Everyday’s Top News – UKMALAYALEE

Everyday’s Top News

Wanted by Interpol: International rationalist Sanal Edamaruku from Finland confident that he hasn’t done anything wrong and wants to leave it to the courts to decide (Exclusive)

By Balagopal (ukmalayalee.com)

LONDON July 5: Sanal Edamaruku is a prominent rationalist who has been residing in Finland following him seeking exile there after a court case in India. As a rationalist Sanal’s activities were to expose the “miraculous” feats of holy men as tricks but finally he fell in trouble after being accused of blasphemy. Continue reading “Wanted by Interpol: International rationalist Sanal Edamaruku from Finland confident that he hasn’t done anything wrong and wants to leave it to the courts to decide (Exclusive)”

India bans international flights till July 31, Will allow some planes on select routes (Read Govt Circular)

By A Staff Reporter
NEW DELHI July 3: The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday issued a revised circular and extended the ban on all international commercial flights to and from India till July 31.
Meanwhile, the government will continue to conduct Vande Bharat Mission to bring back stranded Indians abroad, a circular issued by the Indian government said.
“In partial modification of circular dated 26-06-2020, the competent authority has extended the validity of circular issued on the subject cited above regarding Scheduled International commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of 31st July, 2020,” the DGCA stated in its circular.
The aviation regulator, however, also clarified that some scheduled international flights may be allowed on a “case to case” basis on select routes. Meanwhile, all international cargo operations and DGCA-approved flights will continue as per normal schedule.
The central government had already mentioned in its guidelines for Unlock 2 that international flights will resume after July 15 only on case to case basis.
The demand for international flights has been increasingly escalating as many Indians stuck in parts of the world have been trying to return to their families in India.

India in talks with US, UK, Canada, others to resume international flights through ‘Air Bubbles’: UK govt to publish today list of 60 countries opened for travel from 10th July

New Delhi July 3: India is in talks with US and Canada and countries in European and Gulf regions on establishing individual bilateral bubbles which will allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights, said Arvind Singh, Chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI), PTI reported.

Advice for UK visa applicants, temporary UK residents and British nationals outside of UK (Updated on 1st July)

By A Staff Reporter

LONDON July 2: The UK government website on 1st April has updated their advice for visa customers and applicants in the UK, visa customers outside of the UK and British nationals overseas who need to apply for a passport affected by travel restrictions associated with coronavirus.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 July 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
You must request an extension by (https://gov.smartwebportal.co.uk/homeoffice/public/ho_form.html) updating your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you cannot leave the UK at present but are not planning to stay in the UK in the long term.
If you’ve already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020, your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020. You are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK before this date where it is possible to do so.
If you’re applying to stay in the UK long-term
You can apply from the UK to switch to a long-term UK visa until 31 July 2020 if your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020. This includes applications where you would usually need to apply for a visa from your home country.
You can also apply from the UK if your leave expires after 31 July 2020 but you urgently need to make a new application, for example to start a new job or course of study, and cannot leave the UK to make an application from overseas.
This includes applications to switch into a different work route or to change jobs in the same route using a new Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). You’ll need to meet the requirements of the route you’re applying for and pay the UK application fee.
This includes those whose leave has already been extended to 31 July 2020.
You can apply online. The terms of your leave will remain the same until your application is decided.
Application and Service Centres in the UK
Some UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) have reopened for existing customers. You can check which UKVCAS centres are open (https://www.gov.uk/ukvcas)
Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are offering a reduced number of appointments because of coronavirus. As more appointments are made available UKVI will invite you to arrange an appointment by email or post. https://www.gov.uk/visas-and-immigration-service-and-support-centres
For further information on various other visa categories please visit the following link

Malayalees Stranded in UK’s Whatsapp group’s consistent efforts and liaisons with High Commission leads to more flights to Kochi

By A Staff Reporter

LONDON June 30: Malayalees Stranded in UK’s Whatsapp group, led by Anoop Sasidharan and Sanjay Menon, which was created to help and assist repatriate those stranded Malayalees and Indians in UK is entering its third month since it was created. In the last two months, the group has been the mainstay for those stranded to be provided information about flights and bookings and then following it up with providing help and assistance throughout the whole journey.

