Industry body decries Nepali media's smear campaign

New Delhi : A “malicious” smear campaign by certain sections of the Nepali media against Dabur would hamper investment plans of Indian companies and result in foreign direct investment being diverted away from that country, a leading industry body said here Friday.

“The current bout of malicious campaign by a Nepalese media house against the Indian joint venture, Dabur India, is bound to force Indian investors into their shell and result in shying away of FDI to Nepal from other countries as well,” said the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

The media campaign began several months ago when some of the leading Indian JVs in Nepal, including Dabur Nepal, stopped advertising with the Kantipur Group and rejected calls by some other dailies and television stations to advertise with them.

Regular reports started appearing, alleging Dabur Nepal’s Real brand of fruit juices to be below standard even when the issue was in court. Dabur Nepal said it had brought the matter to the attention of Nepal’s Press Council.

“It is FICCI’s firm belief that with a conducive business environment in Nepal, Indian investments could grow manifold, thereby strengthening India-Nepal bilateral business and economic relations,” said Amit Mitra, Secretary General, FICCI.

Some of the prominent Indian joint ventures in Nepal include ITC, Unilever Nepal, United Telecom, State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Manipal Group, SJVN Ltd., Tata Power, GMR India, IL&FS, Asian Paints, LIC, CONCOR and Dabur.

Indian companies have made a total investment of Rs.1,400 crore of which Dabur’s share is Rs.143 crore.

“Indian companies have made a significant contribution to the Nepalese economy both in terms of employment generation and by way of generation of revenue to the Nepalese exchequer,” said the FICCI statement.

The Dabur India JV directly employs over 1,000 people and indirectly about 30,000.

Dabur’s operations have generated revenue of over Nepali Rupees 40 crore to the exchequer, while aiding industrial development and conservation of rare, endangered and threatened species of herbs in a state-of-the-art greenhouse.

“Nepal looks forward to more investment from India and condemns such incidence of misunderstanding between the Indian joint venture and a Nepal media house. These issues should be resolved amicably in a business-like manner,” said Kush Kumar Joshi, president, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

India is Nepal’s biggest trading partner accounting for 58 percent of Nepal’s merchandise trade and one-third of trade in services.

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