The Tribune – India demands legal action against those who tore Tricolour during Modi’s UK visit

London – UK, 20 April 2018. India has demanded legal action against those behind the desecration of the Indian flag at Parliament Square here during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s UK visit.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the matter had been taken up with the UK government and had been regretted at the highest level.

“We are deeply anguished with the incident involving our National Flag at Parliament Square. The matter was taken up promptly and strongly with the UK side, and it has been regretted at highest level,” Ministry of Exernal Affair spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters on Thursday.

“We expect action, including legal action, against the people involved in the incident and also people responsible for instigating the incident,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi, after his arrival in the country, was greeted by some groups protesting against atrocities in India.

On Wednesday, during the bilateral leg of Modi’s visit to the UK, some protesters at Parliament Square turned aggressive during which the Indian Tricolour was torn down from one of the official flagpoles set up for all 53 Commonwealth countries to mark the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and ripped up by some protesters.

The perpetrators, caught on camera, were pro-Khalistani demonstrators brought together with Kashmiri separatist groups under the banner of the so-called ‘Minorities Against Modi’ group, led by Pakistani-origin peer Lord Ahmed.

There is growing pressure on the UK government to act against Ahmed, who is seen as repeatedly “instigating” violence against India on the UK soil.

A UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesperson said the UK government had been in touch with the Indian High Commission soon after the incident.

“While people have the right to hold peaceful protests, we are disappointed with the action taken by a small minority in Parliament Square and contacted High Commissioner Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha as soon as we were made aware,” a spokesperson said.

Scotland Yard also issued a statement following the protests and confirmed that it is investigating the incident involving the Indian tricolour being pulled down.

“Police are investigating after an Indian flag in Parliament Square was pulled down at 15:00 [UK time] on Wednesday, 18 April. The flag has been replaced. There have been no arrests. Enquiries continue,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.

A senior broadcast journalist from one of the leading Indian media channels covering the protests, who was caught up in the scrum, has now also registered a formal police complaint with the Met Police.

“To my shock, the protesters while raising anti-India slogans brought the Indian flag down, tore it with scissors until it was completely destroyed…Within seconds, I was pushed, abused and intimidated,” Loveena Tandon, who represents Aaj Tak news channel in the UK, said in a statement.

“A message must be sent to all those out there that we journalists make people aware of what is going on in the world. Shutting us up or being violent towards us defeats their own purpose of being heard,” she said.

The incident also went viral on social media, with people expressing their shock and support to the journalist who was caught up in the incident.

The groups involved were seen with “Free Jaggi” posters and T-shirts, calling for the release of Jagtar Singh Johal who is lodged in a Punjab jail over his alleged involvement in the targeted killings in the state.


Dawn – Hundreds of protesters confront Modi in London

London – UK, 19 April 2018. Hundreds of noisy protesters greeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he arrived in London on Wednesday.

Holding placards reading “Modi go home” and “we stand against Modi’s agenda of hate and greed”, they gathered outside Downing Street and parliament as Modi arrived for talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

The demonstrators included Muslims and Sikhs, who called for end to religious persecution, and human rights activists, who called for end to violence against women.

Kashmiris held aloft flags, while others displayed posters depicting an eight-year-old Muslim girl, who was raped and murdered earlier this year in a brutal attack blamed on Hindu men.

“Lots of different groups are here,” said Dupinder Jit, a Sikh businessman. “What is happening in Modi’s regime is unacceptable, he is killing minorities.”

Sexual violence against women is a highly charged political issue in India, where protests regularly erupt about entrenched violence against women and the failure to protect them.

“The Indian government is doing nothing, and you feel sorry for the families because of the total injustice of it all,” said Navindra Singh, an Indian-born lawyer who lives in Britain.

“He has been in power for four years now and there has been no policy change to help protect women and children.”

Protests have erupted across India after the latest rape cases were reported. Police officers and a politician are under investigation in two of the unrelated cases.

