worked with Vijay for 18 years and it is fantastic to see how far the firm has come since the short time he took over the helm. We really enjoyed the event and were very happy to be part of celebrating the firm’s success.”

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(Expressed opinion is personal)

Do you have a story or suggestion for this column? Email at: livingbridgeasianvoice@gmail.com

Sunak’s budget to combat Covid-19 Ahead of the spring budget the Chancellor of ex-chequer is expected to ease constraints on spending and borrowing, as he sets out plans to help the economy withstand the impact of coronavirus epidemic. Rishi Sunak’s key policies will include a £5bn investment to facilitate faster broadband across the UK by 2025 and a £1bn deal to boost 4G coverage, especially benefiting Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The budget is also likely to witness an increase in the National Insurance threshold, as promised in the Conservative manifesto and may even see a doubling of spending on flood defence schemes to £5bn, in light of the devastating floods in

recent months. The Chancellor may even consider abolishing entrepreneurs’ relief, and saving an estimated £2.6bn. And amidst the recent Coronavirus outbreak, he has promised to give the NHS “whatever it needs” to cope with the epidemic. Therefore, hinting an increased funding for the NHS. The rules, announced by the previous chancellor Sajid Javid at the election, commit the government to balancing the books on day-to-day spending by the middle of the parliament, and pledge that borrowing for infrastructure will not exceed 3% of GDP. The jury is still out on whether Mr. Sunak will be able to deliver on a radical budget.

Lord Rami Ranger delivered his maiden speech at the House of Lords on Tuesday 10 March, as we went to press. The full story will be published in next week’s issue.

Learn the inner workings of executing auction deals. A live panel of experts will guide you through the auction maze from a planning, financing and legal perspective. We will be analysing deals which will be coming up in an auction shortly after our event. This will give our audience a rare 360 degree view point of the auction environment. Panel of experts Ravi Pankhania, Director, Nacropolis Group. London's leading property development company specialising in developing listed buildings, conversions from commercial to residential and new-build projects.

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Suresh Vagjiani, Founder, Sow & Reap. Event moderator. London property investment company with expertise in deal making.

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14 - 20 March 2020

Care home situation The situation in care homes is getting worse by the day. The weakest and vulnerable section of the community is suffering and paying the price for this unjust neglect by the government. Now after making big promises to improve social care, PM Boris Johnson admits he does not have a work-up plan to end the social care crisis. His false promises are now unravelling. The move comes after the prime minister acknowledged he had no proposals, despite claiming – as he entered No 10 last summer – to have a “clear plan to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.” Around 1.4 million people in need are already believed to be going without care, and the sector is plagued by 122,000 vacancies – even before a harsh post-Brexit immigration crackdown next year. Now he is inviting suggestions from MPs as to how to tackle this problem. Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, echoed the criticism, saying: “Unfortunately, this announcement, issued on a Friday afternoon, will not fill anyone who cares about the future of social care with much confidence. “It is always good for ministers to seek alternative views, but it is very disappointing that they appear not to be offering any of their own at this juncture. On top of this crisis, the country is now facing the dangers of coronavirus which mostly affects the elderly people. At this stage, urgent action is required by the government on both fronts. Baldev Sharma Rayners Lane, Harrow

Priti Patel needs help not obstacles I have known Priti Patel for many years, since before she entered Parliament when she worked at Conservative Central Office. She is calm, competent and pleasant. She is also very loyal and committed to the task that she has been given, wanting to see it accomplished in a perfect way. The Home Office is one of the most difficult Departments as it has so many facets and people can become frustrated. As we know, the reality is that the government is run by the civil servants, as they think politicians come and go. The Prime Minister has made it clear that Ministers have the responsibility for policies and not the civil servants, and the great majority understand this. But there are some who want to pursue their own priorities instead. Priti Patel needs help to implement the tasks she has been entrusted with, rather than obstacles. Dr Prem Sharma OBE, Reading

Dignity in old age! Having worked in NHS, I can judge how our beloved NHS has deteriorated over last few decades. Yes, demand has out-stripped supply, mainly due to steep rise in population, especially old age population whose needs are some four times more than younger generation. No wonder more and more GPs are sending their patients to private hospitals under NHS. At one time these NHS patients were treated in the same manner as private paying patients but all has changed now beyond recognition. Recently I accompanied an elderly relation to private hospital for cataract operation. I was indeed surprised to see so many patients sitting in the reception area, as everyone was given the same time, in our case it was 1pm. While we were waiting, one 90 year old gentleman, accompanied by his grand-daughter arrived. He was told that as his turn may not come before 5pm, they should go and do shopping or visit friends. As they were coming all the way from Cambridge, girl was rightly frustrated, telling receptionist why he was given 1pm time if he could not be seen before 5pm. A 4pm time would have saved him so much hassle; after all he is 90 years old and in poor health, hardly leaves the house. It is ridiculous to tell him to go shopping! Our turn came at 3pm and when we left at 4pm, he was still there slumbered in his wheel chair, half a sleep. Although medical care under NHS is excellent on most part, administration is poor; shortage of medical staffs is critical and occasionally even doctors are losing their cool due to pressure of work that may lead to mistakes, risking patient’s life. Such poor service could never be tolerated in Scandinavian countries, France and Germany where they work on different scale, some have medical insurance while others pay part of the cost themselves, although universal care is available free in specially designated hospitals. It is time to overhaul our NHS; give dignity to OAPs, especially to those who are willing to contribute to NHS’ bottomless pit! Kumudini Valambia By email

Lost lives in Delhi It is really shocking to learn that nearly 46 precious lives of innocent people have been lost in Delhi (Asian Voice dated 7-13 March 2020). Some groups of people who have least concerned about CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) tried to get maximum international mileage by instigating different communities during a prestigious state visit of Mr. Donald Trump, the US president. I think international media also added fuel in the fire by giving biased report and repeatedly showing atrocities against a particular community instead of reporting with truthfulness. It looked as if interviews of some of the people were pre-prepared. People who lost their lives were citizens of India and were not going to be affected by CAA. But some vested interested played a pivotal role in ruining peace from families of innocent people. Since India is marching with economic success of having more than 5% growth rate and has already become 5th largest economy in the world ahead of the UK and France, there may be some outsiders who tried to tarnish the image of the country by promoting hatred against each other. It is time to think about economic prosperity and security from a holistic perspective keeping aside narrow personal or political interests. Common public is interested in living with harmony and peace to get prosperity. I pray to God almighty to give peace to those people who lost precious lives and give wisdom to innocent people to think for peace, progress and prosperity. Hitesh Hingu London

Is Hinduism an ultra-modern religion? We all know Hinduism is the oldest and culturally richest religion in the world. Hinduism has no founder saint, guru or leading holy personality, unlike Christianity founded by Lord Jesus Christ, Islam by Prophet Mohamed, Sikhism by Guru Nanak and Buddhism by Lord Gautam Buddha. Hinduism has evolved over centuries; some may say it is over ten thousand years old while others put it back to fifty thousand. Reading our holy scripters like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagwat Gita, every word uttered by Lord Krishna before start of the epic battle, one may wonder how come these literature is so advanced that some of the inventions, weapons described therein are not even on drawing board today! The evidence of bridge Lord Rama’s engineers built, foundation stones laid equidistance, joining mainland Bharat to Shri Lanka are even visible today from satellite. While the blind king was watching, rather listening to the Great War, Mahabharata on television! Indian and Western archaeologists’ unearthed remains of Lord Krishna’s city Dwarka, off the coast of Gujarat, in deep and turbulent coastal waters proved beyond doubt the existence of modern city built by engineering supremo Lord Vishvakarma who even today guides, educates and encourages his followers who wants to climb the ladder on the engineering front. Studying some of Indian, Hindu customs, cultures and tradition, once frowned upon by the West are now widely accepted and acted upon in most Western nations, such as preferring cremation over burial tradition that was the only way for Hindus to dispose of bodies once the soul, the 'Atma' has deserted human body! The second popular Hindu custom coming into prominence is to greet each other, not by shaking hands or three kisses on cheeks but by saying 'Namaste' with folding hands from a distance! It is pity that it has taken coronavirus to make Namaste popular, perfect way to greet any one, from prince to pauper! It is time for our dynamic younger generation to take pride in our culturally rich Hindu religion and say with pride “I am Hindu!” Bhupendra M. Gandhi

A hair-raising comment The Sikh custom of males growing beards is being increasingly copied by non-Sikhs, and no wonder. These days it is impossible to buy a good electric shaver for the familiar old price of £15 or £20. A shaver now costs around £100 or more (sorry, £99.99 or more). Wet shaves are also getting more expensive. This is why men of every community have taken to growing their own facial bushes. Rudy Otter by email

Kapil’s Khichadi The rise of anti-Hinduism

Kapil Dudakia Thousands of years ago in the lands known as Bharat Varsh, a people who lived by the laws of the nature. They thrived in every aspect of human endeavour and through the peaceful pursuit of enlightenment, they secured an understanding of their place in this infinite cosmos. Little did they know that across the waters and around the world there lived barbarians. The people of Bharat Varsh welcomed all visitors like their very own. They shared their wealth, knowledge, customs and culture with the whole of humanity that came to their shores. Little did they know that not all humans are of the same DNA. What followed over thousands of years was the rampant rape and genocide of not just the people of Bharat Varsh, but of its Dharma, its culture and of its very being. Muslim and Christian invaders took turns in how they attacked the very soul of Bharat Varsh. In the end, even when it got its freedom in 1947, it remained enslaved to the masters of yesteryears. Anti-Hinduism is not new. Every barbarian that came to Bharat Varsh knew that they had to attack the Dharma of the people and destroy the nation from within. Of course, it was not called anti-Hindu then, but every action that the barbarians took was planned and systematically executed to destroy Sanathan Dharma and its people. Today the world recognises antisemitism. Defined as, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or nonJewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”. Let me now define anti-

Hinduism in the same light: “Anti-Hinduism is a certain perception of Hindus, which may be expressed as hatred toward Hindus. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Hinduism are directed towards Hindus and/or their property, towards Hindu community institutions and religious facilities.” When PM Modi came to power in 2014, the world of the barbarians trembled. They knew that finally there was a leader from the Hindu community who would not be afraid to call out these barbarians for what they are, the extremists and the terrorists of the 21stCentury. We saw the Lutyen cabal and the Khan Market gangs come out in force, empowered by their wealthy supporters from the western socialist and liberal camps, to undermine not just India – but in particular, to undermine Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhist. Of course, the main attack has been on Hindus. In the west we saw these same barbaric forces from the left come out in a coordinated manner to fuel the anti-Hindu rhetoric. They attacked Hindu leaders, Hindu organisations, Hindus Mandirs and Hindus scriptures. This attack has increased to undermine any Hindu in public life. The use of Social Media engineered with precision to send out an anti-Hindu message. Now we see the incessant racist attacks on Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak in the UK and in the USA Tulsi Gabbard was attacked for calling out anti-Hindu extremists. The Hindu and the Jewish community come under attack not only from the far-right, but the real barbarians are those from the left. Challenge the Caliphate of the left, and we now even see them attacking their own champion of equalities, Sir Trevor Phillips. I am a British Hindu, I will not be silenced. Are you with me?. (Expressed opinions are personal.)

MAKE YOURSELF HEARD Write to our ‘Reader’s Voice’ section about what you think regarding the various ongoing issues all around the world. Please send your letters to aveditorial@abplgroup.com Make sure they are NOT more than 250 words. Any letter longer than the limit may not be published. Note that all your letters are subject to being edited by our team for valid reasons. - Asian Voice






14 - 20 March 2020

Channel 5’s Dr Amir Khan Indian journalism students urges public to become ‘Nature win inaugural IJA award Doctors’ and build Insect A&Es Janani Suri and Malika Malhotra have been selected for the inaugural award of the Indian Journalists' Association (IJA) for Indian students producing the best content on a postgraduate journalism course in the United Kingdom.

Dr Amir Khan, star of Channel 5’s ‘GPs Behind Closed Doors’ and keen conservationist has joined forces with two leading UK wildlife charities to urge people to become ‘Nature Doctors’ in their own gardens by planting for pollinators this year. 97% of our wildflower meadows have been eradicated since World War II. Homes for butterflies, bumblebees and moths are disappearing, and their populations are plummeting. They are, quite simply, running out of places to go. Dr Khan is working alongside Butterfly Conservation and Bumblebee Conservation Trust to launch a new campaign asking people to set up their own ‘Insect A&E’ areas in their gardens for the benefit of the nation’s struggling pollinators. Places where these threatened but vitally important insects can rest, recuperate and rejuvenate. According to a recent survey, 84% of UK adults are concerned about damage to the natural environment,

Suri and Malhotra, who Joint award winners Janani Suri and Malika Malhotra with IJA President were students on the Cardiff Naresh Kaushik and senior BBC journalist Chris Morris University’s MA director of MA International when the need for wellInternational Journalism Journalism, said: "We are trained and impartial jourcourse, were declared joint delighted to be working with nalists has never been felt winners for 2018-19. They the IJA on this award in what more.” were presented a cash prize is the 50th anniversary of The IJA symposium of 250 pounds each and cerjournalism training at included contributions from tificates during IJA's sympoCardiff University. journalists and experts, sium here on ‘The changing including Nic Newman of “Our department attracts face of media’ on March 5. the Reuters Institute for the ambitious journalism stuAcademics at the univerStudy of Journalism, Chris dents from across the world sity’s School of Journalism, Morris and Samira Ahmed of and our two inaugural winMedia and Culture – a leadthe BBC, Mattia Peretti of ners represent the very best ing centre in the field – said the London School of of that group. We have seen Suri and Malhotra demonsome very impressive stuEconomics, Anushka strated a high level of skill dents from India, and this Asthana of The Guardian, and potential in their proyear's joint winners explored Francesco Zaffarano of The jects on the course that comissues of great importance Telegraph. bines theory and practice. and delivered in both broadEstablished in May 1947 While Suri produced a cast and print formats," he as a representative body for portfolio of five print feaadded. UK-based correspondents tures on the 'MeToo' moveNaresh Kaushik, IJA and journalists reporting on ment in India, Malhotra was president and a senior BBC and covering India and South chosen for her analytical journalist, said, “This is an Asia-related issues, the IJA television report on the membership includes jourannual IJA initiative to development of Ganga river nalists from major news encourage Indian students of transportation and its impact media outlets in the UK and journalism coming to the on local communities. India. UK, particularly at a time Matt Swaine, course

physical and mental effects so why not get out there, relax and reconnect with nature by planting your own Insect A&E? It’s so easy and it helps so much. “Butterflies, moths and bumblebees are an essential part of our eco-system. They are an important element of the food chain and are prey for birds, bats and other insectivorous animals. Their habitat is rapidly decreasing, and their numbers are declining and so we must act now to help them rest, recuperate and rejuvenate in our own gardens.” For more information see: www.butterfly-conservation.org/insectae.

and 56% about local biodiversity loss. Many are keen to take action to tackle these problems but need advice on which plants to grow in their own gardens to support our native biodiversity. Dr Khan said,“As a nature lover I am delighted to join with these brilliant organisations in asking people to act now for wildlife. Simply by choosing some of these plants, people’s gardens can become a haven for pollinators, or even… a hospital they can recover in. Anyone can build an Insect A&E and help these amazing and precious creatures. “Plus being in nature has many tangible beneficial

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14 - 20 March 2020

SCRUTATOR’S Seven months after the abrogation Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Territory administration has allowed people to access social media. However, the access is only on 2G mobile data services and fixed line internet provided by private players till March 17. Communication links were snapped with the Centre ending J&K special status. Phone links were restored in subsequent months and on January 25, access to 300 whitelisted sites - emails, banking, education, jobs, travel, entertainment, restored for a week. This was periodically extended. However, fixed line internet services by BSNL are yet to be operational. While the postpaid SIM card holders shall continue to be provided access to the internet, these services shall not be made available on prepaid SIM cards unless verified as per norms applicable for postpaid connections, said the order, issued by J&K principal secretary (home) Shaleen Kabra.

Splinter groups form new political outfit in J&K

Rival groups from People’s Democratic Party (PDP), National Conference (NC) and Congress came together in Jammu and Kashmir to form a new political outfit, Apni Party. At least two dozen members of the new party are ex-MLAs and former ministers of PDP, NC and Congress led by former finance minister and sacked PDP member Altaf Bukhari. The new party draws its strength from scores of district-level functionaries across Kashmir drawn from the three main parties that governed the erstwhile state for several decades. After the abrogation of J&K’s special status on August 5 last year, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and son Omar were put in detention and have now been arrested under the Public Safety Act. Bukhari, who was appointed as the president of Apni Party, said that they were hoping that the released leaders of the political parties would come out and raise issues faced by the people. But most of them have preferred to keep mum, he said.

Significant drop in annual rainfall The annual rainfall in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland and many other parts of India during the last 30 years have shown a significant fall. The number of “dry days” during the monsoon season has adversely affected groundwater recharges in these regions. These are some of the key findings of a report, which was shared by the ministry of earth sciences (MoES) with a

parliamentary panel in response to the latter’s queries on changing rainfall patterns in the context of its impact on agriculture. The ministry analysed rainfall pattern over 28 states and the Union Territory of J&K based on data of the last 30 years. The report said the situation for agriculture or water recharge in certain states in the Ganga river basin (UP, Bihar and West Bengal), Delhi and some southern states was “alarming”, as the number of dry days during the south-west monsoon was “significantly increasing”.

£5.14 mn raised by auctioning Nirav Modi’s assets The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has raised £5.14 million by auctioning some of the seized assets of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi. A Rolls Royce car, artwork of famous painters such as MF Hussain and Amrita Sher-

Gil and a designer handbag belonging to Modi were among the items that collectively garnered over £5.14 million at the auction. As many as 40 items went under the hammer, marking the completion of the auction of items seized by the Enforcement Directorate. The auction was held after Bombay High Court, on 4 March, refused to stay the process. A division Bench heard the petition filed by Nirav Modi’s son, Rohin Modi, claiming the paintings were owned by the Rohin Trust, of which he is a beneficiary and not by Nirav Modi. The Bench, after hearing the arguments, noted that the petitioner Rohin Modi had

Lok Sabha passes ‘Vishwas’ bill

approached the court at the "eleventh hour".

Petroleum experts testing Kutch rocks Geologists have descended on the arid regions of Kutch to study the sedimentary rock formations in the region for oil and gas exploration. Even as oil and gas companies are yet to find commercial success here, these onshore rock reservoirs are a case study for carrying out drilling and other exploration activities in sea or offshore fields as they are called. The reason: hydrocarbon rocks found on the surface in Kutch have a striking similarity with those found under the seas in areas that are identified for hydrocarbon exploration. It is difficult to dig data from hydrocarbon blocks lying beneath the sea which makes Kutch a hot destination for oil and gas explorers to find success formulas for offshore studies. A team of sixteen scientists from British Gas Plc and Reliance Industries Ltd recently visited the Kutch University, which has been studying these rocks. Next on the list are a team of scientists from Australia and Europe, said an official of Kutch University. Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd (ONGC) has already begun work to produce gas from the new sedimentary basin in Kutch offshore in the next few years.

