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February - March 2007


Dispatches & Reports

Dispatches & Reports

ANUJA PRASHAR receives the Veda Vidhya Mitra award at the 6th WAVES International Conference 2006 at University of Houston, Texas, USA.

World Association of Vedic Studies (WAVES) is a multidisciplinary academic society. It is a forum for all scholarly activities and views on any area of Vedic Studies variously called as Indian Studies, South Asian Studies or Indology. WAVES is not confined to study related to Vedas alone or to India alone. It encompasses all that applies to traditions commonly called Vedic, past, present and future, any where in the world.

At the WAVES Conference, Anuja presented a paper titled: Construction of South Asian identities through the political monitoring process and the implications for political activity in the 21st Century. Other papers Anuja has presented recently are :
Bristol University,UK
- Transnational Identities of Indian origin, shifts in time and space.
Goldsmith’s College, University of London, UK
- Barriers and Influences on research methodology.
Commission of Race Equality, International Race Convention, UK
- Does Faith unite or divide.
Human Empowerment Conference, Los Angels, U.S.A
- Conversion and Anti-Conversion in India today


New Head at the Nehru Centre

Ms. Monika Kapil Mohta has joined as the new Director of Nehru Centre and Minister (Culture), High Commission of India, London on Monday, 11th November 2006.  Ms. Mohta belongs to the 1985 batch of the Indian Foreign Service.  She has served in various capacities in the Ministry of External Affairs including as Officer on Special Duty (Press Relations), Director (External Publicity), Joint Secretary (UN Political), Joint Secretary (Pakistan) and Deputy Director General, Indian Council for Cultural Relations.  She has also served in Indian Missions in Paris, Kathmandu and Bangkok. Ms. Mohta succeeds Dr. Atul Khare. 

The Nehru Centre was established in 1992 and its earlier Directors were Mr. Gopal Gandhi, Mr. I.M. Chowdhary, Mr. Girish Karnad and Mr. Pawan Verma.


Conservatives support Highly Skilled Migrant Demonstration

Shadow Immigration Minister, Damian Green, joined a demonstration by highly skilled migrants whose ability to stay in Britain has been affected by Government rule changes. The change to the rules in the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme hits 49,000 migrants who previously met the criteria for working here. Conservatives object to the retrospective effect of the changes, which mean that highly skilled workers who are already in Britain and intend to remain no longer qualify to do so.

Damian Green said: “Everyone agrees that Britain benefits from highly-skilled migrants. The Government’s decision to change the rules so that people who are already here and want to stay are now disqualified is both unfair and wrong-headed.

“It is unfair because the people involved have made a commitment to this country which is being flung back in their faces. It is wrong-headed because it sends a signal to highly-skilled people around the world that Britain is an unreliable place to work.

“Conservatives want an immigration policy which is tough and thoughtful. The current Government are talking tough but acting stupidly. It has failed to control our borders, so it is lashing out at precisely the people who benefit our economy. This is another in the growing list of disasters from John Reid’s Home Office.”


PETA MOBILISES THOUSANDS TO VOTE FOR BOLLYWOOD BEAUTY ON BIG BROTHER

Shilpa Shetty, Star of PETA Ad Campaign, Gets Online Boost From Animal Advocates

With thousands of people visiting PETA.org.uk each week, PETA is hoping to give Bollywood superstar and PETA pal Shilpa Shetty a big boost on Celebrity Big Brother thanks to an action alert asking supporters to vote in her favour.

Contestants on Channel 4’s hugely popular reality show have likened the close quarters to living in a cage, but Shetty can speak from experience. The actor posed for one of PETA India’s most high-profile ad campaigns in India, a sexy

anti-circus ad in which she crouched behind the bars of a cage, dressed in a form-fitting tiger-striped body suit, with the tagline “Beaten, Lonely and Abused – Boycott the Circus”.

Why is Shetty so upset by animal acts? Tigers and lions are meant to roam free, but in circuses, they are confined to cages which are barely big enough to contain them. Animals do not naturally stand on their heads or jump through rings of fire, so circus handlers use whips, electric-shock prods and other tools of torture to train them. Circus animals work based on fear, knowing they will be hurt if they do not obey.

“By no means was I comfortable during the photo shoot crouched in that small cage”, explained Shetty. “But what were a few fleeting moments of discomfort for me compared to what life must be like for the precious animals held captive in the circus?”