In a crime that shocked India, an eight-year-old Muslim girl in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir was kidnapped, drugged and held for several days while she was raped repeatedly and then murdered.

In the other case, a state lawmaker from Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party stands accused of raping a teenager. No action was taken against the politician until the girl threatened to set herself on fire earlier this month. Her father died soon afterwards from injuries he sustained while in police custody.

Modi addressed the outrage over the rapes last week by promising justice regardless of whoever the guilty were.

Nearly 40 per cent of India’s rape victims are children and the 40,000 reported rapes in 2016 marked a 60 per cent increase over the level in 2012. But women’s rights groups say the figures are still gross underestimates.

Nottingham Post – Singing and sword displays as Sikh religious parade brightens city streets

Ben Reid

It marked the festival of Vaisakhi

Nottingham – Nottinghamshire – UK, 15 April 2018. Five temples [Gurdwaras] over four hours, and plenty of noise and colour, this was the colourful picture as a Sikh parade made its way through the streets of Nottingham today (Sunday).

The procession, named the Nagar Kirtan, was celebrating the religious festival of Vaisakhi.

It began in Church Street, Lenton, at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara, and then moved through Radford, Hyson Green, Old Basford and New Basford – visiting another five Gurdwaras, along the way.

The celebrations involved singing, chanting, hymns and commemorative sword displays along to music being played.

Ravinder Patel, 27, from Forest Fields was taking part in the parade.

He said: “This is one of Sikhism’s most important days and I am very proud to be involved. It’s a day of great celebration and respect for everyone.”

Gurmeet Singh is president of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara where the procession began in Lenton.

He added: “This is a very big time of year for the Sikh community when all Sikhs congregate to celebrate the birth of the Khalsa.”

Vaisakhi  is NOT the Sikh New Year Festival. It commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith under the Khalsa.

The Khalsa, the community of all Sikhs, was created by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 and the five Beloved Ones – or Panji Pyare – who were represented by five Sikhs at the parade.

Harvey Singh, 42, from Radford, was volunteering at the event.

He said: “We do this every year, this is the biggest procession in Nottingham. It’s a great day for our religion.

“I’m honoured to help out in any way I can and the event is going smoothly. There is great respect and love here today.”

Staff from both Notts Police and Notts Fire were on hand to help the smooth running of the parade.

And Himat Taak from Carlton, was driving a minibus that elderly Sikhs could ride in to make sure everyone enjoyed the festivities.

He said: “This is a huge celebration of Sikhism, all over the UK and in India. I am taking our older population for Sewa (an act of kindness without expectation) so everyone can enjoy the celebrations.

The Hindu – India, UK in talks over education

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 14 April 2018. India and the United Kingdom (UK) were holding talks to seal an agreement on mutual recognition of educational qualifications, London’s envoy said here on Friday.

Speaking to a group of journalists, Sir Dominic Asquith said that education was a major area of bilateral cooperation between the two sides which was likely to feature in official discussions during the upcoming London visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One-year masters

“We have 14,000 masters students from India in the UK. Students form an important part of bilateral ties. But the one-year masters degrees given by the UK universities are not recognised in India.

So discussion is under way for an agreement to mutually recognise these degrees. This will open up more opportunities for the students and this also seems to be fair to the students,” Mr Asquith said.

India’s non-recognition of the one-year masters programmes given by various British universities had been an issue between two sides as these courses are popular among Indian students.

One of the factors that had prevented India from recognising the one-year master courses was the fact that several less-reputed educational institutions were also found to be offering such courses, often jeopardising academic prospects of students.

But Mr Asquith assured that the government of Prime Minister Theresa May had undertaken steps to prevent Indian students from falling for such institutions. “We are taking steps against the bogus universities,” said Mr Asquith.

Agreement with France

India last month signed an agreement on mutual recognition of educational degrees with France, during the visit of President Emmanuel Macron to Delhi. The British envoy observed that ongoing talks between London and Delhi were on the lines of the India-France one.

