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VOL XII ISSUE XII DECEMB DECEMBER I EDITION, N, 2019

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PUNJAB CM IN BIRMINGHAM

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GLOBAL IMPACT OF BREXIT

The December election is not just a Brexit election as the British see it. The outcome will tilt the global balance one way or the other. Two competing forces, in a general sort of way, are Progressivism and an ultra-right global coalition which I call Bannonism …. Writes Saeed Naqvi

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oris Johnson and the Tories will of course mount a resounding rebuttal, but they do not seem to have a case which can be encapsulated like Corbyn’s. The Right, it was said, has to make up in style what it lacks in substance. In the British context, The Spectator and The New Statesman were cited as examples of the Right having more head and the Left more heart. But those were days when debate was civilized. After the collapse of one system represented by the Soviet Union, the victorious system embarked on a mission which did not promote human rights, democracy; it promoted runaway capitalism which, alas, slipped and fractured its legs on a bend in 2008. Since this major fracture, capitalism is being made to run on artificial legs. People are “occupying Wall Street”; Mammoth Corporations are mobilizing powerful establishments to thwart the march of people screaming “inequality”. Liberals, under the Establishment’s “Chhatra-Chhaya” or canopy, begin to show their colours: “Communism” they say. Ed Murrow of CBS News single handedly stopped Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt. Murrow’s was the compassionate, liberal, democratic expression of journalism. After the first Boris Johnson-Jeremy Corbyn debate three weeks before

Demonstrators gather outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain. British lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a motion tabled by Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for a general election, dealing another blow to the prime minister, who vowed to take his country out of the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal

the elections, the media commentariat has been even handed. They gave victory to neither. They did not take into account Tories fixing a twitter account to boost debate ratings. This “balance” would appear to be a tilt in favour of Corbyn, because earlier BBC’s political correspondent, Rob Watson, for instance, never mentioned the Labour leader’s name without shrugging his shoulders and wincing. Such gestures would certainly touch the right chords with the establishment that keeps Watson buoyant. Boris is not exactly an adorable character. He is Prime Minister without having been elected as one. A reputation for lying, inflating expense accounts, making merry with the rich on

the Continent, looking lost at airports after late night binges, public quarrels with girlfriend and so much more -all these the establishment will overlook if only Johnson can help abort the Corbyn project. “You can go to Caracas or to your Mullahs” snarled Johnson in Parliament. For Caracas read Hugo Chavez, disciple of Fidel Castro, Communist, enough to invoke the ghost of McCarthy. When Johnson taunts Corbyn about the “Mullahs”, the Labour leader is sought to be cast as one soft on Muslim immigrants, the basic source of terrorism -- “Ali” of the clip above. The only way capitalism in trauma can fight a progressive politician is to cast him as a “Communist”, anti-

Demonstrators gather outside the House of Parliament in London, Britain. Rebel Tory members of the British parliament are poised to join their colleagues from opposition Labour to bring forward a bill later Tuesday in a bid to stop Britain leaving the European Union on Oct. 31 without an agreement.

Semitic or one negligent of Islamic terrorism. When Johnson handpicked Priti Patel as Home Secretary, he had all these themes in his mind. Consider Patel’s background: as Secretary of State for International Development in Theresa May’s government, she travelled, without any authority, to Israel, meeting Benjamin Netanyahu’s ministers in pursuance of her own agendas. She was found out and was sacked but Johnson needed just such cloak-and-dagger talent. Recently, when Hindu groups turned upon Corbyn because he was critical of recent actions of the Modi government in Kashmir, informed folks asked: is this Priti’s handiwork? For electoral gains, Johnson would not mind Priti Patel

(strictly behind the scenes) stoking a little Hindu-Muslim polarization. Look at the contrast. Corbyn has reached out much more elegantly for sub-continental support. The Labour party has promised in its election manifesto something Indians have been demanding for some time: an official apology for the Jalianwala Bagh massacre. That is why the December election is not just a Brexit election as the British see it. The outcome will tilt the global balance one way or the other. Two competing forces, in a general sort of way, are Progressivism and an ultra-right global coalition which I call Bannonism. (Full story in www.asianlite.com)

GUTERRES COMMITS TO FIGHT FOR CLIMATE ACTION

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N Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the great injustice of the climate crisis is that its effects fall most on those who are least responsible for it. Committing to continue fighting for ambitious climate action and for small islands and least developed countries, Guterres at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in the UN climate conference said: “We must also ensure that at least $100 billion a year is available to developing countries for mitigation and adaptation. “And to take into account their legitimate expectations to have the resources necessary to build resilience and for disaster response and recovery.” The two-week long 25th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 began in the Spanish capital in the backdrop of climate impacts biting globally. This

COP is an important meeting. The reason: In 2015, governments signed up to the Paris Agreement -the first global UN treaty that saw all nations commit to cutting emissions to zero by mid-century. Next year, the same countries are on notice to submit new and tougher climate plans. “You have my personal commitment to continue to fight for more ambitious climate action and also for the particular cause of SIDS (Small Island Developing States) and LDCs (Least Developed Countries),” the UN chief said. “Visiting the most vulnerable regions of the world has only served to galvanize my efforts in this regard,” he said. Saying that in Mozambique and in the Caribbean, he has seen the aftermath of terrible storms, that have caused and continue to cause devastation and that “we count in the cost of lives lost, communities up-rooted and

UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa (R) attends the 25th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP25 in Madrid.

economies crippled”. “In the Sahel and the Horn of Africa I have witnessed the dreadful toll of drought, powered by climate change, that is destabilizing an entire sub-region. “And around the world, floods, drought and other extreme weather are being made worse by climate disruption.

“And it is the most vulnerable who hurt first and worst. It is commendable, then, that some of the most vulnerable nations are also in the forefront of climate action. For a decade or more you have been in the vanguard of the call to follow science by limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees,” Guterres said.

“You know that any more will spell untold disasters for your people and for your development prospects. At the recent Climate Action Summit, Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries once again showed leadership,” he said. “We saw commitments to come forward with strategies to reach net zero emissions by 2050. And we heard from countries prepared to bring more ambitious national commitments in 2020. “For this I thank you and I hope your example will be followed by the big emitters,a he said. “It is essential that you follow through on these commitments to put maximum pressure on the big emitters next year. “The UN is ready to support SIDS and LDCs in this -- including through the aclimate Promise’ made by UNDP at the summit. I wish you a very productive forum,” he added.


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Will anti-India rhetoric benefit Labour Party? Majority of Labour’s Pakistani supporters are from the Mirpur region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir where every citizen is indoctrinated to imagine himself or herself as a warrior ϔighting for freedom of Kashmir from ‘Hindu India’…. Writes Rifan Ahmed Khan for Asian Lite News

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ith uncertain chances of returning to power in December 12 polls under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the Opposition Labour Party of Britain adopted an anti-India resolution on Kashmir in September 2019. It is a deception that the party had to adopt because the polls are barely a month away. The so-called revised stand of the Labour Party basically avoids the contentious issue of human rights violations in Kashmir, as alleged by Pakistan. It would have been fair had the Labour Party also condemned the appalling human rights record of Pakistan before criticizing India in a resolution. The Labour Party will not risk this as most of its Pakistani supporters in the UK are from the Mirpur region of Pakistan occupied Kashmir where every citizen is indoctrinated to imagine himself or herself as a warrior fighting for freedom of Kashmir from ‘Hindu India’. Labour leaders of Pakistani origin are busy round the clock spreading hatred against India. India, on its part, for reasons unknown, has not acted strongly against the free hand that the British authorities have given to the large Indiabaiting groups, even turning a blind eye when they indulge in violence. On the contrary, in India, even a small anti-British demonstration will not be allowed to reach the British High Commission in Delhi. In London, the Pakistani ruffians ably supported by Khalistanis hold demonstrations right in front of the Indian High Commission. The controversial Labour resolution of September was perhaps the outcome of the efforts

of British citizens of Pakistani origin, including Labour Party members, who always spew antiIndia venom like the Pakistani citizens. At the orders of the Pakistan Army/ISI, these sections are leaving no stone unturned to denigrate India and mobilise opinion against the Indian government’s twin decisions: 1) Abrogation of Article 370 that was a temporary provision of Indian Constitution for more than seven decades and 2) Reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. The manner in which the British government and the Labour Party dealt with anti- India reaction raises the question: Will the British authorities have cheerfully acknowledged adverse comments made by the Indian government or the ruling party against internal matters of Britain? While there might be ‘internal issues’ of the UK that evoke interest in India, it is worth mentioning that Britain has been host to fugitives, terrorists, secessionists and criminals from India, and many other countries. In recent years, the Labour Party, traditionally considered favourable by the Indian community in the UK, has started losing its grip among the Indian diaspora because of the party’s new tilt towards defending Pakistani interests. This may have prompted a large section of British citizens of Indian origin to shift their loyalty to the Tories after reconsideration of their traditional ties with the Labour Party. Though British Indians, or more specifically Hindus, are outnumbered 1:3 by Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and other counties, the Labour Party may be shaken taking into account the number of Indian origin voters. Even the ruling Conservatives have not

shown much regard for Indian sensibilities and have allowed Pakistani hooligans and their supporters in the UK to stage violent protests against India in London and in other cities. These anti-India elements held protests on India’s Independence Day and on the religious festival of Diwali. They are huddled from different parts of the country whosee sponsors are or Indians, the funded by Pakistani authorities. For tish authorities inability or the refusal of the British in Britain to prevent attacks by Pakistani thugs y of partisan a has been like a shocking display partisanship. han has exMayor of London Sadiq Khan dent outside pressed his regrets over the incident uch later. It the Indian High Commission much akistan was looked like an after-thought. Pakistan overwhelmed when a person of Pakistani origin was made the equivalent of Home Minister ly emboldened in Britain. These factors have only anti-India elements in the UK to carryy on with their propaganda unhindered. Pakistani-origin members of the British ow any inhibilower and upper houses do not show tions in participating in anti-Indiaa programmes. They make fiery speeches againstt India without being questioned by their party bosses who ech mantra cleverly use the freedom-of- speech tito let Pakistanis devour their antiIndia moments. The Labour Party, with very scant or no knowledge about the intricacies of the Kashmir ‘dispute’, believes that it is just a territorial quarrel between ‘two nuclear-armed’ neighre that these bours in South Asia. It is for sure

Labour leaders—or leaders of other British political parties—are ignorant about the Pakistanbacked Islamist insurgents who resorted to ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Kashmir in late 1980s when nearly 600,000 Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) were driven out of their homes. Thousands of them were killed even before they could leave for safety. Till date, it has not been possible for the Pandits to return to their homes because the Pakistani-backed insurgents do not th hem to return. want them Has the Labour Party passed any resolution o n that?

CAN WE TRUST BORIS ON NHS? Why would you believe he is telling truth about NHS? Mr Johnson is promising to build 40 new hospitals! 6000 more GPs and 50,000 nurses! Is there any nurse tree like a money tree? Who crippled our NHS? Who initiated the outsourcing of the services and the entire NHS in on table now for a trade deal with the US? …. Dr Kailash Chand, former vice chair of the BMA and one of the senior most GPs in the country explores for Asian Lite News

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have watched six prime ministers since I came to UK in 1978, and have never encountered a Prime Minister who lies and fabricates so regularly, so shamelessly and systematically as Boris Johnson. In his political journey he has lied to,anybody you could think of, starting from: The Queen His Newspaper Boss His Party Leader His Wife The G7 Summit TV Interviewers The Business Confederation His Lover Houses of Parliament His Party Conference

The United Nations Why would you believe he is telling truth about NHS? Mr Johnson is promising to build 40 new hospitals! 6000 more GPs and 50,000 nurses! Is there any nurse tree like a money tree? Who crippled our NHS? Who initiated the outsourcing of the services and the entire NHS in on table now for a trade deal with the US? The Boris and his team are offering record NHS funding. But Mr Johnson as an insider I can tell you this £34 billion is not enough to catch up with the huge funding hole created by the Tories in the last nine years. What we do know is, since the birth of the NHS in 1948, up to 2018, the NHS managed with an historic

average of 4% funding-uplift, a year. Since 2018/19 it’s been hovering around 1%. That created the mess we are in. The promises are plain lies. The problem lies in the DNA of the Tories. For them, the National Health Service is not for treating patients, but creating profit for the cronies. The Tory ‘reforms’ of the NHS since they came

to power in 2010 not only repealed society’s contract with the health service and the government’s duty to provide fit-for-purpose healthcare – they put the NHS on the chopping block to be sold in pieces to private corporations. If you want an example of “post-truth” politics just listen to every single pronouncement on the NHS that Boris Johnson has made since he became Prime Minister. There are three key problems with private health firms running our NHS. First, there is no room in the budget for the profit they wish to make. Virgin says it wants to make 8% profit on the NHS services they provide. At that rate, if the private sector won the £20bn of services tendered by them,

it would be equivalent of £1.6bn of that taxpayers’ money being set aside for dividends to Private Healthcare’s shareholders. Second, privately-provide does not mean better care. Every single private health firm has had shortcomings identified by the Care Quality Commission when they inspected their premises. Worries have included poor staffing levels as well as poor and unsafe care for patients. Tories had nine years to fix the NHS but what they have delivered is nothing short of ‘car crash’ ! The NHS is now 100,000 short of staff on your watch. Tories said they would recruit more GPs last time, but we actually now have fewer. (Full story in www.asianlite.com)


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London Pays Tribute to Mumbai 26/11 victims Hundreds of people across Indian diaspora came together in solidarity to express condolences towards the 250+ families which were devastated because of the 10 terrorists that were known to have sponsored and trained by Pakistan …. reports Ragasudha Vinjamuri

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arking the 11th year of the gruesome terrorist attacks of 26/11 on the financial capital of India Mumbai, it was a sombre occasion that was observed by the Indian Diaspora walking from Hyde Park Corner to the Pakistan High Commission. Hundreds of people across Indian diaspora came together in solidarity to express condolences towards the 250+ families which were devastated because of the 10 terrorists that were known to have sponsored and trained by Pakistan. “It was a general feeling that terrorism is not a means to achieve anything - whether in India or the UK or the US or anywhere else. Instead of spending energies on such negative ideologies,” said Sushil Rapatwar, one of the participants. “We are sure people from different countries including those which may be breeding grounds to anti-social elements would like to see aman (peace) and prosperity towards their own families. So the common message was to discredit and stop terrorism-sponsored activities and work towards the betterment of humanity.”

INDIA PAYS TRIBUTE While Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation on Tuesday to pay tributes to those killed in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks 11 years ago, Twitterati too joined in. Hashtags MumbaiTerrorAttack were trending with 57.5K tweets, #MumbaiAttacks with 23.1K tweets, #2611attack with 7692 tweets, and #HemantKarkare with 2444 tweets. Twitter users posted pictures of the terror attack along with pictures of security personnel who fought against the terrorists and those who

were killed in action. At least 166 people, including foreigners, were killed when 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists attacked five major sites in Mumbai 11 years ago. Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo tweeted: “Tributes to our brave security personnel who sacrificed their lives for our security. Let us vow to stand united against terrorism and be prepared to defeat cowardice acts like these. #2611attack#MumbaiAttacks” US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster, wrote on @USAmbIndia to remind that November 26 marks the

11th anniversary of the Mumbai terror attack. “As we remember and honor the victims and stand side-by-side with the people of India, we must remain strong and united in the face of terrorism, and more determined than ever to defeat it. #2611Attack,” he posted. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said: “Heartfelt tributes to the valiant martyrs of the #2611Attack on the 11th anniversary of the tragedy in Mumbai. We will never forget their sacrifice ? their sacrifice unites us against the forces which intend to divide us with terror.” Industrialist Anand Mahindra posted pictures and posted a couplet. He commented: “On 26/11 there is no other subject to tweet about. We remember their battle; we remember their courage; we remember our debt to our heroes...” Tata Sons Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata on Tuesday paid homage to the “spirit and sense of unity” of Mumbai on the 11th anniversary of the dastardly 26/11 attack. “A lot has been said about the

tragedy of 26/11. The memory of the carnage and loss of life, is still painful. We won’t forget the needless suffering caused across the city. But we remain proud of the spirit and the sense of unity of Mumbai. “We can be hurt, but not knocked out,” Tata said in a tweet, attaching a photo of he standing with policemen out the iconic Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. The Tata property was one of the key targets of the 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists from Pakistan who went on a murderous rampage across the city November 26-28, 2008, killing 166 people, including foreign nationals, before being overcome by security forces.

C’Wealth move to stem violence against women

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he Commonwealth has announced a new partnership designed to reduce domestic violence in member countries, including India. Secretary-General Patricia Scotland on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with the NO MORE Foundation, a global movement of 1,400 allied organisations and 40 international chapters working together to stop and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. The two parties have agreed to work together to implement initiatives that work on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual abuse as part of wider efforts to achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals. According to the World Health Organisation, one in three women worldwide has been a victim of sexual and/or physical violence in her lifetime, making it a leading cause of death in women and girls. Reports suggest the abuse remains largely unreported due to impunity, silence, stigma, fear and shame. The Secretary-General said: “We must say NO MORE to violence against women and girls in both words and action. It affects everyone: women, men, children, persons with disabilities and people from sexual and gender minorities. It means we

must involve and sensitise everyone to support vulnerable individuals, protect survivors of violence and bring perpetrators to justice. We must do everything we can to ensure every child in our home and our community grows up in a safe environment. This is the only way to fulfil our Sustainable Development Goal commitments.” The partnership is designed to help member countries record accurate data on the prevalence of violence, deliver grassroots projects, train community leaders, educate bystanders’ responses and provide awareness resources. NO MORE Global Executive Director Pamela Zaballa said: “NO MORE is proud to partner with the Commonwealth and grateful to have this tremendous opportunity to help end domestic violence in the 53 member countries.” “We are looking forward to engaging a wide array of governmental, business, human rights and community leaders in this initiative. Together, we can dramatically increase awareness and action to prevent violence and meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” Zaballa added. The partnership was announced at an event hosted at Commonwealth headquarters in London, to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.


