Kashmiris in limbo and lockdown

On 5 August 2019, the Indian government revoked a constitutional article that stripped the semi-autonomous status from the part of Kashmir it administers and split the region into two federally-run territories. A stringent curfew was imposed and thousands detained along with a communications black-out.

The lockdown began to be eased in March, but was then re-imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a year of shutdowns, anger and fear. The BBC spoke to 12 different Kashmiris, to find out what their lives have been like during this year.

Sanna Irshad Mattoo, 26

Sanna Irshad Mattoo,
Sanna Irshad Mattoo,

“In our line of work, you can’t separate the personal from the professional,” says Ms Mattoo, who has been a journalist for the last four years.

“We have been through lockdowns in previous years. But last year there was an environment of fear psychosis. We didn’t know what was happening. Our modes of

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New lockdown in the North of England

Shoppers wear face masks in Blackburn town centre - Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe
Shoppers wear face masks in Blackburn town centre – Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

Partial lockdown reimposed across north of England

Boris Johnson last night ordered swathes of the north of England back into partial lockdown as he warned of a “damaging second wave” hitting the UK. Hundreds of thousands of people in Greater Manchester, Bradford, Blackburn and other areas were banned from holding indoor meetings involving people from different households. It comes after NHS data showed ­coronavirus reaching worrying levels in parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, prompting the Prime Minister to take “immediate action” to keep people safe. Read the areas facing the indoor meeting ban, which include Leicester, which has had freedoms announced on June 23 reversed. How concerned should we be about a coronavirus resurgence? Science Editor Sarah Knapton analyses how, arguably, Britain is once again suffering from its haphazard testing regime, which is making it virtually impossible

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Lysol sales surge as the condom business goes limp under lockdown, consumer goods giant reports

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc said Covid-19 has prompted consumers and companies to make lasting improvements in their cleaning routines, boosting prospects for future sales of its disinfectants and sanitizers.

Lysol sales surged about 70% in the first half in North America, and professional demand has been so strong that the U.K. consumer-goods maker set up a business to meet demand from new clients including Hilton, Avis and Delta. 

A new era of cleanliness has begun, according to the company. Once a consumer adopts new behaviors such as consistent and thorough hand washing for more than two months, the habits stick.

“Covid-19 is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future and, as a society, we are embedding new hygiene practices to protect our way of life,” Chief Executive Officer Laxman Narasimhan said.

Reckitt said Tuesday it expects the boom in its cleaning brands, which also include Sagrotan handgel, will

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We tightened our lending in lockdown

Buy now, pay later service Klarna has seen a boom in business during Britain’s lockdown.

That includes a 105% increase in the number of running shoes purchased using its services, a 60% hike in beauty product sales and “significant uplift” in purchases of bicycles and cycling accessories.

“We saw our volumes increase during that period just reflecting the increase in digital transactions generally,” Luke Griffiths, Klarna’s vice president, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Wake Up To Money.

However, as sales increased but more shoppers faced the financial uncertainty of lockdown, the company did tighten its rules on lending.

“Obviously with people’s financial circumstances changing during this period, we have constantly reviewed our policies around the type of customer that we accept,” Mr Griffiths said.

He says the firm is now only accepting customers who it believes will and can repay on time.

As a result, he does not believe Klarna

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Credit card spending fell 50% in first month of lockdown

Credit card spending in April dropped by 50% to £8.7bn. Photo: Getty
Credit card spending in April dropped by 50% to £8.7bn. Photo: Getty

Credit card spending in April dropped by 50% to £8.7bn ($11bn), compared with April 2019, new data from UK Finance reveals.

The number of credit card transactions by UK cardholders also saw a notable fall of 46% to 163 million, the lowest level in over nine years, as borrowers cut down on credit card spending as the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

Outstanding balances on credit cards fell by £4.7bn in April, the largest monthly drop in over a decade, and more than double the £3.1bn fall in outstanding balances in March, as many consumers chose to make repayments rather than spend on their credit cards.

