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TRUMP’S INDIA VISIT TO COINCIDE WITH IMPEACHMENT PROCESS US President Donald Trump is planning his maiden India visit in February, an official said, in a trip that may coincide with an impeachment trial that is likely to get underway in Washington next week. The two countries are in touch to work out mutually convenient dates for the visit, according to a senior Indian government official, who asked not to be identified. Continued from page 26

GOD SAVE THE MONARCHY Full story on page 7

18 - 24 JANUARY 2020 - VOL 48 ISSUE 36

inside: Statue of Unity named in eight wonders of SCO SEE PAGE 26

India to take steps to ease investment by NRIs SEE PAGE 26

The Kite Festival of Gujarat SEE PAGE 16


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with Keith Vaz already been established for over 30 years.

3

What inspires you?

Miles Sriharan

Miles Sriharan is second generation British. His parents spent their childhood and thereafter qualified as lawyers in Sri Lanka before migrating to UK. Miles grew up in Buckinghamshire and schooled at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Elstree, Hertfordshire before continuing his further education at The University of Nottingham and The College of Law. Subsequently he has been practising at his family's firm - Sriharans Solicitors - and qualified as a fourth-generation lawyer in 2013. He specialises in bridging finance and debt recovery, areas that he has practised for over 6 years and has recently opened an office in the City (Bank) to further develop this. Alongside practising law, he joined his local law society, Middlesex Law Society, in 2015 and subsequently was elected Vice-President in 2018, a position which he continues to serve as. Outside of work, he loves to travel - having been to various parts of the globe although visiting Sri Lanka always has an extra special place in him which, he does annually. Miles is also an avid musician and cricketer having learnt the piano, guitar, drums and trumpet and played for the 1st XI during his school days.

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Which place, city or country do you feel most at home in? Whilst Sri Lanka will always have a special place in my heart, having been born and raised for the entire duration of my life in UK, I would have to say London is my home.

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What are your proudest achievements?

I am never actually proud of anything I do, as I always think I can do better and improve. Nevertheless, I am pleased with becoming a lawyer and striving and succeeding in improving a business that has

My parents and anyone else who has been successful in whatever they do. Furthermore, I take inspiration from the pride I have in the integrity and nobility of the English legal profession and system which, is fundamental to the rule of law.

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What has been the biggest obstacle in your career? Joining my family's firm which, at that time had been practising for nearly 25 years with a team established for many years and adapting to their dynamic whilst also managing to encourage and implement new ideas and directions to the team.

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Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date? My parents - Father (Ariya Sriharan) as a tremendously successful Immigration Lawyer and litigator and Mother (Renuka Sriharan) as a successful Property Lawyer.

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What is the best aspect about your current role? I really like the fast-paced nature of bridging finance. There is a particular focus on efficiency and productivity without processes being dragged on. I am a person who loves to run at 100mph in anything I do, hence the concept of the parties needing finance asap and thus matters completing very quickly from the time of instructions greatly suits me. Anything that happens slowly frustrates me!

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What is the worst aspect about your current role? The concept of always being 'on call'.

What underpins bridging finance is the notion of funds being required quickly and therefore I need to be ready to hit the ground running with a matter as soon as I receive instructions however, there is no method of accurately predicting when a new matter will arise! So, I need to be available to work any time on any day - 365 days per year!

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What are your long term goals?As aforementioned, I always want more in anything I do and am never satisfied. Thus my long term goals are to simply grow my practise area more and the firm (Sriharans Solicitors) to greater heights each and every year – with no stagnation and certainly no downwards curve!

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If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change? It would have to be taxation - either significantly reduce or remove altogether! In particular Inheritance Tax which is fundamentally a burden on families who have worked hard and paid their taxes already during their lifetimes yet cannot freely pass on what they have earnt to their next generation.

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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? Nelson Mandela. I would love to learn and grasp as much as possible from a man who spent 27 years imprisoned (18 of those 27 years on Robben Island) and have the strength and courage to survive such a period and upon freedom, encourage forgiveness, compassion and become President of the country! "It is not where you start but how high you aim that matters for success"

Parents’ of 3 year old Veer Gudka Families of smart motorway crash make plea for Asian stem cell donors victims beg scheme to be scrapped Veer Gudka has been described by those who have met him as a cheeky young boy who is smart, playful, brave and adventurous and enjoys all sorts of activities but particularly jumping. The boistrous 3 year old from Harrow became very lethargic in December 2018 has been diagnosed with Fanconi anaemia a rare genetic disease that puts him at risk of cancer as it reduces the number of blood cells created by the body. Whilst his energy levels returned to normal a year ago the average lifespan of those with the disease is between just 20 and 30 years with one in five not expected to reach 18. His parents Nirav and Kirpa are appealing for more people of Asian descent to sign up as stem cell donors. Working with blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, the family want to diversify the stem cell register and give their little boy a fighting chance of finding the best possible donor. Speaking to various media outlets his father Nirav said: “The news came to us as a big shock. We were distraught. We didn’t expect anything of that nature when we were called back in August. Our otherwise perfect little world was turned upside down.”

The devastated families of those who have died in car crashes have launched a fresh plea for the government to ban the use of smart motorways after loosing loved ones on the roads.

Veer pictured with dad Nirav, mum Kirpa and sister Suhani

Doctors treating Veer say that his best chance of survival would be to have a stem cell transplant to help reboot his body’s ability to make blood. His parents and five-year-old sister Suhani were found not to be a match and no matching donors are currently on the register. As he is of Asian descent, his chances of finding a match are only 20 per cent, compared with 80 per cent if he was Northern European. Speaking of the impact Veer’s illness has had on his family, Nirav told Harrowonline that: “Veer’s a little brother. His big sister Suhani is five and knows that Veer has got Fanconi Anaemia, and so needs ‘new blood’. She’s too young to understand the full extent of Veer’s condition but has comprehended that he needs a generous donor to help him. “As much as we don’t

want it to take over our lives, it has. We know that finding a donor is like finding a needle in a haystack, so we are campaigning hard.” Veer is being kept “under observation” by Great Ormond Street Hospital. Sarah Rogers, of Anthony Nolan, said: “Veer is a sweet and playful little boy who has touched hearts around the country through his family’s active social media campaign. He’s a bundle of energy and we want to keep him this way. Every single person who signs up to the register has the potential to give hope to someone like Veer in need of a lifesaving stem cell transplant.” To find out more on how to help Veer please log on to: www.anthonynolan.org/HelpVeerNow , www.helpveernow.org or https://www.facebook.com /he

Road chiefs have claimed the revamped routes – which do not have a hard shoulder – are safe because they have regularlyspaced refuges. But their safety have come into question after nine drivers lost their lives after breaking down on carriageways last year. Members of the Broken Hearts Club, a Whatsapp group set up by victims' relatives, have called on the prime minister to scrap what they call the 'deathtrap' scheme and restore the hard shoulders to prevent

Dev Naran with mum Meera

further loss of life. One victim was eight year old Dev Naran, from Leicester, who died instantly when the Toyota Yaris he was in was hit at 56mph on the M6 on May 31 2018. His grandfather Bhanuchandra Lodhia, 70,was driving along the road with Naran in the back and his cousin Ria Soni, 20, in the front passenger seat. It is not clear why Mr Lodhia stopped on the hard shoul-

der with his hazard lights on but a police investigation established the car was stationary for just 45 seconds before lorry driver Paul Kiddy, 62, from Hampshire, hit the Toyota at about 56mph. Speaking to the Sunday Times magazine Dev's mother Meera, 36, said: 'I miss him every day. I don't want any other families to suffer like mine has suffered. The government has to restore the hard shoulders on these motorways until they can find a way to make them safe.' Hundreds of miles of motorways across England have been converted into smart motorways, meaning the hard shoulder is used as either a permanent or parttime running lane. Motoring groups have warned they create a safety risk as vehicles that break down in live lanes risk being hit from behind. Figures published in the Daily Mail revealed 19,316 motorists suffered the horror of breaking down in a live lane in 2017 and 2018 – a rate of 26 drivers a day and have accounted for 38 per cent of all stoppages on smart motorways. The number of motorway deaths is increasing, with 107 killed on motorways in 2018 – up 8 per cent on 2017.


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Carrying forward Qaboos' Indian legacy Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said dominated the politics of Oman for half a century, becoming the longest-serving Arab leader in the world. He can be attributed as the ruler who transformed the socio-economic landscape of Oman. From pulling the country out of poverty through the limited oil reserves to brokering peace and establishing religious tolerance in the conflicted region rife with sectarianism, Sultan earned praise from leaders across the world for mastering the craft of diplomacy. Following his demise on Friday 10th January, leaders across the world- from Iran's Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to America's President Donald Trump and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the UK- sent their condolences to the to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, the new successor to the throne. Oman observed three days of national mourning in the memory of late Sultan Qaboos. But, the gesture from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi perhaps surprised those who were unaware of the special Oman-India relationship. As a mark of respect, the Indian government observed one day’s state mourning on January 13 throughout India with the national flag flying at half-mast. History records that Qaboos was the chief architect of Indo-Oman strategic partnership including allowing access to the Indian Navy at Duqm Port to providing Omani citizenship to nearly 1,000 Hindus and personally cared for two temples in Oman paving the ground for religious tolerance and celebration of multi-faiths. In 2018 during Modi's visit to Muscat Qaboos made a special gesture of sending breakfast made in Palace for the P M at the hotel where he stayed. It is also noteworthy that Sultan Qaboos’ grandfather once ruled Oman from India in the early decades of the last century and has been buried in Mumbai. But, not many are aware of the Oman-Kutch (Gujarat) special relationship that dates back from the era of Harrapan

Civilization and fostered by the Gujarati entrepreneurial community and Kutchi traders. Historians and academics have chronicled how the goods were exported to Oman via the Lothal port and the Dholaveera ports. The Bhatia community from Kutch was the first among all Gujaratis to settle overseas — relocating to Muscat. Whilst the grandfather of Kanak Sheth, the scion of the Kheemji Ramdas group, who travelled from the coastal area of Mandavi to Muscat in 1870 is one such example of the people-to-people co ntact between the two countries. As people emigrated from India to Muscat, community organisations and religious institutions shaped up. It was under the guidance of Sheikh Kanaksinhbhai Kheemji, Chandrakant Chothani, Jeetendra Shukla and Bachubhai Dholakiya that the first 'Muscat Sanskrutik Samaj' was founded. Even today, the supplies for the palace of Sultan are managed under the aegis of Dharamshi Nanji's family. Meanwhile, the shiv temple and Vaishnav Haveli in Oman are about 150 years old and believed to have been personally looked after by the late Sultan himself. Following the late Sultan Qaboos' demise, Prime Minister Modi tweeted: "I heartily congratulate HM Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said on taking over as Sultan of Oman. I am confident that under his leadership, Oman will continue to progress and prosper and contribute to global peace. India has millenniaold relations with Oman. We look forward to working hand in hand with HM Sayyid Haitham to further strengthen our strategic partnership." His successor the new Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq will now have to undertake serious economic reforms to safeguard Qaboos' legacy and maintain internal stability. This comes at a time when in the last few years the sultan struggled to diversify Oman's economy and reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons.

Megxit and our monarchy Britons have not yet recovered from the Brexit divorce saga that Megxit and continuous fractures in the monarchy decided to make headlines. In her Christmas message last year, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II had acknowledged that 2019 was a “bumpy year” for the Royal family. Perhaps, she spoke too soon! Last year in January, the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a car crash while driving near the Queen's Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. He escaped uninjured, but two women required hospital treatment. Then, in November, the Duke of York, Prince Andrew withdrew from public life and had to step down from his royal responsibilities following a BBC interview about his ties with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Amidst such controversies were the “tensions” simmering between the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle. Following these tensions and the negative headlines that villified Markle, Prince Harry had issued an official statement where he had referenced his concern at the “racial undertones of comment pieces”. However, some MPs such as Home Secretary Priti Patel have recently come out denying claims of any sort of “racial prejudice” existing within the royal family. Then was the legal action that Markle lodged against the Mail on Sunday over a claim that it unlawfully published one of her private letters that she had sent to her estranged father. Photographs and tête-à-tête amidst royal sources have indicated the couple's unhappiness at their roles whether during their trip to Australia or in their decision of breaking tradition and spending Christmas in Canada last year. Therefore, it shocks very few that the couple should want to “step back” as senior members of the royal family and become “financially independent”.

In an emergency meeting at Sandringham House, the Queen reluctantly blessed the couple with a transition period and allowed them to split their time between Canada and the UK. A general overview indicates that people respect the couple's need for personal space. But, it is not quite so simple with regards to the expenses incurred on the couple's maintenance. Some taxpayers' are now miffed with over £30mn spent in the couple's royal wedding and a further £3.4mn invested in the re-decoration of their Frogmore Cottage. Furthermore, questions around who shall be funding the security of the couple in Canada still lingers. On 12th January, The Sunday Times started a readers' poll: 'Should taxpayers fund Harry and Meghan's security if they live abroad?'. The poll closes on January 17th with its results likely to be published two days later. As of today, 14th January, the poll indicates that 89% of the 20,000 readers who participated in the poll disagree with the idea of paying tax for the royal couple's security. Financial independence sets them free: from press scrutiny, a pretense of taxpayer accountability, family bother. However, intricate details around their responsibilities, finances and Archie's upbringing remain unknown. What this has essentially done is raised questions around the shape of the monarchy, and for the future roles of young royals including Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the youngest of the Cambridge’s three children. Whilst the stakes appear to be high for the monarchy’s survival, Her Majesty has shown tremendous grace and poise in attempting to adapt the royal family to the progressive and modern “American” culture that seems to have gripped the far more conservative and rigid structures of the Buckingham Palace.

Australia's bushfires continue to blaze and their devastating impact on the climate is perhaps best measured through the latest warning from NASA and following the collapse of a tennis player on the court after she struggled to breathe during the match. Dalila Jakupovic, a 28-year-old from Slovenia struggled to breathe during her first-round qualifying match at Australia Open and retired after falling to the court in discomfort. Melbourne was reportedly the most polluted city on 14th January, Tuesday when the match was being hosted with air quality being deemed “hazardous”. Other Australian cities included Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Adelaide which have also endured dangerous air quality levels due to smoke from nearby bushfires. In the meantime, on the same day, NASA issued a warning that smoke from the massive bushfires in Australia will soon circle the Earth and come back to the nation. According to them, the plumes from blazes around New

Year's Day had crossed South America, turning skies there hazy, and moved "halfway around Earth" by 8 January. Right now, the world has warmed around 1C since the 1850s. Even with current government plans to limit emissions of CO2, the world is on course for around 3C of warming by the end of this century. Australia is now about 1.4C warmer than the global average temperature was in the preindustrial period, showing a more rapid rate of heating than the global average of 1.1C. Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has acknowledged that climate change has had an influence on the fires and has defended his government’s climate record. Under the Paris climate agreement, Australia has pledged to cut emissions by 26% to 28% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. However, these bushfires coupled with the climate activists have further pressurised capitalists economies to draw a realistic and effective blueprint to combat the on-going climate crisis.

Smoke from Australia's bushfires to circle Earth

It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought. - Aristotle

Virendra Sharma MP Labour MP for Ealing & Southall

A united Labour: Keir and Rayner are ideal candidates The Labour Party needs a forward-looking team of winners – that is why I am backing Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner. We have been out of power now for a decade, and haven’t won an election since 2005, the Labour Party needs to look forward and not back to win again. That is why I am backing Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. We don’t need faction and difference to divide us, we need to work together, as one party, and Keir and Angela bring that. Both first elected in 2015 they represent a break with the past, but both are grounded in the Labour movement and the struggle for justice for everyone. Keir has a history of fighting for the worst off, the most in need, as a lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions he constantly stood up against ingrained or institutional power to protect people. Keir defended print workers at Wapping, gave free legal advice to the victims of police brutality in the poll tax protests and helped prevent the ecological disaster of dumping the Brent Spar Oil Rig in the deep ocean. He understands the challenges that not just we as the Labour Party face, but also the challenges our country faces, and he has the ability and vision to deliver for everyone. Angela is an inspiring Labour woman and trade unionist, she is without doubt one of the most tenacious campaigners in Parliament today and inspires our party and movement and terrifies the Tory Party. Her own story is one of overcoming the worst of Tory Government and making success with the tools she was given by a Labour Government. As a trade union organiser and as someone who can connect with people, she has ambition for this party and for the country, and she will never abandon them. She will be the support our next leader needs, a trusted ally and partner for taking Labour forward and making us the next government. We have to have ambition and vision for the future and both Keir and Angela have that, but more than that they don’t shy away from showing it and from bringing others with them. Since 2015 both have served the Party as shadow ministers unafraid to take the fight to the Tories and willing to defend the Labour Party. Together they represent the strongest team for the future, balanced and capable, with a willingness to work together and a commitment to never give up.

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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India cannot afford to take sides in US-Iran tensions But New Delhi must activate its regional diplomacy India cannot afford to take sides. Energy supplies and the safety and security of its vast diaspora in the Gulf are of utmost importance. India has a substantial Shia population too, with sympathy for Iran. Sujan R Chinoy The tensions between the US and Iran peaked following the killing of the head of Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), General Qassem Soleimani, in a drone attack in Iraq on January 3. But war clouds seem to have dispersed for now after Iran retaliated with several missile attacks in the early hours of January 8 on two US bases in Iraq at Al Asad and Irbil. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US, General Mark Milley, said that the missiles were intended to cause structural damage, destroy vehicles and aircraft and also kill personnel. The US denied any casualties even as Iran claimed that 80 people had died. Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted that Iran “took and concluded proportionate measures in selfdefence”. He added that “we do not seek escalation or war”. President Trump gave a muchawaited statement later that day to announce that the US “suffered no casualties” and its military bases sustained only “minimal damage” and that “Iran appears to be standing down which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world”. Taken together, it is clear that both parties have stepped back from the brink. It appeared that the US had advance warning and took necessary precautions to avert loss of lives, while allowing Iran to vent its spleen. On its part, Iran’s claim to have avenged the killing of a national hero was aimed at placating the deep public sentiment that had built up. That Iran had “concluded” its retaliation clearly indicated that Tehran had no intention of esca-

lating matters beyond the symbolic strikes. Reports suggest Soleimani was on a mission for reconciliatory talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia. His killing seems a well-calculated move given that he was a long-standing thorn in the US’s side in the region. It is not inconceivable that the US had

but stopped at retaliatory strikes on US bases in Iraq. The use of regional proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen would have been risky and could have enlarged the conflict, leading to entirely unpredictable consequences for Iran. On the escalation ladder, the US could have resorted to further

hoped to capitalise on mounting domestic discontent and demonstrations after the fuel price hike in recent months against the regime in Iran, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of a large number of protestors. For a brief while, it seemed that Soleimani’s death and tensions with the US had united the Iranian people behind the regime. But the fresh outbreak of anti-regime demonstrations in the wake of Iran admitting that it “unintentionally” downed a Ukrainian airliner on January 8 suggests that the internal situation remains incendiary. Iran had a range of options at its disposal,

attacks on select military and other targets if Iran’s retaliation had resulted in US casualties. Trump had earlier warned Iran that the US would target 52 sites in Iran. That number was a symbolic reminder of the 52 US hostages taken by Iran during the siege of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. Trump was emphatic about not countenancing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons capability. The first words he uttered before even greeting the gathering at the White House were that “as long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon”. That is a clear enough red line,

which Iran would have noted. Notably, even when Iran publicly declared its intention to walk away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the aftermath of Soleimani’s killing, it was careful to reassure the international community of its continued commitment to the NPT and IAEA inspections. If Iran has regional proxies, the US has a strong ally in Israel in addition to its many bases and carrier forces in the region. Given Iran’s implacable hostility towards Israel, Prime

The receding war clouds may not be enough to calm the nervous energy market, where a spike of one dollar per barrel can result in a magnified surge in India’s import bill by about $1.6 billion, according to CARE Ratings. In his parliament speech, Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi had stated that Soleimani was in Baghdad to meet him to discuss reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This may seem premature given the historical rivalry between the two countries for leadership in the Islamic world. At the same time,

Minister Netanyahu had unequivocally lauded Trump’s action after Soleimani’s killing. After Iran’s retaliation, he had said Israel had both the will and the capacity to inflict a “crushing blow” on Iran if attacked. Any armed conflagration between Iran and the US would only deepen the faultlines between the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds, worsening the fragility in Iraq. The Iraqi parliament’s non-binding resolution to end the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil is unlikely to make any difference. On the face of it, one can infer that it is not only aimed at the US and its allies, but also at Iran.

the reality is that Saudi Arabia is chasing the mirage of a military victory in Yemen. In the aftermath of “black swan” events such as the drone attacks on two Aramco oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in September, and the unexpected killing of Soleimani, Saudi Arabia may be willing to explore a back channel deal with Iran that permits a face-saving retreat from the quagmire in Yemen. Russia has been supportive of Iran’s policies in Syria. It condemned the US attack on Soleimani as a violation of international norms, though China was by far the more vocal of the two, calling it dangerous

military adventurism. China remains Iran’s biggest oil market, an arms supplier and a top trade partner. Iran was reassured of China’s support for safeguarding the JCPOA. Oddly, amidst the rising regional tensions on December 27, Russia, China and Iran came together for a fourday trilateral naval exercise, the first of its kind, in the Gulf of Oman. It was intended to send a strong message to the US that Iran was not isolated. Each time there is a regional crisis, whether the tide of communism in the 1950s, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, or more recently, the global war on terror after 9/11, Pakistan has returned to the game with newer chips. However, the US should not take Pakistan for granted. It is driven by its own compulsions and has a history of perfidy. If the Saudis could not get Pakistan to rally around it in Yemen, it is doubtful if the US will be able to secure Pakistan’s support against Iran. Pakistan would more likely gravitate towards any emerging tandem between Russia, China and Iran. India cannot afford to take sides. Energy supplies and the safety and security of its vast diaspora in the Gulf are of utmost importance. India has a substantial Shia population too, with sympathy for Iran. Proposals for regional security abound — from Iran’s Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) to the US’s International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC). Russia too has a proposal for collective security in the Persian Gulf. As a large and influential country with goodwill and abiding stakes in the extended neighbourhood, it is in India’s interest to activate its regional diplomacy in order to shape outcomes. • The author, a former ambassador, is currently director general of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses. Views are personal. (Courtesy: Indian Express)


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Baroness Brady MBA course to empower women in businesses On Tuesday 14th January Baroness Karren Brady announced that she is launching a new MBA course with Arden University in a bid to combat gender imbalance in the boardroom. Through this new program Baroness Brady aims to unlock the potential of entrepreneurs, having developed the course with senior academics and will give students, regardless of their gender, the confidence and risk-taking acumen to break the glass ceilings in a male-dominated world. The distance-learning MBA programme will focus on personal communication, negotiation, selfdevelopment, emotional intelligence among others. Each of the MBA’s modules will feature a masterclass

Baroness Karren Brady

with a business leader, includingThe Apprentice famed Baroness Brady, in which she will draw on her personal experiences in a career that has taken her from top-flight football management to the House of Lords. Baroness Brady said:

“Creating a programme for people from different backgrounds, especially women, and giving them the skills and confidence to succeed in the corporate world is a vital step in improving boardroom diversity and the productivity of UK plc (public limited

company). “Diversity and inclusion is crucial for successful team performance and the fact remains that there is a glass ceiling for far too many women. Our new MBA has a high degree of relevance for female managers in this country. About 30 per cent of MBA completers are women in this country and that cannot be right in 2020.” Progress at addressing the gender gap in business has been slow. Women hold just 16.9 per cent of board seats globally and 4.4 per cent of CEO positions, according to Deloitte Global’s sixth edition of Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective published last year. The new course is slated to begin in November this year.

Zaiwalla recalls his journey in English Courts An eminent lawyer has recently chronicled memoirs of his biggest cases in a new book titled ‘Honour Bound’. In his recent book, Sarosh Zaiwalla, founder of London-based law firm, Zaiwalla & Co Solicitors charts his journey into the English courts ever since he first entered the country in 1970. Zaiwalla, who expertises in arbitration, litigation and mediation has recorded victory in dozens of high-profile legal battles. In the past he has represented several politicians, diplomats and former ambassadors including fomer British PM Tony Blaire, former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Iraqi President Saddam Hussain and Iran's Bank Mellat. In the late 1980''s Zaiwalla had also represented Ajitabh Bachchan (actor Amitabh Bachchan''s brother) against the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nhyeter that alleged that Ajitabh held the sixth account in the Bofors' ''kickbacks''. In his book Zaiwalla delves into the history of the Parsi culture, recounting memories of his father's upbringing and explains his fortune of “meeting the right people at the right times and in the right places” in London. He is refreshingly candid of the struggles of establishing himself among the mainstream English legal circles

at a time when Indian lawyers were rare to be found in the City. However, in the process he is sometimes also muddled in his facts. Case in point being the time when he recounts being invited by Publisher/Editor of Gujarat Samachar and Asian Voice CB Patel. In his book, Zaiwalla recalls, being invited by CB, “the publisher of Gujarati-language weekly newspaper Asian Voice”. In another such controversy, Mani Shankar Aiyar, a Congress top-brass leader insisted that there was

much more to Bofors incident than what has been mentioned in the book by the Zaiwalla. Aiyar claimed that claimed that he had never ever discussed Bofors with Rajiv Gandhi, and that Gandhi had no role to play in the alleged payoffs. Today, Zaiwallla insists that the British society is classist, but not racist persisting that the country values fairness and integrity. ''Honour Bound'' is published by HarperCollins and was launched at the India International Centre.

Reforms in immigration law can save £70mn annually

On Tuesday 14th January, the Law Commission noted that reforms in the “overly complex and unworkable” immigration rules can result in the government saving almost £70m over the next 10 years. According to the Commission, which advises ministers on updating the law the regulations have quadrupled in length since 2010 and are “comprehensively criticised for being poorly drafted”. Immigration rules ran to 40 pages when introduced initially in 1973 and now extend across 1,100. Making them more prescriptive was intended to produce more transparent outcomes but instead rendered them harder to follow, the study observes. Immigration regulations have an impact on millions of lives every year,

the report accepts. “Their structure is confusing and numbering inconsistent. Provisions overlap with identical or near identical wording. The drafting style, often including multiple cross-references, can be impenetrable. The frequency of change fuels complexity.” Nicholas Paines QC, the public law commissioner, in a statement said, “For both applicants and case workers, the drafting of the immigration rules and frequent updates makes them too difficult to follow. This has resulted in mistakes that waste time and cost taxpayer money.” The report recommends a complete redrafting of the rules, dividing them up by subject matter and limiting the number of updates to twice a year.


