Gulzar Ahmed is one small link in the human bridge between Dharavi, one of India’s largest shanty towns, and the fashion boutiques of Milan.

The master tailor in a small workshop run by Italian designer Viola Parrocchetti, Ahmed is one of thousands of skilled craftsmen that live and work in Dharavi, providing tailoring and embroidering services to India’s thriving fashion industry, much of it destined for export. Read more

For centuries, street vendors across southeast Asia have hacked open fresh coconuts, selling their refreshing water to thirsty passers-by to drink through a straw. For just as long, teenage girls have doused their hair in the coconut’s fortifying oil.

More recently, western consumers have discovered the benefits of coconut products thanks to diet fads and celebrity endorsements — but will those benefits extend to producing countries? Read more

Narendra Modi, India’s pro-business prime minister, swept to power last year offering a new efficient form of government and a crackdown on the high-level corruption that has weighed on growth for decades.

But in a new report, analysts at Ambit Capital, a Mumbai-based brokerage, suggest that this otherwise positive shift may be negative for India’s rural economy – if only in the short-term. Read more

As global oil prices have crashed, central bankers around the world have had to deal with new disinflationary pressures. For some, like Thailand and Korea, this may be bad news but for Raghuram Rajan, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) who has been battling with spiraling inflation, the recent trends are a welcome relief.

Rajan began loosening policy in the new year – but is there any risk, beyond rebounding oil prices, that inflation could pick up pace again in India? Read more

Given the problems of female infanticide and sex-selective abortions in India you might think that the country would one day be filled with single men unable to find a bride.

You might well, however, be wrong. A new academic paper predicts that by 2050 India will face the reverse problem: women will find it more difficult than men to find an eligible partner. Behind the findings are two main factors: the typical age gap between Indian men and women at marriage, and rising levels of education among Indian girls. Read more

Maruti Suzuki led a two-track recovery in India’s car industry last year, dragging up overall sales while local competitors such as Tata Motors floundered. But new figures out on Tuesday have disappointed analysts in the festive period.

The 32 year-old brand, with a reputation for churning out reliable and affordable cars, posted net profits of Rs8.02bn ($131m) in the quarter ended December, up 18 per cent year-on-year. That’s well below an average forecast for profits of Rs9.06bn in a poll by Thomson Reuters. Read more

As Sri Lanka’s new president, Maithripala Sirisena, takes the reigns in Colombo, the focus is on his plans to overhaul politics on the island – to call a general election and return to parliamentary democracy.

It may be relatively straightforward to win support with those measures, as he takes over from Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose decade-long rule is remembered for nepotism and creeping authoritarianism. But matching the economic boom Sri Lanka saw under its former leader will be more difficult. Read more

When the government finally defeated separatist Tamil guerrillas in 2009 – bringing an end to a 25-year civil war – tourists began to swarm back to Sri Lanka.

The government of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost power in an election this month, was eager to draw foreign visitors who provide valuable foreign exchange. And groups like Jetwing, the hotels-to-agency tourism group, have felt the benefits. Read more

The streets of Colombo were strangely quiet in the hours after Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former Sri Lankan president, conceded defeat on Friday. The shutters were down at most shops and restaurants, the pavements were empty and the capital’s red tuk-tuks were hurtling around virtually empty streets.

The contrast with the cacophonous celebrations that greeted the result of India’s elections last year could hardly have been starker. There are, however, similarities between the two game-changing polls. Read more

Last year in India was remarkable not only for the resurgence in economic dynamism that followed the election of Narendra Modi, the prime minister. New data shows it was also a banner year for mergers and acquisitions.

In the calendar year to December 30, India saw deals worth $48.4bn, according to Dealogic, marking the highest value since 2010. Inbound deals were valued at $16.5bn, their highest level since 2011. Read more

This month, the FT interviewed a senior executive at Uber in India about the US taxi-hailing company’s plans for rapid expansion in the country. But later that week, a 25 year-old woman said she had been raped by her Uber driver in New Delhi. The government banned the service from operating in the capital and asked state governments to ban all unregistered web-based taxi services.

Swept away by its bold ambitions, it seems Uber has fallen foul of local circumstances in its rush to recruit new drivers. The company declined to discuss this and related issues followed the alleged rape. But are Indian taxi services any more cautious in selecting their drivers? And assuming Uber gets past the rape case, can it go on to succeed in India? Read more

How do you like your smartphones and tablets? Light or large? Black or white? For most consumers in emerging markets the question is: cheap or cheaper?

This is the market manufacturers should be focusing on, according to a new report by Gartner, a technology research company, which estimates that no less than 78 per cent of global smartphone sales will come from developing economies by 2018. Read more

** FT News **

* Anger as Russia scraps $50bn gas plan | South Stream pipeline decision dismays eastern European states

* Israel’s governing coalition collapses | Move paves way for 2015 elections and suggests PM thinks he can win a fourth term Read more

Economists and investors have turned optimistic about the Indian economy since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over in New Delhi this May.

Sweeping to victory with a strong majority, the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration is expected to roll out a series of policy reforms that will kick start growth in Asia’s third largest economy. But has this triggered a boom in the Indian consumer sector too? Read more

When Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi (pictured) won the Nobel Peace Prize last month it was a moment of great pride for civil society in India, not least because of a recent face-off between the new government and NGOs, especially the environmental group Greenpeace.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power this year on a pledge to cut red tape and speed up decision making, winning favour with industrialists across the country. But many campaigners are more sceptical of the new pro-business administration. Read more

On a hot Tuesday afternoon Neha Arora, 32, stands outside an upmarket café in south Mumbai, struggling with two mobile handsets. She complains that her phone calls regularly cut out.

“It’s a way of life, I guess,” the wedding planner says. “You just call back or the other person calls back.” Read more

The FT flagged recent concerns around the Indian car industry. Sales had picked up for four consecutive months after the new pro-business government came to power this May – but that run of growth is now ending.

Beyond domestic sales, the recent drop in exports from India is another key trend in the Indian automotive industry and the reasons for the fall are often misunderstood. Read more

Nimbuzz, a Netherlands-based but India-focused messaging app, was acquired by New Call Telecom of the UK this week in a deal that valued the company at about $250m.

That is a tiny sum compared with the $22bn Facebook paid this year for WhatsApp, with its 465m users worldwide. Nimbuzz has 200m registered users, mostly in India, the Middle East and north Africa, and its success in the vast Indian market provides important lessons for tech companies in Asia’s third largest economy. Read more