Minus Julie Christie, storm in tea cup

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Guwahati, Nov 23 (UNI) The absence of Hollywood actress Julie Christie did not affect the 'Tea Party' at the ongoing India International Trade Fair (IITF) tea convention here.

An Academy Award-winning English diva and a pop icon of Swinging London era of the sixties, Christie was invited to the convention as she was born in the laps of the Assam Tea plantations here.

However, Christie, whose father ran the tea plantation around Chabua near Dibrugarh in Upper Assam, was unable to make it to the party. The Assam Tea industry still had the 'Burra Sahib' (British) club life colonial lifestyle.

Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh, who was present in the convention, however, told UNI that the industry needs to be more aggressive to compete in the global market.

The colonial tea industry runs with massive overhead expenditure and a vintage auction system which is not only time consuming but pushes up the ex-factory price by more than 120 per cent, Mr Ramesh informed adding that the system should be changed immediately before it perishes.

The Assam Tea industry had been ruling since the last two centuries but recently the Kenyan and Sri Lankan tea have ousted India with their aggressive marketing.

The honchos of the tea industry, who were present here, seemed uninterested to shed their ''exclusivity'' for better economic returns, Mr Ramesh said adding that there was a need to build a 'Brand India' to compete with the global Tea manufacturers.

He also warned that proper marketing strategies should be adopted for the Indian Tea to face a stiff competition from the beverage and the soft drinks market.

UNI

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