Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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Politics

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Following the announcement in the 2016 Budget that all schools will be forced to convert into academies by 2022, Imran Hussain MP questioned the Prime Minister on the plans.

Despite evidence showing that academy status does not increase the educational outcomes in schools, all schools that are currently run by Bradford Council will be forced to convert into academies, regardless of the wishes of the teachers and parents. As part of this process, accountability for the schools will be transferred from the Council to the Department for Education in London, despite the Government’s repeated claims about wishing to transfer more power to the local level.

The plans have been met with criticism from Mr Hussain who denounced them as “plain daft and unnecessary” – echoing former Education Minister Lord Baker – and has claimed that they amount to needlessly altering the structure of schools rather than taking meaningful steps to correct the failings within them, such as addressing low teacher retention rates and providing the funding needed to counter the high rates of deprivation in the district that is holding back educational attainment.

Mr Hussain also questioned why the Government were so willing to disregard the opinions of local parents and teachers, and why they were so willing to put the potential success of the Northern Schools Strategy, which was recently announced at the Budget and set to invest £20 million per year in Northern Schools, at risk.

Speaking on education in Bradford and the academisation plans, Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East said:

“Efforts to raise educational outcomes in Bradford face considerable challenges with low GCSE scores, a school places shortage and high rates of deprivation in the city, but I do not believe that forcing all schools to become academies, against the wishes of parents and teachers, offers the solution.

“When asked the question of how to improve education, the Government’s answer is to increase the pace of academisation, but ironically for the Department for Education, they are unable to fulfil a requirement of many pupils who are sitting exams and show their working and how they have come to this conclusion.

“Instead of pushing forward with such a divisive plan which has no supportive evidence proving that academy status improves educational outcomes, the Government should instead look at increasing the scope and investment of their recently announced Northern Schools Strategy, and I will be continuing to press the Government to ensure that this strategy, which has the potential to substantially improve education in Bradford, reflects the good practices of the highly successful London Challenge.”

 

By Jim Greenhalf

Panel: David Cameron maintains that the UK would be more prosperous, secure and have greater influence in the world, in the European Union rather than out of it. Those in favour of leaving the EU, don’t have an alternative strategy, the Prime Minister said: “They seem to be making it up as they go along.” Well, there is such a strategy, and it was compiled and written by Bradford political researcher, author and blogger Dr Richard North. JIM GREENHALF reports.

CUTTING the Gordian Knot that binds the UK to the political and economic structures of the European Union would not be a single historic event but a gradual process over several years at least.

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Richard North

That’s why Richard North, beavering away in the book-crammed study of his Wibsey house, called his 420-page strategy FLEXCIT, short for Flexible Exit and Continuous Development. It went online in April last year since when the author calculates that more than 50,000 people have downloaded it from his EUReferendum.com blogsite.

A 48-page summary was published last month (March) by the Leave Alliance, a network of anti-EU campaigners that includes the Bruges Group and the Campaign for an Independent Britain.

“After nine treaties and 40 years of political and economic integration, there can be no clean break. Unravelling in a single step is not going to happen, and certainly not without compromises. This is a point that cannot be made too strongly,” Dr North says in the pamphlet’s introduction.

As one of the few pundits who correctly forecast the outcome of last year’s General Election, Richard North, whose books co-authored with Christopher Booker include the definitive history of the EU – The Great Deception – Richard North challenges the Prime Minister’s ideal of Britain within a reformed EU.

The EU can only be changed by treaty agreement of all 28 member states. International agreements are made on the basis of ‘shared misery’, he added. Favourable treatment for one will be opposed by other member states not in receipt of it, especially if the proposed reforms infringe any of the EU’s four freedoms: freedom of movement of people, capital, goods and services.

Richard North’s FLEXCIT strategy imagines and describes six phases following Britain’s declaration under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the EU.

“First you leave,” he said, summarising the phases for Urban Echo readers. “Negotiations for that take at least two years. Then you sort out immigration, European trade regulations, the policy issues governed by EU law (there are 22,000 EU laws), the global trading matters and finally you address domestic political reform to restore democracy and prevent Parliament from ever again giving away our power as it did in 1973 when we signed up to the European Communities Act.

