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15 - 21 FEBRUARY 2020 - VOL 48 ISSUE 40

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BAME DISABILITY CHALLENGE

The Freakonomics of well-being and productivity SEE PAGE 5

Confronting salary disparity, emotional well-being and hate crime Priyanka Mehta

Landslide victory for AAP in Delhi

A recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO), a government watchdog, has found that at least 69 suicides in the UK can be linked to problems with benefit claims over the last six years. However, it is highly unlikely that 69 is the actual number of disabled people who have committed suicide in the UK owing to austerity.

SEE PAGE -26

Donald Trump to visit India on Feb 24-25 SEE PAGE - 26 Christmas at Asian People’s Disability Alliance

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15 - 21 February 2020

with Keith Vaz

No extradition to India for couple who 'arranged murder of adopted son'

Deepak Bajaj Deepak Bajaj is the Deputy Lord Mayor for the City of Leicester. He has been a local Councillor since 2007 and has represented the Evington Ward. Deepak has supported and campaigned with many local residents to ensure their voices are heard on issues from planning and residents’ parking schemes to road safety and play areas. He simply wants to contribute to improving communities and lives. Deepak went to Rushey Mead Secondary School in Leicester. He did a Cadets Army Training. He also studied Business Management and did a year in law, photography and accounting. He worked in Printing and his work involved training people in flexographic, which he eventually had to give up pursuing his commitment to be a Councillor. He is married and has three children who are in school and University in Leicester.

1

Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in? It would have to be Leicester. It is quite friendly, welcoming, creative, very diverse, celebrates the arts and culture, has two great universities and a Premier League Football Club.

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6

What is the best aspect about your current role? Having some impact on Leicester and the Evington Ward. Reaching out to people and helping them especially those who have lost hope. It’s great to be able to give people hope to achieve things that are important to them.

What are your proudest achievements?

Becoming a Councillor because it gives me the opportunity to represent the community where I live. I have always wanted to serve people. It has been a full-time job.

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What inspires you?

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And the worst?

Dealing with people and trying to address problems that they have with the lack of resources like housing. It’s a tough job.

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What are your long-term goals?

Certain leaders such as Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela who have done so much for their country and also my family who have always supported me in whatever I do. I am especially close to my Mum as most Asian men are.

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What has been biggest obstacle in your career? Politics is a challenging environment and not an easy place to be with a lot of infighting and discrimination, but most people I meet and work with have service to their communities as a main motivation. Although it would be good if they could represent everybody and not just a particular community.

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Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date? I would have to say that would be my mother, who has always told me to follow my heart which is something that I try to live by. She always told me about the importance of loyalty.

I want to be a part of a global charity focusing on disadvantaged communities and perhaps become a Member of Parliament and a role model for people.

9

If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change? I would like to bring in house public services and stop the privatisation of local services. I would also like to see more investment in National Security and Arts and Culture.

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If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why. The four people I would probably go for would be Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. because there would be a lot that I could learn from them and they would be great company.

British judges have ruled that a couple who have been accused of murdering their adopted son in India inorder to gain his life insurance payout cannot be extradited to India for trial because it would breach their human rights. Despite Britain’s chief magistrate ruling that there was strong evidence to convict Dhir and Raijada and based on a confession from one of the hitmen and payments made to him the pair avoided extradition following a High Court hearing and are free to walk the streets of Britain. Sitting in London, Lord Justice Dingemans upheld a refusal to extradite the couple on the basis they face the prospect of a sentence of life without parole if convicted of double murder in India. However, as the murder was allegedly plotted from the couple’s housing association flat in Hanwell, west London, they could be investigated in the UK, the High Court said. Former baggage handler Dhir was named by Interpol as one of its ‘most wanted’ shortly after Gopal’s murder in February 2017 and was arrested in London. After Dhir placed an advert in an Indian newspa-

Arti Dhir, 55, and husband Kaval Raijada, 30, face charges over an alleged plot to kill 11-year-old Gopal Sejani (INSET) for a £150,000 windfall

per looking to adopt, a man approached Gopal’s family in the poor village of Maliya, promising the boy a better life in the UK. As the adoption progressed, Kenya-born Dhir, who moved to Britain as a child, took out life insurance on Gopal and paid two premiums totalling £30,000. The policy would pay out ten times the value of the annual premium – about £150,000 – in the event of Gopal’s death, with Dhir the sole beneficiary. Dhir and Raijada are then said to have hired a former student who lived with them in London to arrange the murder. Nitish Mund said he was recruited to kill Gopal after two unsuccessful attempts left Raijada ‘furious’. Gopal

and his brother-in-law Harsukhbhai Kardani were ambushed by men on motorbikes on a dirt road as they made their way to sign paperwork. Gopal was abducted and later found with stab wounds on the side of a road. He died in hospital a few days later. Mr Kardani was stabbed trying to defend his relative and also died in hospital. Mund was arrested and charged with murder in India where he said he had been recruited by the British couple to kill the boy. Investigations found Raijada had transferred money to Mund shortly before the killings. Gopal’s insurance policy was not paid out.

Manchester Arena bomber's brother shocked by attack The Old Bailey heard last Friday that the brother of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi (pictured) told police he would have 'reported it to (his) mother' had he suspected his sibling's murderous intent. Hashem Abedi said he had no involvement in the 'instigation, preparation or commission' of the 2017 attack and added he was 'shocked' when he discovered his older brother detonated his suicide bomb on May 22 2017, killing 22 and injuring hundreds of others as thousands of men, women and children left the Ariana Grande pop concert.

Hashem, 22, was arrested in Libya - where he was allegedly tortured - the day after the atrocity before being sent back to the UK to face police questions amid prosecution claims he was complicit in sourcing and stockpiling components for the bomb and condemned his brother's action in a statement to police made last summer and read before the jury at the Old Bailey on Friday, saying he did not think his brother 'had it in him'. Hashem declined to answer detectives' questions but instead issued the prepared statement through his

solicitor setting out his denial, the court heard. Hashem denies 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the injured survivors and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions. The trial, resumed this week.

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The UKs top universities are beleived to be offering to pay students up to £2,000 each to take a gap year after accepting more applicants than there are places available. Russell Group universities have offered students big sums of money, preferential treatment towards 'first-choice' accommodation and help with paying the costs, and even paid work experience, in return for delaying their studies by a year. According to reports the

decision to defer applications by a year follows a rise in tuition fees to £9,250 in 2017, and the end of a cap on numbers, as the higher education institutions scramble to fill their open positions with Britain's very best and brightest. Now that students can apply to up to five universities at once, admissions departments have been making more offers than they can accept. This has led to universities such as Nottingham, Exeter, and Manchester offering lucra-

tive sums to put off applicants for a year. The Times reported that the Freedom of Information requests show that Nottingham offered 260 medical course applicants £2,000 to defer their studies for a year, while 59 graduate entry nursing applicants were offered £1,000 each. Of those medical applicants offered the large sums to take a gap year, five accepted. None of those planning to study nursing agreed. Imperial College

London asked medical applicants to delay their entry from 2014 to 2015, in exchange for a 'paid-for eight-month project in the UK or overseas'. Up in the North West, the University of Manchester offered £1,000 to 190 management course applicants in 2018 to delay studies by one year. And in the North East, the University of Sunderland gave 10 paramedic applicants £4,000 each to defer entry from last April to last September.


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COMMENTS

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15 - 21 February 2020

Post-Brexit immigration regime The debate around the UK’s immigration system is like a broken record. Each time the country goes to election and politicians swarm the doorsteps with terminologies around “capped migration”, skilled migrants, and taking back control of our borders. Tory governments have introduced in vain hostile environment policy which does little to curb illegal immigration and instead clamps down on legislations around the highly skilled migrants. In the latest Brexit spin-off both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel appear to have conceded to the Migration Advisory Committee report. They are now expected to accept the government-appointed organisation’s recommendation around lowering the salary threshold of the skilled migrants coming to the UK with a job offer to £25,600 per annum. This is in contrast to Tory’s earlier benchmark of £30,000. The details of the new system are expected to be formally unveiled by Patel next Friday. But it is yet to be understood if the proposed Australian points-based immigration system is going to facilitate in attracting skilled professionals from across the world, especially to plug the gaps in NHS with more nurses and doctors. But at a time when it appears that the UK seems to be making avenues for skilled professionals from countries such as India, there is a flip side to the story as well. The UK’s immigration regime for people from the European Regime. The socalled Australian-style points-based system will effectively curb unskilled migrants' access to the UK from January 1, 2021, when the free movement of people from within the European Union (EU) will end under a pre-agreed transition period after

Britain formally left the economic bloc on January 31. Whilst the mayor of London may campaign heavily around #LondonIsOpen, the dogged question remains if London is really welcome and open? If the recent deportation of the convicted offenders from London to Jamaica against Home Office’s ruling is considered then the answer to the above question remains no. In the meantime perhaps, it is both redundant yet realistic to note the benefits that migrants bring to any country regardless of their ethnic profile. These are possibly best illustrated by Nobel Laurette Abhijeet Banerjee’s latest book Good Economics for Hard Times which tackles issues in both poor and rich countries. It focuses on the impact of immigration, automation, and trade on workers; the rise of nativism and xenophobia; and universal basic income and how all these concepts are intricately inter-related. He argues that large numbers of low-skill people suddenly showing up in some country’s labor market does not depress the wages or hurt other low-skilled counterparts. These workers also buy things and that creates demand and they are also often entrepreneurial and they create jobs. It’s a triumph of bad economics that no one wants to believe that a large number of low-skill immigrants are not depressing wages. Interestingly, high-skilled immigrants, who are welcome in most countries, do depress wages. Low-skilled immigrants only seem to add to the GDP. That this concept (that low-skill immigrants depress wages) is so appealing is the failure of our profession. Perhaps, the Tory government ought to take note of economists and immigration specialists as opposed to their own polarised opinions around migrants.

A giant leap for the history of mankind University museums are repatriating overseas relics, that were stolen during Britain’s colonial rule, after students pressurised that they are perceived of historical injustices. This act of kindness has been applauded by many, especially by the younger generation- but criticised by others. The critics who now fear that the UK will be pushed to return many of such stolen goodsdisplayed in various museums- as their colonial conquers, are perhaps in fear of losing their colonial hangover. It is evidential even in simple things like school curriculum. The British children are never taught about the colonial destruction that The Empire carried on in the name of trade, and today there have been movements to include colonial history in school text books. Pupils at a school in East Dulwich believe it is essential for the history of the British Empire be taught in classes. The Department for Education said that there is flexibility within the curriculum for children to be taught about colonial history. Such history should be mandatory and not flexible. When acclaimed writer and historian William Dalrymple commented at last year’s Dhaka Literature Festival that the UK authorities do not teach British schools the history of the colonial enterprise, many seemed unaware that the East India Company was the original corporate raider. “The British Empire does not figure on the syllabus in textbooks,” Dalrymple had reportedly exclaimed. British children read about the great explorers but do not speak about those colonial officers punished for plunder, corruption, and other atrocities. It is ironical how on one hand Britain is ashamed of its colonial past, that killed thousands in the name of ‘Raj’. On the other they refuse to return what they took from countries they ever

wrongfully ruled, claiming as their own- in the name of Parliamentary law. Laws change every day, if the people they represent believe it’s not reflective of what they believe in. Brexit is the biggest example of how power rest with the people. Arts Council England is embarking on a project to update its advice to museums and galleries on how to deal with the repatriation of artefacts that are suspected of being looted during the colonial era. It said that given the increasing focus on the subject its last guidance, from 2000, was “very out of date”. According to documents obtained under freedom of information legislation only one in seven requests made since 2009 to institutions linked to Oxford University have been denied. Of course returning such goods may lead to complex issues and question may arise about the rightful owner. For example if something was taken from an area in India in 1897, which is currently in Pakistan, who is then the rightful owner? That a UK court could decide of course. The history of the object of course is not only of imperial aggression- as The Times said in its comment, but multifaceted. Yet it remains important- who it belonged to originally. Imperialism and colonialism did more harm than one knows. Neither incidents like Jallianwala Bagh or the Bengal famine can be erased from our past. Nor these sins can be eradicated just by a reflexive gesture of regret. But the sins perhaps could be reduced by the willingness to return objects to its rightful, undisputed owner. Charity always begins at home. These small steps could indeed be equivalent to a giant leap for the history of mankind- example of true grit shown by Britain, that has finally come of age and its sense.

No fundamental right to claim quota in government jobs, promotion In a major verdict, the Supreme Court in India has ruled that the states are not bound to provide quota for Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) or Other Backward Class (OBC) in government jobs and that there is no fundamental right to claim reservation in promotions. There is no fundamental right which confers an individual to claim reservations in promotions. No mandamus can be issued by the court directing the state government to provide reservations,” said a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court. The ruling came in a case where the question was on validity of Uttarakhand government’s September 5, 2012 decision to fill up all posts in government services in the state without providing reservations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Uttarakhand HC had struck down the notification and had directed the government to provide reservation as per law. The SC bench upheld the September 5notification and reversed the HC judgment. Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice L Nageswara Rao said, “It is settled law that the state government cannot be directed to provide reservations for appointments in public posts. Similarly, the state is not bound to make reservation for SCs and STs in matters of promotions. However, if they (the states) wish to exercise their discretion and make such a

provision, the state has to collect quantifiable data showing inadequacy of representation of that class in public services.” In reality, the logic of reservations demands that they have a self-cancelling character. If it is contended that they institute equality of opportunity then they cannot continue in perpetuity, as the goal will have to be attained at some point. Surely it should be up to governments to determine if and when intended policy goals are achieved, and if it cannot be achieved then to shift to some other strategy. Making reservations itself a fundamental right denies governments any flexibility and amounts to a subversion of equality of opportunity. In practice the actual cause for reservations in India have been turned upside down as more powerful castes muscle into this space brandishing their street power. The desperation for jobs as millions of youth enter the workforce in a slumping economy, combined with the comfort and perks of government jobs, have caused the latter to be coveted and led to intense caste wars to divide up the pie. This is not good for merit, for equality of opportunity, or for fostering a modern sense of citizenship transcending caste divides. It is high time Centre as well as state governments shifted to a different strategy for ensuring equality of opportunity: by offering high quality public education to all.

Don’t try to change people just love them. Love is what changes us! - Meg Meeker

Alpesh Patel

The Fashion to Dumb Down & Silence I noticed this past week on Mayoral candidate Rory Stewart’s Twitter feed the following “Ended the afternoon trying to help my five year old - who wanted to find sculpture from the Ramayana in the @britishmuseum - but - apart from the Garuda in the South Asian gallery - which is not Ramayana specific - no luck. Tips anyone please?” I noticed this past week on Mayoral candidate Rory Stewart’s Twitter feed the following “Ended the afternoon trying to help my five year old - who wanted to find sculpture from the Ramayana in the @britishmuseum - but - apart from the Garuda in the South Asian gallery - which is not Ramayana specific - no luck. Tips anyone please?” I was suitably impressed. Lord Gadhia was one of the first to offer a reply of the 88 respondents, “Rory - impressed by your daughter’s keen interest in Indian culture and traditions. The Garuda does play a brief role in the Ramayana during the battle at Lanka. The ‘king of birds’ relieves Lord Rama and Lakshmana from the noose of a serpent used by the son of the demon Ravana.” But then it went down hill. Others posted sarcastic comments such as these: "Does he also have a passing interest in numerology and space-time continuum?” “How about taking your five year old to the Park ? Lots of fun to be found there ...” “Buy them a bag of sweets and go and see Paw Patrol.” “Why not take him to the football?” “Appealing to the masses or public school chums?” “How ultra-educated is your five-year-old to want to find a sculpture from the Ramayana? Most kids of that age would settle for Peppa Pig!” The attacks on Rory show a broader problem – the attack on anything intellectual. God forbid a child is interested in anything other than Peppa Pig. And then there is the reverse snobbery. That the ‘salt of the earth’ folk who can compete to be the most ordinary, poor, down-trodden. Culture, education, intellectual pursuits are defined by such individuals as elitist. When I became Chair of City Hindus I was asked a striking question on Facebook – ‘it won’t be elitist will it?’ I’ve never met a more elite group of people than British Indians. Striving, achieving. Are we to look down on such things now? Are we to elevate our children by the lack of qualifications? Of course character is made of more important things than knowledge but it certainly does not come from elevating ignorance. This is part of the cohort who will sneer at culture as elitist. Religion as not modern enough for them. The rush to ditch education comes from the same vein as to ditch tradition and culture and history and heritage. Oh how boring. We just wanna have fun DJ. You don’t think the DJ spinning the tunes is talented? Whoever the pied piper whose tune you’re following, better to understand it’s a talented informed educated fellow. And he may just lead you off a cliff if you merrily follow the tune with your mind closed. 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


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15 - 21 February 2020

Uber driver convicted of plotting Pride terror attack

in brief

M o h i u s s u n n a t h Chowdhury, a former Uber driver who has been found guilty of planning terrorist attacks told police officers he 'learned a lot' from 'likeminded' Streatham attacker Sudesh Amman while in Belmarsh prison. Chowdhury, 28, had previously been cleared of a sword attack on police outside Buckingham Palace, but was convicted at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday and had allegedly boasted to undercover police how he had deceived a jury into finding him not guilty of the attack. Sneha Chowdhury, 25, his sister, cried as she was also convicted of one count of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism and cleared of another count of the same charge. The Court heard Chowdhury unwittingly revealed his plans to 'unleash death and suffering on nonMuslim members of the public' to undercover agents and had 'learned a lot' from 'likeminded brothers' whilst on remand at Belmarsh with other terrorists which included Streatham knife attacker Sudesh Amman, 20, who was shot dead by police officers after stabbing two people in Streatham High Road on Sunday 2 February. His defence barrister Simon Csoka QC had argued the university drop-out was a 'pathetic little man' and an 'attention-seeker' who 'talks and talks, but doesn't do'. While being interviewed by police, just three days before a Pride event in London, he appeared 'personable'.

CONTROVERSIAL MUSLIM SCHOOL AT CENTRE OF PROBE IS SHUT DOWN

Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 28

Sneha Chowdhury, 25

Sudesh Amman, 20

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said Chowdhury desired to 'unleash death and suffering' on non-Muslims after

Islam, and inspired by preachers of hate', a jury at Woolwich Crown Court was previously told. The brother and sister

judge Andrew Lees on March 13 while she was bailed for a pre-sentence report to be prepared. The extremist, who had martyrdom notes posted on his bedroom door, had the intention 'to kill and harm as many people as possible', Scotland Yard counter terror commander Richard Smith told reporters. Chowdhury told one undercover officer known only as Mikael he was free to attack one million unbelievers if he was fighting for 'the pleasure of Allah' and stressed the importance of an 'ambush', saying: 'They shouldn't know what hit them', the trial heard. According to reports Chowdhury later added during the conversation: 'It must be an ambush ... we should be the one doing it first, they shouldn't know what's hit them, yeah, does that make sense?' The court heard how Chowdhury had bragged about deceiving the jury which cleared him at a previous trial at the Old Bailey in December 2018 for the palace sword attack including by shaving off his large unkempt beard.

Handout file photo photo issued by Metropolitan Police of a handwritten note, shown at Woolwich Crown Court, relating to the trial of Sneha Chowdhury and Mohiussunnath Chowdhury

absorbing sermons from preachers like al Qaida's Anwar Al-Awlaki. Chowdhury from Luton was 'motivated by dreams of martyrdom for the cause of

today hugged in the dock and Chowdhury, dressed in a blue shirt and tie, could be heard whispering: 'It's all right.' He will be sentenced by

Two north London terrorists could be released in the next few months Two convicted terrorists from north London could be released in the next two months, as the Government scrambles to pass a law to keep offenders already in prison behind bars. Ministers are aiming to pass emergency legislation to stop any more terrorists being automatically freed from prison, following the Streatham stabbing on Sunday. A target of February 27 has been set to rush the bill through Parliament - a day before the next terrorist is expected to be freed. This comes after convicted terrorist Sudesh Amman, 20, stabbed two people on Streatham High Road. He was jailed for possessing and distributing terrorist documents in December 2018, but was freed automatically halfway through his sentence last month. He had been put under 24-hour police surveillance on his release. Some offenders have been sentenced for a fixed period, but were told they will be automatically

released half-way through so they can service the remainder of the sentence on licence in the community. Because the release is automatic, it does not involve the oversight of the Parole Board. It may be that the offenders pleaded guilty on the condition they will be automatically released early. According to the rightleaning think tank Henry Jackson Society and reports in the Times newspaper, those who could be released may include: - Mohammed Ghani Barnet: was sentenced to two years and four months in prison May last year after threatening to kill police officers. - Mohammed Khilji - northwest London: was sentenced to five years in prison in June 2018 after being found guilty of posting beheading videos on WhatsApp, as well as footage giving advice on how to make a car bomb. Jamshed Javeed Manchester: was jailed for six years in March 2015 for planning to travel from his

A Birmingham primary school that was at the centre of a year-long probe under Government orders has been shut down. The Department for Education has removed the controversial Birmingham Muslim School from its register of independent schools thereby triggering its closure following an investigation into its owners, Albayan Education Foundation Ltd, which is still under way by the Charity Commission, and was connected to an unreported "serious incident" relating to the lSmall Heath school. According to Birmingham Live the school's head, Janet Laws, also known as Aisha Abdrabba, had previously been subject to an interim prohibition order banning her from teaching because she was deemed "a potential risk to pupils" - though it is believed that the ban, which was imposed last February had been lifted in the autumn. Ofsted revealed the school’s closure in a final report published last week and says that the school had 80 pupils aged 4-11 on roll, shut down for good on December 16. Two inspectors from the schools' watchdog, stood by to ensure the head teacher was closing it down, it adds. The school, has been under regular review by Ofsted since 2014. It opened in 2001 and throughout its 19 year history the school has never been graded 'Good' or better by Ofsted. It has previously been criticised for failing to protect pupils from risk of radicalisation and extremism, along with other safeguarding failings. Closure marks the end of the road for the school which has been dogged by controversy and a catalogue of concerns.

BRIGHTON GP PRACTICE CLOSES AFTER STAFF MEMBER TESTS POSITIVE According to news reports a GP practice in Brighton has been temporarily closed after a staff member tested positive for coronavirus. Patients at the city's County Oak medical centre have been advised to contact the NHS 111 phone service if they have concerns. Two of the eight people diagnosed in the UK are understood to be GPs. The Department of Health has called the virus a "serious and imminent threat" to public health, but the overall risk to the population is "moderate". However, the risk to individuals is low, the department said. A school in Southampton has also closed over concerns about the virus. St Mary's Independent School said the "precautionary" three-day closure came after "members of the school community" became ill, having recently travelled to China. In Northamptonshire Brackley Medical Centre was also closed as a precautionary measure, but later reopened. According to the BBC four new UK cases were announced on Monday - taking the total number of people infected in the UK to eight.

BUSINESSMAN ADMITS KILLING SUPPORT WORKER IN PERRY BARR

Two Jihadists due to be released include: Mohammed Ghani and Mohammed Khilji both from North London

Manchester home to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State (IS). - Mohammed Zahir Khan Sunderland: the father-ofone, originally from Birmingham, had served long sentences in the past for drugs supply offences and moved to the north east to make a break from gangs. He was jailed for four-anda-half years in May 2018. - RXG: According to reports, Britain's youngest terrorist, a boy known only as RXG who plotted to murder police officers in Australia, is due for release this month. The boy became involved in orchestrating a plot where a

co-conspirator would launch attacks during a 2015 Anzac Day parade and received a life sentence with a minimum term of five years in 2015, having been arrested in March that year. - Atiq Ahmed - Oldham, Greater Manchester: was arrested after hurling abuse at staff at a school in the town and later found to have IS propaganda on his phone, is due to be released in March. He was jailed for four-and-a-half years in May 2018 after extremist material was found on devices including a tablet that had been dumped in his kitchen bin.

Businessman, Inderjit Ram, has admitted killing his support worker colleague who was found stabbed at a house. Ram, pictured, who ran a firm which gave residential support to vulnerable adults, stabbed Belinda Rose during a meeting at one of his properties. Ms Rose, 63, was found fatally injured in Birmingham, on 17 August. Ram admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Birmingham Crown Court earlier. The 52-year-old is due to be sentenced at a later date. The court heard that Ram's firm was on the brink of collapse at the time of the killing. Prosecutor Adrian Keeling QC said Ms Rose, a grandmother, had worked for Ram and he had asked her to lend him money, though the reason for the stabbing was unknown. It is clear that there must have been an argument. The exact trigger for that is unclear," Mr Keeling said, adding that there was "nothing to suggest [Ram] had gone to that meeting with the intention of serious violence". As reported by the BBC Ram, who was diagnosed with depression in 2007, called his wife and attended a police station shortly after killing, the court heard. Explaining the Crown's decision not to proceed with a murder charge, Mr Keeling said two psychiatric experts had said Ram was suffering from an impairment of mental function.


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15 - 21 February 2020

The Freakonomics of well-being and productivity What do young British Asian entrepreneurs think of the policy of a four-day working week? Priyanka Mehta

Nearly a decade ago when Dubner and Levitt published Freakonomics, their core rationalisations around incentivedriven economic and sociological policies were frowned upon. Now, these perhaps, are the very pillars on which a capitalistic economy thrives. The desire for people to get what they want or need, especially in a competitive market where others may pursue the same seems the formula for most recruiters to assess the target achieving capacity of an individual. reaking away from the traditional structure of a regular MondayFriday office culture is the new norm of moving towards a “less working future”. Four-day working weeks have recently become the topic of debate. But what do young British Asian entrepreneurs think of the proposed idea? “When you have to focus, you are more productive. If you can do what you need to do in 4 days, then what use is the 5th day? Wouldn't it be better to let people recharge properly for the next week? Certainly plenty of academic studies have shown this, and Microsoft's latest experiments in Japan with a 4-day work-week have shown a 40% productivity jump,” asks Darshan Sanghrajka, Founder, Super Being Labs.