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18 - 24 January 2020

Report finds Manchester police failed child victims of Asian grooming gangs

A damning report has found that dozens of children who were suspected of having been groomed and abused by gangs of Asian men operating in "plain sight" were failed by both the police and local authorities. According to the 145 page report into child sexual exploitation in Manchester some of the victims were subjected to "profound abuse" and told carers and police officers about the sexual assaults as well as giving names and addresses, but no action was taken and concluded: "The authorities knew that many were being subjected to the most profound abuse and exploitation but did not protect them from the perpetrators.” The report’s authors Malcolm Newsam, a renowned child care expert, and Gary Ridgeway, a former detective superintendent with Cambridgeshire Police commented: "This is a depressingly familiar picture and has been seen in many other towns and cities across the country.” Central to the report was the work of Operation Augusta, set up in 2004, prompted by the death of Victoria, 15, a girl under the care of Manchester City Council, who reported being raped and injected with heroin by a 50-year-old Asian man before passing away two months later on September 29, 2003, due to an overdose. Head of Specialist Crime for Greater Manchester Police, Assistant Chief

Constable Mabs Hussain, released a statement after the report came out in which he said: “We accept that authorities fell short of doing all they could to protect and support the child victims of sexual exploitation identified under Operation Augusta in 2004. “Children should be able to expect those responsible for their care will do all they can to keep them safe and I want to apologise to all those vulnerable children who were let down. I can only imagine the pain and distress they must have gone through, which would have only been made worse by these failings. I am sorry they were let down and I am sorry they were not protected from harm. “Many of the children were subject to the most profound abuse and, although the review team acknowledged there was much in Operation Augusta and the work carried out by the investigation team to be commended, we agree the overall operation was not to the standard rightfully expected from victims. "We have made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct so that they can carry out an independent assessment to determine if there are any conduct matters that should be investigated. “We and our partners at Manchester City Council have personally contacted all but one victim featured in the report to offer them any support we can ahead of

11 year old’s first solo art exhibition

Young artist Siyona Bhandari is exhibiting at her first solo art exhibition. The talented 11-yearold was last year's Young Artist Winner at the Slough Youth Awards. Now her work is being exhibited at the Curve until January 31. 'Unravelling emotions' is a compendium of the artworks and paintings that have seen Siyona win national and international art competitions. According to the Slough Observer Siyona began doodling at home when she was two, winning her first award for art at the age of four in a calendar design competition. At the age of seven she started attending an art classes group in Slough where she worked under the lead artist Marinela Caldarus. She has won various local, national and international awards in visual art

competitions such as the Design Swim Hat competition organised by Slough Borough Council for The Centre, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Children's Fund (RNRMCF) Art Competition, Arts and Minds National Competition 2019, Look & Learn International competition (UK) and the Karuta International Art competition in Japan. Siyona’s artworks were featured at the SHE IS MORE art exhibition in the Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Singapore and in the winner’s gallery of the World Children's Picture Contest Bulgaria. She lives in Langley with her dad Arun and mom Komudi and her brother Rushil. Speaking to the Slough Observer Proud dad Arun said: "I am very proud of her achievements. Her focus and attention on her art work is an inspiration."

L to R: Adil Khan, Abdul Aziz and Qari Abdul Rauf were members of a child sex grooming gang from Manchester (GMP/PA)

it being published. Each contact was carefully planned with care professionals to ensure we were as sensitive as possible and further specialist support was offered. “Of course back in early 2000s, the priorities for forces across the UK were very different. This has completely changed and today safeguarding the vulnerable is our absolute priority. “After taking learnings from the Operation Span investigation in Rochdale and the significant convictions secured in 2013, we have worked closely with partners across Greater Manchester to develop a consistent standard in addressing the exploitation of young people. "This approach puts the victim at the centre of everything we do, which ensures that proper support is provided by the right agencies and any safeguarding concerns are addressed. With this support from partners, it provides a stronger footing for police to prevent, disrupt and investigate these crimes. "The work of these specialised teams under Project

Phoenix has been recognised nationally as showing excellent working practice in tackling child sexual exploitation across Greater Manchester. “We have continued to learn and develop these principles with partners over the last six years. As a result we have made further improvements to our whole approach to tackling the abuse and exploitation of young people. These improvements include the introduction of specialist co-located multi-agency ‘Complex Safeguarding Teams’ in every district across Greater Manchester. These focus on all aspects of exploitation including CSE, criminal exploitation and modern slavery. “A Major Incident Team has been established under Operation Green Jacket. This dedicated multi-agency team has already carried out a significant amount of disruption actions, as well as numerous safeguarding visits. We will continue to do all that we can to safeguard children within our communities. Greater Manchester Police will investigate any report of child exploitation that is made.”

Teacher, 49, jailed after sexual chats with undercover officer posing as child A primary school teacher has been jailed for 20 months last Friday 10 January for sending sexual communication to a 12year-old girl who was in fact an undercover police officer. In November 2019, Nasser Khalil, 49, a supply teacher at a Birmingham primary school, started a chat with the undercover officer who was posing as a 12-year-old girl on Chat Avenue, a free online chat room. A transcript of the online chat revealed that the officer informed him that she was ‘nearly 13’ but this didn’t deter him from telling her he wanted to have sex with her and asking for selfies of her. Despite acknowledging how young she was by stating, ‘omg, ur so young’ , Khalil then proceeded to describe various vile things he wanted to do to her.

Khalil, who told the girl that he was a teacher, also asked if she was a virgin and suggested they wait till she turned 16 before meeting up. He was arrested on 14 November 2019 at his home address in Birmingham. At the first hearing on 15 November at Birmingham Magistrates Court, he pleaded guilty to sexual communication with a child and attempting to cause/incite a female child aged under 13 to engage in sexual activity. He was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment at Birmingham Crown Court. He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for 10 years. Virinder Bains, of the CPS, said: “Nasser Khalil has committed very serious crimes which have been met with the appropriate punishment.”

in brief SPEEDING DRIVER JAILED FOR KILLING MAN AND NOT STOPPING

A reckless speeding driver, Mohammed Muttaqabbir Miah, mounted the pavement in Kilburn and ran over Diah Hamed Al-Safar who was buying groceries for a friend's funeral in broad daylight on Quex Road and drove off without stopping. Mr Al-Safar, 60, was rushed to hospital but later died from his injuries. According to reports Miah's car was found nearby and he was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. However, the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command's investigation established the crash, at 12.40pm on September 29, 2018, was not deliberate and had happened two weeks to the day after Miah passed his driving test. The 26-year-old, from Camden, was found guilty by a jury of causing death by dangerous driving, dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of a crash on December 2, 2019. Miah was jailed for five years at Harrow Crown Court on Thursday (January 9). He was also disqualified from driving for four years.

SLOUGH TEENAGER STABBED TO DEATH IN WEXHAM

The family of Mohammed Aman Ashraq have paid an emotional tribute to their son, grandson and brother after he was stabbed to death in Wexham. Mohammed, pictured who wanted to be a professional boxer, was stabbed in Benjamin Lane, Wexham at 7.55pm on Saturday, January 4. The 18year-old, who lived in Slough, was taken to Wexham Park Hospital but died later that night. In a statement released through Thames Valley Police the family said: "On the January 5, 2020, we lost our Mohammed. We miss him dearly and want everyone to pray for him. Mohammed was very calm, supportive and showed respect towards everyone. He was funny and loved goofing around with his siblings. A few months back, after winning a very important match, Mohammed asked his mom for a cake as a reward as he had been on a very strict diet for months," the family statement continued. "He used to train his sisters for boxing and helped them to work out. They miss his laughter. He used to bring joy to the family. His youngest sister called him 'Amani' and she was his favourite. They used to play video games together and they will all miss his hugs." Hamza Mahmood, 18, and Mohammed Hussain, 18, have both been charged with Mr Ashraq's murder and appeared at Slough Magistrates' Court on Thursday (January 9). The next court date is currently unknown. An 18-year-old man from Slough arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice has been bailed until February 4, Thames Valley Police said.

FIGURES SHOW CHILDREN AMONGST 150 VICTIMS OFF UPSKIRTING

Figures in a report made to police forces reveals that children are among those who reported being a victim of upskirting since a law came into force. The 153 reports made to police forces in England and Wales, one victim could have been as young as 10, while a 74-year-old woman reported being targeted. It comes after the Voyeurism (Offences) Act came into force, in April 2019. Gina Martin, who led the campaign against upskirting, praised the act for bringing perpetrators to justice. Separate data from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) shows 10 men were convicted of 16 offences, in 2019. The majority of offences were committed in schools, shopping centres and other public places. The Press Association obtained figures - from 35 police forces under Freedom of Information laws. Upskirting involves the use of a recording device, such as a camera phone, to take explicit images underneath a victim's clothing without permission and often undetected. Victims include the 74-year-old in the Avon and Somerset Police area, as well as a 15-year-old boy in the West Midlands and a 14-year-old girl on a bus, in Sussex. Hertfordshire Police said one of two upskirting cases in its area involved a 15-year-old boy taking an image of a 15year-old girl while she was either drunk or asleep, before threatening to circulate the photos on social media. Campaigners previously complained that the lack of a specific legislation left police unsure how to deal with such allegations, with many subsequently going unreported.


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Kashmiri Hindu Pandits Indian students protest outside Indian observe genocide day High Commission On Wednesday 8th January a 12-hour protest was organised by the South Asian Students Against Fascism, UK, and SOAS India Society outside the India High Commission in London. The demonstration which started at 8 in the morning and concluded at the same time in the evening was organised in solidarity with the nationwide trade union strike in India against the latest Citizenship Amendment Act introduced by the BJP Government in India. Chanting slogans, reciting poems and hosting demonstrations, historians, academics and students voiced their concerns about the oppression of students in Indian universities of JNU, Jamia Islamia among others. “We stand against the recent spate of violence against the students of Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University which were brutally targeted with tear gas and firing. They not only entered campuses but also libraries to attack students because they were protesting against the CAA-NRC. We stand with the women protestors of

Shaheen Bagh who have carried their struggle for more than 15 days now,” noted a spokesperson of the South Asian Students Against Fascism, UK. The sit-in was a voice of many organisations and students coming together to stand against alleged

oppression and violence against minorities, opposition to NRC and CAA and express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, Assam, JNU, AMU and minorities. Around 200 people, who participated in the protest, demanded the resignation

of Home Minister Amit Shah. They also called for the restoration of internet and withdrawal of troops from Northeast and Kashmir. The protesters asked for an immediate repeal of the CAA, immediate release and medical care to Chandrashekhar Azad, Akhil Gogoi. The group was joined by activists from the London Mining Network, London Anti-Fascist Assembly, and GBM Trade Union along with anti-fascist activists from Kurdistan and Iran. “This demonstration is sending a clear message to the Indian government that the rise of totalitarianism, dictatorship and fascism is not to be tolerated,” said Satpal Muman of CasteWatch UK.

The Global Kashmiri Pandit Diaspora (GKPD) will commemorate the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits on Sunday, January 19 with events to be hosted in India, the UK, the US, and Canada. In the UK, events will be held across London, Nuneaton, Manchester, Oxford, Walsall and Glasgow. The series of events will be organised by the Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Society (KPCS-UK) and Indo-European Kashmir Forum (IEKF). In the US, events are being held in collaboration

with the Indian Americans for Kashmir (IAFK). The key event is in New Jersey where a seminar is being organised with keynote speakers from various political organisations and media houses. The focus is on the ''Kashmiri Pandit genocide''. The event is being supported by hundreds of community volunteers. In Illinois a candlelight vigil will be held at the city hall in Naperville as a tribute to the innocent Kashmiri Hindus killed in 1989, 1990 and later years. In Canada, a symposium is being organised in Toronto in collaboration with the Indo-Canadian

Kashmir forum on ''Global terrorism and its impact on the social, cultural and economic well being of minorities focusing on the return of indigenous Kashmiris to the land of their ancestors and restoration of their political rights''. The event will have eminent speakers of Indo-American and Canadian origin presenting their views on genocide, its implications and the way forward. On January 19th, over five lakh Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of the Kashmir valley commonly referred to as the “exodus of Hindus”.

GOD SAVE THE MONARCHY On Monday 13th January, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II expressed her regret that Harry and Meghan Markle would no longer serve the UK as “senior royals”. Adapting the monarchy to a progressive culture, the 93year-old ruler demonstrated immense grace as she reluctantly blessed the couple with a “period of transition” wherein the couple could divide their time between Canada and the UK. However, in her official statement she stressed that her preference would have been for the couple to remain as fulltime working royals. Following the couple's announcement to become “financially independent” the monarch had called for emergency talks at Sandringham in presence of Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry with Meghan expected to join them through a video conference call from Canada. However, it is now understood that the couple decided that Meghan’s

direct input was not necessary for the meeting and therefore did not join. Buckingham Palace has yet to reveal full details of how the couple might achieve their goal of splitting time between the UK and Canada, stepping back as senior royals, and becom-

ing financially independent by earning an income unfettered by royal constraints. In her personal statement, Her Majesty said, “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued

part of my family. “Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. “It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK. “These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days”. This sudden decision to step away from their roles as senior royals will have huge implications for the shape of the monarchy, and for the future roles of young royals including Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, the youngest of the Cambridge’s three children. This move has also raised questions over whether Canadian taxpayers would have to pay for the couple’s security costs during their time in North America but the country’s prime minister Justin Trudeau said no discussions had taken place.

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As I See It CB Patel

The highs and lows of our high-streets A report published by the British Retail Consortium has declared 2019 to be the worst year on record for retail businesses; and with good measure. In the recent past, several major retail brands have been closing down with a momentum that only makes one wonder. Bat an eye, and your lively high-end street is not itself anymore. Mothercare closed 79 of its last surviving lot of stores. Jewellery brand Links of London is set to close 15. British multinational retailer and clothing giant Debenhams is gasping for air and will pull down the shutters on 22 shops by the end of January. Bejam, a frozen food retailer that many South Asians have fond memories of, is now just that; a memory. Let us not forget Beales, which has already warned of being at the risk of collapsing. The closures of these stores not only create a bout of unemployment, but come with severe consequences. There was a time when the high streets flourished with their thriving and complimentary retail shops. Now, these very stores in the major cities and towns of the UK, lie vacant or converted into charity stores. The once regularly frequented FMCG shops are now being replaced by eateries, fronts for gambling. What a disaster! In other news, it is reported that Altrincham in Greater Manchester has succeeded in reviving its high street with an imaginative regeneration of its traditional market. The government plans to spend £3.6mn to boost over a 100 places with such initiatives. We all accept that the high streets ought to be nurtured and not abandoned. There is no one source to pin the blame for the downfall of these streets, and especially FMCG outlets. One can blame Brexit and its affiliated political uncertainties. But the fall of these businesses began much before. Some say it is a natural phenomenon. At the same time, retailers like NEXT are reported to have shut off the downhill trend. There are also complaints from some retailers about the business rates or local council vehicle parking policies which result in pushing customers away. These may not be totally unfounded. I owe a lot to my shopkeeping days, and cherish happy experiences. In 1968, We acquired our second shop in Burnt Oak, north-west London. It was a run-down green grocery store. We were able to convert it to a general store selling groceries, and later on Indian spices, pickles and much more. The business eventually converted into a small property portfolio. Let me tell you, there are many who have the same story as mine in this case. Today, Asians, especially of Indian and East African backgrounds are acknowledged and respected as successful entrepreneurs. Now, there are several cash and carry, pharma distribution, hotels and hospitality group, care home and property groups, whose founders were once shopkeepers. They were also able to use shops as a ladder to financial success. Many Ugandan Asians who were forced to leave everything behind and driven out of their country by Idi Amin came to the UK and settled as shopkeepers.By 2002 it was estimated that Ugandan Asians had created 30,000 jobs in Leicester, which was one of the main cities where they settled in the early 1970s. It was then that Margaret Thatcher had said that, “a new resilience derived from diversity can only strengthen Britain”. 50 years ago, the council housing estates were served very well, predominantly by East African Asians where the residents would frequent such shops. Sometimes to shop, sometimes to just talk – they were old and socially deprived. It was a genuinely developing community cohesion. There were other benefits too. Most shopkeepers were able to live in or near the premises. While husbands and wives ran the stores together, their children study in nearby schools. The young ones were able to greet their parents who would be well-aware of their whereabouts. Such children grow up to be good students. They were looked after well,

supervised well. Those generations grew up to be successful business owners we see today. One of the most important disadvantage of the closure of shops, I believe, is the rise of youth vandalism. Back in the day, these retail stores would hire young boys and girls for part-time jobs of distributing newspapers, filling the shelves, in the mornings or during the weekends. With the culture of young children doing errands completely removed, and the stores dying down, the youth has sought to sell drugs and other nefarious substances to make pocket money. In Leicester, Manchester and many towns and cities, the rundown areas, marked for statemandated regeneration were unable to get money from the government in the 1960s. Take Belgrave Road in Leicester for example. The East African people migrated to the UK in the 60s and in just 10-15 years, the road became a thriving high street. Rev Middleton, leader of Leicester City Council in 1968, had no hesitation to thank Indian businesses. It is our community that made Belgrave Road a cash cow for the city council. This was repeated elsewhere too. Shopkeeper's children have become big entrepreneurs in various ways. In the late 1980s the Rothmans and Mars conducted a survey in the M25 area of greater London, where they found that some 70 per cent FMCG shops were run by Asians and most of them had newsagent businesses within the shops, up to 40,000 businesses in total. At that time, with the advent of Rupert Murdoch print media experienced tremendous transformation. In London area some four or five newspaper distributors which served thousands of shops. They would supply to small shops as well as big players and somehow with poor service to the independent news agents predominantly of Asian backgrounds. During the time, a meeting was held at Karma Yoga House where nearly hundred news agents were present including Virendra Patel, Vinod Nakarja, Shakti Shah and several others. The main voice of the meeting was a unanimous belief that big wholesalers do not care for the problems of small newsagents about supply of newspapers, accounts queries and other issues. There was and there is a national organisation claiming to represent the independent newstrade but at the meeting it was decided to launch a Newsagents Action Group (NAG). While it began well, power and influence of other organisations ensured that the unity among Asian news retailers was destroyed very soon. Today, similar problems perhaps are affecting the pharmacy business and other activities. It is a fact that the government and the national media listen to much powerful groups and neglect the small players. At one stage in the late 80s, BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce) was once a very successful enterprise. It was begun by a Pakistani banker backed by the Abu Dhabi government. But there were so many omissions and commissions that the government eventually closed it down. But in its aftermath, private Indian banks like Equatorial Bank, Mount Bank, Meghraj Bank, and some others, did not survive. To look back, they were very well managed and funded. In some way we need to understand the loss is not only theirs, it is of the country as such. British Asians, especially of Indian background are now well within the mainstream of British trade and commerce. We are grateful to the pioneers whose second and third generations are only flourishing. There was a time when England was called the 'Nation of Shopkeepers', and Asians were called 'Corner Shopwallas'. Gone are the days when people joked if man went to the moon, there may be a corner shop run by a Patel there. Shopkeepers are the thread and it is up to us as a nation, to make a beautiful necklace out of it.

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Ilford’s religious leaders highlight tolerance at human rights event Leaders from different faiths stressed the importance of religious freedom and separating religion from politics at an event last week. Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist religious leaders spoke at the conference The State, Religion and Conflict on Friday, January 10, hosted by the Human Rights Association for Victims of Coercive Conversion Programs (HAC UK) at the Karamsar Centre in Buckingham Road. More than 85 people attended the interfaith event, which was put together in response to the controversy surrounding South Korean pastor Rev. Jun Kwanghoon, who called for the

Ravinder Singh from the Ilford Sikh Gurdwara speaking at The State Religion and Conflict event. Picture: HAC UK

resignation of South Korean president Moon Jae-in saying "it's an order from the Lord". Speaking to the Ilford Recorded Chairman of the UK Hindu Council Umesh Chander Sharma said: "Religion should be a uniting force. Although our styles of worship are different what we have

in common is the peace, harmony and welfare of mankind." HAC UK said it will keep working with religious leaders in Ilford and other areas to ensure that London and the UK continue to be a tolerant country where religious freedom and expression are respected.

Thursday, November 21 and his family are being supported by specialist officers. A post-mortem examination held on November 25 determined the cause of death as a gunshot wound to the head. Three men have previously been charged with Mr Miah's murder. They are all due to appear at the Old Bailey on February 14.

Iron Miah died after a shooting in Whitechapel

Man charged with murder in connection with shooting Detectives investigating the murder of a man in Whitechapel have charged a fourth man with murder. Police were called on Tuesday, November 19, to Nelson Street, after 40-year-old Mr Miah was found collapsed with a head injury. Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended, and Mr Miah was taken to hospital. He died on

Gang leader jailed over mistaken identity murder Three gangsters, including a 21-year-old from Wanstead, who gunned down a young man in a case of mistaken identity were branded "selfish, cruel and stupid" as they were locked up for life. Joseph WilliamsTorres, 20, was shot dead by the members of the Mali Boys as he sat with a friend in a van in Walthamstow in March 2018. The killers had been out to avenge the murder of one of their own, 17-year-old Elijah Dornelly, in May 2017 but got the wrong man. The intended target was said to bear an "uncanny resemblance" to the victim and even wore an identical beanie hat to Mr WilliamsTorres, who lived locally. Following a trial last year, Hamza Ul Haq, 21, pictured, Loic Nengese, 19, and a 16-year-old were found guilty of murder. Prosecutor Allison Hunter QC said the Mali Boys had been involved in a bloody turf war with the Higham

Hill or Priory Court gang as they tried to "assert their supremacy and control" of the area. Judge Anthony Leonard QC jailed group leader Ul Haq for life with a minimum term of 28 years for the murder and seven years for attempted aggravated burglary, to run concurrently. Nengese was locked up for a minimum of 21 years and the 16-year-old youth, who had apologised to the victim's family, was locked up for at least 18 years. Russell, was jailed for 16 years, having pleaded guilty to possession of a gun with intent to endanger life and attempted aggravated burglary with Ul Haq.

Mohammed Shah Subhani murder update The family of a murdered 23-year-old are urging members of the public who may have seen a car key to the police investigation in Ilford to come forward. Police were called on Tuesday, May 7 after 27year-old Mohammed Shah Subhani failed to return to his home in Hounslow, west London. His family reported him as missing shortly before midnight, having seen him last at 12.30pm that same day. A large police search began, and sadly ended when human remains were discovered in a wooded area in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. It has since been confirmed that those remains belonged to Shah. Last Tuesday, January 7, Shah's family spoke publicly to call on anyone who might have information about two suspicious cars police believe are connected to his disappearance. The last known sighting of Shah was in the same area at the same time.


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BAFTAs caught in the diversity row Priyanka Mehta

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) is now compelled to review its voting process following widespread criticism over lack of diversity in many of the principal categories, including the lack of female directors or Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) actors being nominated. This is the second consecutive year when the awards have been confronted in the light of white prejudice following a 2018, a report which revealed that 94% of all Bafta film award nominees had been white. Bafta faced a similar criticism in 2017, and had pledged to do more to achieve "seismic" changes. The awards body has now confirmed that it would consult with various sources and listen to recommendations from industry members, with any changes to be put in place before voting starts for the 2021 awards. However, diversity in the industry of performing arts and film is not just a issue concerning with Bafta and Oscar nominations. Some BAME actors have spoken off their struggles in breaking through the mainstream film industry owing to the cultural barriers and racial prejudice. Banita Sandhu is a Welsh-born Asian actress and star of Bollywood film October. In an interview last year with the Asian Achievers Awards she had said, “The term "diverse representation" has catapulted in the last five years, as we are finally seeing more BAME artists on screen. But I still don't think there are enough minority writers who are given the green light by producers and studios. Often times, stereotypes derive from those who don't actually understand our experience and if that is what is being written onto screen then audiences are also incapable of doing so, including myself as a British Asian woman. “I still, to this day, struggle with my cultural identity because I grew up with few authentic stories about our community. On top of that, as an actress I often find myself frustrated with the lack of threedimensional roles available for British women of colour. I struggle to fit into their version of what a British Asian women is because it's written and casted by those who actually don't understand who British Asian women are. Cultural imagination can be so limited that I actually lost

out on a multitude of opportunities as a teenager because of my skin colour. Therefore, whilst it's great that we are finally seeing more ethnic actors booking jobs - I would like to see the same happen behind the scenes for a more authentic and empowering representation of the BAME community on screen.” Banita had been unemployed for a long time even after the success of her Bollywood debut October.

later signed an Indian film and American TV series the same year. I guess what I am trying to say is, have patience but keep actively honing your craft - if that means going back to acting class or hiring a coach, learning a new accent, or even something as simple as watching a film a day; the tides are turning and there are plentiful opportunities brimming for actors like us, it's just about being ready for when they finally pre-

Gurinder Chadha with Viveik Kalra

She now describes the dilemma she faced in those days where she felt like she had to choose between Bollywood and Hollywood. She says, “I almost had an existential crisis where I didn't know who I was or if I'd ever work again because of it. In the midst of it all, I came across an Amy Adam's interview where she described going through the exact same thing. When the inter-

sent themselves.” At present the voting process for Bafta awards is divided into two rounds. The first is to determine nominations from specific “chapters” – made up of specialists from Bafta’s 6,700 members – choosing nominees for categories such as best director, score and screenplay. However, the four main acting categories (leading actress, leading actor, supporting actress,

Krishnendu Majumdar

viewer asked what changed for her, she said she began to "focus on the work" and worried less about who she was, or if she had made it, or what kind of actress she was establishing herself to be. I followed her footsteps and

supporting actor) are nominated by the full membership. “Not a SINGLE person of colour was nominated at the BAFTA's this year. They could have nominated Lupita, Awkafina, Zhao

Banita Sandhu

Shuzhen, Jennifer Lopez, Cynthia Erivo, Antonio Banderas, Eddie Murphy, or any one of the Parasite actors, they didn't,” tweeted Aayaan Upadhyaya, an aspiring British Indian author whose tweet received over 800 likes and 200 retweets. Some BAME actors have and academics have now suggested it was time for an equivalent #MeToo moment on race in the UK film industry and that changes to Bafta’s voting process might not make a

sustainable difference. Now Bafta's deputy chairman, Krishnendu Majumdar, said the lack of female nominees in the best director category is an "industry-wide problem" and that Bafta is "fiercely doing something about it". He is first BAME individual to hold the position in its 72-year history when he was appointed for the chair last year. He has also chaired learning and events committee from 2006 to 2010 and also sits on the Pact council and has sat on

the board of Directors UK. Earlier, journalist Sarfraz Manzoor had also taken to Twitter and echoed his frustration with directors such as Gurinder Chadha not being nominated for her recent movie Blinded by the Light. He tweeted, “I am biased obviously but BAFTA nods for Viveik Kalra and Gurinder Chadha would have been fully deserved and made the nominations list less embarrassingly pale #BAFTASSoWhite.”