Sanjay Manon has been in the forefront in liaising with the Indian High Commission in London and with Air India and bringing to their attention the situation with those stranded and also constantly keeping them informed about those numbers still stranded in the UK.
Sanjay’s consistent and persistent efforts have paved way for the High Commission and Air India to allot flights to Kochi as part of the Vande Bharath Mission to repatriate those stranded from the UK. He kept updating the Indian High Commission about the total numbers still stranded and alerting them that there are persons who are unwell and require to be reaching Kerala as a matter of emergency.
Bookings open online at http://airindia.in today (30th June) at 9am UK time. Scroll below to read step by step instructions to book a ticket from the website created by Malayalees Stranded in UK Whatsapp group admin Sanjay Menon. Join Malayalees Stranded in UK Whatsapp Group Click
It has to be noted that Phase 1 of the Vande Bharath Mission did not include a flight to Kochi. However, in Phase 2 of the Mission only a single direct flight was allotted to Kochi on May 19, 2020. This was the time when the Whatsapp group got active with coordinating those stranded and sharing information to help and assist those looking to secure a flight.
It was realised soon that without lack of coordination and liaisons with government officials there wouldn’t be more flights allocated. This realisation led to Sanjay and Anoop collating further information about those stranded and sharing it with the authorities concerned.
Thus when Phase 3 was announced three flights were allocated to Kochi on 18th June, 24th June and 30th June. Finally the group, which is now entering into the third month of its operation, was able to secure two more flights in Phase 4 of the Vande Bharath Mission. Two flights are  now allotted from London to Kochi on 10th July and 12th July.
The group has been consistent in providing support and assistance throughout the last two months. The group has also been involved in allaying fears when misinformation was shared or news which created confusion among those stranded and waiting to depart.
More volunteers have joined leading to more coordinated works with helping out each and every person by providing information and also setting up volunteer groups for each flight to ensure safety and well being of those vulnerable thus all those who are travelling are taken care off.
The group set ups different groups for those booking for different flights and thus the main group Malayalees Stranded in UK Whatsapp group had sub groups i.e. May 19 Whatsapp Group, June 18 Whatsapp Group, June 24 Whatsapp Group, June 30 Whatsapp Group and now two more will be created namely July 11 Whatsapp Group and July 12 Whatsapp Group. Once someone joins the main group Malayalees Stranded in UK Whatsapp Group they will receive help and assistance to book onto one of those days.
Once the booking is secured they get moved onto the respective groups from where further volunteer list are created after identifying the vulnerable travelling by that particular flight. Those who have travelled will also return the favour to the group by doing a blog of their journey for those rest of those stranded to learn and understand on how the journey is and also what are the requirements at the airport, experience throughout the flight, stopovers and finally the quarantine experience back in Kerala.
It has been two months now that the group has been consistently providing information and therefore this website wishes the group all the best to those volunteers who have been selflessly working to help those needy at such difficult times. To Join Malayalees Stranded in UK Whatsapp Group Click https://chat.whatsapp.com/LLckNs8qd5SISUTpZ54wDd
Step by step instructions to book a ticket from the website

Covid exposed weaknesses of growth-obsessed capitalist economies: World needs “Degrowth” for a better life: Dr Jason Hickel

By Balagopal

The Corona pandemic has put the world at standstill. World leaders are  to bring back normalcy. But if you rethink, was our world normal? Our world was fraught with several crisis. Our way of life was unsustainable causing huge inequalities. Now a group of more than 1,100 experts and over 70 organizations from more than 60 countries, including from India, have written an open letter questioning the world’s strategy, and suggesting a transformative change as we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped us all.

The letter highlights the fact that the Coronavirus exposed many weaknesses of our growth-obsessed capitalist economy – insecurity for many, healthcare systems crippled by years of austerity and the undervaluation of some of the most essential professions. The experts argue that this system, rooted in exploitation of people and nature, which is severely prone to crises, was nevertheless considered normal.

The experts suggest that in order to start a transition towards a radically different kind of society, rather than desperately trying to get the destructive growth machine running again, that economies should build on past lessons taking advantage of the abundance of social and solidarity initiatives that have sprouted around the world these past months. They argue that we should save people and the planet rather than bail out the corporations like we did during the 2008 financial crisis, and emerge from this crisis with measures of sufficiency instead of austerity.

The signatories of this letter offer five principles for the recovery of our economy and the basis of creating a just society. According to them to develop new roots for an economy that works for all, we need to:

1. Put life at the centre of our economic systems 2. Radically revaluate how much and what work is necessary for a good life for all 3. Organize society around the provision of essential goods and services 4. Democratise society and 5. Base political and economic systems on the principle of solidarity.

The letter summarises by saying “as long as we have an economic system that is dependent on growth, a recession will be devastating. What the world needs instead is Degrowth – a planned yet adaptive, sustainable, and equitable downscaling of the economy, leading to a future where we can live better with less. The current crisis has been brutal for many, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, but it also gives us the opportunity to reflect and rethink”. Therefore, the new big idea which is shaping out all over the world is “Degrowth”.

Balagopal, editor of www.ukmalayalee.com, on behalf of “Kerala Calling” spoke to economic anthropologist Dr Jason Hickel, one of the signatories of the letter, and also author of “Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World”, which is due to be published in August 2020.

