London Diary: Joys of London Mahotsav

Spread over several venues across London, it featured cultural programmes, literary seminars with renowned authors from the Subcontinent and business forums aimed at deepening bilateral trade ties

A poster of London Mahotsav 2024
A poster of London Mahotsav 2024

Hasan Suroor

London Mahotsav, a celebration of Indian entrepreneurship, arts and food, is a much-awaited event in the more rarefied echelons of Britain’s Indian expat community—a big occasion for business people, celebrities and well-heeled professionals to rub shoulders with their important British counterparts.

This year’s Mahotsav had its inaugural session in the grand surroundings of Parliament, amid what the organisers boastfully described as an ‘exclusive gathering’, and included Lord Karan Billimoria, Tory MP Bob Blackman and other VIPs.

Spread over several venues across the capital, it featured cultural programmes, literary seminars with renowned authors from the Subcontinent and business forums aimed at deepening bilateral trade ties.

Indian/Asian success stories were celebrated at the Bengal British Icon Awards, hosted by Baroness Uddin, member of the House of Lords. 

Among the other major events was a UK India Healthcare Convention, aimed at promoting “cooperation and collaboration in healthcare delivery between the UK and India across three themes—healthcare service delivery, medical education and cross-cutting translational innovations relevant to both countries”, as Dr Arunava Dhar, one of the organisers put it.

Welcome to British multiculturalism.


London Diary: Joys of London Mahotsav

The ladies doctor better

Speaking of colleagues in medicine, it seems there is a better half and a worse half there.

New research shows that we can even live longer if treated by a female doctor. It claims that hospital patients are less likely to die if a female doctor treats them. 

The study of 800,000 patients also showed that women were less likely to be readmitted to a hospital in the 30 days after discharge if they had had a female physician.

“While patients generally showed a benefit from having a female physician, the greatest difference was seen in female patients. This led the scientists... to suggest that the difference could be due to male doctors underestimating the severity of their female patients’ illnesses,” the Times reported.

Dr Yusuke Tsugawa, the senior author of the study and an associate professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said: “What our findings indicate is that female and male physicians practise medicine differently, and these differences have a meaningful impact on patient’s health outcomes.”


Sunak marches to his own drum

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was so excited after the passage of his controversial legislation to deport illegal immigrants to Rwanda that he burst into what one commentator described as ‘poetic verbiage’. 

Asked about the frequency of the flights that would carry the deportees, he said he couldn’t say exactly, but there would be “a regular rhythm, a drumbeat of multiple flights a month. That is how you build a systematic deterrent”. 

What? A drumbeat of flights? “Would there be actual percussionists on the airstrip?” the Times wondered.

Downing Street declined to comment.

PM Rishi Sunak
PM Rishi Sunak


At odds with popular opinion

However, Sunak’s excitement might prove to be premature, given widespread criticism of his Rwanda deportation deal. Britain has already coughed up nearly £300 million as the cost of processing asylum claims and housing the claimants until their claims are settled.

Many in his own Tory party have dismissed the plan as a gimmick that will do little to check illegal immigration. Others have questioned its legality—and crucially, compatibility with Europe’s human rights regime.

French president Emmanuel Macron has angered Downing Street by calling it “a betrayal of our values” outright. He warned that sending migrants to countries in Africa would risk opening up a new form of colonialism.

“I do not believe in this model some people want to put in place where you go look for a country in Africa and send our immigrants there. This will just lead us down a path of new dependencies on third countries,” he said.

Sunak’s spokeswoman rejected the criticism, saying the scheme was “entirely compliant with our international obligations”.

The jury is still out on that, though.


London Diary: Joys of London Mahotsav

Security paranoia

Amid growing Western paranoia over the security threat from China, academics 

and researchers working on cutting-edge science at British universities are to be vetted by security services, under new government plans to tackle “Chinese espionage”. 

This follows a security review of the vulnerabilities in the higher education sector. It concluded that foreign states such as China were attempting to “steal” sensitive research and “risking UK national security”, particularly in areas of research that had both civilian and military applications.

Ministers are reportedly discussing a new system of vetting by the government, where security services would run background checks on those with access to sensitive research. Deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden said: “We know that our universities are being actively targeted by hostile actors and (they) need to guard against the threat posed to frontier research in the most sensitive sectors.” 


And, finally, students at Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam College are up in arms after photos of their untidy bedrooms and kitchens were sent (without permission) to everyone in their college by the housekeepers to show their lazy lifestyle to the world. Students called it “a massive invasion of privacy” and “deeply embarrassing”. The college has assured them it will not happen again. 

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