Government’s double whammy Wednesday

The miserable weather probably matches the dreary mood at Westminster today. The government has faced a double whammy in one day: we’re in the first double-dip recession in forty years AND a cabinet minister has been linked with Murdoch’s expanding media empire. So, double whammy Wednesday goes under the spotlight.

We’re all struggling financially. Whether its feeling the pinch at the petrol pumps, clinging on to our job – if we’re fortunate enough not to be made redundant – and clawing back on luxuries as inflation soars the costs of everyday living.

This is all despite David Cameron and his wealthy cabinet ministers insisting that investing less in us and taxing us more will resolve Britain’s dire finances. They claim “we’re all in this together”…I fail to believe that the bunch of frontbench millionaires are feeling the strain of living as the average Brit, let alone them understanding our needs.

It was no surprise to wake-up to the news that we are now officially in a double-dip recession – the first in four decades. George Osborne insisted his sums will add up an he’ll pull the drowning economy ashore. Once again, the Treasury fails us.

And as if this wasn’t enough to get news journalists drooling with excitement, a prominent minister’s integrity was questioned.

Evidence at the Leveson Inquiry looking into press ethics, found that the Culture Secretary’s adviser, Adam Smith not only supported Rupert Murdoch’s majority stake in BSkyB but provided Murdoch with illegal information on Ofcom, the independent regulator.

Jeremy Hunt MP insists his adviser “unintentionally” communicated such sensitive evidence, although Smith’s emails proved otherwise. Smith has resigned but Hunt’s resisting doing so as he awaits further action by Lord Leveson.

This is damming evidence between a ministerial personal adviser and a news corporation that is already under scrutiny for unethical and illegal practice. It calls into question how ministers and the media operate. It undermines the neutrality and truth that are the foundations of news journalism.

How many more sordid links will we see between ministers and the media? Or even the police and the media? Both ministers and the police are public servants, thus they’re there to serve us. In a modern democracy that tangles in the politics of other nations to fly the flag of justice, when will justice be done in our own country?

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Acknowledgement Vs Appreciation

Have you ever done someone a favour or maybe helped them out? Have they acknowledged your efforts but this fails to spark their appreciation? I’m all too familiar with this and boy is it frustrating!

Have you got a relative or friend (usually an elder) who never says thank you? They’ll be the first to criticise your efforts if something isn’t up to scratch but if you do something well or good, it goes without mention.

Others will perceive them as appreciating you and by not saying anything they have apparently said a lot. “Others” have this incredible power to somehow know when another has appreciated you, despite no verbal or physical indication of this.

You shouldn’t have to expect appreciation before doing something for the greater good – granted. If that’s how the world worked then we’d be a bunch of using-abusing-selfish lot…although that does bring to mind quite a few people I know!

But would a “thank you” once in a while be too much to ask? Two short words can make someone’s day. Ignorance could ruin their week.

Sometimes we fail to recognise things we should be grateful for because we’re victims of routine. We take things for granted because we’re used to their occurrence.

When you were young, your mum or dad cooked dinner for you. But because it was routine, you expected it rather than be grateful for it.

Some people continue these childlike attitudes through to adulthood.

There’s a reason people say “you only realise the true value of something when it’s gone.” It’s worth a thought.

It’s good to talk

We’re so consumed by telecommunications and social media that it’s a novelty to catch up with friends face-to-face. I’ve been doing just that recently, rather than texting, calling or chatting online. And I hadn’t given due appreciation of how good it feels to talk! So, here goes communication under the spotlight.

After university, I’ve often been faced the dilemma of fixing a date to meet friends because everyone seems so busy. Whether we’re working, tied up with domestic chores, married or with kids, life becomes more chaotic as you grow older.

Sadly this means we can’t always meet up with friends as much as we’d like to. From a weekly meal with the girls, it soon becomes a monthly do, and before you know it, years will pass and you haven’t seen some of the people who you have shared amazing memories with.

Understandably we can’t all expect to meet as often as we did whilst we were studying. Age brings with it responsibility, which is a time-consuming duty. But how good would it feel to break the monotony and meet every so often over a coffee or brunch and just reminisce the care-free earlier years of life?

Simply seeing someone who evokes happy thoughts can transform your day. The conversation could be based on the past but it could make the present seem so amazing. And then there’s the thought that you’ll be doing this again in future, which is an exciting prospect to look forward to.

BT couldn’t have put it better: “it’s good to talk”. Shrinks make millions out of it. Our friends can substitute their services for free! Talking rather than bottling up emotions leads to a healthy mind, soul and the result will undoubtedly be visible on the body.

I bet you won’t have to think long before you could recollect a time when you were annoyed about something someone had said or done. Yet the person was unaware they had annoyed you because you hadn’t even mentioned it to them.

By bottling up your thoughts, the situation began to frustrate you even more. The person, unknowingly, began to irritate you so you became distant or bitter towards them. Before you know it, there is an uncomfortable tension between you and you begin to avoid each other…does that ring a bell?

I admit I am guilty of such pettiness, which has caused misunderstanding through miscommunication. If I had spoken my mind, futile matters could have been resolved way before they became an issue.

In extreme cases, misunderstandings can lead to feuds and even end relations. But if we don’t make our thoughts clear than how else will others know how we feel?

It sounds amateur to think that just by talking we could feel happier and overcome niggling issues. But our lack of direct communication is testament that it’s a lot easier said than done.

