Indian rail ad places New Delhi in Pakistan

NEW DELHI: An advertisement for a new luxury train service embarrassed India’s rail ministry today by placing the country’s capital, New Delhi, inside the territory of arch-rival Pakistan.

Other gaffes made in announcing the inaugural run of the Maharajas’ Express placed Kolkata, the Buddhist pilgrimage centre of Gaya and the Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve in the Bay of Bengal.

The agency which designed the ad — promising to show passengers “an India like never before!” — amended a version approved by Eastern Railways on March 19, the rail company’s spokesman Samir Goswami told AFP.

“The agency decided to mark the train route more prominently in the final copy of the advertisement, given to newspapers, without informing us,” Goswami said by phone from Kolkata.

He added that Eastern Railways, which falls under the federal rail ministry, had blacklisted the agency, which he did not identify.

A similar gaffe in January drew apologies from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Women and Child Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath, after a photograph of ex-Pakistan Air Force chief Tanvir Ahmed appeared in an official advert.

Ahmed’s picture appeared alongside those of Singh and Tirath, as well as ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, in publicity for National Girl Child Day, a campaign against female foeticide.

The Maharajas’ Express, aimed at wealthy tourists, is a joint venture between the rail ministry’s Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation and the Indian arm of the international tour operator Cox and Kings.

From its starting point in Kolkata, the train will call on key pilgrimage sites and the Taj Mahal town of Agra before pulling into New Delhi at the end of a seven-night trip.