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Utah honours Sikh community

The resolution was moved by Representative Angela Romero and Senator Luz Escamilla from Salt Lake City…reports Asian Lite News

The Senate in the US state of Utah unanimously passed a resolution highlighting the history and significant contributions of the Sikh community.

The resolution, which was passed last week, appreciated the Sikhs for their humanitarian services, despite receiving hate and facing oppression for their faith worldwide.

“The Senate unanimously passed H.J.R (House Joint Resolution) 4, a resolution highlighting the history and significant contributions of the Sikh community. We were joined by members of Utah’s Sikh community as well as those from India and other parts of the world,” a tweet from the Utah Senate read.

The resolution was moved by Representative Angela Romero and Senator Luz Escamilla from Salt Lake City.

It noted Sikhism as one of the largest religions in the world focused on “loving service to humanity,” but has for long faced “oppression and discrimination throughout the world”.

“The state of Utah seeks to further the diversity of its community and afford all residents the opportunity to better understand, recognise, and appreciate the rich history and shared experiences of Sikhs to enforce laws for access to equal opportunity of humans, irrespective of their caste, creed, colour, or appearance,” the resolution stated.

Before Utah, 15 other states, including New Jersey and Pennsylvania, have recognised the Sikh community for their service.

In December, Utah became the 15th state in the US to include information about Sikhism, Sikh practices, and traditions in their schools’ social studies syllabi.

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world and the community has contributed to American society for over 125 years in the fields of civil rights, politics, agriculture, engineering, and medicine.

ALSO READ-Old church in Canada transformed into Sikh temple

Community Lite Blogs

Islam to Indonesia via Indian Sufis?

Interestingly while most of the modern European ethenographers and historians conclude that Islam has reached Indonesia through Gujarat, many Arab scholars claimed that Islam has reached directly from Arab…reports Asian Lite News

Many of the historians and Islamic scholars believe that Islam in Indonesia was spread by Indians, and not Arabs like in many other parts of the world. One of the main reasons supporting this belief is the existence of tombs like that of Sultan Malik al-Saleh, in Java and Sumatra, which bear striking similarities with those found in Gujarat of India. Apart from it, Snouck Hurgronje, a well known dutch scholar of Islam, also argues that several practices of Gujarati Muslims are similar to those found among Indonesian Muslims.

Several other medieval travellers believed that earliest Muslims to reach Sumatra were from Gujarat and Malabar. Also, it is claimed that tombstone used at the grave of Malik al-Saleh is from Cambay in Gujarat.

Interestingly while most of the modern European ethnographers and historians conclude that Islam has reached Indonesia through Gujarat, many Arab scholars claimed that Islam has reached directly from Arab.

According to one popular theory, it was Sufi from Rander in Surat (Gujarat), Sheikh Randeri, who travelled to Indonesia in the 13th century and brought Islam there. Ibn Batuta also noted that Islam in the region had several similarities with what he had witnessed in India. The ruler of Samudera Pasai (Sumatra), according to him, was a zealous Muslim who performed his religious duties with customs similar to those found in India.

The significant part was played by the Sufi missionaries who came substantially from Gujarat and Bengal in India. Unlike Islam in the Middle East and India, Indonesia wasn’t conquered by force. The Sufis came not only as preceptors but as dealers and politician who entered the courts of autocrats, the diggings of merchandisers, and the townlets of the country. Sufism is the wisdom of the direct knowledge of God; its doctrines and styles decide from the Quran and Islamic disclosure. Sufism freely makes use of paradigms and generalities deduced from Greek and indeed Hindu sources.

The Sufis communicate their religious ideas in a form compatible with beliefs formerly held in Indonesia. For case, pantheistic doctrines were fluently understood because of Hindu training extant in the archipelago. The resemblance between the Sufi outlook and Hinduism was great.

The Sufis stressed religious retreats and minimized the significance of praying at mosques; they emphasized a belief in saintliness verging on hagiolatry; and, of course, centered their belief on the individual mystical experience of God. On the other hand, Indonesian Islam is frequently portrayed as being naturally moderate by virtue of the part that mystical Sufism played in shaping it traditions.