NGOs can’t be barred from foreign funds In a ruling that expands the areas of permissible activities for non-governmental organisations, the Supreme Court ruled that the Centre cannot prevent NGOs and civil society groups from receiving foreign funds even if they indulge in agitations, bandhs or hartals in support of public causes, saying such action could not be termed political in nature. A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Deepak Gupta held organisations of farmers, workers, students, which are not directly aligned to any political party but work towards advancement of political interests of these sections, are entitled to receive foreign funds under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act. After examining various provisions of the law and the rules framed under it, the apex court said such voluntary organisations cannot be penalised under the act for getting foreign funds. Support to public causes by resorting to legitimate means of dissent like bandh, hartal etc cannot deprive an organisation of its legitimate right of receiving foreign contribution,” said Justice Rao, who wrote the judgment for the bench.

Cabbie dozes off, woman drives car to Mumbai A 28-year-old woman claims she ended up driving an Uber cab she booked to take her from Pune to Mumbai. Mumbai-based, Tejaswani Divya Nairk called the cab, which picked her up as usual. After she seated herself, the driver started his journey towards

Mumbai. However, just after a few kilometers, she noticed that the driver was struggling to stay awake. Tejaswani requested the driver to stay alert, but her plea went unheeded. Sensing danger to her life, she decided to take control of the wheels and asked the driver to pull over the car. She told the driver to take a nap on the passenger seat and the driver willingly obliged. Tejaswani took charge of the steering wheel and reached home driving all through the three-hour-long journey. Tejaswani then took to social media to narrate the harrowing time she had. In a tweet, she voiced her anger at Uber for allowing such sleep-deprived drivers to work. Later she twitted that Uber had issued an apology on Twitter.

Bengal Governor, minister spar over law & order West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar took “strong exception” to Kolkata mayor and state minister Firhad Hakim’s remark asking him “not to be worried about any possible violence in the upcoming civic polls since law and order is a state issue.” Hakim added: “If as a person he feels deeply about crimes against human beings then he should feel pained at the recent Delhi riots which took several human lives while more dead bodies might be recovered.” In a statement, the Raj Bhavan said the minister’s approach “with respect to the role of governor of the state, to say the least, betrays elementary ignorance both of the Constitution and the role of the governor”. Such statements “contrary to constitutional essence and spirit does not promote synergy between the constitutional head and the state government”, it added.

Court curtails pet owner's movement A pet owner finds himself in a spot nearly six years after he left his pet dog unleashed putting his neighbours vulnerable to canine attack. A court has restricted his movement as a bail condition. In January, the pet owner was handed down one-year imprisonment by a court for his pet’s attacks on his neighbours. After he was punished, he challenged his conviction and applied for bail. In a recent order, the court granted bail to the pet owner on furnishing Rs 10,000 bond. However, the court placed a condition on his freedom - he cannot travel beyond Gujarat limits. He would require prior permission from the court to travel outside the state. “The applicant shall not leave the local limits of Gujarat without prior permission of this court,” the court order reads.

The Lok Sabha has passed the bill to implement the ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ scheme with estimates suggesting that the government could mop up pound 15 billion from the latest project to settle pending direct tax disputes. The Centre had tasted success with a similar scheme for indirect taxes last year, prompting it to go for the ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ scheme in the Budget. Apart from cutting litigation, the plan could help the government mop up massive revenue at a time when tax collections have been muted. The bill was cleared by the lower House through a voice vote. Over pound 48 billion direct tax cases involving £93 billion in disputed amount are locked in appellate forums

Muslim families raise funds for temple revamp Thirty-five Muslim families from Paraipatti village in Tamil Nadu who are now settled in Gujarat raised Rs 300,000 for the revamp of Ambaji temple in their native village. Abdulkhuda Saiyed (53) had come down to Gujarat 25 years ago along with his brothers. After working for a few years in Valsad and Bharuch, he settled at Piraman village. His brothers are now settled with their families in districts of Surat, Bharuch, Valsad, Mehsana and Ankleshwar. Some time back, Vijay Kumar, a temple priest who was also Saiyed’s classmate, called him up asking for help to build the Ambaji temple in the village. When Saiyed assured him help, Kumar came down to Piraman village with his two friends. Saiyed contacted around 35 Muslims and requested them to donate for the construction of the temple in their village. Saiyed said that they donated Rs 300,000 for the renovation of the temple.

Dowry harassment case against Flipkart co-founder A dowry harassment case has been filed against Flipkart cofounder Sachin Bansal by his wife Priya in Bengaluru’s Koramangala police station. Four persons have been named in the FIR - Sachin Bansal, his father Satprakash Aggarwal, mother Kiran Bansal and brother Nitin Bansal. The couple got married in 2008 and in her complaint Priya alleges that the dowry harassment began prior to their wedding. In her complaint to the police, 35-yearold Priya alleged that her father had spent over Rs 50,00,000 for their wedding and had given Sachin Rs 11,00,000 in cash. Priya, a dentist by profession, alleges that Sachin physically assaulted her and demanded money. In October last year, Sachin allegedly physically assaulted her after demanding that the properties they owned jointly must be signed over to him. Priya further alleged that when she refused to transfer the properties to Sachin, his parents and his brother also harassed her. Courtesy: Agencies, The Times of India, The Indian Express






14 - 20 March 2020

Bengalis' 'Fagun Fest' reaches Ireland Bengalis in Ireland celebrated their first ever 'Fagun Fest' on 1st March 2020. Fagun Fest, organised by Bengal Heritage Foundation Ireland, relates to the iconic Poush Mela of Bengal, dear to Bengalis from both India & Bangladesh. Poush Mela is an annual fair that takes place in Santiniketan (place where Tagore established his university) in the Indian state of West Bengal, marking the harvest season. Bangladesh too celebrates Poush Mela with much pomp in Dhaka. The key characteristic of this fair included live performances of Bengali folk music viz. baul & kirtan. Organised for the first time in the history of the Bengali community of Ireland this was a runaway success. The event was graced by the presence of Somnath Chatterjee (Counsellor Embassy of India, Dublin), Kazi Ahmed (Councillor Fine Gael), Swami Vimokshananda and Swami Purnananda (from Ramakrishna Mission, Dublin). Typical of Bengal’s Winter Festivals, the event kicked off on a gastronomic note with food stalls set up by local bengalis. One could taste all the traditional bengali delicacies such as patishaapta, puli peethey, golaap peethey, moong puli, mishit doi, sondesh and more. To complement this exotic spread “Tea Amore” couldn’t stop brewing

Participants, organisers and guests at the Fagun Fest in Ireland

some fresh and aromatic Darjeeling teas spoiling tea lovers with flavor and choice. How can a winter fair be complete without traditional handicraft! The fair got to see traditional kantha embroidery. Kantha is a form of embroidery often practised by rural women in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Odisha and also in Bangladesh. In this art form, a cloth is embroidered with running stitches, employing beautiful motifs of flowers, animals, birds and geometrical shapes, as well as themes from everyday activities. This traditionally embroidered cloth has many uses including shawls, sarees, dresses, quilts, covers, etc. Afruja Khatun from the Birbhum district of West Bengal travelled with her wares. A skilled

Kantha artist, she caught fancy of the crowd with her beautifully embroidered ethnic spread of kantha stitch sarees, dupattas, bags and the likes. Her work was greatly appreciated and she was overwhelmed with the response received. As the afternoon progressed and the food stalls exhausted their supply of the delicious items, the musicians finally hit the stage with some mind boggling and soul stirring rendition of Baul and Bhatiyali songs. Baul Sangeet, is a particular type of folk song which is a pure flow of feelings. Traditionally Bauls never bother to write down their songs and is essentially an oral tradition. Their lyrics intertwine a deep sense of mysticism, a longing for oneness with the divine. The

songs of the Bauls and their lifestyle influenced a large swath of Bengali culture. Bhaba Pagla (1902-1984) and Lalon Fokir (1774 -1890) are considered the greatest of all bauls. Once again three artists Kangal Khyapa a Baul singer, Pranes Som a Bhatiyali singer and Arpan a Dotara player travelled from India for this show. Once on stage the audience artist connection was so great that the show continued well past its scheduled closure time and the auditorium was bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Kangal Khyapa, a young Baul loved the audience connect. Pranes, a Bhatiyali expert, praised the organisers and the crowd for the wonderful evening. Arpan said that this was an overwhelming experience for them and certainly exceed-

ed their expectations. He felt this effort of theirs to bring the folk culture to overseas bengalis proved to be a huge success in Dublin. The audience too echoed their sentiments. Dr Molly Sengupta said that she thoroughly enjoyed this first of a kind afternoon and hoped there will be more of such events in future. Moumita Pal said this was a mind-blowing experience. Julie added that she thoroughly enjoyed this event and is waiting for more of such unique initiatives from Bengal Heritage Foundation (BHF) Ireland. Jhuma Majumdar spoke on behalf of the organisers and thanked the performers, artisans and the audience for a wonderful afternoon.





14 - 20 March 2020

Historic International Women’s Day debate held in House of Lords

Lord Loomba conferred Voice for Change Award Lord Raj Loomba graciously accepted the first ever Global Women 4 Well-being (GW4W) Voice for Change Award for his work advocating for better treatment of widows around the world. Speaking at an event on the 5th March, held to mark International Women's Day 2020, he thanked GW4W for their recognition of his work over 20 years that has resulted in improving the lives of many millions of widows throughout the world. GW4W, in presenting Lord Loomba with the award, was keen to commend his "commitment to helping to empower so many women, with a focus on gender equity and being a leader in creating positive social change."

Lord and Lady Popat with the 20 speakers taking part in this year’s International Women’s Day debate in Parliament

Mentally, emotionally, mental health, The speakers tackled a vast range International Women’s Day was increasing violence in society. I believe of topics including artificial intelliproudly celebrated in the Houses of gence, black feminism, mental health, Parliament last week with a historic everyone has the power to speak up. modern slavery, philanthropy, spiritudebate to commemorate the global day Without speaking out, in the darkness, ality, food, fashion, transgender rights, celebrating the social, economic, culpoison will grow and infect.” innovation, venture capital and tural and political achievements of Speakers included international entrepreneurship. women. fashion designer Diipa Khosla who has The unique Parliamentary debate a social media following of over 1.6 The debate was chaired by which is now in its third year, is an inimillion, ITV Presenter Nina Nanner, Baroness Usha Prashar CBE- a great and dynamic social changer Sonal champion of women’s rights. Other tiative started by Lord Dolar Popat speakers included former Lord who came up with the Speaker of the House of Lords, idea to give nonBaroness D’Souza, who has Parliamentarians a platactively participated in the form to speak in the spheres of human rights and Mother of Parliaments development, House of Lords to voice the major issues reform and gender equality facing women across also took part in the debate. the world. Rupal Sachdev Kantaria Speaking after the opened the debate covering oversubscribed debate major global trends across Lord Popat said, “the geopolitics, climate and indusidea of the debate is to empower not just try disruption and how they women, but also men, will make gender equality to speak out on issues even more challenging. She that negatively impact referenced her work with the women. Whether it be Oliver Wyman Forum which domestic abuse, gender is building a community of influencers to collaborate and inequality in the work- Lord Popat with the organisers of the debate, Rupa Ganatra Popat, place or climate change, Entrepreneur and Investor (left) and Rupal Sachdev Kantaria, Director Oliver cocreate tangible solutions to global complex challenges such what better platform is Wyman Forum (right) as gender equality and climate there to address these change. Sachdev Patel, CEO of the GMSP issues, then the home of democracy.” The debate was concluded by Rupa Foundation. Other speakers included The debate was co-hosted and Ganatra Popatwho summed up the human trafficking and modern slavery organised by Rupa Ganatra Popat and two debate, “The power sits with each Rupal Sachdev Kantaria and consisted activist Meenal Sachdev and Anila of 20 esteemed and renowned speakers Chowdhry is an Award-winning one of us to make a difference. We ask mainly from the BAME community to Presenter & Producer. each of you to make a leap and be a commemorate International Women’s The debate also included men such part of this journey towards equality Day under this year’s theme “Each for as Shaun Bailey the Conservative and inclusion. Whether it’s in your Equal”. All the speakers took to the Party’s Mayoral Candidate and longhome - in your workplace - in your standing inner-city London youth social circle - we urge each one of you floor to share the biggest challenges worker and Ishaan Shah, a 16 year old to commit to make a pledge and to be they face not just in the UK but globalyoung and upcoming Human Rights the change we all want to see in our ly, and their tangible solutions for activist. Ishaan spoke on the negative future.” change. impact of gender bias, “In the workThe 150-strong audience of parliaGina Miller, the world-famous place, if a man is outspoken, aggressive mentarians, charities, schools and priactivist who took the British vate sector leaders, were invited to take Government to court over Brexit was and passionate he is a motivated, gothe guest speaker at the afternoon tea getter. But when a woman voices her the conversation forward through reception preceding the debate. opinion, is outspoken, aggressive or sharing their own International Gina said, “There are dark clouds passionate she is labelled as a frustratWomen’s Day pledge for change. gathering in society in many way. ed, man-hater.”

Lord Loomba accepting the Global Women 4 Well-being Voice for Change Award

Praising Lord Loomba for his, leadership and example for others to follow, GW4W in presenting the award also wanted to publicly mark his phenomenal achievement in getting the UN to name June 23rd, the day his own mother became a widow at the age of 36, as International Widows Day. It was, they said, a monumental achievement. Addressing an audience of distinguished guests at Willis Towers Watson, Lord Loomba noted, "The aim of the Sustainable Development Goals: to leave 'no one behind', could have been written as a strapline for the Loomba Foundation. The Loomba Foundation is determined to leave no one behind as it follows its aims and objectives in helping widows and their dependents worldwide." Underpinning this ethos was making sure through his work that, widows, who are ostracised, marginalised, downtrodden and suffer double discrimination both as women and as widows are not forgotten, and are empowered to allow them the dignity of leading fulfilling and meaningful lives. Lord Loomba lauded GW4W for their work in promoting gender equality and advocating for better understanding and treatment for women regarding their mental health."Global Women are doing a magnificent job of improving the lives of women the world over and inspiring others to do the same," he said. Emphasising GW4W's admirable work in promoting better outcomes for women across the globe, Lord Loomba declared, "Their latest project in conjunction with SHINE and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health is, dare I say it, a shining example of how to make change happen by supporting work that improves the lives of many, many millions of women."

Empowering women to bring about societal changes

'Change a life' was the theme of a discussion and dinner held at the Navnat Centre in Hayes on March 5th. The event, organised by Life Global UK and Navnat Vanik Bhagini Samaj to mark International Women’s Day, focused on how empowering women brings societal change. Among those taking part in a panel discussion were Ritula Shah, BBC Journalist, Renuka Mehta, President NVBS, CB Patel, Publisher/Editor of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samacharand Vanita Patel, MBE. Life Global UK is a charity raising funds to empower women living below the poverty line in

Panelists: Pandit Dinesh, Vanita Patel, Ritula Shah, CB Patel, Bina Sanghvi, Kirit Vassa, Meetal Koticha Shah and Rushikesh Pandya

Gujarat. Life Global is working with its partner organisation, Project Life, Rajkot, to provide skills and vocational training for marginalised women, in everything from computing and budget-

ing to self defence and gender equality. 7,600 women living in rural villages and urban slums in Gujarat have been trained by Project life, since the foundation, in 2008, of the Life Women

Chair- Life Global UK, Bina Sanghvi, President-Navnat Bhagini Samaj, Renu Mehta, Global Ambassadors Anita Kamdar & Vanita Patel

Empowerment Centre in Ahemdabad and Junaghad. The aim is to give the women the skills to start a business or earn an income. Life Global Trustee and Chair,

Bina Sanghvi said, “We raised over £80,000 and this will help towards enriching the lives of over 400 below the poverty line women to allow them to be leaders of their own lives."






14 - 20 March 2020

Remembering the contributions of Commonwealth soldiers Rupanjana Dutta At the top of Constitution Hill, next to Buckingham Palace in central London, the Memorial Gates is dedicated to the people of the Indian subcontinent, Africa, the Caribbean and Nepal who served in the Armed Forces during the two World Wars.

Guests from Her Majesty's Royal Army, Navy and Air Force, Gurkhas, veterans, peers, MPs, High Commissioners, Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives and dignitaries from across the UK and Commonwealth Ceremony taking place today is to mark the Service and Sacrifice made in both World Wars by nearly five million volunteers from the Indian sub-continent, Africa, the Caribbean and Nepal. Mahatma Gandhi was keen to support the war effort because of his expectation of achieving Dominion status for India. For me this is an opportunity for us all to remember the contribution of Indians, Africans and West Indians.” The Rt Rev and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally DBE, The Bishop of London lead the audience with prayers to the sounding of the last post which was followed by a one minute’s silence.

Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, accompanied by Charles and wife Camilia- Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Kate and Williamthe Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan and Harry- the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the

Edward and Sophie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex attended the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey. It marked the first time Harry and Meghan appeared with all other senior members of the Royal family since announcing their intention to "step back" as senior royals in January. They will cease to be working members of the Royal family as they begin their new financially independent lives from April 1. Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Service is the largest annual interfaith gathering in the UK. The theme for this year’s Service, ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming’, sought to highlight the many ways in which the 54 diverse countries of the Commonwealth connect. Guests of honour among the 2,000 strong congregation included senior representatives of Her Majesty’s Government and Opposition, the Commonwealth SecretaryGeneral, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, High

Maharajah Ranjit Singh defeats Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln in a leadership poll Maharajah Ranjit Singh, a Sikh warrior known for his vast conquests and religious toleration has been voted the greatest leader of all time, defeating rival nominees including Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln, in a poll by BBC World Histories magazine. The historian Matthew Lockwood nominated the 'Lion of Punjab', arguing that while he was a conqueror, he formed a “modern empire of toleration” that unravelled after his death when the British took his former territories, The

photo courtesy: Twitter

On the 6th of November 2002 Her Majesty The Queen officially inaugurated the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill, in London. These gates have been erected as a lasting memorial to honour the five million men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean who volunteered to serve with the Armed Forces during the First and Second World Wars. They also celebrate the contribution that these men and women and their descendants, members of the commonwealth family, continue to make to the rich diversity of British society. The day is celebrated every year on the second Monday of March. This year Commonwealth Day was celebrated on Monday 9th March. Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chairman of the Memorial Gates Council welcomed the audience at Constitutional Hill on Monday. Chief Guest Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans addressed everyone. Guests included members of Her Majesty's Royal Army, Navy and Air Force, Gurkhas, veterans, peers, MPs, High Commissioners, Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives and dignitaries from across the UK and Commonwealth. Baroness Shreela Flather, Lifetime President of the Memorial Gates Council said, “The

Poppy tributes to the Commonwealth soldiers at the Memorial Gates

Times reported. Singh was born in 1780 and the leader of the Sikh Empire, the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. After his father died, he fought several wars to expel the Afghans in his teenage years and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21.

Prior to his rise, the Punjab region had numerous warring misls (confederacies), twelve of which were under Sikh rulers and one Muslim. Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and united the Sikh misls and took over other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire. His famous legacies today include Harmandir Sahib at Amritstar, the gurdwara which he rebuilt with gold leaf in the 1830s- creating the 'Golden Temple'. He was also the owner of the Koh-i-noor diamond that is now part of the Crown Jewels in Tower of London.

