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FIRST & FOREMOST ASIAN WEEKLY IN EUROPE

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Let noble thoughts come to us from every side

COMMUNITY COMBATS CORONAVIRUS

21 - 27 MARCH 2020 - VOL 48 ISSUE 45

inside: Petrol brothers queue up to accquire Asda SEE PAGE 2

Former Bhaktivedanta Manor President Srutidharma Das passes away SEE PAGE 8

Coronavirus Action Group in Chigwell formed by Cllr Pranav Bhanot (first from right)

Rupanjana Dutta & Priyanka Mehta

There is a famous expression in English– "when the going gets tough, the tough gets going." With Prime Minister Boris Johnson not offering enough security during this coronavirus pandemic, leaving people to fight it with ‘herd immunity’, the country is engulfed with panic and ultimate chaos. 111 is redirecting worried callers to the NHS general website and tests are not being offered to symptomatic patients on the basis of random political theories. Continued on page 6

Decoding Sunak's "spending spree" SEE PAGE 16-17

SAARC leaders discuss COVID19 fightback plan SEE PAGE 26


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21 - 27 March 2020

with Keith Vaz

Deep Dhir Deep Dhir joined Dilse radio in 2013 and is now hosting his show every weekday from 1pm to 4pm. He initially presented a mid-morning show playing hit Bollywood songs and reading out horoscopes because there were no phone lines in the studio at that time. He then went on to launch the lunch time debate, where he and his team built up a steady flow of listeners. Deep earned his stripes presenting the Lunch time debate show single handily before firmly establishing himself as the King of Talk on Let’s Talk’ from 1pm onwards every weekday where his guests have been an eclectic mix of people. From the Former PM David Cameron through to the president of MORI and even stand-up comedians have all walked into his studios and experienced the Deep Rajah Interview.

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Which place or city or country do you most feel at home in? London. It really inspires me as I grew up in London. Its variety of cultures and cuisines. The way history intertwines itself with modernity, London is the number one place to live in.

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What are your proudest achievements?

Learning to walk all over again after a major hip operation on my 13th Birthday.

Caring for my parents in their older years. My father suffered a massive stroke in his late years. That taught me how fragile life can be and how close I got to him while caring from him at that time and being known as the 'people’s man' and developing a talk show that gives others an opportunity people to talk about how they experience London from their points of view. Especially from the ethnic minorities.

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What inspires you?

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Benefit from very competitive rates, tailored advice & service to suit your specific needs, 24 hour response to all online enquries and our many years of experience.

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• Asylum & Immigration • New Point Based System • Settlement Application (ILR) • European Law • Nationality & Travel Documents • Human Rights Applications • High Court of Appeals • Family Matters and Divorce

• Switching Visas • Over Stayers • Legacy Cases • Work Permits • Visa Extensions • Judicial Reviews • Tribunal Appeals • Student Appeals

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Being challenged about ideas. Being spoken and listened too. Being appreciated from all my hard work and efforts.

call me and tell their opinion from their points of view that is what really makes my show.

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What has been biggest obstacle in your career? Myself, I believe we are our own worst enemy and it is us as individuals who hold us back from achieving our goals.

Getting people to come on air. Being 'Mic Shy' never helps when you are trying to host a talk show!

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Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date? Firstly, Freddie Mercury from Queendespite him facing a number of obstacles he still managed to be the lead singer of one of the worlds greatest rock bands. Secondly, Rod Eddington - Former CEO of British airways - He told me to remember your family in any given situation its your family whom you will ultimately rely on. Thirdly, My parents - They came to the UK as immigrants and with hard work achieved miracles.

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What is the best aspect about your current role? Making people feel valued and respected for their opinions. My show reflects a lot of how society is behaving and if someone can

And the worst?

What are your long term goals?

To remain happy and remain in my current role.

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If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change? The fact that that there is too big a divide between the PM and his voters. More people should be able to actively communicate with the PM. That way the country's voters would feel more respected.

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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? Mahatma Gandhi. After all he has had previous experience of this!

Petrol brothers queue up to accquire Asda Zuber and Mohsin Issa of the EuroGarages (EG) Group have been eyeing the stakehold of Asda for a couple of weeks since February. A recent Bloomberg report indicates that Blackburn-based billionaire brothers are now jointly bidding with TDR Capital to accquire the foodchain. Their interest in the merger was implicitly confirmed by a spokesperson of the company who in a statement to the Asian Voice said, “Both Mohsin and Issa are extremely busy and in the middle of an accquisiton”. The brothers opened their first site in Bury in 2001 and have built an empire in the form of EG Group which has expanded across nearly 6,000 locations. Born to immigrant parents who came to Britain in the sixties “with nothing” on their backpack,

Zuber (L) and Mohsin Issa

their Gujarati father worked in the textile industry when he arrived in the UK. Now, EG Group is the largest independent petrol station operator, employing over 25,000 people and records an annual revenue of approximately £15 bn. The next feather in their cap can be the accquisition of Asda. However, other competitors in the bidding process include Apollo Global Management and Lone Star Funds. Previous

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Dear Subscriber, This week's Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar newsweeklies come to you with a complimentary copy of Asian House & Home magazine. We do hope that you will enjoy reading it. One of the many magazine supplements that we offer our subscribers, this is part of our endeavour to offer you a consistently better, more enjoyable and useful reading experience. Your comments and suggestions are, as always, most welcome.

reports indicate that private equity firms Apax Partners and KKR, the former Boots owner, have also held discussions with Walmart. Asda had failed to reach a negotiation with the Sainsbury’s despite Walmart selling off the former at £7.3bn in 2018. However, the merger was blocked by Competition Markets’ Authority, a government watchdog. Now, Asda has hired Rothschild to advise on a sale or stock market float.


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COMMENTS

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21 - 27 March 2020

Survival of the fittest? The Indian government along with the US have been quick to swing into action, to tackle Novel Coronavirus. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged $10 million towards a Covid-19 emergency fund and said that India was putting together a rapid response team of doctors and specialists for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) nations as part of an initiative led by himself- making his efficiency noteworthy. He has also shut the border to travellers from affected areas, to save the country’s vulnerable. But the same cannot be said about the British government. Britain has stopped testing its patients, other than those admitted. While the recorded number of people with Coronavirus is 1900+ in a country of 65 million, those not tested are not in that category. Many with symptoms are just asked to call 111- which then redirects one to their website. At this rate the real numbers of affected people could be more than 55,000 already with no access to tests or possible care. It is a shame that a so-called first-world country, that has been renowned for its social welfare policies and free healthcare, is promoting Darwinian theory of 'the survival of the fittest' to panic stricken, vulnerable people. US, France and Italy have gone into a lockdown banning public gatherings and making social isolation a must. India declared Coronavirus as a ‘notified disaster’ while Britain’s Prime Minister, possibly to avoid flak from his insurance ‘mates’ is promoting ‘voluntary’ shut down to theatres, pubs and restaurants- putting thousands of jobs in line. As we went to press the Foreign Commonwealth Office advised Britons to avoid (and not banned from) all non-essential travel for 30 days as the Coronavirus pandemic continues. The Prime Minister is asking its people to ‘socially isolate’ on volition to avoid being a vector, and is hoping 60 percent

of its population to contract it and develop immunity against it. Sir Patrick Vallance (chief medical officer) spoke about the ‘herd immunity’ in an interview, just when Britain was hit by the crisis. Medically, herd immunity is not an alien concept but it usually achieved through vaccinations. A large number of people are vaccinated against a certain disease. After that those who haven’t been vaccinated will automatically gain immunity and therefore, chances of its spreading will diminish. Historically in cases of epidemics, one has seen that majority of the people who have had the disease have grown immunity against it- the idea of herd immunity. Many who had not contracted it, also gained immunity as human transmission reduced. But there is actually no research to back up the fact that once someone has been infected by the virus, they will develop immunity against it for the second or third time. And with people getting it more than once, does not mean it will be less severe the next time or it will not lead to deaths. The British government is being highly criticised for their casual approach, more as it is unexpected of a country that has been a pioneer of many medical discoveries and advancements. Even if the idea of herd immunity works, is it worth putting the elderly and vulnerable lives at stake? Over 200 scientists, comprising geneticists, biologists, physicists and mathematicians have written their concerns about the same in an open letter. Herd immunity concept is not a viable option to deal with Covid-19, and nothing can emphasise it more. It is high time the British government wakes up and smells the coffee, takes some real actions- to save its people and its drowning businesses, and stop depending on Darwinian evolutionary theories once for all.

Exit of Scindia from Cong Congress has lost another prominent politician with Jyotiraditya Scindia joining BJP. But the bigger, immediate headache for the tottering party is the future of its government in Madhya Pradesh. Congress’ hopes of saving the 15-month-old Kamal Nath ministry rest on wooing back most of the rebel MLAs belonging to Scindia’s faction. Long unable to widen his clout in the faction-ridden MP Congress with veterans Digvijaya Singh and Nath ceding virtually no ground, Scindia had cut a sorry figure in recent months. Despite campaigning hard in the 2018 MP assembly elections, Scindia did not have the numbers to press his claim for the chief minister’s post. Rahul Gandhi, the then Congress president to whom Scindia is rumoured to be close, could have rejigged the state Congress unit with Scindia at the helm. But to add insult to injury, Nath continues to head both posts. Defeated in Lok Sabha polls, Scindia’s fortunes hit rock bottom with even the prospect of a Rajya Sabha seat in upcoming elections becoming a bone of contention. He was handpicked by Rahul Gandhi, then party president, to lead the charge, alongside Priyanka Gandhi, in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh in the 2019 election. He has been a prominent face of the Congress’s next gen, commanding a high visibility and profile. But Scindia’s exit sends ripples larger than his own political weight merits - because of the state of the Congress party. It affirms the sense of unchecked drift, which has only sharpened and deepened since Rahul Gandhi stepped

down as president and no one has taken his place. The Congress seems gripped, simultaneously, by crises of organisation, leadership and ideology that continue to fester and grow, unaddressed. In such a party, it is not surprising that the young and the ambitious become impatient. In such a party, the future seems blurry or, worse, held hostage to the discretion and whim of the high command, which itself seems lacklustre and disengaged. From such a party, exits such as Scindia’s are foretold. At the same time, the Congress predicament that Scindia’s exit points to, is also made of the fact that leaders like Scindia occupy its upper echelons. Part of the crisis that has overtaken the Congress today is that it has become a collection of leaders who have not earned their spurs by long and hard work at ground level, but have become famous for being famous, or for being loyal. It is telling that Scindia quits the party he has belonged to for 18 long years at an extraordinary moment for the party and polity. He crosses over to the BJP at a time when, even though the Congress seems unable to hold up its end, ideological polarisation is at its sharpest, when the BJP is weaponising its mandate to bring in its core agenda, and when that agenda, as illustrated in the divisive citizenship law, is sparking protests, resistance and even communal violence. That a prominent leader of the Congress does not just exit the party at a moment such as this one, but does so to join the BJP, is a vote of no-confidence in the party that it would do well to seriously reflect on in more ways than are immediately obvious.

Ivan the terrible returns to Kremlin Western media including the Washington Post brands him as the leader of the Russian oligarchs. Russian state-controlled media however, worships him as the President who saved the country from collapsing after the devolution of the then USSR. Cutting through these opinions is the fact that Vladimir Putin will most likely rule Russia for a period of 36 years bringing him close to Ivan the Terrible, who ruled the Soviet Union for 37 years. This follows after Russia’s Constitutional Court on Monday 16th March, approved amendments that can allow Putin to remain in power for another 16 years. The former KGB intelligence officer has already “craftily” managed to stay in Duma ever since he was elected to office in 2000 and then inducted his aide Dmitry Medvedev to the position in 2008. He did this as the constitution restricted him from serving the country as President beyond two terms. However, now his critics accuse him of deliberately changing the said clause in the Russian constitution through Valentina Tereshkova. A longstanding MP in Putin’s politcal party, many in the Russian political circuits also believe that Tereshkova proposed the amendment of the constitution under his dictat. Following her proposal on March 10th the Duma, voted to approve her proposed constitutional changes which were also heralded by Putin himself. Consequently new clauses were added that resets the number of terms Putin can now serve as President. Recognised as the stabilising force of power, his critics have been particularly confrontational of the bill being passed under the seige of Corona virus and an on-going oil war

with Saudi Arabia. The opposition has called for a mass rally against the plan but gatherings of more than 5,000 people are currently banned in Moscow over coronavirus fears. Protestors and pressure groups have been ordered against demonstrations, public gatherings and marches against this new clause for the fear of spreading corona virus through community transmission. Political pundits will nail this piece of politics as the grandmaster’s stroke such that Putin has been able to retain power without drawing too much negative press worldwide as economies remain concerned about Wall Street crash and tumbling oil prices. However, that is not to under-estimate the power of Russian citizens. Marchers have gathered outside the Russian parliament in one-person picket protests, the only kind allowed in Moscow as of today. In the meantime, more than 18,000 Russians have also signed an online petition denouncing the reform as "politically and ethically unacceptable". No matter the vociferous criticism of leaders like Alexei Navalny, little screentime is available for their apprehensions. Let’s not forget how he got disbarred from contesting the last presidential election for starters. And with regards to the global media, barring running one or two op-eds at present broadcasters appear more concerned about their country running out of tissue rolls and perhaps, rightly so. In other words, whether MI5 likes it or not the ex-KGB officer has staked his claims to Kremlin once again and this time until 2036. The timing cannot be more appropriate.

I am thankful for all of those who said 'no' to me. It’s because of them I’m doing it myself - Albert Einstein

Alpesh Patel

When We Get Out Of This Each year some 9 million people die of hunger. They will this year too. So far Covid-19 has taken the lives of 0.0001 percent of the world population. Or 7000 people worldwide year to date. Imagine if the world governments had the political will to spend the trillions they are spending to save the lives of another 7000 people and do what they do for this to end the 8million guaranteed to die of hunger, let alone other diseases. The problem with the financial markets is they are not the real economy with real people and real jobs. When I had my show on Bloomberg and we went through a couple of crashes we were mindful that real people will be losing real jobs. There are those who cannot and so have not saved. Others chose not to. You may have read reports of how the worlds wealthiest have lost trillions. Actually, market crashes always result in transfer of wealth from the many poor to the few rich - just faster than usual. At this time it should be British Airways shareholders - diffused - who should feel the pain not employees. Shareholders are capitalists. It is capital that should pain. But instead management will sack workers. Cash flow is a limit operating boundary condition of any business but just as banks were forced after 2008 to ensure they had ample reserves we know now to ensure all businesses of any scale should have too. They don’t because dividends from earnings are paid to capitalist shareholders not kept in reserves. This needs to change as it was for banks. Once again banks will be loaded with money and management will make massive profits paid to their senior managers and dividends. If you have an extended family of friends and relatives you are especially rich at this time. Those who have sought self isolation for years as their idil realise I hope even more so we are connected. It is heartening we as a fragile species even in increased isolation brought on long before this new threat, we help those we can, when we can, in whatever way we can. That part of human nature is a constant. Instead of the Central Bankers from US, UK and others meeting privately to coordinate interest rate cuts, G7 political leaders should be coordinated on one screen on TV to reassure the public. The former will see us sell financial assets as we know the Central Banks are creating panic and running out of ammunition. The latter actually helps - builds confidence. Secondly, Government should buy shares for cash in large employers needing a bailout eg British Airway BUT on an offer to existing shareholders who if they do not pay up, get diluted away. The State will get its money back and save jobs. Rather pay for shares and save a business than pay for benefits for those made redundant. Top of Form Bottom of Form 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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Lord Rami Ranger pays tribute to the ‘strength of women’ in his maiden speech Lord Rami Ranger who became a peer in October 2019, made his first speech on 10 March 2020 at the House of Lords in a debate viz 'discussing UK's role in advancing equality for women everywhere' to mark the International Women's Day. Making his maiden speech, Lord Ranger conveyed his utmost gratitude to several people in the House of Lords, as well as the former Prime Minister Theresa May, who was instrumental to the grant of his peerage. Paying first his first tribute to his mother on this International Women’s Day, and owing his success as an immigrant also to the British sense of tolerance and fair play, Lord Ranger started by saying, “I firmly believe that empowerment and equality for women everywhere is a necessity and not a choice. I know this because I owe everything to a remarkable woman who was my mother...” He then said, “I owe my success to the British sense of tolerance and fair play. As a result, an ordinary immigrant like me could realise his ambitions and become an asset for this family and adopted country. It is a privilege for me to be British and amongst those who from these islands have touched the lives of almost everyone in the world.” Lord Ranger then spoke about his late father, who was a visionary, a freedom fighter and lost his life during India’s partition trying to establish a religious unity. “He was against the partition of India based on religion as he was a firm believer in a united India free of religious rivalry with all her people living together in harmony,” he added. “He said, India's diversity was like the colours of a rainbow; her charm would diminish if one were removed...I am a posthumous child and was born twenty days after the death of our illustrious father.” Lord Ranger then narrated his life story, its struggles and a mother’s sacrifice and contributions, which

Lord Rami Ranger

made him the man he is today. “My life began in a refugee camp in India without a father but with a remarkable mother. Our mother was widowed at the young age of just 35 with seven children – I was born 20 days later – taking us to 8with the oldest being 14,” he said. “She had lost her country, ancestral home and husband, and whatever could go wrong went wrong for her. She was told by her family to put us all in an orphanage as it would be challenging to manage eight of us on her own in a new country without a husband or family wealth. She refused to give up her children and accepted what fate had thrown at her.” Emphasising on the importance of education especially for a woman, he added, “Luckily, she 9his mother) was educated at a time when many did not teach their girls and was thus able to gain employment at a local primary school. Our future would have been very different if our mother wasn't educated. She brought up eight of us through immense difficulties. Her words to us were, 'you may starve, but you will study'.” As a result, five of her sons, became commissioned officers in the Indian Army and she received the title of the 'Proudest Indian Mother' for having her sons serve in the defence of India. Moving on to his own business empire in the UK and his efforts behind its success, Lord Ranger went to say, “I am the most proud to have established busi-

nesses which have won 6 Queen's Awards for Enterprise in International trade – 5 of them consecutively – an unprecedented achievement. “My companies sustain thousands of British jobs through their export activities and has connected Britain through trade with over 100 countries.” Referring then to gender equality and the lack of it (such as pay gaps), Lord Ranger said, “In many parts of the world, women are still prevented from studying or going to work. “I say –‘those who do not treat women as equals become unequal themselves in the world.’ “Even though there are laws preventing gender inequality, there is still a gender pay gap that persists in the UK and across the globe. “Why is it that women in many countries are worse off than men in terms of health, jobs and education? Women probably work harder and longer hours than men. “More importantly, as my life shows, if a husband dies prematurely as my father did, he may leave behind a woman who may be unable to deal with our uncaring world and a mother unable to provide for her children. “My mother's resilience and ability shaped the lives of 8 children, 19 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren. “Educating girls isn't just good for that girl; it also marks the end of poverty for her family, her children, her community and eventually her country. "We must not underestimate the power of educated girls as what they experience themselves; they will be able to impart to their children.” He concluded by pledging his time and resources to support the eradication of the mistreatment and gender inequality suffered by women across the globe. “I pay tribute to vital initiatives such as International Women's Day which helps highlighting the achieve-

ments of women across the world as well as the challenges they face,” said Lord Ranger. He then paid his final tribute to the three wonderful women who shaped his destiny as a homage to the Internation Women’s Day, “Firstly, my mother who never gave up and never gave in no matter what fate threw at her. She could easily have abandoned us and remarried as she was young, intelligent and beautiful, but she dedicated her life to her children and made each of us an asset for society. She also instilled the right values in us, which became the bedrock of our success. “Second, is my beautiful, intelligent, educated and hardworking wife, who has always stood by me. She worked for the MOD and HMRC and with *her* financial help; we could offer the best education to our three beautiful daughters. She has been the bedrock of my success. Our eldest daughter is Cllr Reena Ranger OBE who also runs an organisation dedicated to empowering women. Our second daughter is an accomplished NHS doctor who has completed her research in haematology. Our youngest daughter is a scholarship holder from LSE who worked for Google and PWC before joining one of our companies and has become an integral part of its success. “Third -the former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Theresa May MP who ennobled me in her resignation honours list. Without the support of these wonderful women, I would not be standing here today as a proud man. Let my life's story always remind you of the strength of women. “In the words of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh faith, ‘From woman man is born; within woman man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. 'When his woman dies he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. 'So why consider her inferior? From her Kings and Prophets are born. 'Without woman, there would be no one at all’.”

Lord Loomba advocates greater help for widows on International Women's Day 2020 Lord Loomba, discussed about gender equality, pay gaps, importance of education for women and government policy for widows and spinsters, at a debate to mark the International Women's Day. Speaking at the debate, he said,"equality for women and girls, .... is [a] very important issue that does not lessen with time". "[P]rogress is disappointingly slow," he observed; "[w]omen do not have equality or parity with their male colleagues, relatives, friends and acquaintances", he stated. Of the many ways to address gender equality, Lord Loomba emphasised the importance of education. "One of the key ways to improve gender equality," he advised, "is by ensuring that women and girls have the right skills, education, [and] training". Another important factor, he advocated, is women's "access to capital to allow them to realise their potential, start up businesses, create successful companies and add to the national and global economy". Something many women would readily agree with. Commentating on statistics that show "undeniable" pay gaps "for women across the globe," Lord Loomba was keen to shine a light on the many disadvantaged women and girls worldwide that, "suffer through discrimination, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, trafficking, prostitution and so on". Drawing attention to the work of the Loomba Foundation to help widows worldwide, Lord Loomba said, "[u]nfortunately, the fate of a woman is even worse as and when she loses her husband". Noting that the number of widows are rising, and usually "due to poverty, disease and conflict", "[m]any of them," he declared, "are living below the poverty line". Uneducated and without work, they are often, "living a life of modern slavery". This issue is something he

Priti Patel alleged for “pay discrimination” by a white colleague The Home Secretary Priti Patel has been involved into a new controversy around racial prejudice with reports suggesting that a white police watchdog chief of UK is suing her for racist behaviour. Matthew Parr one of the five

HM Inspectors of Constabulary (HMIs) which inspects the UK’s police forces is reportedly suiing Patel for discrimination around his salary with allegations that he is white and male. Parr told an employment tribunal that his £1,40,000 is

reportedly less than the £185,000 that his black female collegaue Wendy Williams receives despite doing the same job as he does. Patel has admitted that Parr is paid less but contends that the reason for discrepancy is a pay policy which aims to reduce the

seniors’ salaries and has denied any allegations around sex and gender discrimination. Whilst Patel requested for the tribunal to be heard in private, Justice Griffiths has ordered for the information to be made public.

Priti Patel

Lord Loomba

believed strongly needed addressing urgently by governments and stakeholders. Demonstrating the importance of empowering widows through training schemes, Lord Loomba described how the foundation provides tuition for widows to "establish economic stability for themselves and their family". Outlining the great work of the foundation, he explained, "[t]he foundation also provides funding for the education of the children of widows, so they can ensure that their family misfortunes will not continue to the next generation by breaking the shackles of poverty". Lord Loomba, noting the change that good education for widows can bring and that the United Nations has "called for action to mobilise economic justice and rights for all, gender equality and feminist leadership," he stated rhetorically, "[i]magine a world with more females at the helm, in business and in government—it is something we should all strive to facilitate". Emphasising that the plight of widows is considered desperate enough for the UN to endorse International Widows Day, on the 23rd June each year, Lord Loomba asked the Minister "whether the Government have any plans to help unfortunate widows and unmarried girls in developing countries, through education and skills training". "It would not only make them self-reliant," but, he declared that it would crucially, "change the mindset of people around them, letting them live a decent and dignified life".


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21 - 27 March 2020

London mayoral elections postponed

Gez Z takes over Conservative Friends of India On Thursday 12th March, the Conservative Friends of India appointed two new Co-Chairmans councillor Ameet Jogia and Councillor Reena Ranger as their new leaders.