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MANCHESTER GETS MAHATMA STATUE

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bronze statue of India’s Father of theNation Mahatma Gandhi was unveiled outside Manchester Cathedral to mark the 150th anniversary year of his birth. Mayor Andy Burnham, India’s Consul General Dr Aman Puri, Sir Richard Leese, Leader, Manchester City Council, the Right Reverend Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester and Pujya Gurudevshri Rakeshbhai, Founder, Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur (SRMD) were present. The statue is an initiative of SRMD, a worldwide spiritual movement. Shrimad Rajchandraji was Mahatma Gandhi’s spiritual mentor. Gandhi, who has been praised by the whole world as a messenger of non-violence, will ever remain indebted to the teachings of Shrimadji. Thus, this initiative was undertaken by Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur during Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary Year. The costs to install the 9ft high, 800kg statue, by renowned Indian artist Ram V. Sutar, in the city’s Medieval Quarter were sponsored by the Kamani Family in memory of their grandfather Bhanji Khanji Kamani (1888-1979). Ram V. Sutar is the man who has designed Statue of Unity, world’s tallest sculpture. The project is supported by Manchester Cathedral, Manchester City Council, the Manchester India Partnership and the High Commission of India. This will be one of world’s tallest statue outside of India. The statue of Gandhi, the global ambassador of non-violence and peace, was carefully planned, considering the location, scale in the context of the space and ensuring there will be necessary pedestrian and disabled access. The Medieval Quarter is a strategically important gateway site at the boundary of between Manchester and Salford, across the River Irwell from the Greengate development area and close to Victoria Station, Cathedral Gardens and Exchange Square. Sir Richard Leese, Leader of

Manchester City Council, said: “This statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a leader who tirelessly championed the power of peaceful protest, will find a welcome home in Manchester. In the turbulent times we live in, his legacy of peace is one we can all appreciate and reflect on.” Andrew Cowan, CEO of Manchester Airport and chair of the Manchester India Partnership, said: “The unveiling of this statue is the latest example of the ‘living bridge’ that exists between Greater Manchester and India. A huge amount of work has gone into forging closer ties between the two since the formation of the Manchester India Partnership 18 months ago. I would like to congratulate all those involved in the Mahatma Gandhi Statue project, it is a welcome addition to our city and is sure to prove popular with everyone who visits the city centre in the years ahead.” Rob Hannay, business development manager of construction firm BAM, said: “The client chose their spot outside the Cathedral, looked across, and saw our team building 100 Embankment opposite. It is fantastic to be able to assist with the siting of Gandhi’s statue. Coincidentally, BAM is 150 years old this year, and the opportunity to do something positive to enhance the city in our anniversary year was too good to miss. Our team combined with Adana Construction in Stockport, and structural engineers,

Ramboll. Between us we have housed the statue, conducted exploratory digs, liaised with the council to get it through a raft of permissions, created foundations, a plaque and conducted the installation as it’s a 150th birthday gift to our city!” National planning and development consultancy Turley provided expert planning, design and heritage services for the Mahatma Gandhi statue. Gandhi’s memorable accounts on Shrimadji testify the profound influence that Shrimadji’s personality exerted on the Mahatma’s life. Shrimadji’s emphasis on truth, compassion and non-violence in every walk of life, later crystallised as the fundamental tenets of Gandhism, which played a significant role in the Indian struggle for independence. In the history of India, the success of Gandhi’s non-violent struggle as a means of achieving freedom will be engraved in golden letters. Even in the history of the world his unique contributions will be immortalised. Spokesperson from SRMD UK said: “The statue of Gandhi will celebrate the universal power of his message. A statue in Manchester will ensure that the heart of our politics and democracy can all be inspired with his ethos. Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings remain as potent today as when he first said, ‘be the change that you want to see in the world’, Following the 2017 Arena attack, Manchester’s

unique civic pride displayed the values of non-violence and compassion. We are inspired by the people of Manchester for their strength, decency and community in the face of this unparalleled tragedy” During a 1931 visit to the UK, Gandhi visited the textile mills in

Lancashire, travelling from London to Blackburn via Manchester, to meet with mill workers and explain the Indian perspective on the boycott of British goods that was damaging their Cottage industry. During this visit, Gandhi attracted large crowds of admirers and received a warm welcome.


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Will 2019 be a repeat of February 1974? The ability of the British electorate to surprise us all should not be underestimated. My ϔirst election in 1970 saw even as the polls closed, pollsters predicting Labour sailing to victory only for its boat to crash when the results came out, the Tories were surprised in the ϔirst election of 1974, Labour in 1992 and we all know what happened to Theresa May in 2017. In some ways this election has something of the feel of 1974 ….. writes Mihir Bose

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f pollsters and bookmakers are to be believed then the 2019 election is already over. The Tories could get a majority of anything up to 82 seats and my man at bookmakers William Hill says Conservatives are 4/11 to win, Labour 20/1 and a hung parliament 9/4. Even those who fancy Boris Johnson returning to No 10 would not want to back £11 to make a profit of just £4. But is a Conservative majority guaranteed? The ability of the British electorate to surprise us all should not be underestimated. My first election in 1970 saw even as the polls closed, pollsters predicting Labour sailing to victory only for its boat to crash when the results came out, the Tories were surprised in the first election of 1974, Labour in 1992 and we all know what happened to Theresa May in 2017. In some ways this election has something of the feel of 1974. Then Edward Heath went to the country demanding the people give him a mandate to finish the job he had begun against the miners. Now Boris Johnson has gone to the country demanding he be given a majority to finish the job with the European Union. While Johnson was not leading a majority government as Heath was, Johnson could easily have stayed in office and, despite Tory attempts to fudge this issue, his Brexit bill had got a second reading. And the other great similarity is that Europe had a great influence in 1974. In 1974, of course, it was the Conservatives who were pro-Europe, Heath having taken the country into what was then the European Economic Community while Labour was largely anti-Europe and Harold Wilson, the Labour leader, was trying to hold his party together on the issue by promising a referendum. But then, as now, party loyalties were shifting and in 1974 Enoch Powell proved to be the siren who helped lure Tory voters away and deliver them to Labour. Enoch Powell by Paul Corthorn (Oxford University Press), which provides an interesting study of Powell’s role in British politics mentions how he collaborated with Harold Wilson to try and defeat his former party in the February 1974 elections. Although Corthorn does not go into details of this collaboration, but then

this is not a full-scale biography but more a discussion of Powell’s political views, Powell himself would tell Ben Pimlott, Wilson’s biographer, that beginning in June 1983, eight months before the 1974 elections, meetings between the two took place. They were always in mid-afternoon in the gentleman’s lavatory in the Ayes lobby. “There were half a dozen meeting with Wilson in the loo.” There has never been any chance of Nigel Farage meeting Boris Johnson in the lavatory of the Ayes lobby as Farage is not an M.P but clearly his Brexit party has been in contact with the Tories although whether Farage was offered a peerage, as he has alleged, still remains to be proven. Would it not make a very colourful drama on Netflix if it emerged that Farage had been offered a peerage by Boris or one of his associates, in a loo somewhere? But this is where 2019 differs from 1974. Then the split was only in one party, the Tories. Wilson, unlike Cameron, May or Johnson, managed to keep his party together. Now the political scene is so fluid that both the major parties are split, so much so that several former ministers and front bench spokesmen from both parties are fighting seats against their former parties. Powell, it should be noted, while urging a vote for Labour did not contest the February 1974 election and in the October 1974 election fought and won a seat in Northern Ireland. It is this fluidity which makes me think that opinion polls may not have got it entirely right. In recent elections when polls are wrong pollsters have made much of shy voters, those who do not tell the truth. They are generally, according to pollsters, Tories but this time there could be shy voters of both the major parties. The other major difference with 1974 is then Labour could rely on the support of three distinct minority groups, Jews, Hindus, Muslims. In this election Labour’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism in the party has meant it will not get many Jewish

votes. Hindus too are less than happy, witness the strong anti-Labour statement of the Hindu Council in support of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’s article that Labour’s anti-Semitism has made Jews feel very insecure in this country. Labour’s anti-Indian stance on India’s Kashmir policy has further alienated Hindu voters. The Conservatives , who have been historically anti-Hindu and proMuslim, have worked hard to cultivate the Hindu vote. It was significant that last Friday when Nick Robinson chaired a debate on the BBC among the various parties, Rishi Sunak, chief secretary to the Treasury, stood in for Boris Johnson. Sunak is tipped to become Chancellor of the Exchequer should Johnson win. He was the only non-white face on the panel. What is more he proudly advertised his Hindu faith saying that when he took his oath as MP he swore on the Bhagavat Gita, the nearest the Hindus have to a Bible. I doubt if many in the audience would have known what the Gita means to the Hindus, there were not many non-white faces in the hall where the debate was held. That a man of such belief represented a party which has always been seen as the party of the Church of England at such a high-profile event shows how far it has come. But as if to compensate Labour by its Kashmir policy many have strengthened its hold on the Muslim vote many of whom are from Mirpur in Pakistan controlled Kashmir and, given they form a fair proportion of voters in constituencies that comprise the Labour wall of Midlands and the north, this could be crucial in some marginal seats . But what makes this fluidity strange is that unlike the 1974 election, or any recent election, there has been a fundamental shift on the broader economic strategy of Tories, Labour and even the Liberals. If we set aside the differences on Brexit, all three parties are really united in fighting the election on a spend, spend, spend manifesto. Yes, Labour is promising to spend much more money than the Conservatives, for every £1 the Tories are offering , Labour is offering £28 but if Labour’s claims of how their spending will be financed

has been debunked by experts so have those made by the Tories. In essence these Tory children of Thatcher have abandoned the idea so beloved of their mother that you should consider the nation’s finances to be just like that of your household finances. You balance the books and do not get into debt. This marks a major shift in British politics. Back in 1979 when Mrs Thatcher won power that marked the end of the post-war pact between Labour and Conservative when both parties accepted that government intervention in economics was good, what was called Butskellism, after Rab Butler, Tory and Hugh Gaitskell, Labour. But since 1979 Mrs Thatcher’s belief has been accepted by all the parties and Tony Blair, Labour’s most successful Prime Minister, as the Corbynistas never fail to remind us, could well have been a Tory. It is significant that while Johnson in his speeches may often be more than economical with the truth, claiming there will be 50,000 new nurses when this involves retaining 18,000, or creating 40 new hospitals when the funding is in place for only six, the one constant theme is that he is fighting as a one-nation Tory. Johnson has gone so far down the road that he has even claimed that he has had nothing to do with austerity when, of course, he served in May’s government for two years which was wedded to austerity. But then with Johnson he can talk about Muslim women in burkas looking like letter boxes and then claim he was not being Islamophobic but actually tolerant and inclusive. But what this Johnson strategy means that he is riding two horses. On Brexit he is the resolute Brexiter promising this country to be out of the European Union by the end of January and do a trade deal by the

end of 2020. This he knows will not only appeal to the Tory right but also the Labour Leavers particularly in the crucial red wall of Midlands and the North where Johnson has to win seats if he is to get a majority. But by also saying he is a one nation Tory ready to spend on NHS he wants to court the soft liberal vote. So far that strategy has worked with both Labour and the Liberal Democrats in disarray. The strange thing is even if this does not work, and Johnson does not get a majority, he is unlikely to be lose the leadership of the Tory party. A Labour defeat, particularly on the scale the polls are suggesting, will probably see Jeremy Corbyn go but the party is now so much in control of the left we are bound to get not a Tony Blair clone but a Corbyn one. Amazingly, the only leader who may not survive the election if the polls are right is Jo Swinson. She has run quite the worst campaign by any political leader in recent times, giving the impression of a sixth former who has sneaked out of school to take part in a grownups meeting. Let us recall that her decision to support Johnson over calling an election pushed Labour into supporting it and gave Johnson the election he so desperately wanted. The Liberals, having started off by saying they would be in power, are now fighting to be kingmakers but may end up requiring only a large taxi to accommodate all their MPs. Should such a fate befall Swinson it will be deserved as she has made terrible political misjudgements. Her policy to outflank Labour by saying if she gets to No 10 she would revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit has backfired as Labour has not, as Liberals expected, called for a referendum but stuck to its policy of trying to appease both Leavers and Remainers.


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DECEMBER I 2019

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Mangalam celebrates Diwali Mahotsav

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angalam, a community led non-profitable organisation has organised Diwali Mahotsav recently in Feltham Tudor Sports Hall, West London. The program included cultural activities, Mela, Dinner & Dance and spectacular fireworks by Exclusive Fireworks. Stalls in the Mela provided a variety of Indian Food, Jewellery, Artefacts, Henna & face painting. Various partners have supported the event such as Anashmita Dance Studio, Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence, Nrityanjali, Inspiring Indian Women (IIW) & REACH India. Around 700 guests have attended the celebration. Community leaders and guests of honour, including Tarun Kumar from High Commission of India, Hareshkumar Bhalsod from Hounslow, Feltham & Heston Conservative Association and Sheena Shah- Conservative

candidate for Brentford & Isleworth were in attendance. The event was concluded with the Indian Unification Process, where 30 different cultural organisations have joined hands together unifying the Indian Diaspora in the UK. The program was covered by MATV and sponsored by Lycafly, Galaxy Homes, Exclusive Fireworks & Ideas Kitchens & Bedrooms. Mangalam is a community-led organisation which connects the Indian Diaspora through various events running throughout the year such as Holi & Diwali. Akhand Ramayan Paath and Sundar-Kaand Paath were also conducted previously. The need for more such gatherings to unite the Indian Diaspora has become even more pertinent after the violent attacks on the community and the High Commission of India lately. The idea is to unite, empower and instil the patriotic spirit among the diaspora, especially the second-generation kids in the United Kingdom.


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WALES CELEBRATES DIWALI Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford hosted his ϔirst ever Diwali celebrations at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff …. reports Asian Lite News

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elsh First Minister Mark Drakeford hosted his first ever Diwali celebrations at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff. The 65-year-old Labour politician opened the festivities and gave a speech at the event which marked the high point of the Hindu spiritual year and praised the Indian community for their massive contribution to Wales, a fabulous evening of traditional Indian culture and food. The beautiful art deco building on King Edward VII Ave was lit up for the event in the orange, white and green colours of the Indian Taranga flag, which was also raised on a flagpole inside the building. The evening was supported by the Hon. Consul for India in Wales, Raj Aggarwal OBE, and included performances by Hare Krishna devotees, as well as the Leena Menon Dance Troup and Bhangra Duo, and an Indian feast prepared by star rated Mint & Mustard. At the event Indian diplomat Mr Aggarwal called for a zero-tolerance approach to “criminal activity and harassment” in the UK and he commended the approach of the South Wales Constabulary in this regard. In his speech at the event, Mr Aggarwal said: “I am also so pleased that we have zero tolerance policy to harassment and criminal activity in Wales, this helps build, maintain cohesion, relationships and harmony between communities which already exists. Thank you, chief constable Matt Jukes and your team (who was in attendance) for your immense support. “ The event at the Temple of Peace was fully subscribed and 300 people were in attendance for the night of celebration which included traditional Indian music, dancing and food. Other dignitaries at the event included Baroness Eluned Morgan AC/AM, Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language, Counsellor Minister Shri DP Singh of the Indian High Commission. Lord Lieutenant of South Glamorgan Morfudd Meredith, Senior officers of all the armed forces, civic dignitaries, captains of industry / business and community leaders.


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DECEMBER I 2019

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11

USMAN KHAN: The Jihadist On Bridge Who is the London Bridge attacker? He is identiϔied as Usman Khan of Pakistani origin. According to The Telegraph, Khan left school with no qualiϔications after spending part of his late teens in Pakistan, where he lived with his mother when she became ill. A special report by Rifan Ahmed Khan

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he London Bridge attacker who killed two persons on Black Friday attack was a British citizen of Pakistani origin. He was born in the UK. Usman Khan was a terror convict who had been out on parole and targetted a gathering where students and other former convicts had assembled. According to The Telegraph, Khan left school with no qualifications after spending part of his late teens in Pakistan, where he lived with his mother when she became ill. On his return to the UK, he started preaching extremism on the Internet and attracted a significant following, The Telegraph reported. In January 2012, Khan pleaded guilty to engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism violating the UK’s Terrorism Act 2006. Khan was among nine men charged with conspiracy to bomb high-profile London targets in the run-up to Christmas in 2010. At the time, the men were described as an Al Qaeda-inspired group that wanted to send mail bombs to various targets and launch a “Mumbai-style” atrocity. At that time of his arrest, Khan lived in Stoke-on-Trent, a city in central England. A hand-written target list found at that time at one of the defendant’s homes listed the names and addresses of then London Mayor and current British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the American Embassy and the Stock Exchange. The British police counter-terror operation which led to their arrests was the biggest of 2010, the Dawn report said. Khan was sentenced to detention for public protection with a minimum custodial term of eight years — a sentenced designed by UK authorities to protect the public from serious offenders whose crimes did not merit a life sentence. Offenders sentenced to an IPP are set a minimum term which they must spend in prison. After they have completed their tariff they can apply to a parole board for release. The Parole Board releases an offender only if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public for the convict to be confined. If offenders are given parole they will be on supervised licence for at least 10 years. The judge who had examined the 2010 bomb case sentencing appeals of Khan and the other convicts in