“The EU’s ambition is to create a new country called the United States of Europe. That’s simply not a direction in which we can travel because there is no mandate for it,” he said.

Leaving the EU means changing a relationship, not ending it, as the FLEXCIT pamphlet makes clear:-

“We are simply travelling separately. This is not isolation but an agreement to do many more of the same things in a different way, all to our mutual advantage.”

by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum
by Mohammed Nazir Tabbasum

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Federica Mogherini, head of the EU foreign policy and Javed Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister met in Vienna, the capital of Austria, on January 16 and issued a joint communiqué declaring that a nuclear deal has been reached at between Iran and the world powers after the certification of UN’s international nuclear watchdog IAEA, that Iran has fulfilled all her obligations set forth for her in July last year.

Therefore, a big chunk of sanctions imposed on that country by US, EU and the UN are being lifted. This step will unfreeze Iran’s billions of dollars of assets and allow her to sell its oil in the world market.

The announcement opened the floodgates of joy and happiness for the Iranian masses that have been made scapegoat to suffer more than a decade for none of their faults. Thus, the Iranian foreign minister Javed Zarif commented: “This is a good day for the Iranian people as sanctions will be lifted today.” Soon after the international sanctions were lifted, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “Iran has opened a new chapter in its ties with the world”.

90This move was welcomed by most of the countries of the world except Israel that accused Tehran of still seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Strangely enough, Israel was not alone in criticising this deal; she was joined by the holier than the holiest Monarchy of the world Muslims, Saudi Arabia in expressing their dislike. On Tuesday (19/01/16) Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubier said in his exclusive interview to Reuters: “The lifting of sanctions on Iran as a result of its nuclear deal with world powers will be a harmful development if it uses the extra money to fund “nefarious” activities”. While Israel (a Jewish state) and Saudi Arabia (a state which is the fountain head of Islam) are juxtaposed in condemning this deal, it would be interesting to see how Imam of Makkah’s Grand Mosque (an appointee of the SA government) looks at this deal, who tweeted (18-24 January) alleging an “alliance of the Safavids with the Jews and Christians against Muslims”. [Iranians are also known as Safavids].

The way this deal would lift the economic sanctions that were progressively imposed by the US, EU and the UN in response to Iran’s nuclear programme needs elaboration. Sanctions on trade, shipping and insurance are going to be fully lifted by EU. The US would suspend, not terminate, its nuclear-related sanctions, thus allowing Iran now to get reconnected with global banking system. The UN would lift sanctions related to defence and nuclear technology sales, as well as an asset freeze on key individuals and companies. Non-nuclear US sanctions would remain in place, notably the ban on US citizens and companies trading with Iran, and US and EU sanctions on Iranians accused of sponsoring terrorism would also remain in place.

Iran would immediately get $100bn (£70bn) of frozen Iranian assets. It is expected that she would increase its daily export of 101 million barrels of crude oil by half a million barrels shortly and another half a million barrels in future. It is expected that Iran would soon order the Airbus Consortium for purchase of 114 new passenger planes.

President Hassan Rouhani said that everyone was happy with the deal, apart from those he described as war-mongers in the region – Israel and hardliners in the US Congress. “We Iranians have reached out to the world in a sign of friendliness, and leaving behind the enmities, suspicions and plots, have opened a new chapter in the relations of Iran with the world”, he said in a statement on Sunday (17/01/2016) morning. Rouhani added: “The lifting of sanctions was a turning point for Iran’s economy and the country needed to be less reliant on oil revenue.

The only candidate to be credited as the “ARCHITECT” of this deal is John Kerry, the US Secretary of State who, commenting on the deal, said; “It had been pursued with the firm belief that exhausting diplomacy before choosing war is an imperative. And we believe that today marks the benefits of that choice”.

However, it did not go unchallenged from within the United States. The Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Obama administration had moved to lift economic sanctions “on the world’s leading State Sponsor of terrorism”.