In a bid to combat the Coronavirus pandemic pandemic, the Electoral Commission has now recommended that London’s upcoming mayoral election be postponed highlighting that there are “real risks” to holding elections in May. The announcement cam as the number of Coronavirus cases in the UK climbed to nearly 900 and a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that people should be prepared to lose their loved ones ahead of their time. Now as health experts and community groups combat community transmission, the Commission has recommended that the vote be postponed until the autumn due to the "unprecedented times" surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. Mayoral, council and police and crime commissioner candidates are all due to contest an election on May 7. Welcoming this decision, Liberal Democrat candidate Siobhan Benita commented, "These are unprecedented times which require unprecedented action. Nobody would have wished the postponement of these elections in these circumstances. "I respect the Government's decision to delay and I will continue to

follow the expert advice as the situation progresses. "I have already offered my personal and party support to Sadiq over the coming months. Supporting the most vulnerable during this period is crucial and I would encourage Londoners that are able to help to look out for their friends, family and neighbours at this time.” Independent London mayoral candidate Rory Stewart welcomed the decision tweeting, "This is a sensible recommendation in the circumstances, and I welcome it. Ultimately the decision is in the Government's hands, so we await confirmation." In the meantime, Labour MP for Feltham and Heston tweeted how elections need to be postponed at a time when voters may be under tremendous pressure to go and cast their vote amidst Covid-19 breakout. Replying to the Election Commission, Seema Malhotra MP tweeted, “This is hugely important and significant. It is crucial that candidates, voters and local authorities aren’t put under undue pressue for something that can be delayed. Elections were rightly delayed for foot and mouth disease. Covid19 is worse.” A latest YouGov poll of 1000 surveyors highlighted that the sitting Mayor of

Their appointment follows the announcement by Lord Rami Ranger to step down from his position having served the organisation for the last two years alongside Lord Zac Goldsmith. CFI had played an instrumental role in the 2019 General Elections with regards to canvassing for Boris Johnson among the Asian Community. Lord Rami Ranger in a statement noted, “It has been a privilege for me to have served the CF India over the last two years as its Co-Chairman along with Lord Zac Goldsmith. The organisation made a considerable contribution to the general election, and the results are in front of us. It shows

London, Sadiq Khan already had a two-to-one majority over his Tory counterpart Shaun Bailey and is standing at 49% vote share, standing four points ahead of Bailey. In the meantime, government sources and reports indicate that there will be a legislation to postpone local, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections until May next year. England was scheduled to hold 309 local elections and 40 elections for police and crime commissioners. Four of those PCC positions also have responsibility for their local fire services.

Labour MP Virendra Sharma for Ealing, enters self-isolation On Monday 16th March, Labour MP for Ealing and Southall announced that he has was entering into self-isolation after having shown some symptoms of the coronavirus. However, he is yet to be confirmed with the disease considering he is still awaiting to be tested. Sharma follows the dozen MPs who have resorted to socially distance themselves from Westminster after the health minister Nadine Dorris announced that she had tested positive for the virus. “On the advice of the NHS 111 I am self-isolating for seven days as a precau-

particularly disappointed I won’t be able to speak in the budget debate this week. “The important work of holding the government to account is still going on and I am working by email and phone in the best interests of all my constituents. My office will not be open, but you can still contact me and Virendra Sharma my team by phone”, Sharma added. tion. I have someRachael Other MPs who have Maskell, the Labour MP for self-isolated themselves York Central symptoms, but include Security Minister no confirmation of CovidJames Brokenshire and 19. While in isolation I am Rachael Maskell, the Labour still working for the people MP for York Central. of Ealing Southall, but I’m

what we can achieve as a united group. The Party has appointed Cllr Ameet Jogia and Cllr Reena Ranger OBE as the new Co-Chairs. Zac and I will become Patrons of the organisation and continue to support and contribute to the organisation as Peers.” Now, the two councillors have decided to foster and strengthen the participation of the Indian community within the Tory Party. Cllr Ameet Jogia has been involved with the Tory Party over the last two decades, and has served as an elected local councillor in Harrow in 2014. He was re-elected for the position in 2018 and then stood as a Parliamentary candidate. Ameet has served in the Shadow Cabinet in Harrow Council, becoming the Cabinet Member for Culture and Community. He also works at

Chairman of the Conservative Party The Rt. Amanda Milling MP, with Councillor Ameet Jogia and Councillor Reena Ranger

Westminster as a political aide to Lord Dolar Popat supporting him in his role as the former Minister of the Crown for Business and Transport in the Lords, as well as his current role as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda. Similar to Ameet’s journey Cllr Reena Ranger was elected a District Councillor for Moor Park & Eastbury in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018. She stood as a

Parliamentary Candidate in 2017 and is the Chairman and CoFounder of Women Empowered, a social initiative that aims to inspire and help women to make the best of their individual talents and skills. Both members of the Conservative Party have rendered their services in increasing integration and strengthening diverse participation of the BAME community in the Tory Party.

Equity’s Race Equality Committee resigns over apology to Laurence Fox On Friday, 13th March, Actors union Equity’s entire Race Equality Committee had resigned in protest after the company issued an apology to Laurence Fox. The resignations follow after the company apologised to Fox for criticising his views on race and reached an out-ofcourt settlement with the actor after he threatened to sue them for libel. The former star of the detective drama Lewis had appeared on BBC Question Time where he had said that media criticism of Meghan Markle was not rooted in racism. He then further got into a confrontational discussion with a member of the audience where he insisted that it was “racist” for an audience member to call him “a white, privileged male”. The union had previously branded Fox a ‘disgrace’ over his comments on Question Time. Now, the Equity has issued a formal apology stating, “We are sorry that in the tweets he was called a ‘disgrace’ by Equity. It was a mistake for Equity as an organisation to criticise

Laurence Fox

him in this way. Nothing in Equity’s later statement was intended as a slur on his character or views, or to suggest that he should be denied the ability to work. We would like to make that clear. Equity and Laurence Fox condemn prejudice unequivocally in all its forms.” Follwing Equity’s apology on Twitter, the entire committee resigned, tweeting, “It is with deep regret that, following @EquityUK’s statement this morning, all members of Equity’s recently renamed Race Equality Committee (formerly the Equity Minority Ethnic Members Committee) feel we have no choice but to resign as committee members.” The committee included prominent names such

Irvine Iqbal

as Irvine Iqbal, Jassa Ahluwalia, Miriam Babooram, Rebecca Boey, Julie Cheung-Inhin, Matt Lim, Debra Tidd and Nana St Bartholomew-Brown. Actor Irvine Iqbal said, “I am stepping down as Equity’s committee member. It is very sad that our union fails to support us. I am honoured to have worked with a group of committed and hard working people led by the distinguished Daniel York Loh, the former chair of the race equality committee.” In the meantime, Fox himself responded to these resignations by tweeting, “Hopefully this might an opportunity for us to continue to celebrate diversity in all its forms. Including diversity of o p i n i o n . @EquityUK@EquityREC.”


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8 UK 21 - 27 March 2020

AsianVoiceNews

www.asian-voice.com

As I See It CB Patel

Community Wage Gaps: Let's make our weakness, our biggest strength

Daryrymple that describes in great detail the ripping off of India by the English. The Indians who came directly from India There is a major debate going on about the pay and migrated to the UK, especially up until the gap between ethnic groups and different genders. BBC itself has lost court actions over the gap British Immigration Act 1962, were much more between males and females and ethnic females educated and qualified than those from Pakistan and white females. Ethnicity and gender are not and Bangladesh. What is interesting, is that in the hands of the people concerned. Various almost all of the Bangladeshis before 1971, came aspects of life, including education, health, from the Sylhet region which was then located in income, quality of life, all depends to a large East Pakistan, and now in Bangladesh. 65 per extent on where, when, in what circumstances a cent or more were employed in so-called Indian restaurants. Similarly, Pakistanis who came after person was born and raised. 1947, came predominantly from PakistanMy column this week is inspired from a occupied-Kashmir and were employed in the report I read over the weekend, that highlighted wool textile, metal, and engineering industries as the shocking wage gap between multiple unskilled labourers. communities. According to the report, “UK GDP Indians came from far better economic and could be boosted by £24 billion a year by simply professional backgrounds. The Tatas, Birlas, bridging the ethnicity pay gap, and those Scindia Shipping, Indian banks like the Bank of organisations with the most ethnically and Baroda, and the State Bank of India were culturally diverse executive teams are 33 per cent becoming more multinational. They already had more likely to outperform their peers on presence in London. The biggest numbers were profitability.” however in the NHS. Some 28,000 doctors out of However, data derived by the UK Office of 100,000 were from India. The figures of course National Statistics revealed that around 77 per have gone up now and will go up more as PM cent of White people were employed last year, as Boris Johnson wants more nurses, doctors and compared to 65 per cent of people from all other professionals in the NHS. ethnic groups combined. If you think this is all, Poor Indian tax payers have been subsidising what surprised me was the actual wage gap the UK, US and other countries by spending huge between these ethnic groups. Comparison amounts of money in educating doctors, between Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi engineers, IIT specialists, pharmacists back wages of the previous three years – 2017, 2018, home. Not only them, several large multinational and 2019, revealed people in the Indian companies in IT and other fields boast Indians at community make nearly 25 to 30 per cent more topmost positions world over, most of whom are than Bangladeshis. Chinese earn higher per hour born and raised in India. income. In 1967, when Singapore was made HOURLY EARNINGS IN THE UK, BY ETHNICITY to leave the Federation of Malaysia, it was a poor country and in a way, Median gross hourly earnings, including overtime, for multi-racial but divided Island State. all employees aged 16 and over (£) Lee Kuan Yew, then the prime 2016 2017 2019 minister, was able to transform his Chinese 14.09 14.68 15.75 country under a strict but democratic Indian 12.50 12.82 13.47 rule. Singapore today is almost on the level of transparencyw, Mixed/multiple ethnic group 11.54 10.91 12.33 top productivity, tolerance, wages, etc. White British 11.29 11.55 12.03 What a small nation state can do is not Asian, other 10.10 10.42 11.55 possible or easy for larger countries. White, other 10.22 10.58 11.33 But even in the UK, with the best Pakistani 9.63 9.63 10.00 intentions of the government, they can black, African, Caribbean or Black British 10.30 10.91 10.92 make some changes in the law or the framework of administration. I believe Other ethnic group 10.38 10.68 10.92 that the prime responsibility of Bangladeshi 9.00 9.11 9.60 elevating our communities to a better level of education, skills, and thereby These differences between groups makes one earnings is primarily our responsibility. wonder, why certain groups are doing so well, Indians have been very fortunate. They are compared to others? The Chinese were never on the pioneers, real role models, motivators of top according to my experience. I remember future generations who have come out to be reading a travel book by Paul Theroux on East more ambitious, more educated, and definitely more skilled. In the early 20th century in East Africa. He had described in great detail the Africa, once Indians began settling down, the Chinese shops selling food and other things in Patels, Lohanas, Aga Khanis, Bohras, Oshawas, various cities in the area. Now, this was in the and other communities opened boarding late 50s, early 60s. The Chinese back then were not only poor, but highly discriminated against. schools, libraries and other facilities. Today, after But since 1979, China has spectaculary 100 odd years, the third or the fourth generations developed economically and otherwise. At one have benefited from it. point, Chinese in Singapore, Hong Kong and to a In the dialogue between wage gaps, I will certain extent in the Malaysia lead far better lives agree the minority communities are at a gross disadvantage as compared to their fairer than those on the Mainland. Things are different competitions. What I will also say though, is that today. despite the discrimination, I have seen the Indian The Chinese government has been able to community rise in every single generation. This take drastic steps at various levels to compete with the West, even America and in some areas reminds me of a song that motivated me early in they have reached a higher level. Also the life: education, professional qualifications, confidence and competence of the Chinese “Tadbeer se bigdi hui people invariably reflect on their work placement Taqdeer banale taqdeer banale or earning packages. Apne pe bharosa hai I vividly recollect some 50 odd years ago, when Indians landed in London or other parts of Toh yeh daav lagale the UK from East Africa, India, or anywhere else, Lagale daav lagale” they were blatantly looked down by the wider society who remembered the few hundred odd It means, change your bad luck to good years of British colonisation in India and felt fortune, have faith in yourself. I have observed entitled to their sense of ascendancy. What they ethnicity and gender pay gap for years, and hope had so conveniently forgotten was the whole it is satisfactorily resolved as soon as possible, but reason behind the British going to India in the society in general has a role to play too. As a 17th century was its riches and prosperity. It is no Sansari Sadhu said to me once, “The printed secret that colonial era made Britain richer, and word has a power ; the power to transform a India poorer. 'The Anarchy: The East India person, the power to transform a society.” Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of Thoughts motivate, some more than others. an Empire' is a fantastic book written by William Dear Readers,

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Former Bhaktivedanta Manor President Srutidharma Das passes away Kripamoya Das On Tuesday 10th March, His Grace Srutidharma Das passed away at Bhaktivedanta Manor after being diagnosed of cancer in 2018 and was only 62 years old. Owing to his condition he had withdrawn from active service and therefore had spent his time absorbed in Krishna consciousness. Srutidharma Das, was the beloved son of Raojibhai and Dhanlaxmi Patel, and younger brother to Mukesh. Born

Srutidharma Das

join the temple in 1980, the three friends became the first of many young devotees to become sadhus from the local community, much to the surprise of their families. The two friends eventually became Pranabandhu Das and HH Atmanivedana Swami. And thus, over the years became a devout follower at the Hare Krishna Temple and played an instrumental part in saving the temple from its closure. His efforts to save the temple included organising a sponsored walk in 1989, fund-raising dinners, meeting members of Parliament and Hindu leaders. He spent months at the end of 1993 and early 1994 touring the country to request all Hindu groups to unite to demonstrate their concern and to fight the proposed temple closure. Eventually, his energetic campaigning and urgent request that each town send a coach or two to London brought 36,000 people onto the streets before the Houses of Parliament. After the grand victory in 1996, Srutidharma and Pranabandhu Srutidharma Das with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II jointly formed the Bhaktivedanta Manor Foundation (BMF). Two years later, in the Spring of 1998, in Jinja, Uganda in 1958, the twelveSrutidharma was married to Sri year-old boy had first arrived to Radhika Dasi and gave birth to son, London with his family and grew up in Nitai. Wembley. Srutidharma Das formally became It was at a temple near British the president of Bhaktivedanta Manor Museum at 7, Bury Place at age 19, that the young Shailesh Patel met Srila Prabhupada and became very impressed with his words and mission. Das had achieved his graduation in biochemistry, and then engaged himself in heart research. Some months later, he took part in the Mahabharata Youth Club, an ini- Srutidharma Das with Prime Minister Boris Johnson tiative for the young on the 18th of July 2010. people of Harrow, Wembley and Once he took a setback, he devoted Southall started by Akhandadhi Das of his time to inspire both guests and perBhaktivedanta Manor. Along with two sonal carers with his expressed love friends he became an enthusiastic and deep gratitude. Without commember of the youth club, taking part plaint he accepted his condition as the in energetic kirtans and plays. After Lord’s mercy upon him, through which Akhandadhi Das persuaded them to he might progress deeper in his relationship with the Lord. In his final hours he was serene and without discomfort. His passing was auspicious as was his life, surrounded by devotees, chanting the Lord’s holy names, in the holy place of Bhaktivedanta Manor Hare Krishna Temple. Srutidharma Das with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi


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Scrumconnect: Disrupting Irish filmmaker’s documentary celebrates the consulting industry Indian women Nearly half a decade ago Clayton Christensen had shrewdly noted how consulting was on the cusp of disruption.

Today, disruption plays an instrumental role in digitally-driven business models where the reigns of software-oriented problems often lie with keyboard consultants. Now, Praveen Karadiguddi, CEO and Co-Founder of Scrumconnect Consulting sheds insight into future road bumps and challenges that confront the consultancy services. Last year the UK recorded a slump in the growth of the consultancy industry from 7.5 per cent in 2016 to 4 per cent in 2019, according to a study by the Source Global Research. Industry experts estimate that this number is likely to shoot up especially in light of a decisive Brexit mandate this year. Scrumconnect Consulting is swimming against this Brexit tide, as it continues to expand its worldwide family of consultants to over 120 team members. But what is the story behind the inception of this consulting service provider? “We saw a gap in the market where clients wanted fast-paced and quality outcomes whilst working under high-pressure environments. However, building a highcapacity performing team was a time-consuming process for most organisations. “So our secret sauce is ready-made hyper-productive teams to help clients deliver projects quickly and with quality. After identifying this niche, we built our organisation’s strategy around handpicking top-notch individuals specialising in specific projects. This aids in building high-performing teams who can devise a blueprint for a said project, ramp-up timescales and subsequently deliver quality results efficiently and accurately,” explains Praveen.

Working with the government and safer digital borders Today, Scrumconnect works with businesses across sectors. Their client portfolio is a collation of blue-chip organisations including the Department of Works & Pensions, Department of International Trade, Ministry of Justice and Home Office to name a few. From working on digitising the UK’s crimi-

A documentary chronicling the significance of educating girls in India was privately screened in London’s Soho Hotel ahead of International Women’s Day on 6th March.

Praveen Karadiguddi

Shilpa Kaluti

nal justice program to ensuring safer borders for the country through the Digital Services at the Borders program, Praveen and his consultants have been disrupting the digital industry one project at a time. However, establishing the firm was no easy task for the MBA graduate from Imperial College. Recalling the “chicken and egg situation” in the initial days of business, he speaks about the challenges that the couple faced in securing high-profile clients whilst ensuring a continuous cash flow in the business and hiring the right individuals to work with. But it is all about going back to the basics. For him, it was recalling the lessons learned in management classes especially from the I n n o v a t i o n Entrepreneurship & Design (IED) Programme at Imperial College.

stronger and more sustainable business models to grow and survive during such crises. “The clients have also become more demanding, with respect to solving user needs of the customers, pushing back against concepts such as big IT, billable hours, requiring fixed fees and with greater transparency on costs. In an increasingly agile environment, intensified by rapid digital innovation, clients now expect more value, rapid concept to cash, design thinking, a higher quality of work, and faster delivery of solutions and services.” Despite these challenges, Praveen is confident in exploring unchartered territories in the digital industry. In the last two years alone, he has been successful in expanding his team by over 120 team members and accruing a whopping £13mn in revenues. He attributes a bulk of this success to his wife and Co-Chairman Shilpa Kaluti whilst hailing the contribution of women in technology ahead of this year’s UN International Women’s Day. He says, “We were initially nervous when we started the business as we had just conceived our first child and Shilpa was on maternity leave, the market had also crashed around the same time. I was left with just £600 in my bank account after clearing my university education fees. “Therefore, I want to encourage young entrepreneurial spirits with minimum cash on their back not to give up on their vision. Back in those days, I had only recently graduated from Imperial MBA with practically bare minimum funds but I was full of energy and I never gave up on my passion to pursue my dreams.” Scrumconnect Consulting’s mantra is “Co-create good services with our clients that positively improves people’s lives.” reach them on www.scrumconnect.com or praveen@scrumconnect.com

Safer work culture: Higher productivity levels and well-being of colleagues Applying Jonathan Pinto’s Organisational Behaviour and Negotiation into his business module, he realised that the creation of a safe environment and work culture for his colleagues will help increase productivity levels alongside ensuring their wellbeing. Today, his 120 consultants hail from diverse nationalities including the UK, Finland, Canada, France, India, China, Turkey, Ukraine with their client support base across the UK. Now, Praveen is exploring the idea of working with clients based in Germany and New York. But he still believes it is early days. On the flip side, the UK’s divorce settlement terms with the EU is not his only concern. He says, “Currently, we are concerned with several issues from IR35 taxation, Brexit to the uncertain economic climate owing to Coronavirus. This, however, also means that an increasing number of businesses need to have

Road to Vrindavan, a documentary by Irish film maker Ravinol Chambers was screened in the presence of 80 guests from the world of television, charity organisations, and business conglomerates which also included Nobel laurette Malala Yousafzai’s father in the audience. The documentary takes the viewer on a lifechanging journey across India, where Ravinol, a former Krishna monk reexamines traditional gender roles in India and the collision between tradition and progress. Lauding Chambers’ work Pakistani education activist Ziauddin Yousafzai said, “A film that inspires the value of girls’ education through incredible, honest and authentic stories. Your documentary

has beautifully highlighted men’s crucial role in girl’s education and women’s uplift.” In the meantime, Director Ravinol Chambers said, “For me the success of the film will be that viewers are inspired with confidence to have brave, honest conversations in

our communities, in our families, and within ourselves about the nature of power and gender and how it affects us. “ W e must continue to support women and girls whilst also getting more men involved in the conversation so we can make the change that’s needed, together.” Road to Vrindavan is currently being entered in international film festivals with a cinema release planned for later this year.


10 READERS’ VOICE

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Coronavirus, Fact, Truth and Fiction! Some pundits say there may never have been such a natural disaster since the Spanish flu of 1918 when some 50 to 100 million people perished. If this epidemic is not brought under control by autumn, although summer months will reduce the risk with more hospital beds available due to winter flu and other such illnesses in decline during warm and sunny spring and summer months, it may cause havoc economically, many businesses, even wellknown brand names disappearing for good. It would be survival of the fittest that is the one that receives highest subsidy from their government that does not include our own who plays Shylock at home and Robin Hood overseas. Listening to PM’s press conference after Cobra meeting when he painted gloomy picture of this country meeting the same faith as Italy within 6 to 8 weeks, with elderly hardest hit, even hinting very high casualty among over 80s who acquire Coronavirus. Thus best way to keep safe is to avoid getting it in the first place. It is indeed scandalous that government has made no plans to help elderly, OAPs, disable and chronically sick people many of whom are housebound while, young, fit and above all greedy and selfish people clean supermarket shelves in panic buying. Social media is awash with rumours, innuendos and outright fiction, some blaming China for creating pandemic situation through negligence pointing out that China was creating such dangerous virus in laboratory to help her increase its territory, especially at the expense of India, landmass China would like to acquire, such as Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Bhutan and part of Kashmir. These territories may not be an asset to China if already over populated, unlike Tibet, one of the least populated landmass when China annexed it, with blessings of Nehru and now populated with Chinese, Tibetan’s being a tiny minority in their own homeland. Such virus may help China to cleanse it of human population, thus enabling it to bring its own citizens. The plan may be to release such a deadly virus after it has developed vaccination to protect their own people. But unfortunately it may have escaped due to negligence or even deliberate act on part of decent Chinese scientists with courage of conscious! Bhupendra M. Gandhi By Email

Covid19 - UK response With the whole of Italy now in lockdown for at least a month, I am surprised that we are not screening all passengers arriving at our airports and seaports. May be we do not have enough screening equipment or enough trained staff to carry out the screening. We know that the Government is taking advice from both the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Officer on the timing of the calibrated response to this global health crisis. Despite this, I feel that the screening of all entering the UK via air or sea routes should be introduced immediately to minimise the risk to the population by identifying anyone who tests positive so that he/she can be treated or asked to self isolate to prevent cross infection. It appears that the UK is failing to learn the lessons of the crisis in Italy, South Korea and China. Nigel Farage stated that we are being negligent is failing to screen incoming passengers and I tend to agree with him. Dinesh Rai By Email

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Media spreading fear and rumour Media, especially TV news and documentaries are supposed to give facts, figure and reassure viewers on the outbreak of pandemic coronavirus epidemic that is an unpleasant topic of conversation at dining tables, sensationalising news and projecting worse prediction, deadly scenario that would play on people’s minds, mesmerising many who rush to supermarkets to fill their trollies with food, drinks and other essential items that would last, may be for a year or so, thus depriving others, especially less able and housebound older people of their fair share! This is mediocre, materialistic society of the worse kind and government has failed to act! One news item that scares many OAPs is that government is going to confine over seventies to their homes for four months, even more, depending on the circumstances, not even allowing close family members to visit them. But these news media fails to explain what help is available to them as to shopping, house cleaning, hospital visits and other emergencies. Moreover many such older generation, especially highly qualified professionals like chartered accountants, pharmacists, lawyers and even GPs are gainfully employed, either managing their own business or gainfully employed. Surely such restrictions could not, should not apply to them, as they provide good living to their families, loved ones and moreover they are much needed work-force the country so badly needs in our hour of apprehension! The government and media constantly refers to panic buying of such necessities like rice, flour, pasta, dried fruits, long-life milk and other items like toilet rolls, soap bars, wet tissues and hand creams, lotions, as if life would come to an end if we run out of soap bars! What I fail to understand is why supermarkets and other retail outlets do not put restrictions on items in demand so that everyone gets a fair share of such necessities, or they do not care as long as the tills are ringing! Kumudini Valambia By Email

Tribute to His Grace Srutidharma Prabhu at Bhaktivedanta Manor His Grace Srutidharma Prabhu, a giant amongst men, was regarded by many as Britain’s foremost Hindu spiritual leader. Uniquely, he was not only hugely respected by the British Hindu community, but also by the wider community and by leaders of other faiths. That respect extended internationally. Affectionately known as Sruti Prabhu, he devoted his life to the service of others. He was a natural leader, blessed with a capacity for sustained hard work as well as with a warm and engaging personality. He was at ease whether it be with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, successive Prime Ministers or simply everyday members of the general public. His leadership at Bhaktivedanta Manor, one of Britain’s oldest Hindu temples, ensured that the magnificent Shree Krishna Haveli progressed from a simple idea into reality. He will be missed not only by his family, but by so many others too. And I will miss him enormously, as a spiritual guide and as a dear friend. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Shailesh Vara MP By Email

Travelling to India India has suspended all visas issued to travellers till 15 April 2020 and Visa free travel for OCI card holders is kept in abeyance till 15 April 2020. Travel to USA is also suspended and many countries are following this procedures. But the airlines are not refunding full amount and they all say cancellation charges apply. They say they can issue a voucher for future travel or they would let passengers change their dates free of charge but fare difference will be charged. My appeal to all the airlines if the countries are not allowing passengers to travel and suspending their visas, please offer full refund as it is not the fault of the passengers who have booked with you. We understand the losses the airlines are incurring at the moment but please understand the situation of the customers who have booked with you. I believe common sense will prevail by the airlines concerned. Vinod Dattani By Email

Kapil’s Khichadi Nothing to fear but fear itself Kapil Dudakia We have ‘nothing to fear, but fear itself’, a phrase from the 1933 inaugural address of Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is apt in what we witness today with the Corona Virus. I don’t wish to waste our time in regurgitating what you and I have read, heard and experienced over the past few weeks. People around the country have become overnight experts on a virus that even defies the most intelligent medical professionals around the world. Think about it, lay people have gone totally mad on social media, in their networks, in the news media and the 24/7 TV channels to list but a few. And what have the masses achieved by their collective madness? Panic. Panic in their behaviour. Panic in their shopping habits. Panic in their attitude to others. Panic in their capacity to think logically. The fear of the Corona Virus and its impact has driven even the sanest of us into panic mode. Shelves in our shops are empty. People are buying as if the end of the world is coming and only those with years of stock will be able to survive. I personally witnessed more than a thousand people queuing outside Costco, an hour before it was due to open! What were they all thinking? How much can you buy? How much can you

hoard away? And once you have done all of that, what next? It is natural to have some fear. It is normal to be afraid of the unknown. However, in our panic and fear, have we moved to a stage of fear being our real enemy? Corona is a medical condition and in time our experts will find a solution. In the meantime, all we have to do is follow some very simple basic rules of daily hygiene, and we can help diminish its spread and impact. If we the majority of the healthy human population do our bit properly, then we will give our health system a chance to help the people who are really vulnerable and need that support. Our panic and fear have the potential to take away scarce resource from these very people. Our parents, grandparents, the ill and the weak who really need support will suffer because the resources that should be targeted on them have had to be allocated to the rest of us. Is it not time that we all did our bit as well? It's time to stop this madness. Stop this obsessive panic buying and hoarding. Time we took the necessary action to limit the spread of this virus. Time we restore our humanity. It’s time to end the fear of fear itself. (Expressed opinions are personal.)