Commissioners, Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives, dignitaries from across the UK and Commonwealth, faith leaders and over 800 school children and young people. In her message as the Head of the Commonwealth, The Queen said, "Advances in technology and modern media have now enabled many more people to witness and enjoy - with

remarkable immediacy - this experience of Commonwealth connection, in areas such as education, medicine and conservation. “As members of this very special community, on this Commonwealth Day, I hope that the people and countries of the Commonwealth will be inspired by all that we share, and move forward with fresh resolve to enhance the

Women In


Commonwealth’s influence for good in our world.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, “The Commonwealth has over 70 years of history as a driver for peace, democracy and human rights around the world. It gives a voice to its member states and the 2.4 billion Commonwealth citizens around the world. “Over 60% of those citizens are under 30 years old and it is for them in particular we must look, not just to the past successes of the Commonwealth, but to its future... “And as we pass the baton onto Rwanda later this year, the UK remains committed to the Commonwealth as a force for good in the 21st century.” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said,“...Commonwealth is unique in the diversity of its partnerships, spanning six continents and making up a fifth of all global trade. “We are tackling some of the largest global challenges through the Commonwealth, from combating climate change to preventing cyber-crime, and creating a brighter future for the next generation.”

in association with

Charting The Unknown - Breaking Stereotypes Programme for the evening Date

24th March 2020 Time 5.30pm to 8pm Venue EY 1 More London Place, London SE1 2AF



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16 UK




14 - 20 March 2020

Gurkhas welcome Nepal’s request to the UK for reviewing Tripartite Act

Critics slam Home Offices’ new knife crime prevention law, Khan hails the trial legislation

Priyanka Mehta

On Wednesday 4th March, the Home Office announced new legislation around knife crime which will be trialled in London from April by the Metropolitan Police. The Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) were first introduced through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019.

Celebrating the Commonwealth Day on Monday, 9th March, some Gurkha soldiers have welcomed the proposal of a possible review of the Tripartite Agreement. This comes at a time when over 432 Gurkhas have joined the British Army recording an increase of 32 soldiers from last year's intake and the highest ever since 1985. But what is the Tripartite Act and what are the demands of the Gurkha veterans settled in the UK? The Gurkha regiment settled in the UK have been demanding for the right to receive pensions equivalent to that of the British soldiers. This struggle can be attributed to the 73-year-old Tripartite Agreement between New Delhi, London and Kathmandu following India’s Independence from colonial rule in 1947 which allowed India and Britain to recruit Gurkhas. This Agreement between Nepal, India and Britain assures that all perks, remuneration, facilities and pension schemes for Nepalis serving in the British and Indian armies will be equal to those of British and Indian nationals. However, Gurkha veterans have long alleged that Britain has put in place discriminatory policies in remuneration. Following extensive Gurkha campaigning for years, the British Government in 2007 announced that those Gurkhas who retired after 1997 will be entitled to equal pension as the British soldiers. However, those who retired before 1997 were provided with pension amounting to only one-third of the personnel’s length of service.

Pension only equal to one-third of the years served to the British Army

Major (Retd) Tikendra Dal Deewan

Major (Retired) Surya Upadhya, is the Chairman of the Nepalese Hindu Forum UK and a retired Gurkha soldier living in the UK. Speaking to the Asian Voice, he said, “I retired from the British Army as Major officially in late 2006. In the following years, I worked for the Ministry of Defence and the Whitehall for another 11 years before finally retiring in 2017.” Major (Retired) Upadhya, a Nepalese by origin had first joined the British Army on 10th October 1973. Today, giving his example of the pension he receives, he said, “I served the British Army for 25 years therefore I am entitled to a pension that is one-third of my service period until 1997 which means I receive 26-33% pension of my service for those years. After 1997, however, I am entitled to one-for-one pension service for three years now “Now, that the Nepalese Government has requested the UK to review the Tripartite Agreement we

all discriminatory treaties and pacts signed with other countries and make them applicable to the changed context. The UK started providing equal pay and pension to Gurkhas in 2007. However, those recruited from 1975 to 1993 retired before 2007 were deprived of equal pay, pension and a host of other facilities. Those who served the British Army from 1947 to 1975 when there was no provision for pension were also not provided equal pay among other facilities. “The fact that there was discrimination was acknowledged by European Courts of Human Rights (ECHR) and yet found that it was legal as bound by the T r i p a r t i t e Agreement. This denies the total right of the individuals where three governments had intentionLord Karan Bilimoria with Major (Retd) Surya Upadhya ally signed a document to deny equality, and are optimistic of receiving pensions yet the ECHR found this justified – equivalent to the British soldiers.” strange? Having said so the Indian Last month the Nepalese governGorkhas are on equal footing with the ment had officially proposed to the UK rest of the Indian Armed Forces and to review the 73-year-old Tripartite inequality does not apply to them,” Agreement with India and Britain over said Major (Retd) Tikendra Dal Deewan of the British Gurkha Welfare Society (BGWS). The BGWS had initially taken the issue up with the ECHR which had been rejected in 2016. The Ministry of Defence had earlier put an extra £15m into the pension scheme for pre-1997 Gurkhas. Now, the Gurkhas hail the Nepalese Government’s interest in addressing their concerns around pension discrimination. Yet, another challenge that the Gurkha and commonwealth soldiers face in the UK alongside their families is the vast amount of visa fees after their services are over and should they wish to settle in the country. “The latest immigration reforms the recruitment and deployment of should not affect the Gurkhas as excluGurkha soldiers and their perks and sive immigration policy for Gurkhas facilities and replace it with a bilateral precludes this requirement. Our serone. vice to the Crown permits settlement in the UK and as for dependants the New immigration reforms not normal immigration policy applies,” applicable to Gurkhas but exorbitant explains Major (Retd) Deewan. visa fees But the Home Secretary’s £25,600a-year minimum salary threshold for Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli skilled workers means Commonwealth had first raised this issue during his recruits earning less than £16,000 meeting in June last year with then appear to be banned. British Prime Minister Theresa May in Additionally, those who have London. After the meeting between served for four years or more are eligiOli and May, Foreign Minister Pradeep ble to apply to stay in the UK. Gyawali had said Nepal had proposed a However, they must still pay the visa review of the agreement, to which May application fees, which have risen from had responded “positively”. A joint £1,051 in 2015 to £2,389. This has been statement issued after the meeting, brought to notice by the British Royal however, stopped short of mentioning Legion. that Oli had raised the issue. The Legion launched its campaign, Now, a senior official at the Prime about this subject a year ago and is now Minister’s Office said the letter was calling on the government to grant a sent to the United Kingdom for their waiver of fees in the next parliamenconsideration as per the policy of the tary session, urging the supporters to present government to scrap or review write to their MP on the issue.

However, they would impose sanctions such as bans on using social media besides geographic restrictions on visiting certain areas or meeting individuals. A spokesperson for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in a statement to the Asian Voice said, “The Mayor has supported the Met’s call for the introduction of Knife Crime Prevention Orders (KCPOs) in order to help police tackle the scourge of knife crime. However, to be effective, the knife crime prevention orders alone will not reduce violent crime, and must be part of a much bigger package of measures that include tackling the causes of crime. “In order to drive down violence the Mayor is being tough on crime, taking the difficult decision to increase council tax to help pay for

1,300 more police officers, as well as being tough on the underlying causes of crime, investing in a public health approach that will address the root causes of crime and create more positive opportunities for disadvantaged young Londoners.” But some critics believe that the trial will potentially criminalise 12-year-olds as opposed to early intervention. It will take place over 14 months. "We support all approaches that aim to lead to a reduction in knife crime, but we are concerned that young people as young as 12 may well be criminalised for breaching these orders," Patrick Green, CEO of Ben Kinsella Trust noted in a statement. As part of the latest legislation the courts will be able to stop those under an order from associating with certain people, introduce geographical restrictions, and set curfews.They will also include positive requirements such as attendance at educational courses, life skills programmes, participation in group sports, drug rehabilitation and anger management classes.

India's largest broadcasting agency blames BBC of biased Delhi riots reporting The CEO of India’s largest public broadcasting agency has declined an invitation from the BBC after accusing the latter of “one-sided” reporting on the Delhi violence. Prasar Bharati’s CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati has refused BBC’s invitation to attend an awards function for Indian sportswomen slated to be held on March 8. Vempati had been invited for the BBC’s Indian Sportswoman of the Year awards ceremony, to celebrating the UN International Women’s Day. However, in his letter to BBC Director General Tony Hall, he said, “I must respectfully decline the invitation in view of the recent coverage of the BBC of certain incidents of violence in Delhi. “As a fellow public broadcaster of global repute, it is dismaying that the BBC has filed such a singularly one-sided version of the incidents of violence in Delhi which rather than help break the cycle of violence has only contributed to further vitiating the atmosphere while insinuating the brave men and women in uniform who are charged with the onerous responsibility of maintaining law and order.” According to him, BBC’s report showed certain visuals of the Delhi Police without context to insinuate communal behaviour. He further noted, unfortunately, nowhere in the entire report have the BBC journalists mentioned the murderous assault on the men in uniform by a mob which resulted in the death of a head constable in the line of duty and also resulted in the fatal injuries received by a deputy commissioner of police in uniform. The report was also “damningly silent” on the murder of an Intelligence Bureau official. He concluded, “BBC and Prasar Bharati must respect the sovereignty of the nations we primarily serve even as we collaborate beyond borders on multilateral fora for the greater global good. “I hope the BBC would review its editorial views on reports of this nature in line with this spirit.”






14 - 20 March 2020

Gone with the vape: Is vaping better than smoking? Priyanka Mehta A recent Public Health England (PHE) report launched on Wednesday, 4th March highlights that an increasing number of people “mistakenly” believe that e-cigarettes are more harmful than smoking. This national nosmoking day, the UK health experts explain why vaping is considered as an alternative and perhaps an aid for smoking addicts even as the US dictates a ban on vaping. Vaping has become the focal point of debate among health experts over the last five years ever since flavoured e-cigarettes started gaining ground among young cigarette smokers. Ecigarettes heat the nicotine that is extracted from tobacco alongside other chemicals which results in the creation of something called the ‘aerosol’. This aerosol is inhaled in the process of vaping. Although e-cigarettes are considered to be harmful to the lungs, health authorities in the UK continuously assert that there have been no deaths reported that can be attributed directly to vaping or caused due to vaping alone. They believe that because of its contained nature, e-cigarettes expose an individual to fewer toxins and chemicals as opposed to potentially being exposed to 7,000 toxins during a traditional cigarette smoking process. “The report from PHE is a welcome addition to the current evidence on eCigarettes and a positive step in helping to ensure the public is well informed. While there are clear potential benefits to their use in reducing the harms associated with smoking, it is vital that usage trends are monitored and any risks to health are identified and minimised. “Smoking tobacco remains a leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK. If we are to achieve a smokefree society by 2030 we need bold action aimed at industry and significantly improved funding for smoking cessation services,” explains Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, in a statement to the Asian Voice.

Vaping is 95% better than smoking However, health experts have raised alarm bells over the false fears circulating in the media over vaping. The concept that using regulated nicotine vapes is far less

harmful than smoking is being sidelined in the UK especially following the USA’s ban on flavoured ecigarettes. Last month, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it had recorded more than 2,800 cases of lung injury linked to vaping. PHE itself notes that smoking causes 220 premature deaths a day in England alone. However, PHE also notes that vaping is 95% safer than smoking. Over the years, vape shops, ecigarette manufacturers and tobacco sellers have quoted both the NHS and the PHE in reaching out to their potential market. “Vaping is 97% safer than smoking, according to NHS and Cancer Research UK,” it reads on the storefronts of some Professor Dame Parveen Kumar of the vape shops operating in London’s Oxford death and the misinformaStreet. Over the last half a tion that has been circulatdecade, the UK has seen a ed in the media over recent phenomenal increase in the months has undoubtedly number of vape shops both had a knock-on effect for on the high street as well as people’s confidence in the online retailers. The range safety of vaping products. of e-cigarettes from the type “We have seen this first of brand to the size of the ehand with a significant drop

cigarette and the flavour in which they are available has also seen a massive expansion.

Nicotine salt liquids and pod kits continue to be popular Vape Superstore was launched in 2014 and in the last six years, the store reports of sustained and significant growth in their business. Now, one of the biggest online vaping retailers in the UK, Vape Superstore is helping people move away from cigarettes and live a healthier lifestyle. Ed Swain is the Director of Vape Superstore and speaking to the Asian Voice, he said, “PHE's continued support of vaping as a safer alternative to smoking makes for welcome reading. Smoking is still the single biggest cause of preventable

in sales during the last quarter of 2019. There are signs that consumer confidence is returning and in the first two months of 2020 sales have started to bounce back. PHE report will only help restore this confidence. However, I feel it will take some time to convince smokers that vaping is a safe smoking cessation option.” Swain explains that in terms of product popularity, there is a huge increase in demand for nicotine salt liquids and the market for pod kits seems to continue to grow. He attributes this growth to their simple usage system thus, making them a popular product amongst first time users. In terms of liquid brands, he claims that there is a continuing preference for the popular US and Malaysian brands like Nasty Juice, Twelve Monkeys and Element.

‘Totally Wicked’ vaping products now at Sainsbury Besides, Vape Superstore, billionaire brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa also operate a 24*7 vaping shop ‘Totally Wicked’ which is the UK’s first dedicated 24*7 vaping store. In 2019 the company announced it was going to be selling its products in more than 440 WHSmith stores. Now, it has announced that its e-liquids will be available to buy in more than 340 Sainsbury's stores nationwide. There is no smoke or tar involved in e-cigarette smoking, but there are small amounts of chemical flavourings, including diacetyl, which has been linked to lung disease, and propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin. If the e-liquid overheats, formaldehyde can be formed. The PHE argues for a monitored consumption of vaping. Yet, anti-smoking activists and campaigners across the UK argue that instead of helping the addicts quit their smoking habits, these manufacturers are getting the young people attracted and addicted to increased amounts of flavoured nicotine. This they believe will have an opposite effect on smokers who will then retract back to cigarette smoking patterns. However, John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies addresses his concerns of the PHE report and such “misleading and false fears”. Noting that these findings were “disturbing”, he urged for campaigns to ensure that “all smokers understand that switching to e-cigarettes is one of the most effective ways of quitting smoking and protecting their health”. Now, PHE’s support for e-cigarettes as a solution to help people quit smoking is also re-asserted by other health authorities, such as the Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research UK. They highlight that the UK regulates smoking and vaping far more rigorously than the US. The UK health and safety regulations ensure that there is constant monitoring on age, and health warnings, and caps on the nicotine content. Marketing to young people (i.e. anyone below the age of sixteen) is forbidden – e-cigarettes cannot be advertised on TV. There is less nicotine in Juul pods or e-cigarette cartridges sold in the UK. But, the jury continues to be out around vaping and it’s illeffects on health.

NHS warns against smoking during pregnancy especially during Coronavirus epidemic

The NHS England report highlights that more than 61,000 pregnant women were still smoking last year during their pregnancy. It further notes that the percentage of pregnant smokers fell from 14.6% in 200809 to 10.6% in 2018-19. However, it believes more needs to be done to increase awareness of the complications that smoking can cause during pregnancy. Wednesday 11th March marks as the national nosmoking day in the UK. As part of its no-smoking campaign, the NHS has warned pregnant mothers of increasing risks smoking poses to the unborn baby. These include the risks of premature birth, baby’s restricted heartbeat, less weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). At worst it can also result in a still-born. However, following their birth as well some babies whose parents smoke are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia during their first year. There are also increased risks of infections, particularly things like glue ear and upper respiratory tract infections in babies born to women who smoke. Sanjeeda* (name changed upon request) is a mother of two children and a resident in the Canary Wharf district of London. In a statement to the Asian Voice, she said, “I go through different phases of smoking. Most of the times it is usually stress that triggers my intense smoking phase but then there is indulgence around social smoking, occasional social smoking and sometimes I don’t smoke at all. “I was aware of the complications that can arise in my pregnancy due to my smoking habits. And therefore I gave up on smoking both times when I gave birth to my two daughters.” The NHS report noted that one in five pregnant

smokers were from Blackpool, Corby, Durham, Mansfield. In comparison in London, only one in 20 pregnant women were smoking when they gave birth. There is no clear data to indicate the percentage of Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority (BAME) pregnant women who are aware of the complications that smoking during pregnancy can cause. However, the NHS also notes that adults of Black, Asian, or Chinese ethnicities were less likely to be current smokers than those of mixed, white, or other ethnicities. The current national ambition of the NHS is to achieve a level of 6% or less number of pregnant smokers by 2022. The latest epidemic of Covid-19 has made it worse for smoking addicts. Although, the UK government says there is no obvious sign that pregnant women are more likely to be severely affected by the coronavirus. However, health experts are quick to note that this conclusion is derived from sampling nine pregnant women across the UK and therefore, it is still early days to reach a decisive result. While some women have reported of difficulties around quitting smoking, Sanjeeda said, “It was not at all difficult for me to completely give up smoking habits during my pregnancy and I never resorted to any other alternatives of vaping or alcohol either.” Health experts advise women to practice yoga and meditation sessions for women who cannot give up smoking. They must always seek medical advice when looking to give up smoking as some medication, such as stop smoking tablets are not recommended during pregnancy. GPs, midwives, pharmacists, and specialist stop smoking advisors should all be able to offer suitable and further support.





14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

Dear Financial Voice Reader, Alpesh Patel Dear Financial Voice Reader, Sooner or later you will ask yourself whether you should add to a losing stock position. The reasoning will be tempting; ‘if it was good at 100p, then it must be better at 80p’. Such lore is especially popular on online bulletin boards. But stop. This and other trading myths are costly, yet pervasive – they burrow around in online portals disguised as ‘underground investment secrets’ awaiting the unwitting. Read what the professional traders say first and it will save you money. Take ‘buying more at a lower price’, other variations of this include, ‘pyramiding’. The idea is that by buying more stock as the price falls, you reduce your average purchase price and so lower your breakeven point. For instance, if you bought £5,000 of Invensys shares at 100p, then another £5,000 worth when the stock halved in price to 50p, the point at which you would break-even moves from 100p to only 66p. It is tempting. Don’t do it. Trading is not about ‘getting a win’ on any one trade; it is about limiting your losses and maximising your gains over all your trades. If you ‘average down’ then you’re simply less diversified and own twice as much of a company whose price keeps falling. That’s fine if you think it is the best place out of 3,000 listed stocks for your money, bad if you just want to ‘get a win’. Moreover, novice investors often confuse price with value. I know my wife does when shopping. A falling price does not mean a cheaper stock. The value of a stock can be measured by earnings, assets it holds, and other ways. A falling price could reflect simply lower expectations of value. The investor should instead consider ‘in which stock can I best make a return’? It would be great coincidence if the answer is ‘the very same one which has been returning me a loss.’ Another favourite among bulletin boardsters is ‘pound or dollar cost averaging’. It is a sensible idea but overstated. For example, if you had £12,000 that you wanted to invest in a stock, they would tell you to invest £1000 per month over a year, rather than investing the whole amount immediately. The rationale is that you will automatically be purchasing more shares when the price is low, and fewer shares when the price is high. However, since 1950, dollar cost averaging with the S&P 500 has actually failed to beat investing the lump sum at the start of the year in two years out of three. Of course, cost averaging will win if your start date falls right before a dramatic crash or at the start of an overall 12 month slump. Since we are playing with numbers, there are two further tricks the markets play worth remembering. First is the ‘it’s down 40%, so it only has to rise 40% to break-even’ mistake. If a stock moves down, say, 40%, then it has to rise more, a whopping 66%, before you are back to break-even. Equally, if the stock moves up 40%, then it only has to move down just 28% for you to get all the way back down to break-even. So a 40% rise does not afford you as much protection from a downturn as you might have thought. Sadly, private investors often have a fixation for making back their losses in the same stock in which they incurred them. Mark Twain had the best advice for the investor who, loaded with market myths, becomes overly confident in his abilities: ““April. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate. The others are July, October, December, January, March, May…”

Oil firm Shell to end its ties with BFI, Southbank Centre Oil firm Shell is to end its relationship with two of the UK’s leading arts institutions amid growing concern about oil’s role in the escalating climate crisis.

