After EU Summit, PM Modi to Also Make Virtual Visit to G7 Meet: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now due to join the G7 summit next month virtually. That now follows his virtual attendance at the EU summit after a virtual summit with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Modi has been invited as one of three guest leaders, together with leaders from Australia and South Korea. The guest leaders will be invited to join some of the sessions of the G7, that includes the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the EU, and Japan. The summit is due to be held in Cornwall in Britain June 11-13.
Extradition Hearing of Sanjay Bhandari Likely to Get Pushed: The extradition hearings in the Sanjay Bhandari case are likely to be delayed beyond their present June 7-11 schedule because neither side seems ready for a hearing that early. The Indian government is yet to present its full arguments before the court. Once these are submitted the defence will want time to study them and submit a response. This now almost certainly cannot happen before June 7. At the same time Bhandari moved an application in court on Thursday seeking adjournment. That application will be taken up on May 26. The Indian government wants Bhandari extradited to India to face prosecution over allegations of money-laundering offences.
Spread of B.1.617 Strain Raises Questions over Lockdown Plan: The spread of the B.1.617 Covid strain, first found in India, has raised questions over the phased easing of the lockdown in England. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is “anxious” about the variant, which seems to have spread quickly in some clusters in London, and in the north of England. There is growing anxiety over the rising numbers; from 520 cases reported on May 5, the number in England rose to 1,313 on Thursday, May 13. Britain has been vaccinating at speed, but the drive has not covered all of England yet. A full lifting of lockdown is due June 21, but many rules are being eased from Monday, May 17. All that can change if the B.1.617 strain continues to spread.
Name Change for Churchill’s Home: In recognition of sensitivities over colonialism, what was widely known as the Indian Room at Blenheim Palace near Oxford, Winston Churchill’s ancestral home, will be renamed the Summer Terrace Room during a forthcoming exhibition on Churchill, the Daily Mail reports. Churchill had been emphatically opposed to Indian independence and had proclaimed that British rule in India was certain to last another thousand years. Any exhibition on Churchill will struggle to avoid colonial controversies. This new description is intended as one calming factor, but there could be many others of concern.
Rajesh Aggarwal is London Deputy Mayor Again: Indian-born businessman Rajesh Aggarwal has been re-appointed deputy mayor for London, as expected, after Sadiq Khan was re-elected mayor last week. Rajesh Aggarwal has been leading the push to build London as a major business centre. That push can be made more freely now that Britain is out of the European Union. Aggarwal, who was born in Indore, came to Britain in 2001. He is a member of the Labour Party and is co-chair of the Labour Friends of India.