Educational cooperation would be one of the major issues on the table during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to London next week when he is scheduled to participate in the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) and hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister May’s team.

While international issues like the attempted assassination of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter with nerve chemical agent were expected to be the talking points at the Commonwealth meeting, the bilateral issues like cyber-security cooperation and data protection were also expected to be on top of the agenda.

The Tribune – Earrings from collection of last Sikh Queen to be auctioned in UK

London – UK, 12 April 2018. A pair of gold pendant earrings from the collection of Maharani Jind Kaur, the last Sikh Queen of Punjab, will be auctioned as part of the Islamic and Indian sale in London later this month.

The earrings, which belonged to the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, are estimated to fetch between 20,000 and 30,000 pounds when they go for sale at Bonhams on April 24.

Jind Kaur, who was the only wife of Ranjit Singh not to commit sati on his funeral pyre following his death in 1839, went on to be appointed the de facto ruler of Punjab before being captured by the British during the Raj era.

It was only many years later when she arrived in England that her jewellery, including the earrings on sale, were handed back to her.

“These gold earrings are beautiful pieces of jewellery in their own right. They are also an important reminder of a courageous woman who endured the loss of her kingdom, and persecution and privation, with great dignity and fortitude,” said Oliver White, Bonhams head of Islamic and Indian art.

When Jind Kaur’s five-year-old son Duleep Singh was proclaimed Maharaja of Punjab in 1843, she was appointed Regent.

The Punjab Empire at the time stretched from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas and the court was fabled for its artistic and scientific achievements and opulence and riches.

The East India Company invaded and annexed Punjab, despite armed opposition organised and led by Jind. She was deposed in 1846, separated from her son and imprisoned.

According to Bonhams’ historians, the Maharani’s personal wealth was confiscated and the state Treasury plundered by the British Army. The famous Koh-i-Noor diamond and the Timur Ruby were sent back to London as gifts for Queen Victoria.

Jind Kaur made a daring escape from captivity, and fled to Kathmandu where the King of Nepal kept her under virtual house arrest at the direction of the British, who saw her as a continued threat. Duleep was sent to England, converted to Christianity and adopted as a godson by Queen Victoria.

Mother and son were eventually reunited after 13-and-a-half years apart in 1861 when Jind Kaur moved to England to be with her son Duleep. She died in 1863, her health broken by the years of hardship.

After Jind Kaur’s death, Duleep’s attempts to return to the Punjab, and fulfil his mother’s dream of assuming his ancestral position, were thwarted by the British government.

He died in Paris at the age of 55 and his daughter Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, went on to become a prominent suffragette who fought for women’s right to vote in the UK.

The News – A war with no winners

A Rauf K Khattak

Op/Ed, 10 April 2018. Do ideologies rule the world? Do they last? Yes, they rule and last as long as they serve the purpose of powerful nations or individuals. This is a cynical statement. But cynicism is not without reason or it would not have existed.

Adam Smith, a Scottish economist, wrote his book ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776), which is considered to be the Bible of capitalism. His ideas ran counter to the prevailing economic theories of his day, especially mercantilism. He propounded the idea of free trade.

Free trade does not have a single, unified definition. It generally refers to trade between nations without any artificial barriers introduced by the government. He said that free trade brought wealth and prosperity to individuals and nations and, thereby, increase the sum-total of human welfare.

Governments, he said, should allow the “invisible hand” to rule the markets. If everybody acts from self-interest and is spurred on by the profit motive, then the economy will work more efficiently.

Smith wrote that it is as if an “invisible hand” guides the actions of individuals for the common good. Government action, however, was required to impose anti-trust laws, enforce property rights, and police and protect the industry essential for national defence.

This idea was further developed and refined by British politician and economist David Ricardo in 1817 when he presented the law of comparative advantage.

Simply stated, if two nations trade and one of them is more efficient in producing both goods A and B, it should produce good A in which it is more efficient and leave good B to the other trading partner nation to produce.