This deal, as envisaged quite early, came as a shock to the monarch in Riyadh. They had their first shock in 1979 when Shah of Iran was deposed and replaced by Shia theocracy of Ayatollah Khomeini and other clerics of similar description who started crying hoarse that there is no place of monarchy in Islam. In a recent exclusive interview to Reuters, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubier was asked if Saudi Arabia discussed seeking nuclear bomb in the event Iran managed to obtain one despite its atomic deal. He said Saudi Arabia would do “whatever it needs to do in order to protect our people”. Where Saudi Arabia can look to seek an atomic device? Nowhere except Pakistan. Thus, Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif, without wasting any time, came to Riyadh along with his army chief to console and comfort their erstwhile benefactor. They could not stop short of pronouncing their support in case of any defence-related eventuality. In an apparent equalising gesture they did visit Tehran also to clarify the reconciliatory nature of their visit.

Both Tehran and Riyadh are theocratic states, the former ruled by a Council of Shia Elders without whose clearance no one can contest election; the latter is ruled by House of Saud dynasty but their home affairs are run by the clerics who profess Wahabi / Salafi Islam as opposed to that of Shia clerics of Iran. There is a worst human rights record in both the countries. The women are treated worst in both the countries

Following the Prime Minister’s comments on Radio 4, Bradford East’s MP and Shadow International Development Minister, Imran Hussain, demanded that he apologise for linking extremism with poor English language skills.

The Prime Minister made the comments linking extremism amongst Muslims in the UK to a lack of English language skills whilst on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning as part of his announcement to make £20 million of funding available to teach English to Muslim women, and they were immediately denounced by Mr Hussain and other Labour MPs who claimed that they promoted divisive language and alienated the Muslim community.

The announcement on funding and the proposed sanction in the policy has also come under attack by Mr Hussain who has decried the Prime Minister’s intention to deport those who fail English language tests, labelling the decision as ‘absurd’ in light of the Prime Minister cutting funding for ESOL courses designed to increase English proficiency whilst in Government and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding in July last year.

Speaking on the Prime Ministers’ announcement this morning, Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain said:

“Whilst I support to some degree the Prime Minister’s announcement to set aside £20 million to help teach English language skills, I believe that the funding should be there for all communities. However rather than offering sensible solutions to problems that affect non-English speakers of all faiths, the Prime Minister has revealed his true discriminatory and divisive nature, and I would also have been more supportive had the announcement not come from a Government who have already gone about slashing ESOL funding through massive cuts and withdrawing ESOL mandated funding which was established to improve English language skills.

“It is therefore the height of absurdity that whilst the Prime Minister is taking funding from ESOL courses with one hand, he is showing those who fail English language tests the door with the other by threatening them with deportation. This proposed sanction is entirely disproportionate and will not help provide for greater and more cohesive integration, and instead, those with limited English skills should not be coerced into English language classes with the threat of deportation hanging over their heads if they fail, but should be persuaded into them by the many benefits, economic, cultural and social, of extending their English language skills, with the necessary funding available to do so.

“In addition, whilst the Prime Minister is indeed right to talk about tackling discrimination, empowering women and increasing English language skills, by making utterly outrageous and unsupported claims in the process that allude to a belief that a lack of English language skills can drive Muslim women to radicalisation, he has harmed his own cause and has yet again further stigmatised Muslims, and in doing so has both antagonised and alienated communities. There is absolutely no evidence to support this view and it is extremely damaging behaviour from a Prime Minister. I hope that he now either produces evidence to back up his comments or he immediately withdraws them.”

Following a dramatic increase in refugee crises around the world, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has today appointed Bradford East’s MP, Imran Hussain, to the position of Shadow Minister of State for International Development.

Mr Hussain was the Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Diane Abbott. In a move by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn to expand Labour’s Shadow International Development Team he has been appointed to the position of Shadow Minister of State for International Development

The Shadow International Development Team is responsible for scrutinising the work of the Department for International Development (DfID) which was established by the last Labour Government and was instrumental in negotiating the Millennium Development Goals. Although the full responsibilities of the role are yet to be announced, it is expected that it will heavily involve working to resolve the numerous refugee crises around the world caused by conflict, persecution and climate change, as well as focusing on human rights.

Speaking on the appointment, Imran Hussain MP, Member of Parliament for Bradford East and Shadow Minister of State for International Development said:

“The act of increasing the size of Labour’s Shadow International Development Team shows just how significant the issue of international development is to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, particularly following the acceptance of the Sustainable Development Goals and the ongoing global refugee crisis, and I am of course extremely thankful to Jeremy for appointing me to this important position and looking forward to the task at hand.

