Monthly Archives: June 2010

India Showcase unimpressive show at Shanghai World Expo

You’d imagine it would parade its tech and IT muscle in World Expo 2010 at Shanghai China. But the Indian narrative is predominantly centred around street food and handicrafts. An emerging India put an unimpressive showcase at the at the World Expo 2010. On entry, one is confronted by stalls, mainly empty, selling samosas, naan, rotis, lassis and a bunch of boxy booths peddling brassware and other bric-a-brac, the staple of our dull state emporia.

The World Expo is a large-scale, global, non-commercial Expo. Expo aims to promote the exchange of ideas and development of the world economy, culture, science and technology, to allow exhibitors to publicize and display their achievements and improve international relationships. This year China owes its successful bid for the World Exposition in 2010 to the international community’s support for and confidence in its reform and opening-up. World Expo 2010 Shanghai China is the first World’s Fair to host an online platform that allows viewers to take a glimpse of all of the pavilions.

In stark contrast was the neighbouring Saudi Arabia pavilion. The Saudis have spent a lavish $150-million (Rs 675 crore) on a tech-savvy pavilion in which a 4D experience is created and visitors taken on a conveyor belt ride. Pakistan has in fact beaten India in footfalls during the early days of the Expo by claiming the Buddhist legacy for itself.

If India wanted to showcase itself as a competitor to China and an economy that will define the 21st century, a country with immense talent, technology and youth, a nation ambitious of attaining double digit growth, it didn’t come through. On the other hand, if the intent was to sell its 5,000-year history, culture, arts, crafts, music and dance, that didn’t find expression either. What is most visible instead is the heavy hand of officialdom, whether in the names of stalls or on the T-shirts of yoga instructors. For example, instead of labeling stalls as ‘Handicrafts’, one read the mouthful ‘Ministry of rural development, Government of India and CAPART, ‘Council for Advancement of Peoples Art and Rural Technology’. Good for Pragati Maidan may be, definitely not Shanghai.

The displays on the first floor were crammed cheek by jowl. The displays — mainly pictures of people ranging from CV Raman to N R Narayana Murthy — were mounted on panels framed by beautiful saris. Visitors assaulted by so much information and clutter walked by without pausing to look.

One got the sense that if the saris used for backdrops had been the exhibits they would have drawn more attention than what was mounted. India Showcase unimpressive show at Shanghai World Expo,Showcasing well neither the past nor the present to the 70 million visitors expected to visit the Expo over six months, India may have lost a golden public relations opportunity.

Source: Times of India

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Now pay more for travelling in autos

The recent increase in the prices of CNG has prompted auto and taxi drivers to demand hike in fares. Over 80,000 taxis and a lakh auto-rickshaws in Mumbai on Tuesday went off the roads after a strike by drivers demanding hike in fares. The taxi union is asking for a hike in the minimum fare of black and yellow taxis from Rs 14 to Rs 16. Auto unions are demanding that the minimum fare for rickshaws be increased by Rs 6 to Rs 15 and Rs 8 for every subsequent kilometer. Rickshaws currently charge Rs 9 as minimum fare.

The Delhi Government on Tuesday hiked auto fares in the Capital. The announcement for increase in fares was made by Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely at a press conference. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had justified the decision, saying rise in prices of natural gas has left the government with no option but to heed to the demand of the auto unions for increase in fare. Lovely said apart from hike in CNG prices, the annual maintenance cost of autos has gone gone up by 70 per cent in last four years while the CNG prices have gone by 66 per cent during this period.

The minimum fare for auto-rickshaws will be increased from current Rs 10 for the first one km to Rs 19 for the first two km. Subsequently, the charge per km after the first two km will be Rs 6.50. Currently Rs 4.50 is taken per km after the first one km.

Hike in concession rate of service tax

As per the budget proposal for 2010-11, the finance ministry has suggested service tax on construction and sale of property. The contractor was entitled to claim abatement to the extent of 66.7 per cent of the value of services rendered by him. But recently, the Finance Minister has increased the concession on service tax applicable to construction of residential complexes from 66.7 per cent to 75 per cent of gross value of property, including land value.