10 READERS VOICE

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Household debt hits record high At present the country is facing several crisis on different fronts. Although the economy is sluggish but the elite and the higher classes are racking in millions, for them the economy is booming. On the other hand the country is confronted with homelessness, child poverty, increase in food banks, housing shortages, NHS crisis, knife crime, and to cap all this, the household debt has shot up exponentially. Families have to 'borrow to scrape by’. It’s for paying the rent, heating the home and feeding the kids. Average UK household debt hit a record high of £14,450 last year. Total debt excluding mortgages reached £407bn in the third quarter of 2019, up 31% on levels reached during the financial crisis in 2008, according to analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Debt levels as a proportion of household income have also risen above their 2008 peak for the first time in the past year, reaching 27.5% of earnings, the TUC found. Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said the increase was “not about keeping up with the Joneses,” with years of wage stagnation and a growth in insecure jobs blamed. The TUC said 3.7 million people were currently in precarious work in the UK, including an estimated one million jobs on zero-hours contracts. Sue Anderson, head of media at the StepChange debt charity, said it received more than 330,000 requests for help in the first half of last year alone. She said borrowing to meet basic needs was becoming “ever more entrenched,” with more than 12 million adults thought to be covering household essentials with credit last year. It is a crucial for the government to urgently look into this matter and address this debt issue of reviewing the wages structures and kick starting the economy which had been held back because of the uncertainty of Brexit. Otherwise the situation would deteriorate badly. Baldev Sharma Rayners Lane, Harrow

We CAN make the best of one world together I have just finished reading ‘A British Subject’ by Lord Dolar Popat and wish to share my reflections with the readers of AV. Firstly, once I started reading, I could not put the book down. It is a compelling read not because I also originate from East Africa and am of Indian origin, but the depth of transparency and passion of Dolar Popat is mesmerising. There are many points that resonate strongly for me that he talks about in his book. I can resonate with the same unarticulated connection to Britain growing up as a child in Thika Kenya, which was another country in the British Empire. Although we were living amongst Africans and Europeans we never integrated and kept to our own. We must not make the same mistake in our new host country which is the future of our grandchildren and take steps to integrate at all levels, social, commercial, and political. I second his endeavour to encourage more Indians to contribute to the political infrastructure of Britain. The firstand second-generation British Indians need to overcome the mentality that ‘politics is a dirty game’ and encourage the young generation to be politically proactive. The British Indian young professionals have already proved themselves in the medical, legal, and financial sectors amongst many more. They need to do the same in the political sector. It is possible to have the passion to make a difference to society through the political system and still adhere to values of humility and integrity. I was deeply touched by the highs and lows in his life and his courage to be open about the most vulnerable times in his life. I am astonished by the incredible amount of effort he puts in as an activist and despite being an enormous gamechanger in the British Commercial and political landscape he talks about his endeavours with modesty. I had the privilege to meet Dolar Popat when we were both promoting our respective books at a Thika reunion event. We are both exuding our pride as British citizens while preserving our multifaceted identity and culture. Hansa Pankhania By email

MAKE YOURSELF HEARD Write to our ‘Reader’s Voice’ section about what you think regarding the various ongoing issues all around the world. Please send your letters to aveditorial@abplgroup.com Make sure they are NOT more than 350 words. Any letter longer than the limit may not be published. Note that all your letters are subject to being edited by our team for valid reasons. - Asian Voice

No place for bad behaviour As a regular viewer of BBC2's Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday at 12 noon, I would like in 2020 to see a calmer and more productive atmosphere prevail in parliament. Politicians of every hue should focus on trying to improve our lives on all fronts instead of booing and jeering and having to be told off by the Speaker who referees these tumultuous sessions. This is no way for our political representatives to behave, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson should set a good example for others to follow. They are all there to do a job and should take PMQs seriously. Rudy Otter By email

Is President Trump a toothless tiger? We all know media in every democratic country has unimaginable power to completely distort facts, figures, truth and political thinking in a way that was not possible only a few decades back. The West has targeted Russia, turned it into a pariah State while ignoring China’s atrocities in Tibet, bullying neighbouring States like India, Burma and Vietnam, once China’s closest ally and turning China Sea into China’s personal domain, without a murmur from the West. While President George Bush, PM Tony Blair, PM David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were eager participants in open war against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, often based on dodgy dossier, misinformation and propaganda, destroying these countries infrastructure, patriarch President Trump has so far resisted US involvement in such misadventures. Although Iran tormented US with attacks on oil tankers passing through Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, involved in arming Shia faction in Yemen Civil war and direct attack on Saudi Arabian oil infrastructure, the downing of unarmed US drone, American answer was the assassination of Iranian General Suleiman, not in Iran but in Iraq! Even missile attacks on two American bases in Iraq, President Trump took it on the chin, expressing relief that this may bring this unsavoury episode to an end, especially with loss of completely innocent lives of 176 people on board the doomed civilian aircraft, brought down by an Iranian missile, indeed a tragic mistake! Trump takes out his anger through twitter, a paper tiger, godsend gift he harnesses with skill that does not fire bullets. His true victims are luckless refugees camped on US, Mexican border who wants to enter US and start a new life! Luminary President Trump even envisages prestigious “Noble Peace Prize” for defusing tension between North Korea and the West, although final solution, peace treaty and end of sanctions is as far in the distant as it ever was! Could this be an interlude for the forthcoming American election, a second term he badly needs to carry out his economic reforms! Bhupendra M. Gandhi By email

NHS: Mixed Sex Wards Shame Mixed-sex wards have been a thorn in NHS reputation for a long time. Both NHS and the government promised to abolish this practice long time ago, which emerged due to extreme shortage of nurses, especially during peak winter months when hospitals are inundated with beds, as well as staff shortages due to peak demand created by flu victims, as well as elderly, chronically sick and children whose demands far exceed parsimonious resources at the disposal of NHS. So often male patient urgently needing bed but only available in female ward and vice versa that gave birth to mixed-sex wards out of bare necessity rather than NHS policy! Sustainable occupancy bed-ratio should be no more than 85%. But during winter months it is more often than not touches 100% leaving no room for emergencies, A & E patients have to spend hours on trollies parked in corridors! According to latest report, the situation has even worsened, especially in mental health wards, as these patients are fragile, emotionally drained and more unwell than ordinary patients, in need of special attention which is at a premium during winter months, especially after Christmas holidays when we are all prone to over-indulgence with food, drinks and late night outings. Mixed-sex wards are the symptom of many other shortages, pitfalls and mismanagement arising mainly from inadequate financial resources allocated to NHS, shortages of auxiliary staffs, nurses, doctors and Consultants most of whom only devote a limited time to NHS, having their own private lucrative practise. It is a good omen that government is thinking of overhauling overseas aid budget, in view of the implementation of Brexit when money will be tight and perhaps economy, GDP may decline, at least in the beginning when saving every penny counts! It is time for our luminary politicians to concentrate on our long suffering people when most politicians are obsessed with thinking charity begins and ends overseas! Kumudini Valambia By email

Original Indian constitution's abnormal interpretation Indian people's united struggle for a free country in common for plural religions failed, because All India Muslim League's leader Mr Jinha demanded a separate land for staunch Muslim state-Pakistan, and advised Congress leader Mr Nehru to create staunch Hindu state; but Mr Nehru told that Mahatma Gandhi would go on hunger strike, if India would be divided. Mr Jinha retorted that it was up to Mr Nehru to solve his own problem. Finally British government divided old India in '47 into Pakistan for all Muslims ; and the remaining new India -Bharat for the people of all the rest of faiths- Hindu, Baudh,Jain, Sikh,Parasi,Christian and Jew alike, who formed original Indian constitution based on mainly Sanatan religions' morality and values, totally rejecting the most ambiguous word 'secular' in it, in '50 to avoid misleading interpretation. Even after partition, Gandhiji wished that the divided countries would unite again for all to live peacefully, but some ungrateful and mobilised sections of Muslims who were cordially allowed to stay in new India, and who were dearly helped by the PM Modi,made riots throwing missiles on people, properties and police, and burnt vehicles while announcing further division of the country, and denouncing the obligatory and politic provisions -citizen amendment act, NRC etc which were needed to comply with the constitutional and reciprocal rights for the citizens who are trapped and suffer injustice or are unsatisfied in divided countries.People believe that Gandhili's wish proved to be fatal to the interests of the rightful nationals who follow truth and non violence. Gandhiji insisted on dispersal of Congress soon after independence, as, it is said, he had envisaged that Congress might tamper with the Preamble of the original constitution of '50 which was clearly plurally religious, and after the death of Saradar Patel, it happened quite so,during '76 emergency Mrs Indira amended it,leaving it open to be interpreted abnormally by adding the word 'secular' illegally, imprisoning majority of the parliament members to negate certain rights of Hindus etc,so that, under the guise of Gandhism, Congress would remain in power for ever for personal interests conferring a favour on influential people who are now revealed involved in financial frauds; and inciting people against the PM Modi who adheres to the truly promised spirit of the constitution,and make considerate national plans. R.N.Patel By email

UK NEWS

Ealing PC who faked child sex attack report jailed A police officer from Southall has this week been jailed for three years following a trial that concluded in December. Hitesh Lakhani, pictured, was arrested following a feudwith a man over some hedge trimmings in his front garden which spilled onto the street. The officer then abused his position as a PC and made up a story about the man sexually abusing a child. According to press reports PC Lakhani, 42, claimed to have witnessed the man standing in a bush and calling out to a young girl, aged around 5, who was walking with her mum to join him in the hedge on September 5, 2018. He claimed the man then pulled down his shorts and grabbed the little girl's hand and making her touch him. The girl managed to break free when her mum noticed she was missing and called out to her. The police officer from Southall, who was off-duty at the the time, claimed to have confronted the man and taken his picture which he showed to police whenn they were called to the scene

and which was then circulated across all of Hillingdon police's social media pages in the hopes of identifying the "suspect". It was only when detectives investigated the CCTV evidence from a neighbouring house that they had conclusive proof there was no way the attack could have taken place and that Lakhani had indeed fabricated the whole incident. Lakhani was charged with perverting the court of justice and pleaded not guilty but a jury convicted him of the charge after a trial at Kingston Crown Court on December 10 before being sentenced to three years in prison on Friday (January 10). According to reports Lakhani continued to serve as a police officer, although on restricted duties, until his sentencing and has still not come before the Metropolitan Police professional misconduct panel.


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Ofsted to inspect ‘outstanding’ Parents ‘under greater schools within next five years pressure to work at night’ According to the government website Ofsted are due to visit all schools deemed to be outstanding within the next five years under new Government proposals. The repeat inspections mean that schools rated as outstanding by Ofsted will no longer be exempt from routine inspection, and also underlines the government’s position that school inspections serve a vital purpose in improving standards and behaviour. The government last Friday launched a consultation which will look into all outstanding schools and colleges being brought back into a regular inspection cycle – with Ofsted visiting every them every four to five years and is believed to affect around 3,700 schools and colleges who have been rated outstanding when the exemption is lifted in September. The government believe that ending the exemption, which was introduced in 2012, will mean parents will have up to date information about every school and can

be confident that schools continue to deliver the best education for their children. This will also help to maintain the rising standards that have enabled schools to help pupils get to grips with the new, more demanding curriculum at both primary and secondary level. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Parents want to know that they are making the best, most informed choices about their children’s education. “Making sure that all schools are regularly inspected means they will benefit from the expert insight Ofsted provides when making these decisions. “We know parents trust Ofsted – and with good reason. It serves a valuable purpose as the only organisation that gives a clear, acces-

sible and impartial view on school and college performance. “But it’s also far more than that – it’s a driver of improvement. Although we continue to trust our best schools and colleges to get on with the job of educating, without Ofsted standards would go unchecked and the exemption meant there is often not an up to date picture.” The proposals in the consultation are still subject to parliamentary approval, but if they are passed the government will prioritise those schools that have gone the longest without inspection. The original exemption was introduced in 2012 in part so that Ofsted could focus on those schools that they deemed to be failing and underperforming in their duty to their pupils. Since 2012 school standards have risen and there has been a drop from the percentage of schools graded inadequate or require improvement dropping from 33% to just 14% in August last.

1 in 4 children rejected for mental health treatment Latest figures from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) more than a quarter of children referred to mental health services are being denied help despite extra government funding to improve access. Analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) of Freedom of Information (FOI) Act responses from CAMHS

teams those who are being turned away include young people who are self-harming, have an eating disorder or have experienced abuse. The proportion of children being turned away for support comes despite an extra £1.4bn being spent over the last five years by the government on improving mental health access for young people.

The annual report by the EPI said: “These findings echo our previous research and raise concerns that the growing number of children and young people with complex needs that do not fit clearly into diagnostic boxes, those with lowerlevel mental health needs and older adolescents may be unable to access the support they require.”

A brand new report by the 2020 Modern Families Index has found that more parents now feel under pressure to check their work emails in the evening. The 2020 Modern Families Index discovered that 44% of parents check their emails or carry out other forms of work at night time. Three quarters of those in the study, felt they had no choice, an increase since the study was carried out last year which is causing tension at home with more than half of respondents saying it led to arguments with their children or partner. According to the report said the ability of working parents to "switch off" from their work was being under-

mined by the rise of modern communications, with almost half of those questioned agreeing that there was a blourring of the boundaries between home and the workplace. The study also found that more parents thought their bosses were noticing the importance of their staff having a work-life balance, and that the majority of them wanted to get the balance right. The study of more than 3,000 parents found that 60% of those working longer hours believed it to be the only way they could cope with their workload and half of those parents who work from home ended up working even longer hours. Speaking to the BBC Jan

van Zyl, who runs the charity Working Families which commissioned the report said: "The research makes clear that jobs need to be 'human-sized". In regards to childcare the report found that there was still significant differences between men and women with less than a third of parents saying they share childcare equally. On average, women ended up spending 26 hours a week caring for their children or doing household chores compared to men who spend just 16 hours doing childcare or chores. This is, however, increased since the 70s when men's involvement with their children was believed to be less than 15 minutes a day.

University to introduce 'race equality champions' The University of Sheffield has announced it is recruiting 20 students as "race equality champions" to help train and educate its student body in a bid to combat "subtle” racism and help stamp out prejudice. Speaking to CNN, the university confirmed that the recruits would help students develop skills to challenge “microaggressions”, which it defines as “subtle but offensive comments or actions” directed at black and minority ethnic (BME) people, “which are often unintentionally offensive". The new roles will be filled by students with all students being encouraged to attend the sessions. Some examples of offensive comments included: "Stop mak-

ing everything a race issue", "I don't want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It's nowhere near where I'm from". University spokeswoman Sophie Armour said that the "race equality champions," are due to be in place by the end of February, and will also train student society leaders and ensure they are aware of what support is available to those experiencing racism and bullying. The program, which has been developed by both students and academics, is expected to run for a year before being made permanent if it goes well. Recently British universities have been under growing pressure to tackle racism with the Equality and

Human Rights Commission last year releasing a report that found racial harassment was "a common occurrence for many students and staff in British universities." In 2018 a law society was disbanded at Exeter University after screenshots emerged of racist messages posted in a students’ WhatsApp group, including co Professor Kalwant Bhopal from the University of Birmingham has written on the subject and pointed out that in the UK there are only 85 black professors, of whom just 26 are female. And of the 154 higher education institutions in the country, only three are led by vice chancellors from a BME background.

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On Thursday 23rd January, there are byelections being conducted in three electoral wards of Barnhill, Wembley Central and Alperton. While there are two vacancies in Barnhill, one in Alperton and one in Wembley Central. There are eight candidates contesting from Barnhill including Mansoor Akram from the Labour Party, Kanta Mistry of the Conservative and Unionist Party. A total of four candidates are contesting in the by-election in Wembley Central with three of them coming from the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. The three candidates include Sai Karthik Madabhushi from the Conservative and Unionist Party, Jyotsna

Sonia Shah

Patel from Liberal Democrats and Sonia Shah of the Labour Party. There are four candidates contesting in Alperton with Conservative and Unionist Party fielding Harmit Vyas and Labour Party nominating Chetan Harpale. Harpale is believed to have been suspended by his party as it investigates alleged anti-Muslim tweets. According to The Times, in recent months, posts on Twitter, apparently by Chetan Harpale, accuse Pakistan of being a "terror state" and suggest that party leader Jeremy Corbyn is "pro-jihadist". His Twitter account is believed to be locked now. A Labour Party spokesperson said it couldn't comment on the particular case but in a statement added: "The Labour

Harmit Vyas

Party takes all complaints of this nature seriously, and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate action is taken." The tweets by @HarpaleChetan include one written on August 12 which reads: "#CorbynAniIndiaProjihadis Alienating British Indian Labour supp o r t e r s ? #CorbbyAniIndiaProjihadi s @jeremycorbyn @UKLabour @JKSC_UK." In another, @HarpaleChetan writes: "This is so called Peacefully R e l i g i o n ! ! ! ! #PakistanTerrorState #JammuAndKashmir." The by-election has been called in Alperton after Labour councillor James Allie resigned.

Nandy claims voters frightened of voting Labour under Corbyn's leadership On Monday 13th January, Lisa Nandy who is a frontrunner for the Labour's leadership contest claimed that voters were frightened at the idea of voting for Labour under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. In a speech in Dagenham, the Wigan MP who entered the second round of leadership after securing 31 votes from the MPs and MEPs insisted she was “the brave, not the easy choice” for the job. She further stated that the party under her leadership would remain radical but it would try to convince people that it would be careful with their money. According to her, Labour must replace its so-called red wall of once safe seats in the north, Midlands and Wales with a “red bridge” linking towns and cities. Following her campaign speech, she said the levels of investment promised under Corbyn in December’s general election were not the issue so much as voters’ fears about how competent-

Lisa Nandy

ly any plans would be executed. “We have to understand that for a lot of people, the problem that we caused in this election was not that they thought we were too radical, not that they didn’t support the things that we were putting forward. “Some in Labour believed the party must “choose between working and middle class, leave and remain, north and south, young and old, towns and cities. But I do not accept

this. For all of the radicalism and energy of our recent years, they are wrong to believe that this is a zerosum game,” said Nandy. According to her Labour did not have to choose “between our values and government. And investment is the absolute core of that. But we do also have to convince working people who do not have the resilience of great savings that we will be careful with their money.” Now, she has declared her plans of setting up an “international commission” opposed to Scottish independence.She insisted of the need to build a "red bridge" connecting towns and cities across England, Scotland and Wales. Recently Clive Lewis, quit the leadership race after failing to gain the necessary support, and argued that Labour should work more closely with other parties and embrace proportional representation. The Party is due to announce their leader in April.


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Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed wins equal pay claim against BBC

Unpopular or Popular Governments – Who Cares? Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s Senior Special Advisor said he doesn’t care about messaging and if the Government is unpopular in the short-term because it has a huge popular mandate. So he wants to drive through big changes. Big changes could be good. Popular mandates are good potentially. Of course Lord Hailsham also called the UK system an elected dictatorship, but looking at what happened to Theresa May’s premiership, you can see why some prefer big thumping majorities. India also has a similar situation – CAA and Kashmir issues are a result of thumping majorities. Whatever you do, don’t look at Imran Khan’s Twitter page. He makes the Iranian clerics look sane. Khan is knowledgeable about Nazism as he keeps mentioning it. Even Rocketman of North Korea does not write the things that Khan does. I’ve met Khan’s ex-wife. I had lunch with her at her home. Lovely lady – barely eats – salad and soup is it – but if his tweets are anything to go by, I can see why she would definitely have got fed up. I’ve also met Benazir Bhutto – she asked me to join her party, until I pointed out I am an Indian. (She thought my speaking of the dangers of a nuclear China and need for Democracy in Pakistan meant I agreed with her). Perhaps I

should have pretended to be Pakistani. So does CAA matter in terms of India’s perception. Even on Netflix some political shows are critical of India. Of course, no Indian is happy about someone being critical of their country of origin. But, should it matter. After all, look at the mockery Americans get. I think there are issues about any policy. And then there are issues about perception. Perceptions come and go. Short term anger, forgotten shortly thereafter. I am too young, for a change, to know about the Emergency. Indeed speaking of how things are forgotten and forgiven, India can learn from Pakistan. They had a Royal Visit – no one seems to remember their nuclear proliferation, terrorism sponsoring among other things – oh and a bit of genocide from a member of the current Pakistani PM’s tribe – Niazi. So PM Imran Khan Niazi speaking of Nazi genocide seems incredulous. No, India need not worry about Bollywood actors being upset. Or the Microsoft CEO saying CAA is ‘sad’. Not the smartest thing for him to do as CEO – clearly power has gone to his head. Not good for Microsoft shareholders, like me, or employees. Not consistent as it begs the question, ‘what about other political issues Microsoft?’ Let’s start with China?

Newswatch presenter Samira Ahmed has won her landmark sex discrimination and equal pay claim against the BBC who paid her significantly less than Jeremy Vine for doing practically same job on a rival show. The 51-year-old took the broadcaster to a tribunal over her contracts on the programme Newswatch, which she has presented since 2012, and proved she was unfairly paid less than her male peers. She argued that her equal pay competitor Jeremy Vine, who worked on Points of View between 2008 and 2018, was paid £3,000 per episode, whereas she received £440 for her own show. In response, the BBC argued that the two presenters were not doing similar work. The corporation said that Newswatch was "relatively niche", while Points Of View was "extremely wellknown". An employment tribunal unanimously concluded that the BBC had failed to provide convincing evidence that the pay gap was for reasons other than gender discrimination, although the BBC continues to dispute this. The report from Judge Harjit Grewal and the panel members, S Godecharle and P Secher, concluded that under the Equality Act the BBC “has not shown that

Samira Ahmed

the difference in pay was because of a material factor which did not involve subjecting [Ahmed] to sex discrimination”. Following the verdict, Ahmed said: "No woman wants to have to take action against their own employer. I love working for the BBC. I'm glad it's been resolved. I'd like to thank my union, the National Union of Journalists - especially Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary; my legal team - Caroline Underhill of Thompsons Solicitors, and my barrister Claire Darwin; and everyone - all the men and women who've supported me and the issue of equal pay. I'm now looking forward to continuing to do my job, to report on stories and not being one." NUJ general secretary Michelle said there were about 20 other cases involving claims of unequal pay at

the BBC heading to tribunal, while another 70 cases remained unresolved. But she said BBC executives had shown a new willingness to resolve outstanding cases after Ahmed’s tribunal. A statement from the BBC said: "Samira Ahmed is an excellent journalist and presenter and we regret that this case had to go to tribunal. We're committed to equality and equal pay. Where we've found equal pay cases in the past, we've put them right. However, for us, this case was never about one person, but the way different types of programmes across the media industry attract different levels of pay. We have always believed that the pay of Samira and Jeremy Vine was not determined by their gender. Presenters - female as well as male - had always been paid more on Points Of View than Newswatch.

In a statement to the City A.M. Khan said, “It is a disgrace that many Londoners pay too much to heat and light their homes, with more than a

million living in fuel poverty,” he said. “For the first time we have a fair, affordable, green energy company specially designed for Londoners.”

London the next hotspot for Global Indian Investors' Summit Mayor of London launches green energy power company

Minister of External Affairs of India, S Jaishankar addressing the diaspora in London

On Thursday, 9th January, External Affairs Minister of India indicated that he would consider London as the next hotspot for hosting a Global Indian Investors' Summit that may co-incide with the Davos' World Economic Forum. Addressing the diaspora communities on the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Dr. S Jaishankar recognised the economic and socio-cultural contributions that the NRIs (Non-resident Indians) and PIOs (Persons of Indian Origin) make to oversees countries. Jaishankar interacted with the NRIs in Australia, Surinam, USA, Singapore, Doha, Malaysia, the UK and Mauritius through video conferencing. He was accompanied alongside Minister of State for External Affairs V

Muraleedharan and Secretary, East, Vijay Thakur Singh. Answering a question posed by Dr. Mohan Kaul, Chairman of the Commonwealth Business Council, Jaishankar said, “I would seriously consider hosting a Global CEOs Pravasi Divas in London especially for all the CEOs of Indian-origin who have been living in the UK and spearheading the global markets and industries.” The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is celebrated on January 9 every year to mark the contribution of Overseas Indian community in the development of India. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion ever since Mahatma Gandhi returned to India from South Africa in 1915 to lead India's freedom struggle against The Empire.

On 13th January Monday, the Mayor of London along with Octopus Energy launched his own energy company in a bid to combat the on-going climate crisis. Sadiq Khan launched London Power as part of his Energy for Londoners programme and claims that it will help households in London save £300 on bills annually. According to Ofgem, there are currently 64 active energy suppliers yet, the energy prices in the

city are among the most expensive in comparison to other countries. The company will rely completely on renewable energy and is slated to reinvest all the profits in various other community projects. It offers a 12-month fixed tariff, dubbed My London fixed yearly plan, which it claims will be within the cheapest 10% of similar tariffs. A separate plan, My London top-up plan, will be available to pre-payment customers.

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BAPS charities donates £10,000 for Brittle Bone Disorder

On Sunday, 12h January, BAPS Charities presented a cheque for £5,000 to the Brittle Bone Society and a further £5,000 to my AFK (formerly known as Action for Kids) at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden.

The funds were donated by the family of Meesha Patel to commemorate the tenth year anniversary of her passing away. Meesha was born with Osteogenesis-Imperfecta (OI) commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease. A rare disease, this condition affects approximately 1 in 15,000 people across the UK and renders their bones highly susceptible to breakage with many suffering from fractures. Meesha was only 24 years when she passed away due to this condition in 2010. Despite her physical disability, Meesha was an active fundraiser for charity and completed both a BSc and MSc in Biomedical Sciences at Kingston University and participated in BAPS’s sponsored walks to raise money for various charitable causes. The Brittle Bone Society is the only national charity in the UK which assists those with OI. It provides a support network for those with the

(L-R) John Phillips, Vice Chair of Brittle Bone Society, Maheshbhai (father of Meesha Patel) and Jayeshbhai (brother of Meesha Patel)

disorder and, to date, has secured more than £1 million of funding for vital healthcare equipment like specially-adapted wheelchairs. The Action for Kids charitable trust was established in 1992 by Sally Bishop OBE, a mother of a disabled boy who was raising money to purchase a powered wheelchair. The charity was rebranded as

‘my AFK’ in 2018 and provides mobility equipment unavailable through the NHS. It also prepares students with learning disabilities for life after school through accredited education, training and work experience programmes. “Meesha was much loved amongst the OI community. We are so grateful for the donation and for

those that we will be able to continue to support in her memory.” said Patricia Osborne, Chief Executive of the Brittle Bone Society. Ben Bridger of my AFK was also presented with a cheque for £5,000. In his address, he emphasised that donations such as the one presented by BAPS Charities will help to provide electric wheelchairs for disabled children.

Yoga wunderkid wins the Global Child Prodigy Award A 10-year-old yoga champion from Kent has been awarded with the Global Child Prodigy Awards 2020 for his achievements in spreading awareness around Yoga. Ishwar Sharma was awarded the title of the "British Indian of the Year" under-11 UK national yoga Day out of the 15,000 applicants selected from 45 countries. Originally from Mysore, Sharma has performed in over 100 events across the UK and worldwide and can chant up to 50 'shlokas' from the 'Vedas' and 'Bhagavad Gita'. A gold medallist of the Euro Asian Yoga Championships Sharma has now qualified to represent the UK in the World Yoga Championship to be held in Edmonton, Canada, in October 2020. The championship, organised by the International Yoga Sports Federation, will involve participants from across 55 countries.

Ishwar Sharma performing the Gandabherundasana

The Global Child Prodigy Awards are the world’s first initiative honouring 100 child prodigies from more than 45 counties, across 30 different categories like Paleontology, Biking, Choreography, Fitness, Martial Arts, Artists, Musicians, Entrepreneurs among others. The awards

were attended by Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Kailash Satyarthi, Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, Dr. Kiran Bedi, Grammy Awardee, Shri T H Vinayakaram, Founder of KISS, Shri Achyut Samanth, representatives of BigBasket, PayTM among others. Speaking at the

event Kailash Satyarthi urged the parents to recognise the potential of their children outside of academia. He said, “I would request the parents to not be an instructor to your children but to be a guide to them. Parents should adopt the ideology of 3RsRecognize, Respect and Reward towards their children instead of the 3I, Imposition, Instruction, and Impeach." “In childhood, I use to see myself as a child prodigy but didn’t get any platform to excel myself as an author. From this Initiative, Children are the future of the world. It has been observed that only 3% of Child Prodigies can take their talent to the next level and become successful in their domain,” concluded the Co-founder & CEO of the awards, Prashant Pandey

Young professionals collaborating in SME sector Rohit Vadhwana A delegation of Young Indians (Yi) visited UK during the week. As the name suggests, Yi - Young Indians - is an organisation consisting of young progressive Indians between the age group of 21 and 45 years. It includes entrepreneurs, professionals and achievers in other walks of life. Yi is part of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). Yi is a non-governmental, not for profit organisation. It aims to play proactive role in India's development process. The delegation consisted of nine young entrepreneurs. This representative delegation aimed to explore the potential of collaboration between India and UK businesses, especially in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. The purpose of the delegation was to set the ground for future visits by larger delegation and also to identify potential partners in the UK. During the visit, delegates had meetings with High Commission of India, Department of Industry and Trade, UK businesses and various interlocutors. The delegation also visited Scotland. Dr Rahul Mirchandani, Chairman and Managing Director of Aries Agro led the delegation. He is in agro business and has also held the post of President of Yi in the past. The delegation had an interesting company named Toogle, a search engine for travel, a complete ecosystem for travel agents. Similarly, there were entrepreneurs in real estate and affordable housing sector. The Yi was formed in 2002 and today it consists of 3200 direct members in 46 chapters across India and 25000 students as YUVA members from colleges. Yi has undertaken a number of impactful projects and activities, mainly focusing on the three areas: 1. Youth Leadership 2. Nation Building and 3. Thought Leadership. It also engages with international organisations and institutions for various activities. It works with the motive of converging, leading, co-creating and influencing India's future. It believes in the motto - We can, We will. Its strategic objectives include areas of nation-building, reach, influence, digital and personal development. It aims that 1 in every 1000 youth in the age group of 21-45 is a member of Yi and its presence reaches every country with more than 1000 people of Indian origin. Thus is aims to expand globally and at least through its App it intends to connect to Youth digitally.