As a result, trading goods A and B with each other becomes more beneficial, even when one nation is more productive than the other.

Britain adopted free trade and became the leading industrial nation of the 18th and 19th centuries. It gathered enormous amounts of wealth and riches. Unfortunately, the ideology applied to Britain only. Its vast colonies were excluded from this ideology.

Let’s not forget how it pulverised the weavers of Bengal. Textile was the leading industry of the Subcontinent at the time. Soldiers were sent to destroy the looms so that the factories owners of Lancashire could thrive.

The worst example was the Salt Act. Britain’s Salt Acts prohibited Indians from collecting or selling salt – a staple in their diet. Citizens were forced to buy the vital mineral from the British who, in addition to exercising a monopoly over manufacturing and selling salt, also exerted a heavy salt tax.

Defying the Salt Act, Mahatma Gandhi started the Salt March or the Salt Satyagraha in March 1930 – a trek of 240 kilometres on foot to the sea to make their own salt. The British called it an act of rebellion.

The Roaring Nineties and globalisation, an era of great optimism and great expectations, heralded not only free movements of goods and services but also resulted in free movements of finance and ideas. The world is one village, it was proclaimed.

Reams of paper were wasted celebrating globalisation and high-minded pronouncements came from intellectuals of all stripes. Poor nations were given hope that their days of deprivation will soon be over. The West will become the East and the East will become the West and happily the twain shall live.

China appears on the world stage with economic reforms called ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’. These reforms were started in December 1978 by reformists within the Communist Party of China that was led by Deng Xiaoping.

In three or more decades, it became the second largest economy of the world and was referred to as the factory of the world. According to the World Bank, more than 500 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty over the last three or more decades.

Unable to cope with a surging China, America’s public opinion shifted inwards and compelled Trump to push his ‘America First’, agenda.

Adam Smith has once again been turned on his head. On March 9, Trump slapped a 25 percent tariff on steel and 15 percent tariff on aluminum imports, daring the world to start a trade war. He said: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win”.

Ignorance is a voluntary misfortune. It is the mother of impudence and the nurse of obstinacy. Wars, whether they involve physical warfare or trade, have never been won. It is the war that wins.

After independence from Britain, the US embraced free trade as a policy, but only when it was favourable to it. The most prominent trade war of the 20th century was ignited by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which imposed steep tariffs on almost 20,000 imported goods.

America’s trading partners retaliated with tariffs on US exports, which plunged to 61 percent from 1929 to 1933. America had to repeal tariffs in 1934. It was such a disaster that it held sway over American trade policy for 80 years.

Free trade between rich countries and poor countries usually does not work to the benefit of both
Man in Blue

The writer is a former civil servant and a former minister.


Evening Times – Vaisakhi 2018: Glasgow Sikh community takes part in annual festival procession

Aftab Ali

Glasgow – Scotland – UK, Glasgow’s streets were awash with colour on Sunday as Sikhs from across Scotland celebrated the festival of Vaisakhi.

Thousands in the community took part in a four-hour-long procession through the city.

The festival marks the beginning of the Sikh new year on April 14* and commemorates the birth of the Sikh Order of the Khalsa, after Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, passed.

The procession always takes on the Sunday before Vaisakhi each year.

Participants marched from the South Side at 9.30am, making their way to all four of the city’s temples, also known as Gurdwaras.

They finally came to a stop at the Central Gurdwara on Berkeley Street at 1.30pm.

Each Gurdwara in Glasgow then served up a free community meal to all visitors, regardless of race, religion or social status.

Scotland currently has eight temples [Gurdwaras] with half of those in Glasgow.

Charandeep Singh, general secretary of Glasgow Gurdwara in Pollokshields, described how the festival is always a highlight for Scottish Sikhs.

He added: “It has a special place in all our hearts because of its ability to bring people together from diverse backgrounds and communities.

“On behalf of the Sikh community, I would like to wish everyone a happy Vaisakhi 2018 and hope that we strive to embody the Sikh values of equality, humanity and justice into all of our lives.”

