By Prasun Sonwalkar Business links between Northern Ireland and India are set to be strengthened following the launch of a major campaign focusing on building trade, technology transfer and investment between the regions.
British High Commissioner to India, Michael Arthur was in Belfast to launch ?Opportunity India?, an initiative backed by Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI).
The campaign is being facilitated by Northern Ireland hotelier and property developer, Lord Daljit Rana, who is president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and the UK'sonly Honorary Consul for India.
A number of events have already been planned by Invest NI to highlight trade opportunities with India and which promote Northern Ireland as the best European location for India'sfast developing technology sector.
These include a seminar in Belfast next month by Manpreet Vohra, Commercial Counsellor at the Indian High Commission in London, and Manoj Ladwa of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
There will also be a major trade mission leaving Northern Ireland for Mumbai for a week, from October 30 to November 5, while local companies will also have a key present at IT.com in Bangalore in November and at the NASSCOM event in Mumbai next February.
Arthur said there were ?vast opportunities? for Northern Ireland companies in India.
?I?m confident Invest NI'sfocus on India will enable companies to explore a marketplace that is being shaped by the strength of India'sfast-growing IT sector and also by the Indian government'sdrive to improve its roads, airports, ports, transportation and telecomm-unications infrastructure,? he said.
World'scheapest cinema tickets in India
Guess where in the world cinema tickets are the costliest?Japan. And where are they the cheapest? India.
A global survey of the largest film markets showed that Japan was the most expensive country for seeing a film, with an average ticket price of $10.80 (? 5.92), followed by Switzerland and the Nordic nations.
Britain was tenth dearest, with an average price of $7.20.
The cheapest market remains India, where tickets cost just 20 cents.
The study by Screen Digest, a media research company, shows that average ticket prices rose in 40 of the 45 countries surveyed.
The global average price in 2003 was $5.20, up by 4.8 per cent in local currency terms. A major reason for the price rise was the spread of multiplexes, some of which have upto 30 screens that can operate in unison.
Alan McNair, the deputy chief executive of Vue Cinema, said: ?Around the world, multiplex prices are higher than the independent cinemas they?re replacing.
?The offering is better and the tickets are priced accordingly, and that applies outside Britain and all over the world; you get digital sound, air-conditioning, high-quality projection and better seating.?
Multiplex ticket prices tend to be higher than those of so-called ?art house? cinemas, the researchers note. Prices in the US, the world'sbiggest film-going market?which has suffered 30 per cent inflation since 1997?have increased every year for the past decade.
Turkey and Mexico had the highest price rises, up about 30 per cent last year, while ticket costs in Argentina fell by two-thirds in the past seven years.
However, Screen Digest found that ticket price inflation was easing in all five large European markets, despite the existence of many multiplexes.
Screen Digest reports that Germany had one of the highest rates of inflation in 2002, but last year its weak economy and lacklustre box-office attendance sent prices down by 2.6 per cent.
Indian languages among 150 spoken in London
The linguistic diversity of London may well resemble the Tower of Babel?there are nearly 150 languages spoken on the streets of this city, many of them from the Indian subcontinent.
Of the city'seight million inhabitants, three million do not have English as their mother tongue.
The Metropolitan Police has now introduced the emergency 999 service with translators to cater to the needs of non-English speaking residents.
In a three-month pilot scheme of the service, six languages dominated 999 calls?Portuguese, Turkish, Punjabi, Spanish, French and Somali.
Not far behind were Tamil, Bengali, Arabic, Italian and Polish.
Experts claim a multilingual emergency service is long overdue. Tim Connell, director of Language Studies at City University, said the Metropolitan Police's150 languages were just the tip of the iceberg.
?It is really noteworthy that public services embrace these languages, because everyone has a right to basic services,? he said.
?We know that in 2001 there were 150 different languages in London and that figure will have risen since then. Actually, one of the biggest problems we had was spotting new languages?it can be very hard sometimes.?
The languages are spread throughout the capital.
While London'sZulu population tends to live in
Haringey, Korean is most likely to be heard in Kingston. It is believed that a rise in the number of immigrants coming to London has led to dozens of new languages appearing.
The list of 150 languages includes many from India:
Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu and Urdu.
The list of Indian languages also includes ?Pahari?, a dialect spoken in the north Indian states of Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh.
(The writer is a UK-based journalist and can be contacted on [email protected])