Dr Jason Hickel is also author, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  He is a Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London. He serves on the Labour Party task force on international development, the Statistical Advisory Panel for the Human Development Report 2020, the advisory board of the Green New Deal for Europe, and on the Lancet Commission on Reparations and Redistributive Justice.

Excerpts from the interview.

Q: Can you please tell us what is “Degrowth” and about your new book which is coming out in August 2020, titled “Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World?” Do you think Kerala is best positioned to learn from degrowth and improve on their economy?

The world has awoken to the fact that we are facing an extraordinary crisis of climate change and ecological breakdown. Now we have to face up to its primary cause. Our economic system – capitalism – is fundamentally dependent on constant growth, ever-increasing levels of extraction and production and consumption, which is burning through the living world.

Not growth for any particular purpose, but growth for its own sake, indefinitely.  Of course, to some extent growth can be useful.  It can be used to reduce poverty, for instance.  But it eventually reaches a point where it becomes extremely destructive and causes much more harm than good.

The important thing to realise is that this crisis is not being caused by everyone equally.  Most nations in the global South consume at levels that are well within planetary boundaries. It is high-income nations that are the problem here, which have extremely high levels of resource use, vastly in excess of planetary boundaries.  This is a problem for the global South.

Half of all the resources that high-income nations consume are extracted from the South, where it contributes to deforestation, pollution and other forms of ecological breakdown.  The same is true when it comes to climate change.

High-income nations have contributed the vast majority of historical emissions, and yet the effects of climate change disproportionately hurt the South. It is a matter of environmental injustice. So if we want to have a decent shot at averting climate catastrophe and reversing ecological breakdown, then high-income nations have to actively reduce their use of resources.  This is known as “degrowth”.

This requires shifting to a post-capitalist economy – an economy that does not rely on constant growth just to stay afloat.  In my new book, Less is More, I describe what this looks like and how to get there. The good news is that we can do this while at the same time improving people’s lives. As we scale down excess production we can shorten the working week and introduce a job guarantee to maintain full employment.

We can retrain workers to move them from sunset industries like fossil fuels and automobiles to socially necessary sectors like renewable energy and public healthcare.

We can share existing income more fairly, with a living wage policy and progressive taxation on top incomes, and we can invest in universal public services to ensure people can access the goods they need to live a flourishing live.

In Less is More I show how this approach can enable us to end poverty and achieve long, healthy, happy lives for all.  As rich countries degrow, this will release the global South from the pressure of extractivism and climate change.  Degrowth is a process of decolonization.

The interview first was published on Kerala Calling, a Kerala government publication

Q: What about the global South, and places like Kerala?

The important lesson is that we must reject the Western development model that sees GDP growth as the highest value.  Instead, we need to focus on the things we actually want to achieve: better health, better education, good wages, healthy food, a stable environment. If this requires some growth, within planetary boundaries, so be it.  So long as growth is never our objective, in and of itself.  This is what I call “post-growth” development.

Q: The success Of an economy or country lies in successful human development with less ecological impact. However, there is no growth in Kerala’s economy due to not much industries or businesses opening up which lessens the impact on its ecology. Is this the best time for Kerala to review its approach to economic growth and how can they materialise this?

Last year I worked with colleagues in ecological economics to develop the Sustainable Development Index (www.sustainabledevelopmentindex.org).  It starts with the UN’s Human Development Index and adjusts it for ecological impact (consumption-based CO2 emissions and resource use).

This way the countries that have high human development but low ecological impact rise to the top. We can also add sub-national regions to the list, like Kerala, and different US states.

If we do this, we see that Kerala is toward the top of the ranking, in the top 15.  India is 56 and China is 101.  People often look to China as a model for development, but China’s ecological impact is extremely high.  Kerala is a much better model for sustainable development, along with Costa Rica and Sri Lanka.

It might seem that Kerala’s strong result must be because 30 per cent of its income comes from remittances abroad, so there is less domestic industry.  But the SDI is a consumption-based measure that corrects for this.  Even if Kerala had that 30 per cent income from extra domestic industry, the result would be the same.

Q: But Kerala is beginning to reach planetary boundaries. What is the best way to continue improving human development without causing ecological damage?

The first and most important thing is to continue to extend high quality universal public healthcare and education for all.  This is the ticket to long, healthy and happy lives.  The next step is to distribute income more fairly.

Kerala has extremely high rates of inequality – one of the worst in India.
By distributing income more fairly, you can improve the lives of ordinary people without needing any additional GDP growth. So, Kerala could introduce a “maximum wage” policy, where any incomes in excess of a given multiple (say, 10x or 20x) of the minimum wage face a 100% tax.   This will create an immediate incentive to raise the minimum wage as high as it can reasonably go.

