| Incredible miss: Kerala and Rajasthan were promoted at the World Travel Market but not West Bengal
Linking London with Calcutta
At the risk of overfilling Mamata Banerjees to do in tray, perhaps she could help to re-establish direct flights between London and an economically isolated Calcutta. Last week I dropped off my brother at Heathrow. His Air India international flight was to go to Delhi where he would need to do customs before lugging his bags to catch a domestic Air India flight to Calcutta.
Its great Shah Rukh Khan is to be West Bengals brand ambassador but the problem is that Calcutta is symbolically cut off from everywhere where there are potential investors.
At the crucial World Travel Market in London last week, Subodh Kant Sahai, Indias tourism minister, addressed a news conference flanked by gung-ho tourism ministers from J&K, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala. Sadly, West Bengal was missing.
Just because MIT economist Abhijit Banerjee has won the 2011 FT and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year, it does not make him the fount of all wisdom. But it is sobering consulting him again on Indian poverty. He believes the last 20 years have greatly exacerbated inequality in India and is turning the country into virtually an oligarchy with extreme concentrations of wealth.
On petrol, his view is surprising. Removing the subsidy is a pro poor policy. Most of the subsidy in petrol goes to the rich who drive cars. It (protesting) is a typical populist move.
His views on West Bengal are unpalatable: Realistically, I doubt whether a lot of industrial investment is about to move to West Bengal. There is going to be a slow dance to figure out whether it is going to be a stable destination or not. Once bitten, twice shy: after this spat with the Tatas, it is hard to imagine this is going to fix itself immediately.
He does have good things to say about Mamata: At least, the chief minister is relatively independent of the teachers union and the health workers union. Things are less violent now than before the election — thats a good sign. The chief minister is good at restraining her party men from going on a rampage. Lots of things I could imagine going worse have gone relatively well.
And the eminent professor offers some practical tips: Right now the governments much better chance is to use the goodwill to really work on improving social services, make it a less depressed place, just make people more optimistic. May be slowly the labour market may improve a little. People need to get something going right.
Police in Britain have arrested a husband seven years after his wife died in a fall while the couple were on a trekking honeymoon in Himachal Pradesh.
When Colette Davies, 39, of Bridgend, in South Wales, plunged 80ft to her death from the bridge on the river Giri in Gaura on February 27, 2004, Indian police concluded it was an accident.
Her body was repatriated back home and cremated. Although the British coroner also accepted that the death was accidental, Colettes family persuaded South Wales police to reopen the case. After British detectives flew to visit the scene, spoke to a dozen local witnesses and reviewed the case, Colettes 50-year-old husband, John Davies, was arrested last week. It had been a second marriage for both.
Senior investigating officer detective inspector Mark Lewis would only say: Whilst I consider this arrest to be a positive development in the investigation, I am also appealing for any information surrounding the circumstances of this death.
| On a song: Cliff serenading his mother Dorothy
Britains best loved solo singer, Sir Cliff Richard, now 71, continues to insist he is not Anglo-Indian despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The Daily Mail published a picture of Cliff serenading his mother and pointed out: Indeed, pictures of Cliffs mother Dorothy reveal a raving beauty in the mould of the late Anglo-Indian actress, Merle Oberon.
But on Womans Hour on BBC Radio 4, when the interviewer said, Of course, your mother was Anglo-Indian, Cliff was swift to reject what sounded to him like an accusation.
Cliff Richard, the stage name the singer acquired, was born Harry Rodger Webb on October 14, 1940, in Lucknow to Rodger Oscar Webb, a manager for a catering contractor that serviced the Indian Railways, and his wife Dorothy Marie Dazely.
In 1945, the family moved to Howrah in Calcutta. In 1948, the Webb family emigrated to England, joining thousands of people of British descent, including Anglo-Indians, who had thought of the unseen Blighty as home.
After speaking to Cliffs relatives and analysing his family tree, the Mail concluded that he does indeed have Anglo-Indian blood.
Britains Anglo-Indian community is amused by Cliffs insistence that he is not one of them but pure English.
Look, my family knew his mothers family back in India — he is as Anglo-Indian as us, one of them laughed.
No room to swing a cat is an expression not to be taken literally.
But the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has just issued CCTV photographs of a youth swinging a black cat by its tail outside a pub in Ramsgate, Kent.
The two-year-old cat, Mowgli, has survived, but its owner, Michelle Buchanan, an IT teacher, called the attack horrific. I cant believe anyone would do something that cruel. Mowgli is emotional. Hes just distraught. He wont go out of the door.
Even as a terrorist, the offender would cause less outrage.
On hearing Bhupen Hazarika had passed away, the first thing I did was play the song that I love. He may have gone but Dil hoom hoom kare remains, even here in autumnal England.
His death reminded me of the occasion when a friend took me to see a film about which I had no expectation because I did not know what I was going to see. The film was Rudaali, which today I would probably include among my five favourite movies.
I was once lucky enough to interview Hazarika when he and Kalpana Lajmi, the director of Rudaali, came to London to attend a function organised by the UK Assamese community. He nostalgically recalled meeting the black American singer Paul Robeson during his student days at Columbia University in New York in 1952.
He told me he had adapted Ol Man River by substituting the fast flowing Brahmaputra (and later the Ganga) for the Mississippi. And like the mighty rivers, in the hearts of millions of his devoted fans, many in Britain, Bhupen Hazarika jes keeps rollin along!
For once no one will begrudge Shane Warne his big smile. The Australian spinner turned up with fiancée Liz Hurley at the 10th anniversary celebrations of Operation Smile at the posh Hurlingham Club in south London.
Warne is one of several cricketers who support the medical charity, which helps repair childhood facial deformities in 25 countries, including India. Others include Andrew Strauss, Graeme Hick, Michael Vaughan, Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain.
It apparently costs £150 to provide life-changing cleft surgery for a child.
Its a shame that outsiders have to worry about Indias sick and suffering for our private hospitals, especially in Calcutta, are likely to say: Dont forget to bring the money — in cash.