Entries in India (9)


Vegetarian-Only McDonald's Opening in India

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- McDonald's is planning to open a vegetarian-only restaurant in India, the first ever in the fast food chain's history.

Since Hindus eschew beef and Muslims are non-pork eaters, McDonald's will debut its premiere no-meat outlet in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar next year.

It's location near the sacred Golden Temple shrine is another reason why this Golden Arches will skip meat products on its menu.

If all goes well, a second vegetarian-only McDonald's will open in Indian Kashmir, near a shrine that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

With a population of 1.24 billion, McDonald's figures it can add nicely to its "Billions and Billions Served" boast if the vegetarian-only outlets become a hit.

The company already has 271 restaurants in India with a menu that's 50 percent vegetarian.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Yamaha Plans $500 Motorcycle for India

Graham Crouch/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SHIZUOKA, Japan) -- A $500 motorcycle may be on the horizon for shallow-pocketed two-wheeler enthusiasts in India and across the globe.

According to Yamaha Motor Co., the company is in the planning stages of creating its cheapest motorcycle in India.

Yamaha reportedly hopes the new bike will boost its sales in the country to 2 million vehicles by 2016. It sold 520,000 cycles there in 2011 and expects to sell 640,000 in 2012.

This would be the third Yamaha model available in India, after the Crux, which sells for $635, and the YBR, which goes for $760.

Hiroyuki Suzuki, chief executive of India Yamaha Motor Pvt. Ltd., told The Wall Street Journal that it was time for Yamaha to “address a bigger part of the market.”

“Just about one in every 25 people in India owns a two-wheeler,” he said. “There is a huge scope to attract more buyers with a fuel-efficient product that is priced reasonably.”

The company, which announced a five-year plan in May to build new products and a facility in India, did not set a release date for the motorcycle but said it would be exported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Yamaha, which now has a market share of 3.5 percent, aims to control 10 percent by 2016.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Foreign Call Centers Phone Home

Pixland/Thinkstock(FORT WORTH, Texas) -- Have you had a complaint about a product? A problem with your brand-new computer? A question about a perplexing corporate policy?

It’s likely that your search for answers has spanned continents and traveled thousands of miles, sometimes without your even knowing it. Foreign call centers are not just a part of our everyday lives; they have also occupied a prominent place in the cultural lexicon.

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From the USA Prime Credit commercials with “Peggy,” the not-so-helpful customer service representative, to the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, Americans have come to believe that even when they’re told they’re speaking with “Sherry in St. Louis,” it’s more likely “Baruni in Bangalore.”

In the '80s and '90s, a stunning number of American companies began outsourcing their call centers. As many as 600,000 American jobs evaporated -- moved to the Philippines, India and elsewhere, where operators learned English as a second language, and chose their “American names.”

American companies were saving a lot of money, but now, many of those same companies are bringing their call centers home.

Eight thousand miles away from the call centers in India, there’s now a call center in Fort Worth, Texas. It is one of five NOVO1 -- a company that runs call centers -- has in the U.S.

The Fort Worth center employs 800 American workers and is growing.

What changed NOVO1′s business is the answers Americans are looking for when they seek help from live operators.  Americans used to need to call a representative for a password reset or an account balance. Now all that can be done online.

The answers that are not available online are much more complicated, especially for those overseas operators to answer.

“Is it really cheaper if it takes two calls to handle that customer?” Mary Murcott, CEO of NOVO1, told ABC News. “I can do the math very quickly and tell you it’s more expensive -- that job offshore.”

A call center job in America starts off paying anywhere from between $20,000 and $40,000 a year, while in India the same job would pay just $2,400 a year.

It is a price many say is worth paying for the higher productivity achieved with American workers -- and the ability to never have a customer ask to be connected to someone in the United States.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Starbucks Bringing Coffee Shops to India

Starbucks Corporation(MUMBAI, India) -- Starbucks is heading to India.

The company announced on Monday it has teamed up with Tata Global Beverages, the second largest branded tea company in the world, to take the Seattle-based coffee chain to one of the world's most populous countries.

"We’re very pleased to have found the best partner for Starbucks in Tata -- a company that shares so many of the same values for conducting business in a way that earns the trust and respect of our customers and partners (employees)," John Culver, the president of Starbucks China and Asia Pacific, said in a statement.  "We look forward to bringing the Starbucks Experience to customers in India by offering high quality arabica coffee, handcrafted beverages, locally relevant food, and legendary service."

Along with opening new coffee shops, the joint venture will also facilitate the creation of a tea for Indian consumers.

"[T]he companies have agreed to jointly leverage assets and innovation to offer a premium tea product branded Tata Tazo," Starbucks said.