2013 had said: “They wished to support and commit acts of terrorism in furtherance of their religious beliefs. They came to the attention of the security services who monitored them using covert surveillance techniques and devices and were able to effect their arrest prior to advanced steps having been taken to implement their plans.” He also noted that although they were from different parts of the country (Stoke, Cardiff and London), the groups managed to meet together. The judge had also said that the Stoke defendants, which included Khan, were recorded discussing terror attacks overseas. On December 15, 2010, Khan had been monitored by UK authorities in conversation about how to construct a pipe bomb from a recipe referred to in an Al Qaeda publication. Authorities also heard Khan seeking to radicalise another male and making clear his intentions to travel abroad to a training camp which outwardly appeared to be a madrassah, the Dawn report said. The Stoke group, which included Khan, were to fund the camp and recruit men for it. The court noted that “Khan expected only victory, martyrdom or imprisonment”. It reminds us the grim picture of July 7 London. The 7 July 2005 London bombings, often referred to as 7/7, were a series of coordinated Islamist terrorist suicide attacks, most of them Pakistani-origin, in London. They targeted commuters travelling on the city’s public transport system during the morning rush hour. Four Islamic terrorists separately detonated three homemade bombs in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. The train bombings occurred on the Circle line near Aldgate and at Edgware Road, and on the Piccadilly line near Russell Square. The Pak factor The second London bridge attack happened just days after the 10th anniversary Mumbai 26/11. From a global perspective, the Mumbai attacks established a terrifying new template for terror — one that Al Qaeda and ISIS would often replicate

in subsequent years. The blueprint is simple: Small bands of heavily armed assassins staging coordinated attacks on soft targets in urban spaces. The examples proliferate. In 2013, militants stormed a shopping mall in Nairobi and bombers targeted the Boston Marathon. In 2015, gunmen besieged a concert hall, a sports stadium, and restaurants in Paris. And in 2016, assailants attacked the airport and a metro station in Brussels, and jihadists attacked a cafe in Dhaka. Additionally, potential Mumbai-style attacks in Copenhagen and Madrid were foiled in 2009 and 2015, respectively. Lastly, the terror attack on a church in Sri Lanka forced a change in the political discourse as evident from the just-concluded presidential elections. The perpetrators of 26/11 are still manage to walk free in Pakistan. They include Hafeez Saeed, the LeT founder and mastermind and his team of handlers and executors of Mumbai attacks headed by Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi. Saeed and his men are temporarily jailed under pressure from the world community FATF; and then released by courts that find the police case weak, which is deliberately left that way. Pakistan is dragging its feet. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) investigators of India said Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency played crucial role in the terror attack operationalised by LeT. They are among those nine

named in the NIA chargesheet which was filed in Delhi’s Patiala House court almost three years after the 26/ 11 attack. According to an NIA investigation into the 26/11 case, they plotted the strikes on Mumbai by sending in a US citizen to India for reconnaissance of targets in Mumbai and later sent in a group of terrorists by sea to India’s financial hub on the west coast. The two Pakistani officers remain just names with India not having any further clue of their identity or photographs. The names of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the attack Zakiur-Rehman Lakhvi, and the two officers of Pakistan’s ISI are categorically mentioned in the NIA chargesheet too. Others named in the chargesheet are David Coleman Headley, the American who was later arrested by the US and is currently in a jail there. Headley’s confidante Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian citizen and Pakistani army deserter, and HuJI commander Illyas Kashmiri are among others named in the document. The NIA had registered a case against Headley and Rana on November 12, 2009.A Headley’s handler Sajid Malik and former Pakistani army officer Abdul Rehman Hashmi were also named in the NIA chargesheet. Investigators said the ISI operatives hatched the conspiracy in or around “2005” by LeT and HuJI leaders such as Saeed, Lakhvi and Kashmiri. Their role came to light when the NIA interrogated Headley in 2010 in which he had provided the details of his Mumbai visits, financed by Major Iqbal, for reccee of potential targets. Following each trip, the video and photographs were provided to his ISI handlers. Rana was providing material and financial support to Headley for carrying out the terror attacks on Mumbai and Denmark. The Pakistani-American jihadist, Headley (original name: Daood Gilani), was arrested in October 2009 for planning a Mumbai-style terrorist attack in Denmark. While in US custody, he claimed that he had been an informant of the American Drug Enforcement Agency, tasked to infiltrate the criminal underworld in Pakistan. Headley had the advantage of his Caucasian looks, American upbringing and accent and US citizenship, however, Rana had the benefit of a

network which he had developed while running an office and doing business for an immigration consultancy in Chicago which was the major plan of the ISI operatives to save them of coming into the radar of Indian agencies, said an investigator. Headley undertook several trips to Mumbai over the course of three years, beginning in 2006 and continuing until after the 26/11 attack. It was due to his reconnaissance videos and photographs that LeT was able to plan and rehearse for a precision-strike, said the investigator. It was also learnt that the NIA had registered a case against Headley and Rana before the larger part of the conspiracy was revealed. As per their plan Rana was tasked to visit India on November 13, 2008, and then asked to leave Mumbai five days before the 26/ 11 attack. The investigators consider the information relvant in context of the November 26, 2008 night attack which occured eleven years ago on this day when 10 heavily armed Pakistan-based terrorists sailed into Mumbai and unleashed a wave of violence in the city that left around 160 people dead, including more than a dozen police officers, and hundreds injured. They struck several targets in a series of co-ordinated attacks, the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station, Leopold Cafe- a popular restaurant among tourists and Nariman House- a Jewish cultural and religious centre. The ten hand grenade lashed amd Kalashnikov assault rifles wielding terrorists — belonged to Pakistanbased terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) attacked Mumbai. The dramatic scenes were beamed live on television as commandos battled the heavily armed gunmen and guests tried to escape out of windows using bed sheets. Nine of the 10 terrorists were killed, and one was arrested. The arrest of this gunman, whose name was Ajmal Kasab, was a gamechanger as India, for the first time, had captured a participant in a suicidal attack with high interrogation value, said another investigator. Following the attack, suspicion swiftly focused on LeT, a vast jihadist group based in Pakistan. Although notionally banned by the Pakistani government since 2002, LeT held ostentatious fund-raising rallies and operated urban recruitment centres without any official interference


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Colourful Diwali celebrations in Slough The event started with a prayer to Lord Ganesha followed by the lighting of the lamps (Diya). The cultural programme included interesting performances by kids and adults ‌. Reports Asian Lite News

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lough Burnham community has colourfully celebrated Diwali in Wraysbury Community Hall recently with music, dance singing and mouth-watering food. Glittering lights, garland hangings and colourful banners have beautifully welcomed the guests on the occasion demonstrating Indian tradition, cultural values and eye-catching attires. The event started with a prayer to Lord Ganesha followed by the lighting of the lamps (Diya). The cultural programme included interesting performances by kids and adults, including those by Deeps Bollywood Dance Academy. A musical skit was performed Rhythmic Musical. Diwali gifts were presented to families on stage by the organisers at the end of the programme, as a symbol for prosperity. The programme was hosted by Nisha Pai and Ashish Mishra.


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DECEMBER I 2019

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13

What China Want to Hide in Xinjiang? The latest disclosure of the 24 pages of documents is the second signiϔicant leak after a member of the Chinese political establishment shared a 403-page set of internal papers of these camps, which were exposed by The New York Times earlier this year. The latest sets of documents have been reviewed by the experts who concluded them to be authentic ….writes Manoj Varma

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n a startling revelation, the Chinese cables on the internment camp in Xinjiang’s region, where nearly a million Muslim minorities, mostly Uyghurs, are not only detained, but are also under round the clock surveillance by Chinese State authorities, even on their day-to-day socialization. These shocking leaks dates back from 2017 and provided by Uyghur overseas networks, which are exposed (Nov 25, 2019) by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to the New York Times, BBC, Guardian and 14 other media associates. Among the documents recovered, there are four “bulletins” which provided confirmation of the hi-tech surveillance system being employed inside the detention camps by the State authorities to collect information on minority Uyghur Muslims. The latest disclosure of the 24 pages of documents is the second significant leak after a member of

the Chinese political establishment shared a 403-page set of internal papers of these camps, which were exposed by The New York Times earlier this year. The latest sets of documents have been reviewed by the experts who concluded them to be authentic. One of the document containing a nine-page order of November 2017, issued by the Communist Party Committee in Xinjiang enlists its secret directive on managing of the internment

camps. While, another regional party committee carried out information on targeted individual for investigation and their further detention in camps. To attain their objectives of the highest level of surveillance, the Xinjiang Bureau of Public Security procured Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) in 2016 as a policing tool that combines all the information in a detailed database showing individual’s exact height, color of their

car, their socializing pattern and even their usage of front or back door to house. With the usage of this IJOP, the authorities flagged up almost 25,000 “suspicious” individuals (Uyghurs) in just one week of June 2017 from a part of southern Xinjiang alone. Of these, more than 15,000 were sent to the so-called re-education camps, and nearly 706 were jailed. From one of the four bulletins, it was revealed that state authorities has enormous capacity to scan online activities of users in Xinjiang region and could have identified 1.8 million users of a file-sharing app known as Zapya (or Kuai Ya in China). After scrutinizing, thousands among them were considered suspicious and flagged up for further checks. The monitoring of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang does not end here, revealed another daily bulletin, which showed ordering of an investigation of people who have obtained foreign citizenship or applied for visas or

other documents at Chinese embassies abroad. These retrieved daily bulletins and the documents on camp operations were signed by Zhu Hailun, a security official in Xinjiang during 2017, who was currently assigned plum position in the regional legislature early this year for rendering good work in the region. Zhu, was the key enforcer of the internment campaign, implementing orders of the regional party secretary, Chen Quanguo, into detailed plans. He remained of the ideology that minds can be reprogrammed through intense indoctrination and propaganda, a method he used to suppress Uyghur Muslims. The directives were issued to keep extensive records on detainees, and described a scoring system to measure their behavior. On the basis of which, inmates were assigned one of three zones based on judging their gravity level — general management, strict, and very strict, the document explained.


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DECEMBER I 2019

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VOTE DECISIVELY

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ow that every party has released their manifestoes, the cat is out of the box. Like I mentioned in my previous article this election is only about Brexit as per the manifesto of all political parties. The individual parties have touched upon NHS, Police, Education, Immigration, Housing, infra-structure etc but none of the parties have really come out convincingly on Climate change or Fiscal Deficit. The total Fiscal Deficit of UK stands at £1.78 Trillion which is 86.58% of the GDP, the annual cost of servicing (paying the interest) amounts to approximately £48 Billion which is 4% of the GDP. No politician is talking about this debt as it will drive the population to asking a question, what if we are hit by a recession? Which is highly likely in the case of Brexit. Please ask your PPC’s what do they know about this issue and have they got a solution ready for the general public if this was the case. The trade war between the West and East is not helping the cause either and Former Secretary of State, Mr. Henry Kissinger has warned that an armed conflict might breakout between US and China if they fail to resolve their trade war. This will have a direct impact on us in UK and our economy. On climate change, even the political party which supports the most is seeking to borrow to overcome this issue. We need to know how they plan to borrow this money, merely passing a statement in the manifesto doesn’t resolve a problem. One of the other political party has just twisted the same statement and mention to spend the same amount of money in five years to tackle climate change without mentioning where the money will come from. The major two political parties haven’t mentioned about climate change in their top priorities. We the voters need to ask the question, why is climate change being given no priority and how do the other parties which pledge to do something about climate will achieve it. It’s my humble request to my fellow voters to think in depth before deciding on who you will vote for on 12th December. This election is not only about us but our future generations to come. Choose wisely. By Taha Coburn-Kutay

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INDIA’S ECONOMIC WOES

BY FRANK F. ISLAM

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nly six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi won his re-election with a resounding mandate, the economic outlook in the country looks somewhat bleak. The overall state of the economy was not a primary focal point during the recent Lok Sabha election. Still, it was no secret in the run-up to the polls that sectors such as real estate, manufacturing, banking and finance were troubled. Nevertheless, at the beginning of Modi’s second term, many hoped that the Prime Minister, voted back to power for another five years in the largest democratic exercise in history, would take some bold moves to improve the country’s economic conditions. However, that hasn’t happened to date. As a result, the world’s fifth-largest economy faces strong headwinds that it hasn’t seen since the early 1990s. In the past few months, more core industries have joined the list of troubled sectors. Earlier this month, it was revealed that two of the largest telecom operators in the country, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, had suffered a combined loss of $10 billion in the preceding quarter. This casts a shadow over India’s entire telecommunication sector -- the second largest in the world. Three forecasters - State Bank of India, Nomura Holdings and Capital Economics - had lowered their predictions for the last quarter of this year to below 5 per cent. This would mean that the corporate tax cut announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman -- the government’s boldest move to steady the economy in the past several years -- has had little or no impact. It will dampen public sentiment which is critical to the current and future wellbeing of the entire Indian economy. Available data points suggest that sentiment has already begun to falter. There has been a slowdown in consumption, with rural consumption decreasing by 8.8 per cent, a 40-year low. And, growth has also slowed in the so-called “fast-moving consumer goods” sector for four consecutive quarters, indicating that consumers are becoming more and more reluctant to spend their hard-earned money. This past week, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh penned an op-ed titled “India’s economy is perched in a precarious state currently.” He writes, “Incomes are not growing. Household consumption is slowing. People are dipping into their savings to maintain similar levels of consumption. Headline GDP growth is accruing almost entirely to the creamy layer at the top.” If these downturns continue’ the real danger for India will be that the overall economy might not pick up any time soon and real GDP could even continue to decline. Either circumstance would necessitate a major intervention from the Modi administration similar to one taken in the past.

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In 1991, during a major economic crisis then-Prime Minister Narasimha Rao took moves to change the course of the Indian economy by launching major market reforms. That was perhaps the most significant domestic policy decision taken by any government in an independent India. The time is now ripe for a big and bold move from the Modi administration. The Prime Minister has proved that he is capable of bold moves and big-thinking. Moves such as demonetization and abrogation of Article 370 which removed special privileges to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir demonstrate that on the political front. But on the economic front, there has not been anything quite that dramatic. Implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been touted as a big-ticket item. But the GST was actually crafted by the previous United Progressive Alliance government, led by Prime Minister Singh. The current crisis provides the Modi government with a great opportunity to kick-start Economic Reforms 2.0. (Economic Reforms 1.0 being Singh’s liberalization of the economy nearly three decades ago.) An economic reforms package could reshape and remodel the Indian economy and the reforms package should include upgrading the country’s infrastructure, setting up and promoting green industries, increased use of artificial intelligence, improving the quality of education, and significant jobs creation. In the past quarter century, India’s GDP has registered a nearly 10-fold increase and its population has grown more than 40 per cent, but the country’s infrastructure has not kept pace with the growth. The mass migration of people from rural areas to cities has led to unbridled and unplanned expansion of urban areas and has put an unbearable burden on the urban infrastructure. As a result, town and city administrations have been unable to keep the urban areas clean and provide their residents clean water. Finally, there is the issue of pollution. In 2018, according to the World Health Organization, nine of the ten most polluted cities in the world were in India. This sad and sorry condition must be addressed as part of a reforms package not only for the health of the economy but also for the health of all Indian citizens. In conclusion, tough economic times call for bold and brave moves. By taking the actions outlined herein, the Modi administration could right India’s economic ship. More importantly, it could put the framework in place for a 21st century Indian economy that benefits all citizens. Because of his unrivalled and unmatched popularity and proven track record in select areas, the Prime Minister has the potential to sell an economic reforms package that will position India for success in the short term and for the remainder of this century and centuries to come.

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DECEMBER I 2019

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15

26/11: Despite Ostracization, Pak firm on terror tactics The international community counts Mumbai terror attack along with the September 11 at New York and July 7 tube blasts in London. A common factor in these attack was Pakistan. More than 10 years after 26/11, Pakistan’s support to terrorist groups continues …. Writes Dr Sakariya Kareem

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ore than a decade after the deadly 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan remains a recalcitrant actor that it was a decade ago. Pakistan’s body politic has internalised the infection of terrorism even as this infection threatens its very survival. While saner Pakistanis have realised the danger and abandoning their homeland in search of safety and prosperity overseas, the Pakistani Army and the government continue to demonstrate remarkable affinity towards terrorism and explicit patronage to the terrorist groups and their masterminds in their eternal battle to maintain a strategic parity with India. If one looks at Pakistan’s treacherous record over the last decade, it is evident that the Pakistani state has no willingness or even the capacity to take on the forces of extremism and terrorism. Take for instance, the thriving terrorist training camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-eMohammad (JeM), some of them in the densely populated urban centres of Punjab province. While the LeT and JeM have utilised their locale as the ultimate shield to protect themselves and cadres, even the Pakistani state has used the same logic for its inability to take on these groups. When Pakistan found it difficult to maintain their support to these groups, the visible crackdown came in the form of ‘taking over’ of some of these group’s assets, but allowing the continuation of their activities behind the scenes, as seen in case of the JeM madrasa in Bahawalpur. The same charade is now being repeated as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), exerts pressure on Pakistan to act. But interestingly, not a single suspect has been arrested under the anti-money laundering regulations in Pakistan. Meanwhile terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed of LeT and Masood Azhar of JeM continue to operate with impunity with the regular farce of their arrests and then being released quietly once the international and media scrutiny is over. In other cases, where Pakistan found the going difficult, as in the cases of training camps in and around Muzaffarabad in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, it put up a façade of crackdown. The international community has not forgotten the cover-up of the Pakistani Army in the immediate aftermath of the 26/11, when it took over some of the LeT camps in Shawai Nala and other areas. But as pointed out by Western media, only

a few days later, a few kilometres away new training facilities came up like the one in Dulai, using advanced technologies and some cadres practicing even deadlier tactics for future attacks. The group meanwhile has undergone multiple metamorphoses like the Falah-e-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF)– to guise itself as a charity organisation or a social movement. But the group continues to enjoy a free hand

and plot more attacks and enlist support more and more causes including the Rohingya refugee crisis. Moreover, despite Pakistan’s so-called tough cybercrime laws, the FIF continues to operate in the cyber space, running website and seeking donations. Another dimension that proves Pakistan’s non-seriousness is the status of the 26/11 trial which remains a joke, with different excuses being propped up by the defendants to delay

the case proceedings. What’s more the key accused, Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT head of operations remains out on bail since 2015. The mastermind of the 26/11 attacks, Hafiz Saeed meanwhile has transformed himself from a terrorist to a politician, setting up a political party, Milli Muslim League (MML). While the MML did not fare well in the national elections, the message from the Pakistani establishment was crystal clear: it doesn’t consider Saeed and his network of organisations as terrorists, and that they will be given a free hand to canvas their cause across Pakistan. All this continues, even as the country’s leadership continues to spout usual rhetoric of it being the victim of terrorism and sacrifices it has made in fighting the United States’ ‘War on Terror’ under the so-called Bajwa doctrine. It has also regularly tom-tommed its counter-terrorism operations in Khyber Pakthunkhwa province as its commitment to fight terrorism. However, what has definitely changed in the last ten years is that Pakistan is now effectively a pariah state in the international system, bar-

ring China, for whom the country remains a steadfast ally and a horse to push its Belt and Road Initiative agenda. The United States has more or less withdrawn the military aid that Islamabad used to receive for its contribution to the War on Terror. The country has also been grey-listed by the Financial Action Task Force, for its failure to effectively tackle the issue of terrorist financing and is in the danger of being blacklisted for its continued non-compliance. Despite this international isolation Pakistan has not learnt its lessons and it continues to widen the role of terrorist and extremist groups in its pursuit of strategic interests. Its propaganda machinery may have gone into overdrive to scream injustice from India’s internal administrative measures in Kashmir on August 5, but the fact remains that Rawalpindi/Islamabad have played a spoilsport in the Kashmir Valley, precipitating violence, chaos and disruption of normalcy. The 2008 Mumbai attacks is just a reminder of Pakistan military’s nefarious designs against India.