Apart from Sufi missionaries, merchants from the Western coasts of India also dealt with Java and Sumatra in the mediaval times. Their influence also led to conversion of large number of merchants, rich nobility and ruling class to Islam. This was a slow process, which over the centuries expanded the Muslim population in archipelago.

There is this reason that Indonesian Islam, like the one followed in India, belives in syncreticism, tolerance and co-existence. We find a cultural synthesis while keeping an independent religious identity. People pray, fast and travel for Haj as piously as any Muslim should go and yet embrace Indonesian culture shared by Hindus and Buddhists.

ALSO READ-Kashmir:  An alcove of Sufis and Saints

Asia News Community India News

India requires more plans of action to protect migrant workers

Various migrant rights organisations from different states of India assembled at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to mark International Migrants Day. They demand the Central Government and its External Affairs Ministry to address wage theft affected by Migrant workers, especially in the Middle East, through a trans-national mechanism

 “When India is declaring itself as a Digital Nation, it still lacks enough data, official records and analytical research figures on the migration of Indians,” said Rafeek Ravuther, director of the Centre for Indian Migrants Studies (CIMS).

He was addressing the protest march at Jantar Mantar by various migrant rights organisations from different states of India to mark International Migrants Day. CIMS along with Emigrants Welfare Forum (EWF), National Workers Welfare Trust (NWWT), Tamil Nadu Domestic Workers Welfare Trust (TNDWWT), Migrant Rights Council (MRC), Working Peoples’ Coalition (WPC) and Jesuits Migrants Ministry External (JMMEx) were present to call for an urgent mechanism to address the non-payment issues of migrant workers, especially during the Covid lockdown period.

“There are thousands of migrant workers who lost jobs and returned back to India with empty hands. Their salary was either cut, reduced or denied. After reaching their home country they will realise the hard truth – there is no mechanism to approach the employers or companies to avail their pending salaries and benefits,” added Mr Rafeek Ravuther.

The travel restrictions and lack of employment opportunities during the Covid-19 forced several countries to bring back their citizens, especially temporary labour migrants. India, the home of nine million cross-border temporary labour migrants, carried out the largest repatriation exercise to bring back the stranded migrants. Even though the Indian government addressed the immediate requirement of repatriation, the government failed to acknowledge and alleviate their post-arrival grievances.

Historically, India’s response to the grievances of migrant workers is poor compared to other countries like the Philippines. Despite the launch of mechanisms like MADAD and Helplines, the issue of migrant miseries remains high. The number of unresolved cases in the recent past (2019 and 2020) is 6988. This figure is from the Gulf countries except for the UAE.

Unlike the pre-pandemic phase, the number of grievances from the workers had multiplied due to the economic crisis and panic triggered by the spread of the infectious disease. The issue of non-payment of wages and denying rightful benefits have risen. As per the study conducted by the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) only a handful of the workers received all benefits and dues before repatriation. The study was conducted among workers who had lost their jobs or were terminated and repatriated forcefully. Some workers were given false promises about their pending wages and dues.

The issue of ‘wage theft’ become widespread across all major migration corridors. Wage theft was poorly addressed over the years due to the lack of access to official justice mechanisms and labour protection systems both at the country of origin and destination.

As per the MFA study reports, most of the wage theft cases reported by Indians were group cases committed by medium to large firms involved in construction, hospitality, manufacturing, and transportation. It indicates that low, medium and high-skilled migrants are uniformly affected by the non-payment of wages. Most of them lost their job also.

The victims of wage theft were confused to file a complaint at the destination or give priority to opting for emergency repatriation. Many preferred the latter and travelled without any agreement or power of attorney submitted to the authorities or employers.

Panic and the lack of support to fight the case in the destination country also contributed to the plight of the migrant workers. There was no proper access to file a complaint Even though the issue was brought to notice during repatriation, the campaign against wage theft by the coalition of CSOs and trade unions had identified that the persistent issue of wage theft should not only be seen in the context of the pandemic.

The financial constraints, the reluctance of legal firms to accept requests from workers, and the restrictions during the pandemic reduce the chances of individuals’ attempts to retrieve unpaid wages and benefits. Above all, the Indian government’s reluctance to proactively address the issue by initiating discussions at the national/bilateral/multilateral levels is a hindrance in every attempt to retrieve unpaid wages from abroad.

