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October - November 2006

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Dispatches & Reports

This is Soniya Bhargava.


She is 28 years old and currently works as a Resource Officer in Basingstoke her home town.

   This year she is taking part in a sky dive for Diabetes UK with a colleague in her office. She has set a target of £1000 and has set up the following website to allow people to donate to the charity directly.

Says Soniya, “I feel that this is a great charity to support as not only am I a Diabetic but many people within the Asian community are impacted by Diabetes.  I am doing this jump in memory of Ashok Kumar Bhargava of London who sadly passed away earlier this year.”

   Last year she took part in a sky dive for Alzheimers Society and managed to raise £600.


University of Leicester provides auspicious occasion

When Dipak Joshi bent upon his knees and paid homage to Lord Attenborough at the University of Leicester- it was a dream come true.

For the former teaboy on the sets of Gandhi was able to renew acquaintance with the movie mogul he had so longed to meet-almost 25 years on.

The diversity development adviser at Leicester's Haymarket Theatre was overwhelmed with joy at not only being able to meet Lord Attenborough, but his brother David as well.

The Attenboroughs were at the University of Leicester where they were being honoured with the titles of Distinguished Honorary Fellows - the highest title the University can confer.

The Attenboroughs are closely associated with the University of Leicester having grown up on campus where their late father, Frederick Attenborough, was Principal of the University College.

Lord Attenborough is the Patron of the Centre for Disability and Arts that bears his name and it was here that Dipak met his 'guru' and received blessings from Lord Attenborough- on Guru Purnima Day.

He said: "It was a wonderful moment meeting Lord Attenborough again at the University of Leicester. He is a larger than life figure and he remembered people on the catering team during the filming of Gandhi. That was simply amazing.

"I spent two months attached to the Gandhi film unit - I travelled across the country supplying soft drinks and tea to the unit members.

"I met with Ben Kingsley, Govind Nihlani, Om Puri, Saeed Jaffrey and others- I was only 22 and in those two months I gained a lifetime's memories.

"I never imagined that over two decades afterwards our paths would cross again -thousands of miles away in Leicester.  I am very grateful to the University of Leicester for arranging this memorable meeting."


   Muslim Aid has allocated over £16,000 for emergency relief to those affected by a recent flood in Pakistan.

The flood, in Charsadda, was caused by torrential rain which led to the Jeendi River overflowing its banks. A number of towns have been affected including Charsadda and Mardan.  More than 70 people have been reported dead and 2,400 houses are said to have been completely damaged. The flooding has also destroyed cattle and crops for 13 km along both sides of the river.

Muslim Aid’s field office in Pakistan has assessed the situation on the ground, in terms of damage caused and the needs of the flood victims.

Muslim Aid will provide relief and assistance to the 12,000 people affected in Umerzai, Tarangzai in the Chardassa district, as well as Gadap Town (Karachi). Muslim Aid will purchase and provide food packets which consist of essential daily food items in Pakistan, as well as non-food items such as cooking utensils. 

Medicines and medical equipment will also be purchased and doctors will be paid to treat those affected. The flood caused water wells to be badly damaged, contaminating the water making it unsuitable for drinking. Instances of skin diseases such as scabies have also been seen. Doctors will be providing treatment to patients in tents which will be purchased and used as medical centers.

Said Moeez Uddin, Programme Manager (North Region) of Muslim Aid’s Pakistan Field Office, has seen first hand the repercussions of the flood.

“The people of Karachi are affected by intermittent rain and the local government infrastructure has collapsed. The water and sanitation situation is dire. It is expected that seasonal and related diseases may cause serious casualties for the poor and low income people due to non-availability of clean drinking water and other necessities.”   

Said and his team have been quick to offer assistance to the Pakistani people caught up in the natural disaster.

“Most of the people have been moved to makeshift camps and there is no local arrangement to provide shelter and cures against diseases. The rainy season seems set to continue in the coming weeks.  This is why we need to provide shelter and medical treatment to those affected as soon as possible.”

To donate to a fund for the victims of the flood in Pakistan, please call 0207 377 4200.


A bomb was thrown during the festival to celebrate the Birth of Lord Krishna at a Temple in Manipur in India which killed at least five and injured several others. The attacks took place during the largest Krishna Festival outside India, being held at Bhaktivedanta Manor in Hertfordshire which attracted 75,000 over two days.

Gauri Das the Temple President of Bhaktivedanta Manor spoke to the gathering of thousands at the Festival as everyone held hands in a human chain, he said, "we are all here to were here to pray for those who are suffering for war and terror all around the world, but our thoughts and prayers should also go now go to those who died and were injured whilst celebrating this Krishna festival in the temple in Manipur "

The festival is marked by costumes, bazaars, plays, singing, dancing, multimedia shows, meditation walks and other shows. The highlight of the festival was to be a human chain to pray for the victims of terror and war.

One of the pilgrims who travelled from Birmingham said I was very moved when at midnight the whole festival quietened and we found someone to hold hands with. There was silence and the prayer started. I closed my eyes and thought about the war victims in the world and those who died and were hurt at the Krishna Temple in India.