Spending on debit cards, however, remained strong in April, with the total value of transactions increasing by 0.9% to £51.8bn. This is despite the number of debit card transactions falling by 5.1%

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Credit card spending fell 50% at start of lockdown

Credit cards spending dropped by nearly half at the start of lockdown as people played safe with their finances and shunned big purchases.

A total of £8.7bn was spent on credit cards in the first full month of lockdown in April, half the level of April last year, UK Finance said.

The banking trade body said this was the lowest level of spending seen since the last economic downturn.

The cancellation of holiday plans is one likely reason for the fall.


Consumers often use credit cards to pay for summer getaways or major purchases such as household appliances, owing to the extra protection available if something goes wrong.

Many people uncertain about the coronavirus effect on their jobs and finances would have put off buying these items, UK Finance said.

The temporary closure of shops and travel restrictions would also have meant many people put these buying decisions on

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Lockdown exposes looming tech gaps as money management goes digital


Two-thirds of UK adults now rely on mobile and online banking technology to manage their money, as lockdown prompts the wholesale shift to digital financial management.

Since March, a study of thousands of British adults has found almost 90 per cent check their accounts, 80 per cent transfer money, and 35 per cent even withdraw investment funds using fintech, as physical banking options remained closed.

Others have opened savings accounts, applied for credit cards and extended overdrafts. More than a fifth of fintech users said they have successfully secured new financial products during the lockdown without having to speak to a single human being, according to a new study seen exclusively by The Independent.

Almost half of consumers plan to continue using tech much more, even as bank branches reopen, and now say their technology offering is a “key consideration” when choosing a financial services provider.

“In light

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How 5 fashion labels transformed to survive lockdown

Kitri Brora
Kitri Brora

News in the retail sector is gloomy right now, with headlines about falling sales and much-loved brands going into administration. But some small businesses have been clever and nimble enough to make the best of extraordinary circumstances…



Solid gold personalised name bracelet, £550; Vermeil name bracelet, £140; Oval huggies, from £60-£140, all Otiumberg

As chosen by Lisa Armstrong

When the UK went into lockdown, 31-year-old Rosanna and 35-year-old Christie Wollenberg, the sister-duo behind Otiumberg, the stylishly understated source of irresistibly pretty jewellery, had three hours to clear their new showroom of stock.

“I ended up moving hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of jewellery to my small flat in south London without proper insurance. It was either that or lose access to it and we didn’t know how long that would be for,” recounts Rosanna. Fortunately, because they specialise in small, delicate pieces, the haul was

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Dulux forced to limit paint purchases after rise in demand from lockdown renovations

Only tester pots can now be purchased online - Nitzan Assaf / EyeEm /Getty Images
Only tester pots can now be purchased online – Nitzan Assaf / EyeEm /Getty Images
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..
Coronavirus Article Bar with counter ..

Dulux has been forced to limit paint purchases after a surge in demand due to lockdown renovations.

The company introduced a strict limit on the number of items that can be bought after they were flooded with orders.

Only tester pots can now be purchased online – and there is even a strict limit on those.

A message on the Dulux website reads: “We are now taking new orders for testers only via this website, however to manage continued exceptional demand, we are limiting the number of orders taken each day.

“If our daily capacity has been reached you will see a message displayed when trying to add items to your shopping cart, and we ask you try again the next day.”

Last week the company had to suspend

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‘Inherent sexism’ and ‘snobbishness’ in government’s lockdown lifting, Labour business spokesperson says


Labour’s business spokesperson has blasted the “inherent sexism” in the government’s lifting of lockdown, which has seen pubs and barbers allowed to open their doors before beauty salons and nail bars.

Lucy Powell warned that Britain’s high streets could become “ghost towns” unless the government steps up financial assistance for services like the beauty industry which are most badly affected by social distancing measures.

And she said that “snobbishness” may play a part in ministers overlooking services used mainly by women and young people while displaying “macho bravado” about encouraging drinkers to return to pubs.

Speaking to The Independent, Ms Powell said chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £1,000 bonus for keeping on furloughed staff – announced on Wednesday – was not enough to stave off redundancies, and urged him to extend his job retention scheme to Christmas at least for sectors like hospitality which are least able to make a

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