Telangana Gulf Congress Convener Singireddy Naresh Reddy, Pravasi Mitra Labor Union State President Swadesh Parikipandla, Fr. Manickyam. S and Stephen Raj of JMMEX, Sri Vaishnavi of TNDWWT, Dharmendra Kumar of Working Peoples Charter (WPC), Indra Narayan Jha of AHWT, Poonam Mahour of  GWA, Neha of  AIWA, Pankaj Bisht of  SSSMH Joint Action Committee, Virender Kumar of  WPWF, Vandana Narang of  DWA are also addressed the protest. Manju Goel of AIWA coordinated the protest and Beema Basheer of CIMS delivered the vote of thanks.

The day-long protest demanded the central government take necessary actions to set up/strengthen the platforms of cooperation for government and non-government stakeholders to retrieve unpaid wages and other benefits and coordinate the efforts to address the grievances.

They also demand:

  • Develop a standard labour contract for international migrants to help prevent the violation of fundamental labour rights. The stakeholder should also disseminate the clauses in the agreement widely among the migrants.
  • Open up a free online/offline/24-hour hotline multilingual grievance platform in Missions and in airports in India (booth) for both current and returnee migrants to register their grievances, particularly on wage theft complaints.
  • Create awareness among the migrants about using digital platforms to access various services of governments and other stakeholders.
  • Set up a permanent transitional justice mechanism at least at the India-GCC level to address the issues of wage theft. Migrant workers must be allowed to file a grievance even in the absence of formal employment documentation, as the employer may have refused to provide it.
  • Create a compensation fund for prompt payment in cases where the employer refuses to pay the migrant worker
  • The government should lighten the burden of accessing justice. Missions must intervene to facilitate the power of attorney procedures prior to initiating any return procedures for those workers who have not received their due wages or benefits.
  • The governments and regional mechanisms must use all means of communication available including public and social media, to inform them of the mechanisms through which they can claim their rights and register their grievances. Set up digital platforms and radio broadcasting for better outreach.
  • Set up a ‘migrant labour rights violation monitoring mechanism’ which includes missions, representatives of the destination country, civil society and observers from the regional mechanism
  • Indian government should sign bilateral agreements to protect the wages and benefits of migrants at their destination and ensure the portability of such benefits. Also, the government should revise and strengthen the existing Bilateral agreements and MoUs for the welfare and protection of migrant workers.
  • Documentation: Indian missions should develop robust and easily accessible reporting systems to document whether migrant workers have been paid their due wages and benefits upon termination of their employment contract.
  • Information dissemination – Both national and state governments may use the available platforms to disseminate information on the available mechanisms to claim the worker’s rights and register their grievances. To facilitate this, India must rapidly put hotline numbers that workers can call on any day to learn how to come forward and register their claims for wage theft.
  • Ultimately, the government should ensure that the complaints mechanisms are available for migrant workers to seek justice, without fear of immigration enforcement, retaliation, detention or deportation.
Columns Community Food

Opulent Desserts: Torte by Chef Rhea

Torte, which means cake in German, is a European cloud patisserie founded by – then – 29-year-old, Chef Rhea Wadhawan, in 2019. Opulence is synonymous with each and every dessert that’s made at Torte today, writes FnB Columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International

After obtaining a Degree in Leather Design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi, Rhea Wadhawan didn’t restrict her designing just to products.  Soon realising her inclination towards food and desserts, she knew she wanted to design food but it also had to taste the best. To hone her skills she enrolled herself in Scafa, a culinary school in Dubai.

As you scroll down their website, each of their creations is supremely unique with experimental flavour profiles, and high-quality ingredients yet creating a sense of nostalgia. The irony of her being diagnosed with gluten intolerance, while in culinary school, pushed her to ensure a complete care package of her food without compromising on the experience, taste and aesthetics.

OPULENT DESERTS: Torte by Chef Rhea

 “While my gluten intolerance made sure I constantly doubted my abilities to build my dessert brand, constant motivation and constructive feedback have been my driving factor to keep going,” said Rhea.

Bringing her two worlds of design and food together, Chef Rhea creates classic European desserts with a blend of modern techniques.

