Opinion Op Ed 29 Oct 2018 Pickpockets in Londo ...
Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.

Pickpockets in London’s subway

Published Oct 29, 2018, 12:37 am IST
Updated Oct 29, 2018, 12:37 am IST
This may be the time for all oppressed women and men working for MPs to come together — and collectively fight the system!
Rudeness to the staff appears to be a common ailment, and in this time of #MeToo, according to a 155 page report published by Dame Laura Cox — there was ample evidence of inappropriate behaviour with women.
 Rudeness to the staff appears to be a common ailment, and in this time of #MeToo, according to a 155 page report published by Dame Laura Cox — there was ample evidence of inappropriate behaviour with women.

And while there is a suggestion to place an Asian (perhaps Noor Inayat Khan, who spied for the British during the second World War) on the new post-Brexit 50 pound note, isn’t it time that Indians in the UK proposed photographs of other icons — such as Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian member of Parliament in the UK, on a currency note? His achievement was a huge step forward in the 19th century, in the midst of Raj and racism. As we hope for more MPs from the Indian diaspora to be given important positions in the UK, we should remember him as someone who broke the glass ceiling, by actually entering Parliament, representing Finsbury Central. He even taught Gujarati at the University College of London! He is one of the few Indians to have streets named after him in London, Karachi and Mumbai…

Any other names of forgotten Indians who contributed to the UK who could be on that note? Let us add to the list, and be spoilt for choice!

 

And this is a warning for all those who are coming to the UK — do be careful with your wallets and valuables, especially on the Tube. And I would also add buses to the list , as there seems to be a gang of very efficient pick-pockets around. A special target is mobile phones. Now the top 10 “pickpocketing zones” have been revealed and Central and Piccadilly lines are right at the top — with the favourite time to steal being the rush hours between five and seven in the evening .

As my own family members have had their mobile phones snitched just after getting out of the Tube at Leicester Square and whilst getting on to a bus at Strand — all one can say is that the field is wide open for the nimble fingered. We even accosted one suspect after we found the phone was gone, but backed off fast: that could have been dangerous, as the man was larger and more muscular than us. The police, to whom the case was reported, were sincere but helpless . Stay out of crowded areas — and keep everything zipped up is all they can offer as an antidote…

 

A few years back, I had tried to register a case when my mobile phone was stolen, along with my credit cards. Not that anything happened. But now, with two mobile phones stolen from people I know in the last few months, it makes me think that something (or someone) rather more serious is at hand — (a bad pun, but there you are !) They say that thieves look for Indians, especially at Diwali time…

If we thought Indian MPs can be overbearing and often badly behaved, think again. Stories have been pouring out from the British Parliament about MPs being rude towards their staff, or making them do work (including shopping for socks, and looking after pets!) they were not meant to be doing. The MPs who hire this staff from a generous allowance given to them have also been generally wasting public money — as a few of them (shockingly for some) have even been caught playing computer games when they should be working.

 

Rudeness to the staff appears to be a common ailment, and in this time of #MeToo, according to a 155 page report published by Dame Laura Cox — there was ample evidence of inappropriate behaviour with women. Male MPs were accused of everything from patriarchy to landing unwanted kisses. Right now, no one has been sacked, but the message has gone through. Hopefully the perpetrators are shivering in their pants (or should it be underwear?) — as sooner, rather than later, it is possible the women abused will reveal their names. John Bercow, the House of Commons speaker, has also been hauled up and there are alleged demands for his resignation — or removal from the job. This may be the time for all oppressed women and men working for MPs to come together — and collectively fight the system!

 

Now I know how attached all Londoners are to their pubs, but do we really want to get married there ? Will people do anything for a tipple? According to reports, the chancellor Philip Hammond might try to earn an extra pound or two for the economy by allowing marriages in pubs, as it will boost the hospitality sector, and possibly add a bit more fizz, crackle and pop to a solemn ceremony. But wait, as dangers lurk! — what will the church say if all get too merry, and who gets married to whom might become an issue, if drunken revelry takes over! I can just visualise everyone literally toasting the bride again and again. The possible financial loss as Brexit looms might make the chancellor think of ever innovative measures. Certainly pubs will earn a lot of money, and it might be rather fun…

 

Meanwhile, it is time for farewells — and we have to say that the outgoing Indian high commissioner Yash Sinha brought gravitas and sincerity to the job. He and his wife Girija will be much missed — not just for the connection they made with the local diaspora — but for the ideas and support they gave. It has been a time of turmoil in the UK with Brexit around the corner — and therefore, it was an ideal time for the UK to examine an equal partnership with India. As we well know, this has not been an easy relationship, but with his hard work and insight, Mr Sinha got many initiatives underway, and was there for local initiatives. We will not forget the support he gave to the Gandhi Statue Memorial Trust, when the Trust donated money to local charities in the UK. But he also handled difficult situations such as when the Khalistanis were trying to make their presence felt. And we are thrilled for his encouragement for the exhibitions we are putting together in the UK for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre centenary next year. Everyone who has interacted with the Sinhas feel that they have given them personal attention!

 

The Sinhas will be missed — and Delhi’s gain will be our loss.

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