B

Upside: Flexible clocking hours and result-oriented work culture Super Being Labs is a social innovation agency that creates digital products and offers services around improved lifestyles. Darshan works along with a team of 21 artists including strategists, creatives, designers, developers, and researchers. Some of their clients include Cabinet Office, Breast Cancer Now, Action for Children, Women's Aid and Telefonica among others. As is the atmosphere in most

during the weekend as well. However, these are the results of labour movements of the 19th and 20th centuries demanding limits to the toil that industrialism had imposed upon them in the post World War era. While some Scandinavian countries such as Finland mull over the introduction of this four-day working week concept, it is worth noting that Darshan Sanghrajka, Founder of the UK follows some Super Being Labs of the longest working hours across the start-ups and creative agenEU as noted by Eurostat. cies the work culture in In a similar shift of poliSuper Being Labs is also relcy at the annual party conatively relaxed. ference in Brighton last “Our work culture is year, shadow chancellor based on the idea that great John McDonnell proposed people work best when moving British workers to a trusted. We don't have time 32-hour week–equivalent to sheets, we don't have people four days–with no loss of looking over people's shoulpay. The change would hapders, we just get the work pen within the next decade done. Also because we are a under a Labour government, pretty remote company, he had proposed. Recently people can work from wherLabour leadership conever is best for them. tender Rebecca Long-Bailey “I am not focussed on has asserted the need to end the hours slogged out by the ‘24/7 work culture’ and that team members as long as workers must be allowed to everyone gets their work ignore e-mails during the done with the results weekends. While in theory, required of them and leavthese policies may foster ing them happy and emotional well-being, some recharged,” he explains. entrepreneurs question if in It may appear natural to reality, it would yield the clock 37-40 hours in a worksame? ing week, and perhaps some

The downside: Crammed up work pressure, stress and employers willing to pay “The downside of this approach is that it may result in people becoming increasingly stressed during the 4 days they actually do work especially if they are expected to produce the same output as they would in the 5 days however just in less time. “There is also a question regarding the payment. Would employers be paying the same for you to work 4 days - would all employers be able to afford that? I think smaller employers

empower their employees to own their professional development. Rajeeb works with a team of 21 professionals; with three of these members working remotely with him. And similar to Super Labs Being, the work culture in Learnerbly is based on trust and results. Additionally, the employees are cared for with p e r s o n a l Learning and Rajeeb Dey MBE, Founder and CEO Learnerbly Wellbeing allowances rangwould potentially be ing from £1000 - £2000 to impacted by this especially cover personal and profesas the jury is still out on sional development as well whether cramming 5 days of as the ability to avail their work into 4 days is feasible health cashback scheme to and boosts productivity.,” cover things like dentist, argues Rajeeb Dey, Founder optician and physio costs & CEO of Learnerbly. (which also includes counLearnerbly is a workselling and medical serplace learning platform that vices). Explaining his skeptienables businesses to cism around this policy,

Rajeeb concludes, “We don't clock watch as long as you produce the results you can leave early; choose to work random hours it's ultimately about getting things done. Whether you stipulate 4 or 5 days is not necessarily going to change much. I think this may be something particularly prevalent in the startup ecosystem where people are driven by far more than just the salary or the fact it's a job. We constantly benchmark ourselves with other early-stage tech companies to ensure we're able to provide a great working environment and attract the very best talent. “For organisations who have trialled it already the initial findings haven't been conclusive and many have reverted to the original 5day models so I am currently more sceptical about this than I am supportive of the proposition until I can see more hard evidence of this impact and benefits it provides both to employees and employers.”


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Perry’s appointment as ambassador for South Asian charity starts a diversity row The recent appointment of a Californian pop-artist as the ambassador of a British Asian Trust has drawn backlash and re-ignited the diversity debate. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles welcomed Katy Perry as an ambassador at the British Asian Trust’s annual Royal Dinner on Wednesday, 5th February. “India has long held a special place in my heart, and on my last visit, I was able to meet with The Prince of Wales and other leaders in Mumbai, and I was impressed by their strong plan - from onground initiatives to fundraising - that will aim to cut child trafficking in half. “That is why I am especially honoured to be named an ambassador for the British Asian Trust’s Children’s Protection Fund, and to help shine my light on the work that the British Asian Trust will be doing in South Asia, and to be a part of finding solutions to child trafficking,” said Katy Perry. However, members of the British Asian diaspora have questioned the trust in

Katy Perry, His Royal Highness Prince of Wales Prince Charles, Her Royal Highness Duchess of Cornwall Camilla and Natasha Poonawalla

her appointment especially considering she doesn’t have either Asian or British roots. Prince Charles first met with Perry in India in November 2019 at a meeting in Mumbai of British Asian Trust supporters and advisors. Whilst her prior work with UNICEF may cast a light onto her intention of supporting the Trust in its charitable work in India,

some members have expressed the need for appointment of British Asian celebrities as ambassadors of such charities to foster diversity in arts and culture. This especially is highlighted following Joaquin Phoenix’s speech at BAFTAs where he urged the industry to work hard to recognise “systematic racism” and the absence of recognition of

BAME artists and their work. The event focussed on building an anti-trafficking fund in South Asia and collaborate with Sir Chris Hohn and the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF). Popular philanthropist, Natasha Poonawalla, announced a multimillion-pound pledge to the Fund. And the event was attended by celebrities such as comedian Russell Peters among other British Asian Trust ambassadors Nihal Arthanayake and Naughty Boy. Other guests included the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health; His Excellency Mohammad Nafees Zakaria, High Commissioner for Pakistan and Her Excellency Saida Muna Tasneem, High Commissioner for Bangladesh. Through the Trust’s work in anti-trafficking, improving livelihoods, education and mental health, it has already touched the lives of 4.8 million people in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and has recently expanded its remit into Bangladesh.

Government appointed Emergency legislation prevents early release Imam to inquire of convicted terrorists Islamophobia now in free-speech row

Qari Asim

An Imam appointed to the g o v e r n m e n t ’ s Islamophobia panel by former Prime Minister Theresa May has now been asked to step down from his position following accusations of questioning free speech. Qari Asim, the Imam at the Makkah mosque in Leeds, was appointed to conduct inquiry into Islamophobia within the government and help create a definition for anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice. But a recent tape shows that in September 2018 Imam Asim told an interfaith workshop that while Muslims “cherish free speech”, some want exceptions in instances where something is “distasteful to Muslims or they find it

offensive”, particularly where it concerns the prophet Muhammad. “We can have exceptions to the freedom of speech, on the basis of their being some words or some actions being offensive or distasteful. This approach, according to him was one of the “challenges that are posed by the secular law”. The Imam claims that his comments had been “taken out of context”, that he was discussing the views of others and that he regarded freedom of speech as “a fundamental right”. The Imam earlier also accused Boris Johnson of “fanning the flames of Islamophobia” with his comments in a newspaper column about Muslim women in burqas looking like “letterboxes”.

An emergency legislation introduced in Parliament on 11th February, Tuesday will end the automatic early release of terrorist offenders. This legislation comes in the aftermath of the Streatham attack earlier this month by an Islamist militant just days after he was set free half-way through his jail term, despite authorities believing he still posed a threat to the public. Unveiled by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland QC MP, it will ensure that terrorist offenders cannot be released before the end of their sentence without a thorough risk assessment by the Parole Board – with those considered still a threat to public safety forced to spend the rest of their time in prison. The government had already promised tougher rules on terrorism after another former convict killed two people and wounded three before being shot dead by police near London Bridge in November. "No dangerous terrorist should be released automatically only to go on to kill and maim innocent people on our streets. "Enough is enough. This government will do whatever it takes to keep the public safe, including Auto Expo 2020 making sure no terror offender is released early without a thorough risk assessment by

the Parole Board," said justice minister Robert Buckland in a statement. The government said around 50 people currently in jail would see their release blocked as a result of the change to the law, which will also apply to those sentenced for crimes including training for terrorism and the dissemination of terrorist publications. Under the new law, they will have to serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before being assessed. However, those who serve what is known as ‘standard determinate sentences’ are released automatically at the half-way point. This means that authorities are powerless to prevent a release – even if an offender continues to display concerning behaviour. The government said it also plans to boost deradicalisation measures in prison, introduce a minimum 14-year term for the most serious terror offenders and increase funding to police to deal with terrorism. “Recent months have been a stark reminder of the threat we continue to face from terrorism. We are already boosting funding for counter-terrorism police and victims of terrorism and this legislation will ensure terrorist offenders are not released early unless there has been a full assessment of the risks,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Begum loses initial appeal to return to the UK Shamima Begum has lost the initial stage of her appeal against the Home Office’s decision to revoke her citizenship. The Bethnal Green schoolgirl who fled London in 2015 to join the Islamic State in Syria has requested to return to the UK following the death of her three children. She was stripped of her British citizenship by former Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Under international law, it is illegal to strip nationals of their citizenship in the event of leaving them stateless. Begum’s immigrant parents and a possible recourse to her Bangladesh nationality had created a massive controversy around the subject of dual citizenship. However, in February 2019, Bangladesh's ministry of foreign affairs said she was not a Bangladeshi citizen and there was "no question" of her being allowed into the country. Now, a recent judgment by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) has found three grounds against her return to the UK. The ruling said that when she was stripped of her UK citizenship, Begum “was a citizen of Bangladesh by descent, by virtue of [Bangladeshi nationality legislation].

She held that citizenship as of right. That citizenship was not in the gift of the [Bangladesh] government and could not be denied by the [Bangladesh] government in any circumstances.” The judgment observed that the decision of stripping her off her citizenship does not make her stateless. However, it said, she could nonetheless continue with her substantive appeal. The judgment read: “We accept that, in her current circumstances, [Begum] cannot play any meaningful part in her appeal and to that extent, the appeal will not be fair and effective.” However, it went on, parliament, had intended that the home secretary “should be free to make a deprivation order immediately after giving notice of intention to deprive the person concerned her citizenship, whether or not the person concerned wishes to … appeal against the notice”. Her lawyer Daniel Furner, reportedly said his client would "immediately initiate an appeal" against the decision "as a matter of exceptional urgency". The proceedings continue.

Court suspends vitamin supply healthcare company On Monday, 10th February, a British court ordered shutdown of a company which used Indian call centres in India to sell vitamins and healthcare supplements using “aggressive sales tactics”. According to the UK's Insolvency Service the company had conducted confidential investigations after receiving complaints on the business modus operandi of Young Forever, which is reportedly owned by Mumbai-based entrepreneur Shadab Shaikh. “Young Forever’s victims were the elderly and the vulnerable, and many more people will be protected from their aggressive sales tactics, thanks to the court's decision to wind up the company,” said Irshard

Mohammed, Senior Investigator, Insolvency Service. Investigators had discovered that the company pushed its products through cold-calling people. “Young Forever used call-centres based in India, and victims said that sales staff were persistent and would call repeatedly,” noted an Insolvency Service statement. “Sales staff also falsely claimed that Young Forever was linked to government bodies, healthcare providers or the NHS,” it added. The court was also told that Young Forever practised “improper” sales techniques, applied markups in excess of 1,000 per cent and failed to maintain adequate records.


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BAME Disability Challenge Continued from page 1 Experts estimate the number to be far higher. There is no clear statistical data indicating the number of disabled people who have committed suicide owing to difficulties after benefits were cut from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). But experts estimate the number to be much higher. Now, the Labour’s shadow disability minister has called for an independent inquiry into these suicides especially after the DWP stated that it is “too expensive to gather information”. A recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO), a government watchdog, has found that at least 69 suicides in the UK can be linked to problems with benefit claims over the last six years. However, it is highly unlikely that 69 is the actual number of disabled people who have committed suicide in the UK owing to austerity. Experts estimate the number to be far higher. There is no clear statistical data indicating the number of disabled people who have committed suicide owing to

condition called Multiple Epiphyseal Dysplasia which means that my joints have grown differently. “I had both hips replaced in 2002. I can walk today thanks to the NHS and assistive technology. But my condition affects all my joints and now they want to replace my shoulders. I can replace my elbows and knees depending on the number of operations I can bear. The truth is that my disability has impacted me throughout my life,” explains Kush Kanodia, a social entrepreneur, and a disability campaigner. Nearly ten years ago, Kush gave up on his career in financial services and dedicated his life to champion the rights of disabled people. Having left the lucrative career in financial services, Kush has now developed a portfolio career wherein he has helped several charities, social enterprises and non-profit organisations with a majority of his work focussed around disability rights. He is now the governor for the Chelsea Westminster NHS Foundation Trust

disabled people cannot access healthcare then how can other areas be addressed? He explains, “I think that some employers misunderstand the legislation of the Equalities Act in the UK. Many employers still think that when they treat all equally it means that they are treating everyone fairly. “It is a logical assumption. But the difference with a disability is that there is a requirement in law for reasonable adjustment which is specific to disabled people. That means if there are barriers for a person due to his/her disability then there is an obligation upon employers and public service providers to make reasonable adjustments to create a level playing field.”

Salary disparity and inclusive representation But whilst legislation can be transformed and government watchdogs can be appointed to investigate the extent of discrimination that disabled people continue to face. It is not enough. According to the Office for National Statistics In

Kush Kanodia winner of the entrepreneur of the year award at the 19th Asian Achievers Awards

difficulties after benefits were cut from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). But experts estimate the number to be much higher. Now, the Labour’s shadow disability minister has called for an independent inquiry into these suicides especially after the DWP stated that it is “too expensive to gather information”. If the death of Errol Graham, a disabled man who starved to death after his benefits were cut by the DWP, was not a wake-up call. Perhaps, this report is. It has effectively brought to spotlight the challenges that disabled people continue to face even today: physical, emotional and psychological. But it is not just the DWP that appears to misunderstand the challenges of the disabled people.

Physical exhaustion and emotional well-being “I have had a disability ever since my childhood. I have a

Hospital, which is one of the leading hospitals in England. His Hospital Trust decided to charge for disabled parking last year, despite his persuasions a year ago and the councillor governors were strongly opposed to the decision. “All tube stations from our hospital are 15-20 minutes walk away and only 25% of London Tube stations are accessible. So, I called the campaign #Nowheelchair Tax as I realised this amounted to direct discrimination against disabled people who may not have direct access to public transport from the hospital.” Thus being instrumental in the campaign to abolish car parking charges for disabled people at all NHS hospitals across England. The law is expected to change from April this year. The UK Government has now allocated an extra £1 million for disabled people who want to work by 2027. But Kush argues that if

2018, London had the widest disability pay gap at 15.3%. In the UK, there is no complete breakdown of disability pay like the gender pay investigation has provided but experts suspect that not only is there a disparity in salary structure but also with representation at executive and board management levels of these companies. And Kush believes that hailing from a BAME background alongside being disabled can be a double disadvantage for some. He says, “If you look at organisations, there are Diversity and Inclusivity initiatives for protected characteristics around gender, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and generally speaking disability seems to be the forgotten aspect. Most of them are still to measure the number of disabled people in their institution and where they are in the hierarchy of the organisations. “So, in terms of inter-

Kush Kanodia, torchbearer at London Paralympics in 2012

sectionality, you have a compounding effect of being a BAME disabled person which is currently either not understood or quantified in the organisations.”

Old age and hate crime Now, some charities have also expressed concern around incidents of hate crime against disabled and old people. There are various fac-

tors, including cultural, linguistic and other differences where Asian elderly and disabled people are more isolated, marginalised. Many are even going through varying degrees of depression and mental health disorders. The aggravated act of a violent break into their homes, often daylight robberies with incidents of knives, screwdrivers and other weapons pointed at them

and being physically hurt have further distressed them. This can be fear gripping and can often drive some to suicidal tendencies,” concludes Zeenat Jeewa, CEO of Asian People’s Disability Alliance. If you are in distress and need some help, then you can reach out to organisations such as Shaw Trust, Kaleidoscope Investments and Access to Work.


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UK to launch free ports post Brexit On 9th February Sunday, the government launched a consultation on creation of 10 free ports with special tariff and duty status. Trade experts and ministers believe that such a move will fuel growth and propel job creation but critics believe it could encourage money laundering and other crimes. The government said it would announce the location of up to 10 new free ports - scheduled to begin operating in 2021. Once the consultation is completed, sea, air and rail ports will be able to bid for free port sta-

Rishi Sunak

tus. This idea was first pitched by Boris Johnson during his campaign to become Conservative leader. The government has argued

that these zones could bring thousands of new jobs and significant investment, notably to deprived coastal areas. It is also proposing zones – which do not necessarily have to be located in a port – where no duty is paid on goods until they enter the full UK market, meaning none at all is paid if they are re-exported from the port. Other extra freedoms include duties only being paid on final goods, not on any raw materials that are imported into the area and then processed. Businesses would be exempt from filling out full customs declarations on imported goods.

"Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK," Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said in a statement. There could be measures to “reduce the costs of hiring workers working in Freeport sites”, the government said, not specifying how this could be done. The ports could also trial ideas in areas such as customs and transport before they are rolled out across the country. After the 10-week consultation, areas will be invited to bid to become one of the zones.

Surinder Arora steps down from CEO of Arora Group On 9th February, Founder of the Arora Group announced that he will switch roles from CEO to serve as the executive chairman of the company. Surinder Arora highlighted he wanted to focus on growing the business and developing the group’s Heathrow West new terminal proposal. Cardiff-based Steve Pateman who joins from the privately-owned Hodge Bank, where he is currently chief executive is expected to be the new CEO. Pateman has previously held leadership roles with Shawbrook Bank, Santander and Royal Bank of Scotland. He also serves as currently an advisor to the group’s board. The Heathrow West Proposal would see the Arora Group build a new terminal at the airport to support the third runway.

Surinder Arora

Steve Pateman

This terminal which is expected to handle 40m passenger inflow a year would compete with the airport’s existing terminals, which are owned by a clutch of international investors that include Spain’s Ferrovial. This terminal would also support the additional 260,000 air transport movements that could be made

possible by way of a third runway. In 2018, Arora group had claimed that its plans would cost significantly less than Heathrow Airport Limited’s own proposal and open the door for increased competition on the facilities needed to support passenger growth. Now 2020 is a “critical year for the provision of a new terminal” after the go-

ahead given by prime minister Boris Johnson. In a statement to the BTN Group Surinder Arora said, “I have known Steve both professionally and personally for many years and I am delighted to welcome him to the Arora Group. Steve brings a unique knowledge of both our organisation and the world of banking and I am confident that these skills will supercharge our growth over the coming years. He is the perfect captain to lead the Arora Group to the next stage of its ambitious growth plans. “Additionally, having Steve at the helm allows me to concentrate on other opportunities, including the Heathrow West airport expansion project, which has the potential to be the UK’s most exciting new infrastructure and development project.”

Longstanding Sunderland LPC Chair steps down from PSNC After 15 years as Chair of Review and Audit at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee , Sunderland LPC Chair, Umesh Patel MBE, has taken the decision to step down from the position. Umesh felt that it was time for another member of the panel to take over the role. Adrian Price, from Tesco, has stepped into the position as Chair.With a genuine passion for community pharmacy Umesh was able to help the panel steer through many constitutional changes and amendments to PSNC rules. Highly respected within the pharmacy sector for his several contributions to community pharmacy, Umesh said, "It has been a huge honour to chair the review and audit panel for the last 15 years and I am proud of the work of the committee throughout this time. However, now is the right time for me to step aside and let another member of the panel take over the role. I wish Adrian

Umesh Patel MBE

all the best in the role and will be on hand to support him over the coming years."Umesh is a past chairman of the regional branch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPSGB) which covered North East of England, a National Pharmacy Association (NPA) board member and was once vice chairman and chairman of the NPA for a year. He is actively involved in philanthropical activities. His wife Damini is also a pharmacist who manages a high street pharmacy in Sunderland.

Hinduja Group’s Optare wins order for electric doubledecker buses

A 9% soar in the cost of dying in the UK A fresh survey has highlighted that the average cost of a funeral in certain regions of the UK had soared by a whopping 9%. These regions included Midlands, Wales, Southeast and East of England. The annual report titled Cost of Dying from the insurance provider SunLife noted that The UK average was up 3.1 per cent to £9,493, it found, including the cost of a basic funeral (£4,417), a send-off (£2,306) and professional fees (£2,771). The same report noted that London saw a slower growth of 1.4 per cent in these high costs. Yet, the city also remains the most expensive in funeral care. This comes at a time when the sector is already facing investigations and regulatory scrutiny over high prices and a lack of

transparency for consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is scheduled to deliver its results this year in September on the on-going investigation into the funeral market, following 14 years of above-inflation price rises in the sector. The CMA has also highlighted the cost of crematoria services, where

the largest private operators had bumped up prices by between 6 and 8 per cent a year for the previous eight years. The CMA points out that while the customers could save more than £1,000 by looking at a range of funeral providers, grieving families are not in a position to shop around for a cheaper

deal because costs are not clearly set out on marketing material or websites. The National Association of Funeral Directors, an industry body, understands that the biggest cause of cost rises in the SunLife research was the professional fees associated with probate and increases in mandatory burial and cremation fees. In a statement to the Financial Times, it said, Jon Levett, NAFD chief executive, said: “While most funeral directors have held, or even reduced, their professional fees in recent years, the [SunLife] report also indicates that the overall cost of a funeral has risen due to families choosing more elaborate and personalised funeral options — which naturally adds to the cost.”

On Monday 10th February, the Hinduja group’s firm Ashok Leyland said that its British subsidiary had bagged orders for 37 electric double-decker buses in London. Optare PLC has entered a partnership with the Tower Transit Group to launch two new electric routes in London. The 37 zero-emission Metrodecker buses are being built at Optare’s factory in Sherburn, near Leeds. The Metrodecker had entered service last summer. The current order from Tower Transit, which was awarded contracts for

routes 23 and C3, is the third major contract for the Metrodecker. In June 2018, Optare had bagged an order for 31 double-decker buses from London Metroline. Optare hopes to have about 100 units in service by the end of the year. Now Optare aims to gradually replace all 6,000 buses plying in Central London with zero-emission models within a decade. The company said it spent a significant amount of time over the past three years to understand the EV ecosystem and has developed a portfolio based on modular architecture that delivers “most mileage” using “least energy”.


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Nandy launches plan to tackle anti-semitism in Labour A Labour leadership candidate has now launched a fresh proposal detailing how she would tackle antisemitism in Labour if she were to be elected the party leader. On Sunday, 9th February, unveiling her plan Lisa Nandy asserted her believe that Labour had to go through fundamental changes. She emphasised that it was a “make-or-break time” for many Jewish members as to whether they remain in the party. This follows in suit of claims made by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity monitoring anti-Jewish incidents. According to the CST as many as 1,805 complaints related to anti-Semitic incidents were lodged in Britain in 2019, which is an all-time high. It also alleged that more than a tenth of the complaints was "related to the Labour Party" and that the online attacks account for around 39 per cent of such incidents in the UK. “My [Jewish] friends in the party have spent the last few years questioning on a daily basis whether they should remain,” Nandy said. “They’ve had to face a lot of

be brought back to carry out training on antisemitism. She said, “It’s not true to say that the entire party is antisemitic. It’s almost the opposite – I have party members who Lisa Nandy have fought off hostility from other people the far right here in Wigan about their decision to stay. for decades. They’ve taken So this is make-or-break blows in the streets against time for a lot of people. some of these racists. They “They need to know spent six weeks standing on that, going forward, starting doorsteps being called on 4 April, the party has racists in the most difficult understood the level of the election I can remember. crisis of trust that we have, They’re tired and they’ve and that we’re going to been let down.” change.” The plan also calls for an The MP for Wigan has immediate zero-tolerance called for renewed measures policy under a new leader, to tackle anti-Jewish sentiwith the party fully implements including a transparmenting, as a minimum, any ent, independent discirecommendations from the plinary process and better Equalities and Human education. As part of ensurRights Commission (EHRC), ing transparency, Nandy which is formally investigatpledged to share informaing the allegations of antition on disciplinary cases semitism. Another instant with MPs, local parties, the change would be to lower Jewish Labour Movement the threshold for suspending which had earlier declined members where there are to support Corbyn during “credible accusations of the general elections and antisemitism, Islamophobia the media. The JLM would or other forms of racism”.

14

th Asian

Setting a target of registering 50,000 Londoners as “early voters” by 22 April, the mayor of London cited evidence that people with postal votes are nearly twice as likely to take part in elections as those who wait to cast their ballot at the polling stations.

Sadiq Khan

Khan even warned the Labour’s London Policy Forum that the party has been too “squeamish” about

encouraging supporters to vote early. This according to him had resulted in a “shocking” situation where the Toris had effectively won December’s general election two weeks before polling day. He believes Labour had considered postal voting as something which is likely to boost turn-out mainly among older voters, who historically tend to favour Conservatives. He said it was “a perfectly legitimate tool to help voters with busy lives make sure they can exercise their right to vote”.

MPs must report all threats On 10th February Monday, the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle urged all MPs to report all threats made against them. His comments came following claims by Labour MP Yvette Cooper who listed of the threats made towards her by a Conservative local election candidate which resulted in the Home Secretary issuing a formal apology on the floor of the Parliament. Priti Patel said she was "hugely apologetic for what she has had to put up with. That is simply unacceptable...none of this should be tolerated," she said, adding that the government was

"trying to deal with these types of issues". Joshua Spencer was jailed for nine weeks for sending threatening messages to Ms Cooper, telling a friend over social media "I'm already organising to hurt her". Cooper said that she was disappointed that there was no condemnation from a national political party and in fact a neighbouring MP Andrea Jenkyns - had given Mr Spencer a "very positive" character reference during the trial. In the meantime Speaker Sir Lindsay rose to urge MPs to report any threats they received to him.

9

Voice Political & Public Life Awards 2020

15 - 21 February 2020

NOMINATION FORM

The prestigious Asian Voice Political and Public Life Awards represent our modest effort to honour a number of outstanding individuals from different walks of life and diverse political persuasions who serve society in their own special way, and who contribute significantly and making a big difference in their COMMUNITIES.

Political

         

Please

 

tick the appropriate category

Campaigner of the year Minister of the year Conservative Backbencher of the year Shadow Minister of the year Public Service Awards Peer of the year Politician of the year (Female) Politician of the year (Male) Labour Backbencher of the year SNP Backbencher of the year

Public Life

         

Khan launches drive to sign up about 50,0000 postal voters for mayoral elections Ahead of the upcoming mayoral elections of London, Sadiq Khan has launched what he claims will be the “biggest ever” drive to sign up postal voters in the capital as reported by The Independent.

UK

Entrepreneur of the year Business Person of the year Enterprise of the year Travel company of the year Professional of the year Philanthropist of the year Community Service Awards Lifetime Achievement of the year Sports personality of the year Restaurant of the year

Nomination Form   

Full name of the person you are nominating: ____________________________ His/Her contact details (Tel & email): ____________________________________ Occupation of the nominee: ___________________________________________



Please attach the nominees's CV which includes the following information (Please do not exceed a limit of 1000 words) (1) Personal background (2) Most important career achievements till date. (3) Nominee's contribution to the community and nation. (4) Future Plans, ambitions and visions. (5) Any notable obstacles in the Nominee's career that has helped him/her to reach where they are today. ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ 

Summary -

(In a separate sheet please include a summary of not more than 150 words why

the nominee is worthy of winning the particular award ) 

Priti Patel

"The House and I and the home secretary will ensure your safety comes first," he said. Data from the body found that between September 2018 and July 2019, there had been 238 crimes targeting MPs.

Your name: __________________________________________________________  Your current occupation/Company: _____________________________________  Tel: _________________________________________________________  Email:_______________________________________________________________

Deadline for nomination: 16th February 2020

Make sure that you fill in this nomination form and email it on or before 16th February 2020 to L.George at george@abplgroup.com If you are sending it by post the address is: L.George, ABPL Group, Unit 1, 12 Hoxton Market, London N1 6HW.