Q: Do you advise that countries should stop measuring the indictor of progress of their economies through the GDP as it will not give the true outcome and its only measuring the welfare of capitalism? Please explain why and what is the best possible options available to measure an economies success?

GDP is a very flawed measure.  It counts up the monetary value of all the stuff we extract and produce and consume, but it does not count the costs.

If you destroy a forest for timber, GDP goes up but it does not count the cost of losing that forest as a habitat for endangered species or as a sink for carbon.  If you strip a mountain for coal, GDP goes up but it does not count the costs of the emissions. If you make people work longer hours then GDP goes up, but it does not count the social and psychological costs of overwork.  So it is imperative that we replace GDP with a more reasonable measure.

There is one called the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), which starts with GDP and subtracts social and ecological costs.  This is used by some countries, and even some states in the US.

When politicians seek to maximize GPI, they are incentivized to maximize social goods while minimizing ecological bads.  Kerala could introduce such a measure!

Q: Coronavirus has already exposed many weaknesses of growth-obsessed capitalist economies. It is a definite that people will be for governments to prioritise health and wellbeing over economic growth. How can people be made aware that the present governments are following the culture of accumulation of capital rather than human welfare? How will people be able to put pressure on governments to redefine their approach towards economy?

We must ask ourselves, if the economy does not deliver human well-being and ecological stability, then what actually is the point?  Why should we tolerate an economy that is geared primarily toward the interests of capital, and the rich, rather than to humans and the non-human beings with which we share this planet?

We need to demand a more rational, more humane economic system.  Perhaps the government of Kerala will give some thought to this, and show the world that there is another way?  Some countries are already moving in this direction.

New Zealand recently announced that it will no longer be pursuing GDP growth but will instead organize government policy around improving human well-being.  Scotland followed suit, and Iceland. Will Kerala be next?

Q: There are many critics who say that there isn’t an alternative to capitalism in the present times due to globalisation? Do you think governments can act in solo towards de-growth?

It might seem that there is no alternative to capitalism, because capitalism is all we know.  When we think about evolving beyond capitalism it can seem scary.  What will it be like?  But in reality is neither difficult nor scary.

A post-capitalist economy is quite simply an economy that prioritizes the well-being of humans over the well-being of capital.  It is an economy that does not require endless growth, and endlessly increasing ecological impact, in order to deliver flourishing lives for all.

Can governments act solo toward de-growth?  of course they can.  There is nothing to stop them.

Q: Only with a sensible government who care for the needs of the people will be able to give quality of life. How can we replace those leaders who are only interested in the economic interest with those who are progressive and looks after the welfare of its people?

Real democracy is the answer.  A recent study by scientists at Harvard and Yale found that the vast majority of people – around 70 per cent – will always choose to share wealth fairly and sustain our planet’s ecology for future generations.

In our existing political systems, this desire is overridden by the selfish minority – and they can do it because in many cases they control the media, and they donate large sums to political campaigns.

So we need to get big money out of politics, we need to democratize our media, so that we can have an open, democratic discussion about what we actually want the economy to look like and what we want it to deliver.

When we do, we will find that the economy will look very different than the economy we presently have.

Balagopal is editor of www.ukmalayalee.com

Priyaa Lal: Keralite talent from Liverpool has all the glitz and glamour to make it big in south Indian showbiz

By Balagopal

Priyaa Lal is in Kochi pursuing her desires and doing what she likes most by being in the buzz of the entertainment hub in Kerala. But she cannot keep away from her hometown Liverpool. Last week she was watching the English Premier League’s final decider between Liverpool and Everton. Continue reading “Priyaa Lal: Keralite talent from Liverpool has all the glitz and glamour to make it big in south Indian showbiz”

These stunning hand-drawn portraits from Keralite couple in the UK are not capturing images but souls too

By A Staff Reporter

LONDON June 26: Drawing pictures are like raising a baby as that’s the care given to a portrait for it to be brought to life. This couple from Slough in London, Sreejith and Deepa, both give the same care to the pictures they give life to. Continue reading “These stunning hand-drawn portraits from Keralite couple in the UK are not capturing images but souls too”

India government issues revised standard operating procedures for chartered flights to India

NEW DELHI June 25: The repatriation process of stranded Indians from across the globe has been underway for a long time now. The DGCA earlier had also tweeted a list of airlines and their operations which showed that dozens of flights were being operated under the Vande Bharat mission.

US says Air India repatriation flights are unfair: India govt may allow other flights to operate

By A Staff Reporter
LONDON June 24: The US Department of Transportation has barred Air India from operating chartered flights between India and the United States from July 22 without its prior approval, according to an Order issued by the Department of Transportation on 22nd day of June.