The new stores are set to open across the country later this year, with the first ones popping up in Delhi and Mumbai.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Social Networking Sites Face Prosecution in India for Insulting Content

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW DELHI) -- Social networking sites have fallen afoul of the Indian government after what they say is a refusal by the sites to remove material insulting to the leadership and promoting enmity between religions.

Facebook and Google were among the sites listed when prosecutors presented their case in court on Friday. The sites were cited for refusing to remove controversial images of government leaders as well as sale of obscene objects.

If convicted leaders of the 21 sites may face a maximum of five years in prison. Representatives from some of the listed sites say the content is removed if it violates their policies.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


India Places $4.1M Order with Boeing; More Jobs Likely to Follow

PRNewsFoto/Continental Airlines(NEW YORK) -- India approved plans to purchase 10 Boeing aircraft for $4.1 billion, reports The Wall Street Journal.  The transaction, which include 10 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, is India's largest military deal with the United States.

According to the WSJ report, there is no word on when the agreement might be finalized, but a spokesman for the Indian Defense Ministry says the terms include the option to order six additional C-17s in the future.

The deal is likely to produce more than 20,000 jobs for Boeing's facility in Long Beach, Calif., according to White House estimations.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


BP Partners with Indian Company Reliance for Oil, Gas Stakes

Photo Courtesy - Jim Watson/AFP/ Getty Images(LONDON) -- BP announced Monday it will partner with India's largest private sector company, Reliance Industries Limited, taking a 30 percent stake in 23 oil and gas production contracts operated by Reliance.

BP will intially pay Reliance $7.2 billion for the stake, and could later pay the Indian-based company payments of $1.8 billion based on the development of commercial discoveries that result from successful exploration.  All combined, the payments could amount to $20 billion.

The partnership will form a 50/50 joint venture between both companies for the sourcing and marketing of gas in India and will try to speed up the creation of infrastructure for receiving, transporting, and marketing the fuel source in the country.

Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Limited, said, "We are delighted to partner with BP, one of the largest energy majors and one of the finest deep water exploration companies in the world.  This partnership combines the skills of both companies and will be focused on finding more hydrocarbons in the deep water blocks of India and significantly contribute to India's energy security."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Wikipedia Marks 10 Years, Opens First Office in India

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- In 2001, Jimmy Wales wrote "hello world," in his first of many edits to an online encyclopedia site. And 10 years later, the world has said a big hello back. This weekend, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia marked its 10th birthday and on Monday the San Francisco-based site opened its first overseas office in India.

Wikipedia is the fifth most-visited website, claiming over 400 million unique visits per month. More than 13.5 million registered users have contributed a staggering 438,660,528 edits in the last decade. The site's 3.5 million articles are primarily maintained by 15,000 reliable editors who contribute at least 100 times per month.

Editors are unpaid volunteers; the site takes no advertising and is operated by the non-profit Wikimedia. The site operated on $8 million in 2010 and raised over $16 million in its most recent fundraising campaign.

Over the last decade, the site has not been without financial woes and Wales often writes personal letters for donations on the homepage to the Wikipedia community.

Currently, the free website is available in over 270 languages and the new Bangalore office hopes to add at least 20 additional Indian languages.

In an interview with The Press Trust of India, Sue Gardner, chief of Wikimedia, said India was chosen because its "fruitful environment [including] valuing education, free speech and a culture of intellectual debate."

Gardner added that Wikipedia plans to make a push in Brazil, then to the Middle East and Africa to reach editors from different backgrounds.

The average Wikipedia user in 2011 is an educated, 20-something male, but Gardner expects that profile will look much different in 2021.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


President Obama Announces Trade Deals with India

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MUMBAI, India) -- President Obama announced Saturday business deals between U.S. and Indian companies totaling near $10 billion in U.S. exports, which the White House has said will lead to more than 50,000 American jobs.

“We can do much better,” Obama said, “today I am pleased to announce that we will work with India to fundamentally reform our controls on exports which will allow greater cooperation in a range of high tech sectors and strengthen our non proliferation efforts.”

President Obama said that the “old stereotypes” of Americans viewing India as a land of call-centers, and Indians viewing American companies as a threat ignores today’s reality.

“We don’t simply welcome your rise as a nation and a people. We ardently support it. We want to invest in it,” Obama said at the U.S.-India Business Council Summit in Mumbai, calling increasing trade and investment between the two countries a “win-win” proposition for both.

“There are many Americans whose only experience with trade and globalization has been a shuddered factory or a job that was shipped overseas.”

But the president’s visit – his longest to any one single country of his presidency – aims to remedy just that that perception.

“In 2010 trade between our countries is not just a one way street of American jobs and companies moving to India. It is a dynamic two-way relationship that is creating jobs, growth and higher living standards in both our countries.”

Relating this strategy back to the domestic concerns over the economy largely expressed in the outcome of Tuesday’s election, Obama said that selling exports in India, one of the fastest growing markets in the world is really a “jobs strategy,” for America.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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