As I See It It was really interesting to read “As I See It” by CB Patel viz. “Numbers are important but they are not supreme” (Asian Voice dated 14-20 March 2020). Arguments were logically supported by facts and figures along with interactions that Mr Patel had with people of different walks of life in India and outside. Poverty, ignorance and eternal warfare are the main reasons for hatred created in the minds of different communities. To be fair, Muslims are enjoying equal or more rights in India than in most of the countries of the world. Instead of appreciating freedom of speech in the right way, some section of people, by using social media and TV channels, keep on spreading hatred against each other and try to weaken the fabric of society. Foreign media will have to change the perceptions towards India and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is going to take some more time but India in 1947 was different than it is today. As mentioned by Mr Patel, NaMo is not antiMuslim or pro-Hindu but he has been trying to correct the ambiguity created by pre-2014 governments in using the term “secularism”. PM Modi wants to give equal rights to different communities without doing any favour to a particular community in the name of a religion. Some sections of media and a few Bollywood celebrities are trying to vitiate the peaceful culture of the country. At times, Bollywood celebrities said that India has become intolerant and would leave the country, but none has left so far for religious intolerance. Hitesh Hingu London


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Britain grants India permission to keep Ambedkar House museum Indian High Commission on behalf of the Maharashtra State Government. But its use as a museum was denied by the Camden council later for its breach of planning permission in 2018 and eventually an enforcement notice was issued on November 16, 2018. However in 2019, the Maharashtra State Government’s lawyers in the UK argued in favour of continuing to use the property as the museum.

The UK government has allowed India’s Maharashtra State Government to continue using a north-west London property as the museum for Dr B R Ambedkar, who lived in that house briefly in 1920s, when he studied at the London School of Economics. The decision came following a public inquiry. Also known as Babasaheb Ambedkar, one of the key architect of the Indian constitution, he was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer. In October 1916, Dr Ambedkar enrolled for the bar course at Gray’s Inn, and at the same time enrolled at the London School of Economics where he started working on a doctoral thesis. In June 1917, he returned to India because his scholarship from Baroda (then in Maharashtra and now in Gujarat) ended. His book collection was dispatched on different ship from the one he was on, and that ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. He got permission to

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar welcomed UK’s decision and tweeted by saying, "We welcome the decision by UK Secretary @RobertJenrick to grant planning permission for a museum dedicated to Dr Ambedkar. "The museum was inaugurated by PM @narendramodi in 2015 as a tribute to Dr Ambedkar''s unparalleled contribution in the making of our nation."

Robert Jenrick, Secretary of state for Housing, Communities and Local Government, granting the permission to use the property as a museum, tweeted, "I was pleased to grant planning permission for a museum in London to Dr Ambedkar - one of the founding fathers of modern #India and an important figure to many British-Indian. I wish the museum every success." Tagging his tweet,

Sonis Immigration Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the Ambedkar House at Primrose Hill, London in November 2015

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Government for £3.1mn and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2015, during his first visit to the UK as India’s Prime Minister. A blue plaque was placed by English Heritage outside the house mentioning that Dr Ambedkar lived there while studying at LSE. It was then converted into a museum including a statue, photo exhibition depicting his life and his books, managed by the

return to London to submit his thesis within four years. He returned at the first opportunity, and completed a Master's degree in 1921. His thesis was on 'The problem of the rupee: Its origin and its solution'. In 1923, he completed a D.Sc. in Economics, and the same year he was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn. The house in Primrose Hill at 10 King Henry’s Road was bought by the Maharashtra State

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12 MEDIA WATCH

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SCRUTATOR’S The government has amended the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Rules 2020 (Pocso) and made punishment provisions more stringent and defined child pornography for the first time and provided for crackdown for possession of pornographic material involving children. The Pocso rules became effective from March 9. The rules specify that state governments must formulate a child protection policy based on the principle of zerotolerance to violence against children, which shall be adopted by all institutions, organisations, or any other agency working with children.

The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to Protect the Children from Offences of Sexual Assault, Sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interesh of children

The provision comes on the back of recent cases sexual abuse of children in child care institutions. Laying out the detailed modalities for reporting of pornographic material involving a child, the rules state that “any person who has received any pornographic material involving a child or any information regarding such pornographic material being stored, possessed, distributed, circulated, transmitted, facilitated, propagated or displayed, or is likely to be distributed, facilitated or transmitted in any manner shall report the contents to the special juvenile police unit (SJPU) or police, or the cybercrime portal”. (The Times of India). SC no for name and shame The Supreme Court has questioned the UP government for putting posters to name and shame anti-CAA protesters who allegedly indulged in violence and destruction of public property. The SC said there is no law to back such action and referred the issue to a three judge-bench to examine it next week. Hearing an appeal filed by the UP government challenging the Allahabad high court order which directed it to remove roadside posters of protesters forthwith, a vacation bench of Justices U U Lalit and Aniruddha Bose accepted the plea that a person indulging in violence in public gaze waives his right to privacy but asked how could a government take such action which amounts to castigating a person for ever. The Solicitor General, appearing for the UP government, said the competent authority of the state had examined the role of 95 people and came to the conclusion that 57 of them were responsible for vandalism during anti-CAA protests in Lucknow and they were asked to pay compensation for loss of property as per the SC’s 2009 verdict. (The Indian Express).

Longer wait to adopt a child The latest data suggests that the 29,000 prospective parents registered with Central Adoption Resources Authority (Cara) will have to wait for longer time to adopt a child with just 2,317 children available for adoption. Among the orphan children, 1,401 are with special needs. There are just 89 normal children below 2 years, the most sought after age group for adoption while there are 649 normal children who are over two years. There are 178 children in the ‘siblings’ category. As per rules, siblings have to be adopted together by the prospective parents. The data reflect a worrisome trend about a wide and consistently growing gap between the number of prospective parents and children available for adoption. With the number of prospective parents rising to over 25,000 over the years from around 5,000 earlier and the number of children being adopted hovering at around 4,000 every year on an average, Cara has started a process to review the adoption system to address the gaps. Cara is focussing on simplifying procedures, expediting the process for declaring a child free for adoption, ensuring that no child is given away in adoption outside the legal system, and bridge the gap between the Juvenile Justice Act 2015 and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (HAMA), 1956. (The Times of India). Driving licence to colour blind Following recommendations from a panel of ophthalmologists, the transport ministry is preparing a draft so that colour blindness may not remain a bar for getting licence to drive private vehicles. Those with “mild or moderate colour vision deficiency” may even be allowed to drive commercial vehicles too. Sources said debarring people with colour blindness would impact around 3% population. Colour blindness

or colour vision deficiency is the inability or decreased ability to perceive colour differences under normal light conditions. In India, prevalence of congenital colour blindness is about 8% in males and 0.4% in females. While conducting the study, the AIIMS panel found that European Union has dropped the provision of colour blindness to obtain driving licence while in United States, licences are not issued to such persons for driving commercial vehicles. Citing international studies, the panel said those with colour deficiency can recognise traffic lights and signs based on multiple sources of information in addition to colour. It said ancillary clues such as luminance, position and pattern can help a colourdeficient driver in recognising traffic lights or signs. The panel has recommended that there is no need to test colour blindness for licence to drive private vehicles including two-wheelers. It has also said badges, which the state transport departments issue to commercial drivers, can be issued to such applicants, if the deficiency is mild or moderate. In case of serious deficiencies, no badge should be issued. It also said the LEDs of traffic lights can be made friendly for people with colour blindness as per the International Commission on Illumination. (The Times of India) Four rape cases in Gujarat every day Nearly four rape cases have been reported everyday in Gujarat for the last two years. The state reported 2,723 rape cases, of which 41 were incidents of gang-rape, while 35 involved girls below the

Farooq Abdullah released from detention Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was released from detention after seven months in house arrest. He said: "Today I don't have words, the way I feel today, I am free..." But he added that this freedom would not be complete unless all the leaders in detention were freed. The Lok Sabha MP was detained under the Public Safety Act or PSA, a stringent law that allows detention for up to two years without trial. "I will not speak on political matters until everyone else is released," said the 83-yearold politician. "I hope my people

Farooq Abdullah

will be free. The people of this state will be free. Let us pray to god that we get true freedom for which we have been trying for so long." Farooq was detained along with several leaders including his son Omar Abdullah and PDP's Mehbooba Mufti - also former chief ministers - on August 5, when the government ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and imposed massive security restrictions and a communication lockdown. In September, he was charged under the PSA with "disturbing public

includes 396 persons under Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA),' he said. The minister said the detentions have been made under section 107 of the CrPC, as also under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978. Reddy said no case had been registered against any person under sedition law for using social media platforms in the union territory. (The Indian Express). Ahmedabad IT firm sues Microsoft An Ahmedabad Information Technology company, Azure Knowledge Corporation, has sued software giant Microsoft Corporation, complaining that the latter is violating its rights by use of its trademark ‘Azure’. The local company urged the court to stop Microsoft from infringing on its trademark rights by using the terms ‘Azure’, ‘Microsoft Azure’, ‘Azure Cosmos DB’, ‘Azure Cloud for All’, ‘Azure Sphere’, ‘Azure Brain Wave’ and other words deceptively similar to the registered trademark. It termed Microsoft’s use of the domain name ‘www.azure.microsoft.com’ an infringement and demanded that Microsoft be told to stop using it or to change it. In response to local company’s suit, a city civil court issued notice to Microsoft last month seeking its reply. The court said it would not be proper to stay the US giant from using the name for its services without first hearing it. Microsoft filed its reply on March 6, stating that it has been using the word for its cloud services platform since 2008, and in India since 2014. Microsoft claimed that it was the prior user of the name in the field of cloud services, a statement from Azure said. The court granted time till April 4 for both parties to submit their versions and posted a further hearing for April 18 for arguments. (The Times of India). Millions gather in Kerala despite corona fears

age of five years. Of the 2,723 rape cases, 1,763 involved victims in the six to 18-year age group. Surat had the most rape cases involving very young girls, with 13 incidents where the victims were girls younger than five. Surat city was followed by Ahmedabad city, Ahmedabad rural, Rajkot rural and Bharuch with three girls younger than five were raped in two years in each of these jurisdictions. In reply to a question, Minister of state for home Pradipsinh Jadeja, said that Gujarat is not the rape capital of the country and incident of rapes are just 1.7% of total crimes in the state, while the figure is 12.7% across the country. Gujarat ranks 31st and is among the bottom states in terms of rapes. The minister said a high-level committee to address crime against women has been formed headed by the ACS (home) which includes the DGP. The committee reviews such cases once a fortnight. (The Times of India).

order", which means three-month detention. This was the first time that the PSA, used against terrorists, separatists or stonethrowers, was used on a mainstream politician, especially an MP and a three-time Chief Minister. (The Indian Express). 451 under detention in J&K Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy told the Rajya Sabha that a total of 451 people are under detention in Jammu and Kashmir, including 396 slapped with the Public Safety Act. Giving details, Minister said the Jammu and Kashmir authorities had taken 7,357 persons in preventive custody since August, 2019 when the special status of the erstwhile state was abrogated and it was divided into two Union Territories. He said among those detained were stone pelters, miscreants, over ground workers (OGWs) of terrorist outfits and separatists. 'Out of these, 451 such persons are presently under preventive detention, which

At a time when the number of coronavirus cases in Kerala has reached 12, millions of women took part in the annual Attukal Pongala celebrations in Thiruvanathapuram recently. The festival is all about the annual ritualistic offering namely Pongala cooked with rice, jaggery and coconut in earthen pots - to the presiding deity of the Attukal Temple by women. Makeshift hearths were arranged as devotees lined up the streets in large numbers. Considered the largest religious gathering of women, this year devotees were seen offering prayers and cooking Pongala even as many were seen wearing masks amid the COVID-19 scare. At the conclusion of the festival, the Attukal Temple chief priest sprayed holy water into the Pongala prepared by devotees. More than 250 priests were deputed to spray holy water to the offering across the city. Even though the health department had requested people to avoid mass gatherings, millions of women reached the city to offer Pongala. In the year 2009, the event had registered its name in the Guinness Book of Records for having the world's largest gathering of women, around 25,00,000. (The Indian Express).


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21 - 27 March 2020

Councillor for Tokyngton Wembley Brent Council’s Chair of Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee

50 years of service let go: Brent residents now have no access to justice After half a century of community service, Brent residents now have no access to free legal advice, severely curtailed access to legal aid for housing, no access to advice on employment law and no advice to assist challenges to PIP, UC and welfare benefit assessments. We know English justice system is complex, slow and expensive: all of which impacts on poor people’s accessing legal representation. Our justice system is too often incapable of producing just outcomes that are proportionate to the problems brought to it or reflective of the needs of Brent people it is meant to serve. Brent is generally a poor area, with 33% of households living in poverty, and 31% of employees earning less than the London Living Wage – a higher rate than any other borough except Newham. Private rent is very expensive relatively to local low earnings as a result low earners spend a disproportionate percentage of earnings on housing, it is not surprising that people are evicted in Brent at a higher rate. With such stark statistics, it is evident that the Borough needs access to justice services. Yet those who could have done something about accessing justice for those in the Borough allowed free legal advice be dismantled brick by brick. For Brent Community Law Centre access to justice meant enabling people to avoid eviction, resolve employment, welfare and employment issues, address problems and disputes regarding immigration and citizenship, all of which meant people could live hassle free and confident lives. Intellectual capital in the Borough is now weakened, and the people of Brent are left without independent advice and representation. Access to justice includes providing people with the information they need to understand the law or supporting them to resolve their own disputes without having to go to court. Brent Community Law Centre took an expansive view of the civil justice system to include not just courts, but all services, institutions and organizations that support people in getting the skills, knowledge, resources and services they need to manage their legal problems. In these challenging times, people need an effective locally based professional service which is collaborative, not combative; people-centred, not number focused; experimental and evidence-informed; not one that is stifled by unnecessary bureaucracy. The Law Centre looked at the justice system from the user’s point of view and included users of the system as partners in improving it. Fulfilling this perspective lead to a multi-disciplinary approach because, from the point of view of the user, legal problems are usually only one aspect of a larger problem that has economic, social, psychological and other aspects. So, going forward, the Borough needs to work arduously in establishing an Access to Justice Service based on working with local legal services: big and small, to deliver an effective Brent pro bono legal service with the one aim which balances three elements: improved population access to justice, improved user experience of access to justice and improved costs.

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Rifco announces British Asian playwrights for this year’s bespoke artist development programme Rupanjana Dutta Rifco Associates was launched in 2015 to address the lack of opportunity for British Asian artists in the theatre sector. Since then 25 artists have been supported through the programme from a range of artistic practice including writers, lyricists, composers, designers, aerial artists and spoken word. The programme is led by Rifco’s Associate Director, Ameet Chana and a call-out for new scripts and treatments from both mid-career and emerging writers led to their largest ever number of applications for 2020. Shabina Aslam, Ferhana Jameel, Taqi Nazeer, Sid Sagar Maanuv Thiara, and Yasmin Wilde have been announced as this year’s 'Rifco Associates'. Shabina Aslam lives and works in Bradford, where she was brought up. Shabina has worked as a Theatre Director and Producer and is currently working for Northern Broadsides Theatre Company in Halifax. She is also developing a theatre and digital installation with Theatre in the Mill in Bradford. This is called Bussing Out and explores the experiences of migrant children within Education in the 60’s and 70’s; traumatic times with many parallels to now. Ferhana Jameel is a South London-based writer with a strong background in academic publishing and Diversity and Inclusion. Her recent works include performing at the Tara Arts spoken word poetry show-

L-R: Ameet Chana, Shabina Aslam, Maanuv Thiara, Yasmin Wilde and Ferhana Jameel (front)

case focusing on the experiences of South Asian women, and her poem The Bet was featured in Dear Damsels Annual 2020. Taqi Nazeer is a writer, performer, presenter and voice-over artist, who has worked extensively with theatre companies across Britain. He is also the creator, producer and presenter of the hit BBC Asian Network Podcast Scotistan. Taqi has previously worked with Rifco playing ‘Mahesh’ in The Deranged Marriage in 2015. Sid Sagar is an actor and writer. As an actor, he has a range of credits on stage and screen. As a writer, his first full length play was shortlisted for the Finborough Theatre’s ETPEP Award and selected for the Rose Theatre Kingston’s inaugural New Writing Festival. He is currently participating in Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab. He has also co-written a sitcom with SLAM Films. Maanuv Thiara is an actor as well as a writer-performer. He was a finalist of the National Theatre’s New Views Writing Competition

and his play 8 Weeks was performed at the Nt Shed by members of the NT Company. Yasmin Wilde grew up in Cambridgeshire and is of dual heritage (Austrian/Pakistani). She has been performing for over thirty years in British theatre and TV. As an actor she has been lucky enough to work with some of our best British Asian writers including Tanika Gupta and Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. Each candidate receives a £500 bursary alongside mentoring support, writerin-residence days and masterclasses with industry leaders to develop their play over the next year, culminating in a Showcase event later in the year. Continuing their journey into a second year of support are Karim Khan, Christine Lalla and Romo Sikdar-Rahman and each will embark on a bespoke programme of one to one sessions to further develop their plays, learning more with industry mentors and developing partnerships with venues and peers. Associate Director and

Taqi Nazeer

Sid Sagar

the programme leader, Ameet Chana told Asian Voice, "Having received a record number of very high standard submissions I am very much looking forward to working with this year's cohort and supporting their journey in developing their ideas. This year we aim to add to their writing 'toolkit' further with more masterclasses, one-on-one sessions with their mentors and recognised theatre practitioners as well as writer-in-residence days and access to watch more shows and read more plays."

'Five Rivers', connecting the east to the west Singer Najma Akhtar will release her ninth solo album ‘Five Rivers’ soon. Embracing the diverse music of the World, both geographic and historic, Najma has consistently created a music that is both universally coherent and singularly personal to her own artistic vision. Najma was born in Chelmsford. In 1984 she won the Birmingham Asian Song Contest, and in 1987 produced her first album. Her unique and distinctive styles range from fusions of jazz with the Indian ghazal, doing updated arrangements of these ghazals (love songs and spiritual songs), along with traditional bhajans, Indian Semi Classical vocals and the occasional Bollywood hit. A musical journey,‘Five Rivers’ begins in India at the River Ganges and continues on to Africa and the River Niger, to Great Britain and Ireland, with the River Thames and the River Shannon and across the

photo courtesy: Alice Mutasa

CIIr Ketan Sheth

Najma Akhtar

Atlantic to the majesty of the great Mississippi River. Throughout this album, Najma explores the synergies that exist between the ancient poetic art form of theIndian Ghazal and the Western traditions of song. ‘Five Rivers’ is the first project in which Najma’s focus has been on the Western canon of song. She said, “Using selected covers, my interpretation of songs written by Donovan,

Tim Hardin, Bryan MacLean, Rev Gary Davis and the mystical love poetry of W. B. Yeats has allowed me to compare the many shared reference points between the ancient tradition of Ghazal (romantic Urdu poetry) and the Western tradition of lyric poetry, both beautifully address the issues of unrequited loss, tragedy & disillusionment.” ‘Five Rivers’ can be best described as a confluence of the musical, poetic and linguistic traditions of the East and the West, brought together through the purity and beauty of voice. In researching this project, Najmahas absorbed the distinct musical traditions of West Africa, the Mississippi Delta, the Western Folk tradition, Ghazal, Rock music, Jazz and Psychedelia, taking only that which would serve to demonstrate their interconnectivity.


14 COMMUNITY/CULTURE

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21 - 27 March 2020

Milestone Year observed at the House of British Parliament

Bob Blackman MP with all the presenters

International Mother Language Day has a vital link with Bengali speaking populace. The day was declared by UNESCO as a result of Bhasha Andolan of Bengali people for the recognition of Bengali language. Befitting to the occasion, powerful rendition of Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Nirjharer

Shopnobhongo’ by Sanchita Das captivated the audience. The poems, in general, were written keeping the occasion in mind and included emotions about fading away of some of these languages, especially due to the alarming number of young diaspora members not speaking or writing in their native languages any

more. Presenters included doctors, social activists, civil servants, academicians, engineers and entrepreneurs, all taking pride in their mother language. The event was anchored by Research Scholar at SOAS Monika Gupta and Vote of Thanks was rendered by Ragasudha Vinjamuri.

