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February 19, 2006
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February 19, 2006

Page: 20/33

Home > 2006 Issues > February 19, 2006

London Post
Asian rationalists in Britain challenge tantriks

By Prasun Sonwalkar

A group of rationalists of Indian origin here has offered ?10,000 to any tantrik or spiritual healer who can scientifically prove the ability to deliver the promise to cure people of any disease or solve any problem.

Newspapers catering to Asian and Afro-Caribbean readerships have several pages of advertisements from such practitioners, promising magical cures and manna to those who believe in spells and occult practices.

Lavkesh Prashar, president of the Asian Rationalist Society of Britain (ARSB), said such witch doctors and charlatans were exploiting the superstitious and gullible people from these communities and earning thousands of pounds every year.

The prize money was raised from ? 2,000 to ?10,000 at a meeting of the society in Birmingham on January 8, Prasher said. ?We challenge them to prove that they have magical powers under scientific conditions. They charge anything up to ? 300 for a simple chat and claim they can cure anything from serious illness to bad luck.

Dadabhai Naoroji on British currency notes

The image of Dadabhai Naoroji, the first ever Asian MP to enter the House of Commons in 1892, may soon be printed on British currency notes, if the recommendation of an influential Labour Party think-tank is accepted.

Naoroji was elected for the Liberal Party from Central Finsbury in London on July 1892. A Parsi, he refused to take the oath in the House on the Bible as he was not a Christian, but took the oath of office in the name of God on his small book of Avesta. He lost the next election in 1895.

The Fabian Society is considered close to Downing Street, and holds several conferences and meetings that are attended by senior leaders of the Labour Party.

Sunder Katwala, a journalist and general secretary of the society told the media: ?Our national symbols should reflect the nation we are today. The design of notes is not set in stone. Just having a debate about whether there should be a new mix of Black and White faces on them would be a positive development.?

Having images of prominent Asian and Afro-Caribbean people who contributed to British society is one of the recommendations of the society to create a new definition of Britishness.

It is also said to be in favour of getting rid of Florence Nightingale, Edward Elgar, and Charles Darwin from notes, or even remove the Queen?s face altogether. In their place could come Victorian black MPs, social pioneers like nurse Mary Seacole, anti-slavery campaigners like William Wilberforce or poets like Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

The recommendations were backed by historian Linda Colley, who is an adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Writing in the society?s journal Fabian Review, she said: ?Why are the people on British bank notes always White? Why not have Olaudah Equiano, the great 18th century anti-slavery writer.

Indian hospitals recruiting doctors in Britain

First Indian call centre began hiring British staff to work in India. Now specialised Indian hospitals are recruiting doctors in Britain to work in India where British patients have been flocking for fast and cheap treatment. Some companies have been doing brisk business arranging the medical treatment of British patients in India by offering a single-window facility by which the patients are taken care of right from Britain to India and back after treatment and recovery. Now for the first time an Indian hospital has launched a recruitment drive in the Midlands to hire doctors who are well versed with the British health system and who can interact and treat British patients who travel to India. According to the Birmingham based Sunday Mercury, the Kolkata-based private AMRI Hospital has enlisted the help of a Midlands based doctors ?to tempt British-trained medics to move to India?. The newspaper quoted a former consultant with the National Health Service, Dilip Roy, from Stourbridge, as saying that he had already helped a young doctor from Leeds to get a job with AMRI. An advertisement in the British Medical Journal next month is also expected to attract more applicants.

(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on

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