“In the coming weeks, months and years, I will be focusing on increasing the scrutiny of the Government’s decisions and policies in developing countries, and I will be putting forward ideas, along with the rest of the Shadow International Development Team, on how we can help the poorest people in the world, how we can help refugees fleeing war, persecution and climate change, and how we can ensure that human rights are respected and upheld around the world.

“It will also help to raise the profile of Bradford and I will use the platform that it gives me to fight for better education, a better economy and better healthcare in the district. I came to Parliament in May last year to represent the people of Bradford, which I did within weeks by voting against cuts to welfare, so my constituency office door will continue to remain open throughout the week and priority will stay with my weekly advice surgeries on Fridays. I will not let this position get in the way of my most important role, standing up for the people of Bradford.”

 

by Nazir Tabbussam

When Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 and injured many at a Christmas party going on in San Bernardino (California), President Barack Obama addressed the shooting from the Oval Office saying it is possible the massacre in San Bernardino was related to terrorism, but it’s also possible it was workplace-related.

Donald-TrumpAs compared to this sober statement most appropriate to a statesman, the republican hopefull presidential candidate for the forthcoming US presidential elections, Mr Donald Trump has been quite reckless in his response. On December 7 he said: “Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on … our country cannot be the victim of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.”

This statement of a possibly would-be US president, without the least reservation, can be classed as extremely Islamophobic because it stereotypes all Muslims indiscriminately. Mr Trump did not feel the least need to identify the specific hate-mongering elements who incite to violence the American Muslim community and abroad. Trump’s negative remarks are indicative of the fact that quite often negative remarks have more impact than the positive ones. Thus, his statement received widespread and justified criticism. The US foreign Secretary John Kerry accused Trump of endangering the security of the US. In the UK, the reaction against Trump was strongest. A petition calling for Trump to be banned from entering the UK has reached 556,386 signatures at the time of writing this article.

In spite of all that, Trump is adamant to his abhorring statement and he says: “The proposal was probably not politically correct, but I don’t care.” This sort of attitude is called speaking from the heap of one’s wealth because he is a billionaire who made fortune from property and the entertainment business. Thus, his policy statement says: “Shariah authorises such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women. Without looking at the various polling data, it is obvious to anybody, the hatred is beyond comprehension. Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine.”

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in AmesDemocratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley condemned Trump: he tweeted: @realdonaldtrump removes all doubt: he is running for president as a fascist demagogue.” Other politicians on both sides of the aisle did not spare any moment to get their condemnation recorded, including former US Vice President Dick Cheney. Trump’s Republican rival Lindsey Graham said: “Donald Trump today took xenophobia and religious bigotry to a new level. His comments are hurting the war effort and putting our diplomats and soldiers serving in the Middle East at risk. The way to win this war is to reach the vast majority of people in Islamic faith who reject Isil and provide them to resist this ideology…”

The Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal attacked Trump and tweeted: “you are a disgrace not only to GOP (the Republican party) but to all America. Withdraw from the US presidential race as you will never win.” (The Guardian 12/12/15) Al-Waleed’s attacks gave a new impetus to Trump who retorted immediately in his tweet: “dopey prince… wants to control our US politicians with dad’s money.” (Jerusalem Post 13/12/15) It won’t be impertinent to quote here another such interesting episode of Prince Al-Waleed. After 9/11 Al-Waleed gave a cheque to the then New York Mayor Guiliani for the sum of 10 million dollars. Guiliani refused the money following Al-Waleed’s suggestions of “moral equivalence.” Al-Waleed had said that the “US must address some of the issues that led to such criminal attacks….” and furthermore, that the “US should re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause.” (CNN 12/11/2001) Interestingly enough, the 19 Al-Qaeda affiliated Arabs who came to the US to launch 9/11 attacks, 15 of them were Saudi citizens. They were neither poor, nor deprived, nor the victims of American social injustices. In this perspective, the US relationship with the Saudi monarchy is worth studying when under US umbrella, they have created a new defence pact between 34 Muslim countries, including Pakistan. All these countries are Sunni by faith and Shia have very carefully been excluded from it. The Sunni nomenclature used in the West actually means Wahabism or Salafi faith and it does not include the Sunni Brailvi and Deobandi who are in great majority in South Asia. Pakistan’s Advisor for Foreign Affairs had to cut a sorry figure in the Senate when questioned about the legitimacy of joining this pact at the cost of ill-feelings of its Shiite population.