Inspiring Indian Women host 'She Inspires' award To celebrate the International Women's Day, Inspiring Indian Women (IIW) hosted the 'She Inspires'award 2020 along with MP Bob Blackman, MP Joy Morrisey and MP Virendra Sharma. This award is created to empower and encourage Indian women living in the UK organised an awards evening at the iconic House of Parliament on 3rd March 2020 to acknowledge the contributions of ordinary

Analysing the global crises before Covid-19 hit us! Rohit Vadhwana

Marking the 20th anniversary of the launch of International Mother Language Day this year, an event highlighting the linguistic diversity of India was held at the Portcullis House of the House of Commons, British Parliament on 12th March. Hosted by Bob Blackman MP and organised by Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence, the event had 17 Indian languages presented, mostly written by the members of Indian diaspora living in Britain. Rarely heard Indian languages in the UK such as Saurashtra, Ladakhi and Bishnupriya Manipuri were highlighted, written by famous poets of those respective languages in India such Ravi Kondda, Rinchen Wacher and Dils Lakshmindra Sinha. A published compilation of all these works titled “Kaavya Sugandha” was also released on the occasion that included unique scripts such as Takri, Khudavadi, Maithili and Sharda. Interestingly, the

INTROSPECTION

women on International Women's Day. Winners were chosen through nominations and self-nominations from women across the globe. The short-listed finalists were all given a certificate of honour. Several dignitaries graced as guests.The award invited free nominations from women all over the world. It had 13 categories and went through two stages. Preliminary round had 24 judges who shortlisted 50 finalists. The finalists were then sent to various 12

prominent individuals who had contributed or had remarkable achievement in that field. Each judge got one category to choose one winner from that category. One of the winners included Parin Somani, who won the award for her exemplary work she has carried out within the education field contributing largely to society. It was not an easy decision for one of the JudgesMira Kaushik OBE. She said, “This time, It has been extremely challenging to

decide as each of them has excelled in a variety of contexts and none of them is less valid than others. I also would like to acknowledge the struggles of each of the artists and applaud them for their achievements. I believe each of them is a winner, having reached this stage of their career.” The event also witnessed the launch of ‘She Inspires 2020- Souvenir Magazine’ as well as a Coffee Table Book, ‘Bharat ki Lakshmi’ by the Beauty and the Best Magazine.

As Coronavirus impact is increasing in all parts of the world, lives and activities have either come to almost standstill or have slowed down in most of the countries. Efforts are ON to prevent and fight against the pandemic COVID-19. Governments have taken measures at their best. People are being careful. Attempts are multiplying to find out medicine or vaccine for this deadly microbe. Coronavirus, a group of viruses which affect mammals and birds and cause respiratory diseases have been the reason for many of such pandemics. In this context, let’s have a glance at various pandemics in last one hundred years. Spanish flue spread during 1918-19 claiming 40 million lives and is the deadliest pandemic of the history. This influenza pandemic affected over 500 million people, about 27% of the world population of that time. It was a subtype of H1N1 influenza virus. Asian Flu, an H2N2 influenza virus, originated in China, spread during 1957-58 and took toil of 1.1 million lives. Hong Kong Flu, an H3N2 virus, was active during 1968-70 and about 1 million people died. Since 1981, AIDS/HIV has claimed 25 to 35 million lives, if we consider it in this category of a pandemic. It spread to almost all countries and a lot of awareness has been created. At the beginning of the 21st Century, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) spread during 2002-03 and killed around 770 people. It was caused by SARSCoronavirus which originated in China and spread across 17 countries infecting over 8000 people of which about 770 died. Years 2009-10 was affected by Swine Flu which killed more than 2 million people. In 2014-16, Ebola killed over 1 lakh people. It is a rare deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a type of coronavirus spread from 2015 and since then has killed over 1 lakh persons in more than 21 countries. Recently, a coronavirus named as Covid-19 started in 2019 in Wuhan province of China and has claimed over 6,500 lives since then. This has disrupted regular activities in most of the countries and they have declared national emergencies. Are these pandemics creating awareness and introspection in the human being? Are we changing our lifestyle permanently due to them? As 9/11 changed the travel and immigration guidelines and procedure permanently, will these pandemics do the same? Will Covid-19 compel us to think about using more technology and less travelling? Will it bring families closer and help us discard unnecessary social gatherings? (Source: John Hopkins and other websites)

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

Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage celebrates 30th anniversary Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage, one of the UK’s leading South Asian Arts and Culture organisations, is celebrating its 30th Anniversary with the launch of a year-long programme of specially commissioned events, performances and arts partnerships. Sampad has helped to establish South Asian arts within mainstream culture in Birmingham, and across the UK, playing a major role in promoting art and artists of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi heritage. Anniversary highlights include a major, specially commissioned, international writing competition for women in Birmingham (UK), Pakistan and Bangladesh. My City My

Home will reach out to emerging women writers from all three locations resulting in a publication of selected works together with live readings, book launches and celebration events. Funded by Culture Central (Transforming Narratives) & British Council. Sampad is supporting 4 South Asian dancers who have been awarded commissioning funds by Dance Hub Birmingham to undertake a residency which will develop their choreographic practice. Anaya Bolar, Lakshmi Srinivasan, Sonia Chandaria Tillu and Vidya Patel will each work with an artistmentor whom they have not worked with previously. This will create opportuni-

Navin Kundra performing at the CBSO's Bollywood Hits

ties for them to showcase this new work. Part of the 30th anniversary will feature Twelve, a film project which captures the lives and contribution of key figures and collectives who have helped to shape the West Midlands. Award-winning singersongwriter Navin Kundra,

vocalist’s Priti Kaur and Rekha Sawhney and Bhangra vocalist Shin DCS are amongst the singers featured in The CBSO’s Bollywood Hits which returns to Symphony Hall this summer. In association with Sampad this spectacular gala concert conducted by Richard Davis will feature

music from Rahman himself to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and many more. CBSO celebrates their 100th anniversary this year. One of the main programme highlights will see Birmingham Royal Ballet also celebrate their 30th year in the city. With Sampad they will bring together Akram Khan Company Mavin Khoo and Birmingham Royal Ballet’s first soloist Kit Holder to share, practice and explore each other’s dance language. The creative week will see them work on new choreography ahead of a sharing event at the end of the choreo-lab residency. Reflecting on 30 years in the city Founder Piali Ray OBE said, “Sampad has evolved as an Arts and Heritage organisation with a commitment to engage with

artists and communities across all backgrounds and barriers. From multicultural to intercultural we have seen how our artistic voice has resonated across cities and countries often flagged as a model of good practice. “At a time when the hurt of fractured society is challenging many of us, we must build on our friendships, trust and collective artistic voice developed over the past 30 years. None of this would be possible, or can be sustained, without the fantastic support we receive from people. I am immensely grateful to every individual who enabled Sampad and was a part of this journey. Looking ahead we will continue to deliver on our commitment to create exciting arts that promises to tell your stories to inspire our stories.”


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Jaina Shah Modern Entrepreneurship

Jaina Shah

Sunetra Senior t a time when we’re seriously talking about 5 hour-day working culture, and businesses are increasingly female-led, Jaina emerges the perfect contemporary role model. Leaving her former 9-5 job in the Oil and Gas industry, she has co-founded the socially conscious Lifestyle Property Group, and is now on the verge of launching her own eco-friendly skincare brand.

A

“This will focus on natural products which will constitute a minimalist line, providing the bare essentials for women on the go. Use of non-synthetic ingredients such as natural oils, butters and waxes will help the environment too. This was influenced by a major UN goal for sustainability.” Jaina also wants to release a cruelty-free Vegan range as well as help women to feel empowered organically day to day through her unconventionally supportive franchise. “We really don’t need all the faff of extraneous items. It is possible to uncomplicate skincare using a few effective solutions!”

office established concretely in real life. way of life. “If you’re focussed on your It was a wonderful feeling.” Jaina, who highest self, wealth and prestige natualso speaks frequently on her experirally follow.” And so, feeling motivated, ences in corporate self-employment to with a responsible awareness of the guide other women into positions of world, should be one’s biggest priority. deserving authority, elaborated: “I was What have been some highlight feeling dissatisfied with the limiting moments with your current business? structure of the work week itself, always looking forward to the weekAs an entrepreneur, you’re able to ends. It reflected a desire to be in choose your own challenges. The best charge of my life, being my own workaspect of being a business owner is ing boss. A regular 9-5 job often ends up dominating the whole day. I wanted to feel in control of what I was creating and, in turn, be truly fulfilled.” The professional trailblazer emphasised that women, in particular, should follow their conviction as opposed to stifling it: “If you’re thinking about asking for a raise, or find yourself yearning to change a job just do it! That returning want is trying to lead you forwards.” being able to pick the goals you want to Indeed, coming from a STEM backachieve. I’ve also enjoyed organising ground where “university was a maleevents to spread the wisdom, and our dominated environment with about 10 particular industry message. women on the course out of 70 students,” Jaina knows What skills did you transfer well what she advises. from your prior job in the corIn addition to being 'A regular porate world to your current invited to publicly 9-5 job often business? speak, she has also run her own meetends up I think very sequentially as ings to inspire dominating the a result of my work in chemical women into leaderprocessing. I can envision the ship roles or the betwhole day' end goal and work backwards ter alternative jobs adeptly to achieve it. This helps overthat serve them in a regusee the maintenance of properties and lar event called The working with large professional Daydreamers: “I enjoy giving value to responsibility. people, growing their potential.” Jaina

*** Her current business in property investment also makes happiness the central ethos, making accessible the property market to potential investors, helping maintain existing properties and fostering an amiable dynamic between landlord and tenants. This self-sustaining concept was inspired by Jaina’s own desire to feel freer in the workplace. Starting her career in Chemical Engineering, Jaina concluded: “what makes you worked as a Process a successful entrepreneur 'Ask Engineer, involved in is the same general foryourself why designing the plants mula that makes you and equipment for it is that you are happy in life: ask efficient processing yourself why it is following a certain of crude oil and natyou are followural gas to get the career path. If you are that ing a certain career desired quality of not in line with your path. If you are not the end product. in line with your own values, how “My second job in own values, how can this industry actually can you expect to you expect to feel allowed me to travel good?” Owning your feel good' overseas to oversee and dream business is then the commission this directly,” epitome of this mantra. she told us. “I flew out to Borneo Passionately deviating from the in Malaysia and was able to see what I norm, Jaina extends the age-old saying had been designing on paper in the of ‘quality over quantity’ to one’s entire

When did you feel you were succeeding in your entrepreneurship? In 2016, when we were making enough money from investing in properties in the Leeds housing market to cover living costs. This allowed me to leave my job in Engineering and put my whole heart into the business. Now, having learned a lot, I’m looking forward to investing in the beauty product passion of mine. Again, this had an almost recreational beginning – I enjoy experimenting with scrubs and creams and making people feel good in the process! W:http://lifestylepropertygroup.co.uk/

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21 - 27 March 2020

IMMIGRANTS TO PAY AN INCREASE IN THE NHS SURCHARGE, CRITICS BRAND IT ‘HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT' The UK has announced a hike in the NHS immigration surcharge to £624 per year for an adult from its existing £400. It must be noted that the surcharge had already doubled fro £200 to £400 last January 2019. And now it has further increased by £264. Additionally as part of the new budget announced, Tier 4 visa students and Tier 5 Youth Sanam Arora Mobility visa holders will pay £470 a year instead of the current £300 a year. Now, some charitites including the Migrant Voice UK argue that this increase in the immigration health surcharge will make it even more unaffordable for migrants. This will be even more challenging for oversees students who already pay twice the education fees to the UK universities as compared to the local UK students. “It is a considerable increase considering the fees only just doubled last year. Whilst we understand the pressures on the NHS from an Indian student’s perspective this is a significant increase in costs. Having said that we don’t think it has impacted student’s decision making to any significant degree as there is a lot of joy and positivity with the return of the post study work visa in its new form as the Graduate Route. “We hope any further increases are now frozen for some years,” said Sanam Arora of National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK. The immigration surcharge is on top of regular tax and national insurance that all workers pay. The levy is added on to visa applications as an annual fee and must be paid up front before permission is granted to work. A single person will face a £624 annual fee from October while a child will pay £470. The latest rules indicate that an individual adult will have to pay £3,120 over five years. Meanwhile, the fee for a child will be £470, tripling since the UK Immigration health surcharge was introduced back in 2015. For a family of four, the cost for using the NHS will be £2,200 per year. According to the UK Treasury, the increased immigration health surcharge will generate £1.5 billion by 2025. However, Liberal Democrat MP, Layla Moran, tweeted, “Tories are increasing the immigration health surcharge. So migrant workers who we desperately need to staff vital services pay more even though they contribute on average more to the economy. Shameful. #HostileEnvironment.” After the end of the Brexit transitional period from next year newly arriving EU and EEA migrants will also have to come under the UK visa system, and so will presumably have to pay high visa fees and the Immigration Health Surcharge. This means that most migrants and in future newly arriving EU migrants will have to pay a £624 annual fee to use the NHS. The fee was buried among details of extra funding for the NHS, outlined in the recent UK Budget announced by new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. These visa fees are likely to hit the NHS Staff as well despite the government’s introduction of the NHS visa. According to data held by the Office for National Statistics, nearly a quarter of staff working across UK hospitals, were born overseas and the latest hike is likely to hamper the mid-wives, nurses among other doctors.


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18 FINANCE - UK

AsianVoiceNews

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

www.asian-voice.com

21 Mar - 27 Mar 2020

Dear Financial Voice Reader, Alpesh Patel Dear Financial Voice Reader, I don’t think I’ve been busier with more questions than I get presently about investing the markets. Let me share some of the things I’ve made public through my daily commentary on my Telegram channel which is free – www.alpeshpatel.com/telegram : Santander only expects a 5% hit to earnings due to virus. That's why I think banks will rebound sharply. BUT, whilst I've bought some, I'm waiting now. US bad news will hit in 3 weeks sadly. And cause more panic sadly. Buying feels patriotic! But at the right time. Penny shares are high risk. I’ve bought these - Byotrol. Not my usual strategy. But we are in unusual times. The field the company is (hand gels) in and that its share price is rising is key factor. CROCI - is what Goldman Sachs use. At a lunch with the Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management some years ago they gave an explanation of why it works well for them. I will explain more on what I am looking for on CROCI and debt on the private channel and the opportunities. CROCI is cash return on capital invested and closer to the Warren Buffet way than the crude P/E ratios for forecasting company share prices and those with efficiency built in to be able to rebound. Apprentices making big returns on Pipspredator.com and the markets - please be mindful people's jobs are at risk. It's never good to be emotional in trading, whether making money or not. Shares are valued in future cash-flows and projected earnings (profits). So yes we see falls with mass revaluation. BUT, optimism we will soon be out of this remains (rightly or wrongly) so a bounce should be sharp. However, mass psychology may change and that's when my opinions will. As the CEO says in the movie Margin Call about the financial collapse, my job is to know when the music will stop. That's it. I am starting to look at Casinos as possible purchases for a 100 percent return. Risks. 1. Takes two years. 2. Company could fail. Reward: 100 percent return. Burberry: China domestic purchases back slowly to normality and pent up demand resuming in non perishable luxuries. Of course rich are poorer but can afford Burberry. If it returns to recent levels then fifty percent return. Even two years to get there is a good 25 percent pa. An apprentice asked me about UK Company Cineworld - cinemas. Obvisouly it's taken a hit. Market falls are a time machine. We are now in 2012 territory. It's a 7 rating. If it returns to highs of 2019 then that's a 300% return. Even if it took 3 years, thats 100% pa. But short term, could fall more. So it's not risk free. Don't forget airlines are failing. It has to survive first. The coordinated rate cut between major banks sadly will not help the financial markets in the near term. It has done this to try set the tone for Monday. Like with the UK Leaving ERM in the 1990, hedge funds will see this as central bank capitulation not financial market capitulation. Ie we are not at a bottom. After all we don’t know when people will spend and how many companies will go bust. I would buy either 1. What I like for long term but is cheaper by at least 30percent - just like when I go to the Xmas sales. 2. I’ll buy survivors I would not normally buy if I can make 100 percent when they recover to this years highs. Eg Lloyd’s Bank. Even if they take three years I don’t mind. I’ll post others. All trading and investing is risky. Use risk capital only. Think long term and saving and investing only, seek advice. Do not gamble.

BoJo urges top UK tech firms to join fight against COVID-19 At a Downing Street summit last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the country's leading tech companies and artificial intelligence researchers to fight the outbreak. The meeting was attended by about 30 different companies from across the UK online and science sectors. Each company was asked to volunteer resources. Tech companies lacking in engineering or data tool capabilities pledged other sources. Uber offered to provide free taxi rides to medical staff, while food delivery service Deliveroo offered to keep hospital workers fed. Amazon said it would provide its video conferencing tools and other aspects of its cloud computing services to the health service for free. Prime Minister’s lead adviser Dominic Cummings asked each business to offer what they could towards the effort, before passing the details on to representatives of NHSX to work out how best to deploy them.

Coronavirus: Virgin Atlantic tells staff to take eight weeks unpaid leave Virgin Atlantic Airways has asked the staff to take eights weeks unpaid leave as it plans to ground 75% of its fleet by 26 March and a further 10% by April as the demand for travel plummets due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has permanently axed the London HeathrowNewark route with immediate effect and will prioritise ‘core routes based on customer demand’. The airline said in a statement: ‘This change amounts (to an) approximately 80% reduction in flights per day by 26 March. As a direct consequence we will be parking approximately 75% of our fleet by 26 March and by April it will go up to 85%. ‘Owing to restrictions to international travel, the airline is reducing services to focus on core routes, depending on customer demand. This will be subject to constant review as the sit-

uation evolves.’ The company said they were taking the drastic measures to ‘ensure cash is preserved, costs are controlled and the future of the airline is safeguarded’. The airline is one of many that has been forced to drastically cut down their operation to cope with a fall in passenger demand. They asked the staff to take two months unpaid leave, the cost of which will be spread over six months salary, is the only way they can reduce outgoings without making job losses. The move has the support of unions BALPA and UNITE, according to the statement.

Virgin has already asked for state aid in an effort to keep the business alive. Peter Norris, the majority shareholder of the airlines, has written to Boris Johnson asking for a £7.5 billion package to help the airline industry cope with the fallout of the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, British Airways has said it is ‘fighting for survival’ with plans to cut capacity by 75% in April and May. Virgin’s announcement comes as several major airlines warned they would also be taking emergency measures to keep themselves afloat. Norwegian Air has said it will cancel 85% of its

flights and temporarily lay off 7,300 employees. The carrier said the virus has halted demand for air travel, particularly after a travel ban to the US from Europe was implemented. Norwegian Air has also announced plans to lay off 7,300 staff. Other nations have also severely limited air traffic. EasyJet said that the knock-on effect of Covid-19 ‘could result in the grounding of the majority of the easyJet fleet’. The company said that it would continue to operate rescue flights for short periods ‘where we can’ repatriate passengers; however, it would also be cutting operations further. Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: ‘European aviation faces a precarious future and it is clear that coordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives and is able to continue to operate when the crisis is over’.

Travelex owner at risk as £81mn of undisclosed cheques emerge The embattled Travelex owner Finablr is at risk of collapse after the company revealed it had issued $100m (£81m) worth of undisclosed cheques and announced a larger-thanexpected financial blow from the coronavirus outbreak. Finablr said its chief executive Promoth Manghat had stepped down, as the board tried to gain a clearer picture of the company’s finances. Last week Finablr said travel restrictions designed to limit the spread of Covid19 had weakened demand for its services and disrupted the transport of cash. That impact has worsened after a raft of border closures and travel bans across the world. “Since that announcement, these con-

straints have become amplified and have now reached a point where they are having a material adverse impact on the company’s operations, including resulting in the company no longer being able to provide certain payment processing services,” Finablr said. Those problems have been compounded by news that the company discovered $100m worth of undisclosed cheques that predated its stock market flotation in 2018. Finablr said the board had only recently been informed about the payments, which are the subject of an independent investigation. It is a major blow for Finablr’s reputation, which had tried to distance itself from an accounting scandal and potential fraud at NMC Health, the troubled hospi-

tals firm that was founded by Finablr’s billionaire cochairman and largest shareholder, Bavaguthu Raghuram Shetty. Finablr said: “As a result of the foregoing events, the board is unable accurately to assess the financial position of the company and there is a material uncertainty about the group’s ability to continue as a going concern. The board is looking to put in place a package of urgent measures aimed at restoring confidence and stability across its stakeholders.” Those measures include

Manghat’s resignation, which comes a month after his brother Prasanth Manghat was sacked as NMC’s chief executive in February. Finablr said its outgoing boss would help support the business until it found a suitable successor. Finablr said it was also undertaking a comprehensive review of the company’s financial position including how it manages its cash. The board is now looking at the company’s “strategic options” and will appoint another accounting advisory team to strengthen its financial management.

Digital banks experienced high growth: Starling Bank chief Anne Boden Starling Bank will make profit “in January or February” next year, said Anne Boden, the founder and chief executive of the bank. This year is perhaps the most crucial in the bank’s short history. Boden has to manage expansion into Germany, France and the Netherlands, maintain the bank’s quality, and produce a profit. “Digital banks have experienced high growth,” says Boden. “We are all putting on numbers. This has never happened before in the history of banking. But now we are moving into a period where these banks have to

show they can make profits.” The digital bank has opened 1.25 million customer accounts and holds more than £1.25bn in deposits since it was launched in 2014. The digital bank has forged a reputation for bringing quality products to market across business banking, travel money or overdraft facilities that have won it the bank of the year awards. All of this has made Boden arguably the most famous woman in British fintech. However, Starling competes against UK rivals who have more customers such as Revolut which claims 10 million accounts and Monzo, which notched up four million

accounts earlier this month. Starling makes its cash from a mixture of charging fees on the cards it issues, its marketplace where it charges other financial service firms to sell products on its platform, as well as using its deposits to lend. “The thing to remember is that our cost base is so small the cash we raise is meaningful,” adds Boden. The elephant in the room for all neo-banks is Big Tech firms such as Amazon or PayPal. These firms have deep pockets, large customer bases, and unlike high street banks, are platform companies themselves and so are comfortable with the busi-

ness model. The number of fintech deals by global tech giants – including Alibaba Group, Alphabet, Apple, Baidu, IBM, Microsoft and Tencent – increased for the fifth straight year, with $3.5bn invested across 46 deals in 2019, according to last month’s KPMG Pulse of Fintech bi-annual report. “I think Big Tech will want to distribute banking services, says Boden. “I don’t think they will want to get involved in the financial plumbing of moving money around.”


REAL ESTATE VOICE

THE WIND IN THE SAILS

www.asian-voice.com

AsianVoiceNews

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

21 - 27 March 2020

Our auction event on the 19th March has been cancelled for obvious reasons. The auctions, however, are still showing signs they are on. This is very good, especially if you’re a buyer and can sneeze well in the room before your lot comes up. An insider has told me that many lots will be run online, as many auctioneers have an online function. Online auctions have not taken off as much as perhaps they should have, given the age we live in. Property auctions are still very much a physical activity. Often, you will see the same characters in every auction. Suresh Vagjiani

Sow & Reap London Property Investment

About six months ago we were offered a very good site in Willesden. The site was being traded and was purchased extremely cheaply in an online auction. The main reason why the buyer managed to get such a good deal was because the property was bought online. This presents an opportunity. The price of anything comes down to only two things: supply and demand. If the demand decreases, prices will drop. We have had direct experience of this on the wrong side of the fence. A few years ago, we had exchanged on a couple of freehold blocks, both in strong locations, one in Shepherd’s Bush, the other in Harlesden. The completion was in six months’ time, so enough time to trade on the contracts. Auction seemed the obvious choice. The properties were duly put in, with the anticipation of a strong resell.