Living up to its name, Torte specialises in experimental yet nostalgic desserts – flavours that take you to Europe. Along with prioritizing flavour, quality and regard for tradition, it also celebrates seasonal produce.

ASEAN News Community World News

Britain Snubs Bilawal Over Controversial Cleric

Britain has sanctioned a Muslim cleric for forced conversion of non-Muslims in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Maulana Abdul Haq alias Mian Mithu has been actively involved in human rights violations for many years. A PPP lawmaker between 2008 and 2013, Mithu was expelled by the party after he became controversial over the forced conversion and marriage of Rinkle Kumari, a girl from the minority Hindu community … A special report by Kaliph Anaz

Britain has sanctioned a Muslim cleric for forced conversion of non-Muslims in Pakistan’s Sindh province in what amounts to a rebuff to Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s plea that the world community re-look at his country’s “stereotypical image” and view it as a “promising emerging market full of opportunities.”

The two events, though unconnected, happened on the same day. The British announcement came on the same day Bilawal raised the pitch for his country in Singapore, seeking improved economic ties. Analysts noted that Bhutto-Zardari’s plea came during his meetings with Singapore President Halimah Yacob, a woman and a Muslim, and his counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, an ethnic Tamil.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto with his Singapore counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan at Singapore City

The Southeast Asian nation has a strong record of being a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy.

Bilawal’s Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) rules in Sindh province where the cleric, Maulana Abdul Haq alias Mian Mithu, sanctioned by the British Government has been actively involved in human rights violations for many years. A PPP lawmaker between 2008 and 2013, Mithu was expelled by the party after he became controversial over the forced conversion and marriage of Rinkle Kumari, a girl from the minority Hindu community.

Rinkle declared herself a Muslim in court in 2012, which her parents and Hindu community leaders alleged was under duress, The New York Times reported that “Mithu triumphantly led the new convert from the courthouse, parading her before thousands of cheering supporters.”

“Mian Mithu is a terrorist and a thug. He takes the girls, and keeps them in his home for sexual purposes,” Nand Lal told The New York Times, noting that Mithu’s armed guards had escorted his daughter to court appearances and news conferences.

Rinkle Kumari’s case went all the way to the Supreme Court, but she never gained freedom from her forced marriage. Even her father, Nand Laal, fled to Lahore soon after accusing Mian Mithu of abduction and forced conversion. “The father found refuge and welcome in a Sikh Gurdwara in Lahore, in Punjab province, with the rest of his family,” it was reported.

Despite the controversy, and many that have since followed, Mithu was wooed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 2015. He was invited to contest the National Assembly on the PTI ticket.

Although he was not admitted to the party because of protests from the Hindu community, the Khan Government invited Mithu for consultations at the Pakistan Islamic Council on religious issues.

At 4.4 million, the Hindus constitute 2.14 per cent of Pakistan’s population and mostly live in Sindh. Dawn newspaper (December 10, 2022) quoted a statement by the British High Commission in Islamabad: “The UK takes freedom of religion or belief very seriously and is committed to protecting minorities worldwide. The new package of sanctions targets those violating fundamental freedom. This includes Mian Abdul Haq, a cleric of the Bharchundi Sharif shrine in Ghotki, Sindh, who is responsible for forced marriages and forced religious conversions of non-Muslims and minors. This sanctions package does not include any other Pakistani national.”

The sanctions effectively mean that designated individuals will be unable to do any business or undertake economic activity with UK citizens or companies and that they will be denied entry to the UK, the newspaper said.

The Hindu community of Sindh and human rights bodies have frequently accused Mithu of committing crimes against children for years by kidnapping and forcefully marrying them to Muslim men. They have charged that his activities are publicly known and that the Pakistani state has been complicit in his crimes.

Riots broke out in Ghotki in Pakistan’s Sindh province on September 16, 2019, after a Hindu school principal was kidnapped at the behest of Mian Mithu and charged with Pakistan’s stringent blasphemy law where punishment on conviction leads to death.

The riots began when a teenage student of Sindh Public School in Ghotki uploaded a video to Facebook accusing his Hindu school teacher Nautan Daas of blasphemy. The student’s father Abdul Aziz Rajput registered an FIR against Daas, according to — the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on 15 September 2019.