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15 - 21 February 2020

BBC Licence Fee Controversy! BBC licence fee which has just gone up by £3 a year is and has always been in the news for a long time. Now the political opinion is that it should be scrapped by 2025 if not earlier. The main reason put forward is that younger generation hardly watches BBC, instead preferring to watch subscription channels that provide much of the sports, whether it is Premier division football, world cup, international cricket, F1 Motor racing and such major sporting events youngsters are addicted to. Personally I think BBC licence fee is worth every penny. Once this very fair licence fee is paid, there is no extra charge, no matter how big sporting event may be. In sharp contrast most of us pay from £100 to £150 in monthly subscription to Sky, BT and Virgin, that may include sports and movies, besides land line telephone, broad band and mobile phones, even though they get substantial income from online advertising as well. Yet some sporting events like prominent heavyweight boxing attract additional pay as you watch charges of up to £30 per event! If BBC is obliged to go subscription view only channel, especially if not allowed to take advertising revenue, this reasonable yearly fee of under £160 will increase tenfold, putting it out of reach for most of OAPs who will also lose free entitlement for over 75! My only complaint is that few of their so called stars are overpaid and under employed, as well as BBC is so often politically biased, some of its indepth political programmes are under researched or deliberately omitting historical truths which may not fit with their political profiling! But this is an age old deficiency in BBC’s political thinking that may never change; it may even get worse if licence fee is scraped and BBC has to depend on petro dollar for their existence! Kumudini Valambia By email

India Awaiting Bullet Train Era! Since Narendra Modi became PM of India, he has taken more foreign trips than any other previous PMs of India. Using his diplomatic skill and popularity, especially among NRI living in Western world, he has installed patriotism among them, harvested their skill, financial acumen to benefit their motherland Bharat. Modiji has especially succeeded in building close and friendly relations with Japan, “Land of Rising Sun” having visited Japan several times and Japanese PM reciprocating this gesture of goodwill many times over. One common factor that has banded these two democratic nations together is mistrust of China who has practically taken over South China Sea, an important sea route for Japanese export to the world. Japan, who used to manufacture most of its consumer goods in China, is now moving away to other nations like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India, due to ever rising living standard of Chinese people, as well as political uncertainty, Chinese government fermenting antiJapanese resentment among Chinese people, trying to take over some off-shore, uninhabited islands under Japanese control. India has taken advantage of this unappalled opportunity, inviting Japanese firms to establish their manufacturing base in India and Japan is investing billions in India to improve India’s infrastructure with loans and grants, especially roads and trains where Japan leads the world with Bullet Train technology with speed of 320 km, unmatched anywhere in the world. PM Modi became a fan of Bullet Train when he travelled on such a train with Japanese PM while visiting Japan. India has agreed to buy 18 Bullet Trains at a cost of seven hundred billion rupees, with Japanese firms assembling them in India, ultimately transferring technology to India, in partnership with Indian firms. India has already started buying land and installing special tracks needed for such a project. Obviously Gujarat will be the first to benefit; first train will depart from Surat on 15th August 2022, ultimately connecting Baroda and Ahmedabad with Mumbai and Capital Delhi. If Modi gets second term, he will change the demography of India beyond recognition! Bhupendra M. Gandhi By email

UK NEWS

Man denies trying to murder four including boy, 10

Surveillance cameras monitor Karl Marx’s grave

Mr Racitalal appeared via video link at Leicester Crown Court

A man has denied attempting to murder four people, which included a 10-yearold boy who was stabbed in the neck. Carlos Vinodchandra Racitalal's other alleged victims include a child who was hit by a vehicle. Mr Racitalal, 32, of Finsbury Road, Leicester, is also accused of attacking a woman in her 30s and a man in his 70s. All the incidents the charges relate to happened in Leicester between 2 and 18 January. The boy who was stabbed has since been discharged from hospital. According to media reports the charges are: - Attempting to murder

a child in a road traffic collision in Exploration Drive on 2 January. - Attempting to murder a woman in her 30s in Doncaster Road on 14 January. - Attempting to murder a man in his 70s in Dean Road on 16 January. - Attempting to murder a 10-year-old boy by stabbing him in Belper Street on 18 January. - Three counts of possessing a knife blade or sharp pointed article in a public place on 14, 16 and 18 January. Mr Racitalal appeared at Leicester Crown Court, where he is due to appear again on 24 April. He was remanded in custody.

The grave of Karl Marx is now under 24/7 video surveillance at the Highgate Cemetery in North London. This comes in the aftermath of being vandalized on two ocassions last year. Now, the Marx Grave Trust, which owns the monument has decided to monitor it with video cameras installed in December on nearby trees, with the intention of deterring vandals from attacking a famous monument that has been dese-

crated several times over its decades-long existence. Marx’s grave is the first one to be monitored at Highgate, London’s mostvisited burial ground. But it seems as if Marx — who in the 19th century complained about being followed by spies when he lived in London, or by British informers who closely watched his door with “more than a doubtful look” — cannot escape monitoring.

Kapil’s Khichadi The Great British Budget Kapil Dudakia In a matter of weeks Chancellor Sajid Javid will unveil the very first post-Brexit British budget. Almost five decades have passed and for the first time we can say the UK will have its own budget that is free of the EU, and one that can and will unleash the potential of this nation. Of course, one budget cannot overcome the restraint of the past five decades under the EU. However, let’s be realistic and savour the developments as they materialise over the next few years. I hear that the main skeleton of the budget is already in place. There now remains enough scope to refine each element with input from multiple sources. Inheritance tax will be a feature no doubt. There is a strong case that this will be lowered, but I would be concerned if this was done at the expense of people’s ability to pass on their hardearned assets to their family with ease. Housing has been a hot potato for a while. As far as I can remember almost all governments for the past four decades have promised the earth. Delivery however has been abysmal. The idea of having discounted housing seems catchy, but I would urge the government to ensure that potential homeowners are not granted public money on which they make huge profits in years to come. In my view it is essential that housing is tackled, and building goes on a war footing. But let us also make sure that if it results in profits in years to come, that a proportion of those profits are clawed back by the state also. Social care should be a huge priority. However, this is such a massive issue I am not sure that budgets alone can fix the system. This requires a Royal Commission with cross-party support to come into action. Social care must be considered on a timeline of decades or longer, as opposed to

the political cycle. Education and tuition fees. Readers will know that my personal view has always been that all education to 1st degree (or equivalent) should be free for all those who show capability. However, I also understand that might be a bit too far for any government to stretch to in one go. So, I would like tuition fees reduced dramatically and a cap put on it to avoid rogue universities going crazy. Simple logic dictates that most student loans will never be paid back. All politicians know this as fact, but they avoid it like the plague. At some point this elephant will have to be tackled as well. Transport is another one that creates more tensions. I sometimes wonder what sort of country we have created whereby we as citizens demand all these rights for ease of access to affordable transport, yet at the very same time handcuff our governments with bureaucratic consultation madness that never delivers. The world is moving forward fast, it’s time to ditch the old ways and take decisions. I expect all our public services to get a shout out as well. Whilst we expect the NHS to feature heavily, don’t be too surprised if there are further measures to support the police and our security forces. The idea of free ports will feature heavily over the coming years. It scares the EU, but those of us who travel the world know that if done correctly, it could be huge game changer for the UK. In my view there remains a massive issue with respect to energy costs. It’s time to put in place something a lot more robust to protect the citizen. I can continue on many other issues, but suffice to say, hopefully the chancellor takes note of the above! (Expressed opinions are personal.)

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EDUCATION

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

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15 - 21 February 2020

Children of immigrants ahead Britain’s continuing colonial of their British counterparts in legacy needs to be taught in GCSE Maths and English schools According to the latest analyse carried out by the Department of Education children of immigrants are ahead of their British counterparts in GCSE maths and English.

There is an ongoing debate within the education system about the importance of teaching pupils the truth about British colonialism including those aspects of it that are less than stellar.

The analysis found that 43.2 per cent of native English speakers gained grades 9-5 in English and maths in 2019, compared to 43.8 per cent their peers who speak English as an additional language. The figures also show that white pupils are the least likely to enter for the eBacc subjects when sitting GCSEs and that just 37.5 per cent of white teenagers enter for the award, which is the lowest proportion out of all other ethnic groups. The EBacc was established in 2010 by the former education secretary Michael Gove in a bid to reverse the "dumbing down" of GCSEs. In order to obtain the award, students must obtain five A*-C or numeric grades 9-4 in maths, English, science, history or geography, and a modern language. Chinese students were the most likely to obtain Ebacc, with 61.6 per cent getting the award.

Britain seems to be quite happy to talk about its colonial past, as long as it’s framed in terms of pride in the British empire. However, a protest on 9 January by student campaign Fill in the Blanks sought to disrupt popular narratives around British colonialism. Led by sixth form students from South London, all of whom have family from former British colonies the campaign demands the teaching of British colonial history for all students in the UK, where there is currently only one optional insufficient module available. The students distributed 5000 ‘newspapers’ at 20 different tube stations around London which reported the headline: Boris backs Empire education. The intention was to spark discussions around the importance of teaching the true impact of Britain’s colonial history in schools.

as officials admitted that a “significant number” of results were missing from their original dataset. As reported iin the Daily Telegraph headteachers accused ministers of “eroding” their confidence, adding that this was the second major data issue to have occurred in the past six months. Duncan Baldwin of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “These performance tables come after a series of problems dating back to September in collecting and processing qualification data, the most recent of which resulted in a twoweek delay to the information published today.”

Meanwhile, 50.6 per cent of Asian students, 46.5 per cent of black students and 44.3 per cent of mixed race students obtained the award. The gap between disadvantaged pupils and wealthier classmates increased for the second year running. In 2019 it was 0.4 percentage points higher than the year before. The official government figures, based on performance in last year’s GCSEs, showed that multi-academy trusts performed worse than other mainstream state schools in the measure of pupils’ progress. The data which was published last Thursday followed a delay of two weeks

The colonisation of non-European nations effectively resulted in mass occupation, systematic plundering of resources, dehumanisation of enslaved people, and, unquestionably, numerous genocides. The damage caused underpins calls for reparations to former colonies. But awareness around the atrocities of the British empire is so poor that in 2015, for a debate on reparations, Oxford Union decided that having a ‘colonial comeback’ cocktail to promote the event was a good idea. The poster advertising the event featured an image of Black hands in chains. This incident demonstrates how easy it is for British people to overlook the harm caused by the British empire, particularly if they do not descend from people who were colonised. But for those of us who do,

the spectre of colonialism continues to loom large. It’s why former colonies continue to struggle under the weight of poverty and the crime and corruption emerging from it. It’s why grandparents came here in the 60s in search of a better life for their children only to be told to ‘go back to where they came from’. Ambalavaner Sivanandan, a renowned British sociologist who passed away in 2018 said about immigration, “We are here because you were there”. The work being done by Fill in the Blanks shows there’s a will among young people to have this conversation. If schools start teaching an honest account of the British empire, future generations might be better equipped to let go of the prejudice and bigotry that is Britain’s colonial legacy.

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12 MEDIA WATCH

AsianVoiceNews

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

www.asian-voice.com

15 - 21 February 2020

SCRUTATOR’S In a unique experiment, the authorities at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad has decided to deploy 'bears' to keep langurs and monkeys away from airstrips. They have deployed men who wear bear costume and chase langurs and monkeys away from aircraft and airstrips. A video has also surfaced showing an official dressed as a bear and running after langurs at the Ahmedabad airport. According to Airport Director Manoj Gangal, they have a dedicated staff to scare away birds and animals that can endanger the safety of planes and passengers. When the monkey menace continued, we thought to use the staff to get rid of it. "Langurs are scared of bears and so we made a costume. When our staff member wore it and tried to scare the monkeys, they started running away. So this is a good and successful experiment," Gangal said. (Agency). Glass-floor bridge to replace Lakshman Jhula A year after the iconic Lakshman Jhula - constructed in 1923 - on Ganga at Rishikesh was closed after declared “unfit,” the Uttarakhand authorities have now approved to build a new suspension bridge near the site of old bridge. The new bridge’s

process as the aim is to come up with a bridge, which would last for the next 150 years. “Each pillar of this bridge would be 30 metres deep,” said Om Prakash. (The Times of India). Liquor flows from kitchen taps in Kerala town The residents of an apartment complex in Chalakudy town of Thrissur district in Kerala noticed brownish water with an unmistakable smell of liquor gushing out of their kitchen taps. The mystery was solved after some residents approached the municipality authorities, who traced the source to an excise department operation in the area a few days ago. The excise team had

Glass-floor bridge to replace Lakshman Jhula

design, officials said, would comprise a glass floor on both sides and an asphalt road in the middle. Public works department (PWD) officials said the floor made of toughened transparent glass would give pedestrians a sense of walking on the surface of the river while crossing through the bridge. According to the design prepared by the PWD and finalised by the state government, the total width of the new bridge is 8 metres and the length is 132.2 metres. The glass floor would be of 1.5 metres in width on both sides while the road would be 2.5-metre wide. The toughened glass to be used as floor would be 3.5 inches thick. The design for the bridge will now be sent to IIT-Mumbai for approval. “IIT-Mumbai will vet the design and thereafter, we will prepare the detailed project report and the tender bids will be floated,” additional chief secretary Om Prakash said. On being asked about the stipulated time period for the completion of the project, Om Prakash said: “Efforts will be made to complete it before Kumbh 2021 but it is too early to predict a deadline.” He said no chances will be taken in the construction

apparently dumped more than 4,500 litres of seized liquor into a pit, unaware that most of it would flow into a nearby well that is the main source of potable water for the apartment residents. A resident, who was among the first to spot brownish water coming out of taps, said he initially suspected a rusting pipe had something to do with it. “I had barely switched on my water pump when the sight of the water got me scared. The smell was unmistakable and the taste confirmed that someone mixed copious amounts of alcohol with the water.” When all 18 families living in the complex had the same experience, they decided to contact the municipality. The families had been using water from the well for several years. It was their only water source. Deputy excise commissioner said, the department had decided to “destroy” the seized liquor because storing the bottles had become a challenge. “These bottles had been seized from bars whose licenses had been cancelled six years ago. We couldn't have known that our operation would raise such a

stink,” he said. (The Indian Express). Mumbai tests traffic lights that reward the patient driver Fed up of impatient drivers inflicting a deafening roar every time they are forced to stop, police in Mumbai have come up with a new system to punish those who cannot wait at traffic lights in silence. The new system, said the police, was quite simple: “Honk more, wait more.” Known as “the punishing signal”, Mumbai police installed a rigged traffic light system to tackle the problem of “reckless honkers”, which resets the red traffic signal every time the sound of car horns goes above 85 decibels. For particularly honkhappy drivers, it could mean a very long wait at the lights. In a video, which has since gone viral, Mumbai police explained why they had been driven to tackle Mumbai’s cacophony of car horns. “Welcome to the honking capital of the world,” said Mumbai police. “People here honk even when the signal is red. Maybe they think they will turn the signal green faster. We, the Mumbai police, were itching to do something about this.” Mumbai was recently ranked as the fourth most congested city in the world, with 65% congestion and drivers spending an average of eight days and 17 hours in traffic each year. Mumbai traffic police commissioner Madhukar Pandey said: “Sadly, many Mumbaikars indulge in reckless honking which not only causes noise pollution, but hurts eardrums, increases heart rate, causes stress and adds to traffic chaos. All recognise it, but do little to curb it. With this, hopefully we may create better road discipline and ensure honkless, noise-free and stress-free travel on Mumbai roads.” Businessman told to pay 250,000 to Susanne Khan The Bombay High Court upheld the orders of an Arbitrator Tribunal, who resolved a dispute between socialite Sussanne Khan and a Goa-based businessman. The HC has accordingly ordered the businessman to pay £250,000 to the socialite for using her ‘intellectual properties’ i.e. her designs for the 12 villas, which were to be constructed in Goa. A bench accordingly ordered Mudit Gupta of EMGEE Properties to pay the remaining fees of £250,000 to Khan. The issue pertains to the agreement between Gupta and Khan, wherein the latter was roped in to create interior designs for the former’s real estate project in Goa. Accordingly, it was agreed that Khan would be getting £600,000 in two phases for which she would be handing over her designs for the 12 villas. The duo worked together for a time and Gupta paid £168,000 to Khan, as agreed, however, from then on dispute germinated between them. The discord arose when Khan learnt that Gupta was trying to execute the interiors of the villas by using her drawings through another interior decorator. Accordingly, Khan demanded

the pending fees accusing Gupta of breaching the agreement by using a third party for executing the interiors of the villas. She demanded the pending fees. Having considered the contentions, an arbitrator tribunal passed an order in favour of Khan and ordered Gupta to pay £250,000 to her for using her intellectual properties (designs). (The Times of India). Hindus in Pakistan feel unsafe About 200 Pakistani Hindus crossed over to India through the Attari-Wagah border amid indications that several travellers did not wish to go back. They came on a visitor's visa but some of them claimed that they felt unsafe in Pakistan and hoped to get Indian citizenship after the enactment of the CAA. Most of the travellers crossing over to India belonged to Sindh and Karachi areas. Some of them carried luggage and said they will seek asylum in India. "We are not feeling safe in Pakistan. Our girls feel insecure as they fear that they could be kidnapped any time by hardliners while police watch as mute spectators. Our girls cannot walk freely in the north-west area of Pakistan," said a woman. Two more women, without disclosing their names, said that kidnapping of Hindu girls had become a routine affair in Pakistan and no family dared to lodge a complaint with police against fundamentalists. Inventory of ornaments at Sabarimala temple

draft legislation regarding the administration of the historic Sabarimala temple. Venugopal submitted to the court a list of ornaments that was available with the government. The bench after perusing the list expressed surprise and said, 'Are there only 16 ornaments with the Lord Ayyappa, as per the list. There is so much donation given at Sabarimala temple and there are only 16 ornaments with Lord Ayyappa'. Venugopal urged the court to direct the royal family to submit the full list of inventory and allow a jeweller to assess the ornaments for its valuation. (Agency). Mid-air delivery brings cheer to Kolkata A Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Bangkok had two “emergency” landings - first, around four hours after take-off, and the second at Kolkata airport an hour later. The mid-air “landing,” culminating in the birth of a baby boy who, legal experts say, has now become a claimant to citizenship of a

Mid-air delivery brings cheer to Kolkata

country with which he might otherwise have had no connection. The second emergency landing before daybreak was necessitated by the first. Saddled with an extra bundle of joy weighing 2.5kg, the pilots of Qatar Airways flight had no choice but to head for the nearest airport so that the little one would get the care he needed. When the aircraft had taken off from Doha with 370 people on board last week, 23-year-old Thai passenger Wassana Promkasikorn clearly hadn’t bargained for going into labour midflight. Promkasikorn, a single mother employed at Sohar in Oman and 36 weeks pregnant with her second child, was flying back home to Bangkok after consulting her doctors, who had assured Inventory of ornaments at Sabarimala her that the delivery date temple was still a couple of weeks N V Ramana, Ajay Rastogi and V away. All those calculations went haywire when she complained of Ramasubramanian said, 'We are labour pains a little less than four only worried about the safety and hours and 3,800km into her security of the sacred ornaments'. journey. Five crew members and a The top court also requested doctor helped her deliver a healthy Attorney General K K Venugopal, baby. appearing for the Kerala The flight was then east of government, to use his 'good Raipur, Chhattisgarh. The captain office' in finding an amicable had contacted Kolkata air traffic resolution to ongoing dispute between warring faction of the control, seeking a “medical royal family. It also asked emergency landing”. The flight Venugopal to make submission on landed safely, with a medical next date of hearing of the matter emergency team waiting at the airport. Mother and baby were about the safety and security of wheeled into an ambulance and the ornaments. taken to a hospital, where both are It granted four more weeks to said to be doing fine. the state government to prepare a The Supreme Court has appointed retired Kerala High Court judge C N Ramachandaran Nair to prepare an inventory and valuation report of ornaments of Lord Ayyappa of Sabarimala temple that are claimed by different sects of the Pandalam Royal family. The top court said he can take assistance of a jeweller and should file its report in sealed cover. A bench of Justices


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AsianVoiceNews

UK

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

13

15 - 21 February 2020

Woman takes legal action over GP, 50, gets three life sentences £3,000 lens replacement surgery for 90 sex offences Scientific research consultant Sam Begum, from Glasgow, is taking legal action against Optical Express over lens replacement surgery that has left her virtually blind in one eye. Begum has instructed lawyers to sue the firm, which performs thousands of eye surgeries every year alleges that the company pressured her to pay for a second operation on the other eye costing £3,300 - even though there was nothing wrong with it. According to local newsSam Begum had eye surgery at Optical papers Begum is Express' clinic, is suing the sight believed to be one of a string of patients who are claiming specialists for damaging her eye sight Optical Express and after compensation for what they accepting an offer of a free believe are botched proceconsultation, she was told dures. that she had cataracts in Speaking to the Daily both eyes - the most comMail Ms Begum said: 'You mon cause of sight loss trust the experts to look among people over 40. She after you. I was paying for was advised that the treatment and believed I cataracts were causing her would have the best care. to have some loss of vision But it has been a disaster. in her left eye and advised After what I have been lens replacement surgery in through, I wouldn't recomboth eyes - at £3,300 per eye mend my worst enemy to go - three weeks later she to them.' underwent lens replaceMs Begum said her ment surgery in her left eye. problems began 14 months Within days when her ago, whilst she was accomvision remained blurry she panying a relative to an realised something had appointment at a branch of

gone badly wrong. After Optical Express paid for an emergency operation to her retina and despite the devastating outcome of the first operation, they called her to ask when she would like to have the lens in her right eye replaced. Ms Begum's sight in her left eye is now severely limited and she states she suffers from tunnel vision as well as blurry, unstable and distorted sight, with glare, starbursts, halos and double vision. The lens in her right eye she describes as 'crystal clear'. According to reports around 250,000 eye surgery operations are now performed by private companies every year in the UK, with Optical Express being the biggest provider. The Royal College of Ophthalmologists claims that 95 per cent of people who have had such surgery are happy with the results but campaign groups say that up to 40 per cent experience unexpected difficulties after surgery. Some surgery takes place to correct long or short-sightedness whilst others can be done to correct other defects, such as cataracts.

GP Manish Shah, 50, of Romford, East London, who molested women at his surgery has been jailed for at least 15 years after carrying out 90 sex offences against 24 female former patients. Shah even cited the cases of Angelina Jolie and Jade Goody to justify unnecessary examinations and exploited cancer fears to persuade patients aged between 15 and 39 to have unnecessary intimate examinations for his own sexual gratification. At the Old Bailey last Thursday Judge Anne Molyneux QC branded Shah a 'master of deception' as she handed him three life sentences with a minimum 15-year term. The court was told that between May 2009 and June 2013, he assaulted six patients of Mawney Medical Centre. Shah denied wrongdoing, claiming he had been practising 'defensive medicine' but after a trial Shah was found guilty of 25 sexual offences against the six victims. He had already been convicted of similar offences relating to 18 other women, bringing the total number to 24. Judge Molyneux QC said Shah had deployed a 'mixture of flattery and fear' and

used celebrity cases to carry out the sex assaults. Speaking in court, the woman who was 15 at the time, said she felt different about men and worried about being seen as a 'sex object'. Shah is believed to have told young women they were 'pretty and beautiful' and remarked how one was 'tanned down there around the bikini line'. Other patients told how he would rest an elbow on their knee and chat away as they lay naked from the waist down with their legs spread. The court has heard how Shah picked on patients' vulnerability, because of their age or family history of cancer. Shah brought up the news story about Hollywood star Jolie having a preventative mastectomy as he asked a woman if she would like him to examine her breasts and also mentioned Goody to another woman, saying an examination was in her best interests, it was claimed. According to reports jurors heard that Shah would not always wear gloves and left one patient entirely naked on an examination table. Shah attempted to justify an examination in medi-

Manish Shah

cal notes by suggesting it was 'requested', the court heard and disregarded NHS guidelines on giving healthy women aged under 25 smear tests and routine breast examinations on women under 50, which were said to cause more harm than good, jurors were told. Shah, who lived in a £800,000 house in Romford, also breached guidelines on the use of chaperones during intimate examinations. After the verdict Paul Goddard, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: 'Manish Shah was a trusted family doctor, but he took advantage of that trust to abuse his female patients and then falsified their medical notes to try to justify intimate medical examinations that should not have taken place. The Crown Prosecution Service wishes to commend those women, who by bravely giving evidence convinced the jury of Dr Shah's guilt.'

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14 COMMUNITY

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15 - 21 February 2020

Mayoral hopeful Stewart addresses concerns around Hinduphobia An independent candidate running to be the next mayor of London met with some members and patrons of the Hindu community to discuss the increase in religion-related hate crime. On Tuesday 28th January, Rory Stewart, met with representatives from leading Hindu organisations including ISKCON and SHYAM, City Hindus Network (CHN), National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF), Hindu Matters in Britain and Operation Dharmic Vote. The discussion primarily focused on the operation of ethnic language schools, religious prejudice and safety concerns especially with the increase in burglaries around gold jewellery both at temples and homes. Some leaders also expressed their concern

(L-R): Dr Will Beharrel, Vinay Tanna DL, Cllr Shravan Joshi, Kesh Morjaria, Shyam Raiyarel, Dhruv Chhataralia BEM, Rory Stewart OBE, Cllr Dhruv Patel OBE, Kabir Bawa

about the rise of Hinduphobia and its implications in community cohesion and integration. In a bid to secure the “Hindu vote” from the community in the upcoming elections the former Tory rebel has now pledged his support in fighting crime in London through Operation Local. Part of this plan

includes increasing the number of uniformed police officers at a ward level and to place great emphasis on intelligence sharing and support for a more integrated approach to community policing. He has also promised to triple the number of Special Constables, to ensure that these new officers come from the commu-

nities they police. In a move to appease the Hindu community Stewart also discussed the importance of preserving regional traditions and languages. He offered his support to establish and preserve ethnic language centres to teach languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali among others. He believes that the knowledge of these languages will enhance the ability of Londoners to connect with people from different regions in the world. Towards, the end he also expressed his concern about the lack of adequate cremation grounds for the Hindu community and has now committed to improving the situation if he was elected mayor. London’s mayoral elections are scheduled to take place during May 2020.