The fossil fuel corporation has confirmed it is not renewing its corporate membership deals with the Southbank Centre and the British Film Institute (BFI) when they come up for renewal later this year. Campaigners say the decision underlines the shrinking “social licence” of fossil fuel companies in the midst of the climate crisis. It follows similar moves by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), National Theatre and National Galleries Scotland, which have all severed ties with major oil companies last year. Chris Garrard, from the campaign group Culture Unstained, said the end of Shell’s involvement with the

BFI and the Southbank Centre was a crucial milestone in the campaign. “From its HQ on the South Bank, Shell has pursued a business plan that has trampled indigenous people’s rights and pushed the world deeper into climate crisis,” said Garrard. “Meanwhile, it has sponsored its cultural neighbours as part of a cynical attempt to deflect attention from the damage it was causing. But the show is over for Shell.” A spokesperson for Shell said the decision not to renew the contracts had been taken last year and mutually agreed with the Southbank and the BFI. “Last year we decided not to renew annual memberships with the BFI or the Southbank Centre, collectively worth around £20,000, when they expire later this year,” it said. The BFI confirmed it had been Shell’s decision.

Harriet Finney, the BFI’s director of external affairs, said the institute was “committed to supporting a sustainable future”. “We are in the process of reviewing the impact of our own activities across all our sites; how we can better support the UK’s screen industries to move towards sustainable practice and how we respond culturally to the climate and ecological emergency.” The Southbank Centre has had a relationship with Shell stretching back to 2006 and lists the company as a partner on its website. A spokesperson said the decision to end the two-year corporate membership had been mutual and declined to comment further. The leading tenor Mark Padmore, who will perform at the Royal Festival Hall in October, said he was delight-

Virgin Airlines flies near-empty as Covid-19 continues to affect businesses British airways Virgin Atlantic has confirmed it has been flying some nearempty flights after bookings took a hit due to the coronavirus outbreak. The airlines is operating the flights to try and retake take-off and landing slots at major airports such as Heathrow. European law dictates if flights are not operated, slots have to be forfeited. British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote to the European Commission, asking for

rules on slot allocation to be relaxed during the outbreak. Number of air travellers have taken a dramatic hit in recent weeks, due to the coronavirus outbreak. As airlines continue to battle it out for slots, there are certain details one needs to

know. They are granted according to historical rights at certain airports, including Heathrow. However, under the 'use it or lose it' rule, these slots have to be used at least 80 per cent of the time. If an airline fails to reach the mark, the slots are allocated to other carriers. Chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, Shai Weiss said, “Passenger demand for air travel has dramatically fallen due to COVID-19 and in some instances we are being forced to fly almost empty

planes or lose our valuable slots.” Tim Alderslade, chief executive of the industry body Airlines UK, said, “It makes no sense whatsoever under these unique and challenging circumstances to force airlines to fly empty aircraft, wasting money and fuel and creating carbon emissions. We urgently need a temporary suspension of the rule - as happened during the financial crisis - to allow airlines to respond to demand and use their aircraft efficiently."

Chinese steelmaker Jingye Tesco sells stores in Thailand, Malaysia Group buys British Steel China's Jingye Group has completed its buyout of British Steel, helping the business and saving over 3,000 jobs. The group released a statement saying it had completed the acquisition of British Steel's UK and Dutch assets from the official receiver. It also confirmed its plans to invest £1.2bn in the company. Around 3,200 employees have already been offered contracts.

Last week, Jingye said it would buy British Steel's Scunthorpe plant. Chief Executive Li Huiming said, “It has not been an easy journey since we first announced our intentions in November.” The company statement implied hope to buy the French operations at Hayange. It added the move is “still subject to further negotiations with the relevant authorities in France and is hoped to be concluded separately.”

UK retail giant Tesco has agreed to sell its operations in Thailand and Malaysia for £8bn. Chief executive Dave Lewis said the sale would allow the conglomerate to “further simplify and focus” its business. Tesco has 2,000 stores across both countries under the Tesco Lotus brand and is set to hand them over to Thai conglomerate CP Group. Lewis said £5bn of the proceeds would be returned to shareholders via a special div-

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ed with Shell’s decision. “Today, more than ever, we all need to examine our way of life and the implications of our actions, as we respond to the growing climate emergency,” he said. “Making beautiful music does not excuse us from seeking to understand how our work is funded and asking questions about the kind of unsustainable businesses those partnerships might promote.” Last year, the actor Mark Rylance resigned as an associate artist with the RSC after 30 years over its sponsorship deal with BP, arguing it allowed the company to “obscure the destructive reality of its activities”.

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idend. The company had revealed in December it had received interest for its Asian stores, which employ about 60,000 people, but did not reveal the bidders. It said the sale would also slash debt and streamline the group, enabling a “stronger focus” on UK, Irish, and central European activities. The sale comes at a time when Lewis prepares to step down. He has cut thousands of jobs as part of a massive cost-cutting programme.

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14 - 20 March 2020


Suresh Vagjiani Sow & Reap London Property Investment

I had a call from an agent with whom we have worked with many times, for sourcing property. This time he had a request from me. He had an overseas buyer aggressively looking for hotels in London, he was flush with money and had already purchased a few buildings.

renting it for as little as one day. The apart-hotel would dispense with the need for communal spaces and minimum room requirements. Therefore, you could now fit for example 14 rooms into the same space.

Coincidentally, I was aware of a client, for whom we arranged finance for a hotel many years ago, who is selling up. His aim is to upgrade and purchase larger hotels.

In truth I could not get my head around the concept, and was unsure how one would test whether there was demand there. This is unknown territory for me, both from whether the demand exists and logistically on how this would operate, as essentially you’re running a hotel, albeit a mini one.

A viewing was arranged for the buyer and his wife. What was very strange to me was he did not know the area at all, and was asking about the vicinity of the train stations. After interrogating the manager of the hotel, it was clear there was interest. This increased once he took a walk around the location; the next day he was very keen. The hotel is located in Hammersmith, on the borders of Fulham. It was once a snooker hall. I remember it well. When it was purchased, I had a slate snooker table out of the deal. I kept it for all of 3 months, after which I got bored, and missed the space. I managed to fish out some interesting information from the experience. Coincidentally, we are purchasing a shop and uppers just down the road from the hotel, on behalf of another client. The property already has planning for a 7 room HMO. However, the current owner has had a pre app for an aparthotel. This allows one to short let the property,

This point was addressed by the general manger, who said the demand for this type of accommodation is extremely strong and his hotel’s occupancy is running at about 90%, assuming you take out the current Coronavirus episode. He was also well able to help with the logistics of how this would function. The project needs to be considered by looking at the weakest link and addressing this. This was the missing piece of the puzzle, which will take this investment to another level. The aim was always to refinance, taking out most of the investors’ money and keep this as a cash generator. This plan, if implemented and run correctly, would serve the investors very well. If this works well it could serve as a model to replicate.

The problem with property is there is too much information available. From a privacy point of view, whether some of the information should be made available publicly is actually questionable. With this level of information anyone can work out whether a flat in a block of flats is a deal or not. It’s not rocket science. When you’re purchasing a development deal, you can know what you hope to sell the flats for, and roughly the build costs. Here’s where people who have their own build team can save the margin on the build. The point being, with this level of information out for everyone to see, one needs to dig harder to find how to further enhance a deal. Then you can develop an edge, otherwise you are simply playing with the same tools everyone else is.

AGONY AGENT IS HERE TO HELP! Q. My tenants have split up, what should I do? A.  Break-ups can be a mess and as much as your tenants might try and get you involved in the nitty-gritty of the split, don’t.  It is not your place to do so.  Stay professional. Find out what the tenants want to do. Does one of them want to stay on?  If so, are you sure they will be able to afford the rent, plus bills? If they can afford the rent and bills, you can let them stay on, but you may want to change the tenancy agreement.  If you do choose to change the tenancy agreement then you will have to refund any deposit taken and ask for a new deposit, which you’ll then have to re-protect.  Please don’t miss out this step.  It is very

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important to ensure any deposits taken from tenants are protected in one of the Government approved tenancy deposit schemes. If you think the tenant who wants to stay can’t afford the rent on their own, and you have no legal right to chase the former tenant for rent, then you may be better off issuing a Section 21. If they both want to leave, then you can accept notice from them, and end the tenancy in the normal manner. If there is still a fixed term to wait out, then they are contractually obliged to pay rent until the end of the fixed term agreement. You may wish to negotiate with the tenants on this point though, because really your

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new focus now should be on getting new tenants in. If there is a history of rent arrears or persistently late rent, then you may be able to use a Section 8 to get them out. However, if you know the tenant can’t really afford to live in the property without the second income, but there have been no arrears in the past, you may have to sit and wait until the rent is sufficiently late to allow you to issue a Section 8, or until their fixed term ends.  If you can’t issue a Section 8, then issue a Section 21 as soon as you can, and as soon as you believe there may be a problem.  Whatever you do, always keep the lines of communication open between you and your tenants. Do get in touch if you need any assistance.

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14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

BSE sensex suffers worst oneday loss The 30-scrip Bombay Stock Exchange sensex, recorded its biggest single-day fall, tumbling 1,942 points or 5.2% to 35,635 on Monday in tune with the worst day for global stockmarkets. Already anxious about the coronavirus impact and sliding oil prices, Dalal Street caved in under fears of financial instability in India due to the crisis at Yes Bank, the country's fourth largest private sector lender. Reliance Industries closed an unprecedented 12% lower, resulting in it losing its crown as the most valued company in India to software services major TCS. All 30 sensex stocks closed the day in the red with ICICI Bank, TCS and HDFC Bank also among the top contributors to the index’s loss. The day’s selling was led by foreign funds, which recorded a

net outflow of almost £660 million while domestic funds cushioned the crash with net buying of nearly £500 million. The sensex is nearing bear territory, which would be at 33,800 points. Countries like Japan, Singapore and Philippines have already entered the dreaded zone while Australia and Hong Kong are within touching distance of doing so. An index is said be in bear territory if it falls 20% from its peak. For the sensex, the alltime peak of 42,274 was recorded on January 20 this year. It’s been just a couple of months since then, but to battered investors, it seems like a long time ago. Around the globe, in early trade the Dow Jones Index had hit its pre-fixed lower circuit filter of 7% and trading on Wall Street was stopped for 15 min-

utes. In the UK FTSE was down 6.6% in late trades while Germany’s Dax was down 6.7% and Brazil’s Ibovespa was down nearly 9%. Earlier in the day, in Japan, the Nikkei closed 5.1% lower while Hang Seng settled 4.2% lower. According to Deepak Jasani, head, retail research, HDFC Securities, India is facing a deluge of negative triggers while the global markets are plunging after the break of the alliance between Opec and Russia, which combined to result in the

worst one-day crash in crude prices (more than 30%) in nearly 30 years, fueling panic among investors across asset classes, with escalation of the coronavirus epidemic adding to the fears. The sell-off on D Street was also aggravated by selling by foreign funds which pulled the rupee down to below the 74 mark to the dollar. On the other hand, gold prices continued to rise with the day’s high at close to Rs 44,000 per 10 grams in the city.

SC quashes RBI ban on cryptocurrencies The Supreme Court has revoked the ban of cryptocurrency imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2018. Pronouncing the verdict, the three-judge bench of the apex court said the ban was 'disproportionate'. The bench included Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice V Ramasubramanian. The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), whose members include cryptocurrency exchanges, and others had approached the top court objecting to a 2018 RBI circular directing regulated entities to

not deal with cryptocurrencies. Advocate Ashim Sood, appearing for IAMI, submitted that Reserve Bank of India lacked jurisdiction to forbid dealings in cryptocurrencies. The blanket ban was based on an erroneous understanding that it

Cabinet nod for mergers of 10 state-run banks The Union cabinet has approved the amalgamation of 10 state-run banks to create four large entities from April 1. “Sticking to the April 1, 2020 deadline, banks are fully on board. The Cabinet may have given the decision today, they were on course and doing everything that requires to be done so that this (amalgamation) will be effective from April 1,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said after the Cabinet meeting. While the merger had been announced in August, the scheme had to be approved by the Cabinet and bankers fear that the government took time in endorsing the decision as several regulatory requirements have to be completed over the next four weeks. The banks have been coordinating to work out the post-merger operational details. But before that, the swap ratio and other regulatory approvals from the RBI and Sebi need to be in place. According to the merger plan, Punjab National Bank will take over Oriental Bank of Commerce and United Bank of India, while Syndicate Bank will merge into Canara Bank. Similarly, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will merge into Union Bank of India, and Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank. Government believes that the exercise will create seven large public sector entities with scale and national reach, with each amalgamated entity having business of over £80 billion.

was impossible to regulate cryptocurrencies, Sood submitted. The petitioners had argued that the RBI's circular taking cryptocurrencies out of the banking channels would deplete the ability of law enforcement agencies to regulate illegal activities in the industry. IAMAI had claimed the move of RBI had effectively banned legitimate business activity via the virtual currencies (VCs). The RBI on April 6, 2018, had issued the circular that barred RBI-regulated entities from "providing any service in relation to virtual currencies, including those of transfer or

receipt of money in accounts relating to the purchase or sale of virtual currencies". The verdict would allow companies in the sector to use the banking platform to trade and transact in cryptocurrency. The central bank had contended that allowing cryptocurrency (bitcoins) compromised the integrity of the banking system. When the consistent stand of RBI is that they have not banned VCs and when the Government of India is unable to take a call despite several committees coming up with several proposals including two draft bills.

HC dismisses Chanda Kochhar's plea against dismissal The Bombay High Court has dismissed a petition by Chanda Kochhar against ICICI Bank on her removal as managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) of the bank. A bench comprising judges N.M. Jamdar and M.S. Karnik agreed with the bank that ICICI Bank as a private body is not a part of the writ jurisdiction. “It is not an instrumentality of the state. It receives no public funding. Service conditions of the petitioner are not governed by any statute. The dispute raised in this petition arises from a contract of personal service. The termination of the petitioner is in the realm of contractual relationship," the court said. The bank had argued that the petition was not maintainable as writ petition because there is no public cause in this case, and that the action to remove Kochhar was part of private contractual terms. “It performs no public duty. There is no public law element in

its functioning. It is only a private bank having a purely private character," senior counsel Darius Khambatta argued in favour of the bank. Kochhar moved the court on 30 November seeking remedy against her removal when the board had already accepted her early retirement request. She pointed out that her retirement request was accepted by the bank in October 2018 and in February 2019, the bank issued her a termination letter. Kochhar, in her petition, challenged the “purported termination" and denial of the agreed remuneration. The petition termed the termination of her services by the bank as contravention of law on the grounds that it was without the previous approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), as Section 35B of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 requires priorapproval of the RBI before terminating the services of the managing director of a bank. In the first week of December, the bank pro-

Chanda Kochhar

duced the RBI approval letter in the court, forcing Kochhar to file an amended plea. India’s second largest private sector bank decided to terminate Kochhar after a committee led by Justice B.N. Srikrishna found that Videocon Industries was granted loans by ICICI Bank and, in quid pro quo, Videocon invested in Nupower Renewables, the company of Kochhar’s husband. While the committee indicted Chanda Kochhar, the board sacked her earlier this year after taking into consideration the Srikrishna report. The board also informed Kochhar that it has decided to treat her separation from the bank as “termination for cause" under its internal policies.

in brief


The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a case against Jet Airways founder Naresh Goyal under the Prevention of Naresh Goyal Money Laundering Act (PMLA). Goyal was earlier probed by ED under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for alleged violations of foreign direct investment (FDI) norms. The recent complaint against Goyal and his wife, Anita, was filed at a police station in Mumbai for allegedly cheating a travel company of £4.6 million. The complaint was made by Rajendran Neruparambil, chief finance officer of the Akbar Travels of India Private Limited, which has its office in South Mumbai.


A meeting of the Union Cabinet amended the FDI policy for Air India to allow its 100% ownership by Indian national NRIs through the automatic route without violating the substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC) norms. Simply put, even if AI is fully owned by NRIs, its SOEC will deemed to be with Indians, thereby protecting its rights to fly abroad under bilaterals of India with those countries and the Maharaja’s slots at international airports. Apart from the Tata Group, two London-based NRI business houses are also reportedly looking at the Maharaja with interest. Potential buyers have to submit their expression of interest by March 17.


Cognizant has temporarily shut one of its Hyderabad offices and advised all employees there to work from home even as several other tech companies encouraged their staff across India to rely on remote working and telecommuting wherever possible till the novel coronavirus threat eases. Hyderabad has already seen attendance in offices of tech companies down 30 to 40%, sources said. Chennai-headquartered Zoho said it had adopted the work-from-home model as its “default” option for offices worldwide, although no staff member has tested positive. “Our employees are encouraged to come to the office only when absolutely essential. We will continue this policy until the virus threat passes,” Zoho’s founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu tweeted. Paytm had advised its employees to work from home after an employee in Gurgaon tested positive for the virus. Tech Mahindra, too, has asked employees to rely on technologies to fulfil their responsibilities without putting health at risk.


The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has directed the Competition Commission of India (CCI) to start investigating e-commerce firm Flipkart for alleged misuse of its dominant position in the market. The competition regulator had earlier disposed of AIOVA’s appeal for a probe into Flipkart, which is owned by US retail major Walmart. But NCLAT set aside the CCI order and asked the director general to begin investigation. The move comes at a time when CCI had begun a probe into Amazon India and Flipkart. The probe was launched in January this year based on a complaint by the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh. But the Karnataka high court gave both Amazon and Flipkart a stay on CCI’s investigation last month after the two e-tailers, who control 70-80% of the market, filed an appeal.






14 Mar- 20 Mar 2020

Pak women seek equal rights, freedom ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of women in various cities of Pakistan on Sunday participated in protests to mark the International Women's Day and demanded equal rights and better opportunities for them in the country. The protests, which were held under the banner of 'Aurat March', was also attended by children, men and transgenders in various cities, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Multan and Queta. In Karachi, protests were held outside the Frere Hall, the Karachi Press Club and the Teen Talwar. Similar protests were also organised in other cities of Sindh province, including Khairpur, Shikarpur, Sukkur and Nangarparkar.

In Lahore, the protesters carrying placards gathered at the Lahore Press Club and marched through Egerton Road to culminate at Aiwane-Iqbal. The marchers chanted slogan for equal rights and freedom of women. In capital Islamabad, a big gathering of women was held outside the National Press Club where women activists and their supporters chanted slogans against the harsh restrictions against women in the Pakistani society. Separately, female members of the political group Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) held a march in Islamabad. JI chief Sirajul Haq addressed the gathering at China Chowk. Women students of Jamia Hafsa, which is linked with Lal Masjid also took out a rally in Islamabad.

Sindhis protest against persecution of minorities in Pakistan

marched through Pakistan's capital. Women and men joined the event in Islamabad. Hundreds of men and women from the Red Mosque brigade, consisting of several local militant groups, and a Taliban allied religious party staged a rival rally just across from the women's march venue, District Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat said. Police official Mazhar Niazi said the officers blocked the Islamists as they tried to break through a cordon to attack the marchers. A witness and Niazi said the Islamists threw stones, bricks, sticks and shoes at the marchers. Niazi said no one was injured. He said a criminal case would be registered against

Thousands of Pakistani women take out rally on Sunday

President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan in their separate messages voiced support for right of women. Khan said that observing International Women's Day is a 'reiteration of our commitment to undertake every possible effort to ensure equal rights and opportunities to our women'.

