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INDIA VISIT: Mayor of London calls on British Government to make it easier for young Indians to work and study in UK

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SADIQ KHAN: The Mayor of London is currently visiting India to promote London as a business and tourism destination and to strengthen the bonds between India and the capital

SADIQ KHAN: The Mayor of London is currently visiting India to promote London as a business and tourism destination and to strengthen the bonds between India and the capital

 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today told senior Indian business leaders that he wants the UK and India to forge a new special relationship that is not only
based on trade and investment – but also encourages talented Indian people to study and work in London.

Delivering a keynote speech in Mumbai, Sadiq said that the best way to
achieve this would be for the UK Government to commit to a more flexible visa system. This would benefit not only the UK’s relationship with India, but with other growing economies around the world.

He voiced his frustration that, while there has been a drive to increase UK trade with India, business is hampered by our visa system. Many Indians, particularly young students, are finding it harder than ever to gain visas to work and study in the UK. These Indians are choosing to go to the USA, Canada and Australia instead, who are reaping the benefits.

To address this, Sadiq promised call on the UK Government to introduce a new post-study work route for international students.

In particular, he criticised the Government for closing down the previous Tier 1 post-study work route. The number of Indian students coming to London has fallen by over 40 per cent since 2010, partly as a result of this, and now stands at 4,705 (2015/16).

Sadiq also wants Government to change the rules to make it easier for Indian entrepreneurs and skilled workers to gain visas, and to set up a new India-UK International Work Experience Programme to encourage young people from both countries to spend time and learn about India and the UK.

The Mayor is currently visiting India to promote London as a business and tourism
destination and to strengthen the bonds between India and the capital.

Speaking at WeWork in Mumbai, he highlighted his strong emotional bond
to India and explained how it has helped to shape the person he has become.

On his strong emotional bond to India, Sadiq said: “Of course - I’m here in my capacity as the Mayor of London. But I can’t deny that coming to this incredible, historic country also feels special to me on a personal level. This is where both my grandparents and my parents were born and raised.

“And it’s where many of the people who inspired me the most throughout my life came from, and put their talents and philosophies into action. From the father of your nation, Mahatma Gandhi – whose messages of peace and love will always endure.

“To Srinivasa Ramanujan - the amazing mathematician, and Savitribai Phule – a true
inspiration for many of us still fighting for gender equality.”

On the UK and London’s future relationship with India, Sadiq said: “I fully recognise that we can’t rely on our old bonds with India to secure a valuable place in
your bright future. And I fully recognise that we can’t take for granted that our historic connections will inevitably lead to a tighter, more prosperous bond.

“I fully appreciate the real disappointment that many Indians have felt about the British Government’s decision to make it more difficult for Indians to gain visas to work and study in the UK.

“In my view – this is not only counterproductive, but simply wrong for the British Government to launch a charm offensive for Indian trade and investment on one hand, but then to work to enforce a visa system that makes it more difficult for Indians to come to our country with the other.”

On a more flexible visa system, Sadiq said: “In London I’m making the case loud and clear for a fair, flexible immigration system that allows us to attract talented people - with fewer barriers and less red tape. As part of this, I’m putting forward detailed proposals for a new post-study work visa for international students.

“The British Prime Minister – Theresa May – got it badly wrong with her decision to close this route a few years ago. Because it’s not only led to a substantial drop in Indian students coming to our universities – it’s in danger of starving my city of great talent.

“History shows us that people go on to do great things after studying and working overseas.

“It’s a way of building connections that last for life, which can later benefit us all.

“So my ambition is to see more Indians follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharalar Nehru and Srinivasa Ramanujan, who studied at Britain’s world-renowned universities.”

Supporting the Mayor’s call for a more flexible visa system, Director of the London School of Economics, Dame Minouche Shafik, said: “Increasing the availability of post-study work visas will help encourage the brightest minds from countries like India to study at London’s world-leading universities, while reaffirming to the world that London is open.

“Everybody wins. The students who come to study here, our universities, and the firms who want to employ our talented graduates.”