ISI’S ROLE IN 26/11 BY RAJNISH SINGH

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s many facts related to 26/11 attack are known, the National Investigation Agency investigators said Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency played crucial role in the terror attack operationalised by LeT. They are among those nine named in the NIA chargesheet which was filed in Delhi’s Patiala House court almost three years after the 26/ 11 attack. According to an NIA investigation into the 26/11 case, they plotted the strikes on Mumbai by sending in a US citizen to India for reconnaissance of targets in Mumbai and later sent in a group of terrorists by sea to India’s financial hub on the west coast. The two Pakistani officers remain just names with India not having any further clue of their identity or photographs. The names of LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the attack Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, and the two officers of Pakistan’s ISI

are categorically mentioned in the NIA chargesheet too. Others named in the chargesheet are David Coleman Headley, the American who was later arrested by the US and is currently in a jail there. Headley’s confidante Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian citizen and Pakistani army deserter, and HuJI commander Illyas Kashmiri are among others named in the document. The NIA had registered a case against Headley and Rana on November 12, 2009.A Headley’s handler Sajid Malik and former Pakistani army officer Abdul Rehman Hashmi were also named in the NIA chargesheet. Investigators said the ISI operatives hatched the conspiracy in or around “2005” by LeT and HuJI leaders such as Saeed, Lakhvi and Kashmiri.Their role came to light when the NIA interrogated Headley in 2010 in which he had provided the details of his Mumbai visits, financed by Major Iqbal, for reccee of potential targets. Following each trip, the video and photographs were provided to his ISI handlers. Rana was providing material

and financial support to Headley for carrying out the terror attacks on Mumbai and Denmark. The Pakistani-American jihadist, Headley (original name: Daood Gilani), was arrested in October 2009 for planning a Mumbaistyle terrorist attack in Denmark. While in US custody, he claimed that he had been an informant of the American Drug Enforcement Agency, tasked to infiltrate the criminal underworld in Pakistan. Headley had the advantage of his Caucasian looks, American upbringing and accent and US citizenship, however, Rana had the benefit of a network which he had developed while running an office and doing business for an immigration consultancy in Chicago which was the major plan of the ISI operatives to save them of coming into the radar of Indian agencies, said an investigator. Headley undertook several trips to Mumbai over the course of three years, beginning in 2006 and continuing until after the 26/11 attack. It was due to his reconnaissance videos and photographs that LeT was able to plan and rehearse for a precision-strike, said the in-

vestigator. It was also learnt that the NIA had registered a case against Headley and Rana before the larger part of the conspiracy was revealed.


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CHINESE AID: Is Dhaka Goes Colombo Way? Is China’s aid to Bangladesh sugarcoated with other designs? There are lessons to learn from Sri Lanka. Colombo was forced to lease Hambantota port to China for 99 years…. Writes Rifan Ahmed Khan

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angladesh is the second largest receiver of Chinese investment after Pakistan in South Asia. According to British Bank, Standard Chartered, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) related investment in Bangladesh stands around $38 billion. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Bangladesh in 2016, China had promised $20 billion for the development of 27 projects in Bangladesh over the next four years i.e. till 2020. This loan vowed to finance 27 projects. But as on date, China has paid only 5% of that loan amount which in Bangladesh currency comes to around 81.60 billion. As a face-saving measure, both sides have blamed official redtapeism for this situation. On October 14, 2019, a Bangladeshi infrastructure expert M Fouzul Kabir Khan stated in an article in Prothom Alo that “China has pledged to provide huge funds to spread its political influence. But the funds have

not been allocated in actuality so the implementation of the project is being delayed”. This was somewhat supported by China’s Exim Bank officials, whom Bangladesh’s newspaper The Daily Star quoted on October 19 underlining that China did not com-

mit more than 3 billion a year to a country which could not repay more than that. In June 2019, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rushed to Beijing to remonstrate about the delay with the Chinese leadership but

nothing fructified. Failure of her visit to China was, however, described by domestic media successful because some new agreements were signed between China and Bangladesh including a 1.7 billion loan for power sector. They also talked about China’s pet subject: Bangladesh-China-IndiaMyanmar Economic Corridor Project. But the people of Bangladesh still await a convincing reply to their query about why the commitment made to Bangladesh by the most powerful authority in China was not fulfilled? What is the use of any further commitments? The reality is that China’s capacity to extend loans is constantly decreasing due to its trade war with the United States that is corroding the former’s lending capacity. China is also in for a serious challenge to its hegemonic authority in this region with the rise of India as an economic as well as a military power. Bangladesh, on its part, can learn lessons from the Chinese investments in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor (CPEC). Initially thought to be game-changer for Pakistan, it has only turned into a white elephant. Land grabbing and exploitation of resources are now synonymous with the CPEC in Pakistan. Pakistan, in order to compensate for its failure to meet the repayment conditions of Chinese loans, is now being forced to allow usage of Chinese currency RMB for the CPEC projects. The sovereignty of Pakistan is at stake so much so that Pakistani intellectuals have started calling the CPEC as the New East India Company. Chinese aid to India’s neighbors is more for political reasons than for the good of the aid receiving countries. One hopes Bangladesh does not become second Pakistan which faces not only economic but also social destruction wrought by Chinese loansinduced indebtedness. Bangladesh, whom China tried its best to nip in the bud about 46 years ago, has today become an important player in the realization of China’s political-military designs through this country.

TRUMP: Taliban want peace deal!

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resident Donald Trump paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan to spend Thanksgiving for the first time in that country with the American troops present there and assured those deployed that the Taliban have been engaged in talks. “The Taliban wants to make a deal,” Trump told troops at the Bagram Air Base, where he also met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The visit follows a prisoner swap with the Taliban aimed at resuming peace negotiations. Trump also said the US was “substantially” reducing troop. Some 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan -- even 18 years after the US intervention to oust the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks of 2001. During the meeting at the military air base some 50 km north of here, both sides underscored that “if the Taliban are sincere in their commitment to reaching a peace deal, they must accept a ceasefire”, Xinhua news agency reported. The US president said that American and Afghan soldiers were making the Taliban more eager to reach a peace agreement. Trump released a video on his Twitter account in which he could be seen speaking with a dozen US soldiers and Ghani standing behind him,

Efe news reported. “In our bilateral meeting, we discussed the important progress we have jointly made in our military efforts in the battlefield, including crushing the Daesh (Islamic State or IS group) in eastern Afghanistan. President Trump appreciated the tireless efforts of the Afghan security forces in this fight,” Ghani also tweeted early on Friday. ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES India has issued a note of caution for the United States peace efforts in Afghanistan with the Taliban saying that the elected representatives should be the main voice in deciding the nation’s future. Any solution should have “constitutional legitimacy and a political mandate” and “not leave ungoverned spaces for terrorists and their proxies to exploit,” Indian diplomat Vidhisha Maitra said on Wednesday. “In any country, it is the people of that country and the elected representatives of that country who should have the leading voice in deciding their future (and) this has always been one of India’s guiding principles in its engagement with Afghanistan,” Maitra, a first secretary in India’s UN Mission, told the General Assembly during the debate on Afghanistan. “While the international community must be united in supporting these efforts, we do not believe in ad-

vancing prescriptions,” she added. At the same time, she said that India did welcome “the opportunities created by the various initiatives towards a formal peace process at the international, regional and domestic levels”. The US is trying to make a peace deal with the Taliban so its troops can be withdrawn from Afghanistan to keep President Donald Trump’s election promise. The negotiations led by US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad have been an on-again, off-again process. The Taliban has refused to talk to the elected government of Afghanistan, which has expressed concern it would be undercut by a US-Taliban deal. US Alternate UN Representative Cherith Norman-Chalet said

that Washington sought a durable peace through a political settlement in which Kabul would play its rightful role. The US was committed to Afghanistan’s security and to ensuring that terrorists don’t exploit its territory. Maitra listed the Taliban among the terrorist groups enjoying sanctuaries in Pakistan and operating abroad. “The sanctuary and safe havens enjoyed from beyond Afghanistan’s borders by groups such as the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, Da’esh, as well as Al Qaeda and its proscribed affiliates, including the Lashkar-eTaiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, must be eliminated,” she said. Afghanistan’s Permanent Representative Adela Raz said, “We firmly believe in the principles of respecting sovereignty and state-to-state relations and holding these values central to the success of our peace efforts.” Her government welcomed “regional and international peace efforts which align with an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and it helps to facilitate the direct talks with the Taliban,” she added. She reaffirmed President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to talk directly with the Taliban. She made a passing mention of the ongoing danger to Afghanistan

from the Taliban. “People despite the threats of violence and attacks, in some cases even having their fingers cut-off by the Taliban, they still came out to vote,” she said. India commended the people and security forces of Afghanistan for holding the presidential elections, showing their “faith in democratic governance and rejection of the evil forces of terror and violence,” Maitra said. Amid the uncertainty arising from the US-Taliban negotiations, the results of the September 28 presidential elections have not yet been announced. After the meeting, the two presidents joined the US troops in offering Thanksgiving greetings. “We thanked them and their Afghan counterparts for their continued efforts and sacrifices in combating terrorism,” Ghani said. The war in Afghanistan has been the longest war in US history. The death toll of US service members has surpassed 2,400 since America under President George W. Bush invaded Afghanistan in 2001. According to the statistics from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, 2018 was the deadliest year on record for the Afghan conflict, with a total of 10,993 civilian casualties, including 3,804 civilian deaths.


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BAGHDADI DEATH: The Fate of ISIS BY MAJOR GENERAL S.B. ASTHANA

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resident Donald Trump’s announcement that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State(IS) commander, died during a US military operation in Syria, later confirmed by ISIS itself, was welcome news for all fighting terrorism or suffering from it in any part of the world. This was followed by the death of their spokesperson and arrest of his sister and wife by Turkey. After the decimation of IS caliphate, IS continues to exist in small modules in many parts of the world, mainly in West Asia, but the loss of its undisputed leader, who inspired many youth globally towards radicalisation as never before, during his peak performance days, will not be easy to fulfil. He revolutionised the art of extending the terror network through the internet, made IS the richest terror group in the world with a caliphate to govern through Sharia laws and revived sex slavery. It’s a major setback to the IS and its affiliated terror groups but long overdue good news for those who suffered its brutality, like Yezidi women. The idea of IS does not end with the death of its leader, who stands replaced by Ibrahim al Hashemi al Qurayshi from Prophet Mohammad’s lineage (qualified to become caliph) and has taken a vow to avenge Baghdadi’s death. There being no change in the overall aim and ideology of IS, it will manage to regroup with a smaller fund flow and area of influence and wait for an opportunity to reemerge; hence the global fight against IS has to continue. What does it mean for Regional Terror Groups? The US has given a strong message to terrorists but its declared withdrawal from Syria is untimely; hence the Middle-East needs a fresh look from the strategic perspective. Turkey cross-border offensive on October 9 against the Kurdish YPG militia, whose fighters made up the bulk of the SDF controlling IS, is a game spoiler in fight against IS. Turkey’s double game with terrorists is marred with helping IS and treating Kurds as terrorists as they demand a homeland. Its desire to invade Syria and destroy Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s supporters made it an ally of US, but the US is not keen on decimation of Kurds, who will be left with no choice but to commence terrorist activities against Turkey. The temporary five days’ truce, sanctions against Turkey could buy some time, but is unlikely to change Erdogan’s intent as he seems to have decided to go the Wahhabi way. It

does give some extra lifeline to the IS, which is going to get dispersed to other areas, in addition to some existing ones like Afghanistan. The US withdrawal also cedes this strategic space in Syria to the forces loyal to Assad and Russia, something which the US was not very keen to concede till a short while ago as it was not in the best interest of Israel. This strategic equation does not change the terror potential of Hamas appreciably. The internal political disturbance in Lebanon puts the Hezbollah in a tight spot. The current internal political turbulence in Iraq is helpful for reorganisation of IS as it dampens the Shia spirit which indirectly helps Sunni terror groups. The recent strategic clash between Iran and Saudi Arabia triggered by a drone attack on Saudi’s oil establishment followed by an attack on an Iran oil tanker is also a recipe for refuelling of the Shia-Sunni terror competition in West Asia. After the US walked out of JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) renewed and clamped additional sanctions on Iran which the European Union could not prevent, Iran has also climbed the escalation ladder by announcing to fill gas in over 1,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium further, which it was holding out due to the deal. This is another dangerous spiral in the region to increase the insecurity of Saudi Arabia and may result in further push to Sunni cause. These developments have blurred the definition of victim and oppressor. The internal turbulence of West Asia, therefore, is creating an environment for breeding terrorists. After IS suffered these reverses it has opened opportunities and ignited some competition for other terror groups like Taliban and al Qaeda, to strive to gain the influence they lost to ISIS earlier. This has increased their quest to grab more power and money, a bulk of which comes from coercion globally, prove their terror potential to the target population and governments to get more attention, followers, logis-

tics and other resources. It is, however, noteworthy that a number of terror organizations having allegiance to IS have still not changed their allegiance, indicating that the demise of IS may not be on the cards so soon and the group is still not out of competition. What does it mean for Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) Region? Afghanistan continues to face aggressive and coordinated attacks by ISIS’s branch in the region, the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN). Afghan Taliban seems to have grown much stronger for the fact that it controls more territory in Afghanistan than what it controlled when US forces marched in 19 years back. The fact that all world powers talked to them for peace (to fulfil their respective interests) indicate the blackmailing potential of Taliban. Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and remaining US forces have not been able to control their terror strikes despite their best efforts, which are likely to increase if US chooses to withdraw completely. I do visualise some more efforts of global powers for talks to Taliban in the near future. Although al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan was degraded earlier by multinational forces, remnants of al-Qaeda’s global leadership, as well as its regional affiliate -al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) -- continue to operate from remote locations in the region have a reason to cheer Baghdadi’s death. Pakistan continues to be the epicentre of global terrorism playing host to maximum UN designated terrorist organisations and terrorists in the world, a large number of them have indicated allegiance to IS. Pakistani military counter-terrorism operations are more of ethnic cleansing acts against Pashtuns and Baluchis directed against groups which conducted attacks within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan Army and ISI supports externally focused groups such as Lashkar

e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaishe-Mohammad (JeM), which continue to train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan with a narrative of pseudo Islamic Jihad. The Pakistani Army does not restrict the Afghan Taliban and HQN from operating in Pakistan and threatening US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, despite being placed on the “grey list” continuously to date, since June, 2018. The support of Pakistan to Sunni terror groups is well known and IS is no exception. The increasing radicalisation of establishments in Pakistan, and the conglomeration of terrorist groups in the Af-Pak Region is a dangerous sign as it indicates a caliphate in the making, far more dangerous than the ISIS caliphate. What does it mean for South Asia? After the declaration of the caliphate, the newly named Caliph, al-Baghdadi, while addressing the jihadists the world over explicitly mentioned China and India as one of the prime targets of the ISIS amongst many others and there are no signs of change in that narrative. ISIS and other militant groups are attempting to spread their ideology to countries that have Muslim population, and where there is a chance to reach out to dissatisfied youth. Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and ISIS have together claimed responsibility for over 40 attacks in Bangladesh since 2015. The government in Bangladesh continues to battle terrorism with strict anti- terrorism Act in place. However, terrorists do manage to operate there with backing from ISI, Pakistan. Terrorist organizations are using internet and social media to spread their ideologies and solicit followers globally, including in South Asia, and many terrorists have been featured in multiple publications, videos, and websites associated with ISIS and AQIS. Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and rapid radicalisation in Maldives are some more examples of IS mastered methodologies to spread terror, which is likely to continue. India having the second largest Muslim population in the world is an obvious target for IS. India is a tolerant and pluralist society with a mix of Shias and Sunnis, which has absorbed all religious

faiths. Hence, the rate of penetration of radicalisation has been extremely low, although some individuals have been attracted to it. Many Lone Wolf attacks in Europe, like the suicidal car crash attack in Westminster in London on March 22, 2017, are a possibility in India as well, in future, for which it needs to be prepared. The incidents like the explosion in the Bhopal-Ujjain Express by a terror suspect, Mohammad Saifurullah alias Ali, allegedly a member of the ISIS(K) module, on March 7, 2017 injuring 10 passengers, occasional display of IS flags in the Kashmir Valley, busting of few IS modules in South India by the National Investigative Agency (NIA), announce the arrival of IS in India. These incidents need to be viewed in consonance with the global scene, wherein Daesh is looking for new hosts after decimation of their caliphate. RECENT TRENDS IN TERRORISM The peaceful coexistence of IS, Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and so many terror groups in Pakistan indicates that they are also collaborating and economising on certain activities and efforts like intelligence sharing, training camps, arms transfers, irregular trade and related activities on mutual benefit basis. Hence, it is increasingly difficult to use one against the other, despite intense competition amongst some of them.


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Linguistic diversity

showcased at the

HOUSE OF LORDS A SPECIAL REPORT BY ASIAN LITE

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he United Nations International Year for Indigenous Languages was celebrated by Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence in the House of Lords of British Parliament on 12th November, at a majestic setting overseeing River Thames. Poems in 20 languages mostly written by the members of Indian diaspora living in Britain have been compiled, published and released on the occasion titled “Festoon of Expressions”, and 18 of the writers have recited them passionately at the event. The emotions with which the poetry recitation took place added a very special hue to the programme hosted by Baroness Verma. Highlight was the inclusion of original scripts of languages Dogri (Takri), Maithili, Sindhi (Khudavadi) in the book which are rare to find and a special attempt was made to bring the diminishing scripts to the fore. Gujarati poem called Divya Vibhuti on 103 year Dadi Janki- the Founder of Brahma Kumaris was written and recited by Nidhi Shukla of Brahma Kumaris UK. One may recall that earlier this year Jhulelal Tirthdham was opened in the Kutch region of Gujarat, dubbed as a centre for global Sindhi identity. Kashmiri poem by Satosh Sher highlighted the emotional travail of Kashmiri Pandits. Punjabi poem rendi-

tion by AS Bhamra was dedicated to Guru Nanak Parab on the same day. Poems in Malayalam, Kannada, Tulu, Hindi, Rajasthani, Telugu, Marathi, Maithili, Tamil have all highlighted the beauty of land or language. Songs by Dr Bhupen Hazarika and Vishwakavi Rabindranath Tagore in Assamese and Bengali were melodiously presented by Sandip Sen and Saachi Sen respectively. Dr Ajeet Kumar, who flew especially from Delhi University, spoke on Maithili language. Baroness Verma has also extemporaneously recited a poem on “Mother” and has reiterated that our language is like our mother and we must take care of it. Opening remarks were given by Baroness Verma in which she commended the work of Sanskruti Centre spearheaded by Ragasudha Vinjamuri, in generating a greater understanding of India’s heritage and projecting India’s cultural image to audiences in the UK and beyond. Research and presentation of rarely seen tribal dances, seminars, publication of books and using dance as a medium to increase environmental awareness are some of the key activities Sanskruti Centre has been involved in. Attendees to the event have all left feeling enriched. Vote of Thanks was rendered by Sushil Rapatwar. In a unified voice, this was hailed as a unique initiative by Sanskruti.

