Posts tagged ‘Kolkata’


U.K.’s Marks & Spencer Is Aiming to Double India Store Count – India Real Time – WSJ

Marks & Spencer Group PLC said it is on track to double its store count in India in the next 15 months, an ambition that poses both risks and opportunities for the British retailer.

M&S has recently struggled in troubled markets such as Russia, Ukraine and Turkey and was forced to reconfigure its footprint in China, but India has emerged as a relative bright spot. Revenue climbed 23% last fiscal year.

“I think there is an instinctive understanding of M&S in India,” said the company’s head of international business, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne.

M&S is in 21 cities in India so far, with a focus on large cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. Now, M&S is looking to deepen its exposure to India. It plans to open stores in less-developed cities, such as Vijayawada, Jalandhar and Vizag, during the current fiscal year ending in March, while also beefing up its footprint in larger cities.

The company—which operates in India through a joint venture with Reliance Industries Ltd., one of India’s largest companies—in early October will open its 50th store in India, in Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji airport.

Source: U.K.’s Marks & Spencer Is Aiming to Double India Store Count – India Real Time – WSJ


Visas for travel: Common sense comes to India | The Economist

RED TAPE is the bane of frequent business travellers. Many places in the world require arduous and expensive visa applications for even the most routine travel. I have two passports just so I can juggle concurrent applications when necessary. But the best policy, for business travellers and tourists alike, is a less-restrictive visa regime. The Schengen Area has proven a huge boon to European travellers; this blog has long supported making it easier for people to travel abroad.

Now there’s some good news. India, a nation notorious for bureaucracy and red tape—not to mention the long queues outside its diplomatic missions of people hoping to visit the country (see picture above of India House in London)—has dramatically loosened its visa policies. Travellers from 43 nations, including Germany, Japan, Russia and America, will now be able to receive visas upon arrival. There are, unfortunately, some restrictions:

You have to apply online four days in advance, pay a $60 fee, and upload a passport photo and a scan of your passport.

It only works for the international airports in nine cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Goa.

It is valid for 30 days, and you can only get two per year.

Narendra Modi‘s government has referred to the changes as being for a “tourist visa”. But the announcement makes clear the visa can be used for a “casual business visit”, and many Gulliver readers may decide that’s good enough for them.

The new policy is far from perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction and one that travellers should applaud. It will “send out a clear message that India is serious about making travel to the country easy,” Mahesh Sharma, the country’s tourism minister, said in a statement. That’s an encouraging attitude. If Mr Modi’s government can pull off more changes along these lines, travellers—and the Indian economy—should benefit greatly.

via Visas for travel: Common sense comes to India | The Economist.


India Said to Pull Warships From Kolkata on Terror Threat – Businessweek

India pulled two naval warships out of the Kolkata port yesterday after receiving intelligence that they might be targeted by terrorists, a navy officer familiar with the matter said.

The INS Khukri and INS Sumitra had entered the port of the city previously known as Calcutta late Nov. 3 and had been scheduled to stay until tomorrow for public viewings, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the intelligence data isn’t public. The public visiting program has been canceled, the official said.

Kolkata remains on high alert, K.S. Dhatwalia, a spokesman for India’s Home Ministry, said by phone from New Delhi today. He declined to comment on precautions Indian police and intelligence agencies are taking to thwart an attack and said he wasn’t aware of who was behind the potential plot.

via India Said to Pull Warships From Kolkata on Terror Threat – Businessweek.


Rats On Planes — A Distressingly Common Problem – India Real Time – WSJ

After a rat was discovered aboard an Air India Ltd. plane at the Delhi airport, a spokesman for the country’s state-owned flag carrier said rodent stowaways are a “rare occurrence.”

If only that were true. In fact, rats and other pests often find their way onto jetliners in India and around the world.

With thousands of flights each day handling large quantities of food for passengers as well as baggage, rodents and insects sometimes manage to hitch a ride on food catering trucks or luggage trollies to get inside planes despite hygiene checks.