AGONY AGENT IS HERE TO HELP! Q: How often do I need to carry out Gas Safety inspections on my Buy to Let property? A: It is a legal requirement for all rental properties to have this conducted every 12 months, or when a new gas appliance is introduced to the rental property. You are legally required under the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 to maintain all gas appliances and

flues that have been provided for your tenants. No matter who you are or what type of property you own, you are required by law to ensure that each gas appliance in the property receives an annual safety inspection; this includes the boiler, oven, hob, fire and anything else that you have supplied in the property. Even if you have an agent involved in looking after your property, you

BUY TO LET OPPORTUNITY

19

One sold only after the auction, and the other did not sell at all; not for the reserve we had placed. The reason was bad timing. This was due to a few factors, including two events which were going on simultaneously. One was the Olympics and the other was the Queen’s Jubilee. The masses were preoccupied. The auction room was sparsely occupied in sharp contrast to previous times. I even remember one occasion where the auction room doors had to close due to over occupancy. I assume due to fire and safety regulations. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. The property that didn’t sell was a freehold block, consisting of three flats. Our client completed on the deal, benefitting from multiple dwelling relief on the stamp duty, which wasn’t too painful, and therefore the expenses for completion were not too high. The flats were sold on piecemeal. Even then I missed a trick, the person who purchased the top floor flat was an agent. He asked for permission to build into the loft as well, which he paid a premium for. I bumped into him many months later only to discover he had made a tidy profit with the deal. A combination of adding value through development and the local market rising. On one hand the market is starting to shoot up with all the pent-up demand being manifested, on the other we have a blip which is having an impact. However, it is important to note that

although the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is having an economic impact the cause is not economic. Overall, the wind is in the sales of the property market. It’s always good to look at this in perspective. London property is a 500 year old market. It is strong, robust and has survived many onslaughts in terms of regulations and taxations. I’m sure it will adapt and thrive through this episode.

should always request a copy of your gas safety certificate, so you know that this has been completed as good practice. It will keep you safe in the knowledge that the work has been completed. Please be aware that there are many other legal requirements, for example smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Please do get in touch if you would like further information.

l Large three bedroom flat with long lease and low service charges l Close to St. John’s Wood, Swiss Cottage and South Hampstead stations l Close to the amenities of Boundary Road and the famous Abbey Road studios l Yield of 5.7% per annum l £165K cash required to close this deal, subject to mortgage criteria

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21 Mar - 27 Mar 2020

Vodafone Idea may get much needed breather Three developments in recent months have given an indication that Vodafone Idea, India’s largest wireless telecom company, would may get the much needed breather, as it has been struggling for survival under the burden of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. One, Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has made a call to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) to save Vodafone Idea from bankruptcy. Second, the DoT, as the Indian cabinet took stock of the crisis in the telecom industry, made an unprecedented proposal for collection of AGR dues worth £14.7 billion suggesting that companies, including Airtel and Tata, pay the money over a period of 20 years and not be charged any interest on the staggered amount beyond October 24, 2019, the day when the Supreme Court gave its judgment on the matter. And, the third relief measure has already been under discussion. As it faces an AGR burden of £5.8 billion, Vodafone Idea has asked government for

adjustment of £800 million of Goods and Services Tax (GST) refund towards AGR dues. Vodafone Idea is also batting for reducing license fee from existing 8 per cent to 3 per cent, and spectrum usage charges (SUC) from about 3 per cent currently to 1 per cent. The IBA’s Interest “As on 31.12. 2019, SBI had NPAs of around £1.22 billion in the telecom space and many other banks are saddled with telecom NPAs. Any further provisions for bad debts from this sector will put a huge strain on the capital position of banks” the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) wrote to the Department of Telecommunications. The SC on February 14 ordered the telcos to pay their dues by the next date of hearing, or March 17. Government in Action The government this week has filed an application in the Supreme Court, requesting that telcos be allowed to spread the payment of AGR dues over 20 years or less, at a reduced interest rate of 8%, in a bid to prevent an “adverse impact” on the economy, jobs and millions of con-

sumers. “…the Centre has taken the decision to seek approval of this court to a formula arrived at for recovery of dues from telecom service providers,” stated the application . The application said the formula was arrived at after widespread consultations at government levels, keeping in mind vital issues related to the financial health and viability of the telecom sector; and the need for maintaining competition and a level playing field in the interest of consumers. Vodafone Idea, which serves over 300 million users and directly employs some 11,000. Even one operator going bankrupt would send shock waves through the entire economy and, mindful of that, the government was proposing that the AGR payment be spread. This is the first time the government has officially acknowledged the negative implications of one of the three existing operators going bust.The govern-

ment’s proposals would provide immediate relief to primarily cash-strapped Vodafone Idea. It may also help Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices, which are also facing AGR dues. Vodafone Idea bets on GST refund Apart from £800 million GST adjustment, Vodafone Idea is also reportedly mulling over seeking funds against its 11.5 per cent stake in Indus Towers, which is the largest tower company in the country. The funds generated from the deal would help relieve the liquidity crunch in the telco. These demands have been raised just before a meeting between Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, and others. As the highest decisionmaking authority in the Telecom Ministry, DCC members are likely to discuss relief measures

Indian exports rise for 1st time in 7 months Before Indian economy can feel full impact of coronavirus pandemic, the dwindling market saw some respite last month. Both export and import figures for India showed some recovery signs. India’s exports grew for the first time in seven months, while imports returned to positive territory after falling for eight months. Traders, however, are bracing for a fresh bout of slowdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. But for the last month, its oil seeds, electronic goods and iron trade that has brought slight cheers. Latest data released by the commerce department last week estimated that exports went up 2.9% to $37.5 billion in February, led by shipments of

Tony Piggott

This week global markets were rocked by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the evolving oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia which saw the oil price have its largest daily decline, (-30%) since the 1990s at the start of the first Iraq war. The global bond markets fol-

oil seeds, electronic goods and iron. But there were signs of a slowdown in segments such as iron ore, where China is a key market, with the growth rate moderating to 38% in February compared to an over 105% jump in the previous month. Several industries are bracing for massive slowdown in coming months due to Covid-

19. The impact of factory shutdowns in China and other parts of the world is yet to reflect in the data. Imports as well rose 2.5%, with project imports, pulses and fruits and vegetables leading the pace of increase. But as the new virus outbreak affects economic activity and imports are expected to be impacted, supply lines for products ranging from pharma ingredients and plastics to electronics drying up. Sharp fall in fuel demand in wake of the outbreak, leading to a massive fall in crude oil

prices will shrink the import bill. In February, oil shipments were up 14% at around $10.8 billion. Like fuel, the gold demand has been on the downword spiral . TIF gold imports fell 8.5% to $2.4 billion. Latest export figures have brought some sigh of relief to the NDA government, which is struggling to maintain growth momentum. Trade deficit was pegged at a little under $9.9 billion in February, compared to $9.7 billion a year ago and $15 billion in January. “Despite global challenges, Indian exports once again enter into growth trajectory in February after a gap of 6 months. Exports of electronic goods and chemicals grow at 37% and 16% respectively,” commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.

in brief GOVT EXTENDS TIMELINE FOR AIR INDIA SELLOFF The Indian government has extended the timeline for disinvestment in Air India by 1.5 months considering coronavirus pandemic. Instead of March 17, the bids now can be submitted till April 30. And, qualified bidders will be announced on May 14 and not March 31. Leaving nothing to chance, last week the government had allowed NRIs, who are Indian nationals, to own up to 100% stake in the airline without violating the substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC) norms. AI’s debt-cum-liabilities combined burden is almost £9 billion and aviation minister H S Puri has warned the airline may shut down if not sold off in the second attempt. The government has offered for sale its 100% stake in AI and AI Express - instead of 76% in the first attempt - and the entire 50% it owns in ground handling joint venture AI-SATS.

WORST DAY FOR MARKETS The S&P BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty 50 indexes suffered their biggest single-day selloff ever as they entered the bear market on Thursday last wiping out £114.2 billion of investors' wealth. The Nifty 50 crashed as much as 9 per cent or 950 points to 9,508 during the session - its lowest level recorded since June 2017 and the S&P BSE Sensex dropped as much as 8.97 per cent or 3,204 points to 32,493 - its lowest in 23 months. The investor sentiment - which has been shaky in the past few weeks in the backdrop of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak - took a further beating after the World Health Organisation declared the deadly virus as a pandemic. The last time Indian stock indexes dropped as much was at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.

FLIPKART SEEKS GOVT NOD FOR FOOD BIZ Walmart-owned Flipkart has sought permission to set up a venture focused solely on food retailing of items manufactured and produced in India. It will mark its entry in a segment, where Amazon already has presence through the online route. The government may take twothree months to clear application by this Bangaluru headquarters e-commerce company filed with Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). It has sought registration as Flipkart FarmerMart. It will be solely an online initiative, at least in the beginning. It will also focus on deep agri-supply chain investment, especially at the farm gate level and will encourage demand-driven sowing, which will help farmers produce right fruits and vegetables and get paid as per market value. The company plans to engage kirana stores across the country through Shadowfax, a business-to-business last-mile delivery platform.

How do you ‘self-isolate’ the Financial Markets?

lowed in tandem spiralling downwards with US government bonds, (Treasuries) for the first time ever yielding less than 1% across all maturities out to 30 years, before subsequently recovering. Here in the UK gilt yields tumbled initially at one point all maturities out to 7 years yielded less than 10bps, as an example the yield on 5-year government bonds reached a new low of 0.09bps! Similarly, global equities and in particular the FTSE 100 reached a recent low of 5,239 from a peak of 7,689 back in midJanuary, representing a near 32% fall in the space

of 6 weeks! This matters to Asian Voice readers who have loans with banks, because fixed / swap rates are directly set by these Financial Markets. In response, the Bank of England announced an emergency 50bp reduction in the base rate to 0.25% accompanied by an expansive budget, the same day by the new chancellor, which you could have been forgiven for thinking was being delivered by a labour chancellor due to its expansive spending and borrowing nature. The dramatic increase in public spending and the various support packages

announced will have a net positive effect on GDP of around 0.50%. However with the previous fiscal rules now abandoned and caution being thrown to the wind, gilt issuance to finance this package of infrastructure and investment will see supply increase substantially in the coming years with the National Debt as a percentage of GDP set to rise contrary to recent forecast of a steady decline towards balance over the medium term.The effect on medium terms rates is as yet unknown but it clearly leaves the Uk government less ammunition to ramp up spending in

response to further external shocks to the economy. With this backdrop, the Sterling derivative market has initially tracked other asset classes lower with mediumterm swap rates falling across the curve, for example, a 5-year quarterly swaps recorded a new recent low of just 0.30%. Similarly, Sterling CAP pricing has collapsed falling by 9% compared to last month and by 30% compared to August 2019. As the UK’s largest FCA authorised provider of hedging advice, we are continually helping our clients succeed by deliver-

ing individually tailored solutions and advice to achieve their desired hedging profile, consistent with the appropriate level of risk for their business. You can monitor key market rates by subscribing to our FREE market rate sheet, updated daily, or alternatively download by visiting our website h t t p : / / w w w.v e d a n t a hedging.com.

Tel: 020 7183 2277 www.vedantahedging.com


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21 Mar- 27 Mar 2020

in brief LANKA BANS PUBLIC EVENTS AS CORONAVIRUS CASES RISE TO 8 Sri Lanka has cancelled all public events and gatherings for two weeks as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to eight, the health minister said. Director General of Health Services Dr Anil Jasinghe said two more cases of COVID-19 were identified on Saturday. Health Minister Pavithra Wannirachchi said that all public events stand cancelled for a period of two weeks as a measure to help the authorities with curbing the spread of the virus. Last week the Lankan government announced that travellers from a number of European capitals would not be allowed to enter the country in view of the growing threat. France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria are included in the list. At least four Polish nationals, who had arrived at the airport to leave the country, were taken to hospital for observations, authorities said. The prison authorities said that all inmates will be limited to one visitor during the visit hours. The schools and universities remain closed.

FOREIGN OBSERVERS INVITED FOR SL POLLS Sri Lanka’s National Election Commission (EC) has invited foreign observers for the April 25 parliamentary polls. Commission member S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole said that observers from the European Union, Commonwealth and the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) have been invited. The international observers, who will be deployed around the country, will submit their observations and recommendations after the polls are over.

POLICE OFFICER ARRESTED IN HONOUR KILLING CASE A senior police officer in Pakistan has been arrested for allegedly murdering his lawyer friend in a honour killing case and later dissolving his body in acid to destroy evidence. Police said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mufakhar Adeel was arrested, almost a month after his 'mysterious disappearance'. 'SSP Adeel has been arrested for allegedly murdering his friend, advocate Shahbaz Tatla, in the name of honour,' Lahore Police chief Zulfiqar Hameed said. A fter the murder, Adeel dissolved Tatla's body in acid to destroy evidence, he said. The SSP, who had disappeared a month ago after murdering the lawyer, confessed to his crime in police custody, Hameed said, adding that he was arrested while trying to crossover to Iran.

BANGLADESH SLUM FIRE LEAVES MANY HOMELESS Thousands of people were rendered homeless after a massive fire ripped through a slum in Bangladesh's capital of Dhaka. Hundreds of shanties were destroyed in the Rupnagar slum in the city’s Mirpur area, witnesses said. As many as 150 firefighters scrambled to get access to enough water and battled for three hours to bring the flames under control, said fire service official Zillur Rahman. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Video footage showed heavy plumes of smoke billowing all around the congested slum area. Lax regulations and poor enforcement have often been blamed for large fires in the South Asian nation that have killed hundreds of people in recent years. At least 25 people were killed in March last year when fire broke out in a 22-storey commercial building in Dhaka’s upscale area of Banani.

Taliban reject Afghan president's conditional prisoner release plan KABUL: The Taliban said the plan of Afghan president to stagger the release of Taliban prisoners violated an accord they struck with the United States and they would not hold talk with the Afghan government until all 5,000 prisoners were freed. The militant group termed it violation of accord they struck with the United States. A February 29 pact between the Taliban and the United States has cleared the way for the withdrawal of US-led international forces after 18 plus years of war, but peace has to be negotiated between the militants and the US-backed government. Despite the accord between the United States and the Taliban, fighting has continued in various parts of the country. The Taliban have promised to open talks with the government as part of the accord but say the release of their 5,000 comrades held by the government was non- nego-

tiable, and there cannot be moving forward until their all held members are freed. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has declined to release all 5,000 in one go. Instead, he has ordered the release of an initial 1,500, with the other 3,500 to be set free in parallel with progress in the peace talks. The Taliban claims that they never agreed on any conditional release of prisoners. Its spokesperson based in Doha dismissed any such condition. The Taliban has also been calling the stagger release a move against the peace accord that it signed on February 29. The main element of the US withdrawal agreement is a Taliban promise that they will not let Afghanistan be used by terrorists to attack the United States and its allies. The pact will let US President Donald Trump fulfil his promise to end the war and bring all of the troops home within 14 months. The release of the prisoners -

including some 1,000 government troops held by the militants - is meant to be a confidence-building measure to pave the way for the so-called intra-Afghan talks. The conflicting positions on the issue between the Taliban and the Ghani government appear to stem from Ashraf Ghani different wording in problem. documents exchanged between Taliban leaders have said the United States and the their leadership council has Taliban on the one hand, and the rejected an Afghan government United States and government demand that they issue written on the other. guarantees to stop fighting. A The Talibans maintained senior Afghan government offithat it is properly explained in cial has said that the government the peace accord that first 5,000 position as set out by Ghani prisoners would be freed and would not change. The governthen the Afghan dialogue would ment has called it impractical to be initiated. Zalmay Khalilzad, release all 5,000 at once without the US special envoy who was a Taliban commitment for direct the key negotiator in talks with negotiations and a significant the Taliban, has urged both sides reduction in violence. to sit down for talks on the

Concerns for India over US-Taliban pact NEW DELHI: New Delhi has signalled its acceptance of the US-Taliban peace agreements that aim to end the 18-year- old war in Afghanistan. The two agreements , one signed in Doha and the other in Kabul set out a course for the next 14 months, including the pull-out of US troops, the denial of space to foreign terrorist groups and any violence against the US and allies, and intra-Afghan dialogue. However, after a closer look at the texts of the two agreements, diplomatic and security experts say the impact on India may be a cause for worry. The reduction in violence is a muchneeded respite for Afghans, said an Indian expert on Afghan affirs. He added that all Taliban demands have been front-loaded, while the actual terms of the ‘peace deal’ are yet to be negotiated between the Taliban and the Afghan side, facilitated by the US. So, much of the heavy lifting remains. Another expert said that the

agreement was entirely onesided. Taliban cannot deliver on the assurances it has given, and yet the US has handed over Afghanistan to them. There is no reference to the Constitution, rule of law, democracy and elections, the expert added. In the Doha agreement, the Taliban has guaranteed “enforcement mechanisms that will prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies”. However, it is unclear whether India, which is not a US ally, is included in this definition, and whether Pakistanbacked groups that threaten India, would still operate in Afghanistan. The Kabul declaration with the Ghani government more specifically commits to stopping “any international terrorist groups or individuals from using Afghan soil to threaten the security of the United States, its allies and other countries.” Prisoner release and lifting of sanctions Officials worry most about

the “mainstreaming of the Haqqani network”, which Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists reportedly fight alongside and were responsible for the 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul. According to the agreements, 5,000 Taliban prisoners will be released by March 10, 2020, the first day of intraAfghan negotiations, and the remainder in another three months. Officials also point out that the US has committed to taking Taliban leaders off the UN Security Council’s sanctions list by May 29, 2020, which could considerably bring down the number of terrorists Pakistan is accused of harbouring, according to the FATF greylist conditions. This might benefit Pakistan during the June 2020 FATF Plenary, when it faces a blacklist for not complying. Handing powers to Taliban In the Doha agreement, the US has committed to clearing five bases and bringing troop levels down to 8,600 in four

and a half months, and even appears to submit to the possibility of a Taliban-led government, by extracting promises that the Taliban will not provide “visas, passports, travel documents or asylum” to those threatening the US and its allies. This appears to sideline the “Intra-Afghan” dialogue, and India’s support for the election process for leadership in Afghanistan. In the last section of the agreement, the US and Taliban seek “positive relations with each other and expect that the relations between the United States and the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations will be positive”. This indicates that the Ghani government, which India has recognised as winner of the 2019 election, will only serve for an interim period. This also raises a big question mark on the future of Afghanistan’s government, and whether it will remain a democracy.

Pak media mogul held in land allotment case, summons Sharif ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities arrested a media mogul under country's anti-graft law in a three-decade-old case even as the investigating agency has summoned former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for questioning in the same case. Mir Shakilur Rehman allegedly got lands on a prime location in Lahore at a throwaway price in 1986, from then Punjab chief minister Nawaz Sharif. Rehman, the editor-inchief of Jang/Geo media group, was arrested by The National Accountability Bureau, after he failed to submit a satisfactory answer to the bureau’s questioning session of long ongoing

investigation against him. The media house has been accused of leading support to propaganda in favour of Sharif. The arrest was made by the NAB at its Lahore headquarters during Rehman's appearance before a joint investigation team of the agency. Rehman allegedly received 54 plots, each measuring one kanals land on a prime location in Lahore from former prime minister Sharif on a throwaway price, maintained NAB. According to investigation, the 54 plots in Jauhar Town H block were illegally given away to Rehman by Sharif in an act of misuse of his powers as Chief Minister. Nawaz Sharif had obliged

Rehman to have his media's support in return, the NAB investigation report revealed. The Jang/Geo group said in a statement that the property in question had been acquired from a private party and all evidence of this was provided to NAB including the legal requirements like duty and taxes. The media company has accused the NAB of sending its reporters, producers and editors, directly and indirectly, over a dozen notices, threatening for a shutdown through Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority. According to the media company its reporting and programmes about the NAB has irked the agency. In its

defense, the NAB has in writing said it is a constitutionally protected institution that cannot be criticised. The NAB has also been accused of trying several means to persuade the network to go slow, to stop stories and to do others in its favour at the expense of the full truth. Meanwhile, NBA has summoned Sharif on March 20 in connection with the same case. Sharif would have to record his statement in front of the NAB. Currently, Sharif is in London for treatment after being granted bail on medical grounds. Before being granted bail, Sharif was serving jail time of 10 years after the NAB found him guilty of money laundering.


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Lanka President orders suspension of all arrival flights for two weeks COLOMBO: Sri Lanka President has advised suspending all arrival flights for two weeks to prevent spreading of COVID-19 after some Sri Lankans, who returned from affected-countries and found to be positive for the virus, are evading quarantine. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered the closure of the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake for two weeks with effect from Wednesday (18 March). Accordingly, all flights arriving in Sri Lanka with effect from midnight of 18th March will be suspended for a period of two weeks. The decisions were taken at a meeting with the Corona Prevention Task Force chaired by the President at the Presidential Secretariat. President Gotabaya has also advised the heads of departments and institutions to continue the essential services, economic and trade activities so as not to disrupt the normal daily lives of the people. The President said that the country cannot be paralyzed even though the government has to do everything it can to overcome

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

the problem. He said that he was ready to make the right decisions and requested the support of all parties to implement them. The government has instructed against social gatherings, celebrations, largescale meetings etc. while the police will take speedy action against those who spread fake news and incite or instill undue fear in public. Meanwhile, the police was instructed to continue search for some 170 Sri Lankans who arrived from highrisk countries and escaped quarantine, and to raise awareness in public about them. The government will also make arrangements to evacuate Sri Lankan pilgrims currently touring in India. The President has instructed to use two special

aircraft that can carry the highest number of passengers to immediately bring back some 300 pilgrims touring in India. The President pointed out that with the World H e a l t h Organization's announcement of the coronavirus, every possible step has been taken to control the spread of the virus in the country. “The problem should not be used for narrow political purposes. There is no need for convening the Parliament. If the general election needs to be postponed, the Election Commission has the power to do so,,” the President said. The President pointed out that declaring holidays impeding the economy and the public life is not a solution to the COVD-19 problem. Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, members of the Corona Prevention Task Force and other Heads of Health and Essential Services organizations

participated in the discussion. 1,200 Buddhist pilgrims in India The Lankan government is taking steps in collaboration with Sri Lankan diplomatic missions in India to bring back some 1,200 Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims belonging to 22 tour groups, the Foreign Relations Ministry said. The Ministry said the High Commission in New Delhi and the Deputy High Commission in Chennai, in consultation with the Foreign Relations and the Buddha Sasana Ministries, are effectively coordinating and facilitating the arrangements for the early return of Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims currently in India. It said these measures come in the wake of the travel and other restrictions that have arisen due to the rapidly spreading Covid-19. “According to the information gathered by the diplomatic missions, there are approximately 1,200 Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims belonging to 22 tour groups currently in India. These pilgrims had arrived in India before the Government of Sri Lanka suspended Dambadiva pilgrimages on 9 March 2020,” the ministry said.

UK commemorates Christchurch mosque attacks, places of worship receive double protection The UK government has doubled the security funding available for places of worship in their fight against hate crime, with £3.2 million allocated for 2020-2021. This follows after faith groups across the country on Sunday commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch mosque terror attack in New Zealand where over 50 people were shot dead while praying. As part of the commemoration, the UK Home Office also launched a new consultation for faith groups to send their feedback on what more can be done to protect faith groups from attacks. The Places of Worship Protective Security Funding scheme, now running for around four years, provides funding for measures such as CCTV, fencing, gates, alarms and lighting, to places of worship and associated faith community centres that are

vulnerable to hate crime. "The Christchurch terror attacks are an abhorrent example of far right terrorism which led to the deaths of over 50 people who went to pray and worship. Yet, the impacts of those grotesque murders were felt within the British Muslim community in the United Kingdom and within a 72-hour window. This meant that we could measure a 692% increase in anti-Muslim hate incidents

against British Muslims going about their everyday business, within days of the New Zealand mosque attacks,” said Iman Atta OBE, Director of Tell MaMa. The UK Home Office said this week that 27 mosques, 13 churches, five gurdwaras and four Hindu temples have received £1.6 million in funding for 2019-20, the largest amount of funding in a single year since the scheme was set up in 2016. A considerable fund is also

allocated for Jewish synagogues. The consultation, which will last for eight weeks, will ask faith groups what else should be done to help them feel safe and confident while practicing their religion. It will enable all faith groups to share their experiences of hate crime, and provide insight for the government in keeping pace with the evolving threat. “The consultation recognises that different religious groups have different needs, and that some members of congregations, such as women or the elderly may feel more vulnerable than other groups. The results of the consultation will then be analysed and considered as part of future steps on how the government can protect religious groups,” the home office said.

Plea to postpone Lanka general election COLOMBO: Chairman of the National Elections’ Commission Mahinda Deshapriya said that postponing of the elections is something that the Commission cannot decide at this point of time although we will continue to accept nominations. “We have not arrived at a consensus yet to the effect that this decision should be arrived at either”, Deshapriyah said. Leader Samagi Jana

Banavegaya,Sajith Premadasa outlined that a number of elections have been postponed globally. “What they must actually do is to suspend this election and find a solution to this Corona issue. Please consider these facts and prioritize the lives of the voters over the 2/3rd majority,” Premadasa said. “I make a very clear request, make the dissolution of

Parliament null and void and lets have an election after the Coronavirus issue is sorted”, he said. He further added,”Recall the dissolution. That can be done through a Gazette notification. Let’s do so and spend the money allocated for the election to fight the Coronavirus”. Additionally, Tamil National Alliance requested the General elections be postponed citing

Sajith Premadasa

the current situation in Sri Lanka on COVID-19.

in brief POISONOUS LIQUOR CLAIMS 17 LIVES IN NEPAL At least 17 people have died after consuming toxic homemade liquor in southern Nepal, police said. The victims consumed the toxic homemade liquor during the Holi celebrations on March 10 in Dhanusha of southern Nepal. Twenty-eight other drinkers have fallen sick, the police said, adding that they are currently undergoing treatment. According to the Dhanusha district police office, 13 people died in Chhireshwornath Municipality and the rest in Musahari of Janakpurdham Municipality-7. The deceased consumed excessive amount of homemade alcohol at a local bar in Dhanusha district. The drinkers consumed methyl alcohol, which is poisonous, according to doctors. Meanwhile, seven persons have been arrested by the police for selling homemade poisonous liquor.

