The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav bats for Indian tea
- Skipper to donate part of earnings for children in gardens

Siliguri, March 7: Expect Sourav Ganguly to say now: “It’s teatime, folks.”

After endorsing colas, biscuits and two-wheelers, the Indian cricket captain will work to promote Indian tea across the world.

In order to give sales a much-needed fillip, Sourav has been chosen the brand ambassador for Indian tea.

The Prince of Calcutta will also pitch in to revive the fortunes of the ailing tea industry in his home state.

Tea Board deputy chairman R.S. Sukla met Sourav at his Behala residence yesterday to discuss the terms and conditions and signing amount for the endorsement deal.

Emulating Steve Waugh, who works closely with Udayan, a home for children of leprosy sufferers, at Barrackpore near Calcutta, the Indian captain is believed to have agreed to give away a part of the endorsement money for the uplift of destitute children in the closed and abandoned tea gardens of north Bengal.

Sourav, who is busy at the ongoing conditioning camp for the coming Indo-Pak series, could not be contacted for comment.

Urban development and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya, who played a key role in roping in Sourav as the brand ambassador for Indian tea, said it would help north Bengal’s ailing tea industry.

“I proposed Sourav’s name during my meeting with the Tea Board deputy chairman last Tuesday. They immediately agreed. I then approached Sourav and he readily accepted the suggestion to do something for the crisis-stricken tea industry in north Bengal,” he said.

The minister said though the deal was yet to be inked, the cricketer had made a commitment to do his bit for suffering tea garden workers.

“Sourav has called upon the vice-president of the Tea Board and expressed his willingness to endorse Indian tea. He has said he will donate a part of the endorsement money for the betterment of the children of workers in closed tea gardens in north Bengal. The details are being worked out at the moment, so we cannot say how much he will be paid and what portion of his earnings he will donate,” said Bhattacharya.

According to the minister, Sourav’s international image and celebrity status would add the much-needed “extra flavour” to Indian tea. This, he felt, would increase the acceptability of Indian tea in neighbouring Asian countries. Bhattacharya also said the skipper was likely to begin his endorsement work from the series to be held in Pakistan.

Bhattacharya, after his recent visit to Singapore and Vietnam, emphasised the need to market Indian tea aggressively.

“In spite of producing world class tea, we are falling behind in the international market because of the lack of a proper marketing strategy. We need to plan it properly and indulge in aggressive marketing. That is what the soft drinks manufacturers are doing with a high level of success. Indian tea has the quality necessary to do roaring business if presented and marketed strategically in counties across the globe,” said Bhattacharya.

“We welcome the move heartily. The tea industry in north Bengal is going through a tough time and there could be nothing better than projecting Sourav as the brand ambassador to boost prospects,” said P. Bhattacharya, secretary of the Dooars branch of the Indian Tea Association.

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