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Bengal’s musical instrument makers unhappy with GST slab

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GST

Kolkata, Aug 1: The 28 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on musical instruments has struck a discordant note with their manufacturers and dealers in West Bengal, whose capital Kolkata is a traditional hub of the industry.

Upset over revenue loss with sales hitting rock bottom post the steep tax burden, they have written to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to remedy the situation.

“In just one month, the market has crashed. In one month, if a shop used to sell instruments worth Rs 1 lakh, that has come down to Rs 20,000,” Ajit Kumar Mondal, secretary of West Bengal Musical Instruments Dealers and Manufacturers Association, told IANS.

The devoted makers and dealers of these instruments – sitars, sarods, violins, tablas and harmoniums – scattered mainly across Lalbazar in central and Chitpore Road in north Kolkata, have sought exemption from the tax slab. In their workshops, one can see the workers whittling out string or wind instruments out of scratch from a mix of metal and woodA

Mondal said while in Kolkata alone, over a lakh persons are directly or indirectly involved in the business, at least five times more are linked to it in the entire state. In Lalbazar’s narrow alleys, 50 shops ply their trade.

“Our key clientele include music schools, schools and other educational establishments as well as enthusiasts. Since traditional music is a big part of our cultural heritage, the business was doing well up until GST came. We have also written to the Union Finance Ministry,” Mondal said.

Maestro Ravi Shankar used to buy his instruments in the city. In 1952, Yehudi Menuhin’s violin was repaired by craftsmen in Chitpore Road, during his India tour.

One of the major blows has come from the sale in other states.

“Kolkata is the major hub of wholesale musical instruments in the country. We supply our products all over India. Now our customers are not keen to purchase them because of the escalating costs,” he said.

The instruments most hit due to GST are the ever popular guitar and harmonium — emblematic of the British legacy as in the 1800s the foot-bellow harmonium was in vogue in the city as also the French touch — French-made instruments were brought to the city by missionaries in the 19th century).

IANS

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Google ‘Launchpad Accelerator’ India chapter to nurture desi startups

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New Delhi, July 10: In a bid to nurture Indian startups working in the fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), Google on Tuesday announced to open the India chapter of its global “Launchpad Accelerator” mentorship programme.

The three-month “Launchpad Accelerator” India programme has been designed to grow the AI/ML ecosystem by helping desi startups build scalable solutions for the country’s unique problems.

The programme, based out of Bengaluru, will provide a cohort of 8-10 Indian startups mentorship and support from the best of Google in AI/ML, Cloud, UX, Android, web, product strategy and marketing, along with up to $100K of Google Cloud credits, the company said in a statement.

“India has the appetite to build entrepreneurs of the future and we are proud to announce a focused programme for the next wave of Indian entrepreneurs, who are using new technologies to solve the country’s needs,” said Roy Glasberg, Global Launchpad Founder.

Over the years, Google has worked with some incredible startups across India who are using advanced technologies such as AI/ML to tackle everything from agri-tech to language web, healthcare and transportation.

“With the dedicated India-only Launchpad Accelerator programme, we will be able to build a bridge between startups and the industry ecosystem and support them to drive innovation in the India market,” Glasberg added.

Applications for the first class is open till July 31 and the first class will start in September 2018.

In an effort to mentor emerging start-ups, Google India hosted a four-day boot camp for the first 10 Indian startups as part of its ‘Solve for India’ programme.

The India-focused accelerator programme is building on Google’s “Solve for India” roadshow from last year.

Ten Indian startups were shortlisted from across India which underwent four days in one-on-one consults with experts from Google and mentors from the industry to solve critical product and growth challenges.

“We shortlisted 10 startups from 160 home-grown start-ups by travelling across 15 cities in India, and are now ready to scale this pilot as a dedicated programme for India,” Karthik Padmanabhan, Developer Relations Lead, Google India, said at that time.

The participants were the founders of startups including Nebulaa, Slang Labs, PregBuddy, LegalDesk, PaySack, Vokal, FarMart, Meesho, Pratilipi and M-Indicator.

“Launchpad” regional accelerators are tailored specifically to their local markets, helping startups build great products, Google said.

IANS

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Fuel prices hiked for fifth consecutive day

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Petrol Price

New Delhi July 9: Petrol and diesel prices on Monday hiked for the fifth consecutive day, according to the Indian Oil Corporation data.

Petrol is being sold in Delhi at Rs.76.36 per litre, as against Rs.76.13 on Sunday, while diesel is being sold at Rs.68.07 per litre, as against Rs. 67.86 on the previous day.

While in Mumbai, petrol prices increased from Rs. 83.52 on Sunday, to Rs. 83.75 per litre on Monday, and diesel prices from Rs.72 to Rs. 72.23 per litre.

Members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last month, agreed to jointly increase oil production, which was estimated to be about one million barrels a day.

The deal, which came after days of negotiation, was reportedly aimed at easing fears of a global supply crunch.

WeForNews 

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China’s cross-border e-commerce players value India, Middle East markets

The Indian market enjoys a huge population and high potential for economic growth, thus attracting many e-commerce players to expand their presence.

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Beijing, July 8 (IANS) :China’s major cross-border e-commerce players put much focus on the Indian and Middle Eastern markets, a report revealed on Sunday.

According to app data provider App Annie, the Indian market enjoys a huge population and high potential for economic growth, thus attracting many e-commerce players to expand their presence, reports Xinhua news agency.

Smartphones are popular in Arab countries and local consumers have strong purchasing power.

But the oil-rich countries lack textiles and other light sectors, offering cross-border e-commerce opportunities for products like apparel.

Alibaba’s AliExpress tops the list, which mainly reviews the performances of third-party business-to-consumer e-commerce platforms targeting overseas consumers.

The report also showed that South American markets pose rising growth potential while developed markets in Europe and the US remain attractive to Chinese e-commerce players.

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