Eight year-old Shivali Patel from Croydon, whose mother and father are one of the 1300 volunteers helping at the festival said, “I found my mum and held her hand tight, I then found my brother Rajiv and held his hand. We then prayed hard for everyone in the world who is suffering.”


The biggest ever European market returned to Bradford for the second time in three years, over the August Bank Holiday weekend giving Yorkshire’s shoppers the opportunity to enjoy the culinary delights and sights of the continent.

The fantastic event, which attracted more than 700,000 visitors from across the region, filled the surrounding streets of Bradford’s city centre with sights and smells from across Europe and beyond.

To celebrate the return of the Market to Bradford a colourful and imaginative launch ceremony wowed the visiting crowds in Centenary Square on Friday night. Following an official welcome from the Lord Mayor, the stunning Heliosphere put on an extraordinary spectacle of sound, light and air, which was followed by an incredible firework display.

Councillor Andrew Mallinson Portfolio holder for Regeneration on Bradford Councils Executive  said:  “This year’s market seemed  even bigger and better than the one we hosted in 2004. The Bradford District is extremely proud to have held an international event of this scale and stature. A committed and now euphoric team have been working tirelessly on this project for several months but the end result was truly breathtaking and I think everyone who attended the event really enjoyed it.”

The 2006 International Market saw the return of hundreds of stalls stretching for almost a metric mile throughout the streets of the City Centre with stallholders from France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Holland, Ireland, and Belgium taking up residency for four days. There was also excellent home-grown produce from Yorkshire and several local communities. London’s award winning Borough Market also returned with a much larger selection of the food that made it Market of the Year in last year’s Observer Food Monthly competition. Many were singing the praises of the City and its people and are looking forward to returning in the future.

Professional entertainers and street artists from across Europe helped to bring a smile to visitors’ faces enjoying the sunshine and they too have fed back their pleasure at the crowds’ responses to their work.

Beyond the Page:

Contemporary Art From Pakistan was launched on the 30th August 2006, at Asia House in London by HE Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, High Commissioner of Pakistan and Manchester Art Gallery.

As one of the highlights of the National Festival of Muslim Cultures, Beyond the Page introduces the vitality and diversity of contemporary Pakistani art. Artists Hamra Abbas, Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Aisha Khalid, Hasnat Mehmood, Mohammed Imran Qureshi, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Rashid Rana and Usman Saeed are all trained in, or respond to, the ‘miniature’ tradition of the Subcontinent.  Zahoor ul Akhlaq (1941-1999) as Professor of Art at the National College of Arts was the principal architect of the reinvention of miniature practice and influenced a new generation which is being shown in this exhibition. All educated in Pakistan, but now based around the world, they have transformed the miniature using diverse techniques and media.

The art of miniature painting developed at Islamic and Hindu courts in Asia between the 14th and 19th centuries. In recent years there has been a dramatic revival of the miniaturist tradition and it has once again become one of the most significant art forms of the region with several young Pakistani artists standing at the vanguard of the movement. The exhibition explores how miniature practice has been transformed into an attitude – a sensibility and a way of working beyond the limitations of medium, technique and tradition. 

City of London charity pumps £1 million into youth and peace projects after 7/7 bombings debate

Bridge House Trust (BHT), the ancient charity managed by the modern City of London Corporation, today (Monday) announced a £1 million  scheme to promote peace in London by focusing on youth in the metropolis.

The Bridge House Trust Leadership & Reconciliation Initiative, announced at the start of London Peace Week, is the direct product of last December's BHT-backed expert symposium on the theme "The London Bombings - What Next?"

Following that debate the grant-making community said that social and community issues raised by the 7/7 London bombings demanded response.

William Fraser, chairman of the City of London Corporation's Bridge House Trust Committee, said:

"The financial City is just one Square Mile within London but we need to contribute to wider London when it comes to building a peaceful future and diffusing intra-community conflict and misunderstanding.  This scheme is an important start and I am very pleased the City's Bridge House Trust has taken this step."

Michael Snyder, the City of London Corporation's Policy Chairman, said: "As the world's largest international financial and business centre, the City of London is a direct beneficiary from - and contributor to - global partnerships in commerce. "The 6,000 City firms operating in the Square Mile that we look after can be proud that money raised for the City Bridge House Trust over 800 years is being spent in such a modern and forward-thinking way; the City of London's Bridge House Trust is unique in undertaking such pioneering work London-wide."

Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, said in a guide to the new scheme (which closes to applications 5 January 2007): "The inter-related strands of community cohesion, conflict resolution and youth leadership are central to creating a peaceful, integrated society, and this is exactly what this new grants programme seeks to encourage."

Clare Thomas, BHT's Chief Grants Officer, said: "We're looking to fund organisations across London - not just in the Square Mile - who are already active and could benefit from an injection of further resources. A key strength of the Bridge House Trust is our ability to advise applicants closely and we hope this will help the projects achieve real success in this important area." Clare Thomas added: "It was common for people in the 13th century to leave money or assets 'To God and the Bridge'; now in the 21st century some of that money can build even more important bridges - those that link communities."