TWO US, ONE BRITISH PERSONNEL KILLED IN IRAQ ATTACK One British and two American personnel were killed and about a dozen people were wounded when 18 small rockets hit Iraq's Taji military camp north of Baghdad, US officials said. The officials, who cautioned the death toll may rise given the severity of some of the injuries, said it was too soon to assign blame. Any indication that Iran-backed militia were responsible could spark a new round of confrontation between the United States and Iran. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and they "underscored that those responsible for the attacks must be held accountable," the State Department said. The last military escalation led to a US strike in January that killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, which, in turn, led Iran to fire missiles at a base in Iraq hosting US forces, leaving more than 100 troops with brain injuries.

HONG KONG CHURCH STREAMS MASS ONLINE The Catholic Church in downtown Hong Kong is broadcasting mass to worshippers to their homes via online streaming as a way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The church was formerly packed during daily morning mass and on Sundays, but the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong has suspended mass and liturgies since Feb. 15 in line with government health guidelines promoting social distancing. "It was a painful decision," father Thomas Law said. "However, it was a faithful decision as we believe in God. God has given us the power to make sacrifices that make it a loving decision." Churchgoer Stephen Wong and daughter Amanda said they missed the community spirit but were thankful for the arrangement. Many churches in Hong Kong have taken their services online due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Chineseruled city, which has reported 130 cases and three deaths. Similar arrangements have been made in Singapore and elsewhere at various churches, temples and mosques.

MAN RESCUED AFTER 69 HOURS IN RUBBLE A man was pulled out alive after being trapped for 69 hours under the rubble of a collapsed virus quarantine hotel in southeastern China in which at least 27 other people died. The official news agency said the man was sent to hospital immediately after being rescued. In another case a 10year-old boy and his mother had been rescued after being trapped for 52 hours. The condition of all three survivors remains unknown. The hotel in the city of Quanzhou had been a quarantine site for people exposed to the new coronavirus.


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in brief NETANYAHU RIVAL GANTZ CHOSEN TO FORM NEW ISRAELI GOVT Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz will be given the first opportunity to form a new government after an inconclusive national election this month, the country’s president said, raising questions about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s political future. The decision by President Reuven Rivlin was announced by his office after he consulted with leaders of all of the parties elected to parliament. He will formally designate Gantz with the task and give him a month to cobble together a governing coalition. The political wrangling comes at a sensitive time. Netanyahu has been leading the country as it confronts a growing coronavirus threat, with over 200 cases diagnosed and the number quickly rising. Netanyahu also faces serious legal troubles as he prepares to go on trial to face corruption charges.

IRAN TEMPORARILY FREES 85,000 PRISONERS Iran has temporarily freed about 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, in response to the coronavirus epidemic, a judiciary spokesman said. The death toll in Iran from coronavirus has risen to 988 and a total of 16,169 people have been confirmed infected across the country, one of the worst national outbreaks outside China, where the pandemic originated. "So far, some 85,000 prisoners have been released ... Also in the jails we have taken precautionary measures to confront the outbreak," judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said. "Yes, about 50% of them were security-related prisoners," he said when asked at a briefing. He did not elaborate on when those released would have to return to jail. Iran announced the release of 70,000 prisoners on March 9 in response to the virus, but none were political detainees.

SPAIN’S KING CUTS FINANCIAL TIES WITH DAD King Felipe VI of Spain said that he was renouncing his personal inheritance from his father, Juan Carlos, who has been implicated in a Swiss offshore account investigation. Felipe is also stripping his father of his stipend in an apparent bid to sever any financial linkage between the Spanish royal household and the former monarch. The announcement came as Felipe has himself risked getting entangled in the financial scandals centering on his father. Felipe took over as king in 2014 when his father abdicated amid personal scandals and health problems. Juan Carlos, 82, has benefited from legal immunity in Spain. But he could face trial overseas as prosecutors investigate his possible ties to two separate foundations that both held Swiss bank accounts.

CONMEN JAILED FOR IMPERSONATING FRENCH MINISTER Six men who netted more than $50 million in a brazen and elaborate scheme by impersonating a French defense minister and asking wealthy individuals and institutions to pay for fake, off-the-book government operations were convicted of fraud by a criminal court in Paris. Two of the men, Gilbert Chikli, 54, and Anthony Lasarevitsch, 35, whom investigators called the masterminds of the plot, were sentenced to 11 years and seven years in prison and fined 2 million euros and 1 million euros. Prosecutors said at the trial in February that the group impersonated Le Drian, mainly in phone calls. In some cases, the group made video calls using a silicone mask and a fake setup of Le Drian’s office.

Indian-origin NGO activates coronavirus helpline in US WASHINGTON: An IndianAmerican non-profit organisation has activated a helpline in the US in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 has so far claimed over 7,177 lives, including 80 in America. Sewa International started the initiative after the World Health Organization (WHO) characterised the COVID-19 outbreak as a 'pandemic' and expressed deep concern over its 'alarming levels' of 'spread, severity, as well as inaction'. 'A task force was set up to come up with a comprehensive approach to the pandemic after plugging into resources offered by different government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),

various departments of county and city,' said Achalesh Amar, the organisation's director for disaster relief. Based on the recommendations of the task force, the organisation is activating a helpline for non-medical advice in Midwest, Northeast, and Western United States. 'We are especially concerned about the

population with weak immune system, like seniors, the sick, or very young children. We are circulating WhatsApp messages with helpful information on how to prepare and take precautions,' President of Sewa International Sree Sreenath said. 'The biggest concern among the Indian-American community is about schools as every district is responding differently to the evolving situation, and most parents are not aware of the relaxation in attendance norms,' said Swadesh Katoch, organisation's Vice President for disaster relief. The organisation is also conducting regular webinars

and distributing flyers with concise information from various authentic sources and experts on matters such as difference between flu and COVID-19, preventive measures, and techniques to reduce anxiety. During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the volunteers of the organisation had helped rescue nearly 700 people. It raised over USD 3 million for Hurricane Harvey recovery, including a grant of USD 400,000 from the Houston Mayor's Fund, and a USD 500,000 grant from the American Red Cross. Over a dozen US States have declared a state of emergency with cities and counties announcing to take sweeping measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Nepal closes Mount Everest for climbers KATHMANDU: Nepal has closed all of its Himalayan peaks, including Mount Everest, this climbing season because of fears of the coronavirus outbreak, a government minister said. Nepal gets more than four million dollars in permit fees for the world's highest peak and other mountains every year. Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai said expeditions to all peaks in the March-May spring season had been suspended. "Climbing this season has been closed,” Bhattarai said. "It is as a precaution for that," he added, when asked if it was because of the coronavirus. Nepal has confirmed just one case of the coronavirus - a student studying in China on a trip home - out of 450 people tested. The suspension of expedi-

tions in Nepal will affect hundreds of foreign climbers now preparing for the spring season, a window or relatively good weather between the end of the bitterly cold winter and the rainy season, which begins in June. Everest, the world's highest mountain at 8,850 metres (29,035 feet), is on the border between Nepal and the Chinese region of Tibet. China also announced the closure of its side of the mountain. It is the second time in recent years that the climbing season has been disrupted. Expeditions were suspended in 2015 after a major earthquake struck Nepal on April 25 that year, killing some 9,000 people. Eighteen people were killed at the Everest base camp when an avalanche triggered by the

quake roared down a slope. "This is disappointing news for both our expedition leaders and our clients who have trained for months for this year’s climb," Lukas Furtenbach, of the California-based guiding company Furtenbach Adventure, said. Adrian Ballinger of the Alpenglow Expeditions compa-

ny said he understood the decision. “While cancelling a climb is never an outcome we want, this time, it’s the responsible thing to do,” Ballinger said in a statement. “A COVID-19 outbreak at base camp would be dangerous and potentially devastating,” he said. Nepal would also stop issuing visas on arrival until April 30, an official said.

Dubai Crown Prince fulfils wish of 7-year-old Indian boy with cancer DUBAI: It was a dream come true for seven-year-old Abdullah when Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai met the Indian boy battling stage three cancer, in Dubai. The Hyderabad boy was elated to meet his idol whom he had only seen in YouTube videos and wished to meet in person. After meeting his ardent fan, Sheikh Hamdan posted a picture of him hugging Abdullah, posing in a kandoura. He wrote, “Met this courageous boy today”. Appreciating this grand gesture by Sheikh Hamdan in granting the wish of this boy who suffers from the life threatening disease, Consul General of India Vipul expressed his gratitude saying, “it is indeed a great and gracious gesture on the part of the Crown Prince of Dubai to fulfill the wish of his little fan, which also signifies strong bilateral ties and people to peo-

ple connect between India and UAE.” In a video, the little boy can be seen saying that the Dubai Crown Prince’s “adventurous streak and his humble demeanour are what inspire him”. “I like Sheikh Hamdan because he is cool, adventurous and kind. I want to meet his pets and want to see his clothes. He is good and always helps people. He is an allrounder. He is first in all activities. He is intelligent, smart and a genius.” An enthusiastic photographer and adventure seeker, Sheikh Hamdan regularly posts photos and videos on his social media channels. He keeps his fans posted about his adventures and travels across the globe. He is also a nature lover and posts videos that show him bonding with animals or rescuing them. With over 9.6 million followers on Instagram, Sheikh Hamdan’s account (faz3) is one of the most followed ones on the social networking platform.

Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with seven-year-old Abdullah (right)


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SOUTH INDIA

Tamil Nadu govt puts NPR on hold CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu has put on hold the updated National Population Register (NPR) exercise in the state after Revenue Minister Udhayakumar said the Centre has not given a clarification on the queries raised by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on the newly-added questions in the NPR form. “The newly added questions have created a panic among minorities and Muslim communities. Our Chief Minister wrote a letter to the centre seeking clarification on the added questions but we didn’t receive any response. In many states, the notifications for NPR and census have been issued but in TN we have issued notification only for the census. The 2020 NPR contains additional data compared to 2010, everyone is aware of it. Since we didn't receive any reply from the centre, NPR has been put on hold in Tamil Nadu,” he added. Udhayakumar's comment

Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswami (right) and Deputy CM O Panneerselvam

comes a day after the state government maintained its stand on the Citizenship Law saying it will not be able to pass a resolution in the assembly against the Central legislation passed in the assembly. Opposing the AIADMK’s stand, the DMK and its allies staged a walkout from the house. “The opposition has been making a claim that people have been forced to submit the documents to prove their identity, It is not true. There is

no need to submit any documents to prove their identity,” he added. When he was asked about the comment made by DMK leader MK Stalin where he said that AIADMK government is not passing a resolution in the assembly because the minister’s fear that they will be sent to prison, Udhyakumar said this is a sensitive issue and the government is capable of making a better comment than the opposition leader. “The minority

communities should think about how the AIADMK government has been protecting their interest for many years. Amma's government will not allow any action that will affect the Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said. The Palaniswami government had earlier written to the Centre that certain information and documents like Aadhaar should be avoided in the upcoming Census in an apparent reference to apprehensions being raised over certain aspects of the National Population Register process. Meanwhile, Home Minister Amit Shah reiterated that no documents would be required to be submitted during the NPR exercise, adding that no one would be marked “doubtful”. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Shah said, “I am again repeating that no documents will be needed for National Population Register (NPR). All the information asked is optional. Nobody has to fear from the process of NPR. There will be no ‘D’ (doubtful) category."

PUNJAB

Punjab cabinet approves Lokayukta Bill; CM, ministers in its ambit CHANDIGARH: Punjab is likely to have its first anti- corruption ombudsman - Lokayukta - as the state cabinet approved the introduction of the Punjab Lokayukta Bill, 2020, for passage in the ongoing session of the Legislative Assembly. The Bill seeks to replace the existing Punjab Lokpal Act, 1996, and will cover all public functionaries, including the chief minister under its ambit. The government said the Bill is a “seeping reform measure” aimed at “further enhancing governance and checking corruption”. Bringing in a new Lokayukta was one of the major pre-poll promises of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh before coming into power in the state. The Bill envisages an autonomous body to inquire into the grievances and allegations against public

functionaries in the state, and makes provisions for appointment of the Lokayukta. The watchdog shall have all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908. It will also provide for prosecution in case of false complaints. The legislation bars a parallel probe into a complaint against any officer/public functionary if an inquiry is being conducted into the matter by the Lokayukta, a government official said. However, RTI activists have termed the Bill “toothless” as a two-third majority of the House is required to attain a prosecution sanction against the chief minister, ministers and MLAs. Further, all sanctions by the Assembly, whether or not permission to prosecute is granted, will be binding on the Lokayukta. Also, the Lokayukta will not have the authority to conduct a parallel inquiry into a matter

in brief HC DISMISSES RAJIV CASE CONVICT NALINI'S PLEA FOR RELEASE The Madras High Court has dismissed a petition by Nalini, a life convict in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, seeking premature release. Her petition was based on a Tamil Nadu cabinet decision. The HC observed that the state governor's consent was mandatory to give effect to it. The Supreme Court has held that under Article 161, it is obligatory that the signature of the Governor is mandatory to authorise the pardon, commutation or release, the court said. A bench rejected the arguments of Nalini's counsel that the Governor's approval was not necessary and the petitioner can be released on the basis of the advice given by the cabinet.

NEVER IMAGINED TO BE CM: RAJINIKANTH Superstar Rajinikanth said he has "never imagined myself as Chief Minister" and that he "only want change". His statements come ahead of the Tamil Nadu assembly election next year and almost after two years since he first announced the timeline for his party's launch. "I had the opportunity in 1996 but did not take it up. If I do it now, I would be called a fool," Rajinikanth, 69, said, revealing the much-anticipated 'trailer' of his political party. Referring to the 2021 polls, he said he would be 71 by then and that it would not be possible that the opportunity for change would come later, when he was much older, referring to the subsequent elections. "I have never imagined myself as Chief Minister. I cannot think of myself in the assembly, it is just not possible. I will be the party chief. I know that for many of my supporters and well-wishers, this is not acceptable. But I cannot have it any other way. What is the meaning of my spiritual politics, if I come to politics to be Chief Minister," Rajinikanth said.

15 PUNJAB BOYS MISSING AFTER BID TO ENTER US Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh

already under investigation by the government. Besides, the chairperson and members of the body will be appointed by the governor on the recommendation of a selection committee, comprising the chief minister as the chairperson, Speaker of the state assembly, Leader of the Opposition, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and an eminent jurist nominated by the Punjab government. The four-member anticorruption watchdog shall have

a chairperson, who is or has been a judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court. At least one member shall be from amongst persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes or the Backward Classes, minorities, or women, all of whom shall be qualified personnel with impeccable reputation. All complaints will be scrutinised by a screening committee before issuance of the notice. The screening committee will also take the government’s opinion on the matter.

At least 15 youths from Punjab have gone missing while trying to illegally enter the United States from its southern border with Mexico and Bahamas, a community activist said. Six of these youths went missing while crossing the Bahamas Island-US Border while the other nine went missing crossing the Mexico-US border, according to executive director of North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) Satnam Singh Chahal. The families of these missing boys told the NAPA that when the group, consisting of 56 persons mainly from Punjab, was only an hour's distance from the US border, the Mexican Army intercepted them. They detained six Punjabi youths, who were later released and reached the US, but 11 youths were taken away and they are still untraceable, Chahal said in a statement.

WEST BENGAL

50% of Mamata's RS poll nominees are women KOLKATA: West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee has announced the names of Arpita Ghosh, Mausam Noor, Dinesh Trivedi and Subrata Bakshi as the party candidates for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls. She said that in keeping with her "constant endeavour" towards women's empowerment, she was proud that half of the TMC nominees for the March 26 polls were women. While Noor lost from the Malda Uttar seat in last

year's Lok Sabha polls, Arpita had unsuccessfully contested from Balurghat and Dinesh Trivedi from the Barrackpore constituency. Bakshi did not contest from Kolkata Dakshin, the seat he had won in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. TMC sources said Mamata's decision to nominate two women for the Rajya Sabha polls was part of her objective to bring more women in parliamentary politics and delegate responsibility. The election for the fifth seat will be a litmus test for the CPI(M)-Congress tie-up in the state. According to

the distribution of seats in the West Bengal Assembly, the ruling TMC will get four seats to the Upper House of Parliament, whereas a joint candidate of either the CPI(M)-Congress or the TMC-Congress will have to win the fifth one. The Congress had earlier taken the TMC's support for the elections of their candidates Pradip Bhattacharya and Abhishek Manu Singhvi to the Rajya Sabha. Since the Lok Sabha poll debacle, the CPI(M) and Congress have been unitedly fighting against the TMC and the BJP in the

state. The fifth seat was held by Ritabrata Bandopadhyay, who was elected as a CPI(M) nominee in 2014, but was expelled from the party in 2017. Since his expulsion and post-2019 Lok Sabha polls, the CPI(M)'s West Bengal unit does not have any representation either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha. This has happened for the first time since the party's inception in 1964. With just eight MLAs, the BJP is not a contender in the Rajya Sabha polls. In the midst of a growing rift

Arpita Ghosh, Mamata Banerjee, and Mausam Noor

among Trinamool leaders, Mamata is likely to face another internal challenge with the announcement of names. Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, many of the TMC leaders had expressed their resentment when Mamata announced

the list of 42 candidates. She had dropped 10 sitting MPs to induct 18 new faces. At the time, senior party functionaries like Soumitra Khan, Anupam Hazra and Arjun Singh had openly rebelled and switched over to the BJP.


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SC issues notice to MP Speaker, CM Kamal Nath The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati, Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Governor Lalji Tandon on a petition filed by senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan and nine other BJP MLAs seeking an immediate floor test. A Bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud asked the Speaker and the Chief Minister to respond to the petition within 24 hours and posted it for hearing on Wednesday. “Rationale of the case is that a floor test is required,” Justice Chandrachud noted. Chouhan, a three-time former chief minister of MP, and others have challenged the MP Assembly Speaker’s decision to adjourn the House till March 26, defying the Governor’s direction for a floor test on March 16. Interestingly, no lawyer showed up for the Kamal Nath Government even as16 rebel Congress MLAs approached the top court to get their resignations accepted by the Speaker. On behalf of the petitioners, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said, “This case represents a complete travesty of democracy. The

Kamal Nath

other side deliberately did not appear to delay it.” The Kamal Nath government went into a political crisis after senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia quit the party and joined the BJP on March 11. Twenty-two Congress MLAs loyal to him tendered resignation making the survival of the Congress government in the state almost impossible. In the 230-member House, two seats are vacant and the Congress - which had 114 MLAs - has been reduced to minority following resignation of 22 of its MLAs as the effective strength of the House would also come down to 206. The BJP has 107 MLAs. In their petition, the BJP leaders submitted that on account of lack of confidence and resignation

of 22 MLAs of the Congress, out of which the resignation of six MLAs having been already accepted by the Speaker, the Congress government had been reduced to a minority. The petitioners contended that the Kamal Nath government had “no moral, legal, democratic or constitutional right to remain in power even for a single day”. Citing the nine-judge Constitution Bench verdict in the SR Bommai versus Union of India (1994) case, the petitioners said, “If the support to a government is withdrawn by some legislators and the government appears to have lost the confidence of the House, it is the duty of the Governor to direct the government to prove the majority by floor test.”

Ex-CJI Ranjan Gogoi nominated to Rajya Sabha Former Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has been nominated to Rajya Sabha. As a CJI, Ranjan Gogoi had presided over many crucial benches that delivered several landmark judgments, including Ramjanambhoomi land dispute, the abolition of homosexuality in India, entry of women in Sabrimala temple and clean chit to Modi government on Rafale deal. Justice Gogoi's nomination has drawn some sharp reactions from the Opposition. Many leaders of opposition parties suggested that Gogoi's nomination was quid pro quo. Sharing a cropped image of the official gazette notifying Ranjan Gogoi's nomination, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said: "Is it quid pro quo? How will people have faith in the Independence of Judges ? Many Questions" Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also shared images of two news stories with a tagline "Picture says it all". The two headlines suggested that Gogoi's nomination to Rajya Sabha casts a doubt on judiciary's impartiality. "I hope ex-cji Ranjan Gogoi would have the

good sense to say 'NO' to the offer of Rajya Sabha seat to him. Otherwise he will cause incalculable damage to the reputation of the judiciary," disgruntled BJP leader and former Union minister Yashwant Sinha said on Twitter. Aam Adami Party's Raghav Chadha also questioned Ranjan Gogoi's nomination, "This will not merely set a bad precedent but will cause irreparable damage to the independence of the judiciary." Justice Ranjan Gogoi's tenure as judge and CJI was marked by some controversies and personal allegations but that never came in the way of his judicial work that was reflected in the last few days when benches headed by him delivered some pathbreaking judgments. He etched his name in the annals of history when a five-judge bench headed by him on November 9 brought an end to the Ayodhya land dispute, which dates back to even before the Supreme Court came into existence in 1950. However, his tenure in the Supreme Court will also be remembered for being part of a presser by the 'gang of four' senior-most judges in

Ranjan Gogoi

January last year which questioned the then CJI's way of functioning. Later at a public function, Justice Ranjan Gogoi had remarked that "independent judges and noisy journalists are democracy's first line of defence". A "revolution, not reform" was needed to keep the institution of judiciary serviceable for the common man, Justice Ranjan Gogoi had said at the same function. Justice Ranjan Gogoi's tenure as CJI was not free of controversy as he faced allegations of sexual harassment, of which he was cleared. However, Justice Ranjan Gogoi is more likely to be remembered for the Ayodhya verdict that gave Hindus the 2.77 acre disputed land for construction of Ram Temple, and order that Muslims be given a 5-acre land at a "prominent location" to build a mosque in the city.

The head of BAPS Mahant Swami is back to Ahemedabad now. Earlier, he was in Gadhda and Sarangpur. On Wednesday, he installed statues in Jiva Khachar darbar and offered his blessings to saints. He also performed puja of pratham sheela. On Monday he reached Ahmedabad. At Sarangpur temple, Mahant Swami offered prayers to God seeking protection from coronavirus outbreak.

Five Gujarat Cong MLAs quit before RS polls

Somabhai Patel

Bringing the party’s tally down to 68 in the House with a current strength of 182, the resignations of Somabhai Patel (Surendranagar), Pradhyumansinh Jadeja (Abdasa, Kutch), Mangal Gavit (Dang), J V Kakadiya (Dhari, Amreli) and Pravin Maru (Bhavnagar) were announced by Speaker Rajendra Trivedi. Of the five, Patel, Jadeja and Kakadiya had been with the BJP earlier. All the five have been suspended from the Congress, state chief Amit Chavda said. The latest developments have left the party, which was hoping to grab two of the four Rajya Sabha seats, needing votes from NCP’s Kandhal Jadeja, Independent Jignesh Mevani and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) MLAs Chhotu Vasava and son Mahesh Vasava to reach that count. While Mevani has confirmed his support but the Vasavas and NCP are yet to make their position clear. NCP senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela has maintained that NCP will remain loyal to the Congree, but its lone MLA Jadeja's camp has given indication that he may choose the saffron party, once again after 2017 Rajya Sabha elections. Stung by the resignations, the Congress has moved all its MLAs to Rajasthan. Party spokesperson Manish Doshi said all 68 MLAs, including south Gujarat MLA Jitu Chaudhary, who was said to

Pradhyumansinh Jadeja

Mangal Gavit

J V Kakadiya

Pravin Maru

be missing, have been lodged at Shiv Vilas Hotel in Jaipur. Party sources said given the current strength in the House - BJP 103, Congress 68, BTP 2, NCP 1, Ind 1 - the ruling party can easily win two seats, and the Opposition one. But the fight gets tough for the Congress’s second candidate who will compete with Narhari Amin, BJP’s third candidate and a former Congress leader. In 2017, the Rajya Sabha polls had led to a similar cliffhanger, when the BJP fielded its then national president Amit Shah, Union minister Smriti Irani and Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput who was locked in a fierce contest with Congress veteran Ahmed Patel. Patel won by a whisker, with the help of a nonCongress vote (BTP), after six Congress MLAs quit. This time, incidentally, the reduced strength of House is likely to bring down the number of votes needed to win to 36 from 37 per candidate. Paresh Dhanani, Leader of Opposition, expressed that all is not lost for the Congress. According to him it can also happen that a few disgruntled BJP MLAs choose not to vote.

