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Snippets from UK: After a Damp Squib in 2020, Baisakahi Fervour Returns as Covid Eases

Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel. (File photo/AP)

Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel. (File photo/AP)

From the British government extolling Sikhs to the Cairn Energy vs GoI case dragging on, a roundup of what's making news today.

A Tale of Two Baisakhis in Britain: This is the second Baisakhi in a row without a Nagar Kirtan in Punjabi Britain. The usual annual Baisakhi event through Southall past all the gurdwaras is quite an event. Many thousands come, to celebrate and to join the langar served by hundreds. Baisakhi last year became an occasion for sewa in crisis. The gurdwaras were the first, unsurprisingly, to prepare langar and then to take it to the homes of the needy when the first Covid crisis hit like an avalanche at this time last year. That langar sewa from gurdwaras continued all through the year — no one has quite the stamina for sewa that could even distantly match what the Sikhs do. This year cases have plunged to a record low, half the nation is vaccinated already. Now the caution is more about being circumspect. Rightly of course.

Reaching out to Sikhs: “I am very much hopeful that this is the last time we will have to undertake these distanced forms of celebration,” Home Secretary Priti Patel said while wishing a happy Baisakhi to Punjabis in Britain, in India, and around the world. British Sikhs, she noted, have been “a keystone of British lives for 160 years. Baisakhi, she said, is a great occasion to “take time to reflect on the birth of Sikhism and celebrate the diverse and successful British Sikh community in the United Kingdom.” Many will welcome the hint of a political undertone to the festive greetings.

Warning against Khalistanis: Lord Rami Ranger, chairman of the British Sikh Association, sent Baisakhi greetings with a suggestion that people “shun misguided Sikhs.” The misguided surely are a handful of Khalistanis who have been increasingly shrill of late in pushing their suspect case. Lord Ranger believes that their kind of agenda is not just against India but against Sikhism. “They are going totally against the teaching of Sikh Gurus, and their actions diminish the respect of Sikh Gurus and their followers in the world.” He added that Baisakhi is not just for Sikhs but for all of India to celebrate because “it was the Brotherhood of Khalsa that stopped the relentless invasion of India via the Khyber pass and saved Indian civilisation.”

Complaints Pour in for ‘Too Much’ Coverage of Philip’s Death: It’s just possible that the passing of Prince Philip has been mourned in some places more than in Britain. The BBC is reported by The Sun newspaper to have received more than 100,000 complaints about its coverage of Prince Philip. The complaints were not that the coverage was too little, but that it was too much. BBC dropped many of its usual programmes across its channels for extensive coverage of Prince Philip, to delve into his many-layered life. But as coverage continued, viewing dropped. And with that, complaints rose. The mourning also did not quite dampen the enthusiasm with which the British rushed to shops that opened Monday after a long lockdown.

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Cairn Energy vs Government of India: Cairn Energy is said to be in advanced talks with the Indian government to settle an ongoing dispute under which it has been awarded a 1.2 billion dollar payment from the Indian government by an international tribunal in The Hague. The payment was awarded over the sale of Cairn shareholdings by the Indian government in order to claim what it says were tax dues payable by Cairn. The Indian government lost the argument before the tribunal and has now appealed against it. But talks to seek an out-of-court settlement continue. One proposal on the table is for the government to be spared 500 million dollars in costs and interest that was additionally awarded by the tribunal in The Hague. Another proposal reportedly on the table, short of any agreement, is that Cairn would invest in India what the Indian government pays.

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first published:April 13, 2021, 18:20 IST