Acclaimed Indian classical dancer returns to perform solo show in London Fresh from impressing dance aficionados in Chennai in December, Nina Rajarani MBE returns to her alma mater. The Bhavan in West Kensington for a rare solo Bharatanatyam dance performance on 29 February. Nina was invited to present her work at the Natya Kala conference, part of the Chennai Music Season that lights up the city each year in December and January. Several dancers and musicians travelled to India with Nina to perform a selection of her ensemble works, and whilst there Nina also presented a solo show at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in

Chennai. Nina trained at The Bhavan under the tutelage of Prakash Yadagudde. She undertook additional training in London from Chitra Visweswaran of Chennai, and in Chennai with Shanta and VP Dhananjayan. She has gone on to achieve great things in her own right: she has been running her own dance school at Harrow Arts Centre since 1991, won the Place Prize, Europe's largest choreographic competition, and has done significant work for the dance examination board ISTD. She was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2009 with an MBE for services to South Asian

The rejuvenating magic of Ayurveda Rohit Vadhwana Ayurveda, meaning the science of life - often considered the fifth Ved - in addition to Rigved, Yajurved, Samaved and Atharvaved - is the science of health and wellness. It is a complete solution to good health and lifestyle. India is the home to Ayurveda and the system has immensely benefitted millions of people globally. Its popularity is increasing every day as it uses natural products for not only curing diseases but also prevention. The concept that prevention is better than cure is fundamental to the Ayurvedic system. It aims to go to the root cause of any ailment while treating it. Our body is made of certain basic elements and Ayurveda identifies them for treating it better. Dhanvantari is the God of Ayurveda. Shushrut Samhita is the basic Sanskrit text of Ayurveda written by Rishi Shushruta. In India, systems of medicine and wellness like Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Naturopathy, Siddha, Homeopathy, etc were developed thousands of years ago. These systems have been used by people and their knowledge and practice have been exported with them to different parts of the world. To further promote them, the Government of India has created AYUSH Ministry in 2014. High Commission of India organised an interesting event titled 'Ayurveda - Power of health and beauty' to promote Ayurveda in UK. Three speakers, experts in the field of Ayurveda, spoke at the event including Mrs Shahnaz Hussain, alongside representatives from the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) and Kerala Tourism. The representative from AIIA pioneered in imparting formal education and conducting research in Ayurveda while the representative of the Kerala Tourism Board has been instrumental in promoting Ayurvedic medicine and massage along with tourism in Kerala. AYUSH is beneficial and has no side effects. These systems being ancient and connected to nature have been developed, tried and tested for centuries under different climatic conditions. Therefore, they are the most reliable medicinal and wellness systems for our modern lifestyle. As we face unique health-related issues in the modern world, AYUSH could be used to address most of the challenges. Its high time we adopt to AYUSH systems.

(Expressed opinion is personal) Do you have a story or suggestion for this column? Email at: livingbridgeasianvoice@gmail.com

dance. She has recently made a comeback to the stage after a break of three years. Nina said “I took time off performing in order to concentrate on other

aspects of my work. I am really excited to return to perform at The Bhavan and I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends old and new.”

Swaminarayan temple at Neasden felicitate Lord and Lady Ranger

Bright Little Stars honoured at National Nursery Recognition Awards A nursery has recently been awarded with the ‘Best Website’ prize at the National Nursery Recognition Awards 2020. Lord Rami Ranger being felicitated at the Neasden temple

A spokesperson of the nursery said, “From the outset, we felt strongly about setting up a user-friendly, fun and informative website for our parents and the local community. We have always tried to ensure our website is central to our registration process, information sharing, communication and most importantly parent partnership through initiatives like home learning via our parent portal. “At the heart of everything we do are the chil-

dren, their happiness and the love, care and wonderful activities our staff bring

to life in their learning rooms and outdoor areas.” Bright Little Stars has

its premises in Stanmore, Watford, Mill Hill and Harrow.

Lord Rami and Lady Renu Ranger were felicitated at the Neasden Mandir on Saturday 1 February. Lord Ranger was welcomed on stage by P. Bhaktivallabh Swami and garlanded, while Lady Renu Ranger was welcomed and garlanded by Alak Patel. In his speech, Lord Ranger spoke of how at the time of partition his father was killed and his mother had to travel to Patiala and stay in a refugee camp with his 7 brothers and a sister. Lord Ranger was just 2 months old at the time.

He also spoke lovingly and with admiration about his mother who single handedly brought the family up by taking a job as a teacher. He further said that he came from a very humble background and started his business with nothing and today it is trading in over 100 countries. He said that he was only able to achieve that due to the values his mother instilled in him. Lord Ranger also attributed his success to his wife and called her ‘a pillar and backbone’ of his growth.


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TLIGHT

Akshay Sharma Mr Shay & The Underground Creatives

Akshay Sharma

Sunetra Senior Authentic, funny and socially conscious, Akshay is one in a new line of generational rappers who are confronting the pitfall of commercialisation typically rife in the entertainment industry. The British rapper, Akala, famously uses hard-hitting verse to talk about the persisting racism of an imperial era while Canadian rapper, Shad, explicitly champions women in his songs within a male-dominated, and often misogynistic, world. Akshay’s exceptional niche is the uplifting, emotive focus on the power of community and education in creating an empowered self. Growing up in the late Nineties and Noughties, “as people called it,” Akshay, or Mr Shay, first entered the lyrical landscape of hip-hop through the urban sub-genre of Grime. “This was a time when Grime music was taking a massive turn for the better. It was changing from being underground, and based solely in (East) London where it originated, to being more widely enjoyed across the country. It wasn’t so much that it was mainstream as becoming more available by those who sought it.” Akshay emphasised the inherent “social quality” of general street-based rap. “As a youngster, I discovered the latest tracks and MCs through my Londonbased cousins, and soon took the music to the playground myself.”

youth hone their craft to finally showcase their products at the prestigious Leicester Curve Theatre. This was wellfunded which allowed us to have the best industry professionals watch the performances, and allowed them to see that local artists can be excellent in turn. These kids could be on the radio and handle big live performances, holding their own.” Akshay’s hope is to continue building a network in Leicester and The Midlands and to move across the UK, bridging the gap between good independent music and the opportunities that are found in bigger cities: “You will hear the stories no one else is telling.” Indeed, the contemporary rapper’s own budding music call to deeper messages that promote poetic curiosity, social activism and an ongoing commitment to self-development. This is evident in songs such as Poseidon Riddim, Go Back Home, and Just Chilling. “A lot of rap tends to err on an unchecked level of self-importance. My work always departed from that – exploring meaning, spirituality and purpose.” However, significantly, in addition to his philanthropic outlook, Akshay specialises in the compelling art of Beatboxing, which introduces a lightness and an extra spontaneous spice to his signature songs.

Indeed, this is what constitutes Akshay’s particular sound. The rapper reiterated: “again, Beatboxing evolved from my early relationship with Grime. That genre used electronic synthesisers and gaming sounds on a loop. You’d have phrases lifted from video games such as Street Fighter, Tekken and Mortal *** Combat. I went one step further to use The Leicester-born rapper would use raw the loop station to sample the voices of rhymes as a form of expression, people. We weren’t allowed also gradually fostering a phones in school so I’d get “Grime healthy sense of belongsomeone to create the ing. “Grime was more sound with their own was more than than music: it was a vocal chords – Later, music: it was a lifestyle. You’d have I’d use my own voice rap battles with to run over the samlifestyle. You’d have your friends, and ple recordings and rap battles with your imaginatively use create beats too.” lyrics to test yourfriends, and Now, Akshay will self and spar with play back audience imaginatively use each other. The reactions as he raps on known term is ‘clashlyrics to test stage, and comperes ing’. It might sound community rap shows. yourself” superficial, but it builds a “Once at an event, one lasting confidence.” Today, of my most memorable, there standing an inspirational were technical difficulties playing the Community Rapper, Akshay shows that digital instrumentals as the backdrop to the proof is in the person! Indeed, as well the lyrics, so I decided to improvise a as being a rising Rap artist, he is the purely acapella set! The live energy was founder of production company, The great with people already body-popping Underground Creatives, responsible for in the audience. I thought it would be running workshops that use the creativibest to do my own Beatbox set and rap. ty of rap to bring out young people’s People were so involved; there was synoriginality, and showcase up-and-comchronised stomping to my beat. That ing talent in the local area. connection, using only your mouth, is so “We help young people create their immediate. Beatboxing is unparalleled own music to find a connection to themthat way. Connected to the simpler beats selves and communicate it. One of my and melodies of rap, really good rappers projects has been with the charity, can impressively improvise on the spot. Pedestrian Arts in Leicester. We held 8 It’s an experiential sharpness that can’t weeks of workshops to help aspiring be easily replicated. I love being the cre-

ator of real moments – I don’t like performance to be repetitive.” Reinvigorating the up-front, honest value within rap music then, Akshay not only demonstrates the resourcefulness of the genre, but also the untapped potential of the everyday individual. “It’s amazing what you can do with just your voice,” he emphasised. “You can be your own instrument: everything else is an extension of this.” This resonates with a zeitgeist that goes beyond respect of the individual to celebrating individuality as whole. People don’t simply want a society that sees them, but also allows them to thrive while being their unfettered selves too. Akshay fittingly concluded by commenting on the unique balancing act that will be his first album: “I’m happy to announce that my EP will be coming out soon. It’s an evolution of my rhythmic journey. It is called POLARISED as I continue to negotiate the conscious positive thought, and gripping, assertive pull of in-yer-face lyrics and attitude. The EP is also a fortunate by-product of my social enterprise, Underground Creatives, which has been the main focus of my career.” It seems the first song should be called: a modern equilibrium!

Can anyone BeatBox? I actually get that question a lot from women. In which case I refer them to a World Champion BeatBoxer by the name of Bellatrix. She is a petite woman who creates rounded bass sounds as well as all the rhythms under the sun! Regardless of gender, anyone can, yes. You just need to train yourself. In my workshops, I always teach the basics and by the end everyone can manage a simple rhythm. Can you give us some basics? There is the famous ‘Boots and Cats’ example. You repeat that, and then start emphasising the Bs and C’s. This emphasises the plosive sounds and the sibilance. Then you remove the vowels and say that over, and finally you can add chicken tikka or just tikka if you’re vegetarian, and you’ve completed BeatBox 101! Boots n Cats Tikka Tikka Boo-Cats

UK

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15 - 21 February 2020

VIRENDRA SHARMA MP BACKS TASKFORCE FOR LUNG HEALTH

Virendra Sharma MP is urging the government to formally support the Taskforce for Lung Health’s five year plan so that everyone with a lung condition gets the best possible support and care. The Taskforce is a unique collaboration between patients, healthcare professionals and charities, who last year published the first ever national plan to improve lung health in England.Every five minutes, someone in the UK dies from lung disease. Respiratory disease is one of the top three killers in the UK after cancer and heart disease. Despite this, there haven’t been any improvements in the number of people dying from lung disease in over a decade. By supporting the Taskforce, Mr Sharma is hoping to drive improvements to lung health locally and nationally. Currently, around one in five people live with a lung condition, but lung disease has been overlooked and under prioritised for many years. Compared to other countries, we diagnose lung disease much too late. And then, we fail to provide the most effective treatments to everyone who needs them. He told Asian Voice, "It’s vital we change the way we care and support people with lung disease. I am committed to supporting those in Ealing Southall who are affected by respiratory disease. Preventing more people from developing a lung condition in future is also crucial, by investing in stop smoking services and tackling air pollution".

QUEEN MARY STUDENTS ORGANISE THEIR FIRST EVER SARASWATI PUJA IN COLLEGE PREMISES

Tell us more on your own BeatBoxing nights where you compere? They will mostly be workshops I run with young people who are, disengaged, or from disadvantaged backgrounds. They might have been expelled from school or experienced bullying or mental health barriers, and are considered vulnerable. I also do music sessions around anti-bullying and mental health, and facilitating young people on how to produce an album. Beat-Boxing is accessible because all you need is mouth; loops get people interested in music; finally, the music production sessions gets them invested and most importantly heard. At the end of the courses there is a sharing show with parents and perhaps bigger guests such as the local mayor. This is massive for self-esteem, and social development. Currently, I have a show called Mr Swing and the Beat Rangers as part of the Spark Festival, touring 3 different schools, this week. It is aimed at children, and will be me Beat-Boxing with jazz and African style drummers, and a break dancer to explore different forms of rhythm. The finale show will be at the Y Theatre in Leicester on the 15th. Email: akshayunderground@gmail.com W: http://www.undergroundcreatives.co.uk/ Insta & Twitter: @mrshay_artist Facebook: Mr Shay

Queen Mary College has organised and celebrate their first ever Saraswati puja in their college premises- perhaps even the first one to do so in the University of London. Debharghya, Nilofar, Arnab, Arbaz, Soumita- most youngsters from Kolkata, spoke to the students’ union and hired a room, organised for Bengali’s quintessential puja menu- khichdi, dum aloo and rasgolla. The idol and puja items were organised by the students- creating a similar festive mood as Bengal.

SON OF EX-CM OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH FOUND DEAD IN UK Shubanso Pul, son of Kalikho Pul, former Chief Minister of the Indian state Arunachal Pradesh, has been reportedly found dead in an apartment in Brighton, Sussex. The incident comes almost four years after Kalikho Pul himself was found dead at his state bungalow. Shubanso, 20, was the son of his first wife Dangwimsai Pul. As we went to press, the family was trying to speak to the High Commission of India in London, so that Shunanso's body could be flown back to his home town. East Sussex police in a statement said, “At 3.41pm on Sunday (9 February) police were called to an address in Falmer where a 20-year-old man was found dead in a bedroom. There were no suspicious circumstances. The coroner for Brighton and Hove has been informed.” Kalikho Pul who represented the Indian National Congress party, was the Chief Minister of the Northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh for a brief time in 2016.


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Rumours regarding organ donation Mallya faces his final extradition law change affect Asian community hearing to India Rupanjana Dutta

NHS Blood and Transplant is urging people to find out the facts about organ donation and the upcoming law change, which is due to come into effect in England from later this spring. Several posts and messages recently shared across social media and WhatsApp have contained incorrect information about the change in the law about organ donation. Some messages claim that ‘the deadline is tomorrow’ and that all residents in the UK are now automatically on the NHS Organ Donor Register. These messages have been reported particularly within black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. There is no deadline – people will be able to register their decision at any time before or after the law change – and people are only included on the NHS Organ Donor Register if they have formally registered their decision to opt in or out. An exact date for the law change to take effect is expected to be confirmed by

Government in coming weeks. Dr Nighat Arif, a BritishPakistani Muslim GP and mum to four-year-old Qasim who received a liver transplant, has been campaigning to raise awareness and ensure that people across the country have access to the facts and information they need to make an informed decision about organ donation. She told Asian Voice, “It is so important that people have access to the correct facts and accurate information. If you receive a message via social media - stop, think and take a moment to do your own research. The NHS has produced some really helpful information, which can help explain how the law is changing and help you make the decision which feels right for you. It remains entirely your choice, whether to register as an organ donor or opt out. Regardless of the change in

the law, organ donation will always remain the most precious gift, only possible thanks to the incredible generosity of the donor and their family who support their decision.” Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS

Blood and Transplant, told the newspaper,“Organ donation remains a choice and families will still be involved in any donation decision. It is absolutely an individual’s choice whether they want to register as an organ donor or to opt out. We want to ensure that people are making the right decision for them based on facts rather than misinformation. Once a

person has made their decision, we encourage them to let their friends and family know and consider registering their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.” From the time the law changes, all adults in England will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, what’s known as ‘opt out’, or are in one of the excluded groups. Those excludedwill be people under 18, people who have lived in England for less than 12 months or who are not living here voluntarily, and people who lack the capacity to understand the change. Wales already has an opt out system, after changing their law in December 2015. Jersey introduced the opt out system in July 2019 and Scotland will also be moving to an opt out system from Autumn 2020. Over 6,000 people are currently waiting for a transplant, and yet only 1% of people die in circumstances where organ donation is possible.

Developing elderly-friendly community through Indo-UK collaboration A five day long meeting jointly organised by Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and Economic Social Research Council (ESRC), part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) was held in Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh to develop age friendly environments in UK-Indo collaboration. Participants included leading age experts from UK and different parts of India including Calcutta Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India. The purpose of the meeting was sharing of research findings to build age friendly cities and communities in India and UK with improved policies, services and structures that enable senior citizens to age actively. The meeting aimed to devise methods for developing supportive communities for senior citizens with access to good health, adequate security and social participation. Experts tried to identify the common areas of difficulty of senior citizens in terms of housing and home, transport and mobility, respect and feeling valued, inter generational support and social participa-

Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) and Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) team members

tion. UK Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Heriot Watt University Dr. Ryan Woolrich said, “We have developed guidelines from experience of senior citizens in different cities and neighbourhoods of UK to create supportive environments and aid in intervention in neighbourhood, cities and national levels. It is important to implement these guidelines and build cross-country partnerships while working closely with policy makers and practitioners. We regularly conduct knowledge cafe’s, workshops and interactive

sessions and work on the feedback from elderly to shape services they would be happy with. We want to ensure that all possible resources are directed towards age friendly environments in India and UK.” India has a growing ageing population and though families are still the primary caregivers, disintegration of joint families and migration of children to other cities make lives of elderly challenging and dependent on communities and available social services. CMIG Chief Functionary and Age Scientist Dr. Indrani Chakravarty said “Our

research shows old age homes are never perfect substitutes for elderly and they prefer enjoying ageing in their own places. But many senior citizens feel that though services like health, utilities and transport exist, more needs to be done to make them elderly friendly. With the guidelines from the study in UK neighbourhoods, we will conduct series of similar workshops, knowledge cafe’s and interactive sessions in Kolkata to reach out to the service providers of the city and make it more elderly friendly.” CMIG conducted qualitative research with the elderly and found lack of satisfaction among them in terms of waiting in queues in hospitals or nursing homes, getting up and down from city transports, paying bills, walking up stairs in old houses etc. With the shared knowledge and expertise from the meeting, CMIG will embark on a long term initiative to work towards more supportive environments for the elderly. The meeting converged to the conclusion that addressing needs of senior citizens across different social, cultural and urban settings is instrumental to build policies, programmes and interventions that will improve quality of life in old age.

Mallya outside the court on Tuesday

King of Good Times, Vijay Mallya on Tuesday appeared before the Royal Courts of Justice in London for his appeal against extradition to India to face fraud and money laundering charges for 91 billion rupees ($1.3 billion), where his lawyers claimed "multiple errors" in a magistrates’ court's order, the PTI has reported. Mallya was arrested in London in April 2017 after 17 banks accused him of ‘wilfully’ defaulting on the above amount due to debt accumulated by Kingfisher Airlines a full-service carrier he founded in 2005 and shut down seven years later. He remains on bail involving a bail bond worth 650,000 pounds and other restrictions on his travel while he contests that ruling. A wilful defaulter by definition is the one who refuses to repay loans despite having the means to do so. The 64-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, avoided the usual chase by the reporters at the court entrance, refusing to comment on the case when asked and went in with his lawyers separately. "I'm just here to listen," he said, when asked for a comment. He also wished everyone happy new year back, when a journalist approached him with a question, starting it with a happy new year comment. Representatives from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were present in the Court on Tuesday. Justice Stephen Irwin and Justice Elisabeth Laing were told by Mallya's barrister on the first day of this hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday, as we went to press, that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot’s verdict in favour of extradition in December 2018 was flawed and also questioned the admissibility of some witness statements

submitted by the Indian government. The PTI reported that Barrister Clare Montgomery opened her arguments to try and establish that Mallya had no fraudulent intentions when he sought the bank loans for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines because he is no "fly by night figure but an immensely wealthy man" who was not running any sort of “ponzi scheme" but a reputable airline, which fell into economic misfortune along with other Indian airlines. A verdict may be handed down at the end of the hearing on Thursday, after India defends its claim on Wednesday, but judgment may be delayed to a later date depending on how the hearing progresses within three days. Mallya had received permission to appeal against his extradition order signed off by former UK home secretary Sajid Javid last February only on one ground, which challenges the Indian government's prima facie case against him of fraudulent intentions in acquiring bank loans. The High Court has already accepted Judge Arbuthnot's conclusions on all other aspects of the extradition case. His legal team had also sought to challenge the Indian government's assurances that Mallya would be held in safe prison conditions at Barrack 12 in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, which was dismissed by the High Court. At the end of a year-long extradition trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in December 2018, Judge Arbuthnot had found “clear evidence of dispersal and misapplication of the loan funds" and accepted a prima facie case of fraud and a conspiracy to launder money against Mallya, as presented by the CPS on behalf of the Indian government, according to a report by the PTI.


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DELHI ELECTION SPECIAL

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15 - 21 February 2020

Lessons for BJP and Congress The results of the Delhi state assembly elections have many lessons for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The very fact that Delhi voted decisively for the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha elections and equally decisively for AAP in the assembly elections implies that voters now make a clear distinction between the two elections. They wanted Narendra Modi to run the country and Arvind Kejriwal Delhi. But this conclusion is too simplistic, for it gives too much importance to Kejriwal’s love affair with the Delhi voter and too little to the fact that the BJP did not have a face to project as chief minister. The lesson for the BJP is simple: develop a leader before the next elections, so that voters know who they will get as the chief minister. While the BJP has won even without a face in some states (UP in 2017, and Maharashtra in 2014, for example), in a media-driven world, voters want to know who will be their chief minis-

Amit Shah and Sonia Gandhi

ter after the election. People may have party preferences, but party voters also need to know who their leader will be. If the BJP had a face to project, then the efforts of the party’s cadre and Hindutva agenda would have worked to its advantage. Right now, the BJP has indeed got a lot of votes, but very few seats. Also, polarisation is a double-edged sword: an

important reason for Kejriwal’s win is the counterpolarisation of Muslims towards the party. Congress voters shifted to AAP, as is evident from the very poor showing of the party in Delhi, with less than 5 per cent of the popular vote. In a twohorse race, polarisation produces a decisive verdict one way or the other. The second lesson to learn – again for the BJP – is to not let your emo-

tions ruin your strategy. Doing and saying the right things is fine, but you also have to avoid doing the wrong things. Consider how quickly Kejriwal learnt his lesson after his defeat in the 2017 Delhi municipal elections. He spent the first three years of his tenure (2015-17) taking on Modi; but after his party’s defeat in 2017, he changed his tune. He eschewed abuse of Modi, and

avoided being dragged into Hindu-Muslim politics. This is smart. If your opponent’s calling card is nationalism and Hindutva, you cannot beat him in his own game. This is why Kejriwal took no position on the Citizenship Amendment Act or Shaheen Bagh. He won by focusing on his own message of development, avoiding distractions that would have shifted the playing field to the BJP’s core areas. He avoided playing on the rival’s turf. The Congress party failed to do so, and lost out completely. But there are lessons for Kejriwal too. The results show that AAP has won in the core areas of urban Delhi, and lost votes in the peripheral and semi-rural seats. He can’t be all things to all people; no party can be that. His best bet is to position himself and his party as urban. Trying to play the rural card for nationallevel expansion will be selfdefeating, for if he does so, he will find new challengers, including new rivals in many caste- and region-based parties. Kejriwal also needs to

know that while the antiModi media may be cheering him on, the regional parties will not want him to grow beyond Delhi for their own reasons. They know that if he grows beyond Delhi, they will have to compromise their own regional bases to accommodate him. For the Congress party, the biggest lesson to learn is this: you can’t win by running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. You can’t be seen aligning with the tukdetukde gangs of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia and elsewhere and expect the core Hindu voter to come to you. In Delhi, the Congress probably allowed its own votes to go towards AAP in order to stop the BJP, but in the long term, AAP and Congress will grow only at the cost of one another. The party knows it has drawn a dud in Rahul Gandhi and even Priyanka Gandhi, but can’t say so openly. Its future lies outside the Gandhi family. The Gandhi family is heading for the dustbin of history.

Cong decimated; leaders urge for action With the Congress decimated in Delhi for the second consecutive term as votes were counted for the assembly election, Congress leaders Sharmistha Mukherjee and Khushbu Sundar conceded the party's crushing defeat. Sharmistha blamed it on her party's "inordinate delay in decision-making at the top" and several other factors. "We are again decimated in Delhi. Enough of introspection, time for action now.

Inordinate delay in decisionmaking at the top, lack of strategy and unity at state level, demotivated workers, no grassroots connect. All are factors. Being part of the system, I too take my share of responsibility," Sharmistha, daughter of former President Pranab Mukherjee, tweeted. "Wasn't expecting magic in Delhi for Congress. Decimated yet again. Are we doing enough? Are we doing it right? Are we on the right track? No is the big answer.

Congress leaders Sharmistha Mukherjee and Khushbu Sundar

We need to start working now. It's now or never.

Ground level, middle level and top level. Things need to

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari finally concedes defeat Displaying confidence until he no longer could, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari finally conceded defeat and congratulated Arvind Kejriwal on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)'s mega victory in the Delhi election. "Thanks to all the voters of Delhi. Thank you to all the party workers for their hard work... We respect the mandate of people. @ArvindKejriwal congratulations to you," Manoj Tiwari posted on Twitter in Hindi. "I hope the Delhi government will live up to the expectations of the people," he added. AAP looked to end up with 63 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly, limiting the BJP to seven although it is better than the party's 2015 tally. On Saturday, Tiwari had

tweeted that his party would win 48 seats and form a government comfortably and he had urged people to "save" the tweet. This morning, the Delhi BJP chief went further and said he would not be surprised if the BJP won more than 55 seats. He explained his remarkable optimism on his "sixth

sense" and "vibrations from all sides". "We saved your tweet. Should we now delete it," reporters asked the Delhi BJP chief. "As state chief, I can hardly say we are losing, can I? We had our own internal survey. I had made an assessment based on the state of 48 constituencies. I was wrong in thinking that they would

vote for change. You saved my tweet, you keep it..," he said. In the morning, as things started looking bleak after the counting of votes began, the actor-singer turned politician, in his characteristic style, urged BJP workers not to lose heart and effectively said it's not over till it's over. "There are several rounds of counting. I will tell our workers there is no need to be disheartened. We are in a good position. In 27 seats, there is only a 1,000-vote gap between AAP and BJP. Anything can happen," he said. Sometime later, he told reporters that if the BJP lost, the blame would be entirely on him. "We will analyse the loss. We hope in future there will be less blame-game and more work," Tiwari said.

be set right," actor-turnedpolitician Khushbu Sundar of the Congress tweeted. The Congress, which ruled the capital for three straight terms under Sheila Dikshit - between 1998 and 2013 - maintained a steady score of zero as Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) took a big lead and the BJP upped its tally since 2015. In 2015, AAP had won 67 of 70 seats, leaving only three for the BJP and none for the Congress. Many Congress leaders admitted

that the party "sorely misses Sheila Dikshit", the threetime chief minister who became the face of development in the capital. "We sorely miss Sheila Dikshit's persona. We lost a tall leader and we could not pitch anyone else effectively," Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said. "I am happy to the extent that BJP is not winning it. AAP's victory is less disappointing to me. AAP has done some good work in education," he added.

