Welcome to my blog. I may write copy here that I would not present elsewhere. This blog allows me to comment while reporting for clients which can include subscription-only platforms. I use it to take a sideways look at running stories, and all views presented here are my own.

Interested parties are invited to comment.

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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Hot Tips from Christie's Head of Islamic and Indian Art, Sara Plumbly

This week my Leading Light column interviewee is Sara Plumbly, Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Christie's. Their twice yearly Islamic and Indian Art sale happens this week. Sara drew my attention to Lot 145, described below, so I'm passing the tip onto readers; watch the price go through the roof on this one. Also noteworthy is Lot 130. Get your bids in!

Lot 130
A MUGHAL JADE PENDANT (HALDILI)
MUGHAL INDIA, DATED AH 1006/1597-89 AD
Of drop shape, the jade surface carved with 7ll. of extremely elegant nasta'liq with occasional floral flourishes, the final line dated, pinned through the centre to a 19th century gold mount decorated in repoussé with a floral spray issuing flowerheads and fleshy leaves
2¼in. (6cm.) high; 2 3/8in. (6.4cm.) wide
Estimate £15,000 - £20,000 
Lot 145
A MUGHAL GEM-SET JADE HILTED DAGGER (KHANJAR)
NORTH INDIA OR DECCAN, 17TH CENTURY
The slightly recurved double-edged watered-steel blade with medial ridge and armour piercing point, the pistol-grip pale jade hilt elegantly set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, yellow sapphires and coloured gemstones with a bold floral spray rising from the base, the spine decorated with an emerald leaf motif issuing floral vine that curls around the end of the hilt, the original sheath covered with yellow velvet and with jade locket and chape simialrly inset with elegant floral sprays
14 3/8in. (36.6cm.) long (without sheath)
Estimate £100,000 - £150,000

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Commander Mak Chisty and Dr Kiran Bedi

Every week of the year, I get to do something that gives me the greatest pleasure; I interview for the media. It is a privilege to be given permission to climb inside someone's head for a while and to take a look at the world from their viewpoint.

My Asian Voice reporting gives me access to a constant range from differing areas. Within the past two weeks alone I have spoken with a senior Belgian diplomat, the Swiss Ambassador, Professor Tejinder Virdee who is one of the lead Particle Physicists on the Higgs Bosum project, and yesterday I was in New Scotland Yard talking with Commander Mak Chisty, who is leading on honour killings and radicalization. This Friday, Dr Kiran Bedi will be the guest speaker at a charity lunch at the headquarters of my newspaper and magazine group, ABPL,  talking about the India Vision Foundation, an organization that aims to help rebuild the lives of those who have been imprisoned. I will be interviewing her for my Leading Lights column.
My publisher, CB Patel, and editor, Rupanjana Dutta, are honourable and have high integrity and it is a pleasure to work with them. With them, I am paid on time, I know what I am getting, and everything is crystal clear. CB runs a good ship.

I feel grateful for these opportunities.

Our task as journalists is to make sure that subjects are faithfully portrayed in a way that helps the public to understand the message.

I love my work and find it fascinating as I learn so much from each interview. I could not now imagine myself doing anything else. 

Friday, 17 January 2014

London; Lord Mayor visits India to boost economic ties


The Right Honourable, The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Fiona Woolf will visit India this week to boost economic ties between the two countries (19-23 Jan). 
The Lord Mayor will lead a business delegation to the political and financial centres of New Delhi and Mumbai on her trip, meeting with senior industry representatives and policy makers to help strengthen the UK’s economic links with India and enhance the bilateral exchange of ideas between India and the UK.
As well as meeting leaders from the insurance and actuarial professions, she will chair a round table discussion on global governance.  The roundtables will explore the potential enhancements to governance standards and practices brought about by the 2013 Companies Act. 
The Lord Mayor will host an evening reception during her visit celebrating London as a centre for financial and professional services and meet inward investors to promote investment opportunities in the UK.
Speaking ahead of her visit, Lord Mayor Woolf said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit India in my official capacity, especially at this exciting time.  India has the chance to deliver real economic reform  offering opportunities for foreign investors.  However, it is also important to note that reform is a delicate process.  Reforms must progress at a speed that allows infrastructure and the economy to develop so that long-term, lasting benefits are provided for Indian society and the wider economy. 
“I intend to use this visit to reinforce the mutual benefits for India and the UK.  The UK’s commitment to India remains strong: our companies want to do more business in India and the City of London remains India’s natural partner in global finance and business.  A greater participation of UK firms can help to facilitate economic development because they can introduce new products, services and expertise to the market, enhancing economic growth and supporting the development of domestic companies.  The City is here for the long haul.” 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Exclusive One Hour Interview with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

A lot has happened in two weeks. At the start of my visit, I was granted a one hour sit down interview with the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina. I was able to ask literally anything I wished to and she answered the curve balls with a smile.
I am really pleased to have been granted this exclusive  interview, the only one she is giving in this period, when several other international networks were keen on it too and have played out some of it already on The World Tonight Jan 2nd and 3rd, 2014.
Today I watched the swearing of the new cabinet at the President's office.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Radio and Television reporting in Dhaka

I am working across both media here this time in Dhaka and really enjoying penetrating some areas hitherto uncovered by foreign journalists.

Somehow local organisations really appreciate foreign reporters in a way that the London media mafia does not. In Dhaka, people seem to love the fact that we have taken time out to look at what they choose to offer up and treat us with great courtesy.

My Bangladeshi friends  are my backbone and give me so much love that I am bowled over. I will miss you guys for sure. Thank you to those who are helping.

Friday, 10 January 2014

BBC Bureau Dhaka

I'm not sure why but I chose to try and do a  lot of my work and my filing without going into the BBC bureau for the first week despite a very warm welcome from the bureau chief Shakil and advice all round to visit for the support. It would have made life a lot easier.

When I did go in  a couple of days ago, I found a strong and busy team that acts as a base and an anchor for visitors from abroad.

It was incredible and not unexpected to learn from Shakil that the BBC brand is the most trusted in Bangladesh and knowing the quality of some of the journalists there I am not surprised.

The Bangla unit contains some of the best journalists in the world. 

Dhaka Rocks

It may be tense here in Bangladesh's capital but away from the political centre, the road blocks, the barricades and the highly visible security, writing in my hotel room I switch between different television channels; BBC World, Bangla news channels, and a new channel, Gaan Bangla. It's a cross between MTV and Fashion TV and seems to be soaring ahead of MTV in the popularity stakes.