(Expressed opinion is personal)

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Vara highlights contribution of Indian diaspora in Commons On Monday 13th January, a Conservative Party MP took to the floor of Commons re-emphasising that one of the UK's greatest assets is its diversity. Shailesh Vara highlighted that 1.5 million people of Indian origin in the UK provide a “living bridge in terms of our contact and help to strengthen our relationship with India”. Acknowledging the contribution of the Indian diaspora, Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab replied, “The Indian community make an incredible contribution and help us to sell UK plc abroad not just in India, but around the world, as do many other communities. The point

that was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker) is that we need to not just respect and safeguard the interests of those communities, but be proud of them and enable and empower them to champion the UK on our behalf.” Earlier last year, while speaking in Prime Minister’s Questions, Shailesh Vara had commended the Indian diaspora in the UK for contributing 10% of taxes to the Treasury whilst making up only 4% of UK population. Theresa May, the then Prime Minister of the country had acknowledged the role of the Indian diaspora and the economic contribution they make through their taxes.


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TLIGHT

Dr Sohom Das Forensic Psychiatry

some real breakthrough moments too. I remember continuing to try to reach women in prison, who were too paranoid to disclose that they were hearing voices. With some persistence, I finally earned their trust and convinced them to take medication and eventually recover.” Dr Sohom Das

Sunetra Senior

A

s Dr Das himself summarised, Forensic Psychiatry “is the intersection between mental illness and offending," which can include confused acts of extreme violence such as murder.

*** Indeed, Das will be publishing his debut fictional novel, Reason of Insanity, later this year, loosely based on a real-life expatient which presents offending in the context of mental illness through a more objective, sympathetic light. The narrative follows a young woman who has murdered her sister during a psychotic episode and finds herself slowly recovering within a secure rehabilitation facility after being sectioned. She must come to terms with the shockingly terrible act she has committed. “The story takes place over a period of three and a half years in a psychiatric

A notable Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Das works within the criminal justice system, assessing the mental health of persons undergoing trial to diagnose mental illness, comment on defendants’ mental state at the time of their offence, recommend appropriate treatments, provide psychiatric defences and sometimes testifying on mentally ill subjects of legal investigation himself. As well as criminal courts, his role has also included working behind the scenes as part of the prison rehabilitation service where he has worked closely with afflicted inmates to aid their recovery and consequent reintegration into society. This job includes prescribing medication, referring for extensive psychological work, and prioritising the extremely unwell cases to transfer them to specialist secure hospitals. unit for offenders. It follows the emotive Das has dealt with violence, even arc from the time of the protagonist’s being punched in the face at work. arrival to hospital, through her rehabiliHowever, despite the gritty reality, Das tation and finally acceptance of what believes in constructively and openly disshe’s done. It’s an ethical trajectory too. I cussing the topic of serious mental illwanted to create a realistic portrayal, ness. He has written a series of short stocapturing the horror of the violence as ries which have been published in well as the hard truth that this person acclaimed online and print magazines did not realise what she was doing in the such as Chantwood Magazine, The moment. She is as devastated by her own Fiction Pool, Literally Stories and Dark atrocity as much as those around her. Fire Magazine, using creativity as a counShe must also then make amends with terbalance to the otherwise clinical her family. Additionally, I explore the dimension of his profession. He also new environment of a medium-secure writes a progressive blog for The facility into which she is suddenly thrust. Huffington Post, which aims to reduce It is challenging. The character is bullied the stigma around mental health, by other patients who have anti-social records his personal experiences and personalities yet manages to forge close combats the sensationalising of crimirelationships with others.” nality by those with extreme mental Das elaborated on some of the health problems. “Ironically,” he stated, authentic psychiatric insights, “which “though my particular area of work deals are peppered through my novel…. The with aggressive patients, only a small vast majority of my patients have sufpercentage of those with severe mental fered some form of abuse when they health disorders such as Schizophrenia were younger, whether it was sexual, actually commit violent crimes.” emotional or physical. Not having love Nevertheless, this small number of and support certainly predisposes you to high-risk potentially dangerous mentally both mental illnesses, and offending. unwell patients require the most support Poverty, drugs and lack of education and supervision. “Such patients are other big factors.” require a lot of time and A need for compas"Although resources,” Das asserted. sion extends to the “Unfortunately, this is my particular area entire world of disnot readily available.” of work deals with ability and the vulOn the question of aggressive patients, only nerable spectrum of straddling the fine humanity with line between proa small percentage of which mental tecting the public those with severe mental health is inherently and sensitively rehahealth disorders such as interlinked. Das bilitating legally conexplores this intricaSchizophrenia actually fined patients, Das cy in his creative writelaborated: “It is a balcommit violent ing, where his prior ancing act. On the one crimes” pieces have been more hand, it is necessary to surreal, humorous, bizarre detain people who are capable and even playful. All his published of violence against their will, but then work can be found on his author website. they will be locked up for months or even “I tend to use storytelling as an escape. years in an environment that, quite It’s important to see the positivity and frankly, is often hostile. It can be painful humour or the unique perspective of a to my patients struggling, often through situation. Anybody can make a story no fault of their own. However, there are depressing. I think it takes more skill and

imagination to make it funny too.” One short story entitled My Previous Face, begins ‘I simply look ahead today’. It is about a facially disfigured man who faces judgement and fear daily, but has beautifully learned to accept the experience as part of strange, unwieldly life. Delving into the reason he is maimed, Das finally shows that the protagonist has gained as much as he has lost. Much like the doctor’s attitude to his day job then, his stories reflect a grounded empathy which humanises his protagonists, shifting the issue from the idea of a besieged individual to the limits of society’s own thinking. “We have come a long way in terms of opening up about mental health problems, but we still need to accept more serious, long-term illnesses. People might be readier to talk about more common and more relatable issues such as anxiety and depression, but we don’t see enough about the more extreme cases such as Schizophrenia.” Indeed, Mariah Carey might have admitted she has Bipolar Disorder, but where are the highprofile celebrities with psychosis? Here, Das made sure to add: “one of the biggest misconceptions about extreme mental illness is that sufferers cannot be high functioning. In fact, many lead rich and fulfilling lives with the right treatment and encouraging environment.” Das also interestingly commented on the generally detrimental effect of the current divisive socio-political climate on the public psyche: “this is definitely causing increased levels of baseline anxiety and depression, which also sadly detracts from the attention given to more extreme mental health disorders at the stage of primary care. These services are overwhelmed, redirecting many cases to psychiatrists in secondary care, meaning there is often a delay in treatment. Fake news, Brexit, and the inflammatory actions of Trump are interlocking to really unnerve people, and create great insecurity and stress. In terms of government funding, psychiatric services have been severely cut over the years, so more and more sufferers of mental illness are treated in the community, instead of hospital. This might afford more freedom for some patients, but it also results in many conditions not being adequately medically treated too – it’s a stunt to save money.” As a result, many patients who should be in hospital are not are not adequately supported and monitored. Many tend to deteriorate, which makes then makes them more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. “The number of people we see in the courts within the Forensic Psychiatry service and the seriousness of their offending has swelled since I started working in this field in 2011,” says Das. As well as the conflicted zeitgeist, this inflated figure is also due to the increasing acknowledgement of mental health issues which would have previously gone undiagnosed, which Das hastens to add is a plus. “We just have more of a way to go.” Finally, Das also cautioned on reducing the time and emotion invested in social media, and actively managing the stress of a busy life to enhance mental well-being. Going into the very depth of unseated consciousness then, the candid Dr Das shows that aside from the internal chemical imbalances or one’s upbringing, stable social circumstance is as much an important emotional foundation. T: @Dr_S_Das W: https://www.sdasauthor.com/index.php https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/auth or/dr-sohom-das/

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18 - 24 January 2020

MARKLE HAS NOT FACED ANY RACISM, SAYS PATEL

On Monday 13th January, the Home Secretary dismissed claims that the Duchess of Sussex faced racism in the media. Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Priti Patel stated that people of any background “can get on in life” in the UK and that she had not seen any media reports which had painted Meghan Markle in a negative light. Denying that media had been in any way racist Priti Patel towards Meghan, Patel an immigrant herself said: “I’m not in that category at all where I believe there’s racism at all. I think we live in a great country, a great society, full of opportunity where people of any background can get on in life. “I certainly haven’t seen that [racism] through any debates or commentary or things of that nature.” In November 2016, shortly after Prince Harry and Meghan started dating, the royals issued a statement in which he called out the “wave of abuse and harassment” that his thengirlfriend had faced in the press. Prince Harry’s statement also referenced his concern at the “racial undertones of comment pieces” he’d seen in the media. The Home Secretary is likely to oversee the future security arrangements for Meghan and Prince Harry following their decision to step away from the royal family and split their time between Canada and the UK. However, she refused to provide any further insight into the security arrangements that will be devised for the couple once they are “financially independent”. “I’m not going to provide any detailed information on the security arrangements for either them or any members of the royal family or for any protected individuals,” she replied, describing it as “thoroughly inappropriate” for her to comment. “At this moment in time, right now, the royal family themselves need some time and space for them to work through the current issues that they’re dealing with.” On Monday evening, Buckingham Palace released a statement on behalf of the Queen, announcing there would be a “period of transition” for Meghan and Harry. “My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family,” the monarch said. “Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more.

PATEL'S DECISION TO LIST EXTINCTION REBELLION AS AN EXTREMIST GROUP COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, SAYS STARMER

On Tuesday 14th January, Keir Starmer, the Labour leadership frontrunner, branded Home Secretary's decision to include Extinction Rebellion (XR) on a list of extreme ideologies as “completely wrong and counterproductive”. The shadow Brexit secretary denounced Priti Patel's move to put XR’s beliefs on the list of Keir Starmer ideologies that warrant reporting someone to the Prevent programme, which seeks to stop terror attacks. His condemnation came after Patel, defended her decision in an interview with the LBC radio where she claimed that such an “assessment had to be based in terms of risk to the public, security risks, security threats” insisting that it was important to look at “a range of security risks”. However, Starmer contradicted Patel's position was backed by Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow security minister. In a statement to The Guardian, Starmer said, “It’s completely wrong and counterproductive to describe Extinction Rebellion as an ‘extreme ideology. I have spent a lifetime defending the right to protest – and campaigning for action on the climate crisis is hugely important. “Climate change is a real and present danger that requires an immediate policy response; this decision further calls into question the effectiveness of the Prevent programme, of which Labour has long argued for an independent review. The list of extreme ideologies including XR came in a guide dated to last November produced by counter-terrorism policing south-east and was intended for police officers, government organisations and teachers, who by law have to report concerns about radicalisation. XR featured alongside threats to national security such as neo-Nazi terrorism and a pro-terrorist Islamist group. Police said including the non-violent climate emergency group was a mistake and recalled the document.


16 INDIA

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18 - 24 January 2020

The Kite Festival of Gujarat

As India celebrates the auspicious festival of Makar Sankranti, Gujarat celebrates the occasion, which is called Uttarayan in Gujarati. Uttarayan, the kite flying festival, which falls on January 14, is one of the biggest festivals in Gujarat and is celebrated with lot of fervour and enthusiasm.

O

n the joyous occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hails from Gujarat, greeted the people, saying the atmosphere all around is full of happiness. In a message, he said the skies of Gujarat are full of colourful kites and there is an atmosphere of happiness all around. The festival marks the days in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer, known as Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. A festival associated with harvest, the occasion sees people up on their terraces, flying kites while enjoying delicacies. Kites of all shapes and sizes are flown, and the main competition is to battle nearby kite-flyers to cut their strings and bring down their kites. One of the most popular dishes during this time is Undhiyu, eaten with puri and jalebi, laddoos or surati jamun. Since 1989, Gujarat Tourism has hosted International Kite Festival as a part of the official celebration of Uttarayan, wherein master kite flyers, craftsmen from different parts of the globe, gather and showcase their unique skills. This time, the International Kite Festival Ahmedabad 2020, will take place on the Sabarmati Riverfront, which has the capacity to host over 500,000 people. Participants from countries like Japan, the UK, China, Malaysia, and France are expected to participate in the popular festival. International Kite Festival The International Kite Festival is regarded as one of the biggest festivals in Gujarat. Months before the festival, homes in Gujarat begin to manufacture kites for the festival. The festival marks the day when winter begins to turn into summer, according to the Indian calendar. It is the sign for farmers that the sun is back and that harvest season is approaching which is called Makara Sankranti. This day is considered to be one of the most important harvest day in India as it also marks the termination of the winter season

17

and the beginning of a new harvest season. Many cities in Gujarat organise kite competition between their citizens where the people compete with each other. In Gujarat and many other states, Uttarayan is such a huge celebration that it has become a public holiday for two days. During

the festival, local food such as Undhiyu (a mixed vegetable dish, including yam and beans), sesame seed brittle and Jalebi is served to the crowds. Days before the festival, the market is filled with participants buying their supplies. In 2012, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat mentioned that the International

Kite Festival in Gujarat was attempting to enter the Guinness World Records book due to the participation of 42 countries in it that year. The International Kite Festival takes place in Ahmedabad. The festival is celebrated in many cities of Gujarat, Telangana and Rajasthan. Ahmedabad,

Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Hyderabad, Nadiad, Dakor are main centres for kite festival. However, the International Kite Event takes place in Ahmedabad. The best place to enjoy this festival is the Sabarmati Riverfront with a capacity of over 500,000 people or the Ahmedabad Police Stadium, where people converge to see the sky filled with thousands of kites. During the festival week the markets are flooded with kite buyers and sellers. In the heart of Ahmedabad, there is one of the most famous Kite markets - Patang Bazaar, which during the festive week opens 24 hours a day with buyers and sellers negotiating and buying in bulk. Moreover, many families in Ahmadabad start making kites at home

and setup small shops in their own homes. There is also a Kite Museum, located at Sanskar Kendra in Paldi area of Ahmedabad. Established in 1985, it contains a collection of unique kites. Other parts of India also celebrate kite festival. People offer prayers, eat

Sattu (made from new crop wheat) and new mangoes (baby mango also known as Tikola). History The symbolism of this festival is to show the awakening of the Gods from their deep sleep. It is said that India created the tradition of kite flying due to the kings and Royalties and later followed by Nawabs who found the sport entertaining and as a way to display their skills and power. It began as being a sport for kings, but over time, as the sport became popular, it began to reach the masses. Kite flying has been a regional event in Gujarat for several years. the first However International Festival was celebrated in 1989 when people from all across the globe participated and showcased their innovative kites. The mention of this festival is in the Rigveda which dates more than 5,000 years. The day marks the beginning of the auspicious six-month period known as Uttarayana. Regardless of your background or beliefs, you are welcome to fly kites with everyone else in Gujarat. Most visitors arrive from around India, from Gujarat itself or another state. In major cities of Gujarat, kite flying starts as early as 5 am and goes until late night where approximately 8-10 million people participate in the whole festival. However, many visitors are international who come from around the world, such as Japan, Italy, UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, France, China, and many other part of the world. At the same time, the festival is the occasion for many public entities such as famous dancers, singers, actors or politicians to make an appearance and entertain the people. In 2004, for example, the Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla was part of the celebration and performed a Garba (dance) which is very popular in Gujarat. Types of kites Kites are usually made with materials such as plastic, leaves, wood, metal, nylon and other scrap materials but the ones for Uttarayan are made of light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a single bow. Dye and paint are also added to increase the glamour of the kite. The threads are covered with mixtures of glue and ground glass which when dried, rolled up and attached to the rear, also known as firkees, become sharp enough to cut skin. These types of threads are used on fighter kites known in India as patangs to cut down other kites during various kite fighting events. During the night illuminated kites filled with lights and candles known as tukals or tukkals are launched creating a spectacle in the dark sky.

Lohri is a popular festival of Punjab L

ohri marks the end of winter, and is a traditional welcome of longer days and the sun's journey to the northern hemisphere. It is observed on night before Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi, and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Bikrami calendar and typically falls about the same date every year (January 13). Punjab, Haryana and the NCR region observe a national holiday on the occasion. The festival is celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, but Muslims and Christians also participate in it. It is observed by Sikhs and some Muslims in Punjab, Pakistan. Date Lohri is linked to the Bikrami calendar, and is celebrated the day before the festival of Maghi celebrated in India as Makar Sankranti. Lohri falls in the month of Paush and is set by the solar part of the lunisolar Punjabi calendar and in most years it falls around 13 January of the Gregorian calendar. Origins There are many folklores about Lohri. Lohri is the celebration of the arrival of longer days after the winter solstice. According to folklore, in ancient times Lohri was celebrated at the end of the traditional month when winter solstice occurs. It celebrates the days getting longer as the sun proceeds on its northward journey. The day after Lohri is celebrated as Maghi Sangrand. In its origins, Lohri is an ancient mid winter festival, in regions near the Himalayan mountains where winter is colder than the rest of the subcontinent. Hindus traditionally lit bonfires in their yards after the weeks of the rabi season cropping work, socialized around the fire, sang and danced together as they marked the end of winter and the onset of longer days. After the night of bonfire celebrations, Hindus would mark Makar Sankranti and go to a sacred water body such as a river or lake to bathe. Significance The ancient significance of the festival is both as a winter crop season celebration and a remembrance of the Sun deity (Surya). Lohri songs mention the Indian Sun god asking for heat and thanking him for his return. Other legends explain the celebration as a folk reverence for fire (Agni] or the goddess of Lohri. Yet another folklore links Lohri to the tale of Dulla Bhatti. The central theme of many Lohri songs is the legend of Dulla Bhatti who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was regarded as a hero in Punjab, for rescuing Hindu girls from being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of

Lohri is a popular winter Punjabi folk festival, celebrated primarily by Hindus and Sikhs from the Punjab region on 13 January every year. The significance and legends about the Lohri festival are many. Many people believe the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice.

the Middle East. Amongst those he saved were two girls Sundri & Mundri, who gradually became a theme of Punjab folklore. As part of Lohri celebrations, children go around homes singing the traditional folk songs of Lohri with "Dulla Bhatti" name included. One person sings, while others end each line with a loud "Ho!" sung in unison. After the song ends, the adult of the home is expected to give snacks and money to the singing troupe of youngsters. Bonfire and festive foods Lohri is celebrated with a bonfire. The lighting of bonfire during this festival is an ancient tradition. Gurh, solidified and unrefined sugarcane juice is a traditional festive sweet. In Punjab Lohri is marked by eating sheaves of roasted corn from the new harvest. The sugarcane harvest is celebrated along with Lohri festival. Sugarcane products such as gurh and gachak are central to Lohri celebrations, and are harvested in January. The other important food item of Lohri is radish which can be harvested between October and January. Mustard greens are cultivated mainly in the winter months because the crop is suitable to the agro-climatic conditions. Accordingly, mustard greens are also a winter produce. It is traditional to eat Gajak, Sarson da saag with Makki di roti, radish, groundnuts and jaggery. It is also traditional to eat "til rice" which is made by mixing jaggery,

sesame seeds and rice. In some places, this dish is called 'Tricholi.' Collecting Lohri items and trick or treating In various places of the Punjab, about 10 to 15 days before Lohri, groups of young and teenage boys and girls go around the neighbourhood collecting logs for the Lohri bonfire. In some places, they also collect items such as grains and jaggery which are sold and the sale proceeds are divided among the group. In some other parts of Punjab, there is a popular "trick or treat" activity which is engaged in by boys to select a group member to smear his

an ultimatum to either give more or the rope will be loosened. If not enough is given, then the boy who has his face smeared will try to enter the house and smash clay pots or the clay stove. Practices During the day, children go from door to door singing folk songs. These children are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. Turning them back emptyhanded is regarded inauspicious. Where families are welcoming newly-weds and new borns, the requests for treats increases. The collections gathered by the children are known as Lohri and

face with ash and tie a rope around his waist. The idea is for the selected person to act as a deterrent for people who refrain from giving Lohri items. The boys will sing Lohri songs asking for Lohri items. If not enough is given, the householder will be given

consist of til, gachchak, crystal sugar, gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Lohri is then distributed at night during the festival. Till, peanuts, popcorn and other food items are also thrown into the fire. For some, throwing

food into the fire represents the burning of the old year and start the next year on Makar Sankranti The bonfire ceremony differs depending on the location in Punjab. In some parts, a small image of Lohri goddess is made with gobar (cattle dung) decorating it, kindling a fire beneath it and chanting its praises. The folk Lohri goddess is believed to be an ancient aspect of the celebration, and is part of a long tradition of winter solstice celebrations manifesting as a god or goddess. In other parts, the Lohri fire consists of cow dung and wood with no reference to the Lohri goddess. The bonfire is lit at sunset in the main village square. People toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy etc on the bonfire, sit around it, sing and dance till the fire dies out. Some people perform a prayer and go around the fire. This is to show respect to the natural element of fire, a tradition common in winter solstice celebrations. It is traditional to offer guests til, gachchak, gur, moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Milk and water is also poured around the bonfire by Hindus to thank the Sun God and seeking his continued protection. Among some sections of the Sindhi community, the festival is traditionally celebrated as Lal Loi. On the day of Lal Loi children bring

wood sticks from their grand parents and aunties and light a fire burning the sticks in the night with people enjoying, dancing and playing around the fire. The festival is gaining popularity among Sindhis where Lohri is not a traditional festival. Lohri is celebrated to denote the last of the coldest days of winter. Apart from Punjab, Lohri is also celebrated in Delhi. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Lohri has been celebrated in Jammu since Mughal times. Celebrations In houses that have recently had a marriage or childbirth, Lohri celebrations will reach a higher pitch of excitement. Punjabis usually have private Lohri celebrations, in their houses. Lohri rituals are performed, with the accompaniment of special Lohri songs. Singing and dancing form an intrinsic part of the celebrations. People wear their brightest clothes and come to dance the bhangra and gidda to the beat of the dhol. Punjabi songs are sung, and everybody rejoices. Sarson da saag and makki di roti is usually served as the main course at a Lohri dinner. Lohri is a great occasion that holds great importance for farmers. However, people residing in urban areas also celebrate Lohri, as this festival provides the opportunity to interact with family and friends. Some people believe that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, the wife of Saint Kabir. There is a legend amongst some people that Lohri comes from the word 'loh', which means the light and the warmness of fire. Lohri is also called lohi in rural Punjab. According to another legend Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former perished in the Holi fire, the latter survived with Prahlad. Eating of til (sesame seeds) and rorhi is considered to be essential on Lohri day. Perhaps the words til and rorhi merged to become tilorhi, which eventually got shortened to Lohri. Similar festivals in other countries Winter solstice festivals have been incorporated into other festivals which are celebrated in various regions around the world. The festival of Yule is observed during Christmas celebrations whereby a log is burnt to commemorate the winter solstice. The festival of Hogmanay is celebrated on new year’s day. The fire festival of Stonehaven in Scotland is the direct descendant of lighting winter solstice bonfires. Another event is observed on 11 January when the flaming Clavie (a barrel full of staves) is carried round in Burghead and is wedged on the Doorie Hill. When it is burnt out, people take the smouldering embers to bring good luck for the coming year.


16 INDIA

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INDIA

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

18 - 24 January 2020

18 - 24 January 2020

The Kite Festival of Gujarat

As India celebrates the auspicious festival of Makar Sankranti, Gujarat celebrates the occasion, which is called Uttarayan in Gujarati. Uttarayan, the kite flying festival, which falls on January 14, is one of the biggest festivals in Gujarat and is celebrated with lot of fervour and enthusiasm.

O

n the joyous occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hails from Gujarat, greeted the people, saying the atmosphere all around is full of happiness. In a message, he said the skies of Gujarat are full of colourful kites and there is an atmosphere of happiness all around. The festival marks the days in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer, known as Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan. A festival associated with harvest, the occasion sees people up on their terraces, flying kites while enjoying delicacies. Kites of all shapes and sizes are flown, and the main competition is to battle nearby kite-flyers to cut their strings and bring down their kites. One of the most popular dishes during this time is Undhiyu, eaten with puri and jalebi, laddoos or surati jamun. Since 1989, Gujarat Tourism has hosted International Kite Festival as a part of the official celebration of Uttarayan, wherein master kite flyers, craftsmen from different parts of the globe, gather and showcase their unique skills. This time, the International Kite Festival Ahmedabad 2020, will take place on the Sabarmati Riverfront, which has the capacity to host over 500,000 people. Participants from countries like Japan, the UK, China, Malaysia, and France are expected to participate in the popular festival. International Kite Festival The International Kite Festival is regarded as one of the biggest festivals in Gujarat. Months before the festival, homes in Gujarat begin to manufacture kites for the festival. The festival marks the day when winter begins to turn into summer, according to the Indian calendar. It is the sign for farmers that the sun is back and that harvest season is approaching which is called Makara Sankranti. This day is considered to be one of the most important harvest day in India as it also marks the termination of the winter season

17

and the beginning of a new harvest season. Many cities in Gujarat organise kite competition between their citizens where the people compete with each other. In Gujarat and many other states, Uttarayan is such a huge celebration that it has become a public holiday for two days. During

the festival, local food such as Undhiyu (a mixed vegetable dish, including yam and beans), sesame seed brittle and Jalebi is served to the crowds. Days before the festival, the market is filled with participants buying their supplies. In 2012, the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat mentioned that the International

Kite Festival in Gujarat was attempting to enter the Guinness World Records book due to the participation of 42 countries in it that year. The International Kite Festival takes place in Ahmedabad. The festival is celebrated in many cities of Gujarat, Telangana and Rajasthan. Ahmedabad,

Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Hyderabad, Nadiad, Dakor are main centres for kite festival. However, the International Kite Event takes place in Ahmedabad. The best place to enjoy this festival is the Sabarmati Riverfront with a capacity of over 500,000 people or the Ahmedabad Police Stadium, where people converge to see the sky filled with thousands of kites. During the festival week the markets are flooded with kite buyers and sellers. In the heart of Ahmedabad, there is one of the most famous Kite markets - Patang Bazaar, which during the festive week opens 24 hours a day with buyers and sellers negotiating and buying in bulk. Moreover, many families in Ahmadabad start making kites at home

and setup small shops in their own homes. There is also a Kite Museum, located at Sanskar Kendra in Paldi area of Ahmedabad. Established in 1985, it contains a collection of unique kites. Other parts of India also celebrate kite festival. People offer prayers, eat

Sattu (made from new crop wheat) and new mangoes (baby mango also known as Tikola). History The symbolism of this festival is to show the awakening of the Gods from their deep sleep. It is said that India created the tradition of kite flying due to the kings and Royalties and later followed by Nawabs who found the sport entertaining and as a way to display their skills and power. It began as being a sport for kings, but over time, as the sport became popular, it began to reach the masses. Kite flying has been a regional event in Gujarat for several years. the first However International Festival was celebrated in 1989 when people from all across the globe participated and showcased their innovative kites. The mention of this festival is in the Rigveda which dates more than 5,000 years. The day marks the beginning of the auspicious six-month period known as Uttarayana. Regardless of your background or beliefs, you are welcome to fly kites with everyone else in Gujarat. Most visitors arrive from around India, from Gujarat itself or another state. In major cities of Gujarat, kite flying starts as early as 5 am and goes until late night where approximately 8-10 million people participate in the whole festival. However, many visitors are international who come from around the world, such as Japan, Italy, UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, France, China, and many other part of the world. At the same time, the festival is the occasion for many public entities such as famous dancers, singers, actors or politicians to make an appearance and entertain the people. In 2004, for example, the Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla was part of the celebration and performed a Garba (dance) which is very popular in Gujarat. Types of kites Kites are usually made with materials such as plastic, leaves, wood, metal, nylon and other scrap materials but the ones for Uttarayan are made of light-weight paper and bamboo and are mostly rhombus shaped with central spine and a single bow. Dye and paint are also added to increase the glamour of the kite. The threads are covered with mixtures of glue and ground glass which when dried, rolled up and attached to the rear, also known as firkees, become sharp enough to cut skin. These types of threads are used on fighter kites known in India as patangs to cut down other kites during various kite fighting events. During the night illuminated kites filled with lights and candles known as tukals or tukkals are launched creating a spectacle in the dark sky.

