David Cameron Caught in Steel Trap: Former prime minister David Cameron is neck deep in trouble indirectly but ultimately over involvement in a company that financed steelmaker Sanjeev Gupta. Cameron is said to have sought advantages for the finance company Greensill, that was the main financial backer for Sanjeev Gupta’s Liberty Steel and its parent company, the GFG Alliance. Cameron is facing a double set of accusations –that he favoured the company when he was Prime Minister, and secondly that after quitting as PM following the Brexit vote, he joined Greensill to then lobby government leaders for support for the company. The lobbying did not in the end help Greensill or Liberty – but it has damaged Cameron. An inquiry is under way.
UK-India Talks to Focus on ‘Drinking and Driving’: Boris Johnson’s due visit to India is expected to produce a grand announcement of a trade agreement. That must include, the Financial Times reports, concessions from India on import of cars and whisky. Boris Johnson’s keenness on lower duties on Scotch whisky is by now familiar. But in trade circles, so is the British push for lower duties on cars imported from Britain. For India concessions on both counts have been difficult thus far. Britain had pushed for both of these through talks on a free trade agreement with the EU earlier, as then a part of the EU. India resisted then on the grounds that tariff on imported Scotch is a major source of revenue, and concessions on importing cars will compromise the domestic car industry, struggling particularly now. The end of April should tell us who won what.
Trade with a 2030 Vision: New trade opportunities – once they get past the roadblocks in the way – are expected to lead to a commitment to double trade between India and Britain by 2030, under a Roadmap 2030 initiative due to be launched through Boris Johnson’s visit later this month. “India and UK are set to agree on a Roadmap 2030 for future relations,” the Indian High Commission said in a statement. “The 2030 vision is for revitalised and dynamic connect between people; re-energised trade, investment and technological collaboration; enhanced defence and security cooperation and closer engagement on regional issues - including the Indian Ocean Region and the Indo-Pacific.”
Mosque Helps Lessen Vaccine Hesitancy: A large mosque in the Tower Hamlets area of East London has become a centre for Covid vaccination during the Ramzan month. That move follows the setting up of Covid vaccination centres at several temples in London earlier. Hesitancy over vaccination was reported to be highest earlier among South Asians in Britain. The take-up has picked up once the vaccine is seen by many as a gift from God, and not inconsistent with faith.
Kerala’s Informal Ambassador to London Passes Away: No one quite brought Kerala to the London map as did Thekkumuri Haridas. A former official at the Indian High Commission, Haridas died in hospital after suffering a gastrointestinal disorder. Haridas set up a chain of landmark Keralite restaurants in London, the best known among them being the Malabar Junction. Haridas was a man for more than Kerala cuisine. He was the one to go to for anything to do with Kerala, including going to Kerala. In effect, he really was Kerala’s informal ambassador to London. A group of his admirers are planning a memorial meeting now that lockdown rules have begun to ease.