Independence Day Celebration at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan: India third largest investor in UK: High Commissioner of India

"Three years ago, India was nowhere in the investor's radar screen. It was one-way investment from UK to India. A year ago it became the eighth largest investor in the UK and this year a few weeks ago, India was in third position and from out of darkness it has reached the third position," India's High Commissioner to the UK, Kamlesh Sharma, said at an Independence Day celebrations at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan in London. “India has also emerged as the second largest investor in London”, said the High Commissioner. Referring to India's vast potential, Sharma said at present a State and a half fed the entire country and if the "agriculture revolution" became a reality, it would put the IT revolution to shade.

India, he said, was doing well in other areas including manufacturing and services.

Maneck Dalal, Chairman of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, UK, said that from next month, the Bhavan would start a new degree course in music in collaboration with the Trinity College of Music and the University of Westminster.

9/11 - 100 Years of Satyagraha : Non-violence film screened

Mahatma Gandhi launched first Satyagraha, the Non-violent Movement on Sept 11, 1906 in South Africa for civil rights denied by white rulers. Non-violent power that Gandhi pioneered has been used by undergoes on every continent and in every decade of the 20th century to fight for their rights, freedom, oppression and authoritarian rule.

To mark the 100-years anniversary of Satyagraha, while World observes fifth anniversary of terror attacks on World Trade Centre, Twin Towers, New York, ‘A Force More Powerful’, a documentary film based on Non-violence Conflicts in different parts of the world, produced in USA was screened at Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Chowpatty at 6.00 pm. Shri Narayan Desai, an eminent Gandhian was the Chief Guest.

The film focuses on the popular movements that have fought regimes or military forces without the use of traditional weapons such as guns and bullets, and with the help of strikes, boycotts, petitions, walkouts and parades.


Project headed by University of Leicester scientists is now being piloted in Indian hospitals. University of Leicester scientists are heading a worldwide research project which could revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of diarrhoea in children in developing countries.

The four-year project, the results of which are now being piloted in four hospitals in India, will offer a means of identifying the two most deadly forms of the disease quickly, cheaply and with little training necessary for practitioners.

The implications for improving childrens’ health could be enormous. Diarrhoea is a major killer in developing countries. World Health Organisation statistics indicate that more than 2 million people die each year from the effects of diarrhoea, most of them children under five years old.

Diarrhoea is caused by a range of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms, and is usually spread by contaminated water and poor sanitation. Two particular bacteria, enteropathogenic E.coli (EPEC), which causes a persistent infection lasting more than 14 days, and Shigella, the cause of dysentery - are the most deadly in terms of killing children.  They cause only 20% of cases of diarrhoea but result in 60% of deaths. It is these two killers - EPEC and Shigella - that the Leicester-led project is targeting.

Peter Williams, Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Genetics, and Leicester colleagues Uta Praekelt and Marie Singer, are working with scientists at the Robert Koch Institute in Germany and Anna University in Chennai India, and with doctors at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, and at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Their project, called the European-Asian Challenge to Childhood Diarrhoea, or EACh-ChilD (because each child is precious!) currently receives funding of 1m Euro from the European Union, but in its earlier stages it was supported by an Academic Links Scheme funded by the British Council and the Indian University Grants Commission.

Professor Williams commented: “All cases of diarrhoea look the same to start with, and children are usually given oral rehydration therapy, which is cheap and puts back fluids lost by diarrhoea. But disease caused by EPEC and Shigella does not usually respond to oral rehydration therapy. They are much more severe forms of the disease and even if they don’t kill they can often inflict irreversible damage that interferes with the child’s growth and development.

“Current practice in most Indian clinics is only to test for E. coli and Shigella if the child’s symptoms have not responded to oral rehydration therapy by three days. The usual tests then take a further three days, by which time the disease may have progressed to a very serious stage. Our project has been to design a rapid method to identify these two types of the disease so that doctors can focus treatment immediately on those children who need it, before the damage is done.

It’s often said that, if a medical intervention costs more than US $1 it’s not going to be viable in developing countries. Our test is quick, robust and cheap. At a workshop we held recently at Anna University, more than 30 people, ranging from technicians and students to clinical professors, had the opportunity to perform the tests with their own hands and see the results with their own eyes. They were very impressed!

In the developing world it is not possible on cost grounds to give antibiotics to every child with diarrhoea, and in any case antibiotics would not work in every case.   The Leicester test includes the facility to determine antibiotic resistance profiles quickly so that the correct antibiotics can be used.

With basic equipment donated by the EACh-ChilD project, the test is now being piloted in four hospitals in south India, one of which, the Government Children’s Hospital in Chennai, is the biggest children’s hospital in Asia. Once any further improvements are made following these trials, then Professor Williams expects the technique to spread round other clinicians in the region and elsewhere. His team has already received enquiries from the Gambia in Africa.

A commercial testing kit is currently being developed.

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