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Tag Archives: India

UK withdraws judge from UN court of justice seat bid

International Court of Justice sitting in the Hague on 16 December 2015Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption ICJ judges sitting in the Hague in December 2015

The UK is to lose its seat on the International Court of Justice for the first time since the United Nations’ principal legal body began in 1946.

Sir Christopher Greenwood was hoping to be elected for a second nine-year term on the bench of 15 judges in the Hague.

The government withdrew his candidacy after six rounds of votes with India‘s Dalveer Bhandari ended in a deadlock.

Sir Christopher was backed by the UN Security Council but his rival was chosen by the General Assembly.

A successful candidate needs to gain a majority of support in both bodies.

The UK‘s move means Mr Bhandari will be able take up a position on the ICJ, alongside four other judges already elected.

‘Close friend’

The UK government had considered invoking a little known arbitration process but in the end chose to take Sir Christopher out of the race.

The British ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, said he was “naturally disappointed”.

Mr Rycroft said: “The UK has concluded that it is wrong to continue to take up the valuable time of the Security Council and the UN General Assembly with further rounds of elections…

“If the UK could not win in this run-off, then we are pleased that it is a close friend like India that has done so instead. We will continue to cooperate closely with India, here in the UN and globally.”

He said the UK would continue to support the work of the ICJ “in line with our commitment to the importance of the rule of law in the UN system and in the international community more generally”.

Shift in power

France and Russia, which along with the UK, US and China make up the permanent members of the UN Security Council, have also lost positions recently on UN bodies.

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said the UK’s withdrawal of its ICJ candidate will be seen by some as a shift in the balance of power at the UN away from the Security Council.

He added the move will also be viewed as a humiliating defeat for the UK and a symbol of its reduced status on the international stage, as well as a failure of diplomacy.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The UN security council is made up of five permanent and 10 non-permanent members

Our correspondent said Mr Rycroft appeared to be hinting the UK had backed down to avoid damaging its relations with India, adding the fact that many countries were willing to defy the UK by supporting a judge from another country would have been less likely a few years ago.

Many members on the General Assembly, which contains representatives from all UN countries, are said to have come to resent the way the Security Council has so much power, particularly the five permanent members.

The so-called Group of 77 – which represent a coalition of mostly developing nations – has long been pushing for greater influence.

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Consular staff meet Scottish activist held in India

Protest outside Foreign OfficeImage copyright Preet Kaur Gill
Image caption Hundreds of people protested outside the Foreign Office

A Scottish Sikh man being detained in India has met British consular staff, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, was taken from a street in the state of Punjab on 4 November.

He has not been charged with any crime and his lawyer claims his client has been tortured by police.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said they have also met with Mr Johal’s family and confirmed that he now has access to a lawyer.

The development came after hundreds of British Sikhs demonstrated outside the Foreign Office demanding the UK government did more to help him.

In a statement released last week, Indian police said they were holding Mr Johal on grounds of financing the purchase of weapons used in the killing of prominent Hindu leaders in Punjab.

The 30-year-old, who was in India for his own wedding, has denied the allegations.

He appeared in court the day after his arrest and he is due back in court on Friday.

Image copyright Sikh Channel
Image caption Jagtar Singh Johal has been held since 4 November

Mr Johal’s lawyer claims his client has been given electric shocks and subjected to “body separation techniques”.

The Sikh Federation has criticised the UK government’s response to Mr Johal’s detention.

Last week the Federation said it feared Mr Johal had been targeted over his work highlighting the Sikh genocide in 1984 and amid claims he was “influencing the youth through social media”.

In a statement, they urged Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to meet with Mr Johal’s family and make representations to his Indian counterpart.

They have also asked for reassurances that a representative of the British High Commission will be in court on Friday.

Buddha tattoo woman Naomi Coleman wins compensation

Naomi ColemanImage copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Naomi Coleman was deported from Sri Lanka

A woman who was deported from Sri Lanka for having a tattoo of the Buddha on her arm has won compensation from the country’s Supreme Court over her treatment.