Community Food UK News

Why is a rich country like the UK facing food insecurity?

The Food Foundations’ September data highlighted that: 9.7 million adults which is 18% of the household including 4 million children suffered from food insecurity.  This translates into one in four households with children being subjected to some form of food insecurity in the UK.  A special report

“There is always a price to pay when you want everything to be quick, cheap and available,” said Baroness Sandip Verma, speaking at a webinar hosted by The Open Forum, a London-based think-tank, titled: Why a rich country like the UK is facing food insecurity?

Former Minister for Energy and Climate Change and International Development, Baroness Verma is presently the Chancellor of Roehampton University and Chairs the UK’s – UN Women’s National Committee.

“Whilst there is an argument and discussion around food insecurity in the UK, I do genuinely believe- the way we utilise our food; the way we source our food; the way we protect our own growers here unable to get the best for their products we need to have a serious discussion,” she added.

The webinar was moderated by Lizzie Cho, CEO of Nova New Charity, providing grassroots support to local communities.

Food Foundation describes food insecurity as, “having smaller meals than usual or skipping meals due to being unable to afford or get access to food, being hungry but not eating because due to being unable to afford or get access to food.”

The foundations’ September data highlighted that: 9.7 million adults which is 18% of the household including 4 million children suffer from food insecurity.

This translates into one in four households with children being subjected to some form of food insecurity in the UK.

“It’s fascinating that we are discussing that in a 5 or 6th largest economy and the second most influential country in the world after the United States,” said Professor Gwynthian Prins, Emeritus Research Professor at The London School of Economics & Political Science, who was speaking at the same webinar.

Taking off the table three reasons for the food insecurity in the UK, ‘Brexit; lack of labour and inefficiency in the food market system,’ Dr. Prins pointed to the UK having “millions more mouths to feed,” since it joined the European Union as his first reason.  Coupled with this, he believes is, “the UK farming sector crippled with over-regulation…prioritisation of land sterilization for renewables… allowing prime agricultural land to be taken out of food production to put up solar farms to produce virtually no useful electricity…massive increases in other obligatory expenditures like on heat, on light and on transport.” In conclusion, he added, the overriding reason for the food insecurity in the UK, “… is not a result of Mr. Putin’s war, no it is not the result of nasty people of the middle east. It is the result, overwhelmingly on the decision to engage in the incursion on so-called renewable energy…”

As a prescription to handling food security by individuals, Dr. Prins pointed to the label on a World War II food tin which read, ‘Food – Buy it with thought. Cook it with care. Use less wheat and meat. Serve just enough. Use what is left.’

 “The idea that food insecurity has happened because of renewable energy or a very welcome reduction of energy consumption in the UK, I wholeheartedly dismiss,” said Tristram Stuart, founder of Toast Ale, a company that makes beer with surplus bread instead of barley.

Considering 25% of people working in the food sector live in food poverty, the author and campaigner, further dismissed the idea that people do not want to work on agricultural land or that supermarkets run an efficient system. If given good wages people would work on the agricultural land, Tristram argued.

 “We have vastly greater food surplus that we have ever had in history,” said Tristram and yet, where does all that food go? “A lot of it goes into the bins,” he added.  

Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), estimated, “annual food waste arisings within UK households, hospitality & food service (HaFS), food manufacture, retail and wholesale sectors in 2018 at around 9.5 million tonnes, 70% of which was intended to be consumed by people (30% being the ‘inedible parts’). This had a value of over £19 billion a year and would be associated with 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

While household food waste is a “colossal problem,” Tristram argued, “the vast majority of food that is wasted happens well before it gets anywhere near the consumers or the citizens.” A large part of the blame goes to the supermarkets, Tristram pointed out. How round is a potato or how green are the beans leads to a lot of food not being bought by the Supermarkets while, “off-loading the risk within the market on their suppliers,” said Tristram.

He further added, “Supermarkets supply the cosmetic standards when it suits their economic interest.”

According to him, “Food insecurity’s primary cause is poverty, poverty is not a result of solar farms and not even a result of food production and food waste. It is to do with economic structures that successive strictures both in the UK and Internationally have had in place which have resulted in colossal inequality in society. So, the richest people have been getting richer and the poorest people have not been getting richer in the real terms.”

