A State-funded Hindu school in Britain
By Prasun Sonwalkar
Britain'sfirst state-funded Hindu primary school is expected to open in north-west London in 2008. The move has received support of its local authority.
In early July, the London borough of Harrow backed a submission by the I-Foundation, a not-for-profit Hindu organisation, to seek government funding for the voluntary-aided school.
If the submission is successful, then the Department for Education and Skills will help meet the capital costs of the project, with the rest of the money coming from the local authority and the foundation. A decision is expected by September.
A Harrow council spokeswoman told The Guardian that the new school is likely to open in September 2008, following an extensive consultation with residents.
It would be a one-form entry school, and admissions would be staggered to minimise the impact on other schools in the area with a large number of Hindu pupils. It will be eight years before the school runs at full capacity.
The I-Foundation said it picked Harrow because the borough has the highest concentration of Hindus in the country? almost 20 per cent of the population. It said it had not ruled out setting up a Hindu secondary school in the London borough.
The organisation is associated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which operates a Hindu temple and a private school in Hertfordshire.
Harrow has 11 voluntary-aided faith schools, nine of which are primaries?eight are Roman Catholic, two are Church of England and one is Jewish. The council said they all make a ?very positive contribution? to education in the borough.
Another Hindu school is also likely to open in the neighbouring borough of Brent.
The local authority has given its support ?in principle? to an application believed to have been made by the Akshar Education Trust, which runs the private Swaminarayan school in Neasden.
UK call centres shifting to South Africa?
Leading British companies are reported to be in advanced talks to outsource their call centres to South Africa to counter India'sdominance of the market.
Ebrahim Rasool, premier of South Africa'sWestern Cape province, said that British firms were attracted by the low rate of staff turnover, a relatively cheap labour force and the small time-zone difference.
?Indian call centres tend to attract graduates who are passing through and getting work experience,? he said. ?In South Africa, it'sseen as more of a job for life. And we speak better English.?
It was reported in the British media that BT, with 33 ?contact centres? in Britain and India, is among companies looking to outsource to Cape Town.
However, BT insisted that it had no plans to open its own call centres in South Africa.
The reputation of India'scall centres has suffered recently following widespread reports of poor customer service and Rasool sees this as an opportunity to establish South Africa as a ?credible alternative?.
Outrage over plans to transfer British civil records to India
The British government has been urged to halt an ?outrageous? plan to transfer millions of records of births, marriages, and deaths from the UK to India.
Union leaders and MPs have attacked the plan by National Statistics (NS), a government department, and said the records should be kept in Britain.
NS has decided to digitise records held in Southport, which will involve sending them electronically to Chennai.
About 1,000 jobs will be created in India under the contract with Siemens but union officials believe hundreds of jobs could be threatened in the UK.
The project covers 250 millions records dating back to 1837. It is expected to take three years to complete.
Images will be scanned in Britain and transferred electronically to India. The actual paper copies will not be removed from the UK.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said: ?These are important records charting the births, deaths and marriages of this country'spopulation, which should be maintained securely in the UK public sector by people accountable to us all. ?
The NS said the project was part of a plan to modernise civil registration generally.
British call centre workers head for India
An event, geared at luring British call centre staff to low-paid jobs in India, has been overwhelmed by interested workers.
Up to 50 graduates and call centre staff from firms like Orange and HSBC have shown interest in finding out more.
Launch Offshore is running a recruitment drive in Newcastle to take North East workers to call centres in India.
The move comes after thousands of jobs in the region have been lost as companies moving operations abroad to save money.
Managing director of jobs firm Launch Offshore, Tim Bond, originally from Alnwick, said he was pleased with the response at two open days this week. He said: ?We have had an overwhelming response with 50 people contacting us so far.
?We had ten people at our session yesterday and another 15 today. They are from a cross section of people from undergraduate, graduate and call centre workers. Some have come here from Orange, HSBC and Lloyds, before it closed.?
Launch Offshore is offering Geordies the chance to take on a year'scontract with a call centre in India.
Those who take up the offer will be paid Indian wages and could earn as little as 1,800 a year in comparison to a salary of around 14,000 in this country.
It hopes to recruit up to 150 people by the end of the year and says it has so far placed 13 people in Indian centres.
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted at [email protected])