Naomi Coleman, from Coventry, took legal action after being detained for four days in April 2014.

She was granted compensation and costs amounting to 800,000 Sri Lankan rupees – around £4,000.

Officers involved in her arrest were also ordered to pay her compensation.

‘Really frightened’

Ms Coleman’s lawyer, JC Weliamuna told the BBC her deportation had been “contrary to the law governing immigration and emigration”.

Speaking after her return to the UK, Ms Coleman, who was arrested at Bandaranaike International Airport in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, said the detention had left her “really frightened”.

“I was told I had to go to court and then I started to get really worried,” she said at the time.

Following Ms Coleman’s deportation order, she spent a night in prison in Negombo and two nights in a detention centre while security checks were carried out.

She said she told police she practised Buddhism and had attended meditation retreats and workshops in Thailand, India, Cambodia and Nepal.

Sri Lankan authorities take strict action against perceived insults to Buddhism, which is the religion of the island’s majority ethnic Sinhalese.

Family flies in to help celebrate Girlington woman’s 105th birthday

FAMILY members from as far as India and Canada flew in to help a Girlington woman celebrate her 105th birthday.

Kartari Chand celebrated reaching the grand age on Saturday with a party at her home.

Kartari and her husband Karam were thought to have been the world’s longest married couple, having celebrated their 90th anniversary in 2015. Karam died last September at the incredible age of 110.

The couple’s impressive achievement meant they were guests-of-honour at many community events, and had even been invited to open The Broadway Shopping Centre in 2015.

Originally from a rural area of India, the couple moved to Bradford in 1965.

Her family is spread around the world, but regularly come to Bradford to mark significant birthdays and anniversaries.

Son Paul Chand said: “We are a very close family, we had relatives coming from India and Canada to help celebrate this day.

“We hope she’ll reach 110. It was a wonderful day for the family, she had a really good time.”

England win U17 World Cup: Young Lions fight back to beat Spain in final

Highlights: England beat Spain to win U17 World Cup

England produced a sensational performance to come from 2-0 down to thrash Spain 5-2 and win the Under-17 World Cup in India.

The Three Lions had never gone beyond the quarter-finals in the tournament before but emulated England U20s who won their World Cup in June.

The margin of victory did not flatter Steve Cooper’s side, who were superb throughout and could consider themselves unlucky to fall behind to a double from Barcelona forward Sergio Gomez.

Heads did not drop, and from the moment Wolves forward Morgan Gibbs White added to Rhian Brewster’s eighth goal of the tournament to equalise, England looked the most likely to go on and win.

Phil Foden, an outstanding talent for Manchester City and the man of the match, stole in at the back post to put England ahead, and slotted in the fifth late on with a neat shot.

Chelsea defender Marc Guehi also got on the scoresheet, prodding home the fourth from close range, as England avenged Spain’s victory in the European Championship final back in May.

Who starred?

Jubilant England players gatecrash interview

The stereotypical roles of the two nations were reversed, as England bossed possession and Spain looked to hit on the counter, a tactic that worked as Gomes twice profited from half-cleared balls inside the area.

Those goals were two of just five Spanish efforts on target though, while England had 25 shots on goal, 11 of which found the target.

Liverpool striker Brewster secured the tournament’s golden boot with the header that put the game back within reach but it was the players just behind him who really stood out.

In player of the tournament Foden and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, this England side had the players to seriously hurt Spain, almost at will in the second half.

Fulham right-back Steven Sessegnon also impressed, setting up the first two goals with powerful overlapping runs, while another major player, Jadon Sancho, was not involved at all after being recalled by new club Borussia Dortmund.

Sancho has already made his Bundesliga debut. How long until we see some of this squad playing in the Premier League? Foden, for example, was told by his Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola that he would have played in the League Cup this week had he not gone to India.

Are England on the up?

