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April - May 2009

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Dispatches & Reports

UK high street banks in India under fire from anti-poverty campaigners

Today, evidence gathered by the World Development Movement and its partner organisation, India FDI Watch reveals the extent of the negative consequences of banking liberalisation in India, which has made it easier for UK high street banks, like Barclays and HSBC, to operate and profit in the country.

The evidence from a new policy report by the World Development Movement shows that foreign banks operating in India make proportionally larger profits than local banks, while ordinary households and small businesses struggle to meet the criteria required to open an account, or obtain a loan. Overall, this undermines the sustainable development of India’s urban areas.

In the run up to the G20 summit in London on 2 April hosted by Gordon Brown, which Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh is due to attend, Vicky Cann, trade policy officer at the World Development Movement said:

"UK high street banks are present in India’s major cities and people have told us that if they are running small businesses or are from poorer backgrounds, they can find it very hard to access small loans and bank accounts. Hundreds of millions of people in India lack access to financial services and we are not convinced that the big UK banks have the solution to this problem.”

"Instead, Gordon Brown and other world leaders must learn the lessons of the financial crisis and ensure that regulation which prioritises financial inclusion replaces the deregulated bank model. In particular, it is vital that the proposed free trade deal between Europe and India does not lock-in a further era of banking liberalisation, during which UK high street banks benefit, and small businesses in India do not."

The research for 'Taking the credit' was conducted by the World Development Movement and a partner organisation, India FDI Watch.

Dharmendra Kumar, from India FDI Watch said:

"There are several problems with the current lending regime in India. One is that it is almost impossible to get a loan. The second is that the interest rates are frequently phenomenal and at predatory rates. The aggressive penetration of European banks is going to worsen the situation."

One of those mentioned in the report, Rahul works in a computer repair shop in Dehli. He was turned down for a loan by HSBC but was able to obtain a loan with the Indian bank, Syndicate. Today he denounces the government policy of encouraging foreign banking in India. “The entire structure and procedure of lending of foreign banks goes against the interests of a large section of Indian society. They mock at the people who have small savings”.

The report examines the consequences of the entry and presence of European banks in developing countries, including Mexico and India. It concludes that:

- foreign banks cherry-pick richer customers, which results in an overall decline in services and credit for poorer customers and smaller businesses

- foreign banks shift credit away from investment in productive activities such as agriculture or manufacturing which boosts local economic development

- hundreds of millions of people in developing countries lack access to affordable and sustainable banking services. Further financial services liberalisation through the World Trade Organisation or through Europe’s planned bilateral trade deals threatens to worsen this situation. This will set back the progress of local entrepreneurship that fuels economic development and raises the standard of living across developing countries.

Confederation launched to empower Americans of India descent

An “Indo-American Leadership Confederation” (IALC) has been formed to empower Americans of India descent and work for flourishing, proud, and united community.

With Rajan Zed, acclaimed Indo-American statesman, as Chairperson, this nonpartisan and nondenominational cultural-political-educational-social-communication-networking-advocacy-monitoring organization aims at reaching Indo-American communities spread across United States of America (USA).

According to Zed, this Confederation is committed to strengthening the community and work for their social, personal and economic development. Its various goals/objectives/operations include representing Indo-American interests in USA and India and advancing their economic and social welfare, monitoring and advocacy for issues of interest, promotion of appreciation/understanding of heritage/culture/languages of Indo-Americans, strengthening communication, provide a forum for dialogue/communication among Indo-Americans and other Americans, work to resolve issues unique to Indo-Americans and advance their interests, improve social interaction, educate legislature and media about Indo-American concerns, operating nonpartisan political action projects, uniting the community, acting as a resource, outreach and friendly relations with other American communities, greater understanding of values, attempt to clear misconceptions, service, etc.

Rajan Zed points out that theme of IALC is Indo-Americans and others working to educate, empower, and organize the Americans of India descent. We shall work for fostering in Americans of India roots a consciousness and pride in their heritage; we shall endeavor to inspire our youth to discover and develop their personal best; and we shall urge the Indo-Americans to make a positive difference in their communities and in the wider world; Zed adds.

Joe Wright to direct ‘Indian Summer’ for Working Title and Universal

Joe Wright will direct Indian Summer for Working Title and Universal, it was announced today by Working Title co-chairmen Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. Based on the same-named book by Alex von Tunzelmann, the screenplay is being adapted for the screen by William Nicholson. The film’s producers are Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Hilary Bevan Jones.Indian Summer, which will shoot on location in India early 2010, will chronicle the last days of Britain’s rule in India in the summer of 1947 when Louis Mountbatten was dispatched, with his glamorous wife Edwina, to oversee the handing over of power to Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister.The film marks Joe Wright’s fourth collaboration with Working Title and the first film in a two picture deal with the company. He made his feature directing debut with the critically acclaimed Pride & Prejudice followed by Atonement, which won a BAFTA Award for Best British Film, and seven Academy Award® nominations. His next film, The Soloist, starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr., will be released in the US on April 24.