AAP relives SRK's 'Chak De India' moment on Twitter As Aam Aadmi Party beat anti-incumbency and a fiery opposition campaign to achieve a hat-trick in the capital, the mood in Arvind Kejriwal's Delhi is jubilant. The party maintained 50 per cent of the vote share as per early trends with the Bharatiya Janata Party finishing at a distant second. AAP's star candidates Manish Sisodia, Atishi and Amanatullah Khan (who contested from Okhla constituency which includes Shaheen Bagh) managed to defeat their BJP and Congress counterparts, leading the party to a spectacular sweep. While an exultant Kejriwal was photographed celebrating with his wife (who incidentally happened to be born on February 11) and cutting her birthday cake, AAP's social media team skipped no beat before taking to Twitter to share their joy. And it seems they found the perfect meme to say it with - a gig of Bollywood's Shah Rukh Khan as Kabir Khan in Chak De. The scene is after Khan leads the Indian Girls Hockey team to its first international victory under his coaching. A proud and exhilarated Khan looks at the Indian flag being unfurled ahead of the Australian flag thanks to all their hard work and perseverance. The meme, captioned "emotions right now...", probably reflects the relief and joy felt by all supporters of AAP and Kejriwal himself who had himself been mired in a particularly biting election campaign. The run up to the polls saw the city go through several tense situations including protests across the city against the newly drafted citizenship laws, shootings at civilians, communal inflammation and calls for violence.


18 FINANCE - UK

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Dear Financial Voice Reader, Alpesh Patel Dear Financial Voice Reader, So last week’s column following the BBC report that “fraud victims 'failed' as criminals 'operate with impunity'” according to a report by ex-Met Police Deputy Commissioner Sir Craig Mackey has provided me with oodles of material following readers writing in with their experiences. Clearly an area I should cover more and more. It feels like #metoo – or the Saville Enquiry – it’s not until a victim come forward that you find there is an iceberg they were sitting on and giving courage to others. Victim shaming happens in finance as much as it does in other crimes. As I mentioned last week chances are if you’re reading this article, you or a member of your family has been a victim of fraud. We British Indians are of course a wealthy community, or at least, have savings and so a common target. What I was not expecting however is how many people are pressured or ashamed or embarrassed to mention when they are victims of alleged crimes. I as a former Barrister should not be surprised, but the campaigns of sexual harassment show that human nature is such that there is often fear. Or take child grooming – communities clamp down on victims and try to keep things ‘private’. How often have we heard a victim say ‘it’s my own fault, I was so stupid’? So here are just some of messages on types of financial scams doing the rounds on the internet that my readers and followers have alerted me to: The ‘Good Morning Britain Bitcoin Scam’ – this is very popular. It’s where the scammer claims to have won numerous fake awards, doctors images to show themselves associated with celebrities – faking a sense of trust, they also do this through some community connection eg ‘men in Chiswick are all using this method to make money’. They then claim to represent some important sounding company and ask for your money. You’ll never see that again. Binary brokers – all of them. Anybody offering binary options trading – don’t do it. Go to the Casino. The broker, if UK FCA regulated is fine, it’s just Binary is going to lose you money. Now, you don’t have to take a barrister’s word for it whose published 18 books on trading through the Financial Times and Macmillan with his own show on Bloomberg – my point being I do know my stuff and have seen it all. I’ve written about such things in the Financial Times column, but of course fraudsters are very convincing. Check the url – that’s often a giveaway. Just because someone says they are regulated and authorized doesn’t mean they are. Just because they say they don’t need to be regulated doesn’t mean they do not. Another common one my readers have faced is the ‘investment manager’ who will trade your money for you and make you big guaranteed returns. Such solicitation is a criminal offence. So is helping them, including putting up their websites – it’s called conspiracy to defraud and aiding and abetting. Our community is being targeted. Stand up for it. Don’t be like the groomers and a party to conspiracies to defraud. Do not be ‘victim shamed’ in not taking the matter forward. If not the police, you have journalists. And I’ll do what I’ve done this week and speak to my friends at the BBC and get them to not just write about how the police are not taking cases forward, but also, how they the BBC can.

Ola launches services in London Indian ride-hailing company Ola launched its services in London on Monday. The platform is fully operational with three categories: Comfort, Comfort XL and Exec ride classes. The firm has over 25,000 drivers registered on the platform. On the occasion of the launch, Ola's passengers will benefit from up to GBP 25 worth of ride vouchers for signing up in the first week after launch. "The company will maintain its differentiated focus on drivers, safety and a collaborative approach with local authorities and regulators," Ola said in a statement. Ola also announced three partner-

ships with firms such as DriveTech (Part of the AA), consulting giant Mercer and Pearson in initiatives to ensure that Ola riders in London benefit from the highest standard of driving skills, and driver customer service and communication.

According to the company, every Ola driver in London has passed the Versant spoken English test, from education experts Pearson, thus, ensuring a high level of communication in English. London drivers joining the platform

Sanjeev Chawla's plea against extradition to India rejected The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected bookie Sanjeev Chawla's application against his extradition to India. An EHRC spokesman confirmed the rejection of Chawla's request for an interim measure. The 28-day period now kicks in to extradite Chawla to India which could be anytime in the next few days. British national Chawla appealed on the basis of Article 3 of the European Human Rights Convention to which the UK is a signatory and the EHRC took the decision after receiving assurances from the British

High Commission in New Delhi pertaining to consular access that is the right of a British national. Chawla was extradited by Westminster Magistrates Court in October, 2017, but raised concerns about human rights which was successfully challenged by the Indian authorities. Chawla also moved the Royal Court of Justice for permission to appeal which was denied on January 16, 2020. The Royal Court of Justice's two-judge bench of Lord Justice David Bean and Justice Clive Lewis concluded that they were "satisfied that permission to appeal

should be refused". Chawla's lawyers had tried to establish that their client has a statutory right to appeal against the district judge's order sent to the UK home secretary for a sign-off. That submission was challenged by the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on behalf of the

Indian authorities on the grounds that it is a "disguised attempt" at reopening the entire case. “Nobody wants this case to go off to another day after all the delay," Lord Justice Bean said. Chawla was wanted in India for allegedly fixing cricket matches in the year 2000.

UK court clears Dawood aide's extradition to US

ArcelorMittal reports $1.9 bn net loss

The Westminster Magistrates Court has rejected all grounds put forth by Dawood Ibrahim's aide Jabir Motiwala to challenge his extradition to the United States, where he is wanted for charges of money-laundering conspiracy, extortion and import of drugs.

Global steel giant ArcelorMittal reported a net loss of $1.9 billion for the quarter ended December. It had posted a net income of $1.2 billion in the year-ago quarter, the company said in a statement. The company reported a “net loss attributable to equity holders of the parent” of $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter. For the whole year (2019), the company reported a net loss of $2.5 billion as against net income of $5.1 billion in 2018. Revenue in 2019 was at $70.6 billion as compared with $76 billion in the previous year. Its crude steel production stood at 89.8 million metric tonnes, while own iron ore production was at 57.1 million metric tonnes. ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi N Mittal said 2019 was a very tough year.

Judge John Zani ruled that his extradition complies with human rights legislation, adding: “I also find that there are no bars to this extradition as would intervene to prevent extradition”. He sent the case to home secretary Priti Patel for a final decision. However, after the home secretary’s decision,

Motiwala is likely to apply for permission to appeal in the high court of England and Wales. He has to apply within 14 days of the decision and if the permission is granted, the extradition will be stayed until the appeal is heard. The judged noted: “According to information set out in the (extradition) request, JM (Jabir Motiwala) is said to be an important member of an international criminal organisation called `D Company`, based in Pakistan, India and UAE”. “That organisation is said to have conducted criminal activities in the USA which include drug trafficking, money laundering and blackmail”, referring to the

illegal activities of India’s most wanted, Dawood Ibrahim, who is wanted in India for several offences. Motiwala, who appeared in court via videolink from the Wandsworth prison, sat slumped in a chair as the judge handed down the judgment. He identified himself again in the court as ‘Jabir Siddiq’. Judge Zani said: “When the defendant was arrested in London for these matters, he gave the name Jabir Siddiq. When he was asked by the arresting police officers whether he had ever used the name `Motiwala` he agreed that he had. However, at his initial appearance in this court he denied being Jabir

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Motiwala and has maintained that he was Jabir Siddiq”. Rejecting grounds such as abuse of process and risk to human rights, the judge said he was also satisfied that US authorities would need to apply to UK authorities if they were to charge Motiwala of charges other than those made in the extradition request. Motiwala’s defence team had raised the prospect of he being tried for terrorism offences once he extradited to the US. Doing so would breach the condition of ‘specialty’ in the extradition laws, but Judge Zani ruled that he was satisfied with the assurances given by US authorities.

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On Friday we received a refusal notice for a planning application to convert a dwelling into a 9 bedroom HMO, in a conservation area. The application had been in for the best part of a year. It had already gone through one round of major adjustment, by way of redesign. This was done in accordance with the case officer feedback to avoid the application being refused based on the first proposal.

Suresh Vagjiani

REAL ESTATE VOICE

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

However, in the end, despite the revisions we had a refusal just the same. The process of planning is highly frustrating, unpredictable and often done according to the whims of people who really don’t understand planning policy and are often voting according to either whim or pressure from local residents. After a conference call on Monday the approach in regards to this project has changed. Now the instruction to the planner is to advise what we can do under the permitted development rules. This negates the need to go through full planning and provides certainty to the project. Once this is ascertained, implemented, the property rented and money is coming in, at this point we will then have the luxury to go through planning in a piecemeal basis.

In order to take the biggest risk out of property projects, we have made a decision to refocus our attention to go for planning which falls within permitted development only. This negates the need to go through the full planning process, providing a strong level of certainty. There are many PD rules with can be utilised in order to be in and out of a project in a far quicker time scale than going through full planning; and god forbid if you have debt to service whilst going through this painful process. Given the above, today we hope to be bidding on a commercial property in Barnet. The property consists of just over 2,000 sq. ft., and it’s a ‘shop and uppers’. The idea is, under permitted development, to turn the upper into residential, subdivide the downstairs into more digestible sizes and to rent the whole unit out. There is the potential to gain another floor on the property. Looking at it from an intuitive point of view it seems this can be achieved.

The most lucrative way to make money on a property is not by enhancing it but by changing the use class. This is the equivalent of turning lead into gold. For example, it could be from a site without planning into one with planning; or a commercial building either office or retail into residential – depending on where it is.

However, this can be something which can be applied for once the PD has been obtained and implemented. The property, hopefully, will be rented and refinanced while we wait on the planning permission for the upper floor. We are not dependent on the full planning system with this deal, this is why our focus has shifted with this project. The target price is £550K, the residential on the first floor will alone be worth £500K when developed. The commercial on the ground floor when rented for £30K should be worth around £400K. So, there is some meat on the bone. However, the most attractive aspect to the deal is not just the gain but the time within which we can get this gain. People often forget that time is just as important as the gain. The longer the time taken in the deal the gain is eroded. People are hard wired to simply to focus on the numbers, and lose sight of the Time-Value of money.

Since the office to resi scheme has been in place the take up has been drastic in certain lucrative locations such as Westminster. The shrinkage in office space has led to a reversal in prices, wherein the office space has become more valuable than residential square foot in some areas.

The only thing which concerns me is its location, in Barnet. When I showed it to my Jewish lawyer, he knew exactly where the property was. Not a good sign as so will the rest of the local community, who will no doubt serve to jack up the price.

Permitted development (PD) is what can be done under law. It is a predefined criteria which when complied with cannot be refused by the council and within a fixed period of 56 days. So, in less than 2 months you will have your permission and can crack on with the works. Many things like HMOs, 6M extensions, loft conversions and of course office to residential conversions can all be done under the PD rules.

BUY TO LET OPPORTUNITY

The last time we attended a commercial auction we were, naively, hoping to purchase an office building with a guide price of £900K. We had a clever idea of not only developing the office building but building out on the car park. The deal went for over £2.4M. Half of the auction room emptied when this lot was over. It seemed as if half of Southall were there bidding for this lot. So, let’s see what happens today. If it goes our way, we will have exchanged today with completion set for 20 days time. If we do exchange we will not be waiting for completion to get this project going, planning can be applied for without the need to complete. At least there will be certainty in exchange and in the development. In an uncertain world, wherever you can find a way to make money with a level of certainty, it’s better to focus your energies on these projects. As they say, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

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Need to think big to achieve $5 trillion economy, says PM Modi Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the aim of a $5 trillion economy was ambitious but the country would have to think big and move ahead to realise the goal. Modi said the government was focusing on village and city infrastructure, MSMEs, textiles, technology and tourism to fulfil the dream. “Let me reassure you that India’s economy is strong. India is pursuing a dream of a $5 trillion economy with full speed and full potential,” the PM said in his reply to the motion of thanks to the President’s address in Rajya Sabha. He said several steps had been taken to thrust all these sectors forward and all processes, including tax structures had been simplified to give new enthusiasm in the field of

manufacturing, he said, adding that the merger policy in the banking sector had already started yielding meaningful results. Both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the PM detailed growth and modernise the economy.

“My vision is for greater investment, better infrastructure, increased value addition and more and more job creation,” he said in LS. The PM said the Centre was working on labour reforms after consulting labour

unions and moving forward on this would be beneficial for the economy and creating jobs. He also said his government had cleared roadblocks in the way of GST and implemented it. He said that as CM of Gujarat, he had flagged several issues related to implementation of GST and finally resolved them after becoming PM. Modi referred to the government’s efforts to modernise infrastructure. “For us, infrastructure is a combination of aspirations and achievements, about connecting people to their dreams, people’s creativity to consumers. Infrastructure is connecting a child to her school, a farmer to the market, a businessman to his customers. It is about connecting people to people,” he added.

No tax dispute resolution for foreign assets & income The government has introduced a bill in Lok Sabha, which aims to significantly reduce the huge tax disputes linked to direct taxes totalling £93 billion, unlock revenues for the Centre and provide relief for tax payers but bars cases involving undisclosed foreign assets and income. The provisions of the bill shall be applicable to appeals filed by taxpayers or the government, which are pending with the commissioner (appeals), Income tax appellate tribunal, high court or the Supreme Court as on January 31, 2020, irrespective of whether demand in such cases is pending or has been paid. The pending appeal may be against disputed tax, interest or penalty in relation to an assessment or reassessment order or against disputed interest, disputed fees where there is no disputed tax. The appeal may

also be against the tax determined on defaults in respect of tax deducted at source or tax collected at source, according to the finance ministry. With regard to appeals linked to disputed tax, the declarant shall only pay the whole of the disputed tax if the payment is made before the March 31, 2020 and for the payments made after that date but on or before the date notified by central government, the amount payable shall be increased by 10% of disputed tax. In appeals linked to disputed penalty, interest or fee, the amount payable by the declarant shall be 25% of the disputed penalty, interest or fee, as the case may be, if the payment is made on or before the March 31, 2020. If payment is made after the March 31, 2020 but on or before the date notified by Centre, the amount payable shall be increased to 30% of the disputed penalty,

More banks may be merged if necessary: Thakur

Six bank chiefs facing CBI, ED probe, says govt

Minister of state for finance Anurag Singh Thakur said that the government is open to further consolidation of banks depending on needs. Last year, the government had announced the amalgamation of 10 public sector banks into four. This exercise will create six global-sized banks, effective April, and will bring down the number of public sector banks to 12 from 27 in 2017. “We have successfully done the mergers and recapitalisation of the banks. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has been successful, which has brought back more than £40 billion to banks. Further consolidation or merger will depend on the need,” Thakur said in an interview.

The government told parliament that half-a dozen managing directors and CEOs of commercial banks have been facing probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcing Directorate (ED), although no arrests have been made so far. Separately, the CBI has sought prosecution of over 800 public sector bank employees, including presidential appointees such as chairmen, MDs and executive directors of state-run entities since 2017. In at least 139 cases, the government had declined request for prosecution, the finance ministry said in Lok Sabha. The ministry, however, was silent on whether the probe

interest or fee, as the case may be, according to the provisions of the bill. The bill made it clear that provisions of the Act shall not apply - in respect of tax arrears relating to an assessment year, under which an assessment has been made under section 153A or section 153C of the Income-tax Act. It will also not apply relating to an assessment year in respect of which prosecution has been instituted on or before the date of filing of the declaration. Any undisclosed income from a source located outside India or undisclosed asset located outside India, relating to an assessment or reassessment made on the basis of information received under a tax agreement, if it relates to any tax arrear, will

involved serving or former top bankers. Apart from former ICICI Bank CEO and MD Chanda Kochhar, ex-PNB chief Usha Ananthasubramanian, and United Bank’s former CMD Archana Bhargava and ex-UCO Bank boss Arun Kaul are among those facing investigation. An inquiry need not translate into prosecution. In recent years, action against bankers has been on the rise. “Banking corruption and occurrence of frauds was enabled by lack of discipline in the financial system and a lax credit culture across various stakeholders. The role of bankers, too, was not as rigorously examined earlier, and auditors were not independently regulated. Through extensive

Nirmala Sitharaman

also not be allowed. Tax experts called for extending the deadline of March 31. “While the measure is much needed given the number of pending direct tax cases in India, given the stringent window available to taxpayers for withdrawing their appeals and opting for the scheme, number of taxpayers, who will be able to avail of the scheme by March 31 may be limited. It will be good if the timeline can be extended,” said Shefali Goradia, partner at consulting firm Deloitte India.

Chanda Kochhar

reforms, change in credit culture has been instituted and controls have been tightened for every stakeholder in the financial system, which has enabled a tighter check on corruption and decline in occurrence of frauds,” the government said in response to a question. A spurt in non-performing assets as well as frauds like the Punjab National Bank scam have spurred probe agencies into action.

in brief RBI HOLDS RATES, EASES LENDING TO HOUSING, AUTO AND MSMES The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee has kept the key policy rate unchanged while admitting that inflation was on a rising trajectory through the fourth quarter of 2019-20 and its outlook remains “highly uncertain.” In a bid to boost flow of bank credit to productive sectors in a sluggish economy, the central bank also announced a cash reserve ratio (CRR) exemption on incremental retail loans in the automobile, housing and the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sectors until July 31, 2020. Currently, banks are supposed to keep four per cent of deposits with the RBI as CRR which doesn’t carry any interest. The RBI move follows a deceleration in credit growth to the retail sector and the move is expected to channelise credit to areas where demand has not met with commensurate supply.

AIRASIA CEO, CHIEF STEP ASIDE AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes and chairman Kamarudin Meranun will step aside for at least two months while the airline and authorities investigate allegations that Airbus paid a bribe of $50 million to win aircraft orders from the company. A committee comprising non-executive members of AirAsia’s board will review the allegations and take any necessary action, Asia’s biggest budget airline said. Fernandes, one of the aviation industry’s best known executives, and Kamarudin will remain advisers, however, “in view of the current difficult economic circumstances facing the airline industry”, the company added. Senior company executive Tharumalingam Kanagalingam will be the acting CEO, with the changes effective immediately. In a joint statement, Fernandes and Kamarudin denied any allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct as directors of AirAsia. “We would not harm the very companies that we spent our entire lives building up to their present global status,” they said.

TATA STEEL REPORTS £122.9 MN NET LOSS IN Q3 Tata Steel reported a consolidated net loss of £122.9 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2019, mainly due to lower sales and impairment provisions for its European operations. Tata Steel had posted a consolidated net profit of £175.3 million during the same quarter a year ago, the company said in a BSE filing. Its gross sales fell to £3.48 billion in October-December 2019 from £3.81 billion in the year-ago period. Its expenses were at £3.58 billion as compared to £3.59 billion in the preceding fiscal. The company said consolidated financial results included a provision for impairment in respect of non-current assets and restructuring provisions within the European operations. “During the quarter, NatSteel Holdings, a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of the company, disposed of its entire stake in Nat Steel Vina. The loss on disposal of the subsidiary is included within profit/(loss) from discontinued operations,” Tata Steel said. The company said during the third quarter global economic growth further slowed down amidst heightened concerns of US-China trade war and regional steel prices were down as steel demand was affected by weaker industrial output in key markets. In Europe, the overall slowdown was more pronounced due to seasonal weakness and elevated levels of unfairly priced imports. Revenue from operations decreased to £1.38 billion during the quarter under review primarily due to sharp decline in European steel prices, resulting in loss of £95.6 million at ebitda level.


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in brief TALIBAN FIGHTER WHO SHOT MALALA ESCAPES PAK PRISON Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former Pakistan Taliban spokesman who was responsible for the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in 2012 and carrying out the deadly Peshawar Army school terror attack in 2014, has escaped from prison, according to a audio clip released by him. In the audio clip, Ehsan said that he escaped the confinement of Pakistani security agencies on January 11, claiming Pakistani forces failed to keep their promises made to him during his surrender in 2017. “With the help of God, I succeeded to escape on January 11, 2020 from the confinement of the security forces,” he is heard saying in the clip. It would be a big blow to Pakistan and its campaign to eradicate the remnants of Taliban if the clip is proved to be authentic. Without revealing his current location, Ehsan said that he would make a detailed statement about the days of his confinement in the coming days as well as about his future plans. Malala, 22, the youngest Nobel Peace prize winner, was shot by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012 in Swat Valley.

14 ROHINGYA REFUGEES DIE ON BOAT OFF BANGLADESH At least 14 people drowned and 70 people were rescued when a boat carrying Rohingya refugees sank off southern Bangladesh, officials said. "So far we have recovered 14 bodies and 70 people alive," coast guard commander Naim ul Haq said , adding that navy and coast guard boats were still searching near St Martin's island in the Bay of Bengal. Many of the 700,000-plus Rohingya who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 have tried to leave refugee camps in Bangladesh on boats headed for Malaysia.

SA COURT ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR EX-PREZ ZUMA A South African court issued an arrest warrant for ex-president Jacob Zuma, after he skipped court on medical grounds, but the judge stayed the warrant until his trial resumes on May 6. Zuma’s lawyer gave the judge sick note from what he said was a hospital, but the judge questioned the note’s validity, as there was no medical number showing if and where the doctor was certified. “I don’t even know if... is a doctor. There is... nothing to suggest that he is.” Zuma is on trial on 18 charges of fraud and money laundering.

SENATE ACQUITS TRUMP OF IMPEACHMENT CHARGES US President Donald Trump won impeachment acquittal in the US Senate, bringing to a close only the third presidential trial in American history with votes that split the country, tested civic norms and fed the tumultuous 2020 race for the White House. With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, senators sworn to do “impartial justice” stood and stated their votes for the roll call “guilty” or “not guilty” - in a swift tally almost exclusively along party lines. Trump, the chief justice then declared, shall “be, and is hereby, acquitted of the charges.” The outcome followed months of remarkable impeachment proceedings, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House to Mitch McConnell's Senate, reflecting the nation's unrelenting partisan divide three years into the Trump presidency. What started as Trump's request for Ukraine to “do us a favor” spun into a farreaching, 28,000-page report compiled by House investigators accusing an American president of engaging in shadow diplomacy that threatened US foreign relations for personal, political gain as he pressured the ally to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of the next election. No president has ever been removed by the Senate.

Imran Khan launches fresh anti-India rhetoric ISLAMABAD: In his fresh antiIndia rhetoric, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said that his country's battle-hardened army will teach India a 'hard lesson' in case of 'any misadventure' by New Delhi. Addressing a rally in Mirpur in Pakistanoccupied Kashmir on the 'Kashmir Solidarity Day', Khan asked the Indian leadership to avoid threats of attacks. 'Narendra Modi, the statement you gave on this country, and the Indian army chief…this is my message to you both: You have already made a mistake on August 5,' Khan said, referring to the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Khan said that more than '200 million people of Pakistan and its battle- hardened army will teach India a hard lesson', state-run Radio Pakistan reported. 'If you are under the false impression that you will take any action against Pakistan to strengthen your Hindu voter base, it will be the last mistake

you make,' said Khan. He was referring to Prime Minister Modi's address to the National Cadet Corps in New Delhi last month where he said the Indian armed forces won't take more than a week to ten days to make Pakistan bite the dust. 'He (Modi) thought he would end the issue of Kashmir altogether but the way the issue has been internationalised, there is talk of Kashmir where it was never before discussed,' Khan said, adding that Pakistan would always stand by the people of Kashmir and fight alongside them. Pakistan's military top brass also termed the recent statements by India as 'irresponsible' and said they would thwart any attack by the Indian Army. Army spokesman said that the 229th Corps Commanders Conference held a meeting chaired by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during which they reviewed geo-strategic environment, with special focus on internal security and situation on borders.

'Provocative statements of Indian leadership are irresponsible rhetoric with implications for region. Pakistan Armed Forces are forces of Imran Khan order and peace and fully prepared to thwart any misadventure, whatever the cost,' the spokesman quoted the commanders saying in the meeting. Meanwhile, Foreign Office spokesperson Aisha Farooqui said that Kashmir was the core issue of Pakistan's foreign policy. 'We take the cause of Jammu and Kashmir very seriously. It is the core issue of Pakistan's foreign policy. The observation that the Foreign Office is not taking it seriously is not accurate,' she said at the weekly press briefing, dismissing the criticism within the country over its handling of the issue. Farooqui said that Pakistan took the case of the people of

Jammu and Kashmir to all international forum, including at the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council, OIC, Global Refugee Forum and World Economic Forum. 'Pakistan and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have never been shy or negligent towards this core issue of our foreign policy. We are dedicated in taking it forward,' she asserted. To a question, she said that Pakistan took the issue of a protest outside its embassy in Kabul with the Afghan authorities. She said the venue of the 'Kashmir Day' event was changed in Kabul due to the protest and 'the matter was officially taken up with the Afghan authorities'.

Passport-free entry to Kartarpur under consideration: Pak Minister ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Interior Minister Ijaz Shah told the National Assembly that his country is considering a a proposal for allowing passport-free entry for Sikh pilgrims to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur. During question hour, the minister said that at present, passport-free entry of Indian pilgrims to Kartarpur was not allowed in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two neighbouring countries. He said that the move will attract more visitors to his country. However, he added, a proposal for entry without passport, in order to attract more visitors,

was under consideration, for which detailed input might be sought from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. "As per the procedure, pilgrims can visit the corridor from dawn till dusk after producing Indian passport or over-

seas citizen of Indian-origin card along with the passport of resident country," Shah said. He added that the movement of Indian visitors was regulated through a combination of physical and electronic security

systems by the Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) along with other lawenforcement agencies. "Visitors are strictly kept inside the Gurdwara complex by using turnstile gates to avoid their exit toward the Pakistani side," he said. "All the activities in and around the corridor are monitored through surveillance cameras." The Kartarpur Corridor, which opened last November to connect the Indian border with Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, 4.7 km inside Pakistan, allows Sikh pilgrims to travel there without a visa and return on the same day. Guru Nanak Dev established the first Sikh community in Kartarpur in 1504 on the banks of the River Ravi.