It may be 21 years since England’s senior men’s team reached the last four of a major tournament, and the Football Association may be having a bad time of things off the pitch, but on it, at all other levels, the signs are good.

England won the European Under-19 Championship with a 2-1 victory over Portugal in Georgia in July, the Under-20s won the World Cup in June, Aidy Boothroyd’s Under-21s lost on penalties to Germany (some things never change) at the semi-final stage this summer and this Under-17 side lost the Euros final to Spain on penalties in May.

Morgan Gibbs White is one of the few members of the squad with first-team experience, with seven Championship appearances for Wolves last season

Under Mark Sampson England’s women reached the semi-finals of the last World Cup and European Championship.

Does this victory mean that success for the senior men’s team could be close?

Four years ago then FA chairman Greg Dyke said England should aim to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and win the World Cup in 2022.

That may still seem a long shot but there is undoubtedly progress being made at youth levels.

England vs. major European rivals at major tournaments in 2017
Country Under-17 Euros Under-17 World Cup Under-19 Euros Under-20 World Cup Under-21 Euros
England Losing finalists (penalties) Winners Winners Winners Semi-finals (penalties)
France Quarter-finals Round of 16 DNQ Round of 16 DNQ
Germany Semi-finals Quarter-finals Group stages Round of 16 Winners
Italy Group stages DNQ DNQ Semi-finals Semi-finals
Spain Winners Losing finalists DNQ DNQ Losing finalists

Man of the match – Phil Foden (Manchester City & England)

Pep Guardiola said in pre-season “it’s a long time since I saw something like this” after Foden impressed. How long until he gets a chance in the Premier League? Silky on the ball, a strong runner with an eye for a pass and a goal. Deservedly named player of the tournament.

Line-ups & stats

England: Anderson (Man City); Sessegnon (Fulham), Guehi (Chelsea), Latibeaudiere (Man City), Panzo (Chelsea); McEachran (Chelsea), Oakley-Booth (Tottenham); Foden (Man City), Gibbs White (Wolves), Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea); Brewster (Liverpool)

Spain: Fernandez (Malaga); Jaume (Barcelona), Chust (Real Madrid), Guillamon (Valencia), Miranda (Barcelona); Blanco (Real Madrid), Moukhliss (Real Madrid); Gelabert (Real Madrid), Gomez (Barcelona), Torres (Valencia); Ruiz (Barcelona)

Possession: England 52%, Spain 48%

Attempts: England 25, Spain 11

Shots on target: England 11, Spain 5

Fouls: England 7, Spain 16

The global shop

Globe, boxes and keyboard compositionImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Online shopping has become a $2.3tn global business

In 1995, someone sold a broken laser pen for $14 on a site called AuctionWeb. This was the rather inauspicious start for online shopping, an activity that now generates a colossal $2.3tn (£1.75tn) in global sales.

But these days, shoppers want to pay in any number of ways and this can cause headaches for retailers wanting to expand abroad; so what should they do?

Nigel Whiteoak is the co-founder of LoveCrafts, a virtual hub for knitting and crochet enthusiasts to share their creations and buy supplies.

Having a website rather than a bricks-and-mortar shop meant the team could sell their wares to the world. But taking payments for these international sales wasn’t proving straightforward.

“One of the biggest realisations we had when looking to expand was that credit card penetration is generally much lower in most markets outside the UK and US,” he explains.

“In Germany, open invoices are very common where you process the payment using a third party, deliver the goods directly to the customer, and then they pay that third party once we have delivered their crafts.

Image copyright LoveCrafts
Image caption LoveCrafts founder Nigel Whiteoak says selling abroad has significantly boosted sales

“Whereas in Brazil and Turkey they tend to use local credit cards and pay in instalments.”

These regional quirks were difficult to cater for.

But then he came across a Dutch payment company, Adyen, whose payment processing platform harnesses machine learning to customise the payment method depending on which country the buyer is in.

Adyen’s clients include heavyweights such as Netflix, Uber and Spotify, so Mr Whiteoak was surprised to find out how affordable its service was, with a minimum monthly invoice of $100 (£75) and transparent per-transaction processing and commission charges.