So before you send that text message or write on your friend’s Facebook wall to ask how they are, pick up the phone instead and arrange to meet. You’ve probably been planning on doing it for some time but something keeps coming up.

Life will always be busy. But friends won’t always stay around waiting for you to free up a couple of hours in your schedule. Put your favourite TV show on record and use that time to have a good ole chinwag with a girlfriend. Because after all, it’s good to talk.

Ten Years Younger

I caught up with old school and college friends this weekend at a wedding. It was so strange to see most of the girls married and a couple even with children! I couldn’t help but reflect on when we were ten years younger, in college and blissfully unaware of what life was going to throw our way. So, I’m putting the last decade under the spotlight.

At my friend’s wedding yesterday, I caught up with friends who I’ve shared some of the best years of my youth with. School and college were amazing days. It’s strange that when you’re young; you desperately want to mature, yet when you’re older you wish you were young again!

In college I aspired to be a journalist; an ambition I have fulfilled. However, when I was in college I had no idea how I would reach where I am today. No matter how well you plan the route to your destination, you can never bargain what the journey will throw your way.

In ten years I’ve come across literally hundreds of people who have impacted my life, be it immensely or minutely. I’ve graduated and post-graduated. I’ve lived away from home, seen amazing countries and learnt from countless experiences. I’ve celebrated landmark events, such as family weddings and the birth of my niece.

I’ve lost special people, but gained so many more. I’ve battled through tough times that have tested my faith in God. I’ve seen my brother and father survive a near-death experience and saved my mother from a dark future with no return.

I’ve become the rock of my family without even realising it. From a dependent teen, I’ve transformed into an independent woman – I’ve just realised how cliché that sounds but it totally sums up my point!

I’ve learnt how to see the positive in every good or bad experience. I’ve learnt to be grateful. I’ve learnt not to believe in regrets. I’m (still!) learning how to move on from disappointments and to forgive.

Regardless of gaining so much in a decade, the only question I face from anyone is “why aren’t you married yet?” Despite growing more in this time than any other time in my life, for some people my life has lacked achievements because I’m not hitched…

For those of my friends who are married, the first question they ever face is “why haven’t you had any children yet?” And yes, you’ve probably guessed it; for those who do have a child, its “when are you going to have another?”

Why don’t education and career count as recognised achievements? Why doesn’t coping with life crises count as recognised achievements? Why doesn’t independence count as a recognised achievement?

Why does society dictate what we should be doing at certain points in our life? Surely it should be down to the individual when they focus on their career, when they settle down, when the start a family or whether they want any of the above.

I’ve had an amazing last ten years that would have been impossible if I were tied down by marriage or motherhood. The years of 17-27 are so underestimated. These are the years that you grow spiritually and mentally. This is when you build the foundations of your life. This is when you can afford to be spontaneous and adventurous. And it’s so damn fun!

Another ten years from now seems generations away. God knows where I will be at 37, what I will achieve by then and even what questions society will ask based on its regimental norms! One thing’s for sure, I don’t have a single regret on the past ten years and I sure as hell am not expecting any in the next decade!

Time to feel ten years younger…again!

The Orange Movement

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In the past couple of weeks, you may have seen a sudden wash of orange colour across social networking sites, orange flags on cars and homes. I’ve been asked by many people what it represents. So, here goes the orange movement under the spotlight.

As I discussed in my earlier post, most Sikhs the world over were outraged last month at the Indian High Court’s ruling to hang Balwant Singh Rajoana. He is a former police officer who has already spent 17 years behind bars for conspiring in the assassination of the former Punjab Chief Minister in 1995 – a crime he has never denied.

Opinions over what he did vary. Some people believe he saved the Sikh faith from the ongoing slaughter imposed by the Punjab authorities at the time. Others believe Rajoana was wrong to help plot a suicide bombing that killed 16 others. But the orange movement is not about whether he was right or wrong in what he did – although many are misconstruing it for just that.

The orange movement is a call for justice. It’s a means to raise awareness of Rajoana’s case across the world. When a man has admitted his crime and spent more than the equivalent of the Indian lifetime sentence, why is he being subjected to a second sentence of the death penalty? In which law across the world has a person been subjected to two sentences?

Bear in mind he has admitted what he did. Bear in mind he “conspired” in murder but was not the murderer himself. Bear in mind he was a serving police officer but what he saw being imposed against Sikh civilians turned him from public servant to rebel.

I’m against the death sentence altogether, regardless of the crime, regardless of the country. But surely it’s inhumane to keep a man in prison for 17 years and then tell him he will be hanged till death. Why couldn’t the death sentence be imposed when he admitted to the crime?

Others arrested over the Chief Minister’s assassination have still not faced a trial. Yet they have spent more than the lifetime sentence in prison. How is that a fair legal system?

Sikhs across the globe have started the orange movement by holding peaceful demos and flying orange flags. This is to highlight the issue to the wider world and mainstream media. I’ve only seen the case mentioned on ITV Central News when Sikhs demonstrated outside the Indian Embassy. Sikh channels and Asian radio stations have discussed the issue but where is the mainstream coverage? We pay license fees so why can’t the BBC offer comprehensive coverage of a story that affects 19million Sikhs in Britain? Only BBC Asian Network has touched on the story. That’s very disappointing.

So, if you’re against injustice and feel Rajoana is facing a second sentence that is unfair, join the movement. Fly an orange flag. It’s already getting people talking. Let’s make sure people don’t lose sight of what it’s about.