Pramod Biligiri's Blog

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G20 Protests - Day 1
pramod kde
The G20 protests have passed off largely peacefully on Day 1. I didn't venture anywhere close and can only go by media accounts. Bank of England was swarmed with thousands of protesters who were restricted to a very small area by the police. Ultimately the protesters broke through the police cordon there, and there is a report that someone climbed up the wall of the building. Tear gas was used to disperse the crowd at one point.

The RBS building in the same area, though, was not so lucky. Some people took a fancy to its windows and broke the glass, entered in and trashed some equipment. You can see some of that in the below video.

The Guardian has good articles about the same: their LiveBlog, an article, and their G20 Homepage.

To me the funny part is that most of the protesters think they are opposing capitalism.
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Lots of leaders in London, soon
pramod kde
Yesterday I saw on the TV news that London is hosting a summit meeting of the G-20 nations. Political premiers from the top 20 countries (including Obama and Manmohan Singh), their finance ministers and Central Bank governors will arrive in time for the April 1st-2nd event. But the report was more focussed on the tremendous fear of the UK government that there are going to be disruptive protests and possibly terrorist attacks! The Guardian lists the main protests groups and provides copious links. You should watch this good but alarming CNN report (if you are reading in IE, the video should load below).

It's plausible that the government is exaggerating the fears to justify aggressive policing, but I know that companies are taking no chances and beefing up security. I was surprised to learn that the protest marches will converge at Bank of England for a final hurrah. We had been somewhere near "The Bank" area last week and was amazed at the sheer number of men-in-suits walking about. In fact, this AP article recommends bankers to "dress down" during those days.

So today I decided to actually walk down to see The Bank of England. I knew it was the oldest surviving central bank, founded in 1694. It is thus nicknamed The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street (Since I haven't seen the RBI's HQ in Bombay, it marked my first visit to a central bank :P). It is a massive building with numerous broad pillars clearly designed to convey wealth and inspire trust.

In this area lie offices of major banks like RBS, Natwest, Lloyds TSB etc. all with incestuous ties to the Old Lady. I am pretty sure in Bishopsgate I passed by the RBS office which witnessed snowball throwing (amazing video!, pics) earlier this year.

Some of you might know useless trivia like how the word "bedlam" (meaning mad chaos) derives from Bethlem Hospital, a lunatic asylum in medieval London. Today on my way back I was reading the plaque in front of an old looking building, and bang, it was Bedlam. This city is like that only.
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