That assertion gained weight when BJP MLA Ketan Inamdar was seen visiting Dhanani’s office in the Assembly. Inamdar, who had recently quit over issues linked to his constituency before taking back his resignation, described his visit as a “social” and “friendly” meeting. On the ground, meanwhile, the rumblings of dissent are growing louder with the Vadodara unit expressing its displeasure against the leaders of the state executive. Sources said the party’s MLA from Karjan, Akshay Patel, reached Jaipur via Delhi where he and Jambusar MLA Sanjay Solanki met Ahmed Patel to complain against the state leadership. Revealing the extent of the rift within, Patel claimed that “about five six leaders of the BJP met me in the last few days offering me the opportunity to join their party”. “I told them that I am open to the idea but they must book their own former Karjan MLA Satish Patel for cheating and misappropriation of funds of sugar farmers of £2.4 million. I have no assurance from them and I am still with the Congress,” Patel claimed.


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Covid-19: Even Indians from EU, Turkey, UK barred entry In measures aimed at containing Covid-19, the government has extended the travel ban beyond affected countries and prohibited entry of all passengers, including Indian nationals, from the European Union, European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the UK to India with effect from March 18. The government also expanded compulsory quarantine for minimum 14 days for passengers coming from or transiting through the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. Till Tuesday, there are 142 confirmed positive cases of Covid-19. Of these, 13 cases are cured, whereas three patients with comorbidities died. The total 142 positive cases include 125 Indians and 17 foreigners. With reference to the EU, EFTA, Turkey and UK, the new travel advisory said, “No airline shall board passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on March 18. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure.” The decision was taken after a high-level group of ministers (GoM) meeting on Monday. Int’l travellers advised home quarantine A senior airline official said, “At this moment, given the restrictions, the option for people to travel between India and Europe/UK/Turkey include flying first to the Far East, to Thailand (Thai), Singapore (Singapore Airlines), Malaysia (Malaysian) or to Bangladesh (Biman to London), Colombo (Sri Lankan to London). They can also use Gulf carriers and Aeroflot (taking connections from Moscow). Some of the options will

mean quarantine on return.” The options for US are non-stops of Air India and United (will announce 50% truncated network soon). A senior AI official said the airline will suspend its UK flights from March 18. Last week, the government suspended almost all visas and even passenger traffic on several border checkposts to protect further import of infected cases from abroad. The move came in the wake of rising Covid-19 cases globally and the World Health Organization declaring it a global pandemic. International travellers with symptoms associated with Covid-19 who have so far entered India have also been advised home quarantine where they are monitored for more serious indications. Travellers from affected countries named by the government have to undergo quarantine at an official facility. Depending on norms and protocols, travellers are either quarantined at Army facilities or advised home isolation. Besides travel-related instructions - which will be

in force till March 31 and will be reviewed subsequently the government also proposed ‘social distancing measures’ as a preventive strategy. This includes closure of all educational institutions, gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres. This is in the nature of advisories for states but intends to bring about uniformity in action and underline the need to curb large congregations. The private sector has been encouraged to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible and meetings to be done through video-conferences to avoid people coming together unless necessary. Of the three deaths, one each occurred in Karnataka, Delhi and Maharashtra. The total number of confirmed cases are 142. The Railway Ministry has empowered its zonal units to suspend trains with low occupancy and on not-so-important routes. In its latest travel advisory, the government said: “Expanding compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from/ transiting through

NO.OF CASES - 1 NO.OF CASES - 10 NO.OF CASES - 15 NO.OF CASES - 3 NO.OF CASES - 11 NO.OF CASES - 26 NO.OF CASES - 6

NO.OF CASES - 40 NO.OF CASES - 1 NO.OF CASES - 1 NO.OF CASES - 4 NO.OF CASES - 1 NO.OF CASES - 5 NO.OF CASES - 15 NO.OF CASES - 1 TOTAL - 142 UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 18th March 2020 at the port of first departure.” Until now, quarantine was mandatory only for passengers from China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany. “Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from 18th March 2020. No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on 18th March 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure,” it said. While some states have already implemented some of these measures, more states

followed on Monday. “Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community. This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease,” it said. The ministry said online education should be promoted, and asked local authorities to prevent mass gatherings. The number of testing laboratories has been increased to 62. Meanwhile, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal denied reports about

missing patients in Punjab. The government had earlier suspended all visas, barring select categories, till April 15. The new travel advisory effectively means that even Indians who are currently in these countries may find it difficult to return home. Indian carriers flying to these countries are expected to cancel their flights, as they will have to return empty. Industry officials are of the view that home carriers of these countries may continue to operate flights on their India sectors in order to ferry their citizens back. Last year, almost 3 million passengers arrived in India from Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and Turkey, according to official data.

SAARC leaders discuss COVID-19 fightback plan As SAARC leaders held a summit via video-conference to discuss the way forward to fight the coronavirus pandemic, in an unprecedented initiative, India proposed creation of a COVID-19 emergency fund, for which it committed “an initial offer of US$ 10 million”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who initiated the idea of holding a summit via video-conference, was joined by Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Health Zafar Mirza. During the hour-and-a-

half-long summit, many of the leaders expressed concern over the economic impact and called for a strategy to deal with the aftermath. While the SAARC region has reported nearly 200 cases so far, including 137 in India, the region accounts for one-fifth of the world’s population, is densely-populated and doesn’t have robust public health infrastructure. “It is clear that we have to work together. We can respond best by coming together not growing apart, collaboration not confusion, preparation not panic,” said Modi. “I propose that we create a COVID-19 emergency fund. This could be based on voluntary contributions from all of us. India can start with an initial offer of US$ 10 million. Any of us can use the fund to meet the cost of immediate actions. Our foreign

secretaries, through our embassies, can coordinate quickly to finalise the concept of this fund and its operations,” he said. “We are assembling a rapid response team of doctors and specialists in India, along with testing kits and other equipment. They will be on stand-by, to be placed at your disposal, if required,” he said. “We can also quickly arrange online training capsules for your emergency response teams. This will be based on the

model we have used in our own country, to raise the capacity of all our emergency staff,” Modi said. “We had set up an Integrated Disease Surveillance Portal to better trace possible virus carriers and the people they contacted. We could share this disease surveillance software with SAARC partners, and training on using this,” he said. “Looking ahead, we could create a common research platform, to coordinate research on

controlling epidemic diseases within our South Asian region. The Indian Council of Medical Research can offer help coordinating such an exercise,” he said. “We can also ask our experts to brainstorm on the longerterm economic consequences of COVID-19, and how we can insulate our internal trade and our local value chains from its impact,” he said. Modi said the “nodal experts” from all the countries can hold a videoconference a week later to follow up on the suggestions. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Zafar Mirza took the opportunity to score political points, as he raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in his final remarks. He said it was a “matter of concern” that coronavirus cases had been reported from J&K. “In view of the health emergency, it is imperative

that all lockdown in the disputed territory must be lifted immediately, opening up communications and movement would facilitate dissemination of information, and allow distribution of medical supplies and enable containment and relief efforts to proceed,” said Mirza, who has worked as a deputy director (health systems) at the World Health Organisation. Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, while sharing his views on the “unknown territory” the world now finds itself in and the need for a common cooperative framework, suggested creating a model framework for telemedicine, ensuring availability of medicines, SAARC satellite for teleeducation, and asked India to coordinate between SCO and SAARC to learn from China’s experience.


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HEALTH & LIFESTYLE

AsianVoiceNewsweekly

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21 - 27 March 2020

Walking can reduce BP and diabetes Researchers say walking daily can reduce your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. They say those daily steps can also reduce stress and bolster your immune systems. Some simple ways to get in your walking is to park far away from the store, walk instead of having lunch with a friend, and hold a work meeting while walking. Cases of high blood pressure and diabetes are rising, but researchers say there is a free and relatively easy way to reduce your risk of developing one of these diseases. It’s the simple act of walking. The standard recommendation for physical fitness is 10,000 steps a day. But even a fraction of that can work, according to the authors of a new study.

What researchers discovered The study was based on data from 1,923 participants in the national Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. The report said every set of 1,000 steps taken daily over the course of 9 years lowers the risk of obesity by 13 per cent in middle-aged women. The researchers state that middle-aged study participants who walked the most steps per day over an average of 9 years had a 43

per cent lower risk of diabetes and a 31 per cent lower risk of high blood pressure. The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. In the study, participants wore accelerometer devices to measure physical activity at least 10 hours a day for at least 4 days. The average age of the participants was 45.

Almost 60 per cent were women and about 40 per cent were black. The average follow-up time was 9 years. Those with the highest step count were 61 per cent less likely to have obesity, compared to women who walked the least. The study didn’t show any association between a lower risk of obesity and the number of daily steps walked by men. Those 10,000 steps The 10,000 step benchmark goes back to 1965 when a Japanese scientist reportedly responded to the fitness craze surrounding the 1964 Tokyo Olympics by inventing the pedometer. It was called the Manpo-kei, which translates to 10,000-steps meter. It sounded like a semi-lofty but achievable goal. And it stuck. Of course, there can be variations to all those steps.

Most effective way to treat addiction A new study published in Cochrane Database of Systematic Review says that the Alcoholics Anonymous program is the most effective way to treat alcohol abuse. The researchers said people who complete the organization’s 12-step program have better success at abstinence as well as relationships with family members and friends. They add that Alcoholics Anonymous is free and doesn’t require making appointments or filling out insurance forms. Keith Humphreys, PhD, one of the study’s authors and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University, acknowledges he was once one of the many medical professionals skeptical of the effectiveness of AA. But as years went on, Humphreys noticed that his patients who were most successful in sobriety all had AA

Does the type of soap or hand sanitizer matter? Tons of cleaning and sanitization products are selling out amid the COVID-19 outbreak, including soap, hand sanitizer, dish soap and cleaning wipes. But which of these products will best help protect you from contracting the novel coronavirus? “Coronavirus is spread by droplets,” said an infectious disease specialist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Droplets contain virus, proteins, carbohydrates and other materials. They travel through the air, short distances less than one meter, typically, hands to other people and surfaces,” he said. The best way to clean your hands is the old-fashioned way.

in common. So, he changed his view and hopes the release of this study helps others do the same. Humphreys and his coauthors chose to publish in Cochrane, he says, to drive home the importance of the results. What the study revealed Humphreys’ team evaluated 35 studies involving the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of more than 10,000 participants. They found that long-term patient outcomes were better across the board when AA was part of treatment. “I spent a lot of time in my first research project fol-

lowing up former patients and was struck at the pattern I observed: The ones who got connected to 12step groups were simply doing a lot better, not just in terms of stopping substance use but also in having better relationships with their families and feeling more fulfilled in life,” he said. The benefits of AA counseling Suzanne, a healthcare professional who overcame addiction and will soon celebrate 10 years of sobriety, isn’t surprised by the study’s conclusions. Suzanne says she tried both counseling and AA over the years and found AA was, for her, the

best fit with the best results. “A big part of it is, to put it bluntly: no bullshit,” she said. “Mind you, a therapist is great,” Suzanne added. “I think everyone should have one. But therapy is only as good as what you give them. If you spin it, you might not get called out. AA is all about peer pressure, positive peer pressure.” Besides, it’s free and always has an “open appointment,” so to speak. “Addiction is a chronic disorder, and no matter what kind of help people seek, they often take two steps forward and one step back until they get into stable recovery,” he said. “In AA, this is easier than it is for professional treatment because you don’t have to fill out any forms or get your insurance company to say it’s OK. You can just pick yourself up and give it another go whenever you want,” Humphreys said.

How to stop touching your face Touching your face can significantly increase the risk of infection with flu or cold viruses and the new coronavirus. Your eyes and mouth are areas where viruses can easily enter your body. In one study 10 subjects were each observed alone in an office environment for 3 hours. Another study observed 26 medical students at a university in Australia to discover they touched their faces 23 times per hour. Even medical professionals, who should know better, were found to touch their faces an average of 19 times in 2 hours while being inconsistent about observing proper hand hygiene. Experts say wearing

gloves can help you break the habit of frequently touching your face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the new coronavirus is transmitted from person to person, like many other respiratory infections. This includes by respiratory droplets produced when someone sneezes and inhaled into the lungs of others, and by touching a virus-contami-

nated surface and using that hand to touch your eyes or mouth. While we can easily avoid being around someone who’s obviously sick, or take precautions against airborne viruses using a mask, avoiding the virus when it’s on a surface is almost impossible. “When actively working, people will often shake their foot, play with their hair, or in these instances, touch their faces. It certainly helps to know when you are most vulnerable to such activities and try to stay aware, during the meeting, or phone call, or while engrossed in work,” said founder of Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine, in Menlo Park, California.

in brief CAN YOU PREVENT SPRING ALLERGIES? Many people who suffer with spring allergies – commonly called hay fever – would rather stay indoors instead of venturing out to where tree and grass pollens flow through the air. There are excellent medications, available both overthe-counter and by prescription, to help reduce the misery of the spring season. What's Aavailable for Allergy Prevention For more than 100 years, injection with a small needle just under the skin, called subcutaneous immunotherapy or SCIT, has been used to modify the immune system. It works by turning off the immune response of cells in the body related to allergy. It achieves this change as you're given very small injections of the pollens that make you sneeze, with the dose increased on a regular basis. Once you reach a maintenance dose after several months, the amount is usually decreased. Typically, patients have the injection in their allergist's office and wait for 30 minutes to watch for possible reactions such as hives and wheezing. These are rare, but as you're getting injections of what you're allergic to, it is important to watch for side effects. Another therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration is sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy, or SLIT tablets. Presently only tablets for certain grasses are available to treat seasonal allergies, although other countries have a birch pollen tablet that's also effective in patients with oak pollen allergy. These tablets contain pollen and are placed under the tongue and dissolve rapidly. They are not swallowed. SLIT tablets work like SCIT to modify the allergic immune system. They're taken at home daily until after the grass season ends and started again several weeks before the following grass season. One of the tablets, which contains timothy grass pollen, can be used year-round for three years to encourage a sustained effect against grass pollen. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises that anyone using SLIT tablets needs an epinephrine autoinjector to address the rare risk of a severe allergic reaction at home. The most common side effect from this treatment is an itchy mouth, which resolves over time. You may have heard of SLIT drops, in which liquid pollen is placed under the tongue. Though approved for use in many other countries, there are no approved SLIT drops for grass or tree allergies in the US. Because allergy drops are not FDA-approved and are off-label in the United States, they aren't covered by most insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

DOGS DON'T PERCEIVE FACES AND SPEECH Many dog owners treat their good boys and girls just like they might care for a tiny human. But a series of recent studies showed that dogs don't perceive faces and speech the same way people do. While this might sound sad to the people who love their pups, it gives researchers better insight into how canines think and could help lead to better training. “These are critters that live with us on a day-to-day basis,” an assistant clinical professor in the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine who did not participate in the study, added. “Understanding how they process that environment is undoubtedly going to help us lead better lives with them.” In two different studies in the series, researchers looked at how dogs understand human faces and speech by using MRI, a kind of brain scan that tracks cerebral activity by examining blood flow. All the dogs in the studies went through special training to be able to sit through the MRI without moving. One group with 13 dogs the other with 11 dogs - looked at photos of people’s faces. The research used images with scrambled human facial features versus regular photos. The researchers wondered if dogs perceived human faces like primates do, meaning they recognize people mainly by their noses, eyes and mouths. But the pooches had a hard time differentiating the two, meaning they don't read images of faces the same way humans do. “The dog brain may not have the same tools to process the inner parts of the face (only eyes, nose, mouth),” said a graduate student in the ethology department at Eötvös University in Hungary. “The findings are in line with previous behavioral studies, which also reported that dogs cannot recognize their owners based on their inner faces without specific training.” Experts believe dogs still know how to identify who their people are “Dogs are doing fine with getting information from people's faces, they just may not use the same mechanism or brain areas as humans,” she said. “

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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21 Mar - 27 Mar 2020

Priya

I spy "A spy"! Priya Yes. that’s right we see Bytes to Binge the comedian in a 360 Genre: Drama/ History U-turn role like we Duration: 53 min have never seen him No. of episodes: 6 Part TV before and I am mini-series pleasantly surprised!

Where to watch: Netflix Created by: Gideon Raff

The story is slow and takes you to darker places for sure, but it’s thrilling at every turn. This history drama tells the astonishing true story of this remarkable and courageous man who infiltrated the Syrian government in the 1960s. The plot is based in the years before and leading to the 1967 six-day war between Israel and Syria, and I also like the show paying attention to the trust based, loving relationship between him and his wife. She bears a strong hold on him and his actions. His patriot heart is also just as strong leading him to make clear choices for his country whatever the risk.

Celebs wish Alia on her 27th birthday Actor Alia Bhatt celebrated her 27th birthday on Sunday and wishes came pouring in on social media. Celebrities like Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma, Shahid Kapoor, and others shared warm wishes for her. Katrina shared a throwback video of their gym session on social media and wrote, “Just keep being you”. Alia replied by saying, “Thank you my dearest Katy”. Alia also got wishes from her boyfriend and actor Ranbir Kapoor's sister Riddhima Kapoor Sahni. Actor and former co-star Shahid Kapoor took to Instagram to wish her on her birthday. Other actors who wished her included Arjun Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Deepika Padukone. “Happy birthday @aliaabhatt have an awesome year ahead. I’m actually just using your birthday to post this blurry image with 3 of my co stars,” Kareena wrote along with the picture. Alia celebrated her 27th birthday with sister Shaheen and her girl gang including actor Akansha Ranjan.

Ayushmann pays ode to his relationship with wife Tahira But, the writing for this drama is sluggish in some parts. However, for me the genre and concept made up for it. I am also not going to hide the fact that I think Sasha made it interesting for me, always taking me back to how brilliant he is with his accents! In one particular scene, I found myself really immersed into the message it was trying to get across. His ‘handler’ suggested that he think about the fact that he would be giving his life temporarily for the country and even though he had been preparing to be the spy this scene made the big change for all. He could have said no and that he would make sure it was because of that fact that he was not ready for it. He quickly responded. I am ready. I am going. It makes you think about the decisions one makes and self-sacrifices for the greater good. Salute to you Eli Cohen. I believe the 6-part series though, would be just that unless they found a way to incorporate another story into it. Cohen’s character is a past Egyptian army reject but he seems to make up for him, proving himself whilst being the spy. In real life, Eli Cohen was a shorter man

In a post that made the internet collectively swoon, actor Ayushmann Khurrana paid an ode to his wonderful wife Tahira Kashyap as the couple celebrate 19 years of togetherness. Sharing a collage of his wife's pictures, he posted, “It was in 2001. We were preparing for our board exams. At 1.48 AM I'd confessed my feelings over the phone. Bryan Adams was playing on my stereo. Inside Out was the song. It's been 19 years with this goofball. Umm.” Fans of the two showered comments on the cute post. One wrote, “Do you even know how many people are actually going to confess their feelings to their loved ones after reading this ! Thanks for sharing.” Both, Ayushmann and Tahira are childhood sweethearts who got married in 2008 and have two kids, Virajveer, and Varushka.

Kiara Advani turned off DM notifications

compared to Sasha’s great stature, which I think has given him much advantage as his transformation really helps us believe his ability to successfully complete his mission. It’s a great plot for this reason. I hope the rest of the series continues to show us history in this enthralling way. The cast is a great line up too. Noah Emmerich, Hadar Ratzon, Waleed Zuaiter and Alexander Siddig come through with tremendous weight for the story. I am not sure this show is a complete winner but yes it does have some mastery in the mix and for this I would give it a watch when you are in the mood for some heavy history drama. If any of you have watched a great true story recently you think needs more light shed on, find me on twitter @ApblPriya and I’d love to hear about it!

Actor Kiara Advani revealed in an interview that she turned off her DM notifications after receiving a lot of suggestive messages on social media after sharing a topless photo of herself. The said photo featured Kiara without a shirt on, suggestively covering behind a large green leaf as part of photographer Dabboo Ratnani's calendar shoot. She said, “I have switched off some of my DM notifications because I did get a lot of those suggestive ones. Especially after the leaf picture went up. I was like okay we can’t do this right now.” The 'leaf picture' invited its own share of memes with the internet mocking the photographer as well as Kiara. The actress said the memes don't affect her, and claimed she considers them a form of flattery.


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21 Mar - 27 Mar 2020

Parineeti's advice to stop coronavirus outbreak Actor Parineeti Chopra has urged her Twitter followers to adopt social distancing to stop the highly contagious coronavirus from spreading. The 31 year old took to Twitter to share a twopage letter in which she advised her fans and other celebrities to understand the seriousness of the outbreak and take preventive measures. She said, “While all of us have the “luxury” to be house arrested and waiting for news please spare a thought for the doctors and medical staff around the world who are risking their lives, away from their families, to save us! Exactly like our soldiers do at a war.” Parineeti then urged everyone to be responsible enough and learn from other countries that have dealt with the outbreak. “THANK YOU guys. We will NEVER, EVER be able to repay you. Guys let's be responsible.. By socialising/partying/ continuing life as it was, we are putting everyone at risk. Let's learn from what happened in other countries.. Lets stop now! We don't wanna regret later...”

Shah Rukh to play scientist in 'Brahmastra'?

A recent report suggests Shah Rukh Khan is expected to be seen in a cameo in Ayan Mukerji's fantasy drama 'Brahmastra'. The Ranbir Kapoor-Alia Bhatt starrer will reportedly open with Shah's sequence. A source said, “'Brahmastra' is designed in such a way that each of these actors play a key role in the narrative. Ranbir's character meets each of them at different times of his quest to find the 'Brahmastra'. While Nagarjuna plays an archaeologist, SRK essays the role of a scientist.” They also added, “Nagarjuna, Shah Rukh, and Dimple Kapadia are all aids to Ranbir's character at specific points in the plot and push the story ahead. All of them have clues leading Ranbir to the 'Brahmastra'. In fact, the film opens with Shah Rukh's sequence. It's a long scene and SRK shot it over ten days at Film City earlier this year.” The movie will show Ranbir as a character Shiva, in quest for the all-powerful brahmastra. He meets a number of characters in the process. The film stars Alia as Isha. It also stars Amitabh Bachchan and Mouni Roy in important roles. The film has been in the making since 2018 and has been shot in places like Bulgaria, Mumbai, Varanasi and Manali.