About Working Title Films

Founded in 1983, Working Title has made more than 90 films that have grossed over $4.5 billion worldwide. Its films have won six Academy Awards® and 26 BAFTA Awards and prestigious prizes at the Cannes and Berlin International Film Festivals. The company’s commercial and critical hits include The Interpreter, About a Boy, Notting Hill, Elizabeth, Fargo, Dead Man Walking, Bean, High Fidelity, Johnny English, Billy Elliot, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead, Pride & Prejudice, Nanny McPhee, United 93, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, Hot Fuzz, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Burn After Reading, Frost/Nixon and Atonement. Forthcoming releases are The Boat That Rocked, Hippie Hippie Shake, The Green Zone, State of Play and The Soloist.

About Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios ( Universal Studios is part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi.

Transcendental meditation reduces ADHD symptoms among students:

Newly published study Research recently published suggests that the simple mental technique of Transcendental Meditation may be a valuable adjunct in the treatment for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity 000 Disorder (ADHD).This would be consistent with the recommendation, in September 2008, of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that cognitive and behavioural programmes should be the first-line treatment for ADHD, both for pre-school and school age children. Children taught Transcendental Meditation, according to the newly published research*, showed improvements in attention, working memory, organisation, and behaviour regulation. The well established efficacy of this technique for reducing stress and improving mental and physical health, supports the claim of many doctors and educators that Transcendental Meditation would benefit not only ADHD suffers, but also their teachers and parents.Derek Cassells, Head Teacher of a school in Lancashire that has used Transcendental Meditation as an integral part of the curriculum for 20 years, explains that the “profound physiological rest combined with inner awareness, which is easily and naturally achieved through Transcendental Meditation, is the basis of the neurological balance that helps pupils with ADHD benefit more from the specialist teaching that they receive.”Helen Evans is a qualified teacher with over twenty years’ experience of teaching children with many types of learning difficulty, including ADHD. She is also a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and has taught the technique to many of her pupils. “Almost immediately, their confidence increases because they feel more settled within themselves,” Helen says. “When they encounter difficult situations, they no longer over-react. This gives them more energy to concentrate on their work, which they can execute in a calmer, more relaxed way; and they achieve more academically. They start getting on better with their peers, teachers, and parents, thereby increasing their confidence even more. Some children present many learning difficulties concomitantly. Neurophysiological studies of these children often show a lack of synchrony between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. One of the characteristic results of Transcendental Meditation, according to EEG research, is an increase in inter-hemispheric synchrony – which speaks for itself.”Improving children’s mental health Recent studies, cited in the Daily Mail on 20 June 2007, reveal that one in ten youngsters in Britain between the ages of five and 16 has a "clinically recognisable" mental disorder, and that the number of teenagers with emotional and behavioural problems has doubled in a generation.“Good mental health in childhood is essential to achieve resilience and maturity in adulthood,” says Nicholas Argyle MB BS MRCPsych FRANZCP, a psychiatrist who worked in Cambridge, London, and New York before moving to New Zealand. “Transcendental Meditation is an effective training to support the growing nervous system, nurturing the heart and the mind of the child. Early learning of the natural skill of transcending is a most valuable intervention to ensure children remain on the positive track of healthy development.”In his recent review of scientific research on Transcendental Meditation**, Dr Roger Chalmers, GP in East Anglia, lists findings that support this view: * Improved attention, perception, and mind-body co-ordination; * Increased orderliness and integration of brain functioning; * Reduced blood pressure in pre-hypertensive adolescents;

* Increased field independence (indicating greater ability to maintain broad comprehension while focusing sharply);

* Comprehensive benefits for mental health and well-being;

* Increased social maturity in college students;

* Reduced behaviour problems in school with decreased absenteeism, rule infractions, and suspension days;

* Settled, positive school atmosphere conducive to successful learning; and

* Increased harmony between students and teachers.

Jenny Bullen had been teaching children with learning difficulties for 15 years, and then started working with children who had learned Transcendental Meditation. She notes: “I began to see much quicker results than I had ever seen before. The special teaching strategies we had been using for years were really having a noticeable effect: the results were more marked and sustainable. Because Transcendental Meditation was reducing the distractibility in the children, not just on a temporary basis but actually within the child's physiology, it was possible to work productively with them and alleviate many of their difficulties. As Transcendental Meditation also helps increase real self esteem, children become more confident in their own abilities, and therefore more motivated through their own success.”

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