Privacy and Secrecy in the Digital Age
March 1, 2015 – 1:05 pm | No Comment

Commonwealth Journalists Association (UK) discussion on
Privacy and Secrecy in the Digital Age
Date: 19 March 2015
Venue: Senate House, Room G35, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Time: 6.30-7.30pm
No entry fee.
· The discussion will be followed by drinks at a cash bar (First drink free for …

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Bangladeshi brothers building on a great tradition
January 5, 2015 – 11:13 am | No Comment



Curry Life brothers, Syed Belal Ahmed and Syed Nahas Pasha.

Curry Life brothers, Syed Belal Ahmed and Syed Nahas Pasha.

For more than 200 years the British ruled in India. On their departure in 1947, they left many legacies in which culinary tradition played very little part. Back on British soil however, a takeover of a very different nature began. From Britain, India gained a unifying language, salted beef tongue and rissoles. From India, on the other hand, the British gained their favourite food ever – curry.

In fact the British love affair with Indian food began many years before. In 1810 the Hindoostanee Coffee House in Portman Square, presided over by Sake Dean Mahomet, was the first Indian owned and operated restaurant in London. In the late 19th century, spicy food was becoming more and more fashionable with the middle classes. The passion was even shared by Queen Victoria who employed Indian staff to cook spicy food every day.

The popularity of curry waned in the early 20th century, but with increased fascination about the empire, culinary interest in the East renewed. Returnees from India had become accustomed to exotic spices and flavours and craved an antidote to the bland fare available in the days of post-war rationing. They did not have to wait long. Their appetite was satisfied by Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian immigrants who opened up curry houses and coffee houses in bombed out buildings and old cafes. The British curry revolution was underway and here to stay.

Today, curry and in particular, the home-grown dish of Chicken Tikka Masala (CTM) has become the nation’s favourite food. In fact, CTM is now even recognised to be the national dish. Indian restaurants flourish in every corner, every town and high street of the UK. Balti – a concoction that originated in Birmingham – has now made history as the first curry in Europe to apply for trademark status.

At the forefront of this curry phenomenon are the British-Bangladeshis. After Bangladesh became independent in 1971 the settlement of immigrants increased, particularly with workers from the north eastern area of Sylhet. Today, around 80% of the Indian restaurants in Britain are operated by people of Sylhet origin.

Many of the first generation restaurant entrepreneurs came originally to work in other industries, such as textiles or manufacturing, and turned their hand to catering when those traditional industries declined. By 2000 there were almost 8,000 Indian restaurants turning over more than £2 billion ($3.1 billion) and employing some 70,000 people. Now, Indian restaurants number more than 12,000 and contribute £4.2 billion ($6.3 billion) to the economy of the UK. They have become as much a part of British life as fish and chips or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

The curry industry has also seen a burgeoning of allied industries. Entrepreneurs have stepped up to fill in gaps in the retail market, like rice brands such as Tilda, sauce manufacturers Pasco, and Indian beer producers Cobra and Bangla Beer. Indian food itself is now one of the fastest growing food and drink sectors in the UK. In spite of suffering a recession, staffing shortages caused by the cap on immigration and a crippling level of VAT, ethnic restaurants have survived and are thriving. As such, they have, by and large, fared far better than that other famous British institution – the public house.

About 11 years ago, I and my brother, Syed Nahas Pasha, launched Curry Life magazine with the aim of raising the profile and standards within the curry industry. With 25 years’ experience working in publishing and journalism we had both run our own restaurants and wanted to use our knowledge to help other entrepreneurs. We have been overwhelmed by the response. What started out as a humble newsletter has grown to a glossy 50-page publication read all over the world, widely recognised to be the voice of the curry industry.

Curry Life has helped hundreds of chefs and restaurateurs to improve their quality and skills and provided inspiration to perform on the global stage. In 2002 we launched our first international food festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Every year since then we have taken a team of top chefs from the UK to promote the unique brand of British curry cuisine at locations in South East Asia, the Middle East and Europe. In India, in cities such as Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhubaneswar, we have showcased the talents of some of the best Indian and Bangladeshi chefs Britain has to offer.