Lohri is a popular festival of Punjab L

ohri marks the end of winter, and is a traditional welcome of longer days and the sun's journey to the northern hemisphere. It is observed on night before Makar Sankranti, also known as Maghi, and according to the solar part of the lunisolar Bikrami calendar and typically falls about the same date every year (January 13). Punjab, Haryana and the NCR region observe a national holiday on the occasion. The festival is celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus, but Muslims and Christians also participate in it. It is observed by Sikhs and some Muslims in Punjab, Pakistan. Date Lohri is linked to the Bikrami calendar, and is celebrated the day before the festival of Maghi celebrated in India as Makar Sankranti. Lohri falls in the month of Paush and is set by the solar part of the lunisolar Punjabi calendar and in most years it falls around 13 January of the Gregorian calendar. Origins There are many folklores about Lohri. Lohri is the celebration of the arrival of longer days after the winter solstice. According to folklore, in ancient times Lohri was celebrated at the end of the traditional month when winter solstice occurs. It celebrates the days getting longer as the sun proceeds on its northward journey. The day after Lohri is celebrated as Maghi Sangrand. In its origins, Lohri is an ancient mid winter festival, in regions near the Himalayan mountains where winter is colder than the rest of the subcontinent. Hindus traditionally lit bonfires in their yards after the weeks of the rabi season cropping work, socialized around the fire, sang and danced together as they marked the end of winter and the onset of longer days. After the night of bonfire celebrations, Hindus would mark Makar Sankranti and go to a sacred water body such as a river or lake to bathe. Significance The ancient significance of the festival is both as a winter crop season celebration and a remembrance of the Sun deity (Surya). Lohri songs mention the Indian Sun god asking for heat and thanking him for his return. Other legends explain the celebration as a folk reverence for fire (Agni] or the goddess of Lohri. Yet another folklore links Lohri to the tale of Dulla Bhatti. The central theme of many Lohri songs is the legend of Dulla Bhatti who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was regarded as a hero in Punjab, for rescuing Hindu girls from being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of

Lohri is a popular winter Punjabi folk festival, celebrated primarily by Hindus and Sikhs from the Punjab region on 13 January every year. The significance and legends about the Lohri festival are many. Many people believe the festival commemorates the passing of the winter solstice.

the Middle East. Amongst those he saved were two girls Sundri & Mundri, who gradually became a theme of Punjab folklore. As part of Lohri celebrations, children go around homes singing the traditional folk songs of Lohri with "Dulla Bhatti" name included. One person sings, while others end each line with a loud "Ho!" sung in unison. After the song ends, the adult of the home is expected to give snacks and money to the singing troupe of youngsters. Bonfire and festive foods Lohri is celebrated with a bonfire. The lighting of bonfire during this festival is an ancient tradition. Gurh, solidified and unrefined sugarcane juice is a traditional festive sweet. In Punjab Lohri is marked by eating sheaves of roasted corn from the new harvest. The sugarcane harvest is celebrated along with Lohri festival. Sugarcane products such as gurh and gachak are central to Lohri celebrations, and are harvested in January. The other important food item of Lohri is radish which can be harvested between October and January. Mustard greens are cultivated mainly in the winter months because the crop is suitable to the agro-climatic conditions. Accordingly, mustard greens are also a winter produce. It is traditional to eat Gajak, Sarson da saag with Makki di roti, radish, groundnuts and jaggery. It is also traditional to eat "til rice" which is made by mixing jaggery,

sesame seeds and rice. In some places, this dish is called 'Tricholi.' Collecting Lohri items and trick or treating In various places of the Punjab, about 10 to 15 days before Lohri, groups of young and teenage boys and girls go around the neighbourhood collecting logs for the Lohri bonfire. In some places, they also collect items such as grains and jaggery which are sold and the sale proceeds are divided among the group. In some other parts of Punjab, there is a popular "trick or treat" activity which is engaged in by boys to select a group member to smear his

an ultimatum to either give more or the rope will be loosened. If not enough is given, then the boy who has his face smeared will try to enter the house and smash clay pots or the clay stove. Practices During the day, children go from door to door singing folk songs. These children are given sweets and savories, and occasionally, money. Turning them back emptyhanded is regarded inauspicious. Where families are welcoming newly-weds and new borns, the requests for treats increases. The collections gathered by the children are known as Lohri and

face with ash and tie a rope around his waist. The idea is for the selected person to act as a deterrent for people who refrain from giving Lohri items. The boys will sing Lohri songs asking for Lohri items. If not enough is given, the householder will be given

consist of til, gachchak, crystal sugar, gur (jaggery), moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Lohri is then distributed at night during the festival. Till, peanuts, popcorn and other food items are also thrown into the fire. For some, throwing

food into the fire represents the burning of the old year and start the next year on Makar Sankranti The bonfire ceremony differs depending on the location in Punjab. In some parts, a small image of Lohri goddess is made with gobar (cattle dung) decorating it, kindling a fire beneath it and chanting its praises. The folk Lohri goddess is believed to be an ancient aspect of the celebration, and is part of a long tradition of winter solstice celebrations manifesting as a god or goddess. In other parts, the Lohri fire consists of cow dung and wood with no reference to the Lohri goddess. The bonfire is lit at sunset in the main village square. People toss sesame seeds, gur, sugar-candy etc on the bonfire, sit around it, sing and dance till the fire dies out. Some people perform a prayer and go around the fire. This is to show respect to the natural element of fire, a tradition common in winter solstice celebrations. It is traditional to offer guests til, gachchak, gur, moongphali (peanuts) and phuliya or popcorn. Milk and water is also poured around the bonfire by Hindus to thank the Sun God and seeking his continued protection. Among some sections of the Sindhi community, the festival is traditionally celebrated as Lal Loi. On the day of Lal Loi children bring

wood sticks from their grand parents and aunties and light a fire burning the sticks in the night with people enjoying, dancing and playing around the fire. The festival is gaining popularity among Sindhis where Lohri is not a traditional festival. Lohri is celebrated to denote the last of the coldest days of winter. Apart from Punjab, Lohri is also celebrated in Delhi. Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Lohri has been celebrated in Jammu since Mughal times. Celebrations In houses that have recently had a marriage or childbirth, Lohri celebrations will reach a higher pitch of excitement. Punjabis usually have private Lohri celebrations, in their houses. Lohri rituals are performed, with the accompaniment of special Lohri songs. Singing and dancing form an intrinsic part of the celebrations. People wear their brightest clothes and come to dance the bhangra and gidda to the beat of the dhol. Punjabi songs are sung, and everybody rejoices. Sarson da saag and makki di roti is usually served as the main course at a Lohri dinner. Lohri is a great occasion that holds great importance for farmers. However, people residing in urban areas also celebrate Lohri, as this festival provides the opportunity to interact with family and friends. Some people believe that Lohri has derived its name from Loi, the wife of Saint Kabir. There is a legend amongst some people that Lohri comes from the word 'loh', which means the light and the warmness of fire. Lohri is also called lohi in rural Punjab. According to another legend Holika and Lohri were sisters. While the former perished in the Holi fire, the latter survived with Prahlad. Eating of til (sesame seeds) and rorhi is considered to be essential on Lohri day. Perhaps the words til and rorhi merged to become tilorhi, which eventually got shortened to Lohri. Similar festivals in other countries Winter solstice festivals have been incorporated into other festivals which are celebrated in various regions around the world. The festival of Yule is observed during Christmas celebrations whereby a log is burnt to commemorate the winter solstice. The festival of Hogmanay is celebrated on new year’s day. The fire festival of Stonehaven in Scotland is the direct descendant of lighting winter solstice bonfires. Another event is observed on 11 January when the flaming Clavie (a barrel full of staves) is carried round in Burghead and is wedged on the Doorie Hill. When it is burnt out, people take the smouldering embers to bring good luck for the coming year.


18 FINANCE - UK

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18 - 24 January 2020

Dear Financial Voice Reader, Alpesh Patel Dear Financial Voice Reader, I love technology. Ever since I wrote Trading Online which became an international bestseller for the Financial Times and me, I’ve mixed trading and investing and technology. So you don’t have to wait between columns, I am going to make available to my Asian Voice readers my private mobile app for communicating my market thoughts. It’s free via this app on Telegram: https://t.me/pipspredator And if you were on that you would see my trades and videos of them but also this: The FTSE 100 P/E is around 18 – not expensive – still. Now my annual picks which I give each January for 2020 based on my algorithms which have beaten every UK fund manager since 2004. To see historic performance have a look at www.sharescope.co.uk/alpesh You exit at the failsafe 25% drop – eg in 2008 we had a few of those! You never ever expect everything to always rise all the time under all market conditions. If you are looking for a crystal ball, it’s the circus you need. 12 month hold based on our algorithm which examines company valuations, growth and dividend yields. Picks for 2020: Avation Alumasc Belvoir Brooks Macdonald Cairn Homes Care Tech Holdings International Consolidated Airlines Liontrust Menzies DS Smith Plus500 Smiths Group Polymetal Ten Entertainment British American Tobacco Vp Last year results and picks from 10 Jan 2019 (date of newsletter) to 31st Jan 2019 Gordon Dadds (now Ince Group) -25% Polymetal +39.1% Britvic +6.9% Cineworld -23.1% Dunelm +69.5% El Group +43.6% Marshalls +74.6% Telecom plus -0.3% Cosan (US) +130% Pointer Telocation (US) + 17.9%* Walgreens Boots (US) -18.7% D4t4 Solutions +7.4% James Halstead +23.4% * take over at $8.50 per share cash + 1.27 Powerfleet shares On average I produce (unleveraged) 17.1% per annum and the market is around 5% pa on average. Hey Alpesh, why don’t you have a fund managing billions? I do have a regulated asset management company and fund, but the person who got my billions was the one I beat in the Financial Times competition back in 2003 – Neil Woodford. The City gave him money, not me, even though over a 12 month period he and I head to head went against each other and I trounced him and I won and he came 14th. The City which reads the Financial Times went for him. I don’t like saying ‘racism’. But race and lack of diversity is in the news a lot. Maybe it was. Maybe I didn’t look right. Don’t forget by this time I was both a Barrister and Visiting Fellow in Business at Oxford University. Luck?

House sales in UK rising after Johnson's election win The estate agent Savills has said it is benefiting from a “Boris bounce” that has driven an increase in UK house sales since the December general election. The company, which sells and manages commercial and residential property around the world, told investors and analysts that it expects its 2019 full-year sales and profits will be at “the upper end of the board’s expectations”. “In the UK, the effect of Brexit and political uncertainty suppressed market activity in both commercial and residential transactional markets until midDecember,” Savills said in a stock market update that sent shares 7% higher. “The clear outcome of the general election prompted a strong close to the year as confidence to transact returned to the market.”

Savills said its British home sales business was continuing to “outperform the overall market conditions, in particular taking share in the core London market”. The agency, which was founded in 1855, said growth in the US and UK was so strong that it would more than offset depressed sales in Hong Kong caused by ongoing anti-government protests. “Looking to the year ahead, increased political

stability in the UK should maintain improved sentiment in real estate markets ... Nevertheless, some caution may remain until the full impact of Brexit is better understood,” Savills said in a statement. Estate agents across the market have credited a socalled “Boris bounce” for an uplift in sales, particularly among super luxurious and expensive homes. Lawrence Bowles, a senior research analyst at Savills, earlier this

UK economic UK financial firms' optimism growth weakest improves since 2012 in Nov The official figures showed that Britain’s economy grew at its weakest annual pace in more than seven years in November, raising expectations that the Bank of England will cut interest rates later this month. The November figure represented a slowdown from annual growth of 1% in October, after that month’s growth pace was revised up from previously reported data. Output in November alone shrank by 0.3%, the biggest drop since April. Economists expected unchanged output for the month. The weak data, reflected the uncertainty of last autumn about Brexit and the election, said John Hawksworth, chief economist for accountants PwC. “It is too early to say for sure if economic momentum will pick up in the new year now the political situation is clearer, but our latest survey of the financial services sector with the CBI does suggest some boost to optimism since the election,” he said. Sterling fell and government bond yields headed lower as financial markets priced in a 50% chance the Bank of England will cut interest rates on Jan. 30, after its next meeting. The BoE predicted in November that the economy would eke out limited growth in the fourth quarter, before recovering in 2020. That forecast assumes progress towards a postBrexit trade deal and a reduction in USChina trade tensions.

A survey showed that optimism in Britain’s financial services sector rose in the last quarter to snap a four-year decline, with business volumes also predicted to grow in coming weeks. The quarterly survey of 94 banks, insurers and investment management firms was conducted by business trade body CBI and consultants PwC.

“The stirrings of optimism represent a significant turnaround given the flat and falling optimism that has beset the past four years,” said Andrew Kail, head of financial services at PwC. The sector has been under a cloud since Britain voted in June 2016 to leave the EU. “An uptick in hiring, investment in systems, and better profit expectations for the first three months of the year are driving the positivity in the sector, following the general election,” Kail said. The survey was conducted before the midDecember general election in Britain that saw the defeat of an opposition Labour Party that had pledged to introduce new taxes on finance. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was re-elected as widely predicted by the polls at the time, winning an emphatic majority that has enabled him to get an EU divorce settlement approved in parliament. This ensures that Britain will leave the bloc on Jan. 31 with an 11month no-change transition deal to ease business concerns over a poten-

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month said: “At the top end of the market in particular, we’ve seen a strong buildup of new buyer demand. Greater political certainty will unlock some of that demand, but with less than a year to agree a Brexit deal, there are still many unknowns.” It emerged that a Chinese property tycoon has agreed to buy a 45-room mansion overlooking Hyde Park in London for more than £200m, which would make it the most expensive house to be sold in the UK. A European family bought a house in central London for £65m, and a US client bought a £50m home in Chelsea. Banks are increasingly offering the super-rich huge mortgages at extremely low interest rates. More than 180 £5m-plus mortgages were taken out in the year to the end of September.

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tially disorderly departure. Johnson’s win has led to a burst of optimism among British business and consumers generally. But the financial sector is now waiting to see what sort of access it will have after the transition period to the EU, its biggest export customer, which could be patchy at best. Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, said the government must do all it can to support financial services, one of the UK’s most globally competitive sectors, to ensure that the expectations of an upturn can come to pass. Brexit has raised the prospect of thousands of financial services jobs leaving London to staff new hubs in the EU being opened by banks, insurers and asset managers from Britain. Paris Europlace, which promotes the French capital as a financial centre, said it expect’s 4,000 jobs to move there from London, with another 1,000 targeted. The survey, however, also showed the employment growth in financial services remained solid and far above the long-term average in the last quarter. Employment growth is expected to pick up over the current quarter, it said. “However, the sector isn’t quite out of the woods yet... Brexit uncertainty continues to drag on investment plans, and concerns over labour shortages have spiked,” Newton-Smith said.

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18 - 24 January 2020

BOOMERANG OPPORTUNITY I remember a block we exchanged on in Shepherd’s Bush perhaps 6 or 7 years ago. We arranged a late completion, 6 months; on the basis we exchange quickly and release the deposit to the seller. The plan was to sell it prior to completion. It didn’t quite work out the way we wanted. Despite the property being in Shepherd’s Bush, a location which was going up at the time, and on a desirable road, we didn’t get what we wanted. It didn’t find a buyer even at auction.

Suresh Vagjiani Sow & Reap London Property Investment

There were a few reasons, including the fact that the Olympics were on; and it was the Queen’s Jubilee. The masses were preoccupied and drunk. We didn’t manage to flip the block, i.e. sell it, prior to completion. However, we still made money on the deal. We simply completed on it, and split the lease and sold each flat piece meal; and made money for our client without too much effort. The block was purchased for £600K and sold on for £917K. So, a healthy profit for not doing a lot. However, we still missed a trick. The manager of one of the Estate Agents who was selling the flats, called me, saying he had an offer from someone working in the office. They had to disclose there was a vested interest. As long as the deal was done, I was not fussed. I should have tweaked and pondered deeper as

to what his angle was. My investor client and I had a strategy, and were concentrating on implementing it. The agent had, however, spotted a clever nook which I had missed. He wanted the property on the basis I let him buy the loft space for an extra £5K. We promptly agreed as, after all, it served our purpose. From memory we sold the top floor flat to him for around 350K. It was only after many years, when I bumped into him in an auction, he revealed how well he had done. He had sold the flat for £750K. He had converted it into a 3 bed 2 bath duplex flat and made £400K above what he had bought the property for. I missed the trick then; easy to do when you’re following your own agenda. The danger is you often don’t see other angles; and keep plodding along blissfully. A mirror opportunity presented itself only a couple of days ago. A flat on the 1st floor of a period conversion, consisting of 1 bedroom, is being sold for £360K. It will be developed from a 1 bed into a 3 bedroom 2 bath duplex property

with an expected value of £550K. The flat will come with the benefit of permission from the freeholder already in place. This would be a great first time development project for an investor who wants to wet their beak. The deal is available now. Please call the office if you are interested. If the property, for whatever reason, does not sell at the desired price, you always have the option to refinance and rent. Thereby extracting your money from the deal. You would expect to pull most, if not all, of your money back out of the deal.

AGONY AGENT IS HERE TO HELP! Q: My tenant wants to repaint at his own cost. Is there any reason why I shouldn’t allow this? A: Wow, sounds like you have a great tenant there! To be honest, unless you have just had the place redone from top to bottom, then we do not see any reason why you shouldn’t allow this. That being said, we would recommend adding a few conditions when providing him permission to do so. For example, that the works are done by a professional or to a

professional standard, and you inspect the work once this has been done (not an unreasonable request). Another example is approval of colour as you do not want him to choose the cheapest paint in the world or picking lime greens and deep purples! Find out what look he wants to achieve, you may even give him input or ideas that he never thought of before. Now, if this sounds a little too hands on for your liking, simply give him the permission to do this on the

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agreement that the wall/room is returned to a neutral or original colour at the end of his tenancy, also at his own cost. Remember, all agreements should be in writing. Having your tenants paint or personalise the property is really the best thing ever. Most tenants that want to make your house their home lead to long term tenancies. If you need any other lettings guidance, please do get in touch.

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Factory output grows in Nov after shrinking for 3 months India’s industrial production expanded at a modest pace in November, reversing three consecutive months of contraction, but many sectors remained in the red. According to the National Statistical Office (NSO) data, the index of industrial production (IIP) grew 1.8% in November, higher than the downwardly revised contraction of 4% and above the 0.2% posted in November 2018. Between April and November, industrial output growth rose a paltry 0.6% compared to 5% in the year-earlier period. The manufacturing sector grew an annual 2.7% in November compared with the 0.7% contraction in November 2018, while mining rose 1.7% compared to a 2.7% expansion in the year-earlier period. Economists attributed the growth in the manufacturing sector to the favourable base effect rather than revival in demand in the economy. The electricity sector contracted for

the fourth consecutive month, declining 5% during the month compared to a growth of 5.1% in the year-earlier period. The consumer goods sector, a key barometer of investment activity, contracted for the 11th consecutive month by 8.6% in November compared with a decline of 4.1% in the year-earlier month. Consumer durables declined for the sixth successive month in November by 1.5% compared to a contraction of 3%

in the year-earlier period. Some economists said they expect a contraction in overall numbers as the base effect fades. “Looking ahead, the available data suggests that the growth of mining output would strengthen in December 2019, while the pace of contraction of electricity generation would narrow, thereby supporting the overall performance of the IIP. However, waning of the favourable base effect could result in manufacturing, as well as the overall IIP, reverting

to a disappointing contraction in December 2019,” said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ratings agency ICRA. The industrial sector has been sluggish for a sustained period as demand conditions have remained tepid and a sharp slowdown has gripped the economy. The government has forecast the economy to grow 5% in 2019-20, the slowest pace in 11 years. Now, all eyes are on the Union Budget to be unveiled on February 1 for measures to boost the economy. The government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) have taken steps to revive growth and experts expect a revival in the coming months. “We are expecting some revival in the coming months along with a favourable base for the rest of the months. On this premise, we are expecting the industrial output to grow around 4% by March 2020,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at CARE ratings.

SC stays NCLAT order reinstating Cyrus Mistry The Supreme Court last week stayed the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s order reinstating Cyrus Pallonji Mistry as executive chairman of Tata Sons, a post from which he was removed in October 2016 by the board of directors. A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant ordered notice on Tata Sons petition challenging the NCLAT judgment while staying it order. This triggered protest from the senior advocates engaged by the Shapoorji Pallonji group, Mistry and Sterling Investments. They told the court that Mistry himself had said he did not want reinstatement as executive chairman but wanted to protect the interest of minority shareholders. The CJI said, “There appears to be a basic flaw in the NCLAT order reinstating Mistry as executive chairman of Tata Sons as

that relief was never sought. Something appears very wrong. We looked at the judicial approach of NCLAT in the case and found it sorely lacking.” C A Sundaram said a status quo order was necessary as stay would enable Tata Sons to take coercive steps under law to buy out shares of the Shapoorji Pallonji group, which has invested around £10 billion in Tata Sons. Tata Sons refused and contended that the NCLAT order was completely wrong and set a wrong legal precedent which endangered corporate democracy. This was vindicated by observations from the bench. Senior advocates C A Sundaram, Shyam Divan, Maninder Singh and Neeraj K Kaul were engaged by the Pallonji group, Mistry and Sterling Investments. “The Supreme Court must keep operational the NCLAT decision rescinding conversion of Tata Sons to a private compa-

ny from a public company,” Sundaram argued. He also said representation of Shapoorji Pallonji group through a director, which has been traditionally done, must be maintained. Sundaram said a status quo order was necessary as stay would enable Tata Sons to take coercive steps under law to buy out shares of the Pallonji group. But Salve preempted the apprehensions Cyrus Mistry Mistry was removed on October by undertaking before the court 24, 2016, nearly four years after that Tata Sons would not resort his appointment. Of the eight to coercive steps to buy back directors, seven voted for his shares of minority shareholders. ouster while one abstained. Tata The SC asked the Pallonji Sons, in its petition filed group to respond to petitions through solicitors Karanjawala filed by Tata Sons, Ratan Tata & Co, said the NCLAT order and other Tata group companies directing reinstatement of and their directors, in four Mistry was gratuitous as none of weeks. Tata Sons enlisted a the appellants, Cyrus heavy-duty line-up of senior Investment or Sterling advocates - Harsh Salve, A M Investment, had ever sought Singhvi and Mukul Rohatgi - to such a relief. challenge the NCLAT judgment.

Properties worth £7.8 mn of Kochhar, family attached The Enforcement Directorate has attached properties worth over £7.8 million of former ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar and her husband Deepak Kochhar, accusing the banker of money laundering in a case pertaining to “illegal sanctioning of loans” of £187.5 million to Videocon Group of companies. “Investigation revealed that £6.4 million, out of the loan of £30 million sanctioned by a committee headVideocon Group CEO Venugopal Dhoot, Chanda Kochhar and her hasband Deepak ed by Chanda Kochhar to Videocon International £7.46 million were by ICICI Bank,” the ED stateElectronics Limited, was transtransferred/generated in ment said. ferred to Nupower Renewables NRPL,” the ED said. The ED claimed that net Pvt Ltd (NRPL), a company of Investigations also revealed that revenue of £1.06 million was Deepak Kochhar) by Videocon Chanda Kochhar and her family generated by NRL from these on September 8, 2009, just one acquired an apartment in tainted funds. “Therefore, proday after disbursement of loan Mumbai owned by one of the ceeds of crime amounting to

Videocon Group companies, “acquiring that company through her family trust at a nominal price and by creating book entries”. The total attachment includes Rs 105,000 already seized by the agency from Kochhar’s company. The other attached assets include windfarm projects located in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra “in possession of accused Chanda Kochhar, Deepak Kochhar” and the companies owned and controlled by Deepak Kochhar, the ED said. The agency said the loans to the Videocon Group were refinanced and new loan aggregating to £173 million was sanctioned to its group companies which later turned nonperforming assets (NPA) for the ICICI Bank.

in brief

PNB SEEKS PERMISSION TO RELEASE NIRAV MODI’S ASSETS

Arguing that recoveries made from the sale of properties belonging to diamantaire Nirav Modi will be ‘a necessary boost to the economic health of the country in the long run’, the Punjab National Bank (PNB) sought permission from a special court to release the properties to them. Modi, who is behind bars in the UK and faces extradition proceedings, was declared a fugitive economic offender last month. The special court is expected to hear arguments on confiscation of his properties, including his residence in Worli, multiple office premises in South Mumbai, jewellery, cars and paintings. Modi is named as accused by both the Enforcement Directorate and CBI for alleged fraud of PNB. The application by PNB added that the consortium of banks had in good faith and in a bonafide manner accepted various movable and immovable properties from Firestar International Limited, controlled by Modi.

AUTO SALES CRASH TO HISTORIC LOWS IN 2019

The year 2019 ended as the worst year that the Indian automobile industry has ever seen with sales crashing the most since 1997, the year since when the industry started tabulating data. Economic slump, joblessness, tight financing position and uncertainty due to national elections and impending BS4 emission switch saw the sales of cars, twowheelers and commercial vehicles report their worst performance ever with industry body Siam projecting that tough times would continue for some more time. Domestic industry sales declined by 14% in the year, the biggest fall that Siam has recorded. The only time that cumulative auto sales fell in India was in the years 2007 and 2008 where numbers were down by a marginal 1%. Apart from those blips, the numbers have grown in India - a market which was once seen as the ‘next China’ in terms of sales potential due to low penetration of vehicles.

GOVT TAKING STEPS TO SIMPLIFY TAXATION: FM

India's finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government is taking various steps to simplify taxation system and eliminate harassment of honest taxpayers. Addressing an event organised by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), the finance minister said the government is open to suggestions for the betterment of GST filing system. Based on suggestions received from various stakeholders, the government is taking steps towards simplification of taxation system, she added. In a bid to curb harassment of taxpayers, she said, a faceless e-assessment scheme was launched in October to eliminate interface between an assessing officer and a taxpayer.