Pak court defers verdict against Hafiz Saeed LAHORE: A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has deferred its verdict against Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed in two terror financing cases on his 'request' and adjourned the hearing. Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Lahore judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta had last week reserved the verdict against the Jamaatud-Dawah (JuD) chief in the two terror financing cases. 'The ATC judge took up the application of Hafiz Saeed requesting the court to club all terror financing cases against him and announce the verdict after the trial is completed,' a court official sad after the hearing. The official said the deputy prosecutor opposed to Saeed's plea, arguing that the trial in the two cases against him has already

been completed and the court may announce the verdict under the law. The ATC, however, adjourned the hearing, issuing notices to both prosecution and defence lawyers for arguments on Saeed's plea. Saeed was produced before the ATC in high security. The prosecution had produced some 20 witnesses in the ATC to testify against Saeed and his close aides for their alleged involvement in terror financing. The ATC indicted Saeed and others on December 11 in terror financing cases in day to day hearing. He has already recorded his statement before the court in two terror financing cases against him in which he pleaded 'not guilty'. The cases of terror financing have been registered

against him in Lahore and Gujranwala cities on the application of Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police. Cross examination of prosecution witnesses against Saeed and his three close aides by the defence counsel has already been concluded. The CTD had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices on the charges of terror financing in different cities of Punjab province and arrested him on July 17. He is held at the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore. Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans. The US Department of the Treasury has designated Saeed as a Specially Designated Global

Hafiz Saeed

Terrorist. The US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force in October decided to keep Pakistan on its 'Grey' list for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups LeT, JeM and others. If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.


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Expedite reconciliation with Tamils: Modi tells Lanka PM NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Tamil issue was discussed with an open mind with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was on his first visit outside the island nation after assuming office. Security and counterterrorism dominated talks between India and Sri Lanka, as the Modi government hosted Rajapaksa even as India also asked Sri Lanka to expedite reconciliation process for Tamils in the north and northeast of the island. The emphasis was significant given India’s stake in the welfare of the Tamil population, which has shared ethnic bonds across the Palk Strait in Tamil Nadu. In his statement, Modi said, “I am confident that the Government of Sri Lanka will realise the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka. For this, it will be necessary to carry

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

forward the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13th amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka.” In their talks, the two PMs deliberated on the entire expanse of bilateral ties and resolved to further deepen anti-terror cooperation and boost trade and investment ties. The two sides are working on faster exchange of intelligence on counter-

terrorism. This comes in the context of the Easter Sunday terror attacks that shook Sri Lanka last year. India had provided detailed intelligence in advance of the attack, but the Sri Lanka security forces reportedly discounted the intelligence. “We discussed furthering our cooperation against terrorism. I am happy that Sri Lankan police officers have started participating in anti-terrorism courses in

India’s premier training institutes. We are also committed to further strengthening the contacts and cooperation between the agencies of the two countries,” said Modi. India is wary of the new government, given the Rajapaksa brothers’ history of allowing China a strategic foothold in the country and therefore into the Indian Ocean region, so important for India’s security. To that extent, India has worked to show a mix of incentives as well as firmness in its dealings with this new government. The reference to Tamils is also intended to assure opinion in Tamil Nadu that the community remains a priority for India. India also pushed the Sri Lankan side to expedite clearances for two big infrastructure projects that India is undertaking – the Mattala airport in Hambantota and the Eastern Container Terminal off Colombo which India is developing with Japan.

SA president Ramaphosa threatens to leave African Union session early ADDIS ABABA (ETHIOPIA): South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has had a rough start to his first chairing of the African Union, threatening to leave an ordinary session before it concluded in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Ramaphosa was so fed up with diplomats and heads of state taking issue with the translation of adoptions that he threatened to leave the summit early to prepare for his State of the Nation Address which he will deliver on Thursday before a joint sitting of Parliament. The session, which was meant to take place over two days, was plagued by several delays as state leaders and their

Cyril Ramaphosa

diplomats were unable to adopt decisions due to disagreements over translations. It took more than four hours for the 140-page document to be translated into French and Arabic. Several African leaders were seen

leaving the AU headquarters before the second day's session concluded. The two-day gathering, which was meant to end with Ramaphosa delivering his closing address before facing the media - was called off. Ramaphosa was unable to make his closing address or brief the media. Ramaphosa, who took over the chairmanship of the AU from Egyptian President Mohamed al-Sisi, scored a significant diplomatic victory after his chief negotiator Wamkele Mane was elected as the new secretary of the Africa

free trade agreement area. This victory came after Nigeria fielded its own candidate. The deliberation and voting on the secretariat took much of the two-day session. Ramaphosa will face the mammoth task of tackling conflicts in war-torn Libya and South Sudan. During the summit, he engaged in talks with South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir to iron out the last details of the negotiations. The two rival leaders have missed two key deadlines to form a transitional unity government in the past. The already fragile peace process could be threatened should an agreement fail between the two leaders.

Saudi ‘snubs’ Pak’s call for OIC meet on Kashmir ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia is reluctant to accept Pakistan’s request to immediately convene a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir, a Pakistani daily newspaper Dawn reported. Amid Islamabad’s growing unease over failing to garner support for OIC’s CFM meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan had voiced frustration over the silence of the 57-member bloc of Muslim countries on Kashmir while speaking at a think-tank during his recent visit to Malaysia. “The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst us. We can’t even come together as a whole on the OIC meeting on Kashmir,” he said.

Pakistan has been pushing for an OIC foreign ministers’ meeting since India revoked the special status of Kashmir in August last year. Underscoring the importance of the CFM meeting, Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood

Qureshi had recently said at a press conference that it was needed to send a clear message from the ummah on the Kashmir issue. For any move at the OIC, support from Riyadh is considered a must given that the

body is dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. The kingdom reportedly made several proposals to Pakistan to avoid the CFM, including holding of a parliamentary forum or conference of speakers from Muslim countries and a joint meeting on the Palestine and Kashmir issues, but Islamabad has stuck to its proposal for a CFM meeting. Following Islamabad’s refusal to attend the Kuala Lumpur summit under Saudi pressure, Riyadh had shown some flexibility on Pakistan’s proposal. It had sent its foreign minister to thank Pakistan for staying away from the event in Malaysia but that flexibility was short-lived and Riyadh soon reverted to its position on the CFM on Kashmir.

in brief TAIWAN DUO TRY TO SMUGGLE HEROIN IN INSTANT NOODLES Two Taiwanese men have been caught trying to smuggle 15kg of heroin in packets of instant noodles from a Bangkok airport, Thai police said, in a kingdom which is a key regional drug route. Police found the haul inside packets of MAMA noodles - a Thai brand ubiquitous across Asia - as well as tins of prickly heat powder. The pair were trying to return to Taiwan when they were arrested on January 30 at Suvarnabhumi Airport after a tip-off, police said.

RUSSIAN PRIESTS MAY SOON STOP BLESSING NUKES Russian priests should refrain from the practice of blessing nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction that can inflict indiscriminate loss of life, according to new guidelines being discussed by the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian priests have long appeared in images sprinkling holy water on submarines, ballistic missiles, Soyuz space rockets and other pieces of hardware as part of rituals to bless them. The proposals will be discussed until June 1.

SOUTH KOREA MASS WEDDING ATTRACTS THOUSANDS DESPITE VIRUS FEARS South Korean groom Lee Kwon-seok was excited to join thousands of other couples in the latest mass wedding performed by South Korea's Unification Church, but he and his bride weren't taking any chances amid the coronavirus outbreak. They brought their own surgical masks to wear - his black to match his suit, and hers white to match her dress. "I'm very happy to attend this deeply blessed joint wedding," said Lee, 35. "Since coronavirus is going around these days, I wore a mask to be careful." About 30,000 people from around the world gathered at the Cheong Shim Peace World Center in Gapyeong, northeast of Seoul, according to the church. Among them were 6,000 new couples getting married, while the others were renewing vows or watching.

US WARNS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT RISK IN SPAIN The US embassy in Madrid has warned that Americans visiting Spain are at a heightened risk because of “a rise in sexual assault” in the country in recent years - a rare such countrywide alert for a European nation. A security alert from the embassy comes at a time when Spanish authorities are investigating a rape accusation filed by three American sisters against three Afghan men over events on New Year’s Eve in southeastern Spain. It also warned of the challenges that those who experience sexual assault face when seeking justice in the Spanish legal system. In response, the Spanish interior ministry said that Spain had one of the lowest sex crime rates in Europe and that the country was actively fighting such crime.

FEMALE TOURIST HELD IN MALDIVES FOR WEARING BIKINI A female tourist has been arrested in the Maldives for wearing a bikini. The woman was arrested on the non-resort island of Maafushi. A video of the incident went viral on social media. In the video the woman, wearing a black bikini, is seen struggling against three cops as they drag her away from the beach. One officer is seen holding a beach towel trying to cover her up. The woman can be heard shouting, “You are sexually assaulting me”. The arrest prompted Maldives’ police service commissioner to apologise. He said: “Incident seems to be badly handled. It is being investigated.”


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in brief THREE KILLED, 179 HURT AS PLANE SKIDS OFF RUNWAY IN ISTANBUL A Pegasus Airlines plane flying into Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport skidded off the end of a wet runway and broke into three pieces after landing, killing three people and injuring 179, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The three had died in hospital, with 179 of the 183 aboard wounded, Koca told reporters. The wounded were being treated at 18 nearby hospitals, Ali Yerlikaya, the governor of Istanbul, had said earlier, adding that the plane was carrying 177 passengers and six crew from the western province of Izmir. "The plane could not hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50 to 60 metres," Yerlikaya told reporters at the airport. The Boeing 737-86J split into three pieces after what Yerlikaya said was a drop of around 30 to 40 metres at the end of the runway. Footage showed the plane landing and continuing at a high speed off the runway. Passengers had been led out as the plane lay on a patch of grass beside the runway. Dozens of emergency response personnel escorted passengers off before carrying them away on stretchers.

INDONESIA CALLS OFF ‘PLUCK A TYRE OFF THE CROC’ CONTEST Indonesia has called off a contest offering a cash reward to anyone brave enough to remove a motorbike tyre stuck around the neck of a giant crocodile. Authorities in Palu, capital of Central Sulawesi, said no would-be crocodile wrangler stepped forward to take up the challenge of removing the unwanted necklace from the 13-foot reptile. The contest was rolled out last month, but made headlines again last week when an unspecified reward was offered. The local conservation agency offered few details about the reward. The crocodile has been seen in Palu River and Palu Bay and was first seen stuck in the rubber hoop in 2016. Wildlife activists are concerned the reptile may grow and eventually be strangled by the tyre.

WOMAN CALLS 911 WITH TOES AFTER HANDS GET CRUSHED A woman whose hands were crushed while she was changing a tyre on the side of an interstate in South Carolina managed to call for help using her toes. The unnamed woman, 54, got a flat tyre while driving on a rural stretch of I-95. A jack holding up the car slipped while the woman was putting on the spare tyre, causing the woman’s hands to get stuck between the tyre and the fender, the release said. Over the next 35 minutes, officials said the woman was able to slide off her shoe, manipulate her cell phone and call 911. The woman’s current condition wasn’t known.

DAVID CAMERON’S BODYGUARD LEAVES PISTOL IN PLANE LOO An investigation has been launched after former British PM David Cameron’s bodyguard left his gun in a toilet on a commercial flight, police said. The Glock semiautomatic pistol was found by a passenger before take-off on the British Airways flight from New York to London, causing a delay and scaring passengers. The officer had also left Cameron’s passport in the loo. The overnight flight landed at London’s Heathrow airport. “We were waiting to take off when a guy started to show pictures on his phone of a gun and two passports - one was David Cameron’s - he said he’d found in the toilet,” a report quoting a passenger as saying. “They were just resting on the side by the sink.” Scotland Yard police headquarters said it was investigating. “The officer involved has since been removed from operational duties,” a spokeswoman said.

Coronavirus kills over 1,000 in China BEIJING: The number of fatalities from China's new coronavirus epidemic jumped to 1,011 nationwide on Tuesday after hard-hit Hubei province reported 103 new deaths. In its daily update, Hubei's health commission also confirmed another 2,097 new cases in the central province, where the outbreak emerged in December. There are now more than 42,200 confirmed cases across China, based on previously released figures from the government. The new virus is believed to have emerged last year in a market that sells wild animals in Hubei's capital Wuhan, the city at the centre of the outbreak. Chinese President Xi Jinping met with medical workers and patients affected at a hospital in Beijing on Monday, where he called for "more decisive measures" to contain the outbreak, said state broadcaster CCTV. An advance team for a World Health Organization-led inter-

Chinese President Xi Jinping donned a face mask and had his temperature checked on Monday while visiting medical workers and patients affected by the deadly coronavirus.

national expert mission on the virus arrived in China, headed by Bruce Aylward. He oversaw the organization's 2014-2016 response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Ahead of the team's arrival, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned there had been some "concerning instances" of cases

overseas in people with no travel history to China. Britain on Monday recorded a doubling of cases to eight, and the government warned the outbreak of novel coronavirus was a "serious and imminent threat." US President Donald Trump said he expected the outbreak would disappear in April due to

hotter weather, a prognosis at odds with top US health officials. Thousands on cruise liner freed after test Thousands of people stranded aboard a cruise ship in Hong Kong for five days were allowed to disembark on Sunday after its 1,800 crew tested negative for coronavirus. Health authorities in the Asian financial hub said the crew and a similar number of passengers had been released from a quarantine imposed because of fears some staff could have contracted the deadly virus on a previous voyage and passed it on. The World Dream carried three Chinese passengers to Vietnam between January 19 and 24 who were later found to be infected with the SARS-like coronavirus. The government grounded the ship on its arrival in Hong Kong while tests were carried out on the crew, but said the passengers need not undergo examination as they had no contact with the three sick holidaymakers on the January trip.

US condemns attacks on Hindus in Pakistan WASHINGTON: The US has condemned Pakistan for not protecting the religious freedom of its minorities, who in its case includes Hindus, as it launched an alliance of “like-minded partners who treasure, and fight for, international religious freedom for every human being”. US secretary of state Mike Pompeo made the comments during the launch of the 27-nation International Religious Freedom Alliance. “We condemn terrorists and violent extremists who target religious minorities whether they are Yazidis in Iraq, Hindus in Pakistan, Christians in northeast Nigeria, or Muslims in Burma,” Pompeo said. The top US diplomat’s statement comes after India amended a citizenship law to grant citizenship to migrants from six minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered the country after December 31, 2014. Reports of Hindu religious

sites being vandalised and frequent cases of forced conversion of Hindu girls for marriage frequently emerge from Pakistan. “We condemn blasphemy and apostasy laws that criminalise matters of the soul. We condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s hostility to all faiths. We know several of you courageously pushed back against Chinese pressure by agreeing to be part of this Alliance, and we thank you for that,” Pompeo said. Australia, Brazil, the United

Kingdom, Israel, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Greece are among the prominent countries to join the alliance. “Defending the right of all people to live their lives according to their conscience is one of this administration’s top priorities,” Pompeo said in his address. “Indeed, we must affirm, and fight for, that truth now more than ever. More than eight in 10 people in the world today live where they cannot practice their faith freely,” he said.

According to a senior State Department official, participating countries are to discuss the kind of areas that they are going to work and focus on. “The areas will include things like technology and religious oppression, blasphemy and apostasy laws, for instance. The toolbox will include things like, whether it’s putting out statements, actions that can take place in international bodies that the group can come together and hopefully come behind, the possibilities of sanctions being used,” said the official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that it is a consensual body. Every nation is not bound to join in each of the items that come forth. “But as countries look at this and say that’s something we’re interested in, then they can join. And if they decide, look, that’s not one we’re interested in, then they won’t, and there is no penalty or foul for any of participation or non-participation,” the official said.

Thailand soldier kills 29 in rampage before being shot dead

Pak vows to help Malaysia in 'palm oil' war with India

Nakhon Ratchasima: A soldier angry over a property deal gone sour killed at least 29 people and wounded 57 in a shooting spree that spanned four locations in and around the Thai city of Nakhon Ratchasima before he was shot dead.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan thanked Mahathir Mohamad for “speaking up” on the Kashmir issue and promised to do his best to buy more Malaysian palm oil to “compensate” it after India restricted the import of the commodity from the country amid a diplomatic row.

Most of the victims were at the city’s Terminal 21 shopping centre, where the shooter held out against an overnight siege with an assault rifle and ammunition stolen from his army base. Police identified him as 32year-old soldier Jakrapanth Thomma. He initially posted written messages on Facebook during the attack

before his account was shut down by the company. “It was a personal conflict... over a house deal,” PM Prayuth Chan-ocha said from Nakhon Ratchasima after travelling there to meet survivors. Prayuth added that the conflict was with a relative of the soldier’s commanding officer. Prayuth came in for criticism over his handling of the incident after he waved and smiled during a visit to the scene and made a heart gesture with his fingers. Led by police and soldiers, hundreds of shoppers fled the mall during the 16-hour standoff. Crouching low, they escaped in small groups, dazed and

exhausted. At one point, armed forces emerged at a run carrying small children. The worst mass shooting in Thailand’s history has prompted soul searching in the country of 69 million. Hours before he began shooting, the shooter had posted on his Facebook account denouncing greedy people. “Rich from cheating. Taking advantage of other people. Do they think they can spend the money in hell?” read one post in Thai.

“You have spoken for the justice for Kashmiris, for which we are thankful,” Khan said during a joint press conference with his Malaysian counterpart Mahathir. “We noticed that India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause to cut their palm oil import, Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that,” he was quoted as saying. Indonesia and Malaysia are the two countries which supply palm oil. The Indian government has imposed restrictions on imports of refined palm oil, a move which could discourage the inbound shipment of the commodity from Malaysia.


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SOUTH INDIA

10 former JD(S), Cong men take oath as Karnataka ministers BENGALURU: Ten out of eleven JD(S) and Congress turncoat MLAs who won from their respective constituencies in Karnataka in the December 2019 bye-elections for the BJP took oath as ministers in the B S Yediyurappa-led cabinet. In the swearing-in ceremony held at Raj Bhavan, Bengaluru, Governor Vajubhai Vala administered the oath to the new ministers in the presence of top BJP leaders, supporters, and families of the new ministers. The new ministers are S T Somasekhar (Yeshwantpur), Ramesh Jarkiholi (Gokak), Anand Singh (Vijayanagar), K Sudhakar (Chikkaballapur), Byrathi Basavaraj (KR Puram), Shivaram Hebbar (Yellapur), B C Patil (Hirekerur), K Gopalaiah (Mahalakshmi Layout), K C Narayan Gowda (KR Pet), and Shrimanth Patil

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala and Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa with the newly inducted Cabinet Ministers at a swearing-in ceremony held at Raj Bhavan.

(Kagwad). The announcement came after days of lobbying by several MLAs in the state eyeing ministerial berths. "After a discussion, the party leadership in New Delhi has said only 10 ministers should be inducted for now. I have been asked to travel to the national capital at a later point to meet the leaders to decide on the rest,"

Yediyurappa said. With this, the Karnataka cabinet will have 28 ministers, including the chief minister. The cabinet has a sanctioned strength of 34; six berths remain vacant. Mahesh Kumathalli, former Congress MLA who won the bypolls from Athani, and Umesh Katti, a BJP leader who won from Hukkeri MLA, have not been chosen for the cabinet

expansion. When asked, Yediyurappa said it was difficult to accommodate Kumathalli in the Cabinet but promised to give him “another big responsibility”. The CM maintained that Katti, a front-runner among other BJP leaders for a berth, "will definitely be made a minister later." Yediyurappa had earlier promised to induct 13 ministers. Meanwhile, Congress MLA and former minister Priyank Kharge took a jibe at his BJP counterparts who were denied ministerial berths. "Congratulations to all the new ministers, wish you all the very best in your new roles. Also, a big congratulations to BJP MLAs of Kalyana Karnataka for failing to convince your high command that KK needs more representation in the cabinet," he tweeted minutes before the swearing-in ceremony began.

PUNJAB

Akal Takht mulls ban on mobile phones inside Golden Temple AMRITSAR: Giani Harpreet Singh, Jathedar of the Akal Takht, said that banning mobile phones inside the Golden Temple complex will have to be "thought over" if visitors continue to click selfies and shoot TikTok videos inside the holiest Sikh shrine. TikTok is a short-video platform that is extremely popular among youngsters globally, including India. It has about 200 million users in India. "We want all devotees to visit the Golden Temple without any hassle and we are not in favour of imposing any such mobile ban but the way the incidents of TikTok are surfacing, I think imposing ban on carrying mobile phones inside Golden Temple will have to be pondered over in the future," the Jathedar said in

Amritsar. The Jathedar (head priest) also pointed out that some of the devotees even argue with 'sewadars' (workers) upon being stopped from clicking photos inside the premises. "It is a very serious problem," said the Jathedar advising devotees to refrain from doing such acts. Photography and videography in the precincts of the Golden Temple have already been banned by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to avoid any "disturbance" to the spiritual atmosphere. Notice boards in the periphery of the Sikh shrine, prohibiting devotees to click photos and make videos, have also been installed. However, devotees continue to take selfies with the Golden Temple in the background.

The Jathedar's statement comes two days after a TikTok video shot inside the Golden Temple by three girls with a Punjabi song playing in the background went viral on social media. A police Golden Temple complaint was lodged to identify the girls. It was the second such incident in a short span of time as in January, a police complaint was lodged against a girl for hurting religious sentiments of Sikhs after she shot a dance video inside the Darbar Sahib complex. Later, the girl had to apologise.eanwhile, endorsing the views of the Akal Takht Jathedar, SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal said strict action was needed to stop

people from making TikTok videos in the precincts of the Golden Temple. "We will have to take strict action if such incidents do not stop," said Longowal. He said more SGPC workers would be deployed to prevent devotees from making videos inside the Golden Temple complex. "We will also discuss this issue in the upcoming meeting of the executive committee of the SGPC," said Longowal.

in brief PROBE PANEL SUMMONS RAJINIKANTH Actor Rajinikanth has been summoned by the one-member commission probing the Tuticorin violence for his remarks on the anti-Sterlite protesters. The committee, headed by retired high court judge Aruna Jagadeesan, had asked the Tamil actor to appear before the commission on February 25. On May 22, 2018, at least 13 people were killed and several others injured when Tamil Nadu police opened fire on protestors who took out a demonstration against the construction of a new smelter plant by Sterlite Copper plant owned by the Vedanta Limited in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. After meeting those injured in the firing, Rajinikanth said the protest turned violent only after the “intrusion of anti-social elements.” He further added that if there is protest for everything then Tamil Nadu will turn into a graveyard. “Ordinary people did not torch the collector office and the housing quarters, the violence happened because of the intrusion of anti-social elements.” Later, when the actor was questioned on what basis he concluded that anti-social elements were responsible for the violence, he said “You are asking how I know that, I know that’s it," the actor had said.

PUNJAB SPEAKER REJECTS EX-AAP MLA'S RESIGNATION Ten months after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislator Nazar Singh Manshahia from Mansa quit the party to join Congress and submitted his resignation in Assembly, Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh rejected the letter on grounds of “improper format”. Rana Singh said, “He had appeared before me recently after desisting from doing so for a long time. I told him that his resignation was not valid as it did not follow proper format and asked him to send it afresh. But he is not willing to do so. Hence, his resignation stands rejected.” Another AAP MLA, Amarjit Sandoa, who had also quit AAP to join Congress alongwith Manshahia ahead of Lok Sabha elections, had withdrawn his resignation a few days ago. The Speaker’s rejection of Manshahia’s resignation is being seen as a setback for the political ambitions of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh, an internationally acclaimed shooter.

WEST BENGAL

Bengal Governor sticks to text in the assembly KOLKATA: After weeks of hostility and war of words between the West Bengal Governor and the chief minister, the state assembly was witness to a few moments of what appeared to be bonhomie between the two - it also included a bouquet of flowers. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar delivered the opening speech of the budget session - which contained Mamata Banerjee’s stand against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) - with words such as “divisive India”, “majoritarianism” and “intolerance” all thrown in. Earlier, Dhankar had

Mamata Banerjee and Jagdeep Dhankhar outside the state assembly.

issued a statement to the media, saying he had requested the state government to add and replace certain paragraphs from the speech. But the request was not accepted. He had also said he would not cross the “Lakshman

Rekha”, and the Governor kept his word. That Dhankar and Mamata share frosty ties is no secret. The two often had conflict even on issues like Dhankar’s sitting arrangement in a Durga Puja carnival and a locked

gate of the state assembly, which is meant for the governor’s entry. Their war of words continued over the CAA too and the protests that Mamata held over the contentious legislation. The latest development, therefore, was a welcome change from what has been the case so far. Chopper to Dhankhar Meanwhile, in what can be seen as a sign of reconciliation between the state administration and the governor, the Mamata government has decided to provide Governor Dhankhar with a helicopter for his travel to Santiniketan. The governor's secretariat had

requested a chopper from the state government for Dhankhar's travel and, unlike previous occasions, it has been approved. 'We had sought a chopper for the governor's to travel to Santiniketan to attend a programme. It was approved by the state government,' a Raj Bhavan official said. The development comes a day after Dhankhar held a meeting with state Finance Minister Amit Mitra and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee to discuss the state Budget session. A senior TMC leader said the development is an indication of both the Raj

Bhavan and the state government softening their stance. On several occasions last year, the state government had rejected Dhankhar's request for a chopper to travel to Santiniketan, Domkal and Farakka, which was around 300 km from Kolkata. The governor has been at loggerheads with the TMC government over a number of issues ranging from Dhankhar's seating arrangement at the Durga Puja carnival to comments on his security since he rushed to Jadavpur University to 'rescue' Union minister Babul Supriyo who was heckled there by a section of students.


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The writer is a Socio-political Historian - E-mail: haridesai@gmail.com Dr. Hari Desai

Jiddu Krishnamurti’s advice to Indira Gandhi

Mahant Swami in Atladara

• At the age of fourteen Krishnaji was proclaimed the world teacher-to-be • Sanjay Gandhi was not for holding elections for three or four decades nlike Dhirendra Brahmachari, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s Guru Jiddu Krishnamurti (11 May 1895- 17 February 1986) was not much discussed in the Indian political circles. I vividly remember having attended some of the lectures by J. Krishnamurti, the Guru of my teacher Prof. B.S. Patel at St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad at J.J. Fine Arts campus opposite V.T. station at Mumbai without even grasping what he talked about. Of course, my reading of Pupul Jayakar’s most authentic biography of the late PM made me curious to read more about Krishnaji, as he was fondly addressed by those who were close to him.