“We get requests to fumigate four or five planes each month,” said an official of India’s state-run Central Warehousing Corp., which offers pest-control services to airlines, ports, railways, shipping companies and government offices in India.

The official, who declined to be named, said Central Warehousing offers two types of pest treatment to airlines. The most common is spraying pesticides inside aircraft cabins to keep out mosquitoes, cockroaches and other insects.

“The second is fumigation and it is done only when a rat or rat droppings are spotted inside an aircraft,” he said.

Fumigating an aircraft isn’t easy. The plane needs to be isolated, sealed and then pumped full of lethal gas. After about six hours, the aircraft is ventilated to clear the toxic fumes.

The official said the fumigation procedure was carried out on the Air India Airbus A321 that had rodent issues this week. The official said he wasn’t sure whether there was one or more rats inside the plane.

An Air India official had said there was only one rat inside the Airbus A321 jet when it landed at New Delhi on a flight from the eastern metropolis of Kolkata. He denied a Times of India report that said there were “scores” of rats inside the plane.

Pests afflict all airlines. A pest-control company in Southeast Asia said his company has helped clear rats out of planes belonging to two Asian airlines. But airline companies like to keep such matters quiet, and often ask exterminators to sign confidentiality agreements, he said.

The Central Warehousing official said the company’s pest control business for Indian carriers suffered a setback after Kingfisher Airlines stopped flying in 2012 but is now optimistic that business will rebound as new airlines like AirAsia India Pvt.  and Tata SIA Airlines Ltd. set up base in the country.

via Rats On Planes — A Distressingly Common Problem – India Real Time – WSJ.


Modi takes on Third Front parties – The Hindu

“Time has come to bid farewell to this idea of Third Front from Indian politics forever,” the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate told a party rally in Kolkata.

BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses a party rally at Brigade Parade grounds in Kolkata on Wednesday. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Making his debut in West Bengal in the campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on the Left parties and the Third Front, saying they will make India a “third-rate” country.

Trying to strike a chord with the Bengalis, he accused the Congress of denying Pranab Mukherjee the Prime Minister’s chair in 2004 even though he “deserved” it.

Mr. Modi was severe in his criticism of the Left parties and their partners, saying they have destroyed the eastern region of the country by their rule while western India has shown progress because they had never ruled that region.

“These people (Left and its associates) who do politics in the name of secularism practice the politics of vote-bank by misleading Muslims. They destroyed the eastern region. You must banish them from the Indian politics forever,” he said in a speech interspersed with some sentences in Bengali.

via Modi takes on Third Front parties – The Hindu.

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Calcutta anger as double gang-rape victim set on fire and burns to death | South China Morning Post

An Indian teenager who was gang-raped in two separate attacks has died after being set on fire, sparking protests in Calcutta.


The girl, 16, was assaulted on October 26 and again the day after by a group of more than six men near her family\’s home in Madhyagram town, just north of the city.

The second rape occurred as she was returning home after reporting the first attack at a police station.

A rape victim\’s dead body is covered in floral tributes before a protest march in Calcutta on January 1. Photo: EPA

She was set on fire on December 23 and died in hospital late on New Year\’s Eve, police said.

\”She gave us a dying declaration in front of the health officials that she had been set on fire by two people who were close to the accused when she was alone at home on December 23,\” local policeman Nimbala Santosh Uttamrao said.

Police made their first arrests on Wednesday, two months after the initial crime, local police chief Rajiv Kumar said.

\”The accused tried to kill my daughter by setting her on fire to hush up their crimes,\” the victim\’s father, a migrant taxi driver from India\’s poorest state, Bihar, said. Neither he nor the victim can be named for legal reasons.

Several hundred activists on Wednesday protested in Calcutta over the crime, which was shocking in its brutality, even after a year when sex crimes were widely reported in India.

Rampant rape, assault and harassment of women in India were in the spotlight in the past 12 months after the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in New Delhi in December 2012 sparked nationwide outrage.

The parliament has since passed tougher laws to punish rapists.