* Neither the Bikrami nor the Nanakshahi year start with the month of Vaisakh.
  Man in Blue

Belfast Live – When is Vaisakhi 2018? What is it and why do Sikhs celebrate it?

Everything you need to know about the religious festival (???)

Nisha Mal

Belfast – Northern Ireland – UK, 6 APR 2018. Sikhs around the world will be celebrating an important religious festival this month.

Vaisakhi holds a strong significance for followers of the faith, as it recognises the birth of Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa.

As well as this, it is also an important date for farmers, and agriculture, as it is a time to give thanks for the harvest and to hope for another good year.

Here is everything you to need to know about Vaisakhi.

When is Vaisakhi?

It will fall on Saturday, April 14. The holy event is celebrated on the same day each year, as the date is not determined by the lunar calendar.

What is Vaisakhi?

Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar.

It commemorates the year of 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh – a spiritual leader, warrior, poet and philosopher – founded the order of the Khalsa.

Sikhs believe that on April 14, 1699 Guru Gobind Singh called all Sikhs to the Indian city of Anandpur Sahib, Punjab.

At the gathering he asked all those in attendance to uphold their faith and preserve the religion.

The Guru is then said to have lifted his sword and asked the crowd who was prepared to die for their faith.

One by one five men stepped forward, and they were all taken into a tent separately. After a short while Guru Gobind Singh reappeared with a bloodied sword, and the five of the men reappeared behind him – they were all dressed in blue garments.

Guru Gobind Singh called the five men the ‘Panj Pyare’, which means the Five Beloved Ones.

After they reappeared from the tent, the Panj Pyare were baptised. It’s thought that once the Guru had finished the rituals, he lent down and asked them to baptise him.

To this day the five men are known as the first members of the Khalsa.

He then said that the Panj Pyare would be the embodiment of himself: “Where there are Panj Pyare, there am I. When the Five meet, they are the holiest of the holy.”

In the north Indian state of Punjab, Vaisakhi is also a time to celebrate the spring harvest and vegetation.

How is it celebrated?

Followers of the faith commemorate the day with processions, which are known as ‘nagar kirtan’.

A nagar kirtan is lead by five men in ceremonial dress – to represent the Panj Pyare – and performers, floats and drummers playing the dhol follow behind.

The event is similar to carnival as people line the streets singing hymns. There are also usually lots of food and tea stalls giving out vegetarian snacks such as onion bhajis and samosas, as well as chai.

Everything you need to know ?
I think that it was an initiation ceremony rather than a baptism, and on a minor point onion bhajis should be pakore, which contain onion but also other vegetables.
Both Guru Teg Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh were not  just standing up for the Sikh ‘faith’ (dharm) but also for others who were oppressed by the bigoted Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
And although Vaisakhi is a happy festival, comparing it with carnival is inappropriate.
Man in Blue

The Economic Times – PM Narendra Modi may ask British PM Theresa May to stop rising Sikh radicalism in UK

Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

New Delhi – India, 05 April 2018. India is likely to seek strong action over reported growth in Sikh extremism in the United Kingdom, just as in Canada and Australia, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets his British counterpart Theresa May in London on April 18-19.

The issue of revival of Sikh extremism will figure high on the agenda of Modi-May dialogue, people aware of the matter told ET.

They said that the Indian security establishment believes that the rising volume of Sikh extremist voices in the UK, Canada, Australia and even Italy may be a sign of revival of Sikh terrorist groups backed by Pakistan, adding that India is of the view that the UK is not doing enough to contain Sikh radicalism.

The issue may emerge as a major irritant in Indo-British ties as members of the Sikh community in UK are getting increasingly drawn into the extremist fold, said one of the persons, who did not wish to be identified.

Meanwhile, there are reports of major protests being planned by Sikh extremists and radicals in London during Modi’s visit.