This isn’t the first time one of PETA’s celebrity supporters has been in the Celebrity Big Brother house. Celebrity Big Brother 2006 featured Dennis Rodman,Traci Bingham and Jodie Marsh, who have all lent their famous faces to PETA ads.


REWARDING LOCAL HEROES FOR TAKING A STAND

Asian communities are being urged to pay tribute to the determination, energy and bravery of local people who have tackled disrespect and taken a stand against anti-social behaviour by nominating them for the 2007 Respect Awards for Taking A Stand.

Now in its fourth year, the Respect Awards for Taking A Stand recognise the courageous efforts of individuals and groups to reclaim their neighbourhoods and make them a better place to live.   

The awards honour various kinds of action to combat anti-social behaviour problems such as vandalism, nuisance neighbours, harassment, intimidation and graffiti.  Examples include: being a witness to anti-social behaviour and giving evidence in court; setting up tenants groups to deal with noise or neighbour problems and organising clean-ups of rubbish and litter.  Winners will receive £1,000 to be spent on improving their local area. 

Recipients of the 2005/6 Awards include Jas Singh from Coventry, Manisha Patel from Ilford, Rizwan Khan from Luton and Mohammed Ahad from Tower Hamlets (please see further details at end of release).

Jas Singh said:

“It’s a privilege to have received a Respect Award but there are many more people out there who are taking the time and effort to do something to challenge anti-social behaviour.  It’s really important they get some recognition too.”

Home Secretary, John Reid, said:

“The Respect drive is all about tackling the causes of anti-social behaviour head on. This Government has given local agencies the powers necessary to stop bad behaviour and to bring respite to our communities. However local residents also have a vital role to play to make sure that anti-social behaviour does not go unchallenged.

“We already acknowledge the contribution made by public servants to their communities, but we want to recognise ordinary people who are prepared to stand up for their community and to work with their local agencies to hand the streets back to the law abiding majority. They are a shining example to us all that we should not be afraid to challenge those who think it is okay to intimidate people and disrupt our communities. We need people around the country to tell us who is deserving of this award.”

Louise Casey, the Government’s Co-ordinator for Respect, said:

“Up and down the country there are many people with a strong sense of community spirit who do a great deal to make their streets safer places to live. 

These awards are about saying thanks to those people for the contribution they make - recognising that they are the ones who are putting the neighbour back into  neighbourhood.”

To nominate someone call 08080 002030 for a nomination form or log on to www.respect.gov.uk/awards.  The deadline for nominations is 31st January 2007.


Indian undergraduate ‘best student’ at Westminster University  

Indian Biosciences graduate Varnika Roy was celebrating a double success at the end of last year – after graduating with first-class honours from the University of Westminster in London, and being named undergraduate student of the year.

Varnika, 24, from Sarika Nagar, New Delhi, took home the Robert Mitchell medal for best undergraduate at the University, which appointed Indian-born businessman Lord Swraj Paul as its inaugural Chancellor last year.

She also took home the Raymond Whittle prize for excellence in experimental work and the Institute of Biology Top Biosciences Student award at the School of Biosciences graduation ceremony at London’s Barbican Hall on November 28, 2006.

Varnika came to Westminster after winning the Ken Bird Scholarship, named after the former head of the University’s Technology and Design department. The scholarship is awarded to one female student from India or Sri Lanka each year to study a technology-based subject at Westminster.

 She said: “The last three years been the most fabulous years of my life. The lecturers were an excellent support network, and every time I came to the Cavendish campus I felt as if I was walking into another home.”

 Bob Scott, Head of the Department of Molecular & Applied Biosciences said: “Her academic performance has been exceptional throughout her degree, and everyone here is very proud of her achievements. She was a model student who was a joy to teach, as she put lots of effort into her studies and joined in the life of the campus.

 “It was clear from the first few weeks of her first year that she was going to be very successful in her degree and it was no surprise to anyone that she was awarded a first.”

 Varnika is currently studying for a PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Maryland in the USA.


Bangladeshi date with climate disaster – 11 January 2007

A new ‘Climate calendar’ [1] published by the World Development Movement shows that by the end of 11 January 2007 the average person in the UK will have already produced as much CO2 as the average Bangladeshi will all year [2].  By 8 January, the average person in the UK will have produced more CO2 than the average person in the world’s poorest countries [3] will all year.