'It is indeed encouraging to see that our women are proving their mettle in every walk of life and achieving excellence in their respective fields at national and international level,� he said Islamists hurl stones and shoes Islamists pelted women campaigners with stones, shoes and sticks as they

the Islamists for violating the law and attempting to attack the women's march. The event organisers said some of those marching hit by stones and bricks were injured. One of the organisers Ammar Rashid posted a photo on Twitter of a secular woman leader Ismat Shahjahan with a head injury. Police said they were investigating the claim. There has been an uproar in conservative circles over slogans used at the past two such events, including "My body, my choice", "My body is not your battleground" and "Stop being menstrual phobic". Following last year's event, organisers said they faced a backlash including murder and rape threats.

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Sindhis stage protest in front of the United Nations office in Geneva

GENEVA (SWITZERLAND): The World Sindhi Congress held a demonstration in front of the United Nations office in Geneva to raise the issue of the persecution of minorities, especially the Hindus, in the Sindh province of Pakistan. The Sindhis were joined by Pashtun, Kashmiri and Baloch political activists. They also raised concerns over the enforced disappearances of Sindhi political activists and shouted slogans against the Pakistani Army. "The Pakistani Army is supporting these fundamentalists who are kidnapping our minor Hindu girls. The persecution against the minorities has enormously increased in the past few months," said Hidayat Bhutto, a member of the World Sindhi Congress. In recent years, several incidents of forced abduction and conversion of Hindu girls by the Muslims have shaken the minority community in Pakistan and they have demanded justice to save their religion, culture, and ethos. The protesters called Pakistan an abuser of human rights and demanded justice for Mehak Kumari. Mehak was abducted by a middle-aged man, Ali Raza, from the Jacobabad district of Sindh province on January 15. The girl said she was forced to accept Islam, causing a widespread furore among the Islamic fanatics. Some Pakistani clerics want the minor girl dead after she retracted her previous statement in the court, where she said that she had accepted Islam of her own free will. The clerics blamed 14-year old Mehak of murtad, or an act of Apostasy, and are demanding death punishment, accusing her of insulting Islam. Meanwhile, the court which is yet to announce the verdict has sent Mehak Kumari to a local Dar-ul-Aman in Larkana district of Sindh. "This has happened to thousands of girls and not a single perpetrator has ever been punished. This is a systematic design to persecute Sindhis so that they leave. They want to occupy Sindh," said Lakhu Luhana, the Secretary-General of the World Sindhi Congress. Luhana urged the world community to increase pressure on Pakistan to act on the perpetrators and stop the persecution of the Sindhi community. "We need the support of the international community. They should increase the pressure on Pakistan otherwise they would not listen and the people of Sindh would continue to suffer," he said. The abduction and forceful conversion of Hindu and Christian girls is widespread in Pakistan. Such incidents have sparked widespread criticism as many victim families are forced the migrate in foreign countries, including India.

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Learn the inner workings of executing auction deals. A live panel of experts will guide you through the auction maze from a planning, financing and legal perspective. We will be analysing deals which will be coming up in an auction shortly after our event. This will give our audience a rare 360 degree view point of the auction environment. Panel of experts Ravi Pankhania, Director, Nacropolis Group. London's leading property development company specialising in developing listed buildings, conversions from commercial to residential and new-build projects.

Pragnesh Modhwadia is one of the founding Partners of Axiom Stone Solicitors. Pragnesh specialises in Real Estate. Deals in developments ranging from single-unit prime properties to local regeneration projects.

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14 Mar- 20 Mar 2020

Lanka Cardinal threatens stir over Easter Sunday attack probe Colombo: The head of a local Catholic church in Sri Lanka threatened to take to the streets if a transparent probe is not conducted in the last year's devastating Easter Sunday terror attack that killed over 250 people. Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith said there must be thorough questioning as to how the bombings took place on April 21 and who helped the attackers. Nine suicide bombers belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels on the Easter Sunday, killing 258 people, including 11 Indians. 'I will not hesitate to hit the streets to safeguard the rights of our people', Ranjith told

Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith

reporters at a religious event at Ragama in north Colombo. The Cardinal said that although he was happy with the ongoing presidential probe launched by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's predecessor Maithripala Sirisena, yet he saw a process that lacked transparency. 'I can sense that some of the things which need to come out are being hidden – who was responsible?, who aided them

and kept contact with them (the jihadi group)?,' he asked. 'There must be questioning from the highest to the very lowest level,' he said. In February, the Sri Lankan government appointed a sixmember team to help police collect authentic information and expedite an ongoing presidential probe into the devastating attack. President Rajapaksa decided to 'speed up

the ongoing investigation into the attack which had proved crucial in his decisive electoral victory last November. Rajapaksa used the Easter Sunday terrorist attack to portray himself as the leader who could stop terrorism. The voters gave him a big mandate and elected him as President in November last year. Rajapaksa stormed to victory, trouncing his nearest rival Sajith Premadasa by a margin of over 13,00,000 votes - 52.25 per cent of votes polled against 41.99 per cent. The previous government headed by Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe was blamed for its inability to prevent the attacks despite the prior intelligence made available on the impending attack. Rajapaksa, who pledged an independent probe, continued with the same panel appointed by Sirisena.

US starts troop pullout, seeks end to Afghan leaders' feud KABUL: The United States began withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the US military said, taking a step forward on its peace deal with the Taliban while also praising Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's promise to start releasing Taliban prisoners after he had delayed for over a week. The US-Taliban deal signed on Feb. 29 was touted as Washington's effort to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan. The next crucial step was to be intraAfghan talks in which all factions, including the Taliban would negotiate a road map for their country's future. But Ghani and his main political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, were each sworn in as president in separate ceremonies on Monday. Abdallah and the elections complaints commission had charged fraud in last year's vote.

The dueling inaugurations have thrown plans for talks with the Taliban into chaos, although Ghani said that he'd start putting together a negotiating team. The disarray on the Afghan government side is indicative of the uphill task facing Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad as he tries to get Afghanistan's bickering leadership to come together. In an early tweet, Khalilzad said he hoped the two leaders can “come to an agreement on an inclusive and broadly accepted government. We will continue to assist.” US military spokesman in Afghanistan Sonny Leggett said the military had begun its “conditions-based reduction of forces to 8,600 over 135 days.” Currently the US has about 13,000 soldiers in Afghanistan 8,000 of whom are involved in training and advising

Sunehri Masjid opens gates to women worshippers PESHAWAR: Female worshippers can now pray at Peshawar's famous Sunehri Masjid after 23 years, a move welcomed by women's groups, according to a media report. Around 20 women offered prayers on Friday after the mosque administration announced the move, the Dawn News reported. Provisions have been made for women to offer Friday prayers in the hall on the upper floor of the mosque, read a banner put up by the mosque adminstration. Women will also be allowed for Eid prayers. The mosque's naib imam Muhammad Ismail said till 1996 women were allowed to attend Friday prayer congregations but later they were stopped due to growing militancy. 'Now we have opened the upper portion again so that women can offer Friday prayers alongside males in a separate section and listen to Friday khutba (sermon),' the Dawn News quoted Ismail as saying.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (center) speaks after he was sworn in at an inauguration ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul

Afghanistan's National Security Forces, while about 5,000 are involved in anti-terror operations and militarily supporting the Afghan army when they are requested. Ghani had been dragging his feet on releasing some 5,000 Taliban prisoners, something agreed to in the US-Taliban deal. Ghani promised to announce a decree to free the prisoners after the US and a number of foreign dignitaries appeared to back his claim to the

presidency by sending their representatives to his inauguration. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement saying, “We also welcome President Ghani’s announcement that he will issue a decree on Taliban prisoner release.” Taliban officials said that a flurry of biometric identifications were being conducted on Taliban prisoners, hinting at a mass release, according to prisoners currently in lockup.

Pak to ban corporal punishment in schools ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will soon ban corporal punishment in schools across the country but an advisory body on Islamic issues was opposed to the move, a senior minister told a top court. Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the federal Cabinet has approved a bill to ban corporal punishment and it would be introduced for debate and passage by Parliament, Dawn News reported. During the hearing of a petition filed by singer and activist Shehzad Roy against corporal punishment in schools in Pakistan, IHC

Chief Justice Athar Minallah wondered why the bill was not tabled in Parliament though the Cabinet approved it in March 2019. Last month, the IHC ordered a complete ban on corporal punishment in educational institutions operating in the federal capital territory. Justice Minallah had subsequently suspended Section 89 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which allows corporal punishment in some cases in the federal capital territory. Responding to the court's queries, Mazari confirmed that the federal Cabinet had approved the bill and it had to be sent to Parliament now. Roy's lawyer informed the court that lawmaking had

been done in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces to stop violence against the children. Mazari told the court that while her ministry 'fully supports' Roy's petition, the 'law ministry said it is out of your (ministry's) jurisdiction'. Ensuring safety of children from such violence was the 'job of the federal government and it is a human rights issue', remarked Justice Minallah. Explaining why the bill had not been tabled in Parliament despite being okayed by the Cabinet, Mazari said ministry of interior sent it to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CCI) and the council 'raised objections' against it.


A seven-year-old Indian boy with third stage cancer met Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, after his post on social media that he wanted to see his “idol” went viral, media reported. Abdullah Hussain from Hyderabad was featured in a news report, where he said: “Sheikh Hamdan is so cool, adventurous and so kind. I want to meet his pets and I want to see his dresses,” Gulf News reported. In the video, he carried a banner that read: “I am your fan Sheikh Hamdan. I want to meet you.” Sheikh Hamdan posted a picture with Abdullah on Instagram with the caption “Met this courageous boy today”. The boy’s mother told Gulf News that Abdullah’s fondness for Shaikh Hamdan began after he watched a video of the crown prince on YouTube and instantly became his fan.


Tornadoes ripped through Tennessee, claiming at least 23 lives as they destroyed buildings and toppled power lines, hours before the southern US state voted in Super Tuesday primaries. Devastation could be seen across the rubble-strewn state capital Nashville, where a tornado touched down shortly after midnight. Residents described running for their lives as their homes came down around them, with the authorities reporting that tens of thousands were without power. Footage broadcast by the local ABC affiliate showed cars piled up, hangars destroyed and what appeared to be dozens of aircraft smashed into each other at Nashville's John C. Tune Airport. The Nashville police department circulated aerial photographs of many buildings missing roofs and, in at least one neighborhood, homes reduced to piles of rubble standing next to houses that escaped damage.


At least 29 people were killed and dozen more were injured when gunmen opened fire at a ceremony in Afghanistan’s capital attended by prominent political leaders. Two attackers were killed by police, officials said. The Taliban denied they were behind the attack, which came less than a week after the US and the group signed a peace deal that lays out a path for the withdrawal of American forces from the country. While no one has claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, Afghanistan’s upstart Islamic State affiliate has declared war on the country’s minority Shia. Many of those at the ceremony were Shias because it was commemorating the 1995 slaying of Abdul Ali Mazari, the leader of Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras, who are mostly Shia. There were conflicting accounts of the number of casualties in the attack in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of Kabul.


At least four people were killed and 22 others injured when a five-storey residential building collapsed in Karachi, according to media reports. The building collapsed in the city's Gulbahar area. Of the four deceased, one was suspected to be a woman, a Geo News report said. Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar has ordered that the 22 injured be provided with the best possible medical care. The fallen structure's permit has come into question with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah seeking a detailed report on the building's construction. Geo News reported that while one building was completely destroyed, there was extensive damage to two other buildings in the vicinity.





Kamala Harris endorses Joe Biden JACKSON: US Senator Kamala Harris, a Democratic presidential candidate, said she would endorse her onetime rival Joe Biden’s bid for the White House. “I have decided that I am, with great enthusiasm, going to endorse Joe Biden for president of the US,” she said in a message posted on Twitter. “I really believe in him and I have known him for a long time.” Biden has been eager to capitalise on a string of wins in South Carolina and a set of states that voted last Tuesday, where he was helped by the endorsements of one-time rivals Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

Kamala Harris

Biden thanked them and supporters of Harris, fuelling speculation that the former Democratic presidential candidate may be about to endorse him. “We’re going to unite this party and unite this country,” Biden said. Biden has to win a primary against Senator Bernie Sanders in

order to be the Democratic nominee to face Donald Trump in the November presidential election. Democrats in Michigan, Missouri and four other places hold nominating contests on Tuesday. Harris said she would campaign with Biden in Michigan. Harris, a first-term senator for California, was considered a top-tier contender when she launched her quest for the presidency. She also drew attention for a clash with Biden in a presidential debate. But her campaign struggled to raise money and she dropped out.

PM Modi defers Dhaka visit


In conjunction with

14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

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Nominate them for the Asian Voice Charity Awards 2020 by visiting our website w ww.asianvoicecharityawards.com

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Dhaka visit for attending the launch of Bangabandhu's birth centenary celebrations on March 17 has been deferred, Indian External Affairs Ministry said. In response to queries, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for the ministry, said, "We have received formal notification from the Government of Bangladesh that a decision has been taken by them to defer the public events being organised to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the Father of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on account of the detection of cases of coronavirus in Bangladesh, and the larger

Narendra Modi

global public health situation in this regard. "The impact of this deferment applies also to the large gathering planned for March 17 at which the Prime Minister of India was invited." He said, "the Government of Bangladesh has advised us that fresh dates for these commemorative events will be conveyed later. "In this context, Prime

South African president cleared of graft accusations PRETORIA: A South African court on Tuesday ruled in favour of President Cyril Ramaphosa in a probe of suspected money laundering and personal enrichment linked to his 2017 party leadership election campaign fund. Judges dismissed an investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who had accused Ramaphosa of misleading parliament over his campaign financing. In a damning report last year, Mkhwebane - South Africa's ethics watchdog - published findings concerning a 500,000 rand ($31,460) donation to Ramaphosa's campaign from a company that is facing extensive corruption allegations. Ramaphosa initially told lawmakers the payment was to his son for consultancy work at the company, now known as African Global Operations (AGO). He later backtracked and said it was a donation towards his campaign to become ANC party leader - a hard-fought battle in which he beat ex-president Jacob Zuma's chosen candidate in 2017. Mkhwebane accused Ramaphosa of deliberately misleading parliament for illegal purposes.

Minister's visit to Bangladesh next week at the invitation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is being deferred." He also said, "While expressing understanding of the circumstances that necessitates this deferment, India is ready to work with Bangladesh, as partners, to combat the spread of this disease in our shared neighbourhood."

Exim Bank again rejects Uganda's loan request KAMPALA: China’s Exim Bank has once again rejected Uganda’s fresh application for a standard gauge railway loan, indicating a longer wait for Kampala’s dream of realising a modern transit system. Exim Bank, in a response to Uganda’s application for financing re-submitted in September last year, insists there must be clarification on whether Kenya’s SGR will terminate at the border to guarantee smooth connectivity. The Chinese responded to Kampala’s request in January this year. Uganda re-submitted the loan application after changing the scope of works and revising the cost for the 273km project reduced by $26 million to $2.269 billion. “The China Exim Bank has responded and sought clarification on the connectivity of Uganda SGR and Kenya SGR since Kenya has slowed down on the progress. Discussions are going on at a high level between Kenya and Uganda to agree on new timelines,” project co-ordinator, Mr Perez Wamburu said. Kenya’s High Commissioner to Uganda, Kiema Kilonzo, said Nairobi remains committed to the project.

The Awards ceremony will be held on 15th May 2020 at the Rosewood, Holborn, London

Award Categories For Charities and Not-for Profit Institutions ■ Charity of the Year: This award recognises a UK-registered charity for their outstanding work and contribution to society, as well as demonstrated excellent service and achievement in its work over the last five years. There are no criteria on the annual income, but the charity must demonstrate consistently delivered outstanding service for their size and year-on-year growth. ■ Faith-based Charity of the Year: This award is similar to Charity of the Year, but specifically for organisations that consider themselves faith-based. ■ Education Charity of the Year: This award is similar to Charity of the Year, but specifically for organisations that primarily have education, training or related charity objects. ■ Health Charity of the Year: This award is similar to Charity of the Year, but specifically for organisations that primarily have health and wellbeing related objects. ■ Start-Up of the Year: This award is similar to Charity of the Year, but specifically for organisations that have been operational for three years or less. ■ Most Enterprising:

This award recognises a social enterprise or the trading arm of a charity that has made a significant difference to beneficiaries through its ability to generate income to meet its social goals over the last three years.

■ Social Impact Award: This award recognises an organisation for the social impact they have created and their contribution to society. They must have clearly demonstrated this impact through a clear report or other information outlining their achievements and value. ■ Audience’s Choice Award:

In addition to our jury-decided Awards, this category is a special one, where you, the audience, votes for the winners

For Individuals: ■ Inspiring Individual

This award recognises an individual who has demonstrated dedication, professionalism and integrity over a sustained period of time, and who has produced an identifiably profound effect on the social sector in the UK or otherwise through their work, which could be voluntary or otherwise.


Email: george@abplgroup.com





14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020


Karnataka hikes taxes on petrol, diesel and liquor BENGALURU: The BJP government in Karnataka has proposed additional taxes on petrol, diesel and liquor from April 1 to meet the shortfall in income. The rate of tax on petrol and diesel were increased by three per cent making the fuel dearer by Rs 1.60 and Rs 1.59 per litre respectively. Presenting the budget in the assembly, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced tax on petrol would be increased from 32 per cent to 35 per cent and diesel from 21 per cent to 24 per cent. Yediyurappa also increased excise duty on Indian made foreign liquor by six per cent. However, to promote affordable housing, the government proposed to reduce stamp duty on first time registration of new apartments/flats costing less than Rs 20,00,000 from existing five per cent to two per cent.

This is the first budget of the BJP government after coming to power last year and the seventh presented by Yediyurappa. "For the year 2020-21, a total amount of £5.57 billion is provided for stimulating economic growth sector", the CM said. A new industrial policy would be implemented to attract capital investment, keeping in view the comprehensive industrial development of the state, especially for the backward areas, tier-2, and tier-3 cities. "Priority will be given to those sectors providing greater opportunities in innovative technology and employment generation", the Chief Minister said. Rules would be framed by amending the relevant acts to encourage the investors and to enable them to purchase land directly from the land owners at the place identified for the establishment of industrial units.

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa presenting budget

Recognising the importance of Bengaluru as the key driver of the state's economy, Yediyurappa mooted proposals to ease the notorious traffic congestion of the city by promoting the public transport system. A comprehensive mobility programme for Bengaluru is prepared for the first time, he said. Infrastructure facilities, transit-based development, and essential regulatory measures will be taken up with the objective of increasing the utilisation of public transport

from 48 per cent to 73 per cent, Yediyurappa said. He said that Karnataka is facing unprecedented economic difficulties following an £888.7 million reduction in the state's share in central taxes, cut in allocation under 15th finance commission and a £300 million hit in GST compensation. The Chief Minister said, the state government is committed to the "speedy continuation" of the much anticipated Mahadayi Project, which is very helpful for the people and farmers of the North Karnataka region.


