Rare is the Indian who complains that politics is boring: at least in Madhya Pradesh – the big, landlocked state at the heart of India – there is undisguised excitement about the general election that was announced on Wednesday.
The majority of those we interviewed on the streets after the Election Commission’s announcement said the election (to be held on nine separate voting days between April 7 and May 12) would bring a much-needed change of government in New Delhi. Continue reading »
Bodoland on the map?
For the last two years, India’s Congress-led government been struggling to push important economic reforms through Parliament in the face of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s tactic of determinedly disrupting the proceedings to protest against alleged corruption and other misdeeds.
But with India’s economy faltering, and the rupee hovering near lifetime lows, it was hoped that the current monsoon session of Parliament might finally get down to important legislative business that could help restore investor confidence in India’s government, economy and currency. Fat chance. Continue reading »
Try the yoghurt
The mere mention of frozen yogurt evokes images of weight-conscious US college students, unable to resist the temptation of a sweet, queuing up at frozen yogurt shops for the so-called healthy alternative. Continue reading »
Global hypermarket chains such as Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour have been in no rush to set up shop in India since New Delhi’s September decision to permit up to 51 per cent foreign ownership of retail ventures.
For the most part, global grocers are concerned about the various conditions imposed on such enterprises, as detailed in the Financial Times, with very different rules for “multi-brand” vs “single-brand” retail. But that’s not the only problem. The experience of US-based office supply and stationary stores in India also stands as a cautionary tale for prospective investors. Continue reading »
Don't take my subsidy away
Struggling to bring down its fiscal deficit, India wants to stop allowing commercial ventures like movie theatres, swish office complexes, and hotels from using highly-subsidised diesel fuel to run-back up generators when the power goes out. It is also trying to wean factories, mobile phone towers, and state-run bus companies from highly subsidised fuel.
But New Delhi has discovered that a partial-phase out of subsidies – particularly targeting affluent and resourceful entrepreneurs – is more difficult than it looks. Continue reading »
Subscribers to Bangladeshi mobile operator, Grameenphone, can breathe easy: Dhaka has no plans to suspend the company’s license – or its services. But Grameenphone’s owner, Telenor, still has cause for concern: Bangladesh’s government has not ruled out trying to force the Norwegian company to cede control of the lucrative venture. Continue reading »
When New Delhi decided last September to permit foreign airlines to own up to 49 per cent of domestic Indian carriers, the aim was to encourage an infusion of foreign capital to help its heavily-indebted incumbent airlines strengthen their weak balance sheets – and expand their services.
But instead of a foreign lifeline, India’s air carriers are now confronting the prospect of intensified competition, after AirAsia, the Malaysian low-cost carrier, announced plans to set up a brand-new, start-up Indian carrier, with financial backing from India’s Tata Group. Continue reading »
After years of waiting for permission to set up shop in India, Walmart should be heaving a sigh of relief, as it finally reaches the light at the end of the long dark tunnel of Indian policy-making.
India’s Congress-led government has approved foreign direct investment in retail, paving the way for the US-based retailer and its rivals such as Tesco and Carrefour to enter the market. The Indian Parliament gave its blessing to the policy, after contentious votes last week. Continue reading »
Siblings have a special way of taking a poke at each other, even long after they have flown the family nest.
And so it is with Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s exiled former premier. In a public appearance on Friday he insisted, as he often does, that he isn’t running the country through his younger sister, Yingluck, the current prime minister.
“I’m not running Thailand,” he said. “My sister is running Thailand, but she may ask my advice on some issue. But not every issue. She is very capable – much better than I expected.” Ouch. Continue reading »
India’s Congress-led government has been deeply divided within itself over how to overhaul the country’s antiquated land acquisition laws to overcome what is now one of the biggest bottlenecks for the country’s economy – the difficulties acquiring land for infrastructure and large-scale industrial projects.
The Congress has been trying to balance industry’s desire for a more efficient, effective process, with the rights and interests of farmers, who will lose their land to make way for industrial development. Continue reading »
Bangladesh is widely known as significant exporter of garments to major Western brands in Europe and the US. Less noticed has been the rapid growth of its leather industry, which last year exported around $663m worth of leather and leather products to Italy, Spain, Germany, China, South Korea and Japan.
But global importers sourcing leather from Bangladesh for handbags, shoes and jackets are running the risk of a severe blow to their reputation, with a human rights group now training its sights on abuses by the country’s unregulated export-oriented leather industry. Continue reading »
With India’s stricken Kingfisher Airlines grounded since Monday by employees angry over the carrier’s failure to pay them for the last six months, many are now questioning how India’s aviation authorities permitted the airline to fly for so long with staff, who had not been paid.
Analysts say that financial stress among unpaid staff could pose a safety issue to travellers, and suggested aviation authorities were irresponsible for failing to intervene and suspend the airline’s flights earlier. Continue reading »
In the years following the global economic crisis, Indians remained overwhelmingly optimistic about the country’s future prospects, as economic growth remained resilient driven by the huge pent-up demand from within the country.
But over the last year, many Indians have lost faith in their country’s economic growth story, growing deeply pessimistic about the country’s future, as corruption scandals, persistent inflation and political bickering have eroded confidence in the Congress-led government. Continue reading »
Pizzas with names like “keema do pyaaza”, “peppy paneer”, “five pepper pizza” and “non-veg extravaganza” will make Italian food purists cringe. But the creation of pizzas catering to Indian tastes has been a recipe for success for Domino’s Pizza in India. Continue reading »