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Traditional dance representing cross-cultural connection of India and Paisley

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Paisley’s cross-cultural connections took centre stage in a unique blend of traditional and fusion style dance celebrating Indian culture and heritage.

The annual Abhinaya Dance Showcase – held in Paisley for the first time in support of Paisley’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 – saw almost 80 students of all ages from the West of Scotland perform classical Indian style Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance in front of a packed audience.

Paisley 2021 Bid Director even put a spotlight on Paisley’s ambitions by lighting the traditional festival lamp for the opening ceremony of the event.
The youngest dancers from the Abhinaya Dance Academy then took to the stage, starting a fast-paced extravaganza that featured a traditional peacock dance and fusion style dance-ercise.

The event also saw 15 senior students receive Salangai Pooja, the traditional ankle bells worn by dancers that have completed formal study of Bharatanatyam.

Paisley’s Indian roots are best known through the Paisley Pattern, the town’s global brand which descended from the original kashmiri shawls, made famous by the town’s weavers.

Earlier this year the Paisley Pattern featured in the cross-cultural fashion show in Paisley Abbey in a showcase of students’ work from India and their Scottish counterparts in Glasgow Kelvin College.

And while the town’s bid for UK City of Culture 2021 is retelling Paisley’s unique story of its one time place at the centre of the global textile industry, the town is also building upon its diverse cultural scene.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, chair of the Paisley 2021 Partnership Board, said: “We’ve been getting out into the community finding out what makes Paisley’s culture and discovering some unique gems showcasing the town’s past but also present and future.

“The Abhinaya show was a fantastic mix of Indian and contemporary dance styles, a perfect combination showcasing the town’s cross-cultural links.

“Paisley’s connection to India is important for the town. Our global brand – the Paisley Pattern – is a significant part of our town’s weaving heritage and instantly recognisable today.

“The iconic design, which descended from the original kashmiri shawls, made an enormous impact on the town’s economy during the 1800s, and it’s a key part of the town’s ambitious regeneration plans and the bid for UK City of Culture 2021.”

Mrs Esther Sunija Binu of Abhinaya Dance Academy said: “We were all so proud to showcase the South Asian culture and dance to the town and bringing people from multicultural backgrounds together through culture.

“On behalf of the Abhinaya Dance Academy I would like to thank everyone who has supported us to make this Dance Showcase a grand and a memorable event, especially Jean Cameron, Abhinaya’s dance students, Paisley Town Hall and the Big Lottery Fund. I also like to thank everyone for the appreciative and positive comments after the show; this will encourage students to perform at higher levels.

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

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Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)