“Before we started selling outside of the UK we had a turnover of around £6.5m,” he says. “Last year we posted 10.9 million, and with the bulk of our sales coming from overseas, this growth is directly linked to our ability to offer local payment methods.”

Sales have grown 125% over the last three years, he says, proving that knitting and crochet is big business.

Image copyright LoveCrafts
Image caption LoveCrafts has found that people in different countries like to pay in different ways

Payment difficulties contribute to about 15% of online shoppers abandoning their virtual shopping baskets before completing the purchase, research suggests. That and difficult-to-navigate, fiddly websites.

Research from Barclaycard finds that while customers demand faster, more innovative and mobile-friendly ways to pay, the reality is one of declined cards, verification delays and annoying hidden transaction fees.

“Remove the need for consumers to set up an account first,” advises Greg Liset, Barclaycard’s head of small business, “and partner with suppliers that have reliable payment systems that work first time.

“Also, with online cross-border sales expected to soar over the next few years, being able to offer multiple currencies is essential.”

Knowing what payment options locals prefer is crucial to e-commerce success.

Research from 2Checkout finds that in the US, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and American Express still dominate the payments landscape.

But in other countries different favourite payment methods have emerged. For example, in China Alipay now accounts for 54% of online sales. In the Netherlands the iDEAL payment system is used for 44% of sales. In Japan, JCB and Konbini are popular.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Shoppers in different countries have their own favourite ways of paying

But in India many shoppers still prefer paying in cash. So Indian start-up BookMyTrain is aiming to simplify the online purchase of rail tickets by offering a cash-on-delivery payment option with its app, as many people in India don’t have payment cards.

It is also using chatbots to take customers through the booking process one step at a time.

Simon Johnson, general manager at software provider Freshworks, the firm providing the chatbots for BookMyTrain, says: “Most customers today use messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger because they like how you can keep a conversation going with whatever device they are using.

“You don’t have to be a massive company to personalise the experience more effectively and [smaller] retailers need to have that personal touch to compete with big e-commerce players.”

Other payment platforms besides Adyen helping online retailers sell globally with tailored experiences include 2Checkout (formerly Avangate), PayU, PayPal, Stripe and Braintree.

More Technology of Business

Image copyright Getty Images

Costs are usually transparent and related to sales volume. With PayPal, for example, retailers can expect to pay 2.9 % of the transaction value plus about 23p per order. Similarly, Stripe doesn’t charge extra for accommodating different cards or currencies with a flat rate of 1.4% plus 20p per transaction.

But selling abroad isn’t just about offering flexibility over ways to pay and support for multiple currencies, it’s also about understanding local customs and cultures, argues Nir Debbi, co-founder of e-commerce platform Global-e.

“A common pitfall for businesses marketing themselves abroad is a lack of awareness of the different cultural phenomena,” says Mr Debbi.

Planning for international shopping events such as Singles Day in China or Japan’s “lucky shopping bags” at New Year “can improve international conversion rates dramatically”, he says, “but you need the insight, local knowledge and access to these sales peaks to be able to plan and apply an appropriate strategy.”

Later in this e-commerce series we’ll explore the best ways for online businesses to market themselves.

Birstall family prepares for Diwali celebrations

A mother and daughter have spoken of their excitement ahead of Diwali – which is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, this year on 19 October.

The festival of light celebrates the victory of good over evil, and Leicester’s Diwali celebrations are thought to be one of the largest outside India.

Priti Raichura and her seven-year-old daughter Sia, from Birstall, took the BBC through their Diwali preparations.

Oxford tourist falls to death at Indian temple

OrchhaImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption Roger Stotesbury, 56, was visiting Orchha in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh

A British man has fallen to his death while taking a selfie at a temple in India during a year-long world trip.

Roger Stotesbury, 56, was visiting Orchha, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, with his wife Hilary on Friday when he plummeted 30ft (9m) from the Lakshmi temple.