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BIRMINGHAM PAYS TRIBUTES TO GURU NANAK DEV JI Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh says Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is a hardcore terrorist group, with no ideological basis for its campaign, and had to be treated as such …. reports Asian Lite News

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unjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has advocated peace and friendship with Pakistan to enable both countries to move forward towards development and progress, but made it clear that India would not allow ISI-backed forces such as the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) to disturb its harmony and stability. The Chief Minister was in Birmingham to address the Indian diaspora on the sacred occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. In an informal chat with the media, Amarinder Singh said the SFJ is a hardcore terrorist group, with no ideological basis for its campaign, and had to be treated as such. US-based SFJ pushes for Sikh Referendum 2020 as part of its separatist agenda. It’s leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannu is frequent visitor to UK to drum up support. Describing Pannu as a fraud, operating under the directions of Pakistan’s ISI, the Chief Minister said Pannu’s sole motive was to divide the Sikhs, and India, to promote the ISI agenda. Referring to the terror modules busted in Punjab in the past couple of years, along with large-scale arrests and seizure of weapons, he said these had exposed the SFJ’s intentions, but both the state government and the Centre were dealing with it with an iron hand. Earlier, addressing the diaspora, the Chief Minister called for cordial and friendly relations with neighbours to promote peace, in line with

Sri Guru Nanak Dev’s philosophy, for the collective resolution of global problems. Both India and Pakistan had been through a lot, and it was time now for them to let go of the past and move forward in a spirit of friendship to ensure their progress, he stressed. Pointing to Guru Nanak’s philosophy of the oneness of God, the Chief Minister underlined the need to rise above religion and caste to protect the future and facilitate the development of Punjab and its people. What the founder Guru of Sikhism had indicated 550 years ago was happening now, he said, pointing to global problems like pollution and water scarcity.

He stressed the need for friendship and togetherness to tackle these problems and look ahead, towards the creation of a better future for the next generation. His government, said Amarinder Singh, would continue with the 550th Prakash Purb celebrations for another year to disseminate the message of the Great Guru, who had taught the importance of protecting nature through his ideology of ‘Pawan Guru, Paani Pita, Maata Dharat’. The decision to set up the Guru Nanak chair in 11 universities, including one in Iran, was aimed at researching the Guru’s travels and philosophy so that the same could be

disseminated effectively for the good of humanity, he added. The Chief Minister sought the Indian diaspora’s help and support in enabling the industrial growth of Punjab, which he stressed needed to be weaned away from the waterguzzling paddy crop. Indians, especially the Sikh community, had worked hard to contribute to society of whichever country they had chosen to settle in, and it was time now for them to look back at their roots, said Amarinder Singh, urging them to invest in Punjab’s economic growth. “You must remember where you originated, and must contribute in any way you can for the progress of

Punjab,” he appealed to the diaspora. The Chief Minister invited Indians in Britain to the Progressive Punjab Investors’ Summit, being held on December 5-6, to help the state make its much-needed shift from agriculture to industry for its economic progress and for the generation of employment for the youth. Pointing out that Punjab was suffering a problem of plenty, with surplus paddy and wheat crop with insufficient storage, he said the state needed investment to break away from its agricultural cycle to become an industrial state. Citing the Kartarpur Corridor as a beginning towards better relations between India and Pakistan, Amarinder Singh hoped it would set the stage for opening of other important religious shrines in Pakistan to Indians seeking ‘khulle darshan deedar’. Thanking both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan’s Premier Imran Khan for this historic initiative, he shared with the audience that he had an interesting chat on cricket with Imran on their bus journey from Zero Point to Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara, in the context of the fact that the latter’s uncle had played for Patiala in the pre-independence era. In his informal chat with mediapersons later, the Chief Minister reiterated his demand for waiver of the passport condition and the $20 fee for travel through the Kartarpur Corridor, pointing out that India had never imposed any such tax on those visiting Ajmer Sharif and Nizamuddin Dargah from across the border.


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CROSSING ALL BOUNDARIES, GLOBALLY

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World Music Conference 2019 promotes Mental Health key messages

his year’s World Music Conference has once again been hailed a huge success. The festival, which attracted expert speakers, over 100 school children from all abilities from across the West Midlands and representatives from over 12 countries, was organised by the British Carnatic Choir (BCC) and hosted by Aston University in Birmingham last Friday (Nov 8). The core objective of this year’s event was to raise awareness of links between music and mental health and well-being. The whole day event, now in its third year, featured interactive workshops, stage performances and panel discussions, concluding with the popular BCC concert and conference dinner. Presentations included: Making music a resource for health – Dr Naomi Norton, Associate Lecturer in Music Education, University of York. Music, mental health and Offenders – Dr Leela Sivaprasad, Consultant, Forensic Psychiatry, Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust Music therapy for Alcoholrelated depression – Jas Rai, campaigner The event also featured two panel discussions with 16-24 year-olds, the themes for which were: Student Mental Health and Music – an effective coping strategy, chaired by Ben Parry, Chair, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) The Power of Music, chaired by

Heather Clemson, former Deputy Head of the Music Service in Birmingham. Introduced this year were the Midlands Young Ambassadors of Music Awards where educationalists, parents and guardians were encouraged to nominate children and young people for their flair for singing, playing instruments, dance, or anything related to music. Winners of these inaugural awards were: Anupama Harish – She has won the BCC’s Patrons Award for 3 successive years and is a Grade 3 violinist. Maisie Stewart – A member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. A violinist, Maisie is currently at Solihull Sixth Form. Sami Rao - A Year 11 student at Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls, Sami is a viola player. She is an inspiration to her peers. Ankita Sai Ananth Kumar Music is her passion and she enjoys

entertaining audiences. Her passion lies in music from both East and West. A second set of awards, the BCC annual awards, were presented to those who have demonstrated excellence in the Arts & Culture sector, through innovation, passion and pride in the work that they undertake to make a positive difference to the lives of individuals and communities. Winners of these awards were: Ben Parry – Artistic Director & Principal Conductor, National Youth Choirs Great Britain Stuart Birnie – Head of the Music Services, Services For Education Nikhil Kapoor – Dance instructor, Shiamak Midlands. This year’s event was supported by Aston University, West Midlands Combined Authority, the Consul General of India in the Midlands and NHS Mental Health Trust Foundation. The keynote address was given by Professor Martin Levermore MBE

DL, Chief Executive of MDTi Limited. In addition to Eastern European, other countries represented were India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, China, Iran and several African countries. The evening programme, compered by Aston University engineering student Sreenivas Ramakrishnan, featured the popular City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s String Quartet, as well as performances by young people and students of organiser Dr Chithra Ramakrishnan FRSA. Distinguished guests included John Crabtree OBE, Lord Lieutenant for West Midlands, Councillor Stephen Reynolds, Mayor of the Borough of Telford & Wrekin, Marcia McLaughlin, Managing Editor, The Phoenix Newspaper, Professor Nazira Karodia from University of Wolverhampton. Once again, this event saw a large representation from Commonwealth Nations. Last year delegates were encouraged to sign a life-size ‘World

Music Conference’ card which was delivered to HM The Queen by the event chief organiser, Dr Chithra Ramakrishnan FRSA. “We are hugely proud of HM The Queen and all that Her Majesty does for our nation but also for the Commonwealth. This card was a token of our respectful gesture to Her majesty for embracing the sheer cultural diversity that we have here in Great Britain”. Dr Ramakrishnan added: “Music has a phenomenal effect on mental health. This multidisciplinary conference brings young people, leading researchers, mental health practitioners, communities and music professionals together from all backgrounds to share their perspectives about the positive benefits of music through their work and expertise and contribute to a wider audience and their wellbeing. “In addition to this, the conference will also focus on practical ‘’hands -on’’ musical experiences for children and adolescent people.” Andy Street CBE, Mayor for West Midlands, had this to say: “The festival is unique in its aim of bringing together artists, academics and music educators from across Africa, Europe, the USA and India.” The World Music Conference, launched in 2017, aims to promote and bring together academics, musicians, experts, children and young people of all abilities representing all facets of multicultural Britain under one platform. To find out more visit www.worldmusicconference.co.uk


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BUSINESS

DECEMBER I 2019

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ZURICH AIRPORT TO DEVELOP UP AIRPORT

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urich Airport International AG of Switzerland was, selected as the concessionaire for developing the Noida International Airport at Jewar in Uttar Pradesh. The company, headquartered in Switzerland, made the highest perpassenger bid for the airport, outbidding competitors like Delhi International Airport Ltd, Adani Enterprises and Anchorage Infrastructure Investments Holdings Ltd. Under the norms, DIAL had the ‘First Right of Refusal’ as the proposed airport will be developed within 150 kms of the IGI airport. However, the provision did not qualify, as its bid was not within the required 10 per cent range of the winning bid amount. Shailendra Bhatia of the project’s nodal office said that Anchorage offered Rs 205 premium per passenger, Delhi International Airport Rs 351, Adani Enterprises Rs 360 and Zurich Airport Rs 400.97. “Zurich Airport International AG has made the highest bid for devel-

oping the Jewar airport and has been selected as the concessionaire for the airport,” he said. The financial bid will now be put up before the Project Monitoring and Implementation Committee on December 2. The Swiss company operates the Zurich Airport, and eight airports in Latin America. “Under a 40-year concession, the

Flughafen Zurich AG will build and manage the new greenfield airport in Jewar. The new airport will be located around 80 kilometres south of Delhi and will be fundamental to accommodate the expected flight traffic growth rates in the National Capital Region,” the company said in a statement. “The capital investment associated with the first phase is expected to amount to roughly CHF (Swiss

francs) 650 million during the construction period of approximately four years. The first phase will be able to accommodate around 12 million passengers per year.” This is not the first time that the company has participated in India’s aviation sector. In 2017, it had sold its remaining stake in Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport. Commenting on the development, ANAROCK Property Consultants Vice Chairman Santhosh Kumar said: “The expectation is that just like any mega infrastructure project, this greenfield airport will give a major boost to the overall economic activity around Noida and Greater Noida region. Let’s take a closer look. Once completed, Jewar International Airport will not only ease traffic at Delhi’s IGI Airport but also create multiple job opportunities and give decent impetus to the property market in Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway. “These markets have been reeling

under tremendous pressure over the last three to four years, and require a fresh injection of opportunity and intent to overcome this slump. For an area to become end-user centric and liveable, a massive infrastructure project like Jewar International Airport can definitely make a huge difference. Such projects are invariably followed by more real estate developments including housing, commercial, hospitality, etc.” Jewar Airport or the Noida International Greenfield Airport will come up in the 5,000-hectare area and is estimated to cost Rs 29,560 crore. A global tender was floated to hire a developer for the proposed airport on May 30 by the Noida International Airport Ltd, an agency floated by the Uttar Pradesh government for managing the project in Gautam Buddha Nagar district, adjoining the national capital. The first phase of the airport will be spread over 1,334 hectares and cost Rs 4,588 crore. It is expected to be completed by 2023.

Demand slowdown hits India’s economy Manufacturing downturn, subdued consumption shrink GDP growth to 4.5% …. reports Asian Lite News

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ubdued consumption trend along with a massive contraction in manufacturing, agriculture and mining activities pulled India’s GDP growth rate down to 4.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2019-20. This is the slowest GDP growth rate in around six years. The growth on a year-onyear basis during Q2 2018-19 had stood at 7 per cent. On a sequential basis, the growth rate came lower than the 5 per cent recorded in Q1 of 2019-20, 5.8 per cent in Q4 2018-19, and 6.6 per cent in Q3 2018-19. At present, India’s economy faces a severe demand slowdown on account of high GST rates, farm distress, stagnant wages and liquidity constraints. This trend of subdued consumption, referred to as slowdown, is being cited by economy watchers as the prime reason for the successive fall in GDP growth rate. All the major sectors, including automobile, capital goods, banks, consumer durables, FMCG and real estate, have been heavily battered. Consequently, the output of manufacturing, mining and electricity generation, among others, have plunged, causing job losses. The National Statistical Office (NSO) data showed that Gross Value Added (GVA) growth rate during the second quarter of 2019-20 on a YoY

basis fell to 4.3 per cent, from 6.9 per cent during the like period of the previous fiscal. “Quarterly GVA (Basic Price) at Constant (2011-2012) Prices for Q2 of 2019-20 is estimated at Rs 33.16 lakh crore, as against Rs 31.79 lakh crore in Q2 of 2018-19, showing a growth rate of 4.3 per cent over the corresponding quarter of previous year,” the NSO said in a statement.

The GVA includes taxes, but excludes subsidies. As per the estimates, the growth in the ‘agriculture, forestry and fishing’, ‘mining and quarrying’, ‘manufacturing’, ‘electricity, gas, water supply & other utility services’ and ‘construction’ is estimated to be 2.1 per cent, 0.1 per cent, (-) 1 per cent, 3.6 per cent and 3.3 per cent, respectively, during this period.

Another key growth gauge -- Gross Fixed Capital Formation which underscores the overall investment levels to procure assets at constant (2011-2012) prices -- is estimated at Rs 10.83 lakh crore in Q2 from Rs 11.16 lakh crore in Q2 of 2018-19. Commenting on the GDP data, Ficci President Sandip Somany said: “Private consumption and investment demand continue to remain weak although some improvement was noticed during the recent festive season. “The singular agenda for the government and the RBI in the coming months should be revival of the economy. We expect greater stimulus and counter-cyclical measures from the government and further easing of the monetary policy by the central bank.” D.K. Aggarwal, President of PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s, urged the government to focus on demand boosting measures, particularly in the rural areas, such as boosting the income of the farmers, promoting rural based industries and more handholding to the MSMEs. “At this juncture, transmission of the cut in RBI’s policy repo rate by the banking sector becomes crucial to boost the credit growth and to bring down the cost of doing business, particularly for the MSMEs,”

he was quoted as saying in a statement. According to Emkay Wealth Management’s Head of Research Joseph Thomas: “Q2 GDP, which is at 4.50 per cent, indicates a slump in economic activity and it has become quite pronounced after a slip to 5 per cent in Q1. This leads up to an annual growth rate close to 5 per cent.” Reacting to the GDP data, Edelweiss Securities’ Economist Madhavi Arora said: “The GDP growth softened to 4.5 per cent in 2Q -- a tad lower than our expectations of 4.7 per cent. However, the breakdown was not too surprising with all sub sectors of the economy decelerating further amid continued tightening of financial conditions, and worsening activity data.” ICRA’s Principal Economist Aditi Nayar said: “Based on the guidance provided by the MPC regarding the accommodative stance, we anticipate that the Committee would reduce the repo rate by 25 bps in December 2019 policy review to support economic growth, looking through the vegetable price-led uptick in the CPI inflation in October 2019. However, this decision may not be unanimous.” In October, the RBI reduced its key lending rate for the fifth consecutive time to 5.15 per cent, the lowest in around a decade, to boost consumption and reverse the slowdown.


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EVENTS

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Krishna Chura dance and music event mesmerises MANCHESTER AUDIENCE At their annual music and dance session , to promote Bengali music integrating Indian and Bangladeshi communities Krishna Chura organised some breathtaking performances with some top level musicians and artistes in Manchester .... reports Rahul Laud

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ecently in Manchester at the CHADS Theatre to pay tribute to renowned singers/musicians of Bangladesh - Singers Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Shubir Nandi and Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul - a special dance and session based on classical fusion was organised by Krishno Chura a Bengali performing arts group based in Manchester led by Dr Masim Allam (Proshonda) , dedicated to the promotion and excellence of Bengali music and literature in the UK. This event was a part of the annual concert Krishna Chura organises. Proshonda said “dance is a magnificent and powerful medium of arts. It has a universal language that can access all realms and people. Probably it took its early birth in its most energetic form in Africa with the birth of mankind and has evolved in the way of expression along with mankind’s evolution throughout the world.” Furthermore he added , “Style of music at Krishno Chura is with the focus on Bengali Performing Arts – music and poetry. While we have foundations in the classical and conventional form of Bengali music in the tunes, words and the use of instruments such as tabla, harmonium and Indo-‐Bengali percussions – we are also very open minded to world music.” The theme was a story of 4 girls who love to dance. They are highly skilled in Indian classical dance forms. This is their dance journey through time and space. They start dancing classical and semi classical Indian. Then they travel and come across music and mood of other realms – semi-‐classical, non-‐formal or folk – often Spain, often Italy or Russia or even South America. And they admire, absorb, transcend and blend in.

The girls become part of the bigger spectrum of dance of the world. And then finally they hear the call – the beat that is in their blood – in their veins – the Bengali dhol. And they come back and embrace the beloved mother – Bengal. Manchester ace Kathak danseuse Roshni Sarkar was accompanied on tabla by Hamit Walia and harmonium by Masih Alam. Debika Banrjee and Sanchari Bhattyacharya were the other two Dancers . The Tagore semi classical fusion was performed by Rivonia Goswami – Bharat Natyam. All 4 dancers performed a – music and dance medley with Hamit Walia on drums and Masih Alam on keyboards, dancing to 8 pieces of Bengali, Hindi, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Latin American tunes. The MUSIC SESSION Songs of Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Shubir Nandi and Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul were sung by Masih Alam, Rawshan Choudhury, Mitra Kabir, Mukarram Hussain, Waseema Tasnin, Farhana Zafar and Moshfique Uddin Recitation: Mohammad Sadif Musicians: Masih Alam (keyboard and harmonium), Javed Siddiqui (tabla and cajon), Hamit Walia (drums and tabla), Parissa Alam (lead guitar), Sanket Jadav (keyboard) and Mohammad Sadif (manjira, nupur). The songs were some of the most popular songs of Bangladesh. The group redressed these songs through a very different choice of instruments, mostly inspired by European classical orchestra, and made fusions with Bengali and modern instruments. The aim was to present the essence of the songs to the audience in a different flavour, imagination and rhythm – for them to think out of the box of what is conventional. It was intended to present the songs with a more orchestra

effect in a style in which the instruments are as important as the vocal – as opposed to the vocal-‐dominant style that are used in Bangladesh. Krishna Chura is extremely keen on experimental and fusion music and likes to enhance and enrich through music and cultures of non-‐Bengali realms. “ We are keen to bring

Bengali music to the West and bring the West to Bangladesh. Because music is very universal and it exists in different forms for the same expression of our moods and emotions. So, to put it in simple words -‐ we are inspired by any music that sounds good – whether the origin is Indian, European, African, Middle Eastern or Far Eastern,” Proshonda added.