INDIA’S GROWTH MAY SLIP TO 5%: WORLD BANK

India’s growth rate is projected to decelerate to 5% in 2019-20 amid enduring financial sector issues, according to a World Bank report, which said the country’s GDP was likely to recover to 5.8% in the following financial year. India’s GDP growth is seen dipping to an 11-year low of 5% in the current fiscal, mainly due to poor showing by manufacturing and construction sectors, government data showed. “In India, where weakness in credit from non-bank financial companies is expected to linger, growth is projected to slow to 5% in fiscal year 2019/20, which ends March 31 and recover to 5.8% the following fiscal year,” the Bank said in its latest edition of the Global Economic Prospects. It said tighter credit conditions in the non-banking sector are contributing to a substantial weakening of the domestic demand in India.


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in brief INDIAN-AMERICAN AMONG NASA’S NEW ASTRONAUTS

Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari, an IndianAmerican with family roots in Hyderabad, is one among 11 NASA graduates who have completed the initial astronaut candidate training and have been shortlisted for mission assignment. To become an astronaut was 42-year-old Raja Chari’s childhood dream. Chari’s father, Srinivas Chari, moved to Wisconsin in the 1970s for further education, during which he met his future wife Peggy Egbert, an American nurse at the university. They both got married in 1976. Having been born and brought up in the US, Raja did not forget his roots and describes his travels to Hyderabad as a kind of a pilgrimage. Raja did his engineering from the Air Force Academy and went to MIT for a master’s in aeronautics.

SIKH UBER DRIVER IN US RACIALLY ABUSED, STRANGULATED

A Sikh Uber driver in the US was racially abused and strangulated by a passenger, a media report said. The incident took place in the coastal city of Bellingham, Washington, on December 5 when the Sikh driver picked Grifin Levi Sayers. The police arrested and booked 22-year-old Sayers on suspicion of second-degree assault and a failure-toappear warrant for fourth-degree assault. According to police records, he was released on $13,000 bail the next day. The driver told the police that Sayers took the cab to make some purchases and then returned to the pick-up location. It was at this point that the passenger became abusive and grabbed the driver by his throat and squeezed it violently. He also made racial comments about the driver’s ethnicity. The driver somehow managed to get out of the cab and made a 911 call. When the police arrived, they were able to locate Sayers nearby and arrested him. Hate crimes against Sikhs in the US have always been on the radar for civil rights and minority groups.

ACTOR MARTIN SHEEN RECITES TAGORE AT CLIMATE PROTEST

Hollywood veteran Martin Sheen recited Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poem “Where the Mind Is Without Fear”while participating in a climate change protest in Washington. Sheen was part of ‘Fire Drill Fridays’ the weekly protests against climate change, started by veteran actor Jane Fonda. Lauding Fonda for the campaign, Sheen said, “Clearly, the world will be saved by women. Thank God they outnumber us men.” In the video of his speech, the actor then referred to the verse from Tagore’s collection of poems, “Gitanjali”.

PAK PASSES BILL TO MEET FATF REQUIREMENTS

Pakistan Parliament has passed a bill for the exchange of information and criminals with countries to meet a key requirement of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has placed the country on the Grey List for an extended period till next month. The FATF had warned that Islamabad would be put on the Black List if it did not comply with the remaining 22 points in a list of 27 questions. Under the Mutual Legal Assistance (Criminal Matter) Bill 2019, the government would be able to make mutual legal assistance request to a country to “inquire about the location and identification of witnesses, suspects... and offenders” and may transfer the person in custody of Pakistan.

Pakistan HC annuls death penalty of Musharraf LAHORE: A Pakistan high court has annulled the death sentence handed to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, ruling that the special court which had found him guilty of treason last year was unconstitutional, a government prosecutor said. The original ruling had marked the first time a former leader of the armed forces had faced such a sentence for treason in Pakistan, where the military maintains strong influence and senior officers are often considered immune from prosecution.

It caused a wave of controversy, with Musharraf - exiled in Dubai - slamming it as a “vendetta” and the military expressing its disappointment. A High Court in the eastern city of Lahore ruled it “illegal.” “The filing of the complaint, the constitution of the court, the selection

of the prosecution team are illegal, declared to be illegal... And at the end of the day the full judgment has been set aside,” the prosecutor representing the government, Ishtiaq A Khan, said. “Yes, he is a free man. Right now there is no judgment against him any longer,” Khan added. Musharraf’s lawyer, Azhar Siddique, also told media outside the court in Lahore that it has “nullified everything”. The prosecution now has the option to file a new case against Musharraf with the approval of the federal Cabinet. The treason trial - which began in 2013 and is just one of several involving Musharraf - centred on his decision to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule in 2007. Musharraf first took power after ousting prime minister

Nawaz Sharif in a bloodless coup in 1999. Musharraf became a key US ally in the “war on terror” after the September 11 attacks and escaped at least three alQaeda assassination attempts during his nine years in office. His rule faced no serious challenges until he tried to sack the Supreme Court chief justice in March 2007, sparking nationwide protests and months of turmoil that led to the imposition of emergency rule. After the December 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the national mood plunged further and Musharraf was left increasingly isolated by the crushing losses suffered by his allies in February 2008 elections. He finally resigned in August 2008 in the face of impeachment proceedings by the new governing coalition and went into exile.

Pervez Musharraf

Musharraf returned to Pakistan in 2013 in an attempt to contest elections, but was barred from taking part in the polls and from leaving the country as a barrage of legal cases mounted. The travel ban against him was finally lifted in 2016, and he travelled to Dubai for medical treatment, where he has been ever since. The treason case against him was first launched by his old foe Sharif in 2013. It went on for years with repeated delays until last year’s surprise announcement.

Pak officials testify against Hafiz Saeed in terror financing case LAHORE: Six more prosecution witnesses, including revenue officials, testified against Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed and his close aides for their involvement in terror financing before an antiterrorism court in Pakistan, a court official said. The anti-terrorism court in Lahore indicted Saeed and his close aides - Hafiz Abdul Salam, Muhammad Ashraf and Zafar Iqbal - on terror financing charges on December 11. "Some six more prosecution witnesses, including the officials of the Punjab Government Revenue Department, testified against Saeed and three other suspects in terror financing case before the Anti-Terrorism

Court," the official said. He said the revenue officials also submitted the record of the Jamaatud-Dawah (JuD) centres, seminaries and mosques in Lahore. The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab police also produced witnesses against Saeed and others who told the court about their collections of funds for terror financing. "There had been hours-long argument on the law of testimony and the counsel for the JuD leaders also cross examined the witnesses," he said. The Anti-Terrorism Lahore (ATC-I) Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta adjourned hearing. Strict security measures were taken in and outside the court premises during the appearance of the JuD leaders. The CTD had regis-

tered 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 Hafiz Saeed 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 Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings

Saeed to justice. The US has also welcomed Saeed's indictment, urging Islamabad to ensure a full prosecution and expeditious trial of the charges against him. The indictment followed growing international pressure on Pakistan to stop militant groups from collecting funds in the country and to take immediate action against those still involved in militant activities.

Severe weather in Afghanistan, Pak leaves 43 dead KABUL: Severe winter weather has struck parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with heavy snowfall, rains and flash floods that left at least 43 dead, officials said Monday as authorities struggled to clear and reopen highways and evacuate people to safer places. In Pakistan, where 25 people were reported killed, much of the damage struck southwestern Baluchistan province. Imran Zarkon, chief of provincial disaster management, said 14 died, mainly when roofs collapsed amid heavy snowfall. Heavy snowfall had forced closures of many highways and some parts in the province were under six inches of snow. Eleven people were killed in eastern Punjab province when their roofs caved in under strong rains, said Abdul Sattar, an official with the state-run emergency service. In Afghanistan, at least 18 people, including women and children, died on account of the

severe weather, according to provincial officials. Hasibullah Shaikhani, a press officer with the state ministry for disaster management, said most of the highways in Afghanistan were closed due to heavy snowfall and fears of avalanches. Of the Afghan casualties, eight people were killed in southern Kandahar province, said Bahir Ahamdi, spokesman

for the provincial governor. In western Herat province, seven people died, including five members of the same family, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Three people were killed in southern Helmand province, said Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor. Residents of the Afghan cap-

ital, Kabul, where temperatures dropped to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit), abandoned driving and struggled to get to work on snow-covered roads. Hundreds of passengers were stranded on different highways linking Balochistan. Official said traffic was also suspended at Quetta-Chaman highway as the Khozak-Pass linking Pakistan with Afghanistan also received heavy snowfall, bringing to halt the Afghan transit trade with hundreds of trucks and other goods vehicles remaining standard on both sides of the border. "Several people with their vehicles are still waiting for help but unfortunately those areas cannot be reached without helicopter. I have made a request for provision of the helicopter to the provincial disaster management authority. Hopefully, it would be provided to us as soon as possible," said Chagai Deputy Commissioner Fateh Khan Khajjak.


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India slams Pak, says it shouldn't tell others how to treat minorities

NEW DELHI: India's ministry of external affairs (MEA) slammed Pakistan for comments of its leaders concerning minorities in India and said that Islamabad should not tell others how to take care of its own people. "It is their habit. We all know what is happening there. They always see what is happening in India or in some other country. It is not for us to make a comment on every comment they make. A country that cannot take care of its minorities should not tell other countries how to do it," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a briefing. He said that the stonepelting incident at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and the killing of

imran khan

a Sikh youth in Peshawar is like a 'mirror' for Pakistan. An angry group of local residents pelted stones at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib in Pakistan on January 3.

The group was led by the family of a boy who had allegedly abducted Sikh girl Jagjit Kaur, daughter of gurdwara's panthi, last year.

India had strongly condemned the "wanton acts of destruction and desecration" at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev, and called upon Pakistan to take immediate steps to ensure the safety and welfare of the members of the Sikh community.Days later, the body of Sikh youth, identified as Ravinder Singh, was found in the Chamkani police station area of Peshawar. The deceased was the brother of an Islamabadbased journalist, Harmeet Singh. New Delhi also shared strong concerns raised by members of civil society, parliamentarians and others at the "continued persecution of religious and ethnic minorities" in Pakistan.

LTTE to remain as a terrorist group in EU Colombo: European Union renewed its terrorist list of persons and organisations subject to sanctions, the council said. The list included the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or the LTTE which waged a 30-year long civil war in Sri Lanka under the groups and entities. The Council on January 13 renewed the “so-called EU terrorist list”, which sets out persons, groups and entities subject to restrictive measures with a view to combating terrorism. “Persons, groups and entities on the list are subject to the freezing of their funds and other financial assets in the EU.

It is also prohibited for EU operators to make funds and economic resources available to them,” a statement issued by the

council said. The Council first set up the list as implementation of United Nations Security Council

Resolution 1373/2001 that followed the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States. It reviews the list at regular intervals, and at least every six months, on the basis of a regular exchange of information between member states on any new facts and developments relating to the listings. This sanctions regime is separate from the EU regime implementing UN Security Council resolutions. The EU also has its own sanction regime which allows the EU to apply sanctions autonomously to ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida and persons and entities associated or supporting them.

Top officials from Myanmar sends 200 Rohingyas Russia, China, US & back to Rakhine state Japan visit Lanka

COLOMBO: In an unprecedented day for diplomacy and geopolitics, three of the worlds Super-Powers sent high representation to Sri Lanka in an effort to push forward their geopolitical agenda as President Gotabhaya Rajapakse saddles up in preparation for his first term, leading up to a general election in April. In a short space of a day, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Principal Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells made official calls in Colombo, with the Russian Foreign Minister going as far as holding a press conference. Meanwhile, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa met with a Japanese delegation headed by State Minister for Regional Revitalization Kozo Yamamoto on Monday (Jan 13). Analysts believe this is a clear indication of Sri Lanka’s importance as a strategic geopolitical hub, but also warn of the dangers associated with such a position.

SITTWE (MYANMAR): Nearly 200 Rohingya Muslims arrested at sea last month by Myanmar’s navy after a voyage of hundreds of kilometres have been sent back to Rakhine state, officials said. Calmer waters have seen an increase in the number of Rohingya putting their lives in the hands of traffickers in a desperate bid to reach Malaysia or Indonesia by boat.

But few make it as far as Kawthaung, Myanmar’s southern-most tip, where the group of 173 were picked up mid-December. Images showed 17 men, women and children looking exhausted from their ordeal as they climbed down from a wooden boat on to a beach near western Rakhine state’s capital, Sittwe. Wearing identification numbers around their necks, they lined up on the sand clutching their meagre belongings before being escorted away by armed police. They were taken to Thechaung camp, while the remaining 156 were transported further north to

Ngakhuya camp in Maungdaw township, Rakhine State minister for security and border affairs said. Ngakhuya is a processing site for returning refugees on the Bangladeshi border. “I’m not sure whether action will be taken against them or not,” Colonel Min Than said, adding that their fate would be decided by the UEHRD, a government department overseeing Rakhine. A bloody military crackdown in 2017 forced some 740,000 Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh in violence that has seen Myanmar accused of “genocide” at the UN’s

top court in The Hague. Bangladesh has made life increasingly unbearable in the sprawling camps with barbed-wire fences, an internet blackout and the confiscation of phones. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands more Rohingya remain in Myanmar’s Rakhine in what Amnesty International has branded “apartheid” conditions. They have nearly no freedom of movement and little access to work, education and healthcare. The captured Rohingya came from both sides of the border, Min Than said, although it was unclear how they ended up on the same boat.

in brief PAK SENATE OKS BILL TO EXTEND BAJWA’S TENURE

Pakistan’s Senate has cleared the three bills concerning the tenure of the three services chiefs of the armed forces - the chief of army staff, the chief of air staff and the chief of naval staff - and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, a day after the National Assembly passed them. Senate is the upper house of Pakistan’s parliament. With this, parliament has now fixed the tenure of the three services chiefs and that of the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee at three years each on appointment, which may be extended by the government up to a period of three years. The upper age limit for all the four has been set at 64. The opposition-dominated Senate passed the bills in no time with the support of two main opposition parties - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The bills now require formal assent of the president. The bills were approved by the Senate’s standing committee earlier.

15 KILLED, 20 HURT IN QUETTA MOSQUE BLAST

At least 15 people were killed and 20 others injured following a powerful blast inside a mosque in Quetta, Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province. The nature of the explosion, which occurred inside the mosque in Ghousabad neighbourhood, was not immediately known, reports said. DSP Amanullah was among the 15 people killed in the incident, Quetta DIG Abdul Razzaq Cheema said. Law enforcement agencies have cordoned off the area. An emergency has been declared at all hospitals in the area. TV footage showed debris and shattered glass spread on the floor of the mosque. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. Pakistan military’s media wing ISPR said that troops of the Frontier Corp Balochistan have reached the site and were carrying out joint search operation with the police.

LANKA PM TO VISIT INDIA NEXT MONTH

Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will visit India next month, following an invitation from Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. During his two-day official visit, the premier will be accompanied by a limited number of delegates in keeping with his and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policy of undertaking foreign tours to that effect. The premier will visit New Delhi to hold cordial discussions with his Indian counterpart over a wide range of issues and later depart to Varanasi and Tirupati. Sources said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi when the former undertook an official visit to New Delhi last November. Premier Rajapaksa is expected to extend this invitation.

BANGLADESH ARRESTS TOP SUFI SINGER

A top Bangladeshi Sufi folk singer was arrested under a controversial internet law that critics say is used to stifle free speech after alleged anti-Islam comments triggered protests. Shariat Sarker, 40, was detained in Mirzapur, police chief Saidur Rahman said. A cleric filed a case against Sarker over comments made at a show in December, and he was arrested under the Digital Security Act for “hurting the religious sentiment of Muslims.” Sarker could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.


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in brief

STAMPEDE KILLS 56 AT FUNERAL A stampede broke out at a funeral for Major General Qassim Suleimani killed in a US airstrike, and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession, Iranian news reports said. The stampede took place in Kerman, Suleimani’s hometown, as the procession began, said the semi-official Fars and ISNA news agencies, citing Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency medical services.

ARREST WARRANT AGAINST NISSAN EX-CHAIR’S WIFE

Tokyo prosecutors issued an arrest warrant against the wife of Nissan’s former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, on suspicion of perjury, adding to the couple’s legal troubles in Japan. The move against Carole Ghosn, who is not in Japan, followed her husband’s flight to Lebanon last week while he was out on bail awaiting trial for alleged financial misconduct. Details on the allegations against Carole Ghosn were not immediately available. Japanese officials have said anyone caught helping a fugitive escape will face legal consequences. Carole Ghosn was banned from meeting with her husband while he was out on bail because she was seen as someone who might help his escape.

CHILD FOUND DEAD IN UNDERCARRIAGE OF PLANE

A child aged around 10 was found dead at a Paris airport in the undercarriage of a plane that had come from the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan, a source close to the inquiry said. The Air France Boeing 777 had taken off from Abidjan and landed at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. Air France said a “clandestine passenger” had died, without giving the age of the person. “This shows a major failing of security at Abidjan airport,” an Ivorian source said.

WARNE'S CAP AUCTION RAISES $1 MN FOR BUSH FIRE VICTIMS

Australian cricketer Shane Warne's baggy green cap has made more than 1 million Australian dollars ($685,000) at auction to aid those affected by wild fires across the country. When bidding closed, the famous cap that is given to each Australian test cricketer on their debut was sold for $1,007,500. Australia's Commonwealth Bank was later revealed as the buyer. It plans to take the cap on a national tour to raise additional funds for fire-ravaged communities before it becomes a permanent exhibit at the Bradman Museum. Proceeds will go to the Australian Red Cross bush fire appeal.

TEEN SURVIVES 30 HOURS ALONE IN SNOWY MOUNTAINS

A California teenager who survived nearly 30 hours alone in the snowy Utah mountains said he kept himself awake with phone alarms, built a snow cave for shelter and held a beaded bracelet that had been gifted to him to keep his hopes up. Nicolas StacyAlcantara, 17, was visiting Utah to see an exgirlfriend and decided to go for a day-long hike in relatively mild weather last week, he said. The teen was flown out of the canyon by helicopter to University of Utah Hospital, where he has been treated for frostbite on his feet.

Indians in US file suit to protect rights of ‘aged-out’ children WASHINGTON: A lawsuit has been filed recently in the US district court to protect the rights of Indian-origin children who have ‘aged out’ while their families were in queue for a green card (or lawful permanent residence). Once these children turn 21, they can no longer continue with their existing H-4 visa, which is meant only for dependents. This is referred to as ‘aging out’. At this juncture, a majority of the children are still studying. The stipulation leaves them with no option, but to obtain a restrictive F-1 visa meant for international students or self-deport to India - a country many have little or no connect with. Further, there is no guarantee that the student will get an F-1visa, which adds to their anguish. Subsequently,

post studies, the aged-out child must find an employer willing to sponsor an H-1B work visa, which again has its own challenges. Even if at a later stage the parent obtains a green card for himself or herself and other dependents (spouse and younger children), the immigration sponsorship process has to begin anew for the aged-out child. Five Indian families have filed a lawsuit on behalf of themselves and all persons similarly placed. The petition seeks to ensure that the provisions of the Child Status Protection Act are applied equally to all children regardless of the nation of origin of their parents. CSPA was introduced in 2002, to prevent minor children from ‘aging out’ when they reach 21 years of age and losing eligibility to obtain a lawful permanent resident together with their par-

ents. In simple terms, CSPA permits some individuals to remain classified as ‘children’ beyond their 21st birthday. It is based on a computation formula. The submission filed with the court points out that presently children whose parents are born in India are not

protected from aging out, owing to the decades-long queue for a green card and the fact that age computations for CSPA are based on national origin-based India visa bulletin. On the other hand, children from several other nationalities remain protected.

PIO professor fired for FB post on Iran NEW YORK: An IndianAmerican professor, who posted a joke on Facebook about the ongoing Iran situation, has been fired by his college. Babson College said Asheen Phansey was fired because the post on his "personal Facebook page does not represent the values and culture of the college", according to WBZ television. He apologised for the post last week calling it "sloppy humour" that was "read as a threat." His post was a reaction to US President Donald Trump's tweet about targeting sties "very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture". Bombing cultural sites is a war crime under international law and contradicting Donald Trump, US officials said that

Washington would not target them. Following this, Phansey on Facebook said that Iran should also select 52 US sites to

bomb such as the Mall of America in Minnesota or the residence of the Kardashians. He was the director of sus-

Nepal to discourage projects opposed by India, China KATHMANDU: Nepal is drafting a new policy to “discourage” international NGOs from undertaking programmes with potential to hamper the country’s relations with its giant neighbours, India and China, officials said. While cross-border terrorism and criminal activities continue to be the major causes of concern for India, China has in the past complained about the Tibetans’ movement via Nepal. Based on Nepal’s foreign policy of keeping balanced relations, the projects that are opposed by either country will not be implemented, according to the draft of the strategy policy which is being prepared by the Social Welfare Council, Kathmandu Post reported. “Nepal is a land-locked

country and has two large countries with large populations in the north and south,” according to the draft. The policy will discourage organisations from running programmes that can hamper Nepal’s relations with the neighbouring countries, it said. Council officials said the policy is still in the draft stage and some of its provisions are expected to be addressed by a new law on the registration of NonG o v e r n m e n t a l Organisations (NGOs). “The objective of the proposed policy is to reassert that Nepal government is concerned about the strategic mobilisation of interna-

tainability at Babson College, an institution that specialises in business and entrepreneurship education. It is located in Wellesley, about 20 km from Boston. "I am really concerned about what this portends for our ability as Americans to engage in political discourse without presuming the worst about each other," Phansey said in a statement quoted by a media organisation WBZ. "People willfully misinterpreted a joke I made to my friends on Facebook," and had hoped the college "would have defended and supported my right to free speech". The college, however, said that it "condemns any type of threatening words and/or actions condoning violence and/or hate".

Australians leave homes as heat, winds escalate fire danger EDEN, (Australia): Thousands of people fled their homes and helicopters dropped supplies to towns at risk of nearby wildfires as hot, windy conditions threatened already fire-ravaged southeastern Australian communities. The danger is centered on New South Wales and Victoria, where temperatures and wind speeds are escalating after a few days of relatively benign conditions.

tional NGOs, particularly in the bordering regions, in the name of building madrassas and monasteries,” said Durga Prasad Bhattarai, an information officer at the council. According to the council, madrassas in the regions bordering India are receiving funds from countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Another official at the council admitted that India has raised concerns about the large presence of madrassas in the bordering region.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service had warned that coastal towns south of Sydney including Eden, Batemans Bay and Nowra could again be under threat weeks after losing homes to the fires. The wildfires burning in that region were holding within containment lines, but a strong shift in winds predicted later could cause them to flare anew, Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. In neighboring Victoria, evacuation orders were issued in alpine areas. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews pleaded with residents to evacuate fire-danger areas when alerts were issued. "If it is safe to get out, then you must get out. That is the only way to guarantee your safety," Andrews said.


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SOUTH INDIA

New hitch for Andhra’s capital dream HYDERABAD: Soon after chief minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy announced in the state assembly last year about the possibility of three capital cities for Andhra Pradesh, local politicians cutting across party lines began raising their own demands for locating the new capital in their respective regions. The proposal has driven a wedge among politicians of all parties with functionaries divided on regional lines over the capital issue. The Andhra government is examining the proposal of locating administrative capital in Visakhapatnam and the judicial one in Kurnool, while limiting existing capital city of Amaravati to a mere host of assembly sessions for a few days in a year. Many people, including students, have taken to streets demanding capital in their area, and supporting or opposing shifting of the capital from Amaravati. The government has deployed hundreds of troops to

quell clashes, triggered by farmer protests in Amaravati. In the last 26 days, the demand for capital city has come in from Kurnool, Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantapur, Prakasam, Nellore and Visakhapatnam districts. On the regional front, local politicians want the capital cities to be located in Rayalaseema, one in north coastal Andhra and the other in south coastal Andhra. The state had witnessed a similar demand six years ago during the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to form Telangana. Some politicians want another bifurcation of the state to carve out what they call Greater Rayalaseema. Politicians from Rayalaseema were the first to renew their demand for the capital city. Former legislator Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy, who recently joined BJP, has demanded for the state capital to be in Kurnool (Rayalaseema). “The (real) capital should be in Rayalaseema. The government

has given head (administrative capital) to Visakhapatnam, torso to Amaravati and tail to Rayalaseema,” he said. Rajya Sabha member TG Venkatesh wants the high court, apart from the secretariat (administrative capital), in the region. PV Sidda Reddy, YSRCP legislator from Kadiri, has demanded that Rayalaseema be given judicial as well as legislative capital cities. Former minister and TDP leader B Akhila Priya wants the capital to be shifted to Rayalaseema if the government was not in favour of Amaravati. Former MP Chinta Mohan is in favour of Tirupati as the state capital while former minister Ganta Srinivas Rao supports shifting of capital to Visakhapatnam. Former MP and TDP leader JC Diwakar Reddy

has renewed his demand for Greater Rayalaseema in case of shifting of capital from Amaravati. Assembly speaker Tammineni Sitaram supports the proposal for three capital cities, saying that it will arrest the demand for separate states. Earlier, he had described Amaravati as a desert. While the Opposition blames the serving YSRCP for the capital trouble across the state, the party blames TDP for the “political conspiracy”. “A planned political conspiracy is being executed in the state to create unrest and disturb the law and order,” a YSRCP official statement said.

PUNJAB

Six ex-cops convicted over disappearance of six men MOHALI: Six former Punjab police officials were held guilty by the CBI court in Mohali in a 27-year-old case of disappearance of six members of a family from the Tarn Taran district. The convicts were sentenced to varying jail terms ranging from two to 10 years by the CBI court for their criminal liability and complicity in disappearance of six members of a family during militancy days in the state. Special Judge Karunesh Kumar sentenced the former police officials after convicting them on various charges, including those of abduction for killing, kidnapping for illegal

confinement and disposal of dead body under Indian Penal Code. The convicted officials included former inspector Suba Singh and former subinspectors Bikramjit Singh and Sukhdev Singh, who were sentenced to 10 years each in jail, while another former subinspector, Sukhdev Raj Joshi, was awarded five-year jail term. The special judge convicted former sub inspector Lakha Singh and former assistant subinspector Suba Singh for the offence and sentenced them to two years in jail. The duo, however, were released on probation on a personal bond of Rs 50,000 each. According to the

prosecution, Tarn Taran resident Baba Charan Singh, his three brothers Kesar Singh, Meja Singh and Gurdev Singh and brother-in-law Gurmej Singh and Gurmej’s son Balwinder Singh were picked by the police from different locations in the district in 1993 during militancy days in Punjab. According to CBI’s findings, Charan Singh, Meja Singh, Gurdev Singh and Gurmej Singh were illegally detained after their abduction. Police had shown Kesar Singh and Balwinder Singh as proclaimed offenders. In 1994, Charan Singh’s wife Surjeet Kaur moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court

seeking a CBI probe into disappearance of her family members. The high court ordered a CBI probe in 1997. After its probe, the CBI filed chargesheet in this case in 2001, indicting the nine police officials for their varying roles in the disappearance of the six Tarn Taran men. The trial of the case, however, could not be taken up for many years as some accused had moved superior courts on one or the other ground and getting the trial stayed. The trial began in the court after the Supreme Court, in May 2019, ordered that the trial of this case be finished within eight months, said the counsel.

WEST BENGAL

Mamata meets Modi, conveys opposition to CAA, NRC KOLKATA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for about 20 minutes on January 11 after arriving in Kolkata for his two day-visit. The meeting at the Raj Bhavan came amid a bitter face-off between the PM Modi's BJP and Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that has triggered massive protests across India.