'Babloo Bachelor'

'Babloo Bachelor' revolves around Babloo, the son of a zamindar, who is looking for a life partner but has such high standards that he rejects everyone he meets. Will he ever find a bride? Cast Sharman Joshi, Tejashree Pradhan, Pooja Chopra, Rajesh Sharma, Leena Prabhu, Neeraj Khetarpal, Sumit Gulati etc.

by Vallisa Chauhan

Genre: American Superhero Film Duration: 109 Minutes

Diesel tries to pack a punch as a superhuman killing machine but Bloodshot bleeds from logic

In this latest superhero drama, Vin Diesel plays the role of Ray Garrison, who is killed and after being resurrected by a team of scientists he comes back as Bloodshot. This superhuman is on a mission to avenge his late wife’s murderer. Ray undertakes a successful operation in Mombasa and then takes a trip to Italy where him and his wife are kidnapped by a group led by Martin Axe who demands information about the operation in Mombasa. With no further information provided, Axe kills them. Ray however, is resurrected by a team of scientists and he is now enhanced with nanotechnology. There are other patients that he meets Katie, Dalton and Tibbs, but when he starts getting flashbacks of Axe and Gina, he escapes the lab in Malaysia and tracks Axe in Budapest where he kills Axe’s bodyguards. Katie, Dalton and Tibbs find him and take him back to the lab for reprogramming. It is made clear that actually the Doctor in charge of the whole experiment created false memories of Gina’s death. When reprogrammed Ray is now sent to kill Nick Baris who he now thinks killed Gina. He successfully kills Nick but at the same time a bomb is set off that breaks off his communication with the lab. He then meets Wiggin and Ray then finds out in actual fact Gina is still alive and the memories were false and she had left him and started another family without him. When Ray is captured by Dalton and Tibbs, Katie and Wiggins, help him escape. Ray ends up having a fight with Dalton and Tibbs and of course he wins. Later being stripped of his nanites and after the Doctor is killed Ray must be rebuilt by Katie and Wiggins. Unfortunately, although the film stars Diesel it does not pack a punch like it should, the baddies are no match for the enhanced character Bloodshot who is basically invincible. Diesel relies on his bulging biceps more than actual skill and other supporting characters remain unmemorable. Unfortunately, screenplay writers Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer are unable to construct any heft in this action film. The film has needless twists and turns and there is little to do except switch off and watch the fun. In other words suspension of all logic is required. Any stabs at selfawareness go awry when clichés are pointed out in futile attempts at humour. One thing that worked was the character of Bloodshot who looked good throughout the film, but the film does not set up a good look for the future films also based on the Valiant comic book collection, but of course this will depend on how Bloodshot actually does at the box office. There is also the added corona virus problem where people being advised away from the cinema which could affect the figures so for the team it is just a waiting game. You can get in touch with Vallisa: djvallisa@gmail.com


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Dulquer, Aditi, Kajal's 'Hey Sinamika' goes on floors Following the success of his latest Tamil release 'Kannum Kannum Kolaiyadithaal', actor Dulquer Salmaan is set to team up with Aditi Rao Hydari and Kajal Aggarwal for his next Kollywood outing. The movie titled 'Hey Sinamika' went on floors last week. Both, Aditi and Dulquer took to Twitter to express their excitement about the project. Aditi tweeted. “And we roll!! First day on the sets of Brinda’s directorial debut #HeySinamika. Blessed to be a part of this exciting film with @dulQuer and @MsKajalAggarwal @jiostudios @brindagopal @JioCinema @globalonestudio.” Meanwhile Dulquer said, “The magic of new beginnings ! Starting the journey of #HeySinamika with some lovely ladies Aditi Rao Hydari, Kajal Aggarwal and under the guidance of my dearest Brinda master ! @jiostudios @dulQuer @aditiraohydari @MsKajalAggarwal @brindagopal @JioCinema @globalonestudio.” 'Hey Sinamika' marks the first directorial venture of ace Kollywood choreographer Brindha Gopal. Aditi Rao Hydari was last seen in Mysskin’s 'Psycho'. Kajal Aggarwal, whose last release was 2019’s 'Comaali', is part of director Shankar’s 'Indian 2' alongside Kamal Haasan.

'Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu' gets a sequel

Filmmaker Mysskin declares war on Vishal Director Mysskin declared war on Vishal as he took the opportunity to share his side of the story. He revealed that 'Thupparivaalan 2' revolves around the Kohinoor diamond and he had worked on the script for nearly a year. He claimed he wrote the movie to help Vishal overcome his debt problem. He added, “I already had a producer who was ready to fund the movie. He had even given me an advance. But, Vishal himself insisted on producing it.” He added, “I even told him that I can write a different story that happens within Chennai and we can shoot on a budget of £1 million. That can be 'Thupparivaalan 2', and we can make this movie as 'Thupparivaalan 3' later. But, he wanted to make this movie.” The director demanded Vishal provide proof to support his allegations against him. He said, “He claimed that I spent around Rs 35,00,000 for script work. I have the proof to show that I only spent Rs 700,000 of 750,000 that was given to me.”

TV Listing 11:00

FILM: JASHNN - THE MUSIC WITHIN

17:00

FILM: GANGSTER

14:00 20:00 23:00

* Schedule is subject to change

SATURDAY MAR 21, 2020

02:00

FILM: FAREB

08:00

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06:00 11:00 14:00 17:00

20:00

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FILM: THE PERFECT GIRL FILM: THAKSHAK FILM: KHILADI

FILM: YES BOSS

FILM: BATTI GUL METER CHALU FILM: JISM 2

Issue began after Vishal alleged that Mysskin was a difficult director to work with as his working methods incurred him a huge financial loss. Mysskin said, “I told him beforehand that he can't make this movie as it would cost him about £2 million. I knew he had a lot of debt and this would add more burden to him.” He said his current pay scale was the source of conflict between the two. Mysskin said that he has already completed 32 days of shooting and was forced to give no objection certificate to Vishal to allow the production of the movie. He said the fight was far from over.

FILM: WOH LAMHE FILM: SATYA

FILM: DOUBLE DHAMAAL

TUESDAY MAR 24, 2020

02:00

FILM: KRANTIVEER

08:00

FILM: JAANE JIGAR

06:00 11:00 14:00

ATRANGI PREM KAHANI FILM: GANGSTER

FILM: AWARAPAN

23:00

FILM: 100 DAYS OF LOVE

FILM: RAJA NATWARLAL

WEDNESDAY MAR 25, 2020

06:00

06:00

FILM: TUMSA NAHIN DEKHA

08:00

FILM: AGNIVARSHA

FILM: KARISHMA KUDRAT KA

11:00

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17:00

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14:00 20:00 23:00

FILM: JO BOLE SO NIHAAL FILM: DOUBLE DHAMAAL FILM: KHILADI

MONDAY MAR 23, 2020

02:00

FILM: JAANAM

08:00

FILM: KRISHAN AVTAAR

11:00 14:00 17:00 20:00 23:00

FILM: GOOD BUDDY GADBADI FILM: UTTHAAN

FILM: DHADKAN FILM: SATYA

20:00 23:00

FILM: RAM BALRAM

FILM: BEHEN HOGI TERI

14:00

FILM: JOSH

FILM: FOUR PILLARS OF BASEMENT

FRIDAY MAR 27, 2020

02:00

FILM: NAARAAZ

FILM: TADIPAAR

08:00

FILM: MR. NATWARLAL

08:00

FILM: LASHKAR

06:00

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FILM: BAADSHAH

20:00

INDIA’S BEST DANCER

23:00

FILM: BEHEN HOGI TERI THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW –

ORIGINAL

MON 23RD MAR FRI 27TH MAR 2020 * Schedule is subject to change

SATURDAY 21ST MARCH

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

THE CHEF THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW (REPEAT) INDIA’S BEST DANCER THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW – ORIGINAL

SUNDAY 22ND MARCH

18:00 18:30

THE CHEF THE KAPIL SHARMA SHOW (REPEAT)

18:30

VIGHNAHARTA GANESHA

20:00

EK DUJHE KI VAASTE 2

19:15 20:30 21:00 21:30 22:00 22:30

MERE SAI

19:00: MERE HUMRAHI

19:30: MOHE RANNG DO LAAL 20:30: BARRISTER BABU

21:00: BALIKA VADHU - LAMHE PYAAR KE

SAT 21ST MAR 2020 11:00:

MAHAKALI

17:00:

DHARAM THI GUJARATI

13:30: 18:00:

GFF - ANKUSH

KHATRA KHATRA KHATRA

MON 23RD MAR FRI 27TH MAR 2020 TERE NAAL ISHQ

BHARADWAJ BAHUEIN

15:30: JAI SHRI KRISHNA

16:00: DHARAM THI GUJARATI 16:30: RASOI SHOW

20:00:

21:00:

DESI BEAT

KHATRON KE KHILADI

(SEASON 10)

TROLL POLICE

SUN 22RD MAR 2020

11:00:

SHRIMAD BHAGWAT

18:00:

KHATRA KHATRA KHATRA

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

DHARAM THI GUJARATI DESI BEAT

KHATRON KE KHILADI (SEASON 10)

TROLL POLICE

21:30: PAVITRA BHAGYAA

22:00: MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGE 18:30: VIDYA

19:00: CHOTI SARDAARNI

20:00: NAAGIN (SEASON 4)

CRIME PATROL

WHO!”

19:00:

SAT 21ST MAR2020

MERE DAD KI DULHAN

15:00: STRICTLY STREET

* Schedule is subject to change

18:30: DIL KA RISHTA

BEYHADH 2

13:00: SWARAGINI

FILM: KAUN KARE KURBANIE

18:00: TUM KAUN PIYA

PATIALA BABES

TV PREMIERE OF “PATI PATNI AUR

8:30:

17:30: CHHUTA CHHEDA

ISHAARON ISHAARON MEIN

MAX2 PRIME SAT 28TH MARCH 2020 AT 20:00

8:00:

THURSDAY MAR 26, 2020

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11:00

21:30

FILM: CHAAR DIN KI CHANDNI

FILM: JISM 2

FILM: WAKE UP INDIA

FILM: RAJA NATWARLAL

FILM: PRITHIPAL SINGH... A STORY

08:00

FILM: D-DAY

02:00 06:00

17:00

06:00

FILM: 100 DAYS OF LOVE

FILM: CHOR BAZAARI-EK

SUNDAY MAR 22, 2020

02:00

FILM: NAZAR

14:00

FILM: KATILON KE KAATIL

17:00

20:00

11:00

If reports are to be believed, Kamal Haasan and Gautham Menon will team up on a sequel to their blockbuster cop film 'Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu', which was released in 2006. While an official confirmation is awaited, reliable sources said that Menon has already begun writing the script. They added an announcement on the collaboration will be made soon. 'Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu' saw Kamal Haasan don the khaki after 'Soorasamharam', 'Vetrivizha' and 'Kuruthipunal'. The movie was a profitable venture at the box office, and traces the journey of Raghavan who sets off to nab the killers of his friend's daughter Rani. The original starred Jyotika, Kamalinee Mukherjee, and Daniel Balaji in key roles. In a recent interview, Gautham Menon had hinted the same. He added, “I am revisiting some of my earlier films because people are asking me to. I am open to doing sequels, but it should not look like I am capitalising on the success of films. Suriya says I should never do a sequel to 'Kaakha Kaakha'. As for 'Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu', Raghavan is at the stage of life where he has a daughter. Maybe, she is 15, and there could be wife Maya.”

21:00: FEET UP WITH THE STARS * Schedule is subject to change

MON 23RD MAR FRI 27TH MAR 2020

21:30: KHATRON KE KHILADI (SEASON 10)

SUN 22ND MAR 2020

18:30: VIDYA

11:00:

MOTU PATLU

19:30: CHOTI SARDAARNI

13:00:

MAIN HOON NA

19:00: PAVITRA BHAGYAA

20:00: SHAKTI ASTITVA KE EHSAAS KI

20:30: SHUBHARAMBH

21:00: NAATI PINKY KI LAMBI

LOVE STORY

11:30: 18:00: 20:00: 21:00:

PAKDAM PAKDAI MIRCHI TOP 20

NAAGIN (SEASON 4) DESI BEAT RESET

21:30:00 KHATRON KE KHILADI (SEASON 10)


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TRAVEL & EVENTS

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31

21 - 27 March 2020

Walking the walk of fame with Disney in LA

L

os Angeles is famed for being the Hollywood capital. It is where the stars literally and figuratively speaking walked the walk of fame. This Californian city is much more than your “friends with benefits” postcard picture. LA promises to colour your evenings with surreal yet unreal sunsets, wash your days in bright Californian sunshine as you hop trains from downtown to the pier and perhaps soak your nights into stories of northern lights if you are at the Scientology Centre. But beyond all this, the city promises to take you down the memory lane into a world of Disney characters and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.

Visas, and flights All UK passport holders can travel to the States’ without requiring a visa. However you are required to fill out an ESTA form. Frequent flights operate from Heathrow airport in London to Los Angeles LAX airport. Pro-tip: If you are not a British passport holder and flying with Air Canada then you need to apply for a separate Canadian visa even if you WILL not be landing in Canada. Therefore, unless it is a last resort and to avoid unnecessary immigration situations, you might as well avoid flying with Air Canada. And once you land in LA be prepared to kill an hour or more waiting in the cab even if your GPS shows your AirBnB being just mere half an hour. Best way to commute across LA? Buy a tap card and hop on to the subway with fares being as minimal as $9 a day.

Meeting Patrick Swayze on the walk of fame with...Superman In LA stars come down to the street and if you are bedazzled by such extravaganza then you might keep a couple hours of the night for skipping down your favourite celebrities. Beware of con artists and humans posing as supernatural characters and forcefully taking selfies with you. They charge money.

Day sipping butter beer at Hogwarts in the Universal Studios If you have been to the Universal Studios before then you know that an entire day is also perhaps less to jump and bump through all 3Dconceptualised rides. Watch out for medical symptoms highlighted before you fasten your seatbelts. Beside the adventure rides, these studios offer comedy shows and a real-life play into the film-making process at Hollywood. Additionally, it has the Hogwarts wizardry and witchcraft store where you can buy your customised Harry Potter souvenirs while enjoying your butter beer. Nights at Griffith Observatory Save up your energy for a hike up the hill to the Griffith Observatory. This scientology centre offers a panoramic view of the Los Angeles Basin, including Downtown Los Angeles to the southeast, Hollywood to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Besides, the majestic cityscape, the Observatory also houses a landmark pendulum, telescopes providing you the privilege of glancing at the Saturn, and among other things hosts regular shows charting an explanation of the Northern Lights in the Scandinavian countries.

Beach babe at Santa Monica pier Californian cities promise of sunsets visible even whilst you are landing their during the evening and can peek at through your flight window. But the sunset gets better when you bike it to Santa Monica pier replete with souvenir shops, hut-styled beer counters and awash with clean sand coarsing your toes as you run down the beach. Driving down to the Beverly Hills If you have watched 90210 and fond off gazing at celebrity homes and

RIZ AHMED’S SHOW 'THE LONG GOODBYE' POSTPONED The Long Goodbye slated to be held on the 27 March 2020 at the Manchester International Festival has now been postponed owing to the Corona Virus pandemic. This announcement follows after government and health officials warn against public gatherings and encourage individuals to enter into selfisolation. A spokesperson of The Long Goodbye team said, “As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to escalate around the world, the health, safety, and well-being of our audiences, artists and staff continues to be our top priority. With that in mind, Manchester International Festival (MIF), the creative team and our colleagues at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) have together made the decision to postpone the upcoming shows of The Long Goodbye in Manchester and New York to support global efforts to reduce the coronavirus spread. “Ticket holders will be the first to receive details of the rescheduled shows, when confirmed, and will have access to a week-long priority booking period. Meanwhile all who booked tickets will be refunded the ticket cost, transaction fee and refund protection if purchased. We will announce the new dates as soon as details are confirmed.”

Coming Events l Krishnaa - Fire to Frost by Abhinava Dance Company When: 22nd March, Where: Queen Elizabeth Hall, Price: £22 l Ahir Shah: Dots, When: 31st March, Where: Purcell Room Price: £10 l Southbank Centre Food Market, When: 21st March Where: Southbank Centre Square, Belvedere Road, Price: Free

acres of land meeting the ocean then perhaps you can spend a dime on that pick-up Mercedes, blow up your speakers with Rihanna in the background and enjoy a quick drive down these Hills whilst fantasising of buying a house for yourself. Hike up the Hollywood sign for your ‘Friends with Benefits’ postcard Nuff said! The hike is steep and the view from up top is quite disheartening for most tourists. Beware of the no-go areas else you risk being fined with $1000 or worse being jailed for trespassing.

l Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, When: 19th March Where: Victoria and Albert Museum, Price: £16-18 l Carmila: Preview Film Screening, When: 24th March Where: V&A South Kensington, Price: £22.00-25.00 l Crossing Boundaries, When: 1 Apr 2020, Venue : National Poetry Library, Level 5, Blue side, Royal Festival Hall Price: £7 per ticket l Ravi Shankar Centenary, When: Tuesday, 7th April Where: Royal Festival Hall, Price: £35 - £60 l Mangalam, When: 7th April, Where: Royal Festival Hall Price: Free l 2010: Crossing Cultures, When: 22nd April, Where: Royal Festival Hall, Price : £14-65

COMBAT YOUR CAVITIES WITH AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH

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Good oral hygiene is essential especially when you have a sweet tooth and cannot forego your daily consumption of sugary drinks and sticky toffee. Combatting cavities and taking good care of gums means flossing, and brushing your teeth twice a day. But how do you know if your oral routines have ensured your teeth and gums are in the pink of health? An electric toothbrush helps you examine if they are. Many of them come with genius built-in tools features such as minute timers, special brush modes, and even real-time feedback. The brush bristles either rotate or vibrate when switched on, essentially doing all the hard work for you as you move the brush around your mouth.

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DiamondClean by Phillips Sonicare is the most recommended electric toothbrush by the Dentists. It has different settings like Clean mode and Deep Clean+ mode, plus brush heads that address specific concerns like plaque control or gum care. It also works with the Sonicare app to guide you during brushing and alert to any missed spots. On the other hand the Oral-B 8000 CrossAction bundle comes with position detection technology which uses your smartphone and facial recognition technology to provide you with real-time feedback about your brushing techniques. The toothbrush itself features a pressure sensor and five modes including whitening, gum care and sensitive. Included with the brush are three replacement

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heads, saving you from paying for the travel kit. For charging the Oral-B 8000 uses a standard 2pin UK shaver plug and has a battery indicator which helps you monitor the battery levels. The CrossAction toothbrush has a connected handle, which can make use of Oral-B’s phone app. *KEY FEATURES Minute timers Special Brush Modes Technology to combat and clean cavities Real time feedback

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32

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21 Mar - 27 Mar 2020

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IPL suspended till April 15 The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to suspend the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) until April 15 as a precautionary measure against the devastating Coronavirus (Covid-19) and said it will work closely with the central and state governments, the sports ministry and the health ministry in this regard. BCCI, in a cautiously worded statement, restrained from saying that it was contemplating hosting the IPL any time soon after April 15, at least for now. “The BCCI has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) situation,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement. “The BCCI is concerned and sensitive about all its stakeholders, and public health in general, and it is taking all necessary steps to

ensure that, all people related to IPL including fans have a safe cricketing experience,” Shah stated. Public safety paramount In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic and one day after the temporary suspension of the IPL, all franchise owners of the T20 league converged at a meeting called by the BCCI. The owners reflected upon the threat that Covid-19 poses within India and globally and unanimously agreed that the BCCI had “done the right thing” by suspending the league until

April 15, for now. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, also the co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders, led the way once discussions b e g a n . “Wonderful to meet everyone after so long,” he said, adding that “safety of spectators, player managements and public paces” should be considered before anything else. He thanked the BCCI for allowing this communication process to fall in place and bringing everybody on board to chalk out the way forward. N Srinivasan, former president of the BCCI and managing director at India Cements, joined the meeting via a video conference. Khan and Srinivasan proposed seconded by the rest - that all owners and other franchise

representatives should check in seven days’ time if another meeting is possible. “Until then, let’s continue to monitor the situation and refer to the rules and regulations extended by Central government. Based on how things move from here, another meeting will be required to discuss possible scenarios,” Delhi Capitals’ coowner Parth Jindal said. Mumbai Indians were represented by team owner Akash Ambani and a senior executive at Reliance Industries, Nikhil Meswani. Scheduled to play hosts to the first game of the IPL this year, the MI owners too maintained that “public safety was most important for now”. In the near future, should the virus show any signs of subsiding or being brought under control, the unanimous view once again was that “a full-fledged edition should remain the consideration and intent on part of all stakeholders”.

74 Indian athletes qualify for Tokyo Olympics As many as 74 athletes, who have qualified for Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will show their grit and determination to realise India's long-cherished dream to score the medal in doubledigit in the global sporting event. These athletes represent a range of games including boxing, shooting, hockey, wrestling, archery, and athletics. In the ongoing Asian Boxing Olympic qualifiers, nine Indian boxers have cemented their place for the upcoming global event in Tokyo 2020. These boxers include Mary Kom, Lovlina Borgohain, Amit Panghal. Javelin thrower Shivpal Singh also cemented his place for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after registering a throw of 85.47m at the ACNW League

Indian shooters Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary.

Meeting in South Africa. As far as archery is concerned, India has three men's quota in the recurve event - Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das, and Pravin Jadhav, while one woman - Deepika Kumari - will represent in the recurve event. In athletics, Irfan

Kolothum Thodi (men's 20km racewalk), Avinash Sable (men's 3000m steeplechase), Neeraj Chopra (men's javelin throw), Bhawna Jat (women's 20km racewalk) and team of Muhammed Anas, VK Vismaya, Jisna Mathew and Tom Nirmal Noah (4*400m

mixed relay team) carry India's hope for medals. The hope of winning the medals in hockey will be immense as both men's and women's have qualified for the event. A total of 16 athletes will be in hockey squad respectively in both men's and women's events. India has attained the most number of slots in shooting and the country can have their hopes on the likes of Manu Bhaker, Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Divyansh Singh Panwar, and Deepak Kumar. The country will have a total of 15 athletes in the sport of shooting in Tokyo. In Wrestling, Ravi Kumar, Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, and Vinesh Phogat have qualified for the Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics will take place from July 24 to August 9.

All elite soccer matches in England suspended All elite soccer matches in England, including the Premier League, Football League (EFL) and Women’s Super League (WSL), were suspended until April 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic, English soccer’s governing bodies said. “Following a meeting of shareholders, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on April 4,” the Premier League, Football Association (FA), EFL and WSL said in a joint statement. The decision was taken after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus, while Everton announced that their

entire team had gone into selfisolation after a player reported symptoms of COVID-19. “Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum HudsonOdoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by Covid-19,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said. “In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority.” The Premier League said it aims to reschedule the affected fixtures but is unsure when action will be able to resume. The Football Association said England’s friendly internationals against

Italy and Denmark at Wembley on March 27 and 31 respectively will not take place. The men’s and women’s FA Cup competitions have also been suspended. The EFL, which administers the three professional divisions below the Premier League, with 72 clubs, said in a statement that the situation will be kept under “constant review”. “This action... has been taken due to the increasing numbers of clubs taking steps to isolate their players and staff because of the Covid-19 virus,” the EFL said. The British government has not banned large public gatherings at this stage in its response to the crisis, but the EFL said it was the right moment to activate its own

plans. “Whilst the EFL Board has continued to take the advice and guidance offered by the Government and its health advisors, emerging developments mean now is the time to implement football’s contingency plans in response to the crisis,” it said. “This decision has not been taken lightly, but the EFL must prioritise the health and well-being of players, staff and supporters while also acknowledging the Government’s national efforts in tackling this outbreak.”

Nations on the back foot as COVID-19 gathers pace The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has now engulfed all corners of the world and stopped every sporting tournament. Should we stop all international games and club cricket this season until the virus is under control? I believe we could start club cricket in June when the warm weather, it is believed, might mitigate the deadly effect of the virus. The IPL has been postponed until 15th April. It is surprising to know that as of now the Tokyo Summer Olympics will go ahead in July with the IOC ruling out staging the games behind closed doors. The premier league has been postponed until the first week in April amid suggestions to postpone the premier league to next year. My heart goes out to local restaurants and pubs who are going out of business as people are being advised not to visit them. The absence of live sports could be another reason for sports fans to abandon pubs. This just shows the significance of sport to our community. The economy has begun to buckle under the weight of the pandemic and airlines have taken a big hit. All this will take a heavy toll on sport across the world. No wonder Euro 2020 has been postponed until 2021 and governing bodies like the UEFA and BCCI have taken strong measures to postpone or cancel events. I feel the IPL will get postponed until next year unless the warm weather gives a helping hand in controlling the spread of the virus. All horse racing in Great Britain will be suspended until end of April. At the time of writing this piece there were reports that England cricketer Alex Hales is self-isolating at home after developing symptoms of COVID-19 after returning from Pakistan. Sadly for Pakistan fans, the PSL's semi-finals and finals have been postponed indefinitely. At a time of great emergency it is important that we pay close attention to the government and healthcare bodies, and follow their advise to a tee in order to ensure that each one of us plays a role in keeping down the damage the coronavirus can cause. Reckless social behaviour, casual bravado and spreading rumours on social media in the face of an enemy whose nature is little-known is selfdefeating. Self-isolate if necessary and make sure you clean your hands for 20 minutes. I am saddened by news of people needlessly hoarding household items and traders profiteering through unfair pricing. That is a terrible shame and goes against the very ethos of our nation. This nation has withstood terrible tragedies in the past and what we now need is the 'Dunkirk Spirit'. While more and more people work from home and spend less time outdoors it is time to reflect on the positives of living in the UK and the many privileges our country provides. As published in the Indian press, for former India greats Kapil Dev and Laxman, this is a “time to spend with family”. I couldn't agree more.

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AV 21st March 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 45 Vol 48)

AV 21st March 2020  

Asian Voice weekly newspaper (Issue 45 Vol 48)

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