Despite the reforms, new cases of rape continue to be reported daily from across the country in the Indian press.

Activists say rape victims in India often face severe threats and intimidation from their attackers after the assault, while police often discourage them from lodging complaints.

via Calcutta anger as double gang-rape victim set on fire and burns to death | South China Morning Post.


* Delhi is not safe, Mamata says after attack by Left activists

Times of India: “An upset West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday cancelled her scheduled meeting with finance minister P Chidambaram to leave for Kolkata, a day after she was gheraoed and her minister Amit Mitra manhandled by Left protesters here.

English: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Baner...

English: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee attends a news conference in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata September 7, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking to the media, Mamata said, “After 35 years, I have been able to stop a bloodbath in Bengal. Our cadres are peaceful, and all the ruckus is created by CPM cadre,” she said of the protests happening across Bengal.

Mamata also said that PM Mammohan Singh had called her up and apologized for the incident.

“Delhi is not safe. I was manhandled. When I tried to get down at the Planning Commission, the police did not cooperate at all,” Mamata said.

She said she was unwell and had been advised rest.”

via Delhi is not safe, Mamata says after attack by Left activists – The Times of India.


* “Muslims have bigger problems than Rushdie”

Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Hindu: “Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen said here on Sunday that the Muslim groups who protested against author Salman Rushdie’s visit to the city were distracting attention from “the real disadvantages” that the community faced.

“A lot of people who are enormously disadvantaged have enormous reasons to complain about other things,” Professor Sen said in response to a question on the controversy at the Kolkata Literary Meet, one of the events in the 37 International Kolkata Book Fair.

Professor Sen said that communities such as the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the Muslims in West Bengal were not as privileged as the rest “in terms of the even-handedness of progress.”

“To subvert that issue into a completely different kind of issue and getting offended about something else — that is distracting attention from the real disadvantages that they face,” Professor Sen said.

The author of The Argumentative Indian said the militancy seen in recent developments restricted the conversation: “Anything that makes the Indian constructive argumentative tradition more militant — that people have the right [to deem an act as offensive] and therefore you cannot say those things — becomes a limitation because it restricts the conversation,” Professor Sen said.”

via The Hindu : News / National : “Muslims have bigger problems than Rushdie”.

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* TCS to create 16,500 jobs in West Bengal

Indian IT firm expands in Indian state.

Times of India: “Tata Consultancy Services said its Rs 1,350 crore software development campus in West Bengal will be functional by the end of 2014-15 and will employ 16,500 IT and BPO professionals.

TCS to create 16,500 jobs in West Bengal

“Our growing presence in Kolkata continues to be of strategic importance for our overall business growth.

“We remain committed to working in close collaboration with all stakeholders in the state to help development of local talent and provide our customers with world-class IT solutions from this location,” TCS Chief Financial Officer & Executive Director S Mahalingam said.

The first phase of construction will be completed in the first quarter of 2014, while the second phase by the fourth quarter of the year.

“In the first phase 7,000 seats will be ready with the remaining 9,500 seats being completed in second phase,” Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) said in a statement.

Once completed, the campus that is being constructed with an investment of about Rs 1,350 crore will house over 16,500 seats, it added.”

via TCS to create 16,500 jobs in West Bengal – The Times of India.


* Bikram Singh assumes charge as new Army Chief

The Hindu: “Gen Bikram Singh, a veteran infantry officer, on Thursday took over as the 25th Chief of the Indian Army succeeding Gen V.K. Singh whose 26-month tenure was mired by controversies.

The 59-year-old Gen Bikram Singh will have a tenure of two years and three months in the top post. Prior to his appointment as Army Chief, Gen Bikram was commanding the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command.

He has held several important appointments in counter insurgency areas as the Corps Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps and Akhnoor-based 10 Division as Major General.

The officer, better known as ‘Bikki’ to his friends, was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry regiment on March 31, 1972 after attending the prestigious Indian Military Academy IMA.”

via The Hindu : News / National : Bikram Singh assumes charge as new Army Chief.

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