Mamata joined her party’s anti-citizenship law protests right after meeting PM Modi, where she conveyed her “opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens”. Mamata walked to the protest venue, less than 100 metres from Raj Bhavan, as she sought to pull off a fine balancing act between her roles as one of the most strident opponents of the new

citizenship law and the CM of a state. “I have expressed our continued opposition to CAA/NRC and urged the PM to do a rethink on the issue,” she said, adding: “But it is also my constitutional obligation to meet the country’s PM and President when they come to Kolkata. My colleague, minister Firhad Hakim, received the PM at the airport. I have told the PM about the £2.8 billion that the Centre owes the state plus the £700 million we have spent on post (Cyclone) Bulbul rehabilitation.” Mamata, aware of the ground reality where a misstep may have unintended consequences, has been insisting on “sarba dharma samanway” and using traditional prayer symbols like conch shells and kansar-ghanta (gong-and bell) in her anti-CAA-NRC campaign to deflect “BJP’s unfounded criticism” of her “vote-bank politics”. Banerjee also had to

in brief VIP SECURITY COVER OF OPS, STALIN WITHDRAWN

The government has withdrawn the central security cover of Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam and DMK leader M K Stalin. The centre said while Paneerselvam had a smaller "Y+" cover of central paramilitary commandos, Stalin had a bigger "Z+" protection. The security cover of these two politicians was taken off from the central security list after a threat assessment review was made by central security agencies and approved by the union home ministry, they said. CRPF commandos were protecting the two leaders of Tamil Nadu. However, they said, the central security cover will be formally taken off after the state police takes over their security task, they added.

FOUR LUXURY FLATS IN KERALA DEMOLISHED

Four luxury flats in Kochi overlooking Kerala's stunning backwaters came crashing down in seconds in a highly controlled demolition process. Over 350 flats in the coastal city - that housed 240 families – were razed to the ground as the Kerala government conducted one of the largest demolition drives in India involving residential complexes. The unprecedented exercise came four months after the Supreme Court ordered the demolition of four residential buildings in a posh lakeside location over violation of coastal regulation norms. Massive arrangements have been made for the demolition process. Hundreds of kilograms of explosives were stacked in the buildings to demolish them in a manner of implosion where the debris fell inwards. A crowd of onlookers who flocked to nearby terraces and roads watched the demolition, after officials conducted aerial surveys.

THREE HELD FOR SMUGGLING DRUGS, WEAPONS FROM PAKISTAN

An Army Naik and two others have been arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs and weapons from Pakistan using GPS-fitted drones in collusion with their Pakistani accomplices. Punjab Police chief Dinakar Gupta said they seized two Chinese-made drones, 12 drone batteries, some custommade drone containers, an INSAS rifle magazine and two walkie talkie sets, besides Rs 622,000 in cash from them. The cash is suspected to be the sale proceed of the smuggled drugs, he said, adding that no drug, however, has been recovered from them as yet. He said three persons, including an Army naik, Rahul Chauhan, were arrested, said Gupta. The seized drones were GPSfitted, he said, adding that it was discovered that such drones were being used to drop weapons, hand grenades, satellite phones and fake currency notes in India.

10 COPS INJURED IN BENGAL BANDH VIOLENCE

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

take guard against antiCAA/NRC protesters’ apprehensions of her going “soft on the cause”. She went back to the Esplanade dharna site a second time in the evening and, after an intense face-off with non-Trinamool, anti-CAA/NRC protesters that lasted a few minutes, accused them of “trying to fish in troubled waters” and being “BJP stooges”. “I do not

need any certificate about the sincerity of my cause from anyone,” she said. PM Modi was received by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, state municipal affairs minister Firhad Hakim, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh and other senior BJP leaders at the airport which saw protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act outside the gate.

At least 10 policemen were injured, six police vehicles torched, buses attacked and crude bombs recovered from a rail track in the nick of time as parts of Bengal lapsed into violence during Bharat Bandh, called by the Left and Congress-backed central trade unions against the Union government's "antipeople policies." Although both CPM and Congress functionaries claimed the bandh was "peaceful and total" throughout the district, hundreds of CPM and Congress supporters had assembled on the highway and refused to budge, stalling traffic all along the route. When persuasion didn't work, the police allegedly resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters. They retaliated with a shower of stones and a bricks that left 10 of the police personnel injured.


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

The vision of giants for Republic India

Mahant Swami in Surat

• Dr. Rajendra Prasad had two regrets about the Constitution • In politics, Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to dictatorship I

ndia became republic on 26 January 1950 when the Indian Constitution was made effective. The Constitution making process, presided over by Dr.Rajendra Prasad and initiated on the basis of the Objective Resolution moved by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, took almost three years and the Chief Architect of it was Dr.B.R.Ambedkar.

Head of BAPS Mahant Swami is currently in Surat. Mahant Swami gave daily pooja darshan to his devotees. On 10th January (The full moon day) it was observed as Diksha Din. Everyday Mahant Swami gave his blessings to his followers and guides them how to follow the path of salvation. On 11th January, students of BAPS Swaminaryan Vidya Mandir, Surat, performed a skid. On 12th Sunday Assembly was held.

Mitul Paniker Pandit Nehru, Dr.Rajendra Prasad and Dr.Ambedkar

to draw up our first Constitution of a free The first meeting of the Constituent Bharat in an Indian language. The Assembly of India took place on difficulties in both cases were practical December 9, 1946 at New Delhi with Dr and proved insurmountable. But that Sachidanand being elected as the interim does not make the regret any the less President of the Assembly. However, on poignant.” December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Dr.Ambedkar, the Chief Architect of was elected as the President and Dr. H.C. the Constitution while presenting the Mukherjee as the Vice-President of the final draft for approval on 25 November Constituent Assembly. While moving the 1949 cautioned the Assembly: “For in Objective Resolution in the Constituent India, Bhakti or what may be called the Assembly to declare its firm and solemn path of devotion or hero-worship, plays a resolve to proclaim India as an part in its politics unequalled in Independent Sovereign Republic and to magnitude by the part it plays in the draw up for her future governance , politics of any other country in the world. Nehru stated: “India has been under the Bhakti in religion may be a road to the sway of the British for the last 150 years. salvation of the soul. But in politics, We do not wish to go into things against Bhakti or hero-worship is a sure road to which we have continuously raised our degradation and to eventual dictatorship. voice ever since the advent of the British We must do is not to be content with Raj. We will not at present speak of the mere political democracy. We must make injuries done to India during this one and our political democracy a social a half century. They not only deprived us democracy as well. Political democracy of our freedom but also created disunity cannot last unless there lies at the base of among us. We are not to go into these it social democracy. What does social things today. We, however, cannot democracy mean? It means a way of life ignore the struggle and sacrifices of our which recognizes liberty, equality and leaders. In the beginning our leaders fraternity as the principles of life. These demanded freedom by passing principles of liberty, equality and resolutions with explanations and fraternity as the principles of life. These submitting them to the Government. We principles of liberty, equality and were subjected openly to highfraternity are not to be treated as handedness and the Government were separate items in a trinity….By everywhere openly favouring the British. independence, we have lost the excuse of We earnestly appealed to our rulers to blaming the British for anything going treat us with justice.” wrong. If hereafter things go wrong, we On the D-Day when the Constitution will have nobody to blame except was approved i.e. 26 November 1949, Dr. ourselves. There is great danger of things Rajendra Prasad said: “There are only two going wrong. Times are fast changing. regrets which I must share with the People including our own are being Hon’ble Members I would have liked to moved by new ideologies. They are have some qualifications laid down for getting tired of Government by the members of the Legislatures. It is people. They are prepared to have anomalous that we should insist upon Governments for the high qualifications for Next Column people and are indifferent those who administer or whether it is Government help in administering the The relevance of law but none for those Mahatma Gandhi’s views of the people and by the people. If we wish to who made it except that preserve the Constitution in which we they are elected. A law giver requires have sought to enshrine the principle of intellectual equipment but even more Government of the people, for the people than that capacity to take a balanced view and by the people, let us resolve not to be of things to act independently and above tardy in the recognition of the evils that all to be true to those fundamental things lie across our path and which induce of life in one word to have character. It is people to prefer Government for the not possible to devise any yardstick for people to Government by the people, nor measuring the moral qualities of a man to be weak in our initiative to remove and so long as that is not possible, our them. That is the only way to serve the Constitution will remain defective. The country. I know of no better.” other regret is that we have not been able

The American Misstep that Claimed 176 Lives Dear Readers, Global tensions are on a real-time high at the moment. One wrong move by the US has lead to a series of reactions and resulted in the deaths of 176 lives, may be more. The attack and murder of Iran's General Qassem Soleimani has been condemned worldwide. While President Donald Trump defended the move by saying the US had “imminent” threat from the General, I personally believe it to be a whole bunch of hogwash. Trump is notorious for lying, and the US Security and Intelligence appears rather unmoved. I may be wrong here. After all, nobody knows what really goes on behind the doors of the White House. What we all agree though is that the drone strike was rather unnecessary and has proven to be vicious. Canada has emerged as the ultimate loser in Trump's gamble, and Iran's retaliation. It lost 57 citizens, and all for what? A distraction from the impeachment? The strike on Gen Soleimani looked like it would provoke a region-wide war in the Middle East. However, Iran chose a string of ballistic missile attacks that seemed designed to avoid any loss of life. Trump, in return, decided not to respond; the world 'phewed' in relief as this seemed to bring an end to the round of hostilities. While both countries took a brief pause from the fresh bout of belligerency, 176 people on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 got caught in the crossfire. Fifty seven of them were Canadian citizens. Since then, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has had many sleepless nights, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne, and Defence Chief Gen. Jonathan Vance. High-level meetings have been conducted and the press addressed a couple of times. Sajjan even attended a vigil held at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday and promised the government will work tirelessly to make sure we get answers for the families and the families get the right support. Just back from his Christmas holidays, Trudeau has had a shaky start to the new year. His all-new bearded look comes in stark contrast to his fresh-faced political

General Qassem Soleimani

brand. What I am trying to say here is, he looks tired. Tired of Trump and his ventures? May be. After days of speculation, it was found that the downed plane was accidentally shot down by Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The country's General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said on state TV that an officer mistook the plane for a hostile missile and made the “bad decision” to open fire. The officer, according to the General, said he “wished” he “was dead” when he learned about the fate of the aircraft. The world has shifted its gaze from the US to Iran now. So has Canada. Trudeau said he is “furious” and “outraged” and called on Iran's admission an “important step”. He has now adopted a whole new authoritative tone, that was seen missing in his previous term. However, if you expect him to lash out at the Trump administration, you will be disappointed. Trudeau called for a full investigation, but sidestepped questions about Canadian sanctions against Iran and any repercussions for its three-day lag in coming clean about the crash. It is about time Canada navigated its posture in Iraq. After all, it leads NATO's non combat mission in the country, and over a hundred Canadian troops are training Iraqi counterparts. How Trudeau now proceeds will not only impact his standing in world affairs, but also change the perception of his people back home.


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Statue of Unity named in eight wonders of SCO Sardar Patel's Statue of Unity built on the banks of the Narmada river has been named as the eight wonders of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The good news was announced by India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who announced the inclusion of `Statue of Unity` in Eight wonders of SCO. Jaishankar met secretary-general of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Vladimir Norov, and appreciated the

organization`s efforts to promote tourism among member states. The foreign minister took to Twitter to announce the big news. The inclusion of Statue of Unity in eight wonders of SCO means that the organization will now promote the tallest statue among member countries. The Statue of Unity is a statue of Indian statesman and independence activist Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who was the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of independent India. It is the world`s

tallest statue with a height of (597 ft) 182 metres located on a river-facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada in Kevadiya colony. It was designed by Indian sculptor Ram V Sutar, and was inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 31 October 2018, the 143rd birth anniversary of Patel. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd on December 5, 2019 informed that the tourist inflow at the World`s tallest statue on Narmada river – Statue of Unity outpaced that at the

Statue of Liberty in the US. The daily average tourist footfall at Statue of Unity during November 2019 reached 15,036, whereas

Statue of Liberty attracts around 10,000 daily visitors on average. "It is noteworthy that the Statue of Liberty in the US is a 133-year old

world-famous monument, whereas the Statue of Unity is just 13 months old," stated a statement from the SSNNL.

India loses key friend with India to take steps to ease the death of Sultan Qaboos investment by NRIs India has lost a key friend in the Gulf region with the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman. Sultan Qaboos, the longest-serving leader of the modern Arab world, died last week at the age of 79.

Former Indian President Shankar Dayal Sharma taught Sultan Qaboos while he studied in Pune for some time. Sultan Qaboos’s father, an alumnus of Ajmer’s Mayo College, sent his son to study in Pune for some time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of Sultan Qaboos and described him as a beacon of peace for the region and the world. “I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. He was a visionary leader and statesman who transformed Oman into a modern and prosperous nation,” Modi tweeted. Sultan Qaboos was a true friend of India and provided strong leadership

for developing a vibrant strategic partnership between India and Oman, the Prime Minister said. “I will always cherish the warmth and affection I received from him. May his soul rest in peace,” Modi said. “He had very Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said fond memories Indians are working as from his student days and doctors, engineers, that is the reason he has chartered accountants, been very generous towards teachers, lecturers, nurses, the Indian community and and managers, among other India’s requests for help,” an professionals. Indian diplomat said. Sultan New Sultan Qaboos also played a role in Haitham bin Tariq althe release of Father Tom Said was sworn in as the Uzhunnalil, the Vatican new Sultan of Oman after priest who was abducted in the death of Sultan Qaboos. Yemen in March 2016 and The new Sultan is the cousin released in September 2017. of the late Sultan. The late There are about 770,000 sultan had himself chosen Indians in Oman and some Haitham Bin Tareq Al Saeed of them were living in the as his successor, as the country for more than 150Sultan had no children. 200 years. Thousands of

Continued from page 1 Trump and Modi are expected to sign an agreement on civil aviation apart from the long-pending bilateral trade deal. The visit will come as India faces the slowest economic growth since 2009 and rising social unrest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, which has been pushing its Hindu nationalist agenda through new laws. The visit follows Modi’s trip to the US in September where he walked hand-inhand with Trump at a rockconcert like event in Houston in a move analysts expected would help to ease trade tensions between the two countries. Trump last year turned down an

invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi. According to a report, the Indian invitation to Trump was reiterated during the '2+2' dialogue between the defence and foreign ministry officials of the two countries. "The Indian invitation to Trump was reiterated last month by defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar, when they called on the US President at the White House after their meeting with their American counterparts Mark Esper and Mike Pompeo. The US president gave a positive response...” the report added. A key focal point of a proposed Trump visit to

India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that the government would soon take steps to ease investment by NonResident Indians (NRIs) in India. Jaishankar, while interacting with NRIs in Australia, Surinam, the US, Singapore, Quatar, Malaysia, the UK and Mauritius through video conferencing on the occasion of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, also said he would find a practical solution to the issue of tracing of roots for nonresident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs).

S Jaishankar

Speaking about ease of doing business, he said, "This is very much on the radar of the government. We hope to take steps soon to facilitate ease of doing business by NRIs and Persons of Indian Origins (PIOs). You should expect to see some more news in this regard in a very short while," Jaishankar said.

"We would definitely like to see the NRIs invest in India in a bigger way," he added. The minister said that NRI portfolio investment scheme was merged with the foreign investment scheme last year to help the diaspora as a part of Ease of Doing Business. He further added that the investment is an "ultimate act of faith." "They say the investment is the ultimate act of faith and we know that you have faith in India. We're very confident that

vote on his impeachment motion. Modi, Trump review regional security Exchanging New Year greetings, Prime Minister Modi and Trump discussed way to enhance Indo-US cooperation in areas of mutual interest and reviewed regional security issues. The telephonic conversation came on the back of tensions in the Gulf region, days after the killing of top Iranian commander General Qasem Soleimani in a US strike. “Today, President Donald J Trump spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to exchange New Year’s greetings,” the White House said in a statement. “The leaders

discussed ways to further strengthen the United States-India strategic partnership in 2020, and they also reviewed the regional security matters,” the White House said. It didn’t elaborate on the “regional security matters” discussed by Modi and Trump. Modi, according to a PMO statement, “stated that India-US relations, which are built on trust, mutual respect and understanding, have grown from strength to strength”. “The Prime Minister highlighted the significant progress made in deepening the strategic partnership between the two countries in the previous year and expressed his desire to

will reflect in greater investment and we'll work out channels that are convenient for you," he said. The minister assured the diaspora that the government is currently working on measures to find a solution regarding their participation in Indian election. "We'll try to find a solution that works for everybody. We do recognise that participation in Indian election is something that Indians in India and abroad value very much," Jaishankar said.

Trump’s visit to India to coincide with impeachment process India would be a trade deal between the two nations. India-US trade ties hit a rough patch in June 2019, when Trump cancelled India's preferential trade status. The government hopes Trump will announce a revocation of that [preferential trade] decision during the visit. Other deals could involve pacts on civil aviation, data localisation and e-commerce, which have been key US demands. The main point of uncertainty over the proposed visit will be the ongoing impeachment proceedings against him. According to a report, the date of the visit, currently scheduled around February 24, may have to be shifted to accommodate the Senate

continue to work with President Trump for enhancing cooperation in all areas of mutual interest,” it said. The telephonic call was the first contact between the two leaders in the New Year and possibly the first for President Trump with an international leader on his return to the White House after his year-end vacation. Trump expressed satisfaction at the achievements in the IndoUS relationship in the last few years and reiterated his readiness for further deepening of bilateral cooperation. In 2019, Modi and Trump met four times, including their joint appearance at the ‘Howdy Modi!’ event in Houston.


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18 - 24 January 2020

Brain-damaged Tafida Raqeeb out of intensive care Brain-damaged Tafida Raqeeb is out of intensive care in an Italian hospital after a High Court allowed her parents to travel to Genoa’s Gaslini for treatment after Barts Health NHS Trust recommended switching of her life support after suffering a traumatic brain injury when she was five years old. Before she left for Genoa, the Whitechapel based hospital said they could not rule out a small spontaneous recovery and tried to block her parents taking Tafida being taken abroad for more treatment, saying ending her life support was in her best interests. During the High Court trial Tafida’s mother, solicitor Shelina Begum, and father, construction consultant Mohammed Raqeeb, said doctors in Italy would continue to treat their daughter and argued that

Islamic law said only God could take the decision to end her life. Tafida arrived at Genoa's Gaslini hospital on 15th October and they were able to move her into residential pediatric hospice unit just before Christmas and in a press conference last week (8th January) the chief physician said that she had been stabilised and had been off a ventilator for a period of an hour at a time. Following the news her mother, Shelina Begum, said the family's fight to prolong

Tafida’s life had been vindicated. In an interview with La Repubblica, an Italian newspaper, doctors said they expected to continue "promoting the withdrawal of assisted breathing devices, which has already started" and denied the British doctors made a wrong diagnosis after medical staff in Genoa had completed a program the High Court deemed valid in the interest of the child. Speaking about the treatment Dr Andrea Moscatelli said: "We stabilized it with a neurosurgery and performed a tracheotomy to improve respiratory function. She is now an hour detached from the fan: She begins to breathe autonomously. The goal is to consolidate this result."

The hospital said it will now try to stabilize Tafida to be cared for at home and have carried out various procedures to help stabilize her. According to The Sun Moscatelli explained that with neurological damage such as Raqeeb’s, “the prognosis is practically impossible. We will know over time. We are trying to give this little girl time to understand if there’ll be a potential improvement, and much of that potential improvement is yet to be understood.” Speaking at the press conference on January 8, Tafida’s mother, Shelina Begum, spoke positively about the treatment her daughter is receiving at Gaslini Hospital refused to go into more details so as to respect her daughter’s privacy, but did say that “in the next few months we should be able to give you some more good news on her improvement.”

Researchers believe blood test could assess children’s sleep quality Scientists studying healthy children and adolescents from eight European countries have found a group of molecules in the childrens’ blood that they believe are associated with their sleep quality and could pave the way for a simple test to assess whether children are getting enough sleep. The researchers, who found that a group of molecules in the blood known as microRNAs (miRNAs) are closely associated with sleep quality, said their findings could, in future, help scientists devise a blood test that could not only assess whether the children are sleeping well, but also help determine whether they are susceptible to other health conditions.

Based on self-reporting, the children in the study were classed as "short sleepers"- children sleeping less than nine hours per day and "normal sleepers" those catching at least nine hours of sleep at night. The researchers found that by analysing the profiles of two circulating miRNAs they could tell which children were poor sleepers. They took into account the participants' country of origin, age, sex, pubertal status, average daily screen time and educational level of their parents, saying these factors did not affect miRNA profiles. Through their research, which is published in the Experimental Physiology journal, they believe a blood

test to assess sleep quality "could provide a more reliable metric" than selfreporting. Speaking to the PA news agency Fabio Laura, of the Institute of Food Sciences of the National Research Council in Italy, and one of the authors of the study, said: “Our findings show for the first time that the sleep duration reflects the profile of specific circulating microRNAs in school-aged children and adolescents. "This could allow clinicians to easily determine if children are sleeping enough by using a simple blood test and use this as an indication of other aspects of their health.

“Our experimental design was addressed to demonstrate that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in sleep duration and patterns. "It is conceivable that in a near future a simple screening test will be available." Sleep is believed to essential for children's health, and the researchers say lack of shut eye can be associated with negative health outcomes, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Drinking green tea could extend life by one year A new study that has been published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has shown that drinking green tea can have numerous health benefits. According to media reports the study examined over 10,000 Chinese adults and found that many green tea drinkers were able to avoid serious cardiac issues. The findings found that those that drank green tea at least three times a week experienced the most health benefits. Many of them avoided heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. They were also found to live about one full year longer on average than non-tea drinkers. Green tea seemed the most effective, more so than other kinds of teas, such as black tea. Whilst this study isn’t trying to promote green tea

as some sort of miracle beverage, it did highlight that by incorporating it into one’s daily life the teais likely to be a healthy choice which could be very rewarding as the tea is rich in flavonoids, a compound that can help relieve inflammation in the body. Green tea can also promote healthy teeth and even prevent cancer. At the bare minimum, drinking tea regularly is a great way to consume water the body needs to stay hydrated. Anna Ardine, clinical

nutrition manager at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said: “There’s a lot of literature out there on tea and heart health. This is a health effect for which there is the strongest evidence.” Whilst many of us love coffee it can be detrimental health effects to consuming too much caffeine. By moving away from coffee and drinking green tea consumers would still get a small caffeine boost, but as green tea contains far less

caffeine than a cup of coffee you wont stain teeth the way coffee does and as found in earlier studies drinking green tea has the ability to promote weight loss, deliver plenty of antioxidants to the body, and even strengthen bones. Whilst research shows drinking green tea to be beneficial there are warnings against using suppliments make from greeen tea as they can be harmful to health. Dr Duane Mellor, register dietician and senior teaching fellow at Aston Medical School, Aston University warned: “Although green tea is safe and may have benefits, the use of green tea supplements should be considered carefully as there has been a number of cases of liver damaged reported in individuals who have consumed these in large doses.”

in brief NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH RESEARCH WARNS PATIENT FEEDBACK IS NOT BEING USED TO IMPROVE NHS SERVICES

According to a report in the Independent newspaper experts have warned that whilst the NHS is spending millions of pounds encouraging its patients to give feedback on the services they have received the information that they have provided has not being used effectively to improve medical services. A total of nine separate studies that were carried out by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) into how hospitals collect and use feedback found that widespread collection of patient comments was often “disjointed” from efforts to improve the quality of care and showed that whilst thousands of patients give hospitals their comments, their reports are often reduced to simple numbers with the NHS lacking the ability to analyse and act on those results. The newspaper quoted the NIHR report which said: “A lot of resource and energy goes into collecting feedback data but less into analysing it in ways that can lead to change, or into sharing the feedback with staff who see patients on a day-today basis. The costs of collecting patient feedback (ie staff time) far outweighed efforts to use the findings to drive improvement in practice at present. In many organisations, feedback about patient experience is managed in different departments from those that lead quality improvement.”

BREAST CANCER BREAKTHROUGH

A major international study of the genetics of breast cancer carried out by the University of Cambridge has identified more than 350 DNA 'errors' that could increase an person’s risk of developing the disease. The scientists involved say these errors may influence as many as 190 genes. The results, which were published last Friday in the journal Nature Genetics, have provided the most comprehensive map of breast cancer risk variants to date. The researchers who came from over 450 departments and institutions worldwide, believe the findings will help provide the most detailed picture of how differences in DNA put some women at greater risk than others of developing breast cancer. The study, which involves a new saliva test, has identify women who are most at risk of developing breast cancer and could be available within three years after researchers developed a groundbreaking genetic risk map for the disease and discovered 352 genetic mutations, spread across 190 genes, that increase the chance of developing breast cancer a disease which effects one in eight women at some point and, in very rare cases, some men as well. The findings will allow for future blood or saliva test to identify women with the highest chance of getting the disease to become available at specialist health clinics within three to five years, the researchers said. It is also believed that the tests could also lead to better ways to treat and prevent breast cancer by helping to identifying key genes for scientists to investigate. Alison Dunning, of the University of Cambridge, said: "This incredible haul of newly-discovered breast cancer genes will help us build up a much more detailed picture of how breast cancer arises and develops. A better understanding of these genes will provide much needed information about the biological triggers for breast cancer. And, in turn, that will lead to better prevention and treatment."

SUGAR TAX ALREADY SEES 'STRIKING' SUGAR REDUCTION IN SOFT DRINKS

New research carried out by the Oxford University shows that Britain’s two biggest soft drink companies, Coca-Cola and Britvic, have reduced the average amount of sugar in their drinks by 17% and 26% since the tax. According to the research the drink manufacturers have cut the amount of sugar in their products since the introduction of the 18p and 24p a litre levy which was introduced in April 2018. The research, which was published in BMC Medicine, claims there has been a 29% reduction in the total amount of sugar sold in soft drinks in the UK between 2015 and 2018 and 73% of the sugar reduction was due to reformulation of existing products or the introduction of new, lower sugar drinks, while 27% was due to changes in consumer purchasing behaviour. The companies reduced the average amount of sugar in their drinks by 17% and 26% respectively, but the sugar content of their flagship products, namely Coca-Cola and Pepsi, has remained the same. A previous study by the World Health Organisation in 2019 found that consuming just two diet drinks a day increases your risk of early death by over a quarter.

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


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Anushka Sharma turning cricketer! Anushka Sharma has signed her first film post 'Zero' and guess what, she is turning cricketer! Though she is yet to announce the film, the actress will essay the role of former Indian cricket Team captain Jhulan Goswami. Anushka was spotted dressed in cricket jersey as she began shooting at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. She was joined by Jhulan herself at the time of the shooting. She sported a similar hairstyle as Jhulan during the shoot as she filmed a scene of entering the stadium with 10 players. Anushka will do a promo shoot on January 25. For the unversed, Jhulan Nishit Goswami is an all-round cricketer and former captain of India’s national women’s cricket team. In August 2018, she announced her retirement from WT20Is. She won the ICC Women’s Player of the Year 2007 and the M A Chidambaram Trophy for Best Women Cricketer in 2011. Anushka had taken one-year hiatus before signing her next. Another cricket biopic coming up this year is on Mithali Raj and Taapsee Pannu will take over the role of former Indian cricket team captain.