Asia News Community Health

’ Campaign to Stem Violence Against Women

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the ‘Enough’ campaign tells us how to safely intervene

Ending violence against women and girls is everyone’s business. Whether it takes place in the home, workplace or in public, everyone has a role to play in ending abuse – and we must all step up and play our part to help make society a safer place for everyone. 

The UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women coincides with the UK government’s second phase of its ‘Enough’ campaign. The campaign is encouraging people to take simple steps to safely take action when they see different types of harassment or abuse.  Whether it’s sexual harassment on the street, verbal harassment on public transport, sharing intimate images of someone without their consent or being controlled or coerced – together we can challenge and stop perpetrators of abuse.

Polly Harrar Founder of the Sharan Project a U.K. based charity providing support and advice to vulnerable women, particularly of South Asian origin

“When abuse towards women and girls goes unchecked, it becomes normalised, and we all have a role to play to stop this. Women from the South Asian community already face a number of barriers and challenges seeking support. The ‘Enough’ campaign is shining a light on the different forms of abuse and how small acts of recognition and support can help prevent this from happening.”

Malika victim of controlling or coercive behaviour

“I was in an abusive marriage, my partner controlled every aspect of my life. I was so lonely and felt too ashamed to speak to anyone about it, not even my family. A friend of mine could see what was happening. She shared some information with me about domestic abuse and that helped me to see that what my partner was doing was wrong. I am so glad she stepped in. Knowing that she cared enough about me to see what was happening and to offer help made all the difference to me. It gave me enough confidence and courage to finally leave my marriage.”

Whilst most people recognise that intervening to stop violence against women and girls is important, some people worry about putting themselves at risk or making the situation worse. However, witnesses can play a powerful role in stopping abuse from taking place and intervening doesn’t have to be dramatic or confrontational. There are many different ways you can safely help.

It’s important to remember that it might not be safe to intervene in the moment and if you think someone is in immediate danger you can call 999 to report to the police.

The ‘Enough’ campaign shares four simple ways to help people safely intervene that can be remembered using the STOP mnemonic: Say something, Tell someone, Offer support, Provide a distraction. Any one or a combination of these actions can be used depending on the situation.

Say something

You can show your disapproval at what is going on, for example saying ‘I don’t think that’s funny’ or you could be more direct, if you feel it’s safe to do so, by saying it’s unacceptable and tell them to stop.

Tell someone

You could tell someone in charge, like Human Resources (HR) if you’re at work, or the train guard or bus driver if you’re on public transport. You could also tell another member of the public or a passer-by and see if they’re willing to help – working together can be a safer, more effective way to intervene.

Offer support

You can ask the victim if they’re OK. You could capture what’s happening on your phone and ask if they want the footage to report the incident, and you could offer to help report it. You could also help others already giving support. If it’s someone you know, check in with them when they are alone and offer to help them to report it if they want. If you think they might be in an abusive relationship, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice.

Provide a diversion

Sometimes what’s best in the moment is creating a distraction, giving the person being targeted a chance to move away or giving others the opportunity to get help. You could strike up a conversation with the victim, e.g. ask for directions, or where the next stop is on the bus, or pretend you know them.

The ‘Enough’ campaign provides information on support services, how to report abuse to the police and offers guidance for individuals worried about their own behaviour.

For more information, visit

Asia News Community Health

Covid-19 booster vaccine for pregnant women

Pregnant women are eligible for both a free flu and Covid-19 booster vaccine this winter. Getting your winter vaccines in pregnancy is just as important as ever

 Pregnancy can be an exciting, yet vulnerable time for any woman, but Covid-19 fears and isolation have added an extra strain. It feels like it is all behind us now, but viruses like Covid-19 and flu can spread more easily in winter when we all mix more indoors, so healthcare experts are advising expectant mums to make sure they get their vaccines.

Over a million babies were born in the UK during the height of the pandemic. We talked to three mums about their decisions on vaccination and their experiences of having a baby during the pandemic.



