Category Archives: Society

What will turn Kolkata into a ‘London of the east’? A ferris wheel, of course – and a lick of paint

It’s hard to reboot a city when history is against you, so perhaps West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee is right – concentrate on the cosmetic stuff

Trade missions tend to be more noticed in their country of origin – more by the supplicant than by the supplicated. Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to Beijing this week, for example, was a story in Scotland and no more than a comma (if that) in China’s public attention span. The case is likewise for Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal, who arrived in London last weekend on a five-day trip that, among its scheduled highlights, included tea at Buckingham Palace – though only with Prince Andrew – and a meeting at the Foreign Office with the employment secretary, Priti Patel. The visit wasn’t without incident or interest: impromptu, Banerjee announced that she wanted her government to buy the Hampstead house where the greatest-ever Bengali, the poet Rabindranath Tagore, had stayed for a few months in 1912. But only in India was any of this reported. In London, not a jot or tittle appeared. Anyone who encountered her on of one her brisk strolls through London would have seen a small 60-year-old woman in a sari, a tourist perhaps, and not understood her as the political leader of a state of 91 million people, where the population of a single district, with a name you’ve never heard before, can easily outnumber that of Scotland, Ireland or Wales.

The state capital is Kolkata. The chief minister, who is known as “Didi” or “big sister”, has made a significant impact on the city since her party, the Trinamool [grass-roots] Congress, replaced the state’s long-serving Marxist government in 2011. Unlike the Marxists, the Trinamool party has no obvious political ideology other than the obligatory nod towards helping the poor. On the other hand, it cares passionately – and expensively – about how things look. Railings, gateposts and public buildings in Kolkata have been repainted in Didi’s favourite colours, blue and white, while an enormous programme of street lighting has installed three-stalked lamp standards in settlements all the way from the Bay of Bengal to the Himalayas. Like columns did for ancient Rome, they mark the reach of Didi’s empire – on an overnight train journey, you can fall asleep to the dim light of these tridents through your carriage window and wake up 300 miles later to find yet more of them shining palely in the morning mist. They must have cost billions of rupees and made someone, or perhaps several people, very rich.

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Posted in Asia, Global development, India, Kolkata, London, Society, Trade and development, Travel, World news | Comments Off

Primary school children to be target of anti-obesity strategy

Officials fear that by the time children reach 12 their lifestyles are set, making early intervention with parents and offspring criticalChildren of primary school age are to be the focus of an anti-obesity strategy to be unveiled this autumn, David Ca…
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Richard O’Brien returns to Rocky Horror Show for West End run

Stage show coming back to London for 11 performances in September with its creator appearing as narrator

Richard O’Brien, the creator of The Rocky Horror Show, is returning to the show as its narrator, the first time that he has appeared in the musical in the UK for more than 20 years.

Rocky Horror, a musical about an innocent couple, Brad and Janet, who come across an unhinged transvestite scientist who has created a handsome, muscled monster, began life with a limited run at London’s Royal Court theatre in 1973. It became a film in 1975 and the stage tour around the world has hardly stopped since.

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Posted in Culture, Musicals, Rocky Horror Show, Society, Stage, Theatre, transgender, UK news, World news | Comments Off

Kent social services struggling to cope with children seeking asylum

Council appeals to Home Office for urgent help with £5.5m funding shortfall as rise of number of under-18s needing foster care more than doubles in year

A dramatic rise has occurred in the number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum as the Calais migrant crisis has unfolded, leaving Kent social services struggling to cope, county council leaders have warned.

Kent county council has appealed to the Home Office and children’s services across the south of England for urgent help with a £5.5m funding shortfall and the “enormous strain” on social services, and for assistance in finding foster places for the children, who are on their own and as young as 12.

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Posted in Children, Immigration and asylum, Migration, Social care, Society, UK news, World news | Comments Off

Met police launch inquiry into Kids Company over child abuse claims

Investigation into charity founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh is being led by the Met’s sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command

Kids Company, one of Britain’s most high-profile children’s charities, is being investigated by the Metropolitan police over allegations involving child abuse and sexual exploitation.

The investigation into staff at the charity, which began on Thursday, is being led by the Met’s sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command.

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Prostate cancer twice as likely to kill black men as white men, study finds

Researchers say study suggests need to target black men for screening of prostate cancer, which is projected to become the UK’s most common cancer by 2030

Black men in England have twice the lifetime risk of both being diagnosed with – and dying from – prostate cancer compared with white men, according to a study by Public Health England and Prostate Cancer UK.

The research, published in the online journal BioMedicine on Thursday, also found that Asian men have about half the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with, and dying from, prostate cancer compared with white men in England.

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Posted in Cancer, Health, Health & wellbeing, Life and style, Medical research, Men's health, Prostate Cancer, Science, Society, UK news, World news | Comments Off

David Cameron vows crackdown on trafficking of Vietnamese children

Fact-finding mission will examine how to stop traffickers in Vietnam, while big UK firms will have to show how they are preventing human slaveryDavid Cameron is to promise a crackdown on the trafficking of Vietnamese children by ordering big British bu…
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Amnesty International says prostitution is a human right – but it’s wrong

“If the organization endorses prostitution as a human right, it won’t be supporting the women being sold, but rather the pimps and buyers of sex who have all the choice in the world”

Has Amnesty International been hijacked by proponents of the global sex trade? When the human rights nonprofit convenes its International Council Meeting next week in Dublin, delegates from around the world will be asked to vote on a proposal to recognize prostitution as a human right.

Amnesty is arguing that prostitution is a matter of free choice, a stance heavily promoted by the multibillion-dollar commercial sex industry. The group is putting forth the view that sex work is compatible with the principle of gender equality and nondiscrimination, as if it were a job like any other.

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Actors call on Amnesty to reject plans backing decriminalisation of sex trade

Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson and Lena Dunham among signatories of letter arguing that policy change would ‘legalise pimping’

A host of Hollywood stars, including Oscar-winning actors Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson, have lent their support to a campaign demanding that Amnesty International reject a proposal to endorse the decriminalisation of the sex trade.

The global human rights group is set to review an internal policy document on sex work at a meeting in Dublin next month, according to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).

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Posted in Amnesty International, Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Lena Dunham, Meryl Streep, Prostitution, Sex trade, Society, World news | Comments Off

Very premature or underweight babies risk becoming neurotic adults – study

Researchers say such babies, born weighing less than 1,500g or before 32 weeks of pregnancy, are more likely to grow into introverted and risk-averse adults

Children who were born very prematurely or were very underweight at birth are at risk of growing up to become introverted, neurotic and risk-averse adults, according to a new study.

The researchers, publishing in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, part of the BMJ group, say that adults born with very low birth weight are more likely to have what they describe as a “socially withdrawn personality”. They are easily worried, less socially engaged, less interested in risk-taking, and more rigid and poorer in communication. Their findings, they say, may explain why people born early or underweight are more likely to have difficulties in their career and relationships.

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Posted in Children, Health, Premature birth, Society, UK news, World news | Comments Off