Shooting begins for John Special appearance for Bhumi in 'Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan' Abraham's 'Attack'

Back to the patriotic turf, Bollywood hunk John Abraham has finally begun shooting for his upcoming action-packed entertainer titled 'Attack'. Marking another Independence Day release, the Lakshya Raj Anand-directorial also star divas Jacqueline Fernandez and Rakul Preet Singh. Since the movie is written and directed by debutant, Lakshya Raj Anand and is produced by John Abraham’s JA Entertainment, the project is really special for the actor. He will be seen reuniting with Jacqueline after 'Dishoom' and will share the screen space with Rakul Preet Singh for the first time. Dropping the news on his social media handle, John set the fans on a frenzy including industry friend Abhishek Bachchan who sent in wishes for “Baba.” Taking to his Instagram handle, John shared a picture of the clapper from the sets on the first day and captioned it, ““Attack” Shoot begins !!! . (sic).” Quick to comment, Abhishek wrote, “All the best baba. (sic) while Jacqueline quipped, “Here we go!!!! (sic)” Touted to be an action drama, 'Attack' is based on a rescue mission led by a lone ranger officer played by John Abraham and is inspired by true events. The fictional plot is set against the backdrop of a hostage crisis situation. It is interesting to note that this will be the third year consecutively where John has grabbed the Independence Day weekend after 'Satyameva Jayate' opened on August 15, 2018 and 'Batla House' released on August 15 this year.

One of the most successful on-screen pairings in recent times is of Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar. The duo first starred together in the 2015 hit 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'. And more than two years later delivered another big hit, 'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan'. Last year, they impressed the audience with 'Bala' which did amazingly well at the box-office. And now, yet again Bhumi Pednekar is all set to share screen space with Ayushmann in 'Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan'. In the second instalment, the actress, will be making a guest appearance in the film based on same-sex marriages. However, the role for Bhumi will be very different from what it was in the previous part. Producer Aanand L Rai confirming the news said, "Bhumi is a part of Shubh Mangal Saavdhan family and we couldn’t imagine making Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan without her. She has a special appearance in the narrative and we are extremely happy to have her on board." Reportedly Bhumi shot for her part over a two-day schedule in Varanasi in November. Dealing with the subject of homosexuality and the taboo surrounding it, the film is helmed by Hitesh Kewalya, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Jitendra Kumar, Manurishi

Chaddha, Sunita Rajwar, Maanvi Gagroo, Pankhuri Awasthy, and Neeraj Singh. The film also stars Gajraj Rao and Neena Gupta who played the role of

Janhvi starts new year on a high note Janhvi Kapoor made her debut with Shashank Khaitan’s 'Dhadhak' in 2018. While we didn’t see Jahnvi on the big screens last year, the young actress started her new year on a high note with the web anthology film, 'Ghost Stories'. She has been receiving a lot of praise for her part in the movie. Janhvi has some noteworthy projects like 'Roohi Afza;, 'Dostana 2', 'Gunjan Saxena' and 'Takht' in her kitty too. In a recent interview, Janhvi was asked if she has any fears about 'Dostana 2' getting compared with the first instalment of the film. To which she said, “Dostana (2009)

became a cult classic and I hope we match that standard, fun, energy and glamour. But the story, characters and the sets are completely different and what we’ve to say is a little more emotional.” She was further quizzed about her experience of working in the horror comedy, 'Roohi Afza'. She described it as one of the most exciting and challenging roles. The young gun said,“It’s one of the most exciting, challenging, complicated, physically demanding and emotionally taxing roles that I’ve had the privilege of doing.”

Ayushmann Khurrana's parents in the 2018 release 'Badhaai Ho.' 'Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan' is slated to release on February 21, 2020.


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18 - 24 January 2020

Kajol went through two miscarriages prior to Nysa and Yug Kajol has been married to Ajay Devgn for over 20 years now. The Devgn family now is a happy family of four, comprising Kajol, Ajay and their kids, daughter Nysa and son, Yug. While everything seems to be very blissful for the couple, things were not so wonderful for them in the past. The 'Dilwale' actress, in an interview, revealed details of her relationship with Ajay Devgn. In the conversation, she revealed that her own father was not supportive when the couple chose to get married and took some time to accept the decision. Kajol also went on to reveal that she suffered two miscarriages early into the marriage. "I was pregnant during K3G but had a miscarriage. I was in the hospital that day–the film had done so well, but it wasn’t a happy time. I had another miscarriage after that – it was tough. But eventually, it worked out – we had Nysa & Yug, our family’s complete." Kajol and Ajay Devgn first worked together in 'Hulchul' in 1995. They also shared screen space in the same year in the film 'Gundaraj'. Apart from this, they have

by Vallisa Chauhan

Genre : Epic War Film Duratiom : 2 hours 51 minutes

Deepika plays her hardest but most rewarding role to date also acted together in numerous films like 'Dil Kya Kare', 'Ishq', 'Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha' and 'Raju Chacha'. The couple will be sharing the screen space again after a gap of a decade in Om Raut's 'Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior'.

Nora Fatehi replaces Parineeti in 'Bhuj: The Pride of India' 'Bhuj: The Pride of India' made headlines after the first look of the film released last month. Starring Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt and Sonakshi Sinha, the film is set in the times of unrest during the Indo-Pak war of 1971. Parineeti Chopra who was supposed to play a spy in the film, had to opt out of this war drama. Parineeti had to opt out because she could not give enough time for the war film as she had other work commitments like 'The Girl on the Train' and the Saina Nehwal biopic. The role then fell in the lap of Nora Fatehi and she was happy about working in the film. A source close to the actress revealed, “She came on board recently and has started attending workshops for her role with the director, also focusing on getting the body language of a spy right. She will start shooting after January 12, as part of the war drama's 15-day last schedule.” Nora is currently promoting 'Street Dancer 3D' with Varun Dhawan that releases on Republic Day and will start shooting for 'Bhuj' mid of this month.

Chhappak, starring Deepika Padukone, is based on the real-life story of an acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal who was attacked by her stalker a 32-year-old man. Portraying the character of Malti, Deepika perhaps takes on the most challenging role she has ever played and her poignant performance urges audience to celebrate life as opposed to simply drawing on their sympathy for the fate of acid attack survivors. Directed by Meghna Gulzar, the movie revolves around a 19-year-old aspiring singer Malti who is attacked by Babbu, "a family friend" after she rejected all his romantic gestures. Following the attack, Babbu visits her at the hospital and although, she is in severe pain, Malti vows to make sure he is punished. But Babbu manages to secure his bail. Years later, Malti is seen working for an NGO for acid attack victims, battling her court case and getting corrective surgeries at the hospital. In flashbacks, we see how she dealt with everything post the attack. Her life much like her face is scarred and Padukone's powerful performance evokes tears, anger and

Deepika Padukone

Laxmi Agarwal

frustration. Moments like the scene when Malti releases an ear-piercing scream after seeing her sutured face for the first time following the attack will leave you with goosebumps on your arms. Another powerful moment is when we see Malti hold up an earring to her ear and realises she cannot wear it. It suddenly brings to light what these acid attack survivors actually go through and all the little things that we take

Dolittle

for granted. Gulzar plays the director's masterstroke when she draws an ironical resemblance between Malti's changing life and the transforming scars as Malti undergoes treatments to reduce them. We are all used to seeing Padukone dolled up in her roles and it is interesting to see her step into a character where she appears to breathe and live the life of Lakshmi. Padukone has become an advocate for acid attack survivors and the team have been doing alot to build awareness about acid attack survivors who are just like any other ordinary person, they still have feelings and should be able to shop and do normal activities without being stared at or judged. Padukone donned her Malti makeup and hit the streets of India to capture real-life reactions to those who have been attacked by acid. Both Meghna Gulzar and Deepika should be lauded for the sensitive approach towards the subject. The film will fill you with emotion and although there are parts (tedious court room drama) that sometimes dragged the movie, the team have done a splendid job in not showing the character as a victim but a survivor.

Film on first RAW chief RN Kao in the works

Dolittle is an American fantasy comedy film directed by Stephen Gaghan. This film is based on the character of Doctor Dolittle which created by Hugh Lofting. The Robert Downey Jr is the main lead character of this film with Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Emma Thompson, John Cena, Tom Holland.

Indian 2

Indian 2 is a Bollywood polictical-drama, helmed by Shankar. The movie stars Kamal Haasan and Kajal Aggarwal in the lead roles. The movie is a sequel to Indian.

Filmmaker Karan Johar who is currently busy with preproduction process of his upcoming magnum opus 'Takht' has announced another thriller project which will be the untold story of the real-life Indian spymaster Rameshwar Nath Kao. The film will be an adaptation of Nitin Gokhale’s book - “R.N.Kao: Gentleman Spymaster” Dharma Productions and Still And Still Media Collective will jointly bankroll the film on the life

of the first chief of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), RN Kao. KJo took to his social media handles to announce this piece of news and write, "Turning pages into frames, one thrill at a time. Bringing to you an

adaptation of Nitin Gokhale’s book - “R.N.Kao: Gentleman Spymaster” to the silver screen. More information coming soon!” The film will tell the story of Kao who founded India's external intelligence agency R&AW and how he went on to become a success story in the world of international espionage. For those uninitiated, R N Kao had started his career in the Indian Imperial Service as Assistant Superintendent of Police.


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Mahesh Babu to take a long sabbatical about the project with ‘KGF’ director Prasanth Mahesh Babu was very confident about the sucNeel. “If he comes up with an exciting idea, I cess of his recent release, 'Sarileru Neekevvaru'. may take up. Let him first finish his KGF2,” The audience was already drooling over the Mahesh Babu replied. character played by the actor as Major Ajay Krishna in the film. With fans awaiting his next assignment, it seems the actor has some other TV Listing plans post the release of 'Sarileru TUESDAY JAN 21, 2020 Neekevvaru'. 02:13 FILM: PHOBIA As per reports, Mahesh Babu 06:00 FILM: BLUE ORANGES plans to take a long break after the 08:16 FILM: RAM BALRAM release of this film. Mahesh Babu 11:44 FILM: KEEMAT also affirmed the news saying, “I will 15:08 FILM: SHAKTI-THE POWER take a sabbatical for three 18:45 FILM: WELCOME TO KARACHI * Schedule is subject to change months after the release of 21:25 FILM: VEER WEDNESDAY JAN 22, 2020 SATURDAY JAN 18, 2020 the film. I need some rest. 00:47 FILM: SOCHA NA THA 02:00 FILM: FOX After that, Vamsi 03:18 FILM: SANTA BANTA PVT LTD 06:00 FILM: WAKE UP INDIA Paidipally’s movie will be 06:00 FILM: TUMSA NAHIN DEKHA 08:22 FILM: HERO shot. My next film will 08:30 FILM: KAUN KARE KURBANIE 11:44 FILM: DEEWANE HUYE PAGAL be with Vamsi Paidipally 11:17 FILM: ANDHAA KANOON 14:54 FILM: ANDAAZ and he will announce 14:40 FILM: BANJO 18:03 FILM: ALL THE BEST- FUN BEGINS more about the movie,” 17:28 FILM: AGENT VINOD 21:00 FILM: WELCOME 20:42 FILM: THE SHAUKEENS Mahesh Babu confirmed. SUNDAY JAN 19, 2020 23:19 FILM: PHOBIA However, he said 00:23 FILM: FOX THURSDAY JAN 23, 2020 02:30 FILM: PHATA POSTER NIKLA HERO nothing is concrete

Allu Arjun keen to make a Bollywood debut The stylish star of Tollywood, Allu Arjun, is currently on a promotion spree for his upcoming biggie, 'Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo'. A recent statement of the 36year-old star will surely make all his fans jump with joy. In an interview, Allu Arjun was asked about making a Bollywood debut. To which the superstar replied, "I would definitely like to do a Bollywood film sometime. I really admire Bollywood. I think if there is a right film that falls in place, I'll look to do a film." It wouldn't come as a surprise now if this mass entertainer signs his first project for Bollywood. 'Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo' is produced by Allu Arjun's father Allu Aravind. The actor recently praised and thanked his father at an event and said, "My father is the best person in the world. He is my biggest inspiration and motivation in life. He has given me so much, taught me so much, that I will never be able to fully repay it. He is a hardworking, dedicated man and these are the qualities he has instilled in us." The film is produced by Aravind and S Radha Krishna under the banners of Haarika and Hassine Creations and Geetha Arts. Tabu will be returning to Telugu films with "Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo" after more than a decade.

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Deverakonda's next is full of romance, suspense and emotions

here is immense excitement around any Vijay Deverakonda film. After all, he is one of the brightest talents of the Telugu film industry. The teaser of 'World Famous Lover' starring Vijay was recently released and guess what, he is back to doing what he does best; playing a young man trapped in the emotions of passionate love. The film stars Raashi Khanna, Izabelle Leite, Catherine Tresa and Aishwarya Rajesh in pivotal roles. We see Vijay in four different avatars and that is what piques one's curiosity. In one of them, he is a simple guy who has a wife in Aishwarya Rajesh. In another, we see him in the middle of a battlefield. However, what will resonate the most is the sight of a disoriented Vijay roaming on the streets suffering in love. Every Arjun Reddy fan will identify with it. The film is directed by K Kranthi Madhav. Producer KS Ramarao has described it as a next-generation love story. Ramarao said, "Keeping the trends and times in mind, I attempted this kind of film. Audiences of all sections are now exposed to all kinds of stuff. There is nothing new or surprising for them. Thanks to social media, there’s so much of information about crime, social evolution in many dimensions available. I thought there must be a novel feel when viewers watch the film. I am sure of it. The content that is being filmed will take the auditoriums to the next level. WFL is, by and large, a next-generation film." Kranthi Madhav said, "The film is all about love. Be it any generation, love is only the elixir that enlivens the society

SHAKTI-THE POWER WAKE UP INDIA PYAR KE KABIL NASEEB MAIN TERA HERO VEER ZANJEER THE SHAUKEENS

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* Schedule is subject to change

MON 20TH JAN - 24TH JAN 2020

and the world at large. I have utmost confidence in the film. I’m also a viewer. When I am watching it right now during the post-production, the movie is giving me confidence about its success. It offers out-and-out new and fresh experiences to viewers."

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

VIDYA RAM SIYA KE LUV KUSH CHOTI SARDAARNI SHAKTI ASTITVA KE EHSAAS KI SHUBHARAMBH BAHU BEGUM

SUN 19TH JAN 2020 14:30: 19:30: 20:00: 21:00: 21:30:

NAMASTEY LONDON FOOD HIGHWAY NAAGIN (SEASON 4) DESI BEAT RESET BIGG BOSS (SEASON 13) WEEKEND KA VAAR


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EVENTS

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

31

18 - 24 January 2020

What’s on

Why rush to

Russia is known as the historical cavern of socialist revolutions. It is often perceived with an air of secrecy around some of its bordering territories with UK Foreign Office providing advice about safe travel. But little is known about the beauty of the onion-domed churches spanning across 11 time zones, dotted with gingerbread cottages and steeped in the culture of Babushka dolls. A Russian holiday is ideal from May to September when the White Nights revelry is at its peak. But planning one can be an intimidating process especially with regards to visa applications. Citizens with a British passport can either apply for a standard single-entry tourist visa (£100 approximately) or a standard dual entry tourist visa (£140 approximately). Both categories of visas are available only for 30 days. Flights operate frequently from London to Moscow with the return trip costing as little as £50. There are several airports near Moscow including the Sheremetyevo-2 (28km from Moscow), and the Domodedovo (22km from Moscow). Whilst traveling to Russia is fairly easy, hopping within cities especially in the pocket un-friendly tourist destinations of Moscow and St. Petersburg can be a daunting affair. Rideshare options like Taxovichkoff, Uber and Yandex Taxi will help you navigate the Russian phrases and save the day whilst roaming within the cities. However, perhaps the best way of touring intracity transfer is to hop on the overnight Red Arrow or the Sapsan Express Trains operating daily and

Russia?

taking less than 4 hours' journey time.

Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum and Bolshoi Theatre Red Square is arguably Moscow’s most visited attraction surrounded by unforgettable sites such as the Kremlin, St.Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum. The remains of the Soviet state are scattered all around the city. Monuments remember fallen heroes and victorious battles, while museums attempt to analyse and synthesise the past. Bunker-42 Cold War Museum is a unique experience in itself. Nightlife in Moscow is starkly different yet similar to that in other European cities. The classical performing arts in Moscow are still among the best in the world from appreciating Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture to enjoying the ballerinas sizzle the night at Bolshoi Theatre. Few traditions in Russia are as sacrosanct as the drinking of vodka, and any foreign

notions of drinking it with orange juice or tonic are considered offensive.

St. Petersburg, Venice of the North St Petersburg from its very inception was developed as a display of imperial Russia’s growing status in the world. An unrivalled modern city boasting 342 bridges over the mighty Neva River and elegant canals, it is dotted with Italianate mansions, earning comparisons to Venice. House to the Hermitage one can be enriched with a deep insight into the history of Egyptian mummies, Picasso art, world-class opera, and classical concerts. Contemporary art is also available at the fantastic Erarta Museum, the Street Art Museum. However, it is the legendary Summer White Nights and the glorious golden sunsets that paint the city in the romantic hues of Venice. Whilst travelling in Russia, some things have to be taken into account. Be very careful about photographing stations, official-looking buildings and any type of military-security structure – Russian officials and bureaucrats are highly circumspect of British tourists. Russia, as Churchill said, is an enigmatic riddle and these two cities will only lead you back to the country to explore the unchartered hinterlands whilst boarding on the Trans Siberian Express the next time!

for premium escorted tours please contact Manish on 11408

0203 475 2089

AURO: Audio Fitness App

London based fitness technology startup Auro have developed a new motivational audio fitness app which provides hundreds of worldclass workouts, personalised for the user by recommending suitable classes based on their fitness level and goals. All of Auro’s classes are ondemand and can also be downloaded in advance in case there is no Wi-Fi when choosing to work out. The app includes fitness

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classes for outdoor running, walking, treadmill, X-trainer, strength training, spin, rowing, yoga and stretching which are all curated with a killer playlist. Users can also overlay their own music playlists from Spotify if they don’t like the playlists curated by their trainers. Whether looking to do some guided tempo runs, strength train, or to perfect the downward dog, Auro covers almost any area of a user’s fitness journey. Al

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● Ajay Srivastav: Ajay Srivastav is a singer/songwriter and guitar player whose music flows from the banks of Delta Blues to the sacred rivers of Indian folk. Lyrically he mixes the personal with the spiritual, forever bouncing between doubt and faith. Ajay's music is raw, passionate and uplifting. As a musician Ajay has worked with a diverse variety of acts such as Jamiroquai, Gregory Isaacs, Zakir Hussain, Sister India and Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan. His song-writing skills have been touted by British music legend Jah Wobble who has produced two of his forthcoming tracks. Date: Friday 17th January 2020 Time: 7pm Venue: The Farnham Pottery, Pottery Lane, Farnham, Surrey GU10 4SL Tickets: https://www.ajaysrivastav.com/gigs ● IndianRaga Festival 2020 - IndianRaga Festival 2020 is all about bringing out the best in YOU. With a day full of workshops, competitions, performances, the festival promises to be an action packed, fun-filled event, not to mention delicious food served all day long. IndianRaga Festival 2020 takes place on 18 January at the expansive, well appointed Watersmeet Theatre, UK, served by London Metropolitan Line. Get ready to banish your winter gloom as you get entertained with a blockbuster concert by IndianRaga celebrity artists and London Labs artists- Mahesh Raghvan, Sunil Sunkara, Swathi Jaishankar, Geetesh Iyer and Chiinthu Sarvan. Date: Saturday 18th January Time: 5pm till 8.30pm Venue: Watersmeet, High Street, Rickmansworth, WD3 1EH Price: £12-£35 (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/indianragafestival-2020-tickets-67470803991) ● Paris Laxmi Dancing - Ballet to Bharatanatyam: The Journey of a French Woman Who Fell in Love with India Paris Laxmi was born in France to Yves Quinio a drama artist and poet and Patricia Quinio, a sculptor. Laxmi expressed her desire to dance even before she walked and never lost the passion for it. Laxmi is an active and well-known dancer , film and tv artist who has performed throughout India and abroad as a Bharatanatyam soloist and in collaboration with other artists. Date: Sunday 19th January Time: 1pm till 5.30pm Venue: Beechen Cliff School, Kipling Avenue, Bath, BA2 4RE Price: £10 (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bath-classicalindian-dance-festival-2020-makar-sankranti-tickets86214440713) ● The Plus Debate with Amish Tripathi -The debate will provide a unique structure that facilitates rigorous, meaningful and respectful interaction. Through this initiative, IGenPlus aims to promote the spirit that produces clarity, increases depth of knowledge, clears miscommunications and fosters a spirit of healthy mutual respect. Amish, a graduate of IIM-Calcutta has written 6 books on Indian mythology. His books have been the fastest selling book series with translation into 19 Indian and International languages. Date: Sunday 19th January Time: 10am Venue: Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, Mayfair, London W1K 1HF

based algorithms are used in Auro tailor to suit every user. Auro also integrates with Apple Watch, Garmin, Myzone and a whole range of wearables to provide detailed heart rate based analytics and personalisation. Auro offers a free 14 day trial for users to see for themselves how the app works. After this trial, the monthly costs are based on length of subscription starting from £9.99/month.

Disclaimer Asian Business Publications Ltd (ABPL) is not in any way responsible for the goods and services rendered by its advertisers. The ABPL management accepts all advertisements in good faith and it is entirely up to readers to verify advertisers’ products and services, should they feel the need to do so.


32

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18 - 24 January 2020

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Dhoni may end his ODI career soon, says Shastri

Two-time World Cup winning India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni may “soon end his ODI career”, head coach Ravi Shastri has revealed. Speaking on other issues, Shastri also slammed the ICC’s four-day Test proposal, calling the concept “nonsense”.

“I have had a conversation with MS and that is between us. He has finished his Test career, he may soon end his ODI career... In all probability, he will finish one-day cricket,” Shastri told a TV channel. “People must respect that he’s played non-stop in all formats of the game for a while. At his age, probably the only format he’ll want to play is T20 cricket which means he’ll have to start playing again, get back into the groove because he’s

going to play in the IPL and see how his body reacts.” The coach reiterated that the 38-year-old veteran could still be a contender for the T20 World Cup if he does well in the upcoming IPL. “... So he will be left with T20, he will definitely play the IPL. One thing I know about Dhoni is that he will not impose himself on the team. But if he has a

cracking IPL, well, then...” Dhoni’s last outing in India colours was during the World Cup semifinal against New Zealand in July where he was run out following a half century. Shastri said form and experience will be taken into consideration while picking the team for the shortest format’s biggest event. “We will have to consider the

person’s experience and form. They will bat in the number 5-6 position. If Dhoni plays well in the IPL then he does put himself in contention.” As the discussion turned to four-day Tests, Shastri, like some of the greats of the game such as Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, opposed the idea. “Four day Test is nonsense,” he said. “If this goes on we may have limited-overs Tests. There is no need to tamper with five-day Tests. If at all they want to tamper then let the top six sides play five-day Tests and the next six be allowed to play fourday Tests. “If you want to preserve Tests then let the top six play more against each other. You have the shorter format to popularise the game.”

NZ fan who racially abused Jofra Archer banned for two years A New Zealand fan who racially abused England fast bowler Jofra Archer during a test match at Mount Maunganui in November has been banned from domestic and international matches in New Zealand for two years. New Zealand Cricket said the 28-year-old Auckland man admitted responsibility after being identified by a police investigation. Police issued the man with a verbal warning for using insulting language and New Zealand Cricket has contacted the man to inform him he is banned from international and domestic matches until 2022. The man would be liable for further police action if he

breaches the ban, New Zealand Cricket spokesman Anthony Crummy said. "We'd again like to extend our

apologies to Jofra and the England team management for such an unsavory incident and reiterate once more that

this type of behavior is completely unacceptable," Crummy said. "We want to thank the New Zealand Police for their efforts in identifying the person responsible, and for making it clear that this type of behavior will not be minimized." Crummy said NZC would not identify the man or release information that could lead to his identification. Archer, who is black, complained on Twitter of having been racially abused during the final day of the first cricket test in November. Police used security camera footage and witness reports to identify the person responsible.

England seal dramatic win, level series Ben Stokes took the last three wickets as England subdued a stubborn South Africa to win a thrilling second Test by 189 runs late on Day Five last week, their first victory at Newlands since 1957. Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen had frustrated England for 44 overs before Stokes provided late drama to finish the match with 8.2 overs to spare and level the four-match series. The win will be especially pleasing for England for the way they stuck to their task on a flat fifth-day wicket, with Stokes’s superb burst earning the all-rounder figures of 3-35. “A great day’s play and a great

Test match,” England seamer Stuart Broad told Sky Sports. “We had to work incredibly hard, we knew we were going to have to do that. It was incredible discipline from South Africa throughout the day but we kept saying one bit of magic. We set some funky fields. One breakthrough and we could apply some pressure. You need a lot of character and skill to chase 10 wickets. We are proud of taking our chances.” Chasing a Test record 438 to win, South Africa looked relatively comfortable as they reached 237 for five with 26 overs remaining in the match. For the second time in the innings, however, a key man

gave his wicket away. De Kock (50) attempted to pull a dragged down delivery from part-time leg spinner Joe Denly and succeeded only in picking out Zak Crawley at mid-wicket. It was an unnecessary stroke that opened the door

for England and when Broad removed Van der Dussen (17 from 140 balls), it was well and truly ajar. BRIEF SCORES: England 269 & 391/8 decl.vs South Africa 223 & 248 (P Malan 84, Q de Kock 50; Stokes 3/35, Anderson 2/23, Denly 2/42)

Cherry Talk

Monty’s Spin Monty Panesar

Aussies will test India

The ODI series between India versus Australia has commenced. We will know how good the current Indian team really is when they conclude the series against Australia. The key battle in the series will be between the Australian fast bowlers and the Indian batsmen. The intensity of the Australian team will test India. Prior to this series Mitch Starc has only played his second one-dayer in India. This seems a surprising factor for someone who was man of the series during the World Cup in England. Pat Cummins and Mitch Starc will pose a huge challenge for the Indian batsmen who haven’t been exposed to this kind of intensity in the recent matches. Australia will always bring intensity to the one-dayers. The recent T20 series between India versus Sri Lanka showed that India have depth in their T20 squad. The real find of the series was Navdeep Saini. His rapid 4 overs went for 18 runs and resulted in 2 wickets. He reminds me of Brett Lee and the impact he can have on a T20 match. India’s bowling department looks strong and the combination of Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur should make it to the T20 World Cup squad. Shardul Thakur is a brilliant allrounder and he showed that in the second T20 with a blistering finish. He will play a key part in T20s for India this year. Left arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan was a positive for the Sri Lankan team. Dropping Sanju Samson caused an uproar amongst cricket fans in India. Claiming a place in the team is becoming very competitive in India. You don’t want to mix and match too much with the squad especially against a side like Australia. Has Indian cricket become so strong that they can field two teams in international cricket? India are looking to play both Shikar Dhawan and KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli has decided to bat at number 4. I think he should stay at number 3. He looks comfortable in that spot and he can impose his intensity on the team when the ball is harder and new. His approach at number 4 will be different when the platform is set, and he might be unsure about the tempo at which to play the game. I feel he is a better player when he can set the pace and dictate the run rate. We all know he is the best chaser in the game because he quickly gets in command of the run rate and the target. Is Shikar Dhawan the right man to open the batting? He often seems to get a good start but doesn’t seem to make it count. The difference between Virat Kohli and other Indian batsmen is that he finishes the job or puts India in a commanding position. You can follow Monty Panesar @MontyChannel

Profile for Asian Business Publications Ltd

AV 18th January 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 36 Vol 48)

AV 18th January 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 36 Vol 48)

Profile for abpl