U

Jayakar was close to both Indira Gandhi and Krishnaji as well. Jayakar was closely involved with the development of indigenous culture, handicrafts and textiles in India since the country achieved independence in 1947. A classic biography of one of the greatest spiritual teachers of our times “J. Krishnamurti: A Biography” by Pupul reveals authentically how close Prime Minister Indira Gandhi Indira Gandhi with her Guru J. Krishnamurti was to Krishnaji. presence on 10 million refugees of Indian Whenever she was disturbed or undergoing soil, the pressure generated, and the any serious problem, she would rush to seek problems inherent in the situation. But advice of her spiritual teacher which would Krishnaji would not waver from his definitely make her relaxed. Quite position.” In 1977, with the defeat of Indira sometimes even her Guru would visit her Gandhi, Jayakar resigned from the home and family. Even the exchange of chairmanships of several government letters between the two reveals the bond of boards and societies and returned from trust between the two great souls. Delhi to Mumbai, where she was to live in In the introduction of the biography of an old, rented flat on Malabar Hill. She was Krishnaji written by Jayakar it is stated: “In still President of the Krishnamurti 1909, when he was just fourteen, Foundation, “but I sensed a breath of Krishnamurti was proclaimed the world discontent among several of my colleagues.” teacher-to-be in whom Maitreya, the Krishnaji writes to her from California: “Of Bodhisattva of compassion, would course, there’s old age, with all its troubles manifest. The proclamation was made by but they are normal and natural. But these Annie Besant, the President of the should in no way interfere with the mind Theosophical Society, a movement that and its beauty; though they are interrelated, combines Western occult philosophy with the mind is infinite.” Buddhist and Hindu teachings…As a Not many people may be aware that PM contemporary of Krishnamurti and one of Gandhi took the decision to call for elections his closest associates, Pupul Jayakar offers during the black Emergency after consulting an insider’s view of the fascinating life and J. Krishnamurti despite her own son Sanjay thought of an extraordinary individual.” was insisting “In my scheme of things, there From the description of Jayakar, one were to be no elections for three or four derives the impression that Prime Minister decades” (as Jr Gandhi told Kuldip Nayar Indira Gandhi would seek solace in quoted in ‘On Leaders and Icons from Jinnah Krishnaji by meeting, writing or talking to to Modi’). Krishnaji did feel that Indira him in good or bad times. She would spend would lose the March 1977 elections and he one or two hours talking to Jidduji and was proved to be right. On hearing the news come out confident. He would evaporate of her defeat, he wrote a letter to Pupul from her tensions. PM Gandhi California: “I feel somewhat seems to be in touch with Next Column responsible in this event. As I told Krishnamurti since late Verrier Elwin you in Bombay, she may be 1950s through her closest defeated.” preferred Indian friend Pupul Jayakar. After defeat one day Gandhi Nationality Pupul first met Indira in came to Jayakar’s house “to sit 1931 at Anand Bhavan, her family home at quietly.” She appeared totally unafraid for Allahabad when she was 16 and Indu two herself, but was extremely anxious for her years junior to her. Since 1955 she developed son, Sanjay. She had been told by the few friendship with Mrs. Gandhi when she people who remained with her that he would shifted to Delhi. Jayakar writes: “Indira’s be arrested and tortured in jail. Even Indira first meeting with Krishnaji was at dinner at was arrested and spent a night in the police my house in the late 1950s. Indira appeared lock-up. After her release she did spend a shy and hesitant to speak. Krishnaji was also week in Tihar Jail. During the traumatic shy, but soon started relating anecdotes. period she could find solace in Krishnaji. One Zen tale in particular delighted her.” Even after she bounced back to power in Jayakar notes: “The war with Pakistan in 1980 and lost her son, Sanjay, Krishnamurti 1971 and the formation of Bangladesh had stood solidly behind her. Even when she was been a traumatic experience for the assassinated, Krishnaji’s blessings were subcontinent. Krishnaji, on seeing us in showered on her elder son, Rajiv, and his 1972, had spoken with passionate concern family. Krishnamurti died at Pine Cottage, about the war. He asked us why we did not California on 17 February 1986. Before his protest strongly against war, which was the death he said that the teacher was ultimate act of violence; whatever the unimportant; only the teaching was circumstances, war could not be important. It was the teaching that had to be countenanced. We tried to explain the protected from distortion and corruption.

The head of BAPS Mahant Swami is currently at Atladara. Till 10th he was at Navsari. On 4th February an idol installation ceremony was performed. On 5th he inaugurated Prasadi mandapam, an exhibition hall where various items which were used by Lord Swaminarayan and other gurus of the BAPS were exhibited. On 7th an evening assembly was held at the podium of the newly-constructed temple in Navsari.

Mahashivaratri: celebration, significance & rituals Mahashivaratri is a great festival in Hinduism, celebrated annually with the devotion and religious enthusiasm in the honor of the Lord Shiva, deities of Hindu Trinity. The literal meaning of Shivaratri is “The Great Night of Lord Shiva”. According to the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated in the Varanasi in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha at the 13th night or 14th day of the month Maagha or Phalguna (month of February or March according to the English calendar) to worship Shiva Lingam. In 2020, Mahashivaratri is being celebrated on February 21. Spiritual Significance According the most prevalent legend of Mahashivratri, during the great mythical churning of the ocean – Samudra Manthan conducted by the gods and demons for obtaining nectar to make them immortal, first a pot of poison emerged. The poison was so potent that nobody was ready to even touch it as it had the power to burn up the whole world. It was decided that the only one who could help them get rid of this poison was Lord Shiva. So they all went to him for help, and Shiva promptly agreed to consume the poison. However, the poison was so deadly that even if a drop had entered Lord Shiva’s stomach (his stomach represents the universe), it would have annihilated the whole world. Shiva carefully held the poison in his throat which turned blue due to the effect of the poison, and so he came to be known as Neelkanth. Mahashivaratri

is celebrated as a day of gratitude to Lord Shiva for protecting the world from this deadly poison. Rituals At Mahashivratri, people keep fast of whole day and night and Kashi Vishwanath temple gets congregated by the young and old devotees from the very early morning. They come to the temple to perform the puja of traditional Shivalingam and hope to get what they have prayed to the god. They take bath in the holy water of the Ganga (Symbol of the purity) early in the morning before sunrise and wear a clean clothe after the sacred bath. Every worshiper brings a pot full of holy Gange water to the temple to offer the Shivalingam. Women pray to God for her well-being of their husbands and sons, an unmarried woman pray to get their desired husband like Shiva (the ideal husband) in future; boys pray to get beautiful wife and successful life in future. The temple full of sound of bells and people shouts of “Shankerji ki Jai” or “Mahadevji ki Jai”. Devotees take 5 round of the Shivalingam and pour water on the Shivalingam. Some also pour cow milk on the Shivalingam. According to the Shiva Purana, the Mahashivaratri puja

involves six steps which are: Taking bath in the Gange for purification of soul, mind and body. Bathing of the Shiv Linga with the holy water of Gange, then bathing with milk and honey. God Shiva loves bel patra (three leaves stalked in one) so every rituals added it to the puja. After bathing of the Shiv Linga, vermilion paste applied on it which represents the virtue. Offer fruits, flowers which are given to get long life and satisfaction of desires. Burning enrage yields wealth. The lighting with diya represents achieving more knowledge. Offering betel leaves provide satisfaction. Worshipers also apply three horizontal lines of holy ash on their forehead just like the Lord Shiva which represents spiritual knowledge, cleanliness and penance. They wear garland made up of the Rudraksha (seed of Rudraksha tree) while worshiping the Lord Shiva. It is believed that Rudraksha tree was originated from the tears of Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is also considered as the wedding day of the Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati. Shivratri food Many people observe a fast on this day. They eat fruits, Kheer of Sabudana, Even Ramdana and Halwa of Kattu is also consumed.


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Landslide victory for AAP in Delhi Arvind Kejriwal’s development model trounced the BJP’s strident campaign mounted around the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won a landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly elections on Tuesday. “Delhi has birthed a new kind of politics. It is a model called ‘politics of work’. I thank Lord Hanuman that he has blessed this son of Delhi and people of Delhi,” said a beaming Kejriwal, flanked by his wife Sunita and children, and his associates Sanjay Singh and Ashish Talwar, to a jubilant crowd of supporters at the AAP headquarters. A bitter campaign, during which Kejriwal was called a “terrorist” in a contest that AAP turncoat Kapil Mishra, who ran on a BJP ticket from Model Town, dubbed an “IndiaPakistan match” ended on a cordial note. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Kejriwal on his victory to which he

Delhi CM and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal addreses supporters after party's victory.

replied, “Thank you so much, sir. I look forward to working closely with the Centre to make our Capital city into a truly world class city.” Kejriwal’s third term as Delhi CM also marked a national reckoning, with leaders of all Opposition parties hailing his “development model” while some, like West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it marks a defeat for a communally

divisive agenda around the CAA-National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR). According to Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, the Delhi results indicate “winds of change” are blowing in the country. “The BJP, as usual, played the communal card to polarise votes, but failed,” said Pawar. In the final tally, AAP has won a whopping 62 of the 70 seats in the Delhi

Assembly while the BJP was to settle with 8 seats. The Congress drew a blank for the second consecutive time since 2015 in a State where its late leader Sheila Dikshit had ruled as Chief Minister for 15 years. Voter preference varied dramatically from the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, where the AAP had been reduced to the third slot with just about 18 per cent of the vote share and no seats. Kejriwal’s party garnered a staggering

53.6 per cent vote share in the 70-member assembly. The BJP had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in May 2019 with a vote share of 56.58 per cent. The Congress was the runner-up in the Lok Sabha with 22.46 per cent vote share although it did not win any seats. In the Assembly, the Congress was humiliated with just 4.3 per cent of the vote with as many as 60 of its 66 candidates having to forfeit their deposits. Significantly, although Kejriwal countered the BJP’s heightened ideological campaign with a softHindutva pitch combined with his education/health/developm ent-centric narrative and refused to either visit or support the anti-CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh, the Muslims in Delhi overwhelmingly voted for the AAP. In Okhla, the Assembly seat where Shaheen Bagh is located, AAP candidate Amanatullah Khan secured 75.69 per cent of the vote

share and 1,11,761 votes. The Congress got 2.64 per cent of the vote share with its veteran candidate Parvez Hashmi polling just 3,893 votes. In Muslim-majority constituencies such as Ballimaran, Mustafabad, Seelampur and Matia Mahal, Muslims voted in large numbers for AAP. Kejriwal recited the Hanuman Chalisa during the campaign and thanked “Hanumanji for the victory” in his address to party supporters on Tuesday. The AAP candidate in Matia Mahal, Shoaib Iqbal, got 75.96 per cent of the vote share and 67,250 votes while the Congress’s Mirza Javaid got just about 3.85 per cent of the vote share and just 3,403 votes. Two of the BJP’s three MLAs in the previous assembly, OP Sharma from Vishwas Nagar and Devender Gupta from Rohini, managed to win again while the party was to satisfy with just eight seats. BJP President JP Nadda conceded defeat and congratulated Kejriwal on the AAP’s victory.

Donald Trump to visit India on Feb 24-25 US President Donald Trump will embark on a two-day visit to India from February 24 during which he will travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad to further strengthen the strategic bilateral partnership and highlight the strong and enduring bonds between the American and Indian people, the White House announced. President Trump will be accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump and they will visit India on February 24-25, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said. She said

President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked on the telephone over the weekend. "During a phone call over the weekend, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi agreed the trip would further strengthen the IndiaUS strategic partnership and highlight the strong and enduring bonds between the American and Indian people," she said. The President and the First Lady will travel to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, which is in Prime Minister Modi's home State of Gujarat and played an important role in Mahatma Gandhi''s life and

between the US and India in various r e a l m s , " Rangaswami, Indian-American philanthropist and head of Indiaspora, said. Describing it as a significant visit, Mukesh Aghi, president of the US-India Strategic Donald Trump and Partnership leadership of the Indian Forum, noted that the last independence movement, three American presidents the White House said. had made trips to India. "President Trump's trip "It's essential to send a to India is timely in view of message to the region that the bilateral trade issues that India is a significant partner need to be resolved and in and the president values light of the collaborations that," Aghi said. India has a

role to play not only in its immediate neighbourhood, but in making sure that the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific region is part of the international global order, he said. Trump's visit follows PM Modi's tour of the US in September, during which he met with the US President in New York on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. The meeting had come just days after the two leaders attended the mega ''Howdy Modi'' rally in Houston which was attended by more than 50,000 IndianAmericans. The two leaders

also met in August at the G7 summit held in the French town of Biarritz. Prime Minister Modi, while interacting with the media alongside President Trump, had rejected any scope for third party mediation between India and Pakistan on Kashmir, saying the two countries can discuss and resolve all issues bilaterally and "we don't want to trouble any third country." India trip will be Trump's second overseas this year, after a two-day visit to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum in Davos.

How will China's coronavirus shutdown affect Indian economy? As China is busy fighting the deadly coronavirus, it is speculated that the Lunar New Year holiday might be extended, at least in certain provinces, till February 17 from February 10. The news of a possible extend of shutdown is sending shivers across the world as these provinces have a greater share in China's and, in effect, the global economy, including India. For instance, the 11 Chinese provinces which have announced an extended holiday period are normally responsible for over twothird of vehicle production in China, with projected crisisinduced first quarter production loss of around 350,000 units if they are idled until February 10, 2020. If the situation lingers into midMarch, and plants in adjacent provinces are also idled, the

China-wide supply chain disruption caused by parts shortages from Hubei, a major component hub, could have a wide-reaching impact. Automobile India largely sources electronics, engineering goods, and chemicals from China. Non-availability of such products from China would mean related parties in India will have to scout for alternative markets, which can mean higher costs. This will undoubtedly have farreaching consequences for India's automobile sector as well. Already battling one of the worst slowdowns in over two decades, the virus attack would mean further doom for India's auto sector. According to Maruti Chairman R.C. Bhargava, many Maruti vendors in India rely on supplies of components and raw materials from China. "Most

of them have inventories of up to 30 days. Total imports are small, but the point is that for a car, even if one component is not there, I can’t put the car on the road," he said. The shortage will force manufacturers and vendors to scout for alternative sources of supply, which will probably add to the cost of making a car. Travel and tourism Another sector that might reel under the coronavirus attack is travel and tourism. In 2019, Chinese accounted for 3.12 per cent of the total foreign tourist arrivals in India. Arrival of tourists from China have increased over the years in India. However, that might see a reversal this year, at least in the first. The travel advisory against China will also dampen the aviation industry. IndiGo, which operated three routes from

India to China, have temporarily suspended service on two routes. Air India, too, has halted operations to China. Trade China is India's biggest trading partner. The country accounted for 14 per cent of Indian imports in 2018-19. The Communist party-led country also accounted for 5 per cent of India’s exports in the same year, making it the third-largest market for domestic goods. “The disruption caused, if prolonged, could have a bearing on India’s imports from the country which is critical for domestic economic activity. Finding substitutes for imports from China in the near term could be a challenge,” noted credit agency CARE Ratings in a recent report. “Further, a slowdown in economic activity in China could

impact exports from India.” "On the flip side, the real economic impact of what is happening in China is for real. We are seeing it across sectors. The diamond market is expecting a huge loss. M&M made a statement that some of their models could get impacted. The raw material cost for common drugs like paracetamol cost have doubled in 10 days. Solar power developers are looking to declare force majeure because those things might not come in. The real economic impact will be seen over the next two, three, four months," stock market expert Sandip Sabharwal said. In addition, the supply chain of leather industry, which depends on China for components such as soles, and ornaments is likely to get hit. Opportunity Even as the threat looms

large, China's economic shutdown opens various doors for India. As per a recent report, global buyers are seeing India as China's replacement to source ceramics, homeware, fashion and lifestyle goods, textiles, engineering goods and furniture. Reportedly, Indian manufacturers and exporters have seen rising number of interests from the western market. Mainland China is now the second-largest importer in the world, accounting for 10.4 per cent of the world's goods imports, compared with 4 per cent of the world's imports in 2002. “With local production being affected (due to the coronavirus outbreak), there could be an increase in China’s imports from other countries which can provide an opportunity for Indian manufacturers,” the CARE report observed.


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Diabetes can increase risk of early death A major report this week reveals diabetes dramatically increases the risk of an early death. Britons with the type 2 form – which is linked to lifestyle and obesity – are 50 per cent more likely to die prematurely than those without the disease. And for those with the type 1 form – an incurable autoimmune disease – the risk goes up 148 per cent. The figures, revealed by the charity Diabetes UK, unveil the scale of a health crisis which is unfolding across Britain. The number of people registered with diabetes has nearly doubled in 15 years. The charity's report shows 3.9 million over-16s in the UK have diabetes – up 100,000 in the past year, and nearly twice the 2 million registered with the disease in 2005. But experts believe the true figure is more than

4.8 million, with nearly a million people living with diabetes without a diagnosis. The National Diabetes Audit figures show those with type 2 diabetes are two and a half times more likely to experience heart failure, compared to those without the condition. According to reports being overweight is the greatest risk factor for developing the type 2 form – which makes up 90 per cent of diabetes cases – while age, family history and ethnicity

can also play a part. Levels of obesity are soaring. A third of children and two thirds of adults in Britain are now overweight, making it the third biggest obesity problem in Europe. Hospital admissions due to obesity soared by almost 100,000 last year – a 15 per cent rise – and experts say fat patients are putting an intolerable strain on the NHS. But Diabetes UK said government action to tackle the problem has stalled. The audit showed that

of a sample of 2.6 million people with diabetes living in England and Wales, 94,520 of them died in 2017. Taking each person's age into account, if none had diabetes, only 61,814 would have been expected to die – meaning diabetes raised the death risk 53 per cent. NHS national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, Professor Jonathan Valabhji, said: 'While diabetes is a dangerous public health threat that can shorten people's lives, as well as costing the NHS billions every year, thanks to better NHS treatment, the outlook for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes has improved considerably over the last 20 years. As part of the NHS long-term plan we are also now delivering the world's largest type 2 diabetes prevention programme in order to prevent people from developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.'

People eat more fruit and veg 'if they think peers on social media are doing the same' Scientists have found people ate an extra portion of fruit and vegetable each day if they thought their peers on Facebook were doing the same. The copycat tactics are not limited to healthy eating habits junk food consumption increased by a third if people believed their friends were also indulging. Researchers warned that the approval from our friends who are chomping down on unhealthy foods may give us a dangerous 'licence to eat'. The researchers from Aston University, Birmingham, said the findings could be useful for tack-

ling bad eating habits in children using social media. In the study which was published in the scientific journal Appetite the researchers asked 369 university students to estimate the amount of fruit, veg, 'calorie-dense snacks' and sugary drinks their

Facebook friends ate on a daily basis. This information was cross-referenced with the participants' own eating habits and showed that those who felt their social circles 'approved' of eating junk food consumed significantly more themselves.

Meanwhile those who thought their friends ate a healthy diet ate more portions of fruit and veg. Their perceptions could have come from seeing friends' posts about the food and drink they consumed, or simply a general impression of their overall health. Scientists note that the study showed no significant link between people's eating habits and their Body Mass Index (BMI). The most recent figures from the NHS's Health Survey for England showed that, in 2018, only 28 per cent of adults were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

Reports of illegal teeth whitening procedures up 26% Reports of illegal teethwhitening that could leave patients at risk of health problems including burns or lost teeth have increased, the BBC has found. General Dental Council (GDC) figures showed a 26% rise in reports last year. Teeth-whitening can only be performed legally in the UK by professionals registered with the GDC. One beauty school claimed to have provided "thousands" of candidates with illegitimate qualifications, an undercover investigation found. Failure to comply with the requirement to be registered can result in a criminal record and an unlimited fine. Untrained beauticians using teeth-whitening kits have been known to cause tooth loss, burns and blis-

ters. Dr Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, said: "When things go wrong in dentistry, they can really go wrong. "I've been that dentist with the full back up service when the patient's had that heart attack. "It would be catastrophic for the patient and the person who's been trained and told it's legal to do it." Last year 732 cases of illegal-teeth whitening were reported to the GDC, a 26% increase from 582 in 2018 though the figure was higher in 2016. The dentists' regulatory body relies on reports from customers, so the real number could be much higher. The GDC said it had launched 126 prosecutions against illegal teeth whiteners since 2015.

in brief FROZEN-EGG STORAGE 10-YEAR LIMIT 'COULD BE EXTENDED' The period of time for which eggs, sperm and embryos can be frozen could be extended, as the government calls for views on the current 10-year limit. It said women's choices on when to have children were being restricted, despite advances in freezing technology. Only the eggs of people whose fertility may be affected by disease can be kept for longer - up to 55 years. The regulator said the time was right to consider a "more appropriate" storage limit. So the government has now launched a consultation on the current law. It will also consider the safety and quality of eggs, embryos and sperm stored for more than 10 years and any additional demand for storage facilities that could result.

90,000 UNSAFE CONDOMS SEIZED IN THE UK OVER TWO YEARS About 90,000 illegal and unsafe condoms were seized in the UK during the past two years, new figures show. According to reports the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) seized the contraceptives in 2018 and 2019. They were found to have passed their expiry date, not been safety tested for the EU market or did not meet laws regarding the display of safety symbols. About 87,500 of the condoms were from a single raid carried out by UK Border Force officials in 2018. Health experts have urged people to check packaging carefully before buying contraception, as products sold illegally could potentially fail to protect against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. The products seized were found to be in breach of the Medical Devices Regulations 2002. In 2018, unsafe condoms were the most common product seized by the MHRA, followed by needles and in vitro diagnostic devices. Prof Mahendra Patel, an honorary visiting professor in pharmacy from the University of Bradford, said consumers should ensure they are obtaining contraceptives from registered chemists and pharmacies, sexual health clinics and GP surgeries.

CATASTROPHIC' SHORTAGES OF HRT AND CONTRACEPTIVES ARE UNACCEPTABLE AND CONTINUE TO HARM WOMEN Tens of thousands of women are being harmed by 'catastrophic' shortages of HRT and contraception, campaigners warned last week. Professional bodies, doctors and MPs are demanding immediate action from the Health Secretary to alleviate the crisis, insisting 'women deserve better'. In a joint letter to the Matt Hancock, health leaders warned that women have been left in distress for over a year due to shortages of HRT medication. Meanwhile worsening shortages of contraceptive drugs are causing 'utter chaos', leading to unplanned pregnancies and risking a spike in abortions. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the British Menopause Society and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare urged the Government to launch a working group to investigate into the crisis. In a letter expressing frustration at the 'lack of transparency' over the reasons for the shortages, they said it is still unclear why they 'seem to be unique to the UK'.

PAINKILLERS SHOULD BE RENAMED 'PAIN RELIEVERS' TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM TAKING A HIGHER DOSE It lacks the powers to prosecute those performing training, such as those filmed by BBC London. The BBC uncovered several companies offering just a few hours of training for fraudulent qualifications. Two undercover BBC researchers attended a course with the London School of Nails and Beauty that lasted five hours. Attendees were told they could earn "from £80 upwards per session" after receiving a certificate, which they were told would allow them to set up their own business to treat customers.

School principal Cha McDonald said the process was "legal" as customers would be asked to carry out parts of the procedure themselves. She claimed "thousands" of people had undergone training at the school. A spokesperson for the General Dental Council said: "Handing an individual a tooth whitening tray and advising them on application, amongst other things, could constitute the giving of 'advice or attendance' and in those circumstances would be a criminal offence."

Painkillers should be renamed ‘pain relievers’ to reduce unrealistic expectations, say medical experts. They argue the misconception that pain will be completely ‘killed’ makes people believe they should increase their dose. This is helping drive Britain’s overuse of opioids such as codeine and morphine, they warn. Professor Jamie Coleman, who advises the Government on medicine safety, wants everything from paracetamol upwards to come under a new label. People take more pain relief than they should do because they believe the more they take the better it works and that’s not the case.’ Painkillers only work in the long term for one in ten people with chronic pain. But a major report by Public Health England last year revealed 5.6million people had taken opioids the previous year. Some 540,000 of these had been taking them for at least three years.

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Deepika's 'His & Hers' series FLEABAG makes the internet swoon Priya N Desai

Bytes to Binge Priya N Desai

INTRODUCTION

No. of Episodes: 10 Duration: 50 minutes each Cast: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Director: Harry Bradbeer Music: Isobel Waller-Bridge Where: Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime and now iTunes. Genre: Comedy Drama

This is an 11 Emmy nominated witty and dramatic comedy drama full of ‘omg’ moments! A British comedy full of talent both in its casting and in its content it is thoroughly enjoyable, even if you haven’t seen the first season. Fleabag is a front row ticket into the mind of a woman who is angry, sexually aware and who has been through a marathon of personal and family issues that most this side of the fence, may not see in a lifetime. You will find yourself emotionally built up to defend her even before you know it! It is brutally honest and does not try to mince words or hide anything and word on the street is this season is better than the first!

PLOT / SUB-PLOTS / THEMES Fleabag is actually quite a refreshing watch! A dry-witted and enormously intelligent piece of writing dealing with real life tragedy and serious topics in the most laid back and cocky way. Make way for some squirmy humour thrown in too that will rock your boat for sure. This script has some seriously clever writing! I can’t say it enough. Never have I been so bombarded with so much dramatics in just one scene! The lead character finds herself amidst mayhem and madness, that is her family and at a dinner that is rarely had by them all. We see why! Yes, the story is heavily based around this one character, but there are other intriguing characters surrounding her that will keep you curious to the edge of your seat. The ‘Priest’ is a new face for the episode, and Andrew Scott exudes almost everything but priest like traits and that’s what fascinating about his role in all of this. Have you ever

Actress Deepika Padukone and husband Ranveer Singh seem to be on a private vacation for Valentine's week. Now, while she appears to have taken an oath not to share pictures of the two, she continues to drop subtle hints about how it's going. The actor most recently shared a picture of two umbrellas on Instagram with a romantic caption that read “come sunshine or rain.. #his&hers.” Deepika had earlier shared a picture of two pairs of slippers on the sand with the caption: “I will always lean on you to show me the way... #his&hers #vacation.” She had started the 'his and hers' picture series on Instagram by sharing a picture of two passports along with the hashtag #vacation. Bollywood's IT couple hasn't revealed where they are holidaying amid the countdown to Valentine's Day on February 14. On the work front, Ranveer has wrapped up his upcoming, 'Jayeshbhai Jordaar' before taking off on their romantic getaway. The actor announced a wrap on the film with a candid picture. He wrote, “It's a wrap!!! #JayeshbhaiJordaar Maneesh Sir... from 'BAND BAAJA BAARAAT' to 'JAYESHBHAI JORDAAR' it's been an incredible 10 years under your guidance. Divyang.... You are a ball of love and positive energy. Thank you for making me your Jayesg. Apna tem aagaya ne @yrf.” The pair will soon be seen together in filmmaker Kabir Khan's '83'. Ranveer will be seen playing veteran cricketer Kapil Dev, Deepika plays his wife Romi Dev. '83' is based on India's historical 1983 cricket World Cup victory and is slated to hit the screens on April 10.

I used to work overtime for extra money, says Dharmendra Veteran Bollywood actor Dharmendra recently appeared on a singing reality show when he shared memories from his struggling days when he lived in a garage and worked in a drilling firm. The actor became nostalgic after contestants on the show performed the song 'Kal Ki Haseen Mulaqat Ke Liye' from his 1976 film, 'Charas'. Dharmendra said, “In my earlier days, I used to live in a garage because I didn’t have a proper home in Mumbai. To survive in Mumbai, I worked in a drilling firm where I was paid Rs 200, and to earn some extra money I used to do overtime.” The actor from Punjab ruled the industry in the 70s and 80s. His most memorable movies include 'Phool Aur Patthar', 'Anupama', 'Seeta Aur Geeta', and 'Sholay'.

