Mumbai is in the midst of one of the nation’s noisiest and most fun-filled festivals: Ganesh Chaturthi.

During the 10-day festival, statues of the elephant-headed God are set up at mandals (temporary shrines) around the city and worshipped before being immersed in water – usually on the seafront.

But who foots the bill for this vast celebration with its enormous sculptures, temporary altars and elephantine decorations? Continue reading »

Tata Motors, the Indian carmaker, has announced plans to sell its cars in Algeria in a further sign of the growing role that Indian companies are playing in Africa.

Tata said it would launch its passenger cars in a partnership with SPA Elsecom, an established distributor in Algeria. Continue reading »

Ratan Tata (pictured), who was the head of India’s powerful Tata group until 2012, ushered in a period of ambitious international expansion at the company. He is one of the most respected figures in the business community today.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the illustrious businessman has personally invested in Snapdeal, the online marketplace that is battling to win a share of India’s fast-growing market for ecommerce. Continue reading »

Deutsche Post DHL, which makes money by shipping parcels around the world, plans to invest at least €100m in India over the next two years and is piloting a new e-commerce model for the Asia Pacific in the fast-growing market.

The move reinforces the recent take-off in India’s online shopping sector, as large platforms consolidate, infrastructure improves and internet penetration rises. Continue reading »

Yoga guru BKS Iyengar passed away last week. As the tributes poured in, Iyengar was credited with spreading awareness of Indian culture around the world.

The yoga master was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India, earlier this year – and his style of teaching has become big business in the western world.

The New Yorker provides a glimpse into the master’s childhood and his own education in yoga as a young man in the 1930s, when ‘physical culture’ was taking off around the world: Continue reading »

The details of Gap’s move into the India yields insights into how Asia’s third largest market remains both very distinct from the West and at the same time increasingly similar.

In the US and European markets, womenswear is central to any brand’s expansion strategy, but in India this segment is dominated by traditional dress supplied by local companies. Thus, successful western retailers targeting India have either focused on menswear or on accessories, such as shoes and handbags.

But the strategy of San Francisco-based Gap reveals a market in flux. The group’s local franchisee, Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd, envisages the lion’s share of revenue still coming from menswear but at the same time perceives a growing following from women born after 1990. Continue reading »

An eccentric Indian tycoon, some of the world’s most luxurious hotels and now the Sultan of Brunei. The story of one Indian company’s tortuous journey out of legal hot water has just taken another twist.

The Sultan of Brunei has emerged as the lead bidder for the Grosvenor House Hotel and other luxury properties that India’s beleaguered Sahara group has been trying to sell off in a desperate attempt to get its ‘managing worker’ out of jail. Continue reading »

Japanese and Indian culture could hardly be more different, but senior executives at Toto, the Kitakyushu-based toilet products manufacturer, say doing business has been a breeze in Asia’s third largest economy.

The Japanese group, whose fancy ceramic toilet fittings are already used in premier properties like the Four Seasons and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai, opened a manufacturing facility in India this week hoping to expand in the fast growing market.

Toto launched a 180,000 sq metre plant in Halol, Gujarat, that will produce some 500,000 toilet bowls every year. The group’s president, Madoka Kitamura, told beyondbrics that he expects about half of the output to be sold within India while the rest is exported to the Middle East and Europe. Continue reading »

Martin Sorrell, chief executive of WPP, the world’s biggest marketing services company, is bullish about India, suggesting the market is set for strong growth and that local companies should focus on tapping this vast market before expanding abroad.

Sorrell considers what he would do right now if he were an ‘Indian oligarch’. Some groups have succeeded in expanding globally, be it organically or inorganically, but that strategy comes with its own challenges.

“India is a massive market – it’s a 1.2bn person market, it has benefited from the rise of the middle-class,” he says. “I would milk the opportunities here until I have exhausted them before moving abroad.” Continue reading »

Introducing Raghuram Rajan, governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), at an Independence Day lecture on Wednesday evening, Sajjan Jindal of JSW Steel said he felt ‘at peace’ since the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist took over at the central bank last year. That was at a time of turmoil, as a financial crisis swept through emerging markets and the rupee plummeted.

“You’re at peace but you still want lower interest rates,” quipped Rajan in response. “They’ll come.” Continue reading »

Just three months ago, this blog reflected the widespread public interest in Narendra Modi, now India’s prime minister. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in May’s general election with a majority that India hasn’t seen in three decades. It was seen as a presidential campaign, with the charismatic and controversial leader at the forefront of public debate.

Back then zealous optimism had commentators suggesting the former chief minister of Gujarat would do for the country what he did for the state and quickly turn around the beleaguered economy. Perhaps disappointment was inevitable – but is it fair? Continue reading »

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) gave its final approval this week for Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits) to be set up and listed on Indian exchanges, a long-awaited move that will open up financing in India’s cash-strapped real estate sector.

The move also creates an opportunity for Indians keen to put their money into property. The new rules also provide plenty of safeguards to protect investors. Continue reading »

You may expect Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, to be the picture of poverty and struggle.

In fact the area, which borders Mumbai’s modern financial centre, is also a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity – and this isn’t just traditional work making clay pots and poppadoms. eBay is providing a platform for many young people to start their own businesses. Continue reading »

Britvic, the British drinks maker, launched its Robinsons Fruit Shoot children’s drink in India on Wednesday with a senior executive challenging the conventional wisdom that it is difficult doing business in Asia’s third largest economy.

“It’s been a really good experience,” Simon Stewart, managing director of Britvic International, said of his experiences setting up shop in a country ranked 134th out of 189 countries in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business 2014‘ survey. “From a regulation point of view it has been good,” he added.

India is the first Asian market Britvic has ventured into and the group is offering Fruit Shoot in four new flavours tailored to the local market: apple and pear, strawberry and raspberry, apple and blueberry, and India’s favourite – mango. Continue reading »

India’s central bank left interest rates unchanged for a third straight meeting and tweaked a banking regulation to encourage lending as Raghuram Rajan, governor, sought a balance between promoting economic growth and maintaining vigilance against inflation.

Rajan kept the benchmark repurchase rate at 8 per cent, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said in a statement on Tuesday, as economists had widely expected. The statutory liquidity ratio – which mandates how much banks must invest in government bonds – was reduced to 22 per cent of net liabilities from 22.5 per cent, effectively freeing up funds for lending. Continue reading »