India September 2004: a few photos

Travelling this time to India, we found enormous changes there too, and thought we might share a few pictures

All taxis in Mumbai (formely Bombay) have to run on Compressed Natural Gas in order to protect the environment

The latest commercial radio station, Radio Mirchi = red hot chilli, has better facilities than most commercial radio stations in the UK and US. Project manager Altaf Khan (right) said he expects to be managing the setting up of similar stations across India. The station is owned by the Times of India Group

Mumbai fashion designer Preeya Shrikhande in her studio in Sion

Mumbai tailor is his air conditioned shop, with a selection of suitings

The lubricant of business everywhere, except these 100 note wads all seemed to have been stapled together, for rapid exchanges between persons who have no time to count the individual notes, suggesting a less than totally honest origin

An Indian corner shop in the Dadar district of Mumbai, which like Indian cornershops everywhere, seems to sell just about everything

A modern Indian temple in the Dadar district of Mumbai

News article which I published in the October 2004 edition of Eureka after my visit

India ahead in wireless communications and green

A short visit to Mumbai revealed that India is way ahead of the UK in terms of achieving wireless connectivity and more than a few other things. Unlike the UK, the GSM (Global Systems for Mobiles communications) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks have been merged into a wireless local loop. The result is that fixed phones, which can also be used as mobile phones, cell phones, PDAs and computers can all be connected at local call rates, which thanks to intense commercial competition, are pennies. According to the Times of India, there are 4.1 million cell phones in and around Mumbai alone, and children in back country villages ask strangers, not for coins, but spotting a new phone model, for details and preferably a demonstration of its features. It came as no surprise, being shown around Radio Mirchi, (=red hot chilli), a new commercial radio station, to discover that its all digital technology was way ahead of most of its developed nation equivalents. Retired colonel Natraja Thiagarajan, the station's chief technical officer had Eureka shown round the facilities and said that the government planned to extend integrated wireless loop facilities and allow the setting up of commercial operations such as his, across India. As well as new communications, which make broadband in Internet cafes lightning fast, and a booming IT sector, factories seemed to be going up along all the main roads. Many have boards referring to their backing by MIDC, the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation. Students we met said they sought to become engineers as a choice second only to medicine. This is a consequence of deliberate government policy. While we were there, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh commented, "If we are to eradicate poverty, we need to boost our manufacturing sector which alone can absorb workers on a massive scale." At the same time, concerns about the environment have led to all taxis in Mumbai having to run on compressed natural gas, and a ban on trucks initially over 15 years old, and now over 8 years old. It is also the sort of country, it was alleged to us, where the odd doctor was willing to undertake drug trials for US companies on unsuspecting pregnant women. The only snag we could see on the road to India conquering the commercial markets of the world is the complaint by Dr Singh that banks are reluctant to lend to what India calls SSIs, Small Scale Industries, despite banks having plenty of money. "Even as bankers exercise their commercial judgement, they must also pay heed to the development dimension of lending to small enterprises". Gandhi's spinning wheel seems to have been consigned to the museum. TS

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