President Obama addressed the nation soon after the killings in California. He was most passionate while making an appeal to the Americans for tolerance in the aftermath of San Bernardino incident. He underscored most specifically by saying while Muslims have a responsibility to identify and reject extremism within their ranks, Americans cannot lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of Islam’s more than a billion followers are peaceful.

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Former Bradford West MP George Galloway reacts to Syria airstrikes…

“Last night’s decision by Parliament to authorise British airstrikes in Syria, which are already taking place as you read this, will make nothing better, and may make things a whole lot worse. As a result, Syrian civilians will die, and the lives of British servicemen and women, and civilians, are put at serious risk.

“And for what? Let us be very clear, Cameron’s aim, his enemy, are not ISIS and Al Qaeda, but the regime of President Assad. This is evident in the fact that neither he, nor his allies in Paris and Washington, have lifted a finger nor spoken a word against the funding and arming of these and other extremist groups by NATO member Turkey, and our “closest ally in the Muslim world”, the tyranny that is Saudi Arabia.

It is also evident in Cameron’s fantastical claim of “70,000 moderate rebels” which will serve as a ground force, supposedly to liberate the areas we are now bombing. As countless experts have repeatedly pointed out, there are not 70,000, nor 7,000; it would be optimistic to claim there are 700 moderate rebels in Syria today.

“This latest attempt at regime change shows our political elite, including many Labour MPs, have learnt nothing from our recent wars on Libya and Iraq, the latter being the most direct and immediate cause of the fire now engulfing the whole region. These two interventions themselves were part of a wider history of over 100 years of British failure and bloodshed in the Middle East; occupying foreign lands, imposing and replacing borders and regimes, giving away Palestine to Zionist settlers. What could possibly be gained from yet another such abomination?

“I, along with millions of others, marched against the wars in Iraq and Libya. If the world had listened to us, instead of the siren calls of warmongers Blair, Cameron, Bush, Obama, Hollande, et al, there would be no ISIS, and Al Qaeda would not control a single square mile of land in the whole Middle East.

“We now march against this latest war, as we did outside Parliament last night, and the night before, and as we will continue to do over the coming days, weeks and months. Last night’s victory for warmongering in Parliament was not the beginning of the end, only the end of the beginning.”

With Respect,

George Galloway

by Mohammad Nazir Tabassum                                                                                                  

“As in Afghanistan, there is confusion about western objectives in a complex conflict – is the aim simply to push back Isis, or does it have to be halting the wider Syrian war in which Isis has thrived? Is this imaginable while President Assad remains on the stage, or is the removal of this man – who has killed more Syrians than anyone else, and driven so many to embrace Isis – a red line?” (The Guardian – Leader Comment 17/11/2015)

A member of the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant.This comment of the most esteemed daily newspaper of the UK is worth consideration. I think that while giving such comments, the learned editor has ignored certain basic and most important facts as to who initiated, instigated, supported, financed and funnelled the most sophisticated weaponry to the terrorists’ organisations like Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, and the so-called Free Syrian Army, usually described by the western press as “moderate opposition of the Syrian government.” The terrorists from all over the Muslim world including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan and Chechnya were provided free access to come to Syria and join these terrorists. So all these three organisations acted as midwife and delivered the most barbaric, ruthless, heartless, merciless child that came to be known as Isis and who played havoc in Paris on 13 November 2015. Any impartial, unbiased and just observer can easily conclude that it is not President Assad but all these terrorist organisations supported and financed by the west as well as the monarchs, Amirs and Sultans of the Middle East, including Turkey, who drove many to embrace Isis. The western countries 226208-asadwatched passively while their Muslim citizens, both men and women, including Jihadi brides and in certain cases, the whole families to go and join the Isis.