Own MLAs question Amarinder govt during budget session CHANDIGARH: During the recent budget session of the Punjab assembly, the ruling government was repeatedly questioned by its own MLAs on the attitude of bureaucracy and the failures on several fronts, including transport policy, power purchase agreements, law and order and illegal sand mining. During the session, the speaker gave the opposition MLAs enough time to raise issues concerning the citizens of the state and, interestingly, attack the Speaker himself. The provisions of the budget were not discussed threadbare by the Akalis and Aam Aadmi Party, but were perfunctorily commented upon. On this count, the SAD was hampered by the fact that previous finance minister, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, who used to rebut finance minister Manpreet

Badal with facts and figures, was not present in the houseafter having rebelled against Sukhbir Badal and joined hands with his father, Parminder Singh Dhindsa. Cong and its woes The most embarrassing moments for the government, however, did not come from the opposition ranks but from the treasury benches where MLAs did not mince words to highlight the failings of the government despite having been in power for three years. The most searing of attacks was made by the Congress MLA from Gidderbaha, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring who is also an advisor to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Warring took it upon himself to corner Transport Minister Razia Sultana on at least two occasions over the failure of the government to come out with a transport policy and also over

the free run enjoyed by officials posted in the transport department. The united manner in which the Congress MLAs rose as one to take on the bureaucracy over the issue of VIP rooms in Punjab Bhawan in New Delhi, reflected the growing anger against the bureaucracy. Congress MLAs joined hands with AAP legislators to show their massive resentment against the IAS officers who enjoyed better perks than them even though the MLAs ranked higher in protocol. The angst against Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh and Advocate General Atul Nanda was all the more palpable because they were the only persons who were referred to by their designation or their name in the entire episode. Power Purchase Agreements signed with private power producers by the previous SAD-BJP

Manpreet Badal

government have been in the thick of controversy for the past several weeks now and it was not surprising to find Congress MLA from Jalandhar Cantonment, Pargat Singh, trashing the White Paper on the issue which has been promised by Amarinder in the Monsoon Session. On the last day of the session, Pargat let loose a volley of charges saying that while committees, sub-committees and White Papers are being talked about, the politicians are losing face value before the common man. Equally scathing were Pargat's remarks on the government inaction in the Guru Granth Sahib desecration issue where he attacked the government for not having acted in the matter.


Bengal polls: PM Modi meeting BJP MPs NEW DELHI: With the 2021 West Bengal elections being a big battle for the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding one-on-one sessions with all party MPs from the state to take stock of the situation. In the meetings held so far, Modi has urged the MPs to work hard to ensure that schemes initiated by the Central government are implemented so that the party could earn goodwill ahead of the Assembly polls. An MP who met PM Modi said that winning the West Bengal polls is very important for the BJP as “the nation wants

us to win elections for the security and development of the border state.” John Barla, MP from Alipurduar, said he has “listed the issues faced by the voters in his constituency. I explained to him that the tea gardens in my constituency are facing severe crisis. I told him

we should help the people, irrespective of whether they are our supporters or not, as our motio is sabka saath sabka vishwas,” Barla said. He added that he also raised the issue of “police atrocities on innocent people” during the meet. “I told the Prime Minister that unless we come to power, the state will become like Bangladesh,” Barla said. The issue surrounding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) came up during the Prime Minister’s meeting with the MPs and the Prime Minister was keen to know how people

have reacted to the changes in the citizenship laws, it is learnt. Bankura MP Subhas Sarkar said, “I told the PM that the protests against CAA are now confined to TMC people. No public is protesting now. We have been able to convince people that it is a good move. MPs agreed with him that the BJP should win West Bengal for national interest,” Sarkar said. Another MP said, “The PM asked us about the state, the Assembly segments in our constituencies; the strength and weakness of both the TMC and the BJP and what are the main issues.”


The DMK announced the names of its three nominees for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls in the state. DMK President MK Stalin said that Tiruchi Siva, Andhiyur Selvaraj and NR Elango would be the party candidates for Rajya Sabha polls. Six members of Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu will retire on April 2, the Election Commission had said. As per the Election Commission's schedule, the poll will be held on March 26 and counting of votes will happen on the same day. The ruling AIADMK has 125 members (including the Speaker) in the Assembly and the DMK and its allies have 106 members. Hence both the parties - AIADMK and DMK - can win three seats each. Presently, the AIADMK has 10 members in the Rajya Sabha and the DMK has five.


Karnataka minister BC Patil has come out with a new solution to stop the anti-India slogans. It has slightly differed from the 'goli maro' slogan. “I will ask the Central government to bring in an ordinance to shoot- at -sight people who shout slogans against India," Patil said. The minister first mentioned the topic last week, at the peak of the violence in Delhi, that was seen as fallout of hate speech by a section of BJP leaders ahead of the assembly elections in Delhi. The BJP minister Anurag Thakur and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had endorsed the use of guns on people considered traitors and terrorists. The BJP -- which started focus on anti-India slogans after an event in Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University – has repeatedly accused the Arvind Kejriwal government of shielding the perpetrators by withholding assent for their trial.


The state government has passed a resolution to make Punjabi language mandatory in all state government institutions. The resolution was moved by Cabinet Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and appealed to the Speaker to make the Punjabi language mandatory in all state government institutions and the functioning of the courts should also be ensured in Punjabi. Channi also appealed to the Speaker to ensure all proceedings and working of Punjab assembly in Punjabi. He had also proposed that necessary steps should be taken to make the Punjabi language a compulsory subject in all government and private schools up to tenth standard. In addition, he proposed that the State Government should make necessary arrangements, including the laws, to prevent any person or institution from working against the Punjabi language.


The Calcutta High Court has stayed the Centre's notice asking a Polish student to leave India for allegedly participating in a protest rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the city. Justice Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya restrained the government from giving effect to the notice till 18 March when the court will pass an order on the student’s petition. Kamil Siedczynski, the student from Poland who is enrolled for a Masters' degree in the Department of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, was served a 'Leave India Notice' dated 14 February from the Foreigners' Regional Registration Office (FRRO), Kolkata. The notice did not mention about any particular event. It said that Kamil Siedczynski ‘has been found to have engaged in antigovernment activities’ and has thus violated visa guidelines.





14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

RBI supersedes Yes Bank board, promoter Rana Kapoor arrested The Reserve Bank of India last week superseded the board of directors of Rana Kapoor-promoted Yes Bank and later the Enforcement Directorate has arrested Kapoor over kickbacks. The RBI has limited cash withdrawal to Rs 50,000. The depositors can withdraw up to Rs 500,000 for medical treatment, higher education fees, expenses on marriage and other ceremonies, and “ u n a v o i d a b l e emergencies”. The cap applies across even multiple accounts of the same depositor. RBI has appointed deputy managing director and chief finance officer of State Bank of India, Prashant Kumar, as an administrator of the bank. Although the central bank has said that the moratorium will last for 30 days, sources said that a plan involving SBI is in the works. This includes the possibility of a revival by an SBI-led consortium of new owners including Life Insurance Corporation. In a statement, RBI said it had given the bank’s management enough time to try and raise capital and find a ‘market-led solution’ to its problems. However, the bank failed to find investors who would support a revival package. “In the absence of a credible revival plan, and in public interest and the interest of the bank’s depositors, it had no alternative but to apply to the central government for imposing a moratorium… effective from today,” the RBI said. RBI wanted to avoid ‘systemic issues’ According to government sources, the management led by Ravneet Gill kept pushing the deadline for raising capital, prompting RBI to finally act. “RBI had to step in because it did not want to create systemic issues,” said a senior official. While depositors will be protected up to Rs 500,000, thanks to deposit insurance cover and the proposed reconstruction /amalgamation that RBI is working on, shareholders are likely to lose out. They include LIC, which holds an 8% stake, and mutual funds such as Nippon Life, Franklin Templeton and UTI Asset Management. JP Morgan said in a report, “We believe forced bailout investors will likely want the bank to be acquired at

Rana Kapoor

near-zero value to account for risks associated with the stress book and likely loss of deposits.” Yes Bank’s troubles first came to light in 2017 when RBI said that its bad loans were more than the bank had divulged. Following an inspection of the bank, RBI denied an extension to its founder and chief executive Kapoor. In subsequent years new defaults came to light. Some of the big defaulters to whom the bank had advanced funds included IL&FS, Anil Ambani group, CG Power, Cox & Kings, Café Coffee Day, Essel group, Essar Power, Vardaraj Cement, Radius Developers, and Mantri Group. Kapoor, an industry veteran, had floated Yes in 2003 and soon scaled it up. Banking sources said that the bank engaged in highrisk lending, providing advances to those who could not raise funds elsewhere. RBI began working on a moratorium a few days ago after it became clear that Yes Bank was unable to put in place a “credible proposal” for capital infusion. ED arrests Kapoor over ‘kickback’ The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Kapoor, early Sunday morning after 30 hours of questioning, capping two days of action that began with raids on the banker’s Samudra Mahal residence in Mumbai and curbs being imposed on withdrawals from the bank. Kapoor, who faces allegations of money laundering and receiving £60 million in bribes from scam-tainted Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DHFL), was produced at noon before judge SR Salunkhe of the holiday court. He was remanded to ED custody till March 11. “Considering the nature of offence and amount involved, the accused may take it as an opportunity to bring the truth before the investigating agency,” the

court said. Kapoor’s daughter Roshini was stopped at Mumbai airport from boarding a flight to London on Sunday. A lookout notice was earlier issued against his wife and three daughters for their alleged involvement in the Yes Bank loan fraud. Sources said the request to investigating agencies to prevent Roshini from leaving the country came from the income tax department. ED, which has attached a dozen shell companies with real estate worth around £450 million, suspects that Kapoor’s family members were involved in controlling them. A property purchased in the UK is also under investigation, sources said. Multiple agencies kept tabs on Kapoor since his return to India Opposing the plea for his remand, Kapoor told the court he was unwell, but would not hinder the probe. “I've been sick since I lost my baby, Yes Bank…I promise I will cooperate. I swear by my wife, my three daughters.” Kapoor’s wife Bindu Kapoor was present in court. The court said it had examined medical papers and did not find sufficient grounds to deny his custody to the ED. The arrest comes in the wake of CBI registering a criminal conspiracy and corruption case against DHLF, its promoter Kapil Wadhawan, Kapoor and a firm controlled by his family, DOIT Urban Ventures. According to CBI’s case, Kapoor entered into a criminal conspiracy and sanctioned a loan and debenture investment in DHFL worth £450 million in lieu of £60 million in kickbacks. The ED, which has attached a dozen shell companies with real estate worth £450 million, suspects Kapoor’s family members were involved in controlling them. A property purchased in the UK is also under investigation.

The head of BAPS Mahant Swami is in Anand now. He attended the Vachanamurt bicentenary celebration at Gadhada. Mahant Swami also performed asthapushpa pujan od Pramukh Swami Maharaj. His visit to UK and Europe has been canccelled due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus cases in India rises to 59 With 12 more people tested positive for coronavirus - six in Kerala and three each in Karnataka and Pune, the total number of coronavirus cases in India went up to 59. The health ministry said the total number of confirmed cases has risen to 50, adding the rest are being retested for confirmation. Once the fresh cases declared by the state governments are taken into account, the figure will go up to 59. Other cases include one each in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Punjab. Authorities on Monday sealed a village in Leh district of Ladakh region after a pilgrim who had visited Iran died in the hospital of suspected coronavirus infection. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held a meeting with the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, and took stock of the preparedness. Earlier, the Indian Air Force's C-17 Globemaster brought back 58 Indians from coronavirus-hit Iran and also carried 529 samples for investigation. A total of 59 cases are currently active while three have been discharged. On Sunday, five new cases were reported from Kerala with three family members with travel history to Italy and two of their relatives who came in contact with them, health ministry officials said. The family, according to Kerala authorities, failed to report its travel to Italy. The family is reported to have visited relatives and attended a few functions. The ministry said efforts were on to trace their contacts. The ministry continued to appeal to people to observe dos and don’ts, coughing etiquette, hand-washing and avoiding

large gatherings. It also urged people to clearly reveal their travel history and fill the details in selfdeclaration forms accurately while travelling. The ministry also clarified that a patient from Murshidabad, West Bengal, who died on Sunday had tested negative for Covid-19 and “hence, so far no death has been reported due to the disease in the country”. Jammu patient has a travel history to Iran The samples of an elderly man who died in Ladakh have been sent for testing. Officials said the patient in Jammu - the first case in J&K - is learnt to have a travel history to Iran while one from UP came in contact with the six people from Agra who had tested positive for coronavirus. A patient, a resident of Italy, was under quarantine at the Government Medical College in Amritsar. “We are sending detailed guidelines to all states on ways to contain coronavirus. We have asked states to strengthen laboratories and manpower to effectively deal with coronavirus and form early rapid action teams,” health minister Harsh Vardhan said. Vardhan maintained that the government was prepared to deal with the outbreak with a coordinated approach that included different government departments and agencies for activities such as contact tracing, community surveillance, hospital management, identification of isolation wards, ensuring adequate personal protection equipment and masks, and risk communication for mass awareness. The cabinet secretary late on Monday reviewed the situation with chief secretaries of all states and

emphasised upon surveillance at points of entry, in the community, laboratory support and hospital preparedness. Around 404 Indian contacts of a US citizen, who tested positive in Bhutan, have been identified and put under surveillance in Assam. Meanwhile, another positive case was reported from Karnataka. A 40-yearold techie, who returned from the US via Dubai, reportedly tested positive for Covid-19 in Bengaluru. However, there was no confirmation from the Centre. Six more coronavirus cases in Kerala Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that with the confirmation six more cases, the total number of infected in the state now stood at 12. The affected include three who had come from Italy and eight who came in contact with them, Vijayan told reporters after a special cabinet meeting on Tuesday. A three-year-old child, who returned along with his parents from the European nation, had tested positive in Kochi on Monday. The samples of his parents have also been sent for testing and the results are awaited, Vijayan said. In the backdrop of more cases being reported, classes for grade one to 7 would not be held in all state, CBSE and ICSE schools. But, exams for grade eight, nine, 10 and higher secondary would be held. Students who are under observation would be permitted to write examinations in a special room. The Chief Minister said all colleges would also be shut till this month end. Marriage rituals can be held but people should avoid attending such functions. It is better pilgrims do not visit Sabarimala for darshan, Vijayan said.





14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

Jyotiraditya set to join BJP; Kamal Nath govt loses 22 MLAs In a massive setback for the Congress, prominent youth leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and in a coordinated rebellion, 22 MLAs loyal to him resigned in Madhya Pradesh, pushing the 15-month-old Kamal Nath government to the brink of collapse. Scindia, 49, appeared set to join the BJP, a party which had his late grandmother Vijaya Raje Scindia as one of the leading lights amid speculation he may get a Rajya Sabha ticket and be given a central ministry. BJP sources said Scindia, a former Union minister and a four-time Lok Sabha MP, is likely to be inducted into the party in the next day or two and certainly before March 13 - the last day for filing of nominations for the three Rajya Sabha sets in MP. In a largely symbolic move of no consequence, a shocked Congress expelled Scindia, the party general secretary and scion of the erstwhile Gwalior royal family, on charges of antiparty activities. As the country celebrated Holi on Tuesday morning, Scindia, once considered a rising star of the Congress, met senior BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah after which he called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, residence. While there was no official word on what transpired at the meetings, BJP sources claimed that the decision of the party's top two leaders to hold long

deliberations with Scindia underlined the importance they attach to a politician considered close to Rahul Gandhi. In his resignation letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi dated March 9, Scindia said “it is now time for me to move on” as he was unable to serve the people of the country while remaining in the party. The Congress said his letter was received at Sonia Gandhi's residence only at 12.20 pm on Tuesday, a day which was also Scindia's father and Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia's 75th birth anniversary. Scindia's decision to quit was welcomed as “ghar wapsi” (homecoming) by his paternal aunt and BJP MLA from Madhya Pradesh, Yashodhara Raje. His other paternal aunt, Vasundhara Raje, is also a BJP leader and a former chief minister of Rajasthan. Madhavrao Scindia had also started his political innings as an MP of the Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP, in 1971 but joined the Congress later. Kamal Nath govt in trouble With Scindia's loyalist MLAs following suit, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh appeared headed

for a collapse and will be reduced to minority if the resignation letters of the 22 legislators are accepted by Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati.The Congress, whose tally before the rebellion is 114, has a waferthin majority in the Assembly whose current effective strength is 228. It also has the support of four Independents, two BSP and one SP MLA but some of them are now likely to switch sides to the BJP. If the resignations of the 22 MLAs are accepted, the strength of the Assembly will fall to 206. The Congress, on its own, will then be left with 92 seats while the BJP has 107 seats with the magic number for a majority being 104. A delegation of BJP leaders met Prajapati in Bhopal and handed over the resignations of 19 Congress MLAs who are holed up in a resort in Bengaluru in BJPruled Karnataka. Senior BJP leader Bhupendra Singh reached Bhopal on Tuesday afternoon by a special flight, carrying with him the resignations, said BJP MLA Vishwas Sarang. Three more Congress MLAs who are in Bhopal also submitted their resignations to the Speaker.

Jyotiraditya Scindia

Six of the MLAs are ministers. After their resignation, Kamal Nath wrote to the Governor seeking their immediate removal. Singh read out the names of the MLAs whose letters he was submitting in front of Prajapati, claiming that the Congress government had lost its majority. He also claimed these resignations were in the MLAs' own handwriting. The number of Congress MLAs resigning could reach 30 very soon, he claimed. "I have received these resignations. I will take action on these letters as per the established rules and regulations of the state assembly," said Prajapati. Governor Lalji Tandon, who is in Lucknow to celebrate Holi, said he is keeping a tab on the political developments in the state and that any decision related to it will be taken only after reaching Raj Bhavan in Bhopal.

"At present, I am a spectator. Once I return there, only then can I make any comment after seeing all things, letters in which people have made some complaints," Tandon said to a query whether he will call any party to prove its majority on the floor of the House. 'Looking for a fresh start' Noting that the events of the day had been drawing themselves out for a year, Scindia, in his letter to Gandhi, said it was now best for him to look at a fresh start. "Having been a primary member of the Congress party for the last 18 years. It is now time for me to move on. I am tendering my resignation from the primary membership of the Congress and as you well know this is a path that has been drawing itself out over the last year," he wrote. "While my aim and purpose remains the same as it has always been from the very beginning, to serve the

people of my state and my country, I believe I am unable to do this anymore within this party," Scindia said in his resignation letter posted on Twitter. "To reflect and realise the aspirations of my people and workers I believe it is best that I now look ahead at a fresh start." Soon after, a statement from AICC general secretary KC Venugopal said the Congress president has "approved the expulsion of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the Indian National Congress with immediate effect for anti-party activities". Scindia has long been at loggerheads with Nath who belongs to the old guard. After narrowly winning the state Assembly elections in December 2018, Nath took over as chief minister. But trouble started brewing when Scindia's supporters in the government were sidelined, and it appeared that his ambitions to be the state Congress president were also thwarted. It was also clear that the central leadership was not ready to listen to his grievances. This weekend, Scindia and six ministers in the Nath Cabinet went to Bengaluru and became incommunicado. It then became clear that a rebellion was brewing in the party and Nath would lose the support of the six ministers as well as other MLAs loyal to Scindia.

