A boatload of trouble: And now a new Indian scare story. The Mirror has reported that 600 Indians were allowed into Britain on May 13 and 14 without being quarantined. The red-listing for India came into effect on April 23. The Mirror reported that the 600 or so were cruise ship workers and flew into Heathrow but were not required to quarantine on the ground that they were seafarers. The government has since then been reported to have blocked this loophole. The next media hunt will be whether cases of the Delta (earlier ‘Indian’) variant were brought in by these seafarers. Of that, there is no sign yet.
Nepal’s new Covid variant: A new variant of the virus is in danger of finding another short-cut name. K417N could end up being called the ‘Nepal variant’. This one hasn’t been given a name yet after the Greek alphabet, but Nepal could be next in line for an attack in the British media if this one were to spread as extensively as the Delta variant has, still being called the ‘Indian variant’ by the tabloids. A critical difference, were that to develop, is that there are far fewer Nepalese to expend irritation upon as there are Indians. The only possible target could be the Gurkhas in Britain’s army, but that is unlikely to go far.
Heavy hitters bat for Ollie: The England cricketer Ollie Robinson has won the support of Britain’s culture secretary Oliver Dowden and then Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a reversal of his suspension ordered by the ECB. In one tweet, Robinson had said “my new Muslim friend is the bomb”, and in another that “females who play video games actually tend to have more sex than the girls who don’t”. Dowden says the remarks were “offensive and wrong”. But he asked the ECB to consider that they were written ten years ago when Robinson was a teenager and that he has since apologised for them. Later, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson said that the PM is “supportive of Oliver Dowden’s comments”. Robinson is unlikely to be called back for the second Test against New Zealand beginning Thursday.
Battle for basmati: The EU is considering a new dispute that has arisen between India and Pakistan over basmati rice. India has claimed basmati as its trademark product under a provision for Protected Geographical Indication, a claim that Pakistan has challenged. The EU is an important export market for both countries. Total basmati exports from India are worth about 7 billion dollars a year; rice exports from Pakistan add up to about 2 billion dollars. The two countries have until September to resolve the matter between themselves.
Gin-credible start: After the emergence of fine Indian whisky, a new Indian gin is preparing to rock Britain. The Indian gin producer Third Eye Distillery is launching in Britain through the Sip and Savour trademark, The Spirits Business reports. Co-founder of Third Eye Distillery Sakshi Saigal was quoted saying: “We are thrilled to be bringing our award-winning Stranger and Sons gin from India to claim its place on Britain’s gin map. The advantage in the UK is that there is already a strong culture of online buying, and we have begun to strengthen our position with our various online retailers. During the pandemic, we shipped bottles to 100,000 homes across the UK.”