Concern about the worst bout of communal fighting to hit Sri Lanka’s since the end of its civil war in 2009 deepened on Tuesday, after a second evening of clashes between Muslims and Buddhist groups resulted in at least one further death, despite an overnight curfew.

But while daylight appeared to bring relative calm to the streets of two southern towns that endured the worst of this weekend’s disturbances, any further upsurge in ethnic tensions is likely to have broader implications for one of Asia’s most vibrant frontier markets. Continue reading »

India ElectionsJust one day to go, and with the overall result seemingly a forgone conclusion after Monday’s exit polls, speculation turns to which regional party opposition leader Narendra Modi might pick as his main coalition partner, following tomorrow’s results.

Judging by those exit polls, of course, he will not need one: nearly all of those surveys suggested his hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party and its pre-election allies will stroll passed the 272 seat threshold needed to form a majority in the lower house of parliament. Modi himself is taking no chances, however, meeting with close advisers last night in Gujarat to discuss, among other things, possible alliances.

 Continue reading »

The rise of regional parties remains one of the great trends of modern Indian politics. This election was meant to be no different. Until relatively recently, most analysts thought opposition leader Narendra Modi would struggle to form a government without roping in a plethora of regional barons from smaller parties.

Monday’s exit polls now make such a scenario seem rather less likely, given most projections show that Modi may be able to form a government with only his pre-election allies for support. Yet the polls also reveal an oddly contradictory picture about the performance of India’s “others”, who appear to be winning and losing electoral ground at the same time. Continue reading »

At last, it’s here. The final countdown. After 35 days, 9 stages and a massive voting exercise costing in the region of Rs35bn ($589m) to run, India’s national election is very nearly over. Today’s last stage of voting sees a mere 60m or so bringing up the rear. Yet while this evening’s exit polls will provide a hint of the final result, these have proved a touch unreliable in the past, suggesting further twists to come on Friday as well.

 Continue reading »

Narendra Modi gave a wide-ranging interview this morning to the Times of India. In between stirring the pot, by suggesting that a heavy defeat would see a challenge to the Gandhi family’s control on the Congress party, the opposition leader made forthright remarks about reviving manufacturing as the first economic priority of any future Bharatiya Janata Party-led government. Yet he made no mention of what many business leaders view as the most important step in that process: labour reforms. Continue reading »

India ElectionsIt is a national holiday in India on Thursday, meaning there is less news than usual. The country’s more jingoistic television stations therefore seemed delighted to hear of remarks by Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif, who in a speech on Wednesday dubbed Kashmir the “jugular vein” of his nation.

What the general meant by this is not precisely clear, but the talking heads wheeled out over the border to condemn him seemed to have few doubts that India’s neighbour was somehow up to old tricks. Continue reading »

It is what might be dubbed “super Thursday” in India, the biggest voting day in the country’s month-long election. 121 constituencies are up for grabs in a dozen states, including Uttar Pradesh, the largest electoral battleground.

But strategists for the ruling Congress party, facing an ignominious defeat, will be paying just as much attention to voters turning out today in Maharashtra — a stronghold the party hopes may just save it from a polling washout. Continue reading »

The World Bank’s move doubling to $2bn its offshore-rupee bond programme today marks a significant moment in the international development of India’s currency. But it leaves one big question unanswered: what should these new Indian instruments be called?

Offshore debt naming is not difficult: just pick a food or animal commonly linked to the country in question, and add extra points for alliteration. Continue reading »

This election could see the end of many seemingly permanent fixtures of Indian political life, not least the Congress party’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has ruled the country for most of its independent existence. But might the poll also see the death of a less celebrated political artefact: the traditional Indian campaign poster? Continue reading »

Indian finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram had harsh words for election rival Narendra Modi yesterday, accusing him of backing crony capitalism. If the intention was to earn coverage, it worked: Chidambaram’s jibe ran on the front pages of most of India’s business newspapers this morning. But is the accusation fair? Continue reading »

India ElectionsLet us again assume, for the sake of argument, that Narendra Modi will become India’s prime minister shortly after May 16. Who, then, is most likely to succeed Palaniappan Chidambaram as finance minister? Here are five of the most likely candidates. Continue reading »

The insurgent Aam Aadmi, or Common Man, party continues to make headlines in India’s election, as it noisily attempts the transition from protest group to national political player. But which of the two mainstream parties — the Congress, or the BJP — is most likely to be hurt by their rise? Continue reading »

India ElectionsSome 3.6m internet users got an unexpected surprise to mark the Indian festival of Holi yesterday: a personalised Twitter message from aspirant Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The move was a neat gimmick, and part of a wider pattern in which Modi’s opposition BJP, in particular, have been making innovative use of social media as India’s poll battle plays out. Continue reading »

India ElectionsIndia’s anti-corruption Aam Aadmi party made its big breakthrough in New Delhi this year. But where else might it prosper outside the capital in the country’s forthcoming national poll? India’s IT capital of Bangalore ought to be one natural hunting ground, but the early signs aren’t promising. Continue reading »

Indian markets have been on a tear over the last week, on investor hopes that opposition leader Narendra Modi will soon sweep to power. Even so, billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani’s flagship Adani Enterprises has done astoundingly well. And it isn’t hard to surmise why.

Source: Thomson Reuters

 Continue reading »