There is sufficient evidence that the west has only been interested in the removal of Assad for which they have readily and happily been willing to pay the price of making their citizens unsafe at home. After all, why America wants to keep company with Al-Qaeda? For years they knew where Osama Bin Laden was housed, as did the Pakistan Army. They did not harm him. But only in 2011, when he was a spent up force and Barak Obama was going for his second term election that they chose to send the US Navy Seals to kill him. Bashar Al-Assad, like Qadafi and Saddam Hussain is secular.

pic_giant_091014_sm_obama-manages-isisIf the western countries really want their citizens to live in peace, then it is high time that they should reconsider their foreign policy. Interventionism pays dividends but only to a limited extent. It starts hurting very soon. The examples are Korea and China. Taiwan and South Korea have now fully realised that they were used as tools by the Americans.

When America and her western allies including the Middle East partners started a proxy campaign against Syrian President Al-Assad, they were faced by the Russians. Thus, they attempted, though unsuccessfully, to neutralize Russia. Look at the crude methodology that they applied to do so.

ujtCe9wjF89YaAPXGFmhhP0BvqwbAIh1Last month, a meeting took place between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the chief of Saudi Intelligence and the key link between Washington and Riyadh. The encounter between the two was leaked by certain interested quarters. Thus, in return for Russian acquiescence to regime change in Syria, Bandar offered not only oil and gas deals, but a “guarantee” to protect the winter Olympics next year in Sochi, Russia from terrorist attacks by Chechen Islamists. Bandar assured Putin that these groups were “controlled by us” and could be instigated or restrained as it suited Saudi and US interests. The meeting took place at Mr Putin’s dacha outside Moscow.

This interesting episode was also reported by The Telegraph (Sunday 22 November 2015). This is something that indicates irrefutably that western countries’ foreign policy has serious drawbacks. A policy in which these governments along with their non-European allies can flock together any time and run over any peace-living country without caring much that by doing so they may be making their own homes and people unsafe. Newton’s third law of motion is applicable not only on physical but also on political phenomena. This law states that in nature to every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Why the learned authors of western foreign policy deliberately ignore this scientific truth and start blaming others when they have to harvest the crop whose seeds were sown by them and by no one else.

In the final analysis I must state clearly and unambiguously that those who were brutally killed at various places in Paris were innocent people. They were not the scribblers of the French foreign policy. Their brutal killings cannot be justified by any reason whatsoever and the barbaric killers and the organisation to which they belong and wherever in the world they are located must be annihilated with the unified strength of all peace-loving, non-interfering countries of the world. The west and their Middle Eastern allies must realise that they have seen the removal of Qadafi and Saddam in the near past. Has anything good come out of that? Therefore, “desist from high-handedness because the vengeance of Nature is merciless.”

by Mohammed Ajeeb, CBE

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

narendramodipti-mThe Prime Minister of India, Narendra Damodardas Modi’s recent visit to Britain was marked by cheerful greetings, noisy and angry demonstrations, contempt, and some unfavourable and critical media reports. However, Mr David Cameron, our Prime Minister, received him on the rolling red carpet and showered him with factitious words of praise and admiration with the hope of securing more investment to the UK and vice versa. When Modi was received by a huge crowd of British Indians at Wembley Stadium, David Cameron accompanied him and acted as a compere and then greeted the crowd by speaking a few sentences in Hindi. He seized this opportunity to woo his potential voters as most of those present were wealthy businessmen and women.

On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn the Labour leader, shunned Mr Modi and had a short private meeting with him. The reports suggest that Mr Corbyn, in this meeting, very cogently raised with Mr Modi the question of abuses of human rights in India. Mr Corbyn has been a consistent critic of Modi in the last few years.

modi-protestOn 12 November, a large demonstration was held against Modi in front of 10 Downing Street by mainly British Kashmiris as well as a number of Sikhs, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Sri Lankans. All these groups were protesting against Modi and his government’s intransigent and aggressive policies against their people. Under the Modi regime, the Kashmiris who have been struggling to achieve their fundamental right of self-determination for longer than half a century, claim to be suffering most grievously now from anti-Muslim overt policies of the present Indian government. The escalation of anti-Muslim sentiments in India, they believe their struggle for freedom will require more sacrifice of lives. Already more than eighty thousand men, woman and children are estimated to have been killed by the Indian security forces, numbering over three quarter of a million stationed there for the last 30 years.