WDM Director Benedict Southworth said:

“The poorest countries in the world, with 738 million people, make effectively no contribution to climate change, but it is those same people who face the worst consequences. 160,000 people are already dying every year due to climate change related diseases and billions will face drought, floods, starvation and disease.”

“Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have presented themselves as leaders of the fight against global poverty, but they are failing to tackle the single biggest threat to the world’s poor – climate change. The truth is that UK emissions have risen under Labour by 6%”

Climate change causes increased illness. It is estimated that so far in the 21st century 55,000 Bangladeshi’s have died from malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition caused by climate change. Floods in Bangladesh are becoming more frequent and intense as global warming causes sea level rises and increased storms and cyclones. The 2004 floods left 1,000 people dead, 30 million homeless, caused £4 billion in damage and lessons were suspended in 18,000 schools.

Dr Atik Rahman of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies has said: “We are angry with the people who are doing this. We have made no contribution, but suffer the highest impact – that makes it a huge case of moral inequality against which the global citizenry, the global nation states, must take action. If not, we’ll be calling it climatic genocide.”

According to the report:

* By 10 January the average UK citizen will have already emitted as much CO2 as the average Kenyan will in a year. In sub-Saharan Africa an estimated 375,000 people have already died in the 21st Century due to illness caused by climate change.

* By 11 February, the average UK citizen will have already emitted as much CO2 as the average Indian will in the whole year [3]. If the whole world emitted CO2 at the same rate as India, there would be no climate change problem. India does not currently contribute to climate change.

* By 6 March the average UK citizen will have already emitted as much CO2 as the average person from Ecuador. If the retreat of glaciers continues 50 million people in Latin America will lose their dry season water supplies.

Campaigners are calling for the UK government to include legally binding annual targets to reduce carbon emissions in its new climate change bill; and to halt the planned growth in aviation which will otherwise make it impossible to meet the government’s long-term targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.


Home Office (UK) in shambles

The National Audit Office has disclosed that poor book-keeping by the Home Office means no one knows how many people are employed by the department. It also revealed that ineffective "cash management procedures" had led it to run upa "technical overdraft" of £246 million with the Office of the Paymaster General. Commenting, Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, said: "This is the latest in a long line of Home Office shambles. It is an insult to the public that not only is their safety being put at risk by Home Office failure, but that they also have to pay for the privilege through Home Office financial mismanagement.

"Given the revelations of illegal immigrants and members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir

working at the Home Office, it is alarming to hear that personnel records were not only difficult to locate but that some could not be located at all. Does Dr.Reid really know who is working in this highly sensitive department?

"This disgraceful serial mismanagement at the Home Office has not got any better, if anything it has got worse."


ITIHAAS SCOOPS TOP HONOURS AT 2007 COBRA GOOD CURRY AWARDS

Leading fine-dining Indian restaurant Itihaas scooped two prestigious awards at this years 2007 Cobra Good Curry Awards for the most coveted Best UK Indian Restaurant and for Best in Midlands.

The awards took place on Tuesday 19th December 2006 at Hilton Hotel, Park Lane London, and rewarded Britain's best curry houses and Indian restaurants, honouring their contribution and extraordinary achievements.

The inspiration behind this stylish restaurant is 28 year old Birmingham entrepreneur Raj Rana.  With no previous catering experience and a business background in jewellery and property management he says “My vision was of a restaurant that was more than just somewhere to eat – I wanted it to envelop fantastic food, superb service and a unique environment, creating a place where fads and fashions are irrelevant. Itihaas is a pure labour of love for me and is simply one man’s interpretation of royal cuisine and royal service, yet still having a relaxed and informal atmosphere.”

With an expenditure of £2m on the building and furnishings, the ambience has an 18th and 19th century touch with sensational Indian artefacts and traditions of Mogul and Maharaja India with dishes influenced by North India, Mumbai, Chinese Fusion and Kenya  

The awards were hosted by Cobra Good Curry Guide Editor and Curry Club founder Pat Chapman. Chapman’s, Cobra Good Curry Guide, first published in 1984 and now in its 9th edition, features over 1000 of the finest curry houses and Indian restaurants, hand picked from the 9,000 restaurants that now exist in the UK.

The Cobra Good Curry Awards recognises the quality and huge variety of authentic food our modern Indian restaurants make available. Nominees represent regional cuisine as diverse as Goan, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Kerelan and Punjabi as well as those whose cuisine is Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani and Sri Lankan.


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