The couple, from Oxford, were blogging about their “middle-aged gap year“.

The Foreign Office said it was providing assistance to the family of a British man following his death.

Mr Stotesbury’s family said the documentary maker had just finished taking shots of the scenery from the temple, about 160 miles south of the Taj Mahal.

The couple had been due to return to the UK this month, after completing their Indian adventure.

A family spokesman said: “They were the most happily married couple I have ever known. They were just so devoted to each other.”

Writing on their blog, ourmiddleagedgapyear.wordpress.com, Mr Stotesbury wrote that his motto was to “die young as late as possible”.

Tikamgarh Additional Suprintendent of Police, Rakesh Khakha, said: “He fell from the height of some 30ft while taking a selfie. He was taken to hospital, where he died.”

MPs urged by families to help Britons jailed in India

The 'Chennai Six'
Image caption (From top left, clockwise) Nick Dunn, Paul Towers, Nick Simpson, Ray Tindall, John Armstrong and Billy Irving

Relatives of six British seamen jailed in India four years ago have lobbied MPs to demand the government do more to help secure their release.

The six were arrested in October 2013 for taking weapons into India‘s territorial waters. They were convicted and jailed for five years in 2016.

The men deny any wrongdoing, saying the weapons were properly licensed.

A 405,000-signature petition calling for the “wrongly imprisoned” men to be freed has been handed in at Number 10.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Yvonne MacHugh, fiance of Billy Irving, and her two-year-old son, William delivered the petition with other relatives of the Chennai Six

Indian coastguards boarded their vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, while the men were working as security guards to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Charges against them and 29 other crew members were initially quashed when the men argued the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes.

However, a lower court reinstated the prosecution.

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The British men – all former soldiers – are:

Nick Dunn, from Ashington, Northumberland

Billy Irving, from Connel, Argyll

Ray Tindall, from Chester

Paul Towers, from Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire

John Armstrong, from Wigton, Cumbria

Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick, North Yorkshire

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Joanne Thomlinson, the sister of John Armstrong, said: “My fiveyear-old son hasn’t seen his uncle John since he was a baby, he only really remembers him from pictures.

“My brother tries to take one day at a time, he spends his days walking, he’s learning a foreign language, that’s how he gets through each day, he gives himself little milestones.”

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption A number of other guards on the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, mainly Estonians, have also been jailed

Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the matter on a visit to India and Britain’s High Commissioner in India has visited the men in jail in Chennai, but the families say Foreign Office diplomacy is not working.

Speaking to the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme, Mrs Thomlinson added: “We know they’ve raised this case over 50 times at ministerial level with Indian counterparts, but we want them to put more pressure on in these discussions.”

Lawyer Stephen Askins, who represents the imprisoned men, said: “It is extraordinary that it is the fourth anniversary of the arrest and the initial detention of these men.

“I can’t believe that any of us would have thought we would still be here, four years later, dealing with this.”

Campaigner for gender-neutral passports wins court challenge

Christie Elan-CaneImage copyright PA

A campaigner has been given the go-ahead to bring a High Court challenge against the government over gender-neutral passports.

Christie Elan-Cane wants passports to have an “X” category, which could be used by those who consider themselves neither fully male or female.

The campaigner has fought since 1995 for this right.

At a hearing in London, Mr Justice Gilbert granted Christie Elan-Cane permission to bring a judicial review.

A full hearing of the challenge to the government’s policy will now be held on a date to be fixed.

At the moment UK passport holders have to indicate whether they are male or female.

Last month, Canada became the latest country to offer citizens gender-neutral travel documents.

Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Nepal already have a third category.

Granting the petition, Mr Justice Gilbert said “I am satisfied this case passes the test for the grant of permission, and is arguable.”

Before the case Christie Elan-Cane wrote “My decision to pursue change through legal avenues was due to the political process having been tried and exhausted as the UK government evidently had no intention to seriously consider the issue”.