India Insight

Telecom companies woo women with angel stores

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

Walk into the Vodafone store in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi neighbourhood, and it doesn’t look any different from the others across India. It’s crowded with customers waiting to pay their bills, lodge complaints and buy new mobile phone connections.

But there is a difference many haven’t noticed. This is one of Vodafone’s 15 “angel” stores, or retail outlets managed and run solely by female employees. Security, pantry staff, customer service resources and management level personnel — all are women.

The company says research and feedback shows “women with their character traits of greater patience and empathy are able to act and help in speedy resolution,” helping improve quality of customer service.

A visit to the store showed the ratio of men and women customers was the same as any other. The outlet was run-of-the-mill in every other way except that there were only women dressed in the Vodafone uniform of white shirts and red scarves.

from Photographers' Blog:

Fight for a frame

The digital revolution has its pros and cons; on one hand it has amplified the chance of getting a picture in a stampede-like situation and on the other, it has created the stampede-like situation. With the advent of digital technology, the number of publications and media houses has grown, in turn multiplying the number of cameramen and photographers present at an event. Yet it has also increased the number of picture possibilities which in the celluloid days were limited to 36 frames in a film roll. Good or bad there is no going back.

Ignoring my aching jaw, I scrolled through my images to see if I had got the picture, of India's former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja, accused in the 2G spectrum scam. It must have been an elbow of one of the many cameramen or photographers present who were struggling to get the same picture that struck me. I didn’t mind the pain as even my elbow hurt a bit. I was sure I wasn't the only one with a sore jaw, of late we photographers were accustomed to it.

Court assignments as we call them, isn’t an assignment a photographer is keen on doing. But it has become mandatory as the picture compliments the newspaper headlines - lately they were related to the 2G Spectrum scam, a $39.16 billion scam that shook the nation. One after another the suspects have been zeroed in as the Indian judiciary tightens the noose on everyone involved. Every now and then someone is produced in court and we photographers find ourselves in the similar stampede-like situations.

Is Congress digging its own corrupt grave?

Telecom Minister Kabil Sibal’s attack on the competency of India’s independent state auditor appears to show Congress’s growing desperation at its inability to silence corruption charges, and the inevitable backfire may illustrate just how out of touch India’s ruling party has become with the current political climate.

Kapil Sibal, Indian Minister of Telecoms attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 31, 2009. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener

Last week’s allegations by Sibal of the “utterly erroneous” calculations in a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) estimating a $39 billion loss to the exchequer during the 2008 2G spectrum sale have led to a barrage of criticism from opposition politicians and the CAG, and appear to have only resulted in increased pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is reportedly mulling a breach of privilege motion against Sibal – a Congress heavyweight – for his insinuation of “serious errors” in the independent investigation, the CAG has suggested his remarks were “in contempt of the House” and the opposition, already riding high on the ruling party’s seemingly endless list of corruption-related woes, accused the minister of attempting to “overreach the Parliamentary process.”

Trouble comes calling for the Congress

A man talks on a mobile phone near a hoarding promoting mobile telephones in New Delhi January 20, 2004. REUTERS/B Mathur/Files
Ashok Chavan and Suresh Kalmadi have been let go by the Congress. Who will be next?

The scams laid at the government’s door do not end with the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the war homes scandal in Mumbai.

The opposition and the media, having tasted blood with Shashi Tharoor, Chavan and Kalmadi, now have Telecoms Minister Andimuthu Raja in the crosshairs over the sale of 2G spectrum.

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