“I was lucky enough to have my baby in the latter part of the pandemic,” says Paediatrician and mum of three Dr Kiran Rahim, “Lots of things felt weird and strange at a time of happiness, like my husband not being allowed in for a scan. Many services like drop-in weight clinics and breastfeeding support were cancelled due to Covid restrictions. The worst part was the lack of contact with health visitors.”

“I had my two Covid vaccines and then a booster and a flu jab while pregnant”, says Dr Rahim. “And as a frontline healthcare worker, I am eligible for Covid-19 booster and flu jab this winter which I have just had, whilst still breastfeeding. Both immunisations are safe at any stage of pregnancy, and many millions of doses have been administered worldwide to pregnant women.”

While the vaccines are safe, there are risks from both viruses during pregnancy.

“Complications from Covid and flu while pregnant can be very dangerous for both mother and baby. In the very worst cases, they can lead to death or stillbirth,” says Dr Rahim. “There are new variants of Covid all the time, it’s unpredictable and the risks are still out there. The flu virus can also change each year, so it’s important to boost your protection to both viruses before winter.”

“This is not the time to be complacent,” says Dr Rahim. Falling ill presents additional risks while pregnant. Vaccines are our best line of defence, which are freely available on the NHS and easy to get.



Unfortunately, trainee clinical scientist Tanviha Quaraishi-Akhtar experienced some of these complications first-hand. Tanviha had an emergency C-section after falling seriously ill with Covid, giving birth at just 33 weeks. She was so unwell with Covid that she couldn’t hold her premature son before he was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Just a week later, I was in ICU alone, in a medically induced coma. I almost died and was kept unconscious for over two months. I finally met and held my son when he was 12 weeks old. It is so sad to think I missed out on these important early months. Had the vaccine been available whilst I was pregnant, I would have definitely accepted it, and my experience could have been avoided”.

As a scientist, Tanviha believes it’s so important for people in the Asian community to make sure they get their information about vaccines from a reliable source like the NHS website – there’s far too much misinformation out there and you shouldn’t trust everything you read on social media.



“I got the Covid vaccine while pregnant last year, and I’d do it again,” says influencer and blogger Samira Ahmed. “I was really sick with the Delta variant in my first trimester and was lethargic for months after recovering. I was so worried that getting sick had harmed my baby. I wanted to avoid catching it again and got vaccinated – it was a load off my mind.”

Samira also makes sure her four-year-old gets the flu vaccine as a nasal spray. “I don’t want him to miss out on school and vaccines make these things avoidable.” I also had him vaccinated each autumn when he was a pre-schooler.

A UK study found that pregnant women admitted to a hospital with Covid infection having received 2 or 3 vaccine doses, were less likely to have more severe disease or require intensive care admission than women who had not been vaccinated. However, uptake of vaccines is lower in Asian communities – last winter, for example, just 29% of Pakistani pregnant women had the flu jab.

Studies show that protection provided by Covid-19 vaccines decreases over time, even if you’ve had previous doses of the vaccine. So, it’s important you ‘top up’ your immunity this autumn. Pregnancy alters how the body handles infections such as flu, which is why you are advised to get the flu vaccine too. It’s safe to get both vaccines together. They do not contain live viruses and cannot infect the baby. Find out how to book your vaccine appointments now at your GP surgery, or local pharmacy or check with your maternity service. Visit

Asia News Community Health

South Asians Urged to Check Cancer Symptoms

South Asians urged to get life saving GP checks as data reveals more than 40% unaware of common abdominal and urological cancer symptoms

An NHS campaign backed by South Asian healthcare professionals is encouraging people with potential cancer symptoms to come forward for life saving checks. Despite abdominal and urological cancers making up nearly half of all cancer diagnoses in England, as well as two in five cancer deaths, new data reveals that most South Asians are less likely to recognise cancer symptoms, which could prevent them seeking help.

Cancers in the abdominal area include bowel, oesophageal, stomach, pancreatic, ovarian and uterine cancers, while urological cancers include prostate, kidney, and bladder cancers. Symptoms that could be possible signs of these cancers are persistent diarrhoea, prolonged discomfort in the tummy area or blood in your urine – even just once.