Nirbhaya case convicts set to hang on March 20

UK Court rejects Nirav Modi's fifth bail application

A Delhi court has set March 20 as the date for executing the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case. It noted there was no legal bar, but rather an obligation to set the date. The latest ruling follows three postponements of the hanging in six weeks and adds a sense of finality in a sensational case in which the four had received the death sentence way back in 2013. “Death warrants issued by this court with respect to condemned convicts Mukesh, Pawan, Akshay and Vinay shall now be carried into effect by hanging the convicts by the neck until they are dead on March 20 at 5.30 am,” said additional sessions judge Dharmender Rana. Special prosecutor Irfan Ahmed, who moved a plea seeking setting the date of hanging, informed the court the convicts had exhausted all their legal remedies. Convict Pawan Gupta was the last convict in the case to exhaust the legal remedy of the President’s mercy. Rejection of his mercy plea brought an end to all judicial, Constitutional and administrative remedies to which a prisoner is entitled as a right before execution of death sentence. Appearing for Pawan, Vinay and Akshay, advocate A P Singh said he would be meeting Pawan and then challenge the rejection of mercy plea.

The 49 year old, who is jailed at Wandsworth Prison since his arrest in March 2019 and is scheduled for an extradition trial in May from 11-15, made his fifth attempt at getting a bail on the basis of 'change in circumstances'. Modi appeared for the hearing via video link, clean shaven, wearing grey sweat shirt. While Modi’s barrister Ed Fitzgerald CBE QC from Doughty Street Chambers offered doubled bail security amount (from £2mn to £4mn), an electronic tag with GPS and a private security company, paid by Modi to keep him locked in his own apartment at Centre Point in Tottenham Court Road

UK High Court on Thursday 5 March 2020 rejected fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi's bail for the fifth time. Mr Modi is fighting his extradition to India on charges over nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case.

Nirav Modi

with electronic tag and predetermined guests on recorded phone calls or visits, the judge was unsatisfied that the above mentioned measures could actually stop Mr Modi from absconding. Arguing Mr Modi’s barrister Mr Fitzgerald said that Nirav Modi has undergone various attacks in the jail by his inmates as well as an attempt of extortion, which has resulted into deterioration of his mental health as confirmed by the psychiatrist Dr Forrester. However CPS Barrister

Nicholas Hearn argued, “If you have heard the bail history- he has had 4 bail applications. The security is doubled from £2 to £4 mn pounds. It means he has access to a considerable fund...” He further added, “A tag could be tampered with. Security guards don’t have the power to arrest, and can't stop Mr Modi from leaving the premises. There is no lawful basis for any private company to hold him in his flat. If a security has ever done that ever- mostly they have reported a breach. They are contractually advised to do that. They cannot

lawfully arrest or stop anyone.” He also raised concerns that if Mr Modi is let out, he could flee when being transferred to a court during his extradition hearing as well as during any appeals on the final judgement. In conclusion Justice Hove said, “There is a clear qualitative difference rising in the nature of the contractual agreement between the security company and Mr Modi...The reality of private security is that they don't have power of to arrest or detain Mr Modi securely. They provide with the opportunity to notify breach or attempt to breach. But by the time that contractual obligation is complete, it’s too late. From his Central London resident to readily abscond and all trace of him to lose is high. I am not satisfied with the arrangements presented to me: tagging and security that can securely contain this applicant. It is better done within the prison. A clear need for this application to be refused. Modi has to continue in remand.”






14 - 20 March 2020

Benefits of hot yoga – and safety tips Doing yoga in a heated room loosens up your muscles more quickly than practicing yoga in an unheated room at typical room temperature. Practicing yoga in a heated room can allow your body greater freedom of movement when executing poses and movements, says Moonaz, who's a yoga therapist. She's also the founder of Yoga for Arthritis, which provides training for yoga teachers and students with the aim of serving people living with the set of chronic conditions that comprise the disease. "It warms up all the soft tissue in the body," Moonaz says. "It can be good for people who have yoga experience and who know their limits." What is hot yoga? There's no one style of yoga that's known as "hot yoga." Rather, instructors can turn up the temperature in a studio – typically to between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit – for a variety of different types of yoga. Most yoga studios are kept at typical room temperature, in the low 70s. Then there are yoga styles in which a heated room is standard, not a devi-

ation. These include yoga sculpt, a rigorous approach that involves small weights and lots of cardio, and hot power fusion, which can include a mixture of different styles, such as Vinyasa and Bikram. Hot yoga isn't for everyone Not everyone should participate in hot yoga, particularly menopausal and pregnant women, Moonaz says. Women experiencing menopause sometimes experience hot flashes, and practicing yoga in a heated room could trigger or exacerbate those events. Women who are pregnant should also not practice hot yoga, because being overheated can be a health risk during pregnancy. "Being overheated for more than 10 minutes can damage the fetus," she says. Older people – typically individuals over 65 – are at greater risk for falls and should probably not engage in hot yoga, she says. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for people older than age 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who don't hydrate sufficiently before and after yoga may become light-headed, which

could make them susceptible to falling. People who are new to yoga also should probably not engage in hot yoga until they've established a practice and become familiar with common poses and movements and how they affect their body, Moonaz says. "Hot yoga can be good for people who have yoga experience and know their limits rather than a beginner who isn't familiar with a yoga practice," she says. Also, hot yoga may pose a risk for people with these health conditions: A heart condition, Diabetes, Autoimmune disease, High blood pressure issues, Anorexia and Vertigo. Health benefits of hot yoga If you aren't in a group that should stay away from hot yoga, doing your practice in a heated room can provide these health benefits, says

Judi Bar, yoga program manager at Cleveland Clinic: Iimproved circulation, Skin nourishment, A higher rate of burning calories. Improved circulation. Doing yoga poses in a heated room gives your heart, lungs and muscles more of a challenge than if you were doing the same movements in a non-heated space. "It can get your heart pumping a bit faster, as if you were taking a fast walk," Bar says. This can help boost your circulation. Skin nourishment. Improved circulation moves more oxygen and nutrientrich blood throughout your body, including your skin. A higher rate of burning calories. When your body works harder – as it does in a hot yoga class – your metabolism revs up. "You're working a little harder, so you can potentially burn more calories," she says.

What 'clean People with rheumatoid arthritis eating' means have higher risk for heart disease Kris Sollid, senior director of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council, says that the confusion regarding 'clean eating' is amplified because "there is no standard definition for what clean means, and many consumers are left to determine its meaning for themselves." He goes on to say, "American health authorities have not defined clean – not the US Dietary Guidelines, not the Food and Drug Administration and not the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And for good reason – because there's no evidence to suggest that 'eating clean' or eating only foods with 'clean labels' is related to health. It's a trend, not a tenet of validated scientific evidence." Clean Eating "Eating that's considered to be 'clean' is often conflated or used as a proxy for a term like 'healthy,” Sollid says. IFIC's Food & Health Surveys have shown that products containing identical nutrition information are viewed differently, depending on other attributes that are attached to them. For example, products carrying identical nutrition labels are perceived to be "healthier."

A new study has concluded that the presence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may be associated with an increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events, also known as MACE. The researchers said the increased association was more common in cases of RA that are either seropositive or considered to be active. In the study, the researchers assessed this risk for MACE and death in people with RA who were required to have a cardiac CT scan for chest pain. “In patients referred to cardiac CT due to chest pain, we found a trend of an association between RA and the combined primary outcome, supporting that RA per se, but in particular seropositive and active RA, may increase the risk for coronary artery disease even after initial coronary artery disease diagnosis and treatment,” the researchers said in a statement. The data used for this registry was obtained from the Western Denmark Heart Registry and Danish National Patient Registry between 2008 and 2016. The outcome of the study found a mix of cardiac events, such as myocardial

infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention, ischemic or unspecified stroke, coronary artery bypass grafting, and other causes of death. Higher risk for cardiovascular disease According to the Arthritis Foundation, people with RA face a 50 to 70 per cent higher risk for cardiovascular disease than the general population. In addition, people with osteoarthritis face a 24 per cent higher risk for cardiovascular disease than the general population. Overall, the foundation reported, nearly half of all adults with heart disease also have some form of arthritis. Women also have a higher risk for both heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. They sometimes face gender disparities in treatment for heart health issues and chronic pain. What you can do Certain foods, such as seafood, and supplements, like fish oil and essential omega fatty acids, can help with both heart health and

the inflammation of arthritis. People living with RA should consult their doctor if they experience any new symptoms, want more information on heart health, or want to try out any new supplements or vitamins as a part of their treatment regimen. The Arthritis Foundation and other experts recommend exercise as part of an overall balanced and healthful lifestyle of wellness for people with arthritis. “There are many health benefits to exercising, even with arthritis,” Kindle Fisher, a physical therapist in Pennsylvania, said. “Exercises such as walking, swimming, or using a stationary bike can increase blood flow and synovial fluid to the joints. Increasing blood flow will also strengthen the heart,” she said. “While there are severe cases of arthritis where it’s not always possible to do so, any type of activity can release endorphins, improve health, and help you feel better overall.” People with RA say it’s important to keep a watch on their heart health but also to try to have a normal life.

in brief IS ‘DRY FASTING’ A GOOD IDEA? “Dry fasting” is a diet fad being promoted online by lifestyle influencers. The idea behind dry fasting is to forgo drinking any water. Instead, you get water only from food sources, such as fruits and vegetables. But it’s a dieting approach that many health experts say is dangerously misguided. Dry fasting is inspired in part by Muslim abstention from food and water during the month of Ramadan. In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Iranian scientists concluded that Ramadan fasting led to bodyweight loss and reduced body fat - the latter primarily among young and male individuals. “Proponents of dry fasting point to studies that looked at Ramadan religious fasting, which did find specific metabolic benefits to fasting and intermittent fasting in general,” Robin Foroutan, MS, RDN, HHC, an integrative dietitian, nutritionist, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said. “However, there have never been studies that compared regular intermittent fasting with dry intermittent fasting, so there’s no way to know if there are indeed additional benefits to dry fasting beyond that of regular intermittent fasting,” she said. What dry fasting supporters say Proponents say there’s a wide range of health benefits from dry fasting. These include weight loss, reduced body mass index (BMI), strengthened immunity, and lower levels of inflammation. Sophie Partik, a yoga teacher and nutrition coach, says she hasn’t had a drink of water in more than a year. She says that water derived from food is superior to that consumed from the tap. “I get my living water and cell hydration from fruits, veggies, and coconuts, the purest form of H3O2,” she said in a story. Others, such as Susan Schenck, author of “The Live Food Factor: The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet,” recommend dry fasting for limited periods of time, saying that such fasts “detox” the body. What skeptics say On the other hand, experts such as Aurielle James-Sarpong, RD, LDN, an outpatient oncology dietitian at the Cancer Institute at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, say dry fasting isn’t only scientifically suspect but potentially harmful or fatal. “Our bodies are 70 to 80 per cent water,” James-Sarpong said. “Dry fasting would make it difficult for our bodies to complete daily tasks, such as flushing out toxins or helping nutrients enter cells. Our kidneys, heart, lungs - and every other bodily organ on which we rely for normal, healthy living - would suffer greatly without adequate hydration.” James-Sarpong says that people need to consume at least 64 ounces of water daily - even more if engaging in physical activity, if they’re sick, or if they’re being treated for diseases, such as cancer.

HOW INFANTS BENEFIT FROM A BILINGUAL HOME The jury is still out on the long lasting effects of learning two languages in the home. People have credited the socalled bilingual advantage with providing a variety of longterm cognitive benefits, although some studies question whether the advantage exists at all. Meanwhile, researchers have observed some of the alleged benefits of bilingualism in pre-verbal children. Based on the findings of their new study, they have concluded that living in a bilingual home helps children develop greater flexibility in acquiring new information, even before they learn to speak at all. The study appeared in the journal Royal Society Open Science. The hypothesis under investigation is whether the more complex linguistic environment in a bilingual home prompts an infant to develop the ability to switch their attention more rapidly between different stimuli. Dean D’Souza, who is the lead author of the study and colleagues write: “We propose that exposure to more varied, less predictable (language) environments drive infants to sample more by placing less weight on consolidating familiar information in order to orient sooner to (and explore) new stimuli.” Attention testing Dean D’Souza explains, “We know that babies can easily acquire multiple languages, so we wanted to investigate how they manage it.” “Our research suggests that babies in bilingual homes adapt to their more complex environment by seeking out additional information.” The researchers analyzed eye tracking data from 102 infants between the ages of 7 and 9 months.

To Our Readers

We are publishing these items in good faith, kindly consult your Doctor before you try to implement any advice. We do not hold any responsibility for its efficacy...





14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020


Delhi Crime: Why Nirbhaya ‘India’s Daughter’s’ story is relevant today Priya Delhi Crime is a gut Bytes to Binge wrenching watch and Genre: Crime Drama factually correct in its depiction of what Duration: 54 minutes each really happened Where to watch: Netflix almost a decade ago Directed: Richie Mehta in the Delhi rape case which shook the entire country. This spectacular Indian Crime Drama shows us what unfolds after a horrible incident of a Delhi gang rape in 2012, in Munirka, South Delhi, India. The Deputy Commissioner is assigned to bring to justice the culprits responsible for the assaults and the death of this girl. The real life story is horrific, about a 23 year old medical student out with a friend who took a bus and on this bus one of Delhi’s gruesome crimes of recent times occurs. It is truly an eye opening piece of drama (the actual events are not shown of course), and I’m sure the real life incident will grip you with outrage and disgust as it did me, but the writing and direction is commendable.

Written by Canadian film writer Richie Mehta, it’s really brilliant to see he took direct action with something that pulled on his heart strings after Neeraj Kumar, the former commissioner of the Delhi Police force asked him to have a look at this case. After a while of thought, he felt he needed to shed light on it! I mean for me film and TV does have a responsibility for depicting life and using the medium as a giant microscope with speakers to have the greater good affect, so the first hand of applause to him for taking the initiative to tell a story shoved deep in a pile of paper work! Many more applause for this show from me too. The acting is good in this and really well cast too. One is entirely dispersed into the realm of what this time may have felt like for all trying to get to the bottom of this case during a time when it was super hard to gather information and to extract truth. The perpetrators are not seen as powerful evil beings with great force, but mere weak and hopeless beings, the product of the poor and underclass seen in Delhi which I find so clever of the writer, as we need to come away from cliche points of view and begin digging deep in society to find truer root causes. The actual series covers just a few days, six to be exact from the incident to the arrest but it’s the intricacies that I found a really great to watch, as for me watching an Indian crime drama is unusual and it took me a minute to place my head in the right place to enjoy it. The topic itself is a fragile one but one that is fierce with making sure justice is done. I felt the shows made more focus on the police investigation, which actually makes sense if one wants to know exactly what the steps and struggles are when trying to nail a demon of this sort in Delhi specifically. I also love the theme of celebrating women continues with characters reflecting women in power. Netflix have found another great watch, another true story to get your teeth into and another remarkable story that the world needed to hear about. If any of you have watched a great true story recently you think needs more light shed on, then find me on twitter @ApblPriya and I would love to hear about it!

Alia's ideal holiday involves some sun and trees Actor Alia Bhatt recently posted a new picture of herself on Instagram where she said she wanted a holiday with more sunshine and trees. The picture shows her in a gorgeous sunny dress, with her back to the camera. Her flowing hair looks wet, implying it could be from the beach. She captioned the post, “Ummm. One holiday please? With extra sunshine & extra trees.. To go :) thanks.” Alia, who was last seen in 'Kalank' and 'Gully! Boy' in 2019, has been shooting for director Ayan Mukerji’s 'Brahmastra'. The film, which is the first part of a fantasy thriller, also stars Ranbir Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Nagarjuna, Mouni Roy and Dimple Kapadia. On the work front, Alia has an interesting array of films in her kitty with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Gangubai Kathiawadi', and 'RRR'! with SS Rajamouli. She will also be seen in her dad Mahesh Bhatt’s directorial comeback film, 'Sadak 2'.

Bachchan appreciates 'Angrezi Medium's' special song! 'Angrezi Medium's' special song 'Kudi Nu Nachne De' featuring top actresses from Bollywood is growing popular and is turning out to be every girl's anthem. The song also caught the attention of superstar Amitabh Bachchan. The thespian who is quite active on social media shared the song and wrote: "To all the women out there-stay confident, shine & dance cos YOU own the stage!" He also shared a special message for Irrfan. He wrote, "And all the best Irrfan..you are such a superior artist." 'Kudi Nu Nachne De' makes a perfect song for Women's Day that celebrates womanhood. Jio Studios and Prem Vijan present Dinesh Vijan's 'Angrezi Medium', a Maddock Films production, directed by Homi Adajania, releases on 13th March._

SRK's Suhana makes Instagram finally public Actor Shah Rukh Khan's daughter Suhana has finally switched her Instagram profile to public. The child prodigy has also achieved the 'verification' tick. A quick gothrough on her account and our hearts burst with joy.

Her account followers include Katrina Kaif, Alia Bhatt, Karan Johar, Shah Rukh, Gauri, and others. One of the most popular star kids of her generation, Suhana's pictures often go viral on hundreds of her fan

pages on Instagram. Her parents, Shah Rukh and Gauri too regularly share her pictures on social media. Suhana has an interest in films, and had recently starred in a short film made by her friend titled 'The Grey Part of Blue'. There were also rumours suggesting she might make her debut opposite 'Bigg Boss 13'

contestant Asim Riaz in a film made by Karan Johar. The filmmaker had refuted all claims tweeting, “Absolutely baseless stories making the rounds of SOTY3!!!! My request to everyone publishing this fabrication is to kindly Stop! Please!” Suhana is currently studying acting at New York University.






14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

Disha Patani in Salman's 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai' Actor Salman Khan is currently shooting for his upcoming 'Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai' in Mumbai and a recent BTS picture from the film's shoot has emerged online and it is intense to say the least. The picture shows the actor casually dressed in a denim jacket, white T-shirt, and a pair of jeans, wiping sweat or make up off his face. Khan and actress Disha Patani who will play the female lead in the movie were set to leave for Azerbaijan, however, the shooting schedule was cancelled following the spread of coronavirus across nations over the last week. The movie will see Salman work with several artists, including Patani and Randeep Hooda. The movie is directed by Prabhudeva and Khan himself. “Considering the fact that Salman sir is such a huge star in Bollywood for years, never have I ever imagined that I will get another chance to work with him again, after Bharat. When the film worked I was just happy with the fact that I had worked with Salman Khan. However, when the opportunity for Radhe came, I was on cloud nine. I loved the story and working again with sir! I think along with my hard work, everything is happening also because of good fortune,” Disha had said in a previous interview.

I only believe in being Indian: Akshay Kumar

Actor Akshay Kumar who is currently promoting his upcoming Rohit Shetty-helmed 'Sooryavanshi' said there is only one religion and that is “being an Indian”. He said, “I don’t believe in any religion. I only believe in being Indian and that is what the film also shows. The idea of being an Indian and not about being a Parsi or a Hindu or a Muslim, we haven’t looked at it on the basis of the religion.” When asked if the film is more relevant in current times of communal unrest in the country, the actor said, “It is a coincidence, we haven’t made it deliberately (now). But, yes, it is very much a relevant film today.” Akshay plays the role of an ATS officer Veer Sooryavanshi, who has the responsibility of protecting Mumbai from terror attacks. The film is part of Shetty's franchise that began in 2011 with Ajay Devgn starrer 'Singham'. It was followed by Ranveer Singh's 'Simmba'. Akki said his job is to play the character, whether good or bad, with sincerity. “We make films which have negative and positive roles, I am just playing a character. In every film there will be both good and bad characters, the audience is smart enough to understand what to take back from the film - the good or the bad,” he said.'Sooryavanshi' marks Akshay and

Rohit’s first project together and the actor said he had great time working on this film.

by Vallisa Chauhan

Genre: Action Thriller Duration: 143 minutes

Tiger Shroff returns with Baaghi 3 Brothers have a strong bond, but the bond of Vikram and Ronnie goes back to their childhood where Ronnie would always come to Vikram’s rescue. The question is will Ronnie be able to save Vikram when he is kidnapped in Syria?

