As 1,50,000 people converge at Chaityabhoomi to pay homage to Babasaheb Ambedkar, the architect of India's Constitution on his 54th death anniversary
A sea of humanity descended from all over the country at Chaityabhoomi, Dadar, in central Mumbai, to pay homage to the architect of the Indian Constitution Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, on his 54th death anniversary today.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, passed away on 6 December 1956. The day is observed as Mahaparinirvan Din. The last rites were performed at Chaityabhoomi near Shivaji Park, Dadar.
As has been the tradition, hundreds of people began coming to the city some days ago and today the queues were unending. This has become possible with the growing support of all political parties. While arrangements for hygiene and sanitation still leaves a lot to be desired, the crowd management and overall discipline of the people has been commendable.
The queues of people looking forward to a glimpse of the statue of Dr Ambedkar in the sanctorum stretched for a few kilometres, around the historic Shivaji Park nearby, to adjacent Worli and disappearing into the fishing village there. Moneylife photographed images of the awe-inspiring occasion on a walkabout along the route the queues had formed and right into the inner sanctum, this afternoon.
The civic departments made elaborate arrangements for the convenience of the people converging at the Chaityabhoomi. Water tankers, wash rooms and about 200 toilets were set up and over 800 workers were engaged to maintan cleanliness in the area where the people have been camping.
Hundreds of volunteers were distributing food and water. Many were even busy helping families trace some members who were lost in the crowds.
With shops around Shivaji Park prudently opting to remain closed, the pavements were taken over by hawkers selling books, photographs, candles, flowers and a variety of charms and trinkets for out-of-town visitors. Strangely, this gigantic annual gathering of over 1,50,000 (estimates by the police control room) found hardly a mention in the mainline English media this morning.
However, while the sponsored visit of the crowds to Mumbai may improve, it is clear that even the best civic and police administrators cannot prevent the accompanying chaos and hardship to those who live in the area. So, some residents even leave the area for a couple of days, to return after the crowds have departed. The one blessing this occasion does bring, is that during these days people in the area receive water supply round-the-clock.
Perhaps one solution that can be considered is to provide more space for this enormous gathering of people by developing a part of the neighbouring government-owned Indu Mills as a place of homage and remembrance for a leader, who seems to be growing in stature even decades after his demise. One blessing in the past year is the Worli-Bandra sealink that allows north-south commuters to skip the Veer Savarkar road, which runs through the area, and avoiding the previous nightmarish traffic jams on the day.
Phone companies deduct heavy roaming charges for data services, even within the recently unified circles, and without any prior information or intimation, in an apparent violation of a recent DoT order
As telecom firms gear up to rollout 3G advanced services that would facilitate faster Internet browsing and premium services like video calling, it will be very interesting to see how these players price their services in a fast-growing but extremely sensitive Indian market.
For, today, the list of complaints about indirect charges being squeezed out of subscribers just gets longer. Whether it is a useless ringtone you never requested, but are being charged for, or some other similarly worthless, unwanted service. Companies seem to be constantly working out ways to generate more money.
One service that is bringing in more revenues is the Internet, and mobile phone operators are finding that Internet use is increasing. Up to now, one believed that the charges displayed for data services by the operators was what they billed customers. But last month, this writer discovered a hitherto unexplained payment being deducted on data usage for roaming while on a trip out of Mumbai. Very few operators (perhaps only the government operators) mention such roaming charges and certainly none has such charges in merged circles.
Through an order of the Department of Telecom (DoT) recently, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata circles were merged with their respective states. Mobile service providers were directed to treat the metros merged with the states as one circle of operation. So Kolkata along with West Bengal is one circle and even eastern and western Uttar Pradesh is now a unified circle.
But it appears that while service providers have implemented the order with regard to call rates (charges for incoming calls within a circle have been discontinued), they have not done so for data charges. When this writer travelled from Mumbai to another city in Maharashtra (but still in the Mumbai Circle) in the past 10 days, Idea Cellular deducted Rs75 from the prepaid account without any intimation even though the entire Maharashtra and Mumbai is now a unified circle. Unlimited GPRS data service is available in the Mumbai Circle for Rs98 only monthly.
It seems that this is not just a local issue. Last year, the European Union (EU) put a cap on roaming charges for voice calls and SMS, but did not touch data charges. However, news reports have quoted Paul Rubig, member of the European Parliament from Austria, as saying that lawmakers would consider imposing new retail price caps on data roaming charges. Austria was one of the sponsors of the regulations on roaming charges.
But again, these rules are applicable only to subscribers in EU countries. Indians visiting those countries would have to pay the rates prescribed by their service provider. That's also probably why Indians get pretty steep phone bills, and there's no one who can stand up to these companies. Here's a clue of what these charges are like. Tata DoCoMo charges Rs5.50 per 10 kilobytes (KB) for international roaming. To access yahoo.com (site load about 400KB) on your mobile, you would be charged Rs220-even if you did not actually click on the website!
According to information available, a customer of Bharti Airtel in Karnataka was asked to pay a hefty roaming charge for simply keeping the data service on while on a visit to Japan. The Bharti subscriber said in a post on clientcomplain.com, "I travelled on 19 December 2009 and reached Japan on 20 December 2009, when I received an SMS alert about an outstanding amount of Rs25,000. The next day I received another alert stating that my outstanding was Rs36,000, and I had not used the data service even for a minute!" I returned to India on 23 December 2009.
This problem is particularly severe for those working in Mumbai and residing some distance away from the city. They are billed roaming charges on data services even when they are in the same Mumbai-Maharashtra unified circle. In fact, while incoming voice calls are free in these circles, the outgoing call charges vary and are quite heavy as compared to costs on the home network. On data, some service providers charge 1 paise per 10KB on the home network, but 10 times this at 10 paise per 10KB for roaming.
Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) might be an exception. Here is what MTNL says on the matter: "Subscribers can avail same data tariff charges while roaming in BSNL Maharashtra as on the MTNL Mumbai network, for all plans, and without any extra roaming charge for data."
One hopes that the launch of mobile number portability will force phone operators to be more attentive to the issues of subscribers and get rid of such absurdities.
New Delhi: French companies are committed to invest Euro 10 billion ($13.37 billion) in India by 2012, reports PTI quoting the country's minister of economy and finance Christine Lagarde.
“This is not just a figure (Euro 10 billion). It is the commitment by French companies between 2008 and 2012,” Ms Lagarde said while addressing India-France Business Forum organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).
Adding that everything (business) worked on ‘give and take’ principle, she said, India has to reciprocate to its (France's) interests in the country.
She emphasised on opening up sectors like insurance and retail, particularly, multi-brand retail, so that French companies can invest in these sectors.
Ms Lagarde is accompanying the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is on a four-day visit to India.
Mr Sarkozy is leading a team of ministers and a high-level business delegation to strengthen bilateral ties in key areas.
Responding to the concern expressed by French minister, Indian Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said removing foreign direct investment (FDI) cap on insurance and multi-brand retail was very much on the government agenda.
The government is in the process of amending the insurance legislation to pave the way for allowing 49% FDI in the sector, Mr Ahluwalia said.
For opening up FDI in retail, particularly the multi-brand retail, several ministries have supported the idea, but the decision has to be taken by the government, he said.