Anu Shukla

I am a UK-based journalist who has published with a wide variety of media from Reuters to Red Pepper. I take an interest in and write about issues spanning UK politics and social justice to drug policy and environment. @AnuShuklaWrites

Navaratri - the devotional Hindu festival celebrates the Goddess Durga and gets millions dancing

One of the most vibrant Hindu celebrations of the Indian subcontinent, Navaratri is a festival of whirling dance and incessant drumming to mark the victory of good over evil. It is held in honour of the Goddess Durga, who is revered as a divine being of cosmic intelligence with the power to conquer the negative forces of the universe. While it is celebrated over 10 days, Navaratri is Sanskrit for nine (nav) nights (ratri). Nine of the 10 days are spent dancing in circles with handheld sticks, s

Looming beer shortage risks leaving England's World Cup fans gasping

LONDON (Reuters) - A shortage of carbon dioxide has hit Britain’s biggest brewers and soft drink makers, disrupting production just as drinkers’ thirst peaks due to a heatwave and a World Cup soccer tournament in which England is doing unusually well. Hot weather and a build-up of beer stocks ahead of the World Cup lifted CO2 demand from brewers just as the gas was in short supply due to production shutdowns at chemical factories that produce it as a byproduct. The CO2 shortage is also affecti

After immigration scandal, Britain remembers Windrush 70 years on

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain marked 70 years since the first post-war migrants from the Caribbean arrived on the Empire Windrush with a thanksgiving service on Friday which took on extra meaning after many were revealed to have been wrongly identified as illegal immigrants. Two months ago, Britain apologised for its “appalling” treatment of thousands of people of the Windrush generation who were denied basic rights after a tightening of immigration policy, despite having lived in Britain for deca

'Staggering' Bank of England expenses payments shock UK lawmaker

LONDON (Reuters) - The Bank of England has paid out “staggering” sums on expenses to two members of its Financial Policy Committee (FPC), a lawmaker from a top parliament committee said on Tuesday. U.S.-based policymakers Anil Kashyap and Donald Kohn had between them accumulated 390,000 pounds ($516,000) in travel expenses over two-and-a-half years, said Simon Clarke, a Conservative lawmaker on the Treasury Committee. Clarke said this echoed 2009 when politicians’ extravagant expense claims sp

New Bank of England rate-setter Haskel strikes cautious note,...

LONDON (Reuters) - New Bank of England rate-setter Jonathan Haskel offered a more downbeat assessment of Britain’s readiness for higher interest rates than the official he is due to replace, in comments that weighed on sterling on Tuesday. Haskel, an economics professor at London’s Imperial College, pointed to persistently weak wage growth and said there could be more slack in the labour market than currently estimated. While Haskel agreed with the gist of the BoE’s guidance that rates will pr

Bee Gees' Barry Gibb honored at Buckingham Palace with knighthood

LONDON (Reuters) - Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb received a knighthood from Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, where he was honored for his services to music and charity. The 71-year old, who began the hugely successful pop group with brothers Maurice and Robin in 1958, was knighted by Prince Charles as part of the Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s Honours list. “It’s the greatest honor you can receive obviously and I’m just blown away by the idea of it,” the musician said. Gibb is the last remaining memb

Pay rises in major UK companies hold at 2.5 percent - XpertHR

LONDON (Reuters) - Pay rises agreed by major British employers held at 2.5 percent in recent months, industry data showed on Thursday, adding to a picture of modestly increased wage pressure in Britain. XpertHR, a company that monitors wage deals, said the median pay deal offered by employers in the three months to May was 2.5 percent, matching the typical increase offered since the start of 2018 and up from levels around 2.0 percent in previous years. Pay awards of 2.5 percent were starting t

Meghan Markle makes Ascot racing debut in royal procession

LONDON (Reuters) - Meghan Markle made her debut on Tuesday at one of the English social season’s blue riband events, Royal Ascot, joining her husband Prince Harry in a horse-drawn carriage for the traditional procession along the course at the start of the five-day race meeting. Wearing a white Givenchy dress and black and white Philip Treacy hat, the new Duchess of Sussex and her husband were accompanied in the carriage by Harry’s uncle Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and his wife Sophie. Thousan

‘Reforming has done nothing. That’s why I’m an anarchist.’ An interview with Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah is still angry. The legendary novelist, actor, playwright, poet and musician has spent a career raging against the racist machine – and he’s not about to stop any time soon. As a young black man growing up in the 70s and 80s, he saw more than his share of police violence – and spent a stint in prison himself. Those experiences informed a body of work which pulls no punches in its critique of institutional racism. For Benjamin, success didn’t come easy. He left school at thirt