ASIAN LITE HEALTH

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ADOLESCENTS SKIP PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES

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ore than 80 per cent of adolescents worldwide are not physically active, including 85 per cent girls and 78 per cent boys, putting their health at risk by not doing regular exercise and spending too much time on screen, according to a new study from World Health Organization (WHO). The study, published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, based on data reported by 1.6 million 11 to 17-year-old students - found that across all 146 countries studied between 2001-2016, girls were less active than boys in all but four (Tonga, Samoa, Afghanistan and Zambia). According to the WHO, levels of insufficient physical activity in adolescents continue to be extremely

high, compromising their current and future health. “Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity,” said study author Dr Regina Guthold, WHO. Most countries in the study (73 per cent, 107 of 146) saw this gender gap widen between 2001-2016. The study also found that Bangladesh and India had the lowest rates of physical inactivity for boys and girls. For the findings, the researchers estimated how many 11 to 17-yearolds do not meet this recommendation by analysing data collected through school-based surveys on physical activity levels. The assessment included all types of physical activity, such as time spent

in active play, recreation and sports, active domestic chores, walking and cycling or other types of active transportation, physical education and planned exercise. Physical activity trends show slight improvement for boys, none for girls. The study found that the greatest decreases in boys being insufficiently active were Bangladesh -- from 73

Indian Kids Are Better

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hile physical inactivity among children aged 11 to 17 is widespread, Indian kids still fare better than the global average, according to a WHO study. The research, published in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, showed that 80 per cent of school-going adolescents globally did not meet current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day -- including 85 per cent of girls and 78 per cent of boys. But compared to the global average, the level of physical inactivity was found to be lower in countries like India and Bangladesh. While 72 per cent of boys in India were found to be insufficiently active in 2016, 63 per cent boys were insufficiently active in Bangladesh. At 64 per cent, the boys in the US fared even better than those in India and Bangladesh. For girls too, the lowest levels of insufficient activity were seen in Bangladesh and India, and are potentially explained by societal factors, such as increased domes-

tic chores in the home for girls. Lower level of insufficient activity among boys in India may be explained by the strong focus on national sports like cricket, said the study. The study, based on data reported by 1.6 million 11 to 17-year-old students, found that across all 146 countries studied between 2001-2016 girls were less active than boys in all but four (Tonga, Samoa, Afghanistan and Zambia). The authors said that levels of insufficient physical activity in adolescents continue to be extremely high, compromising their current and future health. “Urgent policy action to increase physical activity is needed now, particularly to promote and retain girls’ participation in physical activity,” said study author Regina Guthold from WHO. The health benefits of a physically active lifestyle during adolescence include improved cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and cardiometabolic health, and positive effects on weight.

per cent to 63 per cent, Singapore (78 per cent to 70 per cent), Thailand (78 per cent to 70 per cent), Benin (79 per cent to 71 per cent), Ireland (71 per cent to 64 per cent), and the US (71 per cent to 64 per cent). However, among girls, changes were small, ranging from a two percentage-point decrease in Singapore (85 per cent to 83 per cent) to a one percentage-point increase in Afghanistan (87 per cent to 88 per cent). Bangladesh was the country with the lowest prevalence of insufficient physical activity among boys, girls, and both genders combined (63 per cent, 69 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively). Some of the lowest levels of insufficient activity in boys were found in Bangladesh, India and the US. The authors noted that the lower

levels of insufficient physical activity in Bangladesh and India (where 63 per cent and 72 per cent of boys were insufficiently active in 2016, respectively) may be explained by the strong focus on national sports like cricket. For girls, the lowest levels of insufficient activity were seen in Bangladesh and India, and are potentially explained by societal factors, such as increased domestic chores in the home for girls. The authors noted that if these trends continue, the global target of a 15 per cent relative reduction in insufficient physical activity - which would lead to a global prevalence of less than 70 per cent by 2030 - will not be achieved. This target was agreed to by all countries at the World Health Assembly in 2018.

THE DOWNSIDE OF weight loss surgery BY BHARAT UPADHYAY

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ariatric surgery can be a life-changer for severely obese teenagers, but the recipients may develop nutritional deficiencies years after treatment that can carry their own health risks if not properly managed, said health experts. Lifestyle modifications and eating healthy food, along with exercise, might work, they added. Bariatric surgery refers to a gamut of weight-loss surgeries often recommended to people suffering from chronic obesity and obesity-related health problems such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol level and sleep apnea. There are many types of bariatric operations, but surgeons commonly use three -- Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, vertical sleeve gastrectomy and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. By making changes to the anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and digestive system, these surgeries help people lose weight by cutting down their food intake, or by reducing the absorption of nutrients, or both. However, the side effects of bariatric surgery may include infection, bone demineralisation, anaemia, diarrohea, nutritional shortages, gallstones, hernias, pregnancy complications for women and premature birth of babies. According to Faizal Mumtaz, Senior Consultant, Department of Minimally Invasive Surgery, at Delhi’s Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, bariatric surgery or metabolic surgery is basically a weight reduction surgery, which has an additional advantage of correcting diabetes. “It can either be restrictive, or a combination of restrictive and malabsorption. Restrictive bariatric surgery reduces the size of the stomach. This limits the amount of food that can be consumed and creates a feeling of fullness,” Mumtaz told IANS. “A malabsorptive bariatric surgery limits the number of nutrients the body can absorb, and the patients has be provided supplements (iron, B1, B12, etc),” Mumtaz explained. “Post-bariatric surgery, it is very important to make lifestyle modifications, eat healthy food and maintain a healthy regime. There’s no particular precaution, but the only thing to keep in mind is a maintaining a health and exercise regime,” Mumtaz added.


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ASIAN LITE BOOKS

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‘I will always be shaped by violence’ BY SUKANT DEEPAK

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he says sometimes happiness can be a radical undertaking as well as an act of defiance. Yes, she does feel that she will forever be shaped by the violence that has surrounded her, but Pakistani author Fatima Bhutto, daughter of Murtaza Bhutto, niece of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and granddaughter of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ai Bhutto, whose latest book ‘The Runaways’ (Penguin Random House) was recently released in India, told IANS, “I was haunted for a long time, though now I see it differently. I know however present it is, how easily it can appear, so I live with an openness to joy.” Stressing that her defence mechanism comes from knowing that the “world is a beautiful place” and that

our moments of connection and compassion towards each other weigh much larger in the imagination than violence does, Bhutto elaborates on her latest work, “I always write about what I’m most entranced by -- I wanted to know what has to happen to a person to make him go to war against the world. These young radicals are not just fighting their society, but also their families, their countries and their whole vision of the world. I think the book has been received well, at least I’ve enjoyed hearing from readers across India and Pakistan.” Insisting that anger, and not religion, is the source of radicalism, she believes that humiliation, isolation and fear are more responsible for luring thousands of young people towards radicalism. “Being excluded from society and having no vision for one’s future, you will be vulnerable to any

vision that is offered to you -- and that has nothing to do with religion. Even MI5 has done studies and found that religion is an insulator against radicalism, not a spark.”

The author, whose last outing ‘Songs of Blood and Sword’ that chronicled the four generations of her family and the political violence that destroyed them, says she is in a heavy non-fiction phase at the moment. “I choose depending on what I want to say and what the best medium would be to do that.” For someone who was born in Kabul, lived in Karachi and Syria, and studied in England, “home is the people I love”. For her, wherever they are, that’s where she calls home for she believes in being flexible enough to accept that location is constantly moving and changing. “I feel fortunate to be able to embrace the different geographies that make up so many memories. Damascus will always be the first home I ever had, Karachi is the home I learnt the most in-it formed me through a lot of happiness and sor-

TOP AUTHORS 1 to attend Kerala

Literature Fest

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rominent authors William Dalrymple, Perumal Murugan, Benyamin and Shashi Tharoor, also the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, lead an impressive line-up for the fifth edition of the Kerala Literature Festival 2020 that will be held at Calicut from January 16 to 19, the organisers have announced. Set along the shores of the Arabian Sea by the beaches of Calicut, the festival will bring readers and writers together for inspiration, entertainment, and discussion. Apart from literature being the primary cynosure, the focus theme of KLF 2020 will be environment and climate change. KLF 2020 will see Spain - represented by Javier Moro -as the guest nation and the literature in focus will be Tamil. “Prolific writers, experts, and performers from over 12 nations will be a part of the fifth edition of KLF. With the goal of reaching as broad an audience as possible and including them in the festival in many ways, KLF remains open to the public, nonexclusive and open platform for discussions and idea exchanges” on art, cinema,

culture, dance, music, and science, and technology,” a statement said. “Fireside chats at nights with a plethora of the biggest acts and performing artists from around the world will make up the cultural nights at KLF 2020. From Carnatic concerts to Progressive Rock bands, from Kijote Kathakali to Larissa, Classical, and Flamenco dance, to Puppet shows and theatre, the entertainment quotient always reaches unprecedented levels at KLF,” the statement added. Among the other speakers at the festival will be authors Manu S. Pillai, Chetan Bhagat, Vikram Sampath and Keshava Guha, diplomat Navdeep Suri, ecologist Madhav Gadgil, researcher Navroz K. Dubash, museum curator Alka Pande, vocalist T.M. Krishna and Vinay Lal, Professor of History and Asian American Studies at UCLA.

. Book: Pax Sinica - Implications For The Indian Dawn; Authors: Samir Saran & Akhil Deo; Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 194. China was pretty much impoverished in the 20th century but transformed radically over the past four decades, largely due to the reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping in 1978. There was a paradigm shift when Xi Jinping was elected the General Secretary of the CPC in November 2012 and a year later the President of the PRC. Be it the global financial crisis of 2008 or the weaknesses in democratic processes and institutions exposed in the past few years, Xi saw “an opportunity in these disruptions-an opportunity to cement his place in China’s history, and China’s place in the conduct of world affairs”, write Saran, President of the Observer Research Foundation and Deo, a Junior Fellow at the ORF. Five stories “showcase Xi’s unmistakable ambition and vision”, the authors say. These are the 19th CPC Congress in 2012; America’s response to China’s rise, epitomised by the “clumsy arrest” of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada on the “ostensible charge of violating US sanctions on Iran; the largest every military exercises between China and Russia - the Vostok exercises, which were a manifestation of Russia’s response to China’s rise; Italy signing on the BRI - the first G7 country to do so; and the Doklam standoff - “an event that is perhaps the most significant escalation in Sino-Indian military tensions in nearly four decades”. How then, is India to successfully navigate its relationship with China and its role

row. New York and London gave me places to think and to write as a student and I hold a special place in my heart for both.” Bhutto feels that a major reason that contemporary Pakistani writers in English are enjoying success across boundaries is the fact that they are deeply engaged with the world and all its curiosities, joys and horrors. “There is an urgency, a questioning and a powerful sense of witnessing that you see in a lot of their work.” She may be extremely disciplined when writing, working every day without breaks and exception, but what happens when the last page has been written? “Oh... You are overwhelmed with emotion and adrenaline. You can’t quite believe it. But then, when the book is truly finished, and the edits are done, I always feel slightly distraught and lonely.”

as a leader in Asia at large? 2. Book: Your Life Is Your Message Discovering the Core of Transformational Leadership; Authors: Nancy Stanford Blair & Mark L. Gesner; Publisher: Sage; Pages: 163. “My life is my message” Mahatma Gandhi had said when asked by a reporter to sum up his life’s work. Taking inspiration from that, “we are similarly offering the opportunity to take stock of your lives and discover your core message, purpose and desired impact,” write Blair and Gesner, dons at Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Three “invitations” - For The Wanderers, For The Dubious and For The Committed - will enable readers clarify: Your who - the personal exploration of values and the formation of your singular identity Your why - the mission and purpose that drive and inform all that you do Your what - the identification of the outcomes and goals you seek Your how - the tools for the ways in which to realise those goals 3. Book: Party Like A Star; Author: Shilarna Vaze; Publisher: Penguin; Pages: 199. “This book will help you ‘enjoy your own party’ without having to spend big bucks on caterers and event planners (a bit counterproductive, isn’t it? Because then I’ll be out of job), and also help you navigate the waters when you decide to get professionals involved for larger celebrations, without losing your mind,” says Vaze, founder of a leading catering house who has cooked for the best parties and the biggest Bollywood stars.

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CINEMA

DECEMBER I 2019

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INTENTION AND CONTEXT MATTER BY ARUNDHUTI BANERJEE

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he conversation on the projection of women in cinema, and the glorification of misogyny and toxic masculinity, continues even after six months that «Kabir Singh» released, with many actresses slamming such portrayal and questioning the moral responsibility of actors and filmmakers. Bollywood actor Emraan Hashmi, who has been known to work in films that often deal with bold themes and characters, says that as an actor all that matters to

him is the intent of the character. As long as no wrongdoing is glorified, he is okay with it. “I do not have any preset notion on what I should or should not be doing on screen. When we play a character on screen, it is about the journey of the character. There is an intention behind the portrayal of the character. Even if it shows that a woman is illtreated, and the offender is not glorified but punished, it is all okay. I always look at the intention with which The actor is now gearing up for a story is told. Because I think the his upcoming release “The Body” that intention defines the film,” Emraan also features Rishi Kapoor. The film told IANS. releases on December 13.

After the release of the film, Emraan has several projects on pipeline including “Chehre” co-starring Amitabh Bachchan, “Mumbai Saga” and “Ezra”, which is the remake of a superhit Malayalam film. Starting as an unconventional romantic hero, Emraan has also tried a few issue-based films in the recent past. He said that he prefers to utilise cinema to express his opinion on matters that matters to society. “Given an opportunity, I will use my cinema to express my opinion. When I did ‘Why Cheat India’, I thought, like myself, there will be

many people who would not know that such a scam is going on in an important sector like education that defines the future of youngsters -- especially the middle-class, which invests in education so that their children can get a good job,” said the actor. “Similarly, when I did ‘Tiger’, I felt it is an important story to tell because many third world country suffer from that issue. The film has to do with the health of newborn babies. As long as the story is engaging and moving, I want to be a part of the film because primarily, that is what cinema is all about,” Emraan signed off.

Focus on Mind, A

Durgavati to scare India

NOT MUSCLES

BY ARUNDHUTI BANERJEE

From the time of his debut in 1970 with ‘Mera Naam Joker’ to his upcoming release ‘The Body’, iconic actor Rishi Kapoor has lived his Bollywood career transforming from a child actor to a top star to a character artiste. In the course of his journey, he believes he has managed to stay relevant with time because he builds his mind as an actor, and not the body. Asked what would be the one advice he would give to budding g actors, Rishi told IANS: “These days, y budding g actors are more interested in grooming and building their body. They focus on building muscles than emotional exercise, which is important for actors. Build your mind rather than your body when you prepare for acting, because if you have the acting skill, you will surely become an actor. If you don’t

have that, you are replaceable. Look at me, do I have the body? But I am still working, because in every film I try to create a character.” He added after a pause: “Okay, I maybe old, I do not inspire youngsters. But look at Ayushmann (Khurrana), Rajkummar Rao, Ranveer Singh, Vicky (Kaushal) and -I’m not taking his name because he is my son -- but Ranbir too is a talented actor! None of them have ‘dole-shole’ (muscles). Kyunki dole rahne se, kalakar nehi banoge. Bus gym mein paise phukega (Having muscles won’t ensure you will be an artist, you’ll only waste money in the gym). (Ami (Amitabh) Bachchan saab ko dekho (look at he did not have muscles. But Mr Amitabh Bachchan), B today, he is the original angry young man of even tod Hindi cinema!” Hind Quite interestingly, Rishi changed his Q image ima from a romantic hero of films like “Bobby”, “Khel Khel Mein” to films like “Bo “Love “Lo Aaj Kal”, “Do Dooni Chaar”, “Agneepath”, path “Kapoor & Sons”, “102 Not Out” and “Mulk”. “Mul In Jeethu Joseph’s “The Body”, Rishi cowith Emraan Hashmi, Sobhita Dhulipala stars w The film is slated to open on Deand Vedhika. Ved cember 13 13. During his recent stay in the US for health treatment, Ri Rishi says he got a chance to see how his films sstill hold relevance among the internationaudience. al aud ““When I got to know that they are interested in watching my films, I suggested teres around 10 titles, and ‘102 Not Out’ was one arou The next morning a guy came to our of them. th place with flowers and a long handwritten plac emotional note. He couldn’t hold his tears em because he said the film narrated the story be of his life. He said that his son wants him to die fast so that he can get all the properties. di He said that he is 82-years-old and his son H does not even talk to him,” recalled Rishi. do “I realised cinema as a medium is so universal that it touches thousand of hearts. un felt bad for him, but I was moved by the I fe power of cinema,” the actor concluded. pow

ctress Bhumi Pednekar will soon be entering the scarythriller zone with her next “Durgavati”, which will be presented by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. Bhumi as well as Akshay took the social media route to announce the project, and express their excitement about the film. “I have waited so long to share this one with you. So excited to announce my next film ‘Durgavati’. A scary-thriller going on floor mid-January. Thank you Akshay Kumar sir for your constant belief in me. I am so excited for this one @bhushankumar @ivikramix. I can’t wait to collaborate with you Ashok sir. This one comes with great responsibility. Need all your blessings,” Bhumi posted. The movie will be directed by Ashok. The news was announced with an image where Bhumi is holding placard of hero, Akshay and Bhushan Kumar of being presenters, along with director and producers. Akshay posted: “Excited to announce Bhumi Pednekar in and as ‘Durgavati’. A scary-thriller, going on floor mid-January. Presented by Cape Of Good Films and Bhushan Kumar, produced by @ivikramix and directed by Ashok. Need your love and luck.”