The spiritual sequel to the Baaghi franchise features Tiger Shroff in the lead role once again and Shraddha Kapoor is back to play the lead opposite him. Cop Vikram is sent for work in Syria on what his sister in law stated "it’ll be like a paid holiday". But he is abducted as soon as he lands by a ISIS like gang and his brother Ronnie back in India makes it his mission to "wipe your nation off the goddamn map". Here is the first problem with the film: How is one man going to go up against a worn torn nation, there is no realism in this at all. In the first part of the film we can see Ronnie with his muscles swoon in to save his sibling, the brothers even give a cop the chance for revenge by allowing him to shoot the man who killed his daughter in broad daylight. Kapoor looks beautiful in the film and brings some much needed comedy in the first part however as her role is not crucial she sort of vanishes into the background. The rest of the film that supposedly is based in Syria, but has nothing that really shows you that, is substantial and still very unrealistic, to the point where you are hoping the action scenes may just keep you entertained and awake. We have seen that realistically what Shroff needs to hold himself up is a side kick much like in the film War where Hrithik Roshan helped him save the film. In Baaghi 3 he seems to be able to tear apart anything in his way including, men, helicopters, cars, tanks anything he

'Angrezi Medium' 'Angrezi Medium' (English Medium) is an upcoming Indian Hindi film directed by Homi Adajania and produced under the production banner Maddock Films. The film is the spin-off to the 2017 comedy 'Hindi Medium' and stars Irrfan Khan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Radhika Madan, and Deepak Dobriyal. Champak, an unassuming mithai shop owner and single father is set to fulfil his daughter's dream to study in London. However, certain misadventures lead him and his family on a new quest, one which renews their relationships and bonds.

can get his hands on but this still does not help him protect the film. The problem with Riteish Deshmukh’s character, he seems to have a handicap which is not explained and constantly needs his brother to protect him, yet he was able to become a police officer. This again makes you question the realism of the film. Disha Patani however does look stunning in her item number but the song itself was pretty average. On the whole Baaghi 3 is a pointless movie that is mercilessly short of realism, a rebel beyond logic and quite a distastefully lame movie even for two and a half hours of entertainment or Bollywood drama. You can get in touch with Vallisa: djvallisa@gmail.com





14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

Karnan not based on Kodiyankulam caste riots: Mari Selvaraj

Director Mari Selvaraj who is currently busy shooting actor Dhanush’s upcoming film 'Karnan' has finally cleared the air on rumours claiming the movie is based on the 1995 riots of Kodiyankulam. In a recent interview, Mari said, “Filmmakers are not required to repeat past real-life incidents, magazines and newspapers are more than enough. Karnan will talk about people from a humble background. It is a fictional film based on sto-

great learning experience for me. Unlike the mythological Karnan, my protagonist will fight and get back his rights”, he added. The clarification comes in the wake of demand for a ban by Mukkulathor Pulipadai leader Karunas. According to him, a film showcasing Kodiyankulam caste riots could create trouble in the now-peaceful region. The film also stars Rajisha Vijayan, Natarajan and Lal, and is touted to be released this year.

ries I have heard in my life. But unlike Pariyerum Perumal, here my protagonist doesn’t shy away from injustice because his upbringing is different. Karnan was supposed to be my first film, but director Ram sir told me that I have to prove myself first to narrate this script to a big star. After Pariyerum Perumal, I got a call from Dhanush sir, and Karnan happened.” “Dhanush sir comes to the sets and exactly performs like Karnan. This film was a

Fahadh Faasil set to play a politician in 'Malik' Jiiva's 'Gypsy' movie leaked online

Actor Fahadh Faasil shared a poster last week, revealing his look in upcoming movie 'Malik'. The poster features the star who looks dapper in his white silk dhoti and matching shirt. And he looks quite intense. The actor has also lost a significant amount of body weight for this role. While it was earlier believed that the film will be a gangster drama, director Mahesh Narayan has now clarified that it is a political thriller. According to reports, the movie is partially based on real-life incidents involving revolt against injustices meted out to a minority community. It is also said that the movie will

span from the 1960s to the present day. Fahadh plays a character called Suleiman Malik. And the film follows the 30 year journey of its protagonist in a volatile social and political backdrop. Fahadh will also be seen playing the role of a man in his 50s. In addition to writing and directing, Mahesh Narayan will also edit the project which is bankrolled by 'Take Off' producer Anto Joseph. The film also stars Biju Menon, Nimisha Sajayan, Dileesh Pothan and Vinay Forrt in important roles. Veteran actor Jalaja will make a comeback to the big screen with this film.

TV Listing

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Actor Jiiva’s latest release 'Gypsy' has been leaked online by piracy website Tamilrockers. The movie, which hit screens on March 6, was leaked for illegal download shortly after it was released in theaters. Despite a high court order blocking piracy hubs and many stringent laws, Tamilrockers managed to evade the law by constantly changing its domain extension. In fact, the blocked URLs can also be accessed through proxy servers. The movie opened to good reviews, with a revered critic calling it an “important film” in her review. She wrote, “The makers of Gypsy couldn’t have picked a better time to release their film, considering how communal violence shook the entire nation in the recent past. Awardwinning filmmaker Raju Murugan’s

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'Gypsy' is set against the backdrop of targeted violence against Muslims, led by mobs of Hindu nationalists. Also, the film tells the story of two lovers in the time of riots. The moment you hear the word Gypsy, their nomadic nature strikes you, besides their appearance bleached hair, colourful clothes and fascinating beads they wear.” The Raju Murugan directorial also stars Natasha Singh, Lal Jose, Sunny Wayne and Susheela Raman in pivotal roles.

20:00: NAAGIN (SEASON 4) 21:00: FEET UP WITH THE STARS 21:30: KHATRON KE KHILADI * Schedule is subject to change



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14 - 20 March 2020

It is a quaint little Californian city lapping on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and one that you imagine about while leafing through Nicholas Sparks’ romance novel. If nothing the former Spanish colony will most definitely remind you of the Greek Santorini cityscapes. Winding alleys, tucked white houses, and acres of beach coastline make this Southern Californian place an ideal summer destination for visitors. Visas, flights and currency guide However, September-October are touted as the perfect months for tourists to take a dip in the lukewarm Pacific waters with a mild breeze harbouring over the pier. Santa Barbara is usually a day-trip planned during a dreamlike Californian getaway. Beach schnapps, summer dresses, indulging in gelato ice-creams under a canopy of trees with toes dipped in the ocean water, is casually spent lazying on after a hectic trek at the Yosemite National Park. Direct buses from Greyhound operate from as minimal as $16 per person from other Californian cities into Santa Barbara. However, if you wish to swoop in directly into the city then frequent flights operate from London Heathrow to Los Angeles, California or even San Francisco with a round-trip starting from as little as £550 per person. 1GBP=

Sun tanning in Santa Barbara 1.29 USD* (at the time of writing) and whilst Santa Barbara will appear to be a regular quaint Californian city, it actually is quite expensive. The City is celebrated as the American Riviera because of its Spanish colonial revival architecture, heritage, food and wine scene, breathtaking pier and wait for it water sports adventures. From the farmers’ market to the little trinket stores to the popular Spanish Church, Santa Barbara is a simple yet charismatic Spanish beauty. Walking down the Sterns Wharf Every beach city boasts of yachts, piers and sailboats. The Sterns Wharf is a rough wooden pier lined with souvenir shops, snack vendors and shacks at the southern end of the State. The Wharf also boasts of a proud history. It is built in 1872 serving as the oldest operating wooden wharf in California. The Sea Centre at the Wharf is essentially for kids which means you can take a hike down the pier with your children. Although the first 90 minutes at the Wharf is free, time spent at the pier is later on chargeable with a nominal fee. Exploring artefacts at the Antique Alley The Antique Alley is located just down the road from the pier and nestled amidst Spanish and

Indian cafe. Like any other antique store, this place houses collectibles from pre World War 1 era. Expect to spend an entire afternoon thumbing through warrior jewellery, postcards from faraway, dated musical vinyl records and fairytale costumes. Pro-tip: If you visit the city during Halloween then you might in for a little surprise with the colourful wigs, masks and other prolific accessories. Old Mission Santa Barbara The Old Mission was established on December 4 (the feast day of St Barbara), 1786, as the 10th California mission. Of California’s original 21 Spanish Colonial missions, it’s the only one that escaped secularisation under the Mexican rule. Now it is believed to be the only active parish church in the city. The selfguided tour starts in the pretty garden before heading to the cemetery (where Juana María, the Chumash girl made famous in Scott O'Dell's 1960 children's novel Island of the Blue Dolphins was buried behind the tower). Other guided tours in Santa Barbara include wine tasting sessions starting from 130 USD, food, wine and nightlife bar hopping sessions which start from as minimal as $100. If nothing be prepared to pack your swimming trunks, bikini bottoms and beach towels for cliff jumping, diving and kayaking.

Whats on 1. (B)old Words: Poetry for Dementia, When: Monday 16 March, Venue: Southbank Centre 2. Crossing Boundaries, When: 1 Apr 2020, Venue : National Poetry Library, Level 5, Blue side, Royal Festival Hall, Price: £7 per ticket 3. 2010: Crossing Cultures, When: 22nd April, Where: Royal Festival Hall, Price : £14-65 4. Ravi Shankar Centenary, When: Tuesday, 7th April, Where: Royal Festival Hall, Price: £35 - £60 5. Krishnaa - Fire to Frost by Abhinava Dance Company, When: 22nd March, Where: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Price: £22 6. Ahir Shah: Dots, When: 31st March, Where: Purcell Room, Price: £10 7. Mangalam, When: 07th April, Where: Royal Festival Hall, Price: Free

The Long Goodbye Award-winning actor, musician, story teller and activist Riz Ahmed will be performing in an emotional live music show, The Long Goodbye, which will merge rap music and theatre, exploring his complicated relationship with Britain. The Long Goodbye, commissioned by Manchester International Festival, is described as “an electrifying journey into our here and now – a close-up look at the breakup of a toxic relationship with the country we call home,” and will feature new songs from the actor. It is written and will be performed by Ahmed and directed by writer, director and dramaturg Kirsty Housley, with creative direction from Andrea Gelardin. Riz Ahmed will perform The Long Goodbye for three nights only, from 26-28 March 2020 at Manchester’s atmospheric former railway station, Mayfield.


If you want to win a pair of tickets for the 27 March 2020 show of The Long Goodbye, answer this simple question. Which movie did Riz Ahmed star in 2018? a. Venom b. The Avengers: Infinity War c. Aquaman

The winner will win 2 tickets of Riz Ahmed's show on 27 March 2020 at the Manchester International Festival. The winner's name will be announced in our 21 March issue. Your answer needs to reach us by 16 March 2020 via email to rupanjana.dutta@abplgroup.com with your full name, phone number and address. The winner will be chosen from the right answer in a lottery basis.

BRING HOME THE SONY PS4 PLAYSTATION THIS SUMMER Sony's PlayStation 4 console has now been refurbished into a 'PS4 Slim' variant. Alongside the design upgrade, it has a fantastic console and a larger collection of games.Performance increases lie primarily with power draw and energy efficiency, and according to Sony, the latest model reduces power consumption by 28% compared to its earlier variants.

: le from Availab .95 £299 Editor: CB Patel Chief Executive Officer: Liji George Managing Editor: Rupanjana Dutta Deputy Editor: Urja Patel Journalist: Priyanka Mehta Advertising Managers: Kishor Parmar Head - New Projects & Business Development: Cecil Soans Advertising Sales Executive: Surendra Patel

A more significant addition, and a definite advantage especially for pro gamers, is the option to switch between the controller's Graphic Designers: Harish Dahya & Ajay Kumar Customer Service: Ragini Nayak Tel: 020 7749 4080 Email: support@abplgroup.com Leicester Distributors: Shabde Magazine, Shobhan Mehta Mob: 07846 480 220

Bluetooth connection and a wired USB data connection with the PS4. Previously, the USB connection would only supply charge, leaning on the Bluetooth connectivity regardless of whether it was plugged in or not. The feature should also make a welcome addition for PC gamers who want to use the DualShock 4 with their rig, as there's now no Bluetooth dongle required. The light bar also marks as one of the notable changes to the new controller. There's now a slight

translucent strip in the touchpad, which allows you to see the colour your controller is set to. This makes it convenient for the gamer, saving them from twisting the pad upwards to see which player colour you're set as.

FEATURES ● Improved

power efficiency ● PS Plus a great deal with greater fames ● DualShock 4 better than ever

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14 Mar - 20 Mar 2020

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16-year-old Shafali shines in Women's T20 WC Despite India losing the final of the women's T20 world cup to Australia, 16-year-old Shafali Verma has emerged as the find of the tournament. Shafali entered the tournament with everyone's hopes pinned on her. Tasked with providing the side a quickfire start, her partnership with Smriti Mandhana could have given India much-needed respite at the top. So, when India took the field to play its first match against Australia in the group stage, all eyes were on Shafali. And she did not disappoint, as she took a special liking to Australian greats like Megan Schutt, Ellyse Perry. The teenager managed to score a quickfire 29, giving the crowd a glimpse of what's in store. Next, the Women in Blue played against Bangladesh and the 16-year-old scored a steady 39. In the next two matches, she scored 46 and 47 respectively against New

Zealand and Sri Lanka. These exploits with the bat enabled India to win all group stage matches. The 16year-old also rose to the number one spot in the ICC Women's T20I batting rankings. India, then went on to enter the finals, as its semifinal clash against England was abandoned due to rain. The Women in Blue progressed ahead as they had won all its group stage matches.

Heading into the finals against Australia, in front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground, the stage was set for Shafali. On the occasion of International Women's Day, a crowd of 86,174 turned up at the ground to witness a cricket spectacle. Shafali created a record as soon as she stepped out to the park as she became the youngest cricketer ever to play a Cricket World Cup final. However, the final did not

start on the right note either for India or Shafali. The 16year-old dropped Australia's Alyssa Healy in the finals and this cost the Women in Blue as Healy played a knock of 75 and took Australia's score to 184/4. With the bat, Shafali perished on the third ball of the innings, and India capitulated for just 99, losing the final by 85 runs. Shafali finished the tournament with 163 runs from six matches and was seen with tears when India ended up losing the final of the Women's T20 World Cup. But the message to the youngster would just be that it is just the beginning of what looks like a glorious career. A World Cup triumph will surely come for the youngster and India. The 16-year-old lit up the T20 World Cup and ICC Women's ODI World Cup is scheduled for next year, Shafali should look to keep playing her natural game and be the much-needed energy that the Women in Blue require.

die match, Paes and Bopanna, with a combined age of 86, won 6-3 6-7 (9) 7-5 after two hours and 21 minutes against Mate Pavic and Franko Skugor, ranked 15 and 32 respectively. The Indians missed two match points in the second set tie-breaker but eventually held their nerves to win the decisive third set in which they fell behind after Bopanna lost his serve. With this win, the 46year-old Paes has extended his Davis Cup record of most doubles victory to 45 and has possibly played his last tie as he has announced that 2020 is his final season. Bopanna served big, like he always does, and also made some sharp service return winners. Left-handed Pavic’s serve was difficult to attack and India’s strategy was clear that they will go after Skugor. Paes was terrific with his returns. First, he found a volley winner and then made an unreturnable forehand shot which

gave India its first break chance in the fourth game. Bopanna converted that with a screamer as he hit a crushing single backhand service return winner. An easy hold for Bopanna put India ahead 4-1 in the opening set. Pavic made no mistake when he returned to serve and Paes too held his own. When Skugor served again, more pressure was there since India was already in driver’s seat with a 5-2 lead. He though held with consecutive aces. Bopanna served out the set without a fuss as Paes fin-

ished it with another volley point at the net. Pavic’s serve came under pressure at the beginning of the set with some good returns by the Indians. At 40-all, Paes made a return on the side of Skugor, who made a weak return and Bopanna smashed a volley winner to earn a breakpoint. Pavic though saved that with a well-targeted second serve on the body of Bopanna, who could not clear the net. Skugor too saved a breakpoint in the third game but the Indians kept the pressure on the hosts.

India lose Davis Cup Qualifiers 1-3 to Croatia India lost the Davis Cup Qualifiers 1-3 to Croatia as Sumit Nagal was routed by Marin Cilic after big-serving Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes won the do-or-die- doubles. Nagal could win just one game in the match which the 2014 US Open Champion won 6-0, 6-1 in just 56 minutes. Captain Rohit Rajpal had dropped Nagal on the opening day of the tie but gave him a chance to prove a point but the young Indian was hammered by the world number 37 Croat. The fifth rubber is now inconsequential and India will now compete in World Group I in September to get back to the Davis Cup Qualifiers. Yet again the Indian team has stumbled against a formidable side at the same stage as they lost to Serbia, Canada and Italy in the last few years. Coming into the do-or-

Hardik, Bhuvneshwar, Shikhar in Indian squad Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned to India's ODI squad as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the team for the upcoming South Africa series. South Africa are scheduled to tour India for a three-match ODI series, starting from March 12. India's ODI squad: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Virat Kohli (C ), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh

Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) have already announced their squad for the series and spinner George Linde was given maiden ODI call-up.

South Africa squad: Quinton de Kock (c, wk), Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis, Kyle Verreynne, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Jon-Jon Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Lungi Ngidi, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Janneman Malan. The first ODI will be played in Dharamsala while the other two matches will be played in Lucknow and Kolkata on March 15 and 18, respectively.

ICC Women’s T20 World Cup

Aussie women dominate The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia was another celebration of International Women’s Day. The final game between India and Australia was completely dominated by the latter. Until a few decades ago women in the Indian sub-continent stayed at home and seldom took up full-time careers, let alone take up sport. That, thankfully, has changed and we can now see how far women in the sub-continent have come in all walks of life. The Indian women's cricket team has a lot of youngsters and that augurs well for the game's future. 16 year old Indian opener Shafali Verma impressed everyone with her batting prowess. The teenage sensation was the leading run-scorer for the Indians. The success of the Australian women's team is another example why Australia is one of the leading countries to come up with world-class athletes. The Australian women’s cricket team is clearly ahead of other nations in terms of fitness and skill. The weather put paid to the India and England contest which was disappointing because I felt that the two best teams were England and Australia. Having said that, even if the final was a contest between the pommies and the Aussies, the latter would have won the contest comfortably. What makes Australia one of the leading countries to produce world -class athletes has to do with their attitude to constantly improve and their love for sport. Perhaps the Australian weather too enables them to take part in sports and enjoy outdoor activities. What I saw during the tournament was their total commitment on the field. Their fielding was on another level compared to other teams, and that comes from the structure of coaching and the facilities available to the Australian people. Women's cricket is growing fast. The inclusion of Thailand in the T20 World Cup and Pakistan beating the West Indies shows that the game is improving around the world. The gap in the standards of the teams is narrowing and it doesn’t necessarily have to be England v Australia at every global tournament. I believe more investment needs to be made in women’s cricket in India. Thailand has made considerable investment into the game and the results are there for all to see. Across the world empowerment of women is gaining momentum and to see women's cricket thrive and move in the right direction is another testament to what women can achieve if they are offered a level playing field. I have no doubt that gender equality will soon become the norm in the world of cricket. More power to women's cricket! You can follow Monty Panesar @MontyChannel

Profile for Asian Business Publications Ltd

AV 14th March 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 44 Vol 48)

AV 14th March 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 44 Vol 48)

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