Boris Aborts India Visit But Plans for “Future Partnership” Still on: It was inevitable that Boris Johnson's visit will be postponed given the rising Covid cases in India. Downing Street announced on Monday morning that the prime ministers of the two countries will instead speak to “launch ambitious plans for the future partnership”. That was in line with the Labour Party's demand over the weekend that the two leaders speak instead over Zoom. Mumbai had been struck off the list earlier. Now by the same logic Delhi would be off. That did not leave a trip possible.
Labour Party Suggests Virtual Meets to Boris: The opposition Labour party had asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel his India visit to set an example, and to conduct his India meetings over Zoom instead. "The government is telling people don't travel if you don't absolutely have to travel," Shadow Communities Secretary Steve Reed told Sky. "I can't see why the Prime Minister can't conduct his business with the Indian government by Zoom." Boris Johnson could have faced a serious crisis if he were to return from any India visit with one of his team testing positive.
Britain Places India on ‘Red List’ as Covid Surges: The UK also put India on its ‘red list’ of countries from which travel to Britain has been banned. A leading scientist from Imperial College London was among those who had earlier asked for India to be put on the list. This, he said, was due to the "terribly concerning" variant, that has come to be known as the Indian variant. By Sunday, 77 cases of this variant had been found in Britain – 73 in England and four in Scotland. Prof Danny Altmann, professor of immunology, said the Indian mutant could scupper Britain's emergence out of lockdown. Some cases of this B.1.617 mutant have already been found that are not linked to travel to India. Before this, passengers arriving from India were required only to quarantine at home, not in a hotel.
Indian Mutant Causes Consternation in the UK: Earlier, India had sounded an alarm over the UK mutant, it's now the UK's turn to sound an alarm over the Indian variant. But British authorities have called the Indian mutation a variant under investigation, not a variant of concern. The first case of B.1.617 had been found in the UK on February 22. Each of the mutations of this has been seen independently, but this one brings the two together. Environment Secretary George Eustice says there is no evidence so far to suggest that this double mutation is either more contagious or more dangerous – or more resistant to vaccines. This double mutation seems to have brought Indian and British origins together in the unhappiest of ways.
Needless Buzz over Nirav Modi: The excitement over what has been reported as the UK government order to extradite Nirav Modi seems to have been premature. The UK government order on Friday was only a routine procedural step. On February 25 this year the Westminster Magistrates Court delivered a judgment in which it concluded there was a clear case to extradite Nirav Modi. It accordingly sent its order to the Home Secretary, who must give executive shape to the court order. This is routine protocol, and the order was duly signed by the Home Office within the routine period. Now that there is a formal order, Nirav Modi will certainly file an appeal in the High Court. Then on there could be medical reasons cited to block extradition and the asylum route that Vijay Mallya took. Nirav Modi is not taking a flight back yet.