Coinciding with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India in February, an umbrella body of Sikh groups in Britain had announced that 225 of the 270 Sikh gurdwaras in the UK were barring entry of Indian officials on political grounds. Earlier, in Australia, the Indian High Commissioner was not allowed entry into a gurdwara.

Sikh lobby groups active in the UK are influencing the decision-makers, the person cited earlier said.

In September last year, sections of the community had launched a major campaign urging the UK government to stop identifying them as ‘Indians’ in the UK Census and to create a separate ‘Sikh’ ethnic category for them. The campaign had snowballed into a major issue, securing the backing of more than 140 British MPs.

The Sikh community in the UK numbers around 430,000 and some Sikh groups have allegedly opposed the return of Kohinoor diamond to India by the UK. There are reports that younger Sikhs have been increasingly taking to extremism.

A British tribunal could rule soon on a plea on declassifying files which contain details of the UK government’s role in Operation Blue Star carried out by the Indian Army in June 1984 to drive out militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The UK government has so far opposed such pleas to safeguard its relationship with India.

Everybody is welcome in a Gurdwara, but Indian officials are not allowed to speak from the Gurdwara stage. If or when Hindu radicalism is brought under control in India and Sikhs get justice over the many killed by security forces and during the anti-Sikh pogroms during the 1980s, this will change.
Man in Blue

Ani News – Khalistani separatists in UK making ludicrous demands on Pakistan’s behest: Experts

Chandigarh-Panjab / Jammu-J&K – India, 01 April 2018. The pro-Khalistan secessionists based in the United Kingdom and other foreign countries demanding an independent Sikh state are working on the behest of Pakistan, allege experts in India.

They call it a desperate attempt by Islamabad to hamper peace and harmony in the country, where the country’s constitution gives equal rights to its people.

Professor Parikshat Manhas of Jammu University said, “We cannot give a special status to one religion or one place, within one region of our country and denying that to all other religions. Our constitution allows us to respect each religion in an equal manner”.

He added, “We are not in a position where we can say that one religion has a special status and others don’t have and that is totally a laughable thing, if some radicals are thinking of providing that status, I think that is not appropriate”.

According to the experts, a group of radical Sikhs based in the UK, who are working as stooges of Pakistan-based militants, including Wadhwa Singh of Babbar Khalsa International are demanding to have a sole objective to conduct acts of terror against the Indian state.

Manhas said, “Pakistan’s agenda is to have, to build-up, to propagate, to fuel anti-India sentiment around the world and also within our country, that is in India also, an international organisation also wherever they get space or time, they try to fuel anti-India policies to build anti-India sentiment”.

“Similarly they use European countries also as their launching pads.

They see to it as any disgruntled element or any disgruntled citizen of the country, they will try to influence them and try building anti-India sentiment and now also a lot of NRIs, especially one of them who was UK based, has been arrested and he was actually being funded and supported through various Pakistani agencies only”, added Manhas.

Recently, a group of pro-Khalistan Sikhs issued a diktat to ban entry of Indian officials in gurdwaras in the UK and Canada. However, the move was widely condemned by the Sikh diaspora.

Punjabi media channels in the UK and Canada have repeatedly condemned it on various debates and discussion platforms, calling it a part of a bigger and nefarious plot created and shaped in the territory of Pakistan.

Gurmeet Singh Babloo, Chairman of Bhagat Singh Youth Front said, “It is saddening to know that people are doing such things that are against the principles and values of gurdwaras. It is a place where people, cutting across all religious lines, come together and sit under one roof to eat community meal (Langar).

When everybody can eat together then how can you say that one cannot enter especially Indian diplomats? Only a few people talk like this and it is very disappointing”.

A group of British Sikhs along with Kashmiri separatists recently held a meeting to conduct an anti-India campaign during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK later this month.

They have been planning to hold anti-India protests outside the venue of Commonwealth Summit on April 18.

The heads of 53 Commonwealth nations, including Prime Minister Modi, will attend the summit from April 16-20 in London and Windsor. (ANI)

Another piece of ludicrous Indian propaganda
Man in Blue