Even when symptoms such as persistent tummy troubles or diarrhoea are recognised, more than half of the South Asians surveyed said they would put off going to see their doctor due to feeling embarrassed. However, loved ones may play a crucial role to change this, as over 50% of South Asians were more likely to talk to their family and friends first if they were concerned about possible cancer symptoms.

“There is clearly a lot of work to be done in South Asian communities to increase awareness of cancer symptoms,” says Dr Anant Sachdev, CRUK GP and TVCA Clinical Lead Prevention & Early Diagnosis, who is backing the campaign. “If you notice your loved ones experiencing these symptoms, please urge them to contact their GP immediately and get checked out right away.”

The data by Censuswide found that awareness of a range of potential cancer symptoms was in each case considerably low among South Asians (42% on average), including:

  • Feeling bloated for three weeks or more (44% unaware)
  • Needing to pee urgently (43% unaware)
  • Diarrhoea for more than three weeks (40% unaware)

In addition, respondents were asked about bladder and bowel cancer specifically

  • Blood in pee or stools as symptoms of bladder and bowel cancers (43% unaware for both)

Most South Asians (81%) however did recognise tummy discomfort as a possible symptom of urological and abdominal cancers.

The ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign comes as research shows many South Asians are conscious of wasting their doctor’s time.

To address this, South Asian healthcare professionals are coming together to back the campaign and to let the community know that the NHS is open and that people can access the health services they need when they need them.

“South Asians tend to put their family first, even above their own health. But going to see your GP when experiencing cancer symptoms is the best way to ensure you can be with your family for as long as possible,” says Dr Jyoti Soodi, GP and Clinical Director.

“Do not just rely on herbal remedies and prayer to treat your symptoms. If you see any unusual changes like unexplained tummy pain or diarrhoea that doesn’t go away for three weeks or more, or blood in your pee even once, go and see your GP immediately. It’s probably nothing serious but it could be a sign of cancer and finding it early makes it more treatable and can save your life.”

-Top News Community USA

Biden’s solidarity message on 10th anniversary of Wisconsin gurdwara attack

On the tenth anniversary of the attack on the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, US President Joe Biden on Friday called for strict measures to reduce gun violence and defeat domestic terrorism and hate in all its forms, including the poison of white supremacy.

Mourning the loss of lives in the attack, Biden said, “The Oak Creek shooting was the deadliest attack on Sikh Americans in our nation’s history. Tragically, attacks on our nation’s houses of worship have only become more common over the past decade. It is up to all of us to deny this hate-safe harbour.”

 According to the official statement, Biden said that when generations of Sikh-Americans in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, constructed their own place of worship after years of renting local halls, it was a sacred place of their own and a connection shared with the broader community.

“That sense of peace and belonging was shattered on the morning of August 5, 2012, when a white supremacist wielding a semiautomatic handgun arrived at the Gurdwara and began shooting.”

The gunman murdered six people and wounded four that day, as well as another victim who survived his wounds only to succumb to them years later.

“Jill and I know that days like today bring back the pain like it happened yesterday, and we mourn with the victims’ families, the survivors, and the community devastated by this heinous act,” the US President said.

He further said that “Oak Creek has shown us the way. After the attack, the Sikh community returned to their Gurdwara and insisted on cleaning it themselves.”

“The son of one of the victims became the first Sikh in American history to testify before Congress, successfully calling for the federal government to track hate crimes against Sikhs and other minority groups,” US President added.

Every year, the congregation now hosts an annual memorial run to honour the victims. The event bears the words Charhdi Kala, meaning “eternal optimism.”

Biden said, “Fueled by that spirit of eternal optimism, we must continue to take steps now to reduce gun violence and keep our fellow Americans safe.”

Biden said that no one should fear for their life when they bow their head in prayer or go about their lives in America.

He said, “We must continue to take steps now to reduce gun violence and keep our fellow Americans safe. We must do more to protect places of worship, and defeat domestic terrorism and hate in all its forms, including the poison of white supremacy.”

“We must ban assault weapons–used in many mass shootings at houses of worship and other sites across the country–as well as high-capacity magazines. Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill to do just that,” Biden added.

The US President said that to stand in defence of religious freedom, we must all stand together to ban the weapons that terrorize congregations around our country. (ANI)

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