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First, said: “London’s success is built on global talent and we must keep our doors open to the people vital to our economic growth. To keep London globally competitive, we need the best possible deal from Brexit but must also build invaluable, long-term links with growing economies like India.”

Calls to end non-stun slaughter

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Meat 2 cover (800x600)

British Veterinary Association presents findings at Parliamentary debate which could effect the halal meat industry

The debate around the halal slaughter of animals was heard in the halls of Westminster earlier this week, with the topic of ‘stunning’ at the heart of conversation.

According to a 2012 Food Standards Agency report, 97 per cent of cattle, 96 per cent of poultry and 90 per cent of sheep slaughtered using the halal method in UK abattoirs are stunned. But some Muslims insist stunning ‘is not halal’ and animals must be slaughtered without this initial step.

The calls upon the British Government to end non-stun slaughter are spearheaded by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and supported by the RSPCA.

The BVA says it launched the Parliamentary e-petition because of ‘scientific evidence’ which shows that slaughter without pre-stunning allows animals to feel pain and compromises animal welfare.

Meat 1 inside (800x600)

The BVA’s claims are based upon a scientific study which includes the findings of the EU-funded Dialrel project that ran for four years between 2006 and 2010. The project concluded: “It can be stated with high probability that animals feel pain during and after the throat cut without prior stunning.”

The total number of signatures on BVA’s e-petition has now reached more than 115,000, showing a significant strength of feeling amongst the public. It is a position supported by the Humane Slaughter Association, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe.

The BVA says its concern does not relate to religious belief but to the animal welfare compromise of non-stun slaughter.

President of the association, John Blackwell, has said that the BVA has long argued that all animals should be stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain and that the signatures on the e-petition clearly shows the strength of feeling about animal welfare at slaughter.

LEADING THE DEBATE: John Blackwell President of the British Veterinary Association says he is keen to continue discussions with representatives of the halal and kosher meat industry

LEADING THE DEBATE: John Blackwell President of the British Veterinary Association says he is keen to continue discussions with representatives of the halal and kosher meat industry

Mr Blackwell said: “For BVA and our members, this is a matter of animal welfare at slaughter, plain and simple. We have never – nor would we – argue against religious slaughter. We categorically refute any suggestion that this is an anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish campaign.

“We have met with, and are keen to continue our positive discussions with, representatives of the halal and kosher meat industry to explore where we can work together to improve animal welfare at slaughter.

“BVA finds abuse of animals in any slaughterhouses unacceptable. We would expect for these abuses to be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action taken by the competent authority.”

The BVA points out that recent undercover films of animal abuse in slaughterhouses would warrant sanctions under current welfare legislation, irrespective of whether they occurred in an abattoir implementing stunning or non-stun prior to slaughter.

“From pre-birth to slaughter, vets play an active role in not only preventing suffering but actively providing for the welfare needs of all animals. The veterinary profession is not complacent,” continues Mr Blackwell.

“We consistently lobby Government to ensure existing legislation is enforced effectively. We have and will always work to improve the welfare of animals at all stages of their lifecycle.

“BVA is calling on the Government to have a consistent approach to animal welfare legislation.
“How can the Government on the one hand pride itself and champion the UK on having some of the world’s highest animal welfare standards, but on the other undermine this by allowing slaughter without stunning to continue?

“It is clear from the scientific evidence that the welfare of animals is improved by effective stunning at slaughter but we can’t enforce a piece of legislation that does not exist. This is why we call on the Government to make legislative change now and end non stun-slaughter immediately.”

David Bowles, head of RSPCA public affairs, said: “It is no surprise that around eight in 10 people want an end to non-stun slaughter.

“There is growing public concern about the welfare of farm animals and people believe animals should be treated as humanely as possible throughout their lives, including at the time of slaughter.

“It is important to differentiate between ‘religious’ and ‘non-stun’ slaughter. Our concern does not relate to the expression of religious belief but to the practice of killing by throat cutting without pre-stunning. In fact, around 84 per cent of halal in the UK is pre-stunned demonstrating that animal welfare and religious purpose can work together,” he added.