modi-uk_0Mr Modi, who is well known as the butcher of Muslims during his reign as the chief minister of the Gujarat state in 2002, has recently been dubbed with the new title of ‘Hindu Taliban’ in an article written by Anish Kapoor in the Guardian. It is believed that Modi’s political shaping has greatly been influenced by his close association with the extreme militant Hindu organisations who have flourished in India since independence. Among the most bellicose of them are the Rashtriya Sawayam Sevak Sangh, Bajrang Dal and Bhartya Jan Sangh. Mahatma Gandhi, the symbol of none violence, peace and harmony was assassinated on 30 January 1948 by Nathuram Godsey, a militant Hindu and a prominent member of Mahasabha. Unfortunately, the resurgence of this mind-set is being supported and encouraged by the present government of BJP in India. Muslims and Christians are being forced into mass Hindu conversions and the suffocation of the freedom of expression, the raping of women and banning of consumption of beef are a few examples of Modi’s India. Some Muslims have been lynched and brutally murdered by fanatic Hindus because they were suspected of eating beef.

India, a so called secular country and the greatest democracy of the world, is fast becoming a land of intolerance, discrimination, violence and extremism where religious minorities have to live under oppression and the fear of losing their indentures and even their lives. Those who oppose these evil doings, are harassed and muzzled. The gravity of the current situation is noted by the world media too.

The history of India is imbued with a sense of grandeur, diversity, pathos, casteism, subjugation, polarisation, poverty and squalor. However, since its independence, most leaders of the country were sincere in developing India as a secular, modern and tolerant nation. Jawaharlal Nehru, on the sad occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, while addressing the nation said: ”Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere.” Once again, the clouds of darkness are hovering over India’s horizon. The return of the mind set which took the life of Gandhi is at work again. India’s secularism and unity can be at risk if the necessary steps to nip into the bud of this evil are not taken now.

Meanwhile, BJP, the ruling party, has recently faced the electoral defeat in the eastern state of Bihar and many of the individuals and civil liberty groups are openly opposing Modi’s state sponsored oppressive measures. The women organisations have also come out to agitate against some of the obsolete attitudes of the extremists. Such moves should be welcomed and supported by all freedom loving people.

Boasting by Modi while in London, about the fast growing Indian economy and its influence in the region, does not stand any scrutiny. The preponderance of Indian masses are still struggling with the drudgery of their existence. The country’s relations with its neighbours are at their lowest ebb. Recent escalation of skirmishes on the border with Pakistan were feared to be turned into another war between the two neighbours. Kashmir still remains a flash point. Separatist movements in the country under Modi are gaining strength.

Despite the spending of millions of pounds by Modi’s friends in London, helped by David Cameron, they failed to achieve their goal. Modi could not win any laurels for himself because he could not fool all the British people. He was only able to fool himself.

Judith Cummins has this morning challenged the Government to do more to help families save money on their increasingly unaffordable energy bills, with an estimated 28,724 households classified as “fuel poor” in Bradford.

The Bradford South MP challenged Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd MP, saying:

“With the withdrawal of government funding for the Green Deal Finance Company, it is now even harder for over-stretched families to afford energy efficiency schemes in their homes. With poor quality housing stock too often leaving families in fuel poverty, what funding does she plan to introduce to help families save money on their increasingly unaffordable energy bills?”

Speaking outside the House of Commons chamber, Bradford South MP, Judith Cummins says: “With the cold winter weather beginning to bite, I wanted to challenge the government to recognise the sheer scale of fuel poverty in our communities and the impact withdrawing government funding for the Green Deal Finance Company. It’s made it even harder for over-stretched families to afford energy efficiency schemes in their homes.

“It’s outrageous that nearly 30,000 families in Bradford are struggling to cope with their energy costs. The Government can and must do more to help people reduce their energy bills.

“The Government’s proposed cuts to Tax Credits could tip thousands of working families in Bradford over the edge, as they are already struggling to make ends meet.  This could result in even higher levels of fuel poverty in the future”.

 New research has been released yesterday by national charity Turn2us found that one in two low income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work.

Worryingly, of those households who are struggling with energy costs, nearly half (48%) have done so for more than a year. The knock-on effect is severe, with a third (33%) forced to skip meals and over a fifth (21%) experiencing stress and other mental health problems.

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