HISTORY OF PANIPAT

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ctor Arjun Kapoor, who is gearing up for the release of his upcoming period movie ‘Panipat’, says the makers have ‘pretty much’ followed the timeline of history in the film. The actor Arjun was reacting to the several controversies that have erupted over the film, ever since its trailer launched, including one on Thursday evening when reports emerged that that Nawabzada Shadab Ali Bahadur, an eighth-generation descendant of Peshwa Baji Rao, has served legal notices to the makers of “Panipat” over a certain dialogue that Kriti Sanon, who plays Parvati Bai, delivers in the film. Terming it “highly derogatory”, Ali Bahadur said he had written to the Central Board of Film Certification, demanding that the line be removed. “I am not aware of it so it would be silly on my behalf to speak about it,” claimed Arjun, about the latest controversy, over Parvati Bai’s line that goes: “Maine suna hai Peshwa jab akele muhim par jaate hain to ek Mastani ke saath laut te hain (I’ve heard that whenever the Peshwa goes to the war alone, he returns with a Mastani).”


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IAN MCKELLEN: Being yourself is difficult

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eteran star Ian McKel- said when asked if it is fair to say that len says the one thing everyone has secrets. he hates about his job is “In one-to-one situation, that’s having to be on display as relatively easy, but if you’re talking himself. to a disparate group of people, who is “I don’t know. If they’re success- Ian McKellen on that occasion? And ful at keeping secrets, how would I am I holding on to a secret if I just know? There are things that one does, present one side of myself? It’s diffione simply doesn’t talk about. I think cult being yourself, I think. The side that may be true of everybody. But of acting -- of the job -- I don’t re- other people,” he added. The 80-year-old feels human behaving a secret is only part of what ally like is having to be on display as it is to be a human being, in that we myself. But one’s forced to be. Here I ings are very good at lying. “When you’re quite young, you select which part of ourselves we de- am, talking about myself, but most of cide to have on display,” McKellen the time I spend my life talking about will have a different vocabulary when

PORTRAIT OF A supergirl as a victim

Supergirl’ star Melissa Benoist says she is a ‘survivor of domestic violence’ in an emotional video posted on social media. The actor stops short of naming the partner in question who allegedly abused her, but describes him as “charming, funny, manipulative, devious” and also as being younger than she is, reports variety.com. “I am a survivor of domestic violence or intimate partner violence, which is something I never thought I would say let alone be broadcasting into the ether,” Benoist begins in the video. She says the violence began around five months into the relationship, and goes on to describe several incidents during which the perpetrator was violent and abusive towards her. The first time it happened, the man threw a smoothie at her face. The bottle smacked her cheek and the liquid went all over her face. During another incident, her partner threw an iPhone at her face, breaking her nose and almost rupturing her eyeball. “The stark truth is I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard I felt the wind go out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, head-butted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved against the wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” she says. Following each incident, Benoist says her partner would lift her up and put her in an empty bathtub, before turning on the faucet and bringing out “the typical abuser’s apology.” Over

time, Benoist says that she too became violent and fought back. After the phone incident, Benoist says she broke off the relationship. “Something inside of me broke, this was too far, I couldn’t flush this one down. None of this is salacious news, it was my reality, what I went through caused a tectonic shift in my outlook on life.” She began dating the man shortly after getting out of her previous relationship, during “a period of change in her life.” Benoist says jealousy became a large part of the relationship, as the man would snoop on her phone and become angry when she talked to other men. This began to affect Benoist’s work. Benoist closes the video by saying that she will be healing from the experiences for the rest of her life, and cites a shocking statistic from the Department of Justice that one in four women in the United States aged 18 and older will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. “I want the statistics to change and I hope that telling my story might prevent more stories like mine from happening,” she says. “Supergirl” executive producers Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter penned a statement Wednesday evening following Benoist’s video. It read : “Melissa Benoist is a hero, both on and off the screen. She is an extraordinary woman and we are proud to stand with her and behind her. We applaud her bravery and strength and we join her in hoping this incredible act of honesty encourages other people to speak up and find safety supand port. We love you Melissa.”

talking to your grandparents than you will when talking to your mates in the playground. You don’t even think about it. You might have a different accent altogether. When those worlds collide, of course, it gets complicated and unsettling. When your friends meet your parents for the first time, what are you playing? Are you playing the mate, or are you playing the son? All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. All the world is a screen,” he added. On the work front, he is looking

forward to the release of “The Good Liar”, which also stars Helen Mirren. Warner Bros. Pictures will release “The Good Liar” in India on November 29. Directed by Bill Condon, the film is based on the acclaimed novel of the same name by Nicholas Searle. It tells the story of con artist Roy Courtnay (McKellen), who meets wealthy widow Betty McLeish (Mirren) on a dating website. The film shows the tension and drama that arise when things turn more intense than just a simple con job.

Gender bias in music world

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op star Charli XCX says she is tired of how the music industry holds women to a different standard than men. The “Boom clap” hitmaker took to Twitter to post a series of messages addressing to the people who don’t take her seriously as a musician, reports dailymail.co.uk. “I am an artist, a songwriter who has co-written multiple hits for myself/other artists, a video director, exec producer of a Netflix show & I run a label, co-manage two artists. If I was a man I’d be hailed as some sort of music industry god but as a woman I’m just -- doubted?” she wrote. The 27-year-old continued: “Btw I don’t need people to feel sorry for me or anything - I’m just saying it how it is. Women in this industry are constantly questioned on their validity… ‘did she really write that?’, ‘can she really produce?’, ‘does she really know what she’s doing?’ -- I see it all the time.” Charli went on to urge people to stop disrespecting female artists. “Any and all female popstars in 2019 are obviously business women: running their own careers, making their own decisions, directing their own teams, proving points, being groundbreaking and making their own art. like, this is so obvious ... Don’t insult us,” she said.

CONFESSIONS OF JLO

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ctress Jennifer Lopez says she had to go through terrible things in the beginning of her career. The 50-year-old also added that she learnt how to behave in the public eye though trial-and-error method, reports femalefirst.co.uk. “I had terrible things happen in the beginning of my career that I had to come back from. I did magazine articles where I said the wrong thing. It was a trial-and-error thing. And then you get put in a category of like you’re this person or that person and you’re a diva,” Lopez said while talking to the LA Times in a round table with Charlize Theron, Renee Zellweger, Awkwafina and Cynthia Erivo. “But at the same time, I had to look and go, what am I doing? Because at the end of the day, it’s always do you like what you’re doing. And for me, it’s always about how can I get better? That’s why I do so much. How can I be better? I’m going to be a better mom, sister, daughter, friend, business partner, a better actress, better singer, better dancer, better producer. It’s always about, how can we do it better next time? Because you make mistakes,” she added. The “Hustlers” star feels a “responsibility” to be nice to people. She said: “I feel like there is a responsibility when you’re a public person. You can’t get around it.”


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Redford Turns heat on Presient Trump

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ctor Robert Redford has joined Hollywood veterans urging Americans to vote against Donald Trump and stop him from claiming a second term as President. The actor and filmmaker, who plays the president on TV series “Watchmen”, tells NBC News he cannot wait for Trump to be beaten at the next general election, reports aceshowbiz.com. “There are only 11 months left before the presidential election; 11 months before we get our one real chance to right this ship and change the course of disaster that lies before us,” the Sundance Film Festival

founder wrote in an op-ed. “Let’s rededicate ourselves to voting for truth, character and integrity in our representatives (no matter which side we’re on). Let’s go back to being the leader the world so desperately needs. Let’s return, quickly, to being simply... Americans.” He adds: “We’re up against a crisis I never thought I’d see in my lifetime: a dictator-like attack by President Donald Trump on everything this country stands for. As last week’s impeachment hearings made clear, our shared tolerance and respect for the truth, our sacred rule of law, our essential freedom of the press and our precious freedoms

of speech - all have been threatened by a single man.” “It’s time for Trump to go - along with those in Congress who have chosen party loyalty over their oath to “solemnly affirm” their support for

the Constitution of the United States. “And it’s up to us to make that happen, through the power of our votes. When Trump was elected, though he was not my choice, I honestly thought it only fair to give the guy a chance. And like many others, I did. But almost instantly he began to disappoint and then alarm me. I don’t think I’m alone.” “Tonight it pains me to watch what is happening to our country. Growing up as a child during World War II, I watched a united America defend itself against the threat of fascism. I watched this again, during the Watergate crisis, when our democracy was threatened. And again, when

terrorists turned our world upside down.” “During those times of crises, Congress came together, and our leaders came together. Politicians from both sides rose to defend our founding principles and the values that make us a global leader and a philosophical beacon of hope for all those seeking their own freedoms. “What is happening, right now, is so deeply disturbing that instead of the United States of America, we are now defined as the Divided States of America. Leaders on both sides lack the fundamental courage to cross political aisles on behalf of what is good for the American people.”

Forget the struggle, A

The Girl On The Train

MOVE FORWARD

BY ARUNDHUTI BANERJEE

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espite starting his career with successful films like “Company”, “Saathiya”, and “Yuva”, Bollywood actor Vivek Anand Oberoi entered a phase where he faced a tough time. He has lately somewhat recovered space thanks to his role in the web series “Inside Edge”. Much like his character Vikrant Dhawan, the actor says he does not look back at his dark days but only believes in moving on. “For me it was interesting to see the transformation of my character Vikrant, who is staring like a wounded lion, to see him come back to claim his territory. He has been destroyed, and his power has been taken back by his mentor. Now he is coming back for survival. That is a tough journey. It is like the rising of the phoenix from the ashes,” said Vivek. In the new season, according to the actor, Vikrant has many shades of emotion, including vulnerability, self-doubt and the urge to overcome everything to win the situation. The insight into the journey of Vikrant is quite similar to the journey of Vivek’s own career. Vivek laughed: “Trust me, my career journey is less dramatic. Honestly, every creative person goes through a rough patch in their career, whether it is at the start or in the middle, and we all have a second innings, a second

ctress Bhumi Pednekar will soon be entering the scarythriller zone with her next “Durgavati”, which will be presented by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar. Bhumi as well as Akshay took the social media route to announce the project, and express their excitement about the film. “I have waited so long to share this one with you. So excited to announce my next film ‘Durgavati’. A scary-thriller going on floor midJanuary. Thank you Akshay Kumar sir for your constant belief in me. I am so excited for this one @bhushankumar @ivikramix. I can’t wait to collaborate with you Ashok sir. This one comes with great responsibility. Need all your blessings,” Bhumi posted. The movie will be directed by Ashok. The news was announced with an image where Bhumi is holding placard of hero, Akshay and Bhushan Kumar of being presenters, along with director and producers. Akshay posted: “Excited to announce Bhumi Pednekar in and as ‘Durgavati’. A scary-thriller, going on floor mid-January. Presented by Cape Of Good Films and Bhushan Kumar, produced by @ivikramix and directed by Ashok. Need your love and luck.”

‘BAD BEHAVIOUR EVERYWHERE’

chance. I think people see that journey in a much more dramatic manner than the one who is going through it. I do not delve on my past, on my struggling days. I only focused on things that I am supposed to do at that present moment.” In the first season of “Inside Edge”, the makers managed to create an element of mystery around his character. “Quite interestingly, I was watching the trailer with friends and my wife Priyanka, and for the first two minutes of the trailer, there was no glimpse of Vikrant. I saw her face -she was wondering what was going on. Then, I appear in the last 11 seconds. We are so glad that we managed to maintain the curiosity among the audience,” Vivek said.

Created by Karan Anshuman, season two of the show features Amir Bashir, Sapna Pabbi, Makrand Deshpandey, Flora Saini, Luke Kenny, Elli AvrRam among others. So how does he look at the digital wave of entertainment? “I feel empowered enough to choose the right kind of project that I would love to be a part of. For instance, when I started working in the show, I wasn’t sure how much of suggestion I should give if I see something that can be improved because, at the end of the day, it is the vision of the creator. But with time, I realised they all are cool guys and that they are open to suggestions. Karan is very welcoming to my contribution,” he replied. “Inside Edge 2” starts streaming on Amazon Prime Video on December 6.

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ctress Nithya Menen has been working in films for over a decade now, and she saus she never felt “unsafe”. She adds that she has faced bad behaviour but that’s not limited to the film industry. At the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, on Thursday, Nithya was asked about her film journey and to comment on the general impression that women in the film industry are not safe -- especially aspiring actresses. “You are as safe as you allow yourself to be. Nobody forces anything on you unless you make it happen. It has never happened to me that I felt unsafe. I have definitely seen bad behaviour and I have called them out. I have said ‘Don’t you have respect? or ‘Don’t do that’. Bad behaviour is everywhere, not just in the film industry,” said Nithya. “You can decide what you want to do, how much you want or don’t want to compromise. You are not helpless,” she added. The “Mission Mangal” actress also spoke about how cinema happened by chance. “I got into films accidentally. I wanted to be in the forest, around animals and make films on them. However, very recently I started to develop an incredible love for cinema,” she quipped.


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AFTERNOON TEA IN THE BUS Asian Lite columnist Riccha Grrover in conversation with French entrepreneur extraordinaire Cedric Bloch of BRIGIT’S BAKERY AFTERNOON TEA BUS TOUR that serves fabulous afternoon tea with a French twist whilst enjoying the sights and landmarks of Central London!

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ollowing his parents Brigitte and Philippe in London in 2008 who were in the hotel and F&B industry, Cedric Bloch launched Brigit’s Bakery in 2009 after having travelled the world for many years. Born in 1987 the French entrepreneur was eager to explore new ways to create a truly unique customer experience. His exploration brought him to eBay where he bought a 1960s classic Routemaster red London bus and decided to convert this in an English tea experience touring the major sites of the capital with a French Twist. In 2014, the afternoon tea bus tour was launched. The company #MakingLondonSmile is very much his attitude to life. He now owns 13 bus and serves more than 6,000 afternoon teas per month. BRIGIT’S BAKERY’S Afternoon Tea Bus Tour is designed for both Afternoon Tea enthusiasts and also those who would like to immerse themselves in the great British culture. In conversation with the man himself ... Cedric Bloch RG- what does the brand Brigit Bakery stand for in London? How is it unique it terms of where its pastries and savouries it offers? Tell us about your bus tour that serves afternoon tea? CB- Brigit’s Bakery, opened their first French Salon de Thé next to the London Eye in County Hall in 2010. They served exquisite French patis-

series which quickly became popular with both locals and tourists. In 2014, Brigit’s Afternoon Tea Ltd was born; with the purchase of a classic Routemaster, the family struck upon the brilliant idea of serving their fabulous afternoon tea with a French twist, whilst enjoying the sights and landmarks of Central London! Brigit Bloch and family originate from Paris and in order to replicate the exquisite tastes and essence of France, they employ French patisserie chefs and oversee the menu selection personally. All the food is handmade daily on their premises in Bermondsey. RG- Is your afternoon tea menu a fixed one or do you have seasonal specials and varieties too? Do you cater for varying dietary requirements? Where does the menu take its inspiration from? CB- Inspired by a combination of a fine English tradition, fused with a delicate French twist, Brigit’s Bakery have a selection of dietary option as : • the traditional afternoon tea • the vegan afternoon tea • the vegetarian afternoon tea • the halal afternoon tea • the gluten free afternoon tea Also for occasion such as the Chinese new year, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas, Brigit’s Bakery offer special menu. Recently, Brigit’s bakery launched a Gin lovers bus tour with Slingsby. All the cakes are gin-infused. RG- What kind of a dining ex-

perience can a first time guest expect with your afternoon tea on the bus? CB- An experience in London with French Twist. Our guest can capture the heart of the city’s culture, landmarks and history on Brigit’s Bakery London Routemaster bus, whilst sipping on a lovely cup of tea and enjoying the exquisite tastes of France. High tea accompanied with an array of tasty sandwiches and delicious cakes and pastries and an experience like none other! RG- Tell us about your decor, music and ambience of the bus tour of brigit bakery afternoon tea -What kind of vibe does it signify? CB- Vintage with an original 1960’s Routemaster bus. For Christmas, St Patrick’s day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Halloween… Brigit’s Bakery decorate the bus for the occasion. With Halloween, skeleton, leafs, insects, pumpkins will take the control of the Routemaster bus! RG- Tell us more about your drinks offerings while guests are aboard? CBBrigit’s Bakery offer several drink options: Cof-

fee: Americano, cappuccino, latte macchiato, Hot chocolate Teas : Earl grey, Darjeeling, Rooibush jardin rouge, peppermint, lemon & ginger, berry & elderflower, jasmine tea, green tea. You also can pre-order wines and champagne on-board. You can as well choose the Gin Lovers bus tour with Slingsby where you can enjoy three different Gin & Tonics cocktails with gin-infused cakes. RG- How would you describe the bus tour afternoon tea in five adjectives? CB- UNIQUE, Quirky, Joyful, Cheeky, French Twist. RG- How is brigit bakery afternoon tea offering different from other afternoon tea experiences in London- What makes it stand out? CB- Not a lot of Afternoon tea offer to see and capture Central London’s best sights on a classic Routemaster bus, whilst you indulge in the fabulous Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea. So we are one of a kind! RG- where do your bus tours start from , how long are the tours and can guests take photos of their experience on the bus while they

are aboard? CB- The bus tours start from Victoria Coach Station or either from 8 Northumberland Avenue. The guided Tour lasts approximately 1.5 hours visiting cultural landmarks and history on an original 1960’s Routemaster bus such as Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St James’s Park, The Royal Albert Hall, Downing Street and many more. Our guests are welcome to take photos or videos. They even can share their experience on social media with the hashtag #brigitsbakery #makinglondonsmile Exploring London with a guided Afternoon Tea Bus Tour whilst partaking in afternoon tea and delicacies enjoying the exquisite tastes of France is what this unmatched experience is all about! BRIGIT’S BAKERY Afternoon Tea Bus Tour offers various dietary options including Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal, Gluten Free and Pescetarian. Prices start from £45 per adult with tours running daily from Trafalgar Square and Victoria Coach Station. #MakingLondonSmile... Indeed!