Suppose you are buying a flat costing Rs. 50 lakh (cost of land, Rs. 40 lakh, cost of construction, Rs. 10 lakh). As per the 2010 budget, the applicable service tax was supposed to be Rs. 171,495 calculated at 10.3 per cent on 33.3 per cent of property value. With the amendment announced by the Finance Minister, the applicable service tax comes down to Rs. 128,750 calculated at 10.3 per cent on 25 per cent of property value. Thus, the savings will be Rs. 42,745.

The Finance Minister has also declared exemption from service tax for low-cost housing segment (less than Rs. 20 lakh). Suppose you are buying a flat in a smaller city for Rs. 18 lakh (cost of land, Rs. 6 lakh, and cost of construction, Rs. 12 lakh). With the amendment announced by the Finance Minister, there would be no service tax applicable.

The notification will be published in July 2010. Till issue of notification, there will be no service tax for under construction property. Property Buyers can pay amount for property and service tax will not be levied till July 2010. After issue of circular or notification, Service tax will be applicable only for under-construction properties and not for resale property.

Capital’s citizens will have to shell out more for public transport

Indraprastha Gas Ltd (IGL) announced an over 25 per cent increase in the prices of compressed natural gas (CNG).The steep hike follows the Manmohan Singh Government’s decision to raise natural gas prices from Rs.3.2 per cubic meter to Rs.7.5 per cubic meter.Effective from Wednesday midnight, CNG rates go up by Rs.5.60 per kg. IGL, however, has decided not to increase the price of piped natural gas being supplied to homes for cooking purposes.

IGL might go in for an increase in piped gas if the Government hikes LPG cooking gas prices. Effective from Wednesday midnight, the Capital’s citizens will have to shell out more for use of public transport now.The new CNG price in the Capital will be Rs.27.50 per kg against Rs.21.90 so far, while in neighbouring townships of Uttar Pradesh it will be Rs.30.60 per kg.

“We are constrained to increase the retail selling price of CNG in Delhi, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad due to the increase in the input price of gas procured by IGL along with its corresponding taxes and duties,” said IGL Director (Commercial) Manmohan Singh. The increase in CNG prices will marginally impact the per km running cost for vehicles, he added.

Source: The Hindu

Congestion tax on private vehicles to encourage public transport

New Delhi: Urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy on Wednesday criticized Indians for treating cars as status symbols. Reddy argued that the government could not stop people from buying cars but must design policies that discouraged buying of cars and promoted use of public transport. Reddy asked the states to consider imposing a road congestion tax on private vehicles to encourage public transport and check vehicular pollution in cities.

To a question on plans to introduce measures like congestion tax on private vehicles, Reddy said, “These are matters to be thought over and decided upon by the state governments. But having regard to size of cities, every state must think of measures like congestion tax.” Calling Indians “car maniacs”, he said, “Upwardly mobile classes are crazy about cars. Car is a status symbol in the country and this state of car mania can be done away with only in a subliminal way and not by the government.”

Reddy highlighting that over 1 lakh people were killed in road accidents every year, the minister asked the authorities to take due care of pedestrians. “Roads in the country are extremely cruel to pedestrians. The foot over-bridges are so intimidating that people prefer to cross the roads rather than use them. These are small things, which have to be taken into consideration,”

The government could not stop people from buying cars but must design policies that discouraged buying of cars. He criticized Indians for treating cars as status symbols and asked to impose restrictions like ‘one car for one family. Imposing road congestion tax on private vehicles will encourage public transport, reduce vehicular pollution in cities and discourage buying of cars.

Two held for the murder over availability of water

Ahmedabad:  Jayesh Patel and Vijay Patel residents of Suramya Society in Nikol were arrested for the murder of Gordhan Gedia. Gordhan Gedia was allegedly killed by Jayesh Patel and Vijay Patel following a scuffle that broke out between residents of Suramya Society in Nikol over availability of water.

Vijay Patel, resident of Suramya Society in Nikol attacked a group of people during a meeting that was held on the terrace of their apartment to resolve the long pending issue of non-availability of water. Gedia was killed and seven others injured in te attack.

Police inspector of Odhav police station, MS Sindha said that Patel had broken some pipelines in his building a few days ago. A meeting was later called to discuss the issue. In the meeting,Gordhan Gedia was allegedly killed  following a scuffle that broke out between residents. With the arrest of Patels, the Odhav police have so far arrested four people including Kalu and Ashok Raghuvanshi in this connection. Meanwhile, the Odhav police have intensified their efforts to nab the two other absconding accused.