Grenfell Tower: 'We have a history of turning tragedy into triumph'

Over a thousand people walked in silence through the driving rain on Valentine’s Day in solidarity with victims and survivors of Grenfell Tower. The date marked eight months since the high rise building near Latimer Road in north Kensington went up in flames, leaving at least 71 dead. Every month, the Grenfell community and its supporters march in silence to demand justice for those who perished in the fire on 14 June 2017.  Valentine’s Day marked the beginning of a new route for the march, whi

World Book Day – The Standard speaks to renowned Birmingham poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

AHEAD of today’s World Book Day, The Standard’s Anu Shukla spoke exclusively to renowned Birmingham poet, author and musician Benjamin Zephaniah about the impact literature has had on his life and the importance of inspiring young readers and writers. Benjamin’s 2004 title Gangsta Rap has been relaunched because of its positive impact on young people and, widely read across UK schools, it also appeals to ‘troubled’ children who had a tough time fitting in. Benjamin was just 13 years old when h

REVIEW: The Prodigy return to Wolverhampton Civic for the first time since 'Firestarter'

To see The Prodigy at Wolverhampton Civic Hall last Tuesday 19 December was no ordinary gig experience. The band made an epic return to the venue for the first time since October 1996 when they let rip with Firestarter. The place was rammed with 3000 (mostly) old school ravers who had snapped up tickets in less than 15 minutes. For many, this was a furious nod to the days of ye olde warehouse party. And by no means did the top quality sound and production output detract from the raw expletive-f

Six months after the Grenfell Tower fire, Labour's Emma Dent Coad speaks out [EXCLUSIVE]

It’s been six months since a fire ripped through social housing block Grenfell Tower. Located in the West London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, there is still little resolved for survivors of the tragic event or residents in the area. Emma Dent Coad was four days into her new role as a local Labour MP when she learned of the fire on 14 June. She talks to The Canary six months on from that day: Recalling the events of that morning, Dent Coad told The Canary: At the time, looking at the fir

The Canary speaks to Labour rally crowds elated at prospects of a future Labour government [VIDEO]

The Canary joined a crowd of over 2000 people at a post-budget rally with Jeremy Corbyn. Rapturous applause, whistles and chants of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” filled the Bethel Convention Centre in West Bromwich as the Labour leader stepped onto the stage. We captured the response of those who travelled the length and breadth of the West Midlands and beyond to be there as they left, high on the prospects of a future Labour government: The place was packed to the rafters with teachers, activists, blue

Welfare cuts hit hard as Rubery family gets evicted

A RUBERY family hit hard by the benefits cap were made officially homeless when they were evicted by a private landlord. Claire and Stephen Targgart and their four children moved to Burcot Lodge after bailiffs came to change the locks on Tuesday. The couple moved from Devon to Rubery to take care of elderly parents in 2013. Claire said at the time they paid just £80 per month rent but claims the benefits cap in March 2015 raised the rent to £200, and again to £220 by October 2015. “By July l

Grenfell neighbours have told their council's new re-housing proposals are a 'failure' [VIDEO]

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) is drafting a rehousing policy; and it threatens [log-in required] to take away the rights of people with flats next to Grenfell Tower. 161 households from the Lancaster West Estate – also known as ‘the Walkways’ – have been staying in hotels since the disaster struck five months ago on 14 June. This includes some residents from Barandon Walk, Hurstway Walk and Testerton Walk. The policy says that they will no longer be ‘priority’ cases for re

There’s more to Fallon’s resignation than meets the eye and this is why

People have accused Michael Fallon’s BBC interview and resignation statement of lacking remorse and smacking of victim blaming. The former defence secretary’s resignation means he will plummet to the position of backbench MP. It has emerged that Fallon was forced to quit partly due to ‘lewd comments’ he reportedly made to Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom. The decision follows a spate of allegations involving senior members of the Conservative government. It also follows Fallon’s a

Mums stranded abroad are fighting for their kids, and there could be a turning point on the horizon

Countless parents – usually mothers – are reportedly ‘stuck‘ in foreign countries. And they are waiting with bated breath for the review of a law that can force them to live in exile or separated from their children. A petition to reform the Hague Child Abduction Convention will be handed to decision makers who will meet to discuss practical workings of the law from 10 to 17 October. The Hague Convention (HC) has an impact on families whose relationships break down after they move abroad. Chil
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