Taking curry back to the place where it was born is always a challenge (it has been likened to taking coals to Newcastle), but Indian diners are universally intrigued by the success of curry in the UK. At the opposite end of the scale, in Slovenia in Central Europe, where curry is not well known, our annual festival backed by the British embassy created an unprecedented demand for Indian food in the country’s capital of Ljubljana. The success of the festival led us to partner with Hotel Park to open a restaurant, Curry Life Figovec, reflecting the best of curry cuisine.

‘Myths and realities’ around Mandela examined at London seminar
November 21, 2014 – 11:04 am | No Comment
‘Myths and realities’ around Mandela examined at London seminar

Nelson Mandela’s membership of the South African Communist Party  will be one of the main topics up for discussion in London on December 5 when the Institute of Commonwealth Studies hosts a one- …

Do they know it’s Christmas in Muslim West Africa?
November 19, 2014 – 12:00 pm | No Comment
Do they know it’s Christmas in Muslim West Africa?

CJA member TREVOR GRUNDY reports on the latest version of Bob Geldof’s Band Aid campaign in the fight against ebola.
Children in Britain think it’s a Christmas Carol like ‘Silent Night’ or ‘God Rest Ye Merry …

How safe is it to be a journalist in Pakistan?
August 7, 2014 – 3:30 pm | No Comment
How safe is it to be a journalist in Pakistan?

CJA member Ragasudha Vinjamuri reports on a discussion on the state of the media in Pakistan and how journalists are under increasing threat from militants.
Read her report here AV_CJA (2).
The discussion was held at the University …

How Glasgow proved itself a worthy host
August 3, 2014 – 10:34 pm | No Comment
How Glasgow proved itself a worthy host

A personal view of the success of the Commonwealth Games, by ALINE DOBBIE
Sitting waiting on a gloriously hot evening in Glasgow for the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games was an interesting experience.  I am …

Zimbabwe’s MDC opposition returns to the trenches
August 1, 2014 – 10:56 am | No Comment
Zimbabwe’s MDC opposition returns to the trenches

By Peter Biles
In echoes of the chaotic events of 2008, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has painted a bleak picture of the state of the nation, a year after the 2013 elections. In a recent …

Mama Mia and Skopelos : In the footsteps of ‘Saint Meryl‘
June 26, 2014 – 12:19 am | No Comment
Mama Mia and Skopelos : In the footsteps of ‘Saint Meryl‘

By Trevor Grundy, CJA-UK
Skopelos, North Sporades, Greece – – -Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) asked us to understand that Greeks have a special place in their hearts for the unusual– especially when the bizarre appears in human …

The Chicken Tikka Masala election
May 15, 2014 – 3:45 pm | No Comment
The Chicken Tikka Masala election

By Anuj Kapoor, CJA-UK Associate Member
The three main alternatives in this 2014 Indian election seem like a choice between the three ingredients of the much-loved Indian dish:
‘Chicken’ – Rahul Gandhi, who failed to stand up …

CPA UK Event: ‘Representation of Women in Parliament, Politics and Public Life’
November 4, 2012 – 10:09 am | No Comment
CPA UK Event: ‘Representation of Women in Parliament, Politics and Public Life’

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK Branch (CPA UK) and British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) will hold an International Parliamentary Conference on Gender and Politics, ‘Representation of Women …

Can Nigeria save itself from the threat of civil and religious war?
August 26, 2012 – 10:52 am | 15 Comments
Can Nigeria save itself from the threat of civil and religious war?

“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”
Ben Okri’s antiquated yet prevailingly words offer the westerner a peek through …

CSCLeaders: Building global networks for the future
August 5, 2012 – 1:03 am | 1,248 Comments
CSCLeaders: Building global networks for the future

The HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conferences (UK Fund) has joined forces with Common Purpose, the international leadership development organisation, to create CSCLeaders – a renewal of the Commonwealth-wide Study Conferences for …