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Diwali at Sutton

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elugu Association of Sutton (TAS) has recently marked Diwali with vibrant cultural program, valedictory and speeches. Music, dance, songs and skits by young kids guided by Silpa Vemuri, Executive Secretary of TAS have all enthralled more than 300 captive attendees. President Naveen Jalagadugu has introduced the team behind the event, outlining the objectives of the organisation, how TAS as a not-for-profit organisation aims to identify and address social, cultural and educational needs of the Telugu Community members of the Borough of Sutton. Paul Scully, Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam, has highlighted the important contributions that the Indian community is making to various services and economy of Britain, and has wished further success to TAS. Geetha Morla, Councillor in Milton Keynes has spoken on the importance of diaspora members actively taking part in politics in the UK. World-record holder dancer Ragasudha

Vinjamuri was felicitated on the occasion. She has been conferred with the title “Natya Kala Tejaswini (Luminary of Dance)” as a commendation for her continued contributions to the field of Art, Culture and Heritage in Britain and beyond. In her acceptance speech, Ragasudha has underscored the importance of creating and carrying cultural legacy of India especially while living overseas. Tulasi Peddineni has anchored the event. TAS has been uniquely conducting Technology classes where young children are taught about the Scratch, Microbit, Rasberry Pi and cyber security. Free Yoga classes are conducted regularly every Saturday in collaboration with renowned organisation Manavata. International Yoga Day was also celebrated in the presence of its founder Alluri Srinivas. Sports competitions like badminton and table tennis are conducted, festivals such as Bathukamma and Ugadi celebrated. The organisation also support education of poor people in India.

DECEMBER I 2019

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‘Fashion industry is now more inclusive’ BY SIDDHI JAIN

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atalia Vodianova, a trailblazing supermodel, and a 71-time Vogue cover girl, has been one of the most successful fashion figures of all time. With a striking eightseason, seven-figure contract with Calvin Klein, she has been the face of campaigns for Louis Vuitton and L’Oreal. What is lesser-known of the model is that she is also a role model and is a well-known philanthropist. As an impact investor, she runs the Naked Heart Foundation (for children with special needs) and Elbi, a charity platform active globally and in India as well. Excerpts from the interview: Do you remember your initial modeling days? Was it scary as a young woman in Paris, the fashion capital of the world? Vodianova: Yes, at times it was. It was also very intense, there was so much to take in. I was a young woman from a town that nobody had really heard of, to suddenly be whisked off to Paris was something I never would have expected. But on the flip side, it was absolutely breathtaking and it was exhilarating and exciting. I remember sitting there and having to pinch myself because it just didn’t seem real. There were so many learning curves, but I did my best to take everything on board and as they say, the rest is history. What social cause do you think

requires much more work today? Vodianova: There is much that we still need to work towards. The recent amazon fires, The devastation in The Bahamas through to the ongoing crisis in Sudan are all issues in desperate need of action. Dealing with poverty-stricken communities, attitudes towards education, environment and much more. But I personally feel passionate about raising awareness and acceptance of women’s health. I still feel there is a lack of awareness surrounding periods for example and the implications both socially and physically. I am a board member of the largest female health app in the world Flo, who has a community of 30m strong women. You have previously said you love dancing. Is it a true passion for you? Vodianova: I have always loved to dance, it is such a powerful form of expression. You can learn so much about a person from the way that they dance and how they feel. When I was younger, I used to go out partying with my friends and we would often be the first in line and still be dancing when the lights came up. Dancing has always given me an escape if work was stressful or I was feeling up against it. I knew that I could go and let my hair down, blow off some steam and get myself back on track for whatever I was doing next. Do you follow Indian fashion? Vodianova: I love Indian fashion. There is so much passion and care that goes into the process, from

the initial designs all the way down to the craftmanship - you don’t get that everywhere. Fashion should represent the culture, the hard work and the emotion behind it. That is what makes Indian designs so breathtakingly unique, you see the vibrant colors and the elegance of each piece and you can’t help but smile, to me, Indian fashion represents joy. You also invest the money as an impact investment. How can the world’s rich better channel funds into solving global issues? Vodianova: It goes without saying that money has a huge influence over our lives, but it can make the lives of those less fortunate so much better and provide them with opportunities that wouldn’t always be possible by conventional means. High net worth people make up a very large portion of donations, so making sure that these funds are being allocated properly is essential.

I think that the main way that we can improve how the world’s rich give funds, is by educating. Emphasizing the importance that each issue presents leads to a greater understanding, and if we are all on the same page, we are able to work together much more effectively when it comes to donating to specific causes. You feel at home in Russia. Tell us about what excites you the most about the country? Vodianova: Russia is home in so many ways. Through everything I have experienced living there, from the hardships to the lifechanging opportunities, it is where everything started for me and I will always be connected to my roots. They are what made me the woman that I am and what inspires me to use my position to do good for others. Russia excites me because there is so much to be proud of here, there is always something going on, it never sleeps. Its culture, its history is so

vibrant. My charity The Naked Heart Foundation, which works with children with special educational needs is also based and works predominantly in Russia so it is something I care very deeply about. You have previously opened up about motherhood. How can we make parenting more exciting and equal, especially for women? Vodianova: I think that in recent years, women have shown just how much we are capable of. It is a demanding role, but it is also incredibly rewarding. I think men, in particular, are recognizing the value that it has on our lives and are supporting their partners more as a result. We have careers, and our own lives to manage, but by splitting the responsibility, we can empower each other and lift ourselves up for the benefit of everybody. Do you think the fashion industry can use some kindness as well? How can we make the fashion world better? Vodianova: The fashion world has been incredibly generous to me and the causes I support. However, like any industry, there are things that can change. We need to make sure that people do not burn out and build mindfulness into the industry more. We have also seen the fashion industry become a lot more accepting of people of all shapes and sizes in the last couple of years which is a fantastic step, especially for young women growing up. We come in all shapes and sizes and that’s what makes us beautiful.


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ODYSSEY OF A CANCER SURVIVOR CANCER SURVIOR DRIVES IN -35°C TEMPERATURE, 4500 KM IN 90 HOURS IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE & BACK COVERING 9000 KM TOTAL, 9 COUNTRIES IN 9 DAYS

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eteran automobile expeditor and Cancer Survivor Bharulata’s new Arctic Circle Winter Adventure Challenge to reach the Nordkapp in 90 hours crossed the finish line at her home at 16.00pm on 12 November 2019 at 9 days and 4 hours after setting off on 3rd November 2019 at 12.00 noon. Determined, fearless, tough, strong will power- that is Bharulata Patel-Kamble is known for. She dreams big and achieves it. But undertaking a winter expedition to reach Nordkapp from UK in 90 hours, after a gruelling cancer treatment for 20 months was something an extraordinary challenge. As usual once again she drove without any back up crew or a backup vehicle. Her story of driving through the Arctic circle as winter expedition is full of struggles and challenges seemed almost like a Bollywood plot – alone to reach Nordkapp from UK in 90 hours covering the distance of 4500 kilometres on icy roads with possibility of temperature dropping as low as -40°C and return back in 90 hours covering further 4500 kilometres. She drove through extremely hostile weather conditions on completely frozen roads in one of the most remote and loneliest part this planet with only few hours of day light (from around 9am to around 1.30pm). After being flagged off from the world-famous temple, BAPS Shree Swaminarayan temple, Neasden, London on 2ndNovember 2019 evening, Bharulata set off on 3rd November 2019, in BMW 2 series, Gran tourer M Sports. The goal was to reach Nordkapp in 90 hours and return back in 90 hours covering the distance of 9000 kilometres through 9 countries in 9 days. However, because of unpredictable weather conditions and road closures due to snow, she faced two stops lasting 3 hours and 4 hours due to road closure on her way to

Nordkapp. When a road closes because of bad weather, drivers pull over and wait in a queue for the snow plough to come through, which can take a few hours or a couple of days, fortunately on both occasions the road closure lasted 3 and 4 hours. This delayed her to reach the Nordkapp in 91 hours instead of 90. In last two days of her reaching Nordkapp she drove in temperature between -30°C to -35°C. The sun stays below the horizon during the day in winter months, so she had about 2-3 hours of day light and rest of the driving was in dark. Bharulata had undertaken number of survival courses, including advanced driving, car maintenance, driving in snow and ice and first aid. As part of her training Bharulata also learnt about the dangers of hypothermia and frostbite, how to spot the signs and what to do. Driving in the Arctic Circle in the winter and in winter conditions is challenging and therefore it is not usually recommended for the inexperienced driver. Handling a vehicle in such weather – especially on mountain roads – requires careful attention. Drivers must be prepared to drive on pure ice and fresh snow. Regular stops are required to clear snow from vehicle’s headlights and number plates. It is important to keep a flask of hot drink, bottled water, snacks and warm blankets in the car, just in case roads are closed for longer duration. Her journey to Arctic Circle Challenge to Nordkapp in 90 hours in the toughest winter conditions through France, Belgium, Netherland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway to Nordkapp, had 900 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle. On her return journey she remained stranded for one entire day due to heavy snow. It was a tough challenge, but she made it back in 80 hours after roads reopened. She travelled through narrow roller-coaster roads in Arctic Circle

passing through 5 tunnels one of which is 7 kilometres long going approximately 700 feet below the sea level under the sea. She also drove through the northernmost public tunnel in the world and stayed in Northern most camp in the world. Bharulata said “this has been a huge challenge and she is delighted to have completed the challenge safely and in time. “I wanted to do this because I want to inspire others and let the world know that cancer is not the ‘death Penalty’. I have fought the dreaded cancer, so many others can. It is our body and we must do everything to protect it. I felt fit enough to undertake this challenge and if I can give something back, such as hope to those suffering with the cancer at present then my risky activity is well worth”. Bharulata’s motivation was to raise awareness in Indian females of this awful disease and she has certainly done that with this wacky challenge that having cancer is not the end of your life. Life can be steered back to where we want it to be. It is three years to the day since Bharulata drove solo from UK to India through 32 countries in just 57 days without a backup team or a backup crew covering the distance of 35,383 kilometres.


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Musical heritage transported from Tanjore to Manchester! BY PROF. GEETHA UPADHYAYA

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he UK based violinist and vocalist Madhu Tanjorkar’s musical heritage is enviable. She hails from the legendary Tanjorkar family where music has thrived for innumerable generations! Tracing Madhu’s family history revealed an interesting tale. Madhu’s great grandparents Baroda Kanthimathi Amma and Mridunga Vidhwaan Appaswamy Tanjorkar and her grandfather Janrardhan Tanjorkar were esteemed artists at the court of the south Indian kings of Tanjavur and Baroda. They are considered to be the pioneers in transporting the Indian classical music traditions of south India to north India. Inspired and initiated into the world of music by her father, the renowned multi-instrumentalist Guru Shekhar Tanjorkar, Madhu’s expertise encompasses both genres of Indian classical music, from the north (Hindustani) and south (Carnatic). From a very young age, Madhu was trained in the Gayaki style of Hindusthani music but being equally interested in the musical nuances of Carnatic music, she became proficient in both genres, thereby setting her apart from other musicians. Madhu also graduated in medicine but ensured that her passion and commitment for music and medicine was equally balanced. Being extremely passionate about arts, Madhu’s vision is to create good quality musicians to match standards of the music taught in India. Hence, she established ‘Madhu’s Indian music & Arts School’ in Manchester and northwest UK where she imparts the rich art forms to many students of all ages in and around Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside areas as well Europe, USA and India. She is an accredited examiner for music and her school is affiliated to the Tanjore Dance Music & Arts Research Centre, India. Being a much sought after performer for her unique multi-genre and multi-instrumental skills, Madhu has been performing extensively across UK and abroad. She is one of the principal musicians of Tarang, one of the UK based Indian classical music orchestral group. Madhu composes and creates music for both orchestral and nonorchestral groups in the UK. Open-mindedness, adaptability and creativity, Madhu’s biggest assets drive her to learn more and grow as a musician and is also reflected in her tutoring style which makes her stand out as a Guru. In addition to all her commitments in the UK, Madhu ensures that she teaches music to the underprivileged in India. With the blessings and support of her father and guru, Madhu has introduced the “Guru Janardhan Tanjorkar Award” to recognise talented artists, both young and experienced. This award is gaining popularity in India and is soon being introduced in the UK. Recently Madhu was nominated for Sangeet Ratna Award and was felicitated as Yuva Kala Bharati Award at Kala Arpan 2018. Asian Lite wishes Madhu Tajorkar many more years of great music ! For further information, please visit : https://madhutanjorkar.wixsite.com/indianmusic/musiclessons www.facebook.com/MadhuTanjorkar

(Prof. Geetha Upadhyaya, OBE, M.B.B.S., M.D., Ph.D., D.Lett, writes about arts and culture besides health related articles for Asian Lite)

Prof. Geetha Upadhyaya


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EVENTS

THE BOLLYWOOD Express enthrals Cardiff audiences

The event began with the felicitation of Chief Guest Honorary Consul of India of Wales Raj Aggarwal, by the event producer Niladri Chakraborty. …. Reports Asian Lite News

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ardiff witnessed its first Bollywood musical recently. Named “The Bollywood Express”, the musical was conceptualised, produced, directed and choreographed by the academy Dance With Sinjini and showcased the colourful cultural diversity of India. The cast included 36 local actors and dancers in three age groups, who took the packed 250+ audience on a magical live cinematic journey. The event began with the felicitation of Chief Guest Honorary Consul of India of Wales Raj Aggarwal, by the event producer Niladri Chakraborty. The musical followed the felicitation and saw the lead characters Raj and Simran travelling across India, soaking in the vibrancy of each state and its different dance forms on the beats of Bollywood music and inevitably falling in love. Speaking to Asian Lite, Sinjini Chakraborty says “What started as a small idea to do something creative with my students turned into a huge project. My students Neera Agarwal, Divya Santhosh and Poornima Shetty immediately came onboard as production team. The plot gradually became stronger, the project bigger and the storyline took interesting shape involving songs, costumes, props, moods and dialogues. Students and friends

assumed roles of dancers and actors. The cast was divided into different groups. The kids’ group included Anoushka Srivastava, Natasha Kamath, Aashi Lodhi, Abigail Thomas, Anya Sinha, Ayesha Negi, Eera Bhalla, Kushi Shetty, Pihu Munjal, Rhea Mathews and Tanisha Kamath. The teens’ group included Aarona Sarkar, Angona Sarkar, Anoushka Sinha, Irene Thomas, Michelle Mathews, Niya Bhatia, Ritija Biswas and Siya Goel. The adults’ group included Ankita Sahay, Anishka Bhalla, Jyoti Bansal, Mridul Biswas, Ranjeeta Sharma, Sina Thomas, Divya Santhosh, Neera Agarwal, Poornima Shetty and myself. The actors’ group included Rachel Mcsweeney, Chris Mcsweeney, Aditya Santhosh, Brijesh Srivastava, Vikas Lodhi, Santhosh Naik and Niladri Chakraborty. It was indeed a magical journey”. The technical and backstage team included Neeleem Saha, Shiladitya Sinha, Tonoya Chaudhuri, Simon Gwyn, Arveen Kamath, Shannu Bhatia, Monika Mathews, Arindam Chaudhuri, Amar Shetty, Vikas Lodhi, Raja Biswas and Manoj Thomas. Raj Aggarwal congratulated the cast for giving Cardiff a flavourful taste of India and its tinsel town live on stage and presented Sinjini with a copy of India, Land of Colours authored by Subhadra Sen Gupta.

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London Observes Interfaith Week The All Faiths Network celebrated UK Interfaith Week recently at the Church of Scientology with food, dance, song and music representing different faiths …. Reports Asian Lite News

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he program started with the opening words by Martin Weightman, Director of All Faiths Network and Esther Laveau, Director at Fitzroy House. Young students of Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence Yasha Bhan, Keertana Kantipudi, Anushka Upadhyay and Nitika Praveen presented dance symbolising Shakti, Goddess Durga representing Hindu faith. Children of Central Gurudwara London Kirtan group presented devotional songs representing Sikh faith. Basil Jackson presented peace song, poetess Jafira Imam presented Sufi poetry and a beautiful hymn on the piano was presented by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Sheikh Rehman representing Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, Muzzam Sandhu, Toby Ephram, Paul Eganda, Alessandro Amicarelli of European Federation of Freedom of Belief, Tracey Coleman of Church of Scientology, Abdul Basit Syed of World Humanitarian Drive have all presented their reflections on the occasion.


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Glittering Diwali in Greenwich A REPORT BY ASIAN LITE

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erkeley Homes, assisted by members of the local Indian community of Kidbrooke village in Greenwich, hosted its first-ever Diwali celebration at the Kidbrooke Village Hall recently. Garlands of flowers, glittering lights, traditional Indian attires and colourful lamps created a truly festive atmosphere. Mayor of Greenwich, Councillor Mick Hayes and his wife Gillian inaugurated the evening, wished everyone a happy Diwali, and talked further about the importance of celebrating the rich heritage and diversity of the society. A play by young children enacting the “Ram Leela,” the story of struggles and triumphs of Lord Ram and his wife Sita that end in the celebration of Diwali was presented. This ancient play, which enacts the legendary battle between good and evil, is performed all over

India at this time of year and has been inscribed by UNESCO, on “The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” Bollywood dance was performed by Nakshatra School of Dance and got everyone tapping their feet. The audience participated with enthusiasm and sounds of merriment filled the hall. The Indian Whistle provided delicious home-made curries and snacks. Festive market stalls including Suhani Decorations added to the ambiance. The Children’s Air Ambulance had vintage jewelry and charming bric-a-brac. Chitra Hegde had children clamouring to paint their hands with Henna and Kavita from Paalaguttapalle Bags, an organisation that practices fair trade, showcased bags made by artisan women entrepreneurs from the remote village in Andhra Pradesh, India. It was the first of its kind event in a community that is still growing in the area.


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SANSKRUTI CELEBRATES CHILDREN’S DAY

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niversal Children’s Day was celebrated with songs, dances, instrumentals and recitation by about 30 children. Organised by Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence recently, children as young as 5 years have beautifully presented Shloka rendition, classical and folk dances, guitar and piano alluring the captive audiences at Maharashtra Bhavan premises. Neelam More Agarwal has compered the program and certificates have been awarded to all the participants by acclaimed life-coach Dr Vishwanath Kokkonda. Emphasising on the key role arts have on the development of chil-

dren’s personality, Dr Kokkonda immensely appreciated the initiative as a cherishable important cornerstone in the cultural arena and congratulated all who complimented. Ragasudha Vinjamuri has thanked all the parents for encouraging the kids to learn cultural aspects. Participants travelled as far afield as Milton Keynes to present their talent. The event was hosted in aid of Save the Children to raise awareness of their work with children. Sanskruti Centre has been in the forefront in empowering children and women through performing arts and offering training in classical and folk dances of India since a decade.


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