Janhvi: I hope people talk about my films more than my gym shorts

seen such a seductive, alcohol drinking God servant? A real cocktail of personalities, blunders, human issues, relationship challenges and everything in between, dealt head on and with plenty of cringe! Weirdly, this style of comedy drama reminds me of Quinton Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in some scenes. At first this unusual, almost crude comedy took some getting used to but you can see why the 2nd season has been well anticipated and received. Perhaps it can also be a justification for why Phoebe Waller-Bridge has taken so long to conceive! British comedy tends to be less dressed up and especially when you compare it to the other side of the pond in the States, but this I feel will take you to another level of psychedelic laughter. If you have seen the first season you may have asked yourself if this woman could get any more unfortunate. Stream it, watch it, I recommend it!

Janhvi is no Bollywood newbie and is clearly picking up on industry tricks fast. Talking about her journey so far, Janvi said she feels “extremely fortunate that I've gotten to know myself more as an actor and as a person over these two years, and it has defined my taste in cinema and altered the way I want to look at the films I want to do.” In an interview with a leading media house, she revealed it's the script that matters to her the most. “I need to be moved by the content in some way or other. It either needs to make laugh or touch me. It needs to stay with me till the next day. And having a good energy and a rapport with the director is also very important because at the end of the day, you've to be able to collaborate.” When asked about media scrutiny on her social media posts, and if she ever get tired of all the

attention, she called it “funny”. “After 'Dhadak', people would come up to me and say, 'Oh, we loved your first film', and then there are those who're like, 'Oh My God, I follow your gym looks all the time'. So it's like I am known for 'Dhadak' and I'm known for my gym looks, too. It's weird but I can't blame them. My films haven't been released yet. I have just been working. And I hope once they do, people will talk about my films, and associate with me with them, than my gym shorts.”


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I was a tomboy in school: Disha Patani In a promotional interview with Siddharth Kannan for Mohit Suri's action-thriller 'Malang', actress Disha Patani revealed no one has ever proposed to her. When asked how many proposals has she received in her lifetime and how many hearts she broke, she said, “Actually, no one ever proposed to me. In school, I was a tomboy.” Disha also claimed that if anyone had actually proposed to her, she would have definitely shown off a little. “My dad was in the police, so no one ever asked me out. Even in college, no one asked me out. Then I entered Bollywood. I don't go to parties and all, so I haven't met too many people. My life has been rather sad,” she added. Disha has been linked to her 'Baaghi 2' co-star Tiger Shroff, however, the two vehemently deny being in a relationship. Rumours around their relationship first began in 2016, when they starred together in the music video of single 'Befikra'.

by Vallisa Chauhan

Genre: Romantic Action Thriller Duration: 135 minutes

Go Malang Go mad in passion

SRK's AbRam wins gold medal for Taekwondo Ace actor Shah Rukh Khan was peak father when he shared his youngest child AbRam's proud achievement all over the internet. The actor shared pictures of his some from the match in which the six year old is seen posing with his gold medal. He wrote, “You train...u fight... u succeed. Then do it all over again. I think with this medal, my kids have more awards than I have. It's a good thing...now I need to train more! Proud and inspired!” Shah Rukh's elder two children, Aryan and Suhana are trained in Taekwondo. They are all trained in the martial art by Kiran Upadhyay. The actor announced last year that AbRam graduated to yellow belt in Taekwondo. Sharing a collage of all three children, he wrote, “Keeping up the tradition of Tae 'Khan' Doh in the family, the latest entrant to the Kiran Teacher Fight Club. Yellow belt it is...” Both Aryan and Suhana won gold medals at the Maharashtra Taekwondo competition in 2010. Last month, AbRam won two medals – one silver and one bronze medal. On the work front, Shah Rukh is yet to announce his next project.

It is passionate. It is all-consuming. It is the story of four lives exploring themselves, adventuring on pumped-up adrenaline and living on the edge.

'A Game Called Relationship'

Shana and Kabeer are a celebrity couple in a live-in relationship who happen to meet a bunch of youngsters from different walks of life. When the boys start flirting with Shana and the girls start chasing Kabeer, the couple fake their break up just to see how far these people will go. So begins an entertaining and flirtatious game of relationships. It is helmed by Vivek Sharma. The movie stars Mandy Takhar, Sumit Suri and Sabina Sheema in the lead roles.

'Love Aaj Kal'

The movie portrays two love stories from widely different eras facing widely different obstacles. One couple battles society`s restrictions while the other must learn to balance work with love, but both portray the same true and unfiltered feelings of love. It is helmed by Imtiaz Ali. The movie stars Kartik Aaryan and Sara Ali Khan in the lead roles. It is Imtiaz's take on love in the modern times with a dash of nostagia. It presents a contemporary and relatable portrayal of two stories set in different times that interact to learn (or perhaps unlearn) from each other the different facets of love, commitment and relationships.

Malang revolves and evolves around four stark personalities different from one another with one thing in common: They are all killers but for defining reasons unique to each. The adventure begins with Advait (Aditya Roy Kapur), an introvert heading to Goa for a fun trip where he bumps into the free-spirited Sara (Disha Patani). Hailing from London, Sara is your typical Bollywood caricature who believes in living her life to the fullest. The rest of their romance is predictably mainstream yet magical against the backdrop of sparkling neon lights, late-night to dawn parties and adventure water sports. All seems to be going well for the two who have now made a pact of having fun until one day when everything changes. Fast forward to five years later and Advait goes on a killing spree. This rampage sets the stage for Anjaney (Anil Kapoor) a bent cop and Michael (Kunal Khemu) who appears to play the good cop on the chase. The movie then transcends into the predictable formula of Anjaney figuring out how a normal guy like Advait sets on a mission to kill policemen whilst still chasing him. Aditya Roy Kapur’s body is the only compelling and attractive element of the first scene of the film when Advait is portrayed in the middle of a fight in prison. In the first half of the film, it is difficult to piece the scenes of the movie. It appears to be almost disjointed even as the directors struggle to explain the intensity of characters of Advait and Sara. But it lacks pace and gets boring barring the seascapes and beachscapes of Goa which appear to be the only saving grace for such moments. The directors in the second half of the film try to compensate for stringing together the background of the characters alongside the plot. But the action sequences pur y Ka feel forced and Disha Pa a Ro y tani t i Ad unrealistic. It appears stacked up and clumsily thrown into the mix as some sort of justification for the pent up anger of the character. Mohit Suri grapples to tie the loose ends of the movie and give you the complete story where you can justify and perhaps empathise with the characters. But it just doesn’t reach the heart and even in his desperate attempts, Suri and Kapoor’s chemistry struggle to re-create the Aashiqui 2 charm. The film does keep you going in the sense that there is always something new so you do not get bored. But on the whole, it feels like the script jumps from one part to the other with no explanation. Yet, if you want to drool over Aditya Roy Kapur’s charisma and physique, and crave a passionate love story blossoming in Goa then perhaps Malang is the film for you. You can get in touch with Vallisa: djvallisa@gmail.com


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Tamannah's new look as Kabaddi coach Jwala Reddy Tamannaah Bhatia’s look from her upcoming Telugu sports drama, 'Seetimaarr' is out and she looks fierce as a kabaddi coach named Jwala Reddy. The first poster of the film was shared on Twitter by Director Sampath Nandi. He captioned it, “Now fire has a name – Jwala Reddy @tamannaahspeaks #Seetimaarr Kabaddi.. Kabaddi.. Kabaddi.” The actress can be seen wearing a red tracksuit with headphones around her neck and a sports kitbag on her shoulder. Sampath also shared the character poster of Gopichand from the film and introduced him as “Finally the moment is here. #Gopichand28 is

#Seetimaarr. Game Starts Now.” On the work front, Tamannaah has multiple projects in her kitty. She has the Tamil remake of Mahi V Raghav's Telugu film 'Anando Brahma'. She also has a Bollywood film titled 'Bole Chudiyan' opposite Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The actress also has her digital debut in the pipeline. Tamannaah has signed a female-oriented web series 'The November Story'. The series revolves around a father-daughter relationship and features Tamannaah as a daughter trying to salvage the reputation of her criminal father essayed by GM Kumar.

'Darbar' director Murugadoss seeks police protection Filmmaker AR Murugadoss has sought police protection over alleged harassment from the distributors of the film. As per a news report, Murugadoss has filed a petition in Madras High Court seeking police protection. He claims that about 30 to 40 distributors have been hounding him daily, allegedly seeking compensation for incurring losses from distributing 'Darbar'. He has submitted a petition with the Chennai Police Commissioner seeking police protection. According to the report, the director claimed that over 25 unidentified persons entered his office premises on February 3 and “created a fear psychosis on his staff that were present there and used filthy language”. Another 15 of them allegedly stood outside his residence and started shouting slogans in addition to hurling abuses. His petition reads. “It is submitted that the unidentified persons entered upon with intent to commit an offence and to intimidate, insult and annoy the petitioner and thereby they have committed criminal trespass and for this reason the petitioner’s office and residence should be given sufficient police protection.” The movie's distributors have decided to go on hunger strike after their request to meet Rajinikanth was turned down. Made on a budget of £20 million which includes £10.8 million salary of Rajinikanth, 'Darbar' has been adjudged a disaster despite collecting around £25 million worldwide.

TV Listing 13:52 17:01 20:40 23:00

FILM: 16 DECEMBER FILM: HAMARA DIL AAPKE PAAS HAI FILM: JO BOLE SO NIHAAL FILM: INTEHA

02:03

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TUESDAY FEB 18, 2020

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00:18 02:34 06:00 08:30 11:46 14:33 17:40 20:43

FILM: SAAYA FILM: EK SE BURE DO FILM: HAI APNA DIL TOH AWARA FILM: TERI KASAM FILM: ISHQ CLICK FILM: NAACH GOVINDA NAACH FILM: GOLMAAL -FUN UNLIMITED FILM: HAMARA DIL AAPKE PAAS HAI

SUNDAY FEB 16, 2020

00:16 03:34 06:00 08:28 10:59 14:00 17:41 20:46 22:56

FILM: PARDES FILM: ZEHER - A LOVE STORY FILM: 18.11 - A CODE OF SECRECY FILM: JURM FILM: SHASTRA FILM: BAADSHAH FILM: WANTED FILM: 102 NOT OUT FILM: GOLMAAL -FUN UNLIMITED

MONDAY FEB 17, 2020

01:51 06:00 08:00 11:00

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KEEMAT HUFF! ITS TOO MUCH KARISHMA KUDRAT KA KRISHNA ARJUN

06:00

14:55

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11:22 18:14 20:24

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FILM: 102 NOT OUT FILM: RAHASYA

22:58

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WEDNESDAY FEB 19, 2020 06:00

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11:28

FILM: AAR YA PAAR

18:08

FILM: JO BOLE SO NIHAAL

14:40

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20:31

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01:43

FILM: CHEETAH THE LEOPARD

08:40

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23:00

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THURSDAY FEB 20, 2020

06:00 11:54 14:49 17:22

20:55

FILM: DASTAK

10:40

FILM: KASOOR

16:00: DHARAM THI GUJARATI

18:00: BIGG BOSS (SEASON 13) -

01:49

FILM: JAHAN TUM LE CHALO

17:14

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17:30: CHHUTA CHHEDA

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08:00

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FRIDAY FEB 21, 2020

06:00

FILM: THE PERFECT GIRL

FILM: MUNNA MANGE MEMSAAB

FILM: AVINASH

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SATURDAY 15TH JANUARY

15:00 16:30 18:00 18:30 20:00 21:30 23:00

UMANG SUPER DANCER CHAPTER 3 THE CHEF THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW INDIAN IDOL THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW DUS KA DUM

15:00 16:30 18:00

UMANG SUPER DANCER CHAPTER 3 THE CHEF

SUNDAY 16TH JANUARY

20:40 23:44

18:30 20:00 21:30 23:00

18:30 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:30 22:00

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FILM: RAGINI MMS 2

THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW INDIAN IDOL THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW DUS KA DUM

VIGHNAHARTA GANESHA MERE SAI EK DUJE KI VAASTE 2 ISHAARON ISHAARON MEIN PATIALA BABES BEYHADH 2 MERE DAD KI DULHAN CRIME PATROL

19:00 19:00 19:00 19:00 19:00

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8:00:

TERE NAAL ISHQ

MON 17TH FEB - 21ST FEB2020 BHARADWAJ BAHUEIN

13:00: SWARAGINI

13:30: BIGG BOSS (SEASON 13)

FILM: RAHASYA

15:00: STRICTLY STREET

* Schedule is subject to change

16:30: RASOI SHOW

18:00: TUM KAUN PIYA 18:30: DIL KA RISHTA

19:00: MERE HUMRAHI

19:30: KITCHEN CHAMPION

20:30: MOHE RANNG DO LAAL

21:00: BALIKA VADHU - LAMHE PYAAR KE

SAT 15TH FEB 2020 11:00: MAHAKALI

13:30: DHARTI NO CHHEDO GHAR 17:00: DHARAM THI GUJARATI

15:30: JAI SHRI KRISHNA

WEEKEND KA VAAR

DESI BEAT RESET (SEASON 3)

20:00: THE BOLLYWOOD 21:00:

ROUNDTABLE 2019

DANCE DEEWANE (SEASON 2)

SUN 16TH FEB 2020

11:00:

SHRIMAD BHAGWAT

18:00:

BIGG BOSS - SEASON 13 -

17:00: 19:30: 20:00: 21:00:

DHARAM THI GUJARATI WEEKEND KA VAAR

DESI BEAT (SEASON 3) KHATRON KE KHILADI (SEASON 10)

DANCE DEEWANE (SEASON 2)

21:30: TBC 22:30: BEPANAH PYAARR

SAT 15TH FEB 2020

SONY MAX 2 PRIME TIME

8:30:

FILM: TADIPAAR

FILM: RAGINI MMS 2

13:52

MON 17TH JANUARY- FRI 21TH JANUARY

FILM: UTTHAAN

FILM: PUKAR

Actor Vijay Deverakonda has revealed his forthcoming Telugu movie 'World Famous Lover' will be his last love story. He made the revelation at the trailer launch of the movie. He said, “I'm aware there would be a lot of excitement among everyone about my film. We've invested lot of efforts in 'World Famous Lover'. But I would like to maintain a low profile about his project. 'World Famous Lover' will be my last love story. I can see myself changing and I am entering a new phase in my career.” The trailer of the movie, directed by Kranthi Madhav features Vijay once again in the role of an intense and destructive lover. In the film, Vijay Deverakonda is playing four distinct characters and falls in love with four women played by Raashi Khanna, Catherine Tresa, Izabelle Leite and Aishwarya Rajesh. The movie marks the maiden collaboration between Madhav and Vijay. Set in the backdrop of Singareni Collieries, the movie will revolve around a love triangle between four girls. The film, which has been dubbed in Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada, is gearing up for February 14 release. It is produced by KA Vallabha and has music by Gopi Sunder.

23:08

ATRANGI PREM KAHANI

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Vijay Deverakonda's upcoming will be his last love story

* Schedule is subject to change

MON 17TH FEB - 21ST FEB2020 18:30: 19:00: 19:30: 20:00:

VIDYA BARRISTER BABU CHOTI SARDAARNI SHAKTI ASTITVA KE EHSAAS KI 20:30: SHUBHARAMBH 21:00: NAATI PINKY KI LAMBI LOVE STORY

15:00: FEMINA MISS INDIA 2019 18:30: VIDYA 19:00: CHOTI SARDAARNI KAHAANI AB TAK 19:30: CHOTI SARDAARNI 20:00: NAAGIN (SEASON 4) 21:00: FEET UP WITH THE STARS 21:30: KHATRON KE KHILADI (SEASON 10)

SUN 16TH FEB 2020

11:00: 11:30: 17:00:

MOTU PATLU PAKDAM PAKDAI MOTICHOOR CHAKNA CHOOR (COLORS TELEVISION PREMIERE) 20:00: NAAGIN (SEASON 4) 21:00: DESI BEAT RESET 21:30: KHATRON KE KHILADI (SEASON 10)


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Bhutan The holy grail of tourism

#TGIF

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V: Vegan with my valentine

The mountains are calling and I must go! Tucked between China and India, Bhutan is a meditative land where the monastries meet the mountains; a country steeped in Buddhist art and spiritual scriptures.

Long overhauls, no-direct flights and currency Considered to be one of the most expensive places for tourist visa, you can bypass the visa fees if you are living in the UK on an Indian, Bangladeshi or a Maldivian passport. However, you will be required to fork out roughly £12/day visa fees from July 2020 as Thimpu approves of a sustainable development fees for all tourists. Whereas, British nationals may have to spend about £100 to obtain a six-month tourist visa to Bhutan. The currency exchange is similar to the Indian rupee and 1 GBP is equivalent to 92 bhutanese ngultrums. There are no direct flights from London to Bhutan. Therefore, you will have to make one stop layover at either Bangkok, Kathmandu or Kolkata, India. Bhutan Airlines and Druk Air offer some options from New Delhi and Kolkata to Paro, Thimphu which is the only international airport in Bhutan. Word of caution: The flights can be extremely expensive and the journey time can also be long rounding upto 16 hours one-way. Hence, be prepared for a long haul.

TOPATTRACTIONS ATTRACTIONS TOP 1. Buddhist monastery in Punakha and Khuruthang Punakha Dzong in Punakha and Khuruthang is arguably the most beautiful dzong in the country. It was the second to be built in Bhutan and has served as the capital and the headquarters of the government until the mid 1950s. All of Bhutan's kings have been crowned here. The dzong is still the winter residence of the dratshang(official monk body) even today. For those of who you are interested in the cultural and historical education of the Tibetan invasions, armed battlefields and preservation of the courtyards and heritage, it is perhaps the best living archive. 2. Jhomolhari trek: Archery and snow leopards, Paro It is one of the most famous treks in

the country and the first two days of the trek follow the Paro Chhu valley to Jangothang. It crosses a high pass and visits the remote village of Lingzhi, then crosses another pass before making its way towards Thimphu. During the seven days of trek you will be able to spot yaks, horses, snow leopards and even blue sheep. 3. Buddhist temple in Thimphu: Changangkha Lhakhang This traditional Bhutanese temple stands tall akin to a warrior above central Thimphu and percolates with pilgrim activity. It was established in the 12th century on a site chosen by Lama Phajo Drukgom Shigpo, originally from Ralung in Tibet. Parents come here to bless their children with auspicious names from the protector deity Tamdrin (to the left in the grilled inner sanctum).

Children are blessed by a ritual dagger and given a sacred thread. 4. River rafting at Mo Chhu The Mo Chhu starts high in the Himalayas and has a few runnable sections before meeting the Pho Chhu at the Punakha Dzong and becomes the Puna Tseng Chhu. You can take out on the right just below the confluence or paddle down further to the town of Punakha. This section of river has easy Class I and II rapids combined with beautiful scenery, making it the most rafted section of river in Bhutan. If you have some time left on your hand and feel the adrenaline pumping through your veins after the rafting session, you may want to explore the Changlingmethang Archery Range and handicraft shops. Like they say when in Bhutan, do as the Bhutanese do!

GO PAPERLESS WITH AMAZON KINDLE 9 As we grow more eco-friendly and climate conscious, it is time to adapt to the generation Z trend of transforming into an “e-book” reader. Amazon’s cheapest, most basic Kindle has a light and a better screen. The new Kindle 9 looks very similar to the previous version but is more robust. It has been made 2mm narrower and 0.4mm thinner but 13g heavier than the previous version. The contrast of the 6in e-ink screen has been improved, with the text displayed on a whiter background. It has the same density at 167 pixels per inch (ppi) as its predecessor, 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

which makes it noticeably less crisp than the 300ppi Paperwhite. It also has wifi for syncing books, accessing the Kindle store and you can browse information online on browsers like Wikipedia among others. Coupled with the Bluetooth facilities, it allows you access to audiobooks via wireless headphones or speakers. The basic Kindle only comes with 4GB of storage – fine for text ebooks, but don’t expect to fit too many audiobooks on it at any one time. Charging the Kindle 9 takes four hours via a 5W USB charger, or just over three hours with something a bit more powerful.

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ble Availa Screen: 6in e-paper (167ppi) Dimensions: 160 x 113 x 8.7 mm from: Weight: 174g Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth, microUSB Storage: 4GB Battery life: Rated for approximately 14 hours of reading Battery life is rated at 30 minutes of reading a day for four weeks with the light set to level 13 brightness and wireless off. I managed to get through two 270-page books between charges at various brightness levels and with wifi switched on occasionally to sync progress. Cranking up the brightness and leaving it hooked up to the internet all the time will reduce that quite a lot.

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Ghulam Alahi is the new Vice President of West Ham United Women’s Club Accountancy and auditing firm Vision Consulting’s Managing Director Ghulam Alahi recently became the new Vice President of West Ham United Women’s Club. “West Ham holds a special place in Ghulam’s heart, and he shares in our vision of developing not only a competitive West Ham team, but also women’s football as a whole,” Jack Sullivan Managing Director of West Ham United Women’s Club said. "I believe that women's football is going to experience incredible growth. I was very impressed with Jack as he is entrepreneurial, and he likes to see results. Jack is going to be seeing me a lot going forward, and this

will allow us both to bounce ideas off each other and achieve something special,” said Ghulam Alahi. Being raised in East London and establishing Vision Consulting there are what contributed to his decision in becoming a Vice

President and partnering with West Ham United Women’s Club. Statistics from the annual survey 2018/2019 by the Inclusive Board Ltd shows 55% of BAME individuals would partake in sports if there was better accessibility

to information and opportunities. Ghulam’s involvement has many benefits as he will able to encourage individuals from a BAME background to participate, provide equal opportunities, better representation and bring about inclusion. Ghulam aims to encourage young people particularly from an Asian background to consider a profession in football. Vision Consulting is a boutique firm of chartered accountants and registered auditors. The firm has previously helped women in disability sports with the charity Path to Success to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Supporting others has been a key aspect at Vision Consulting.

Manipur's Bala Devi to play professional football in Scotland Ngangom Bala Devi from Manipur’s Bishnupur district will be playing professional football in Scotland. She has signed an 18-month deal with Scottish giants Rangers FC that makes her the first women footballer in India to have a professional contract with an overseas club. This historic move was facilitated by Bengaluru FC, who have a partnership with Rangers, and could be categorised as a marketing exercise. But few would debate against the performances Bala Devi has been putting over the last few years. Bala Devi, born to a football-playing father, took to the field along with her elder brother. Soon, more girls joined in and her hometown Irengbam got its first-ever football team for

women. Bala Devi seems to have made a habit of breaking into uncharted territory since that age. She has scored 52 goals in 58 appearances for the national team and netted 38 times in her first two seasons of the Indian Women’s League. Even during her week-long trial for the Rangers in Glasgow last November, she was finding the net. “I scored twice in one of the games we played among the players at Rangers during my trial,” Bala Devi said. The 29-year-old was quietly confident of being offered a contract by the Scottish club and the faith in her performance she had put in during her week in Glasgow was noticeable. “I had given my best, so I wasn’t nervous. The coach there told me that he was pleased with the technical and tactical side of

Bala Devi

my training and I only needed to work a bit more on my fitness. Overall it was a good week of training for me,” Bala said. The experience gave Bala confidence that Indian players could cut it at that level, but also offered a dose of reality that plenty of work needs to be done by the players. “The players are better than us physically and technically, but we are not far behind. The aspect where

we need to work most is the tactical side of things. Indian players must develop that understanding to play in Europe. However, I felt that it is not beyond our capabilities and we can do it,” she said. Having played for the Indian national team for 14 years, Rangers seems like a natural progression for her. It remains to be seen if she can continue her scoring touch in a much bigger league.

A five-minute Sachin special Never was an innings break so anticipated in a game of cricket. It lasted for five-odd minutes but for Sachin Tendulkar devotees, even that is good enough time if their ‘God’ is out there on the 22 yards in a country where he is revered no less than his own. And those five minutes of just putting bat to ball towards raising funds for the Bushfire charity cause will be archived with as much care as his hundred international hundreds. With a dodgy shoulder, Tendulkar didn’t take part in the charity game but played an over from Australia’s superstar woman cricketer Ellyse Perry during the break.

Perry had challenged Tendulkar to face her for an over in a video message on social media which the Indian legend had accepted. Used to seeing him either in spotless whites or the light blue (once

navy blue) India colours, the fans at the Junction Oval ground in Melbourne must have been chuffed watching him come out in Australian yellow. The helmet was yellow,

the pads weren’t ultra-light and the bat sported a logo different to the ones Tendulkar endorsed over his professional career, but who cared for those five minutes. The first delivery by Perry was tucked off his hips and the fielder at short fine-leg let it go, much to her embarrassment, and the crowd was happy. He repeated the shot towards deep square leg and got a couple. “It’s an incredible feeling to bowl to Tendulkar and watch Brian Lara bat,” said Australia’s double international Perry, who would play a key role in the tri-series final against India. Perry has also represented Australia in football.

Cherry Talk

Monty’s Spin Monty Panesar

Mixed fortunes for top teams England will start their T20 campaign against South Africa this week. I expect England to field a full-strength squad and win the series. England did experiment at the start of the ODI series and I got the impression that there is a gap between the young players coming into the squad and the senior players. England at full strength is the best T20 team in the world. If England don’t have their key players then they are a weaker team compared to other nations. India's strength lies in the fact that they can replace their senior players with youngsters. The result in New Zealand isn’t pleasing for the Indian cricket fans. The seamer friendly conditions in New Zealand are challenging for Indian seam bowlers. Jusprit Bumrah isn’t effective on seaming conditions. Perhaps becoming the number 1 bowler in the world hasn’t helped him to deal with pressure. I think it is a mental issue more than skill with Jusprit Bumrah. As a senior player, perhaps, he feels pressured to deliver better performances consistently. Only he will know how he feels and why he hasn’t been effective in New Zealand. This is the same for England. When Ben Stokes isn’t playing at his best the England team is not as menacing. It appears to me that when key players from India and England are rested or are not performing, both teams are not as strong. For any of these teams to win T20 world cup they will need their key players to perform. The New Zealand team also seemed to have good options. But all teams are good in their own conditions. Based on that premise Australia should win the T20 World Cup. I always felt that when England play with their spin duo of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali they look like a balanced bowling attack. Eoin Morgan has options in the middle overs to change the pace of the game and allow the spinners to change the momentum. In the last game South Africa were in great position until Quinton de Knock got out and it was a spinner who got him. So, spinners are valuable to Eoin Morgan's team. If England are going to win the T20 World Cup in Australia they will need both Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali bowling at their best. Jos Butler and Ben stokes are absolutely key for England to succeed in 2020. India hasn't had the best ODI outing in New Zealand. They seem a better T20 team where the youngsters seem to feel comfortable to play fearlessly. They will be one of the favourites teams to win because they are able to introduce good young players coming into the squad. For me England is another team to watch in the World Cup 2020. So, cricket fans all over the world will be watching with interest England's forthcoming T20 series against South Africa. I expect easy series win for England. You can follow Monty Panesar @MontyChannel

Profile for Asian Business Publications Ltd

AV 15th February 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 40 Vol 48)

AV 15th February 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 40 Vol 48)

Profile for abpl