When Venky’s expanded its operations from mainly chickens to mainly chickens and footballers by becoming the first Indian owner of an English Premier League club 18 months ago, the company promised Blackburn Rovers fans the moon. Instead, Rovers fans have ended up with egg all over their face – and a rooster on the pitch.

That’s what happened on Monday night after the Rovers lost 1-0 against Wigan Athletic – a defeat that knocked out the Ewood Park side from the premiership. Rovers fans have never got along with the owners of Venky’s, the Rao family, suspecting them of football illiteracy from the start. Read more

The answer is: Hernán Crespo (left), the Argentinean striker who has knocked in a few goals in his time in Italy’s Serie A and the English Premier League. On Monday he became the top gem of India’s new Premier League Soccer , the country’s latest venture to bring football to the masses.

The seasoned striker was signed by Barasat – one of five PLS franchises – for $840,000, the highest bid in the players’ auction of the new tournament, which is modelled on the highly lucrative Twenty20 Indian Premier League of cricket. Other aging superstars who once lit up Europe’s big leagues also went for large sums. But can football take off in India? Read more

The crowd was ecstatic as Bayern Munich’s striker Mario Gomez dribbled through India’s sloppy defence and scored. For once, Indian fans weren’t too fussed about seeing their side losing – as indeed it did, 4-0.

After all, Indians are not known for their passion for football. That is what Tuesday’s game at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi was all about: winning over the Indian spectator. Read more

Niira Radia, Indian corporate lobbyist,India’s top lobbyist Niira Radia, who represented the country’s two most powerful tycoons, Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, has decided to exit the PR business a year after leaked tapes dragged her into the centre of the country’s multi-billion dollar telecoms scandal.

Her departure will rob Indian public life of a colourful character and reduce by one the myriad channels by which Indian business tries to influence Indian politics.  But her exit may be no bad thing for India’s scandal-tarnished democracy. Read more

What goes up, must come down. And so it is with India’s super rich. According to the Forbes 2011 rich list, India’s 100 richest people have collectively lost 20 per cent of their net wealth since last year’s rankings.

The Ambani brothers were among the biggest losers. Anil, the youngest of the two billionaire siblings, saw his wealth plummeted to $5.9bn from $13.3bn a year ago while his estranged elder brother Mukesh Ambani, who remains the richest man in the country, saw his net-worth drop $4.4bn to $22.6bn. Read more

India’s economy is on the verge of slowdown, according to the latest industrial production data published on Wednesday.

The industrial production index in Asia’s third largest economy increased by just 4.1 per cent in August – that’s more than the 3.8 per cent recorded in July but less than the 4.7 per cent year-on-year that economists expected. It was enough to make private sector economists gloomy though government officials, as usual, tried to put a brave face on the numbers. Read more

Aakash, the $35 made-in-India tablet, may be one of the most significant efforts made by New Delhi, which backed the project, to finally bridge the digital divide that has kept Asia’s third largest economy lagging behind its emerging market peers in digital connectivity.

But a 7-inch tablet that connects to the internet with WiFi alone won’t be enough to “vanquish” digital illiteracy and boost e-learning and internet usage. India needs more WiFi hotspots before the digital revolution can take place. Read more

At a time when most global investors seem to be fleeing emerging markets for new safe havens, Goldman Sachs’ decision to invest about $200m in ReNew, a little known Indian green energy start-up, comes as a surprise.

But look beyond the current economic turmoil that has led the Indian rupee to plunge over the last few weeks, and the US investment bank’s move to buy a majority stake in the country’s emerging renewable energy sector makes a lot of sense, analysts say. Read more

Mukesh AmbaniTough times for India’s richest man. On Wednesday Mukesh Ambani’s family-run conglomerate Reliance Industries lost its prime spot of India’s largest company by market cap for the first time in over a decade, in the latest sign investors have lost faith in the billionaire.

Reliance, which saw its shares shrink by 0.55 per cent in Mumbai trading on Wednesday – valuing the company at $54.4bn, has been overtaken by state-owned Coal India, the world largest coal miner, which rose 2.6 per cent – lifting the group’s market cap to $55.3bn. Read more

StanChart in IndiaAre Standard Chartered’s India dreams going up in smoke?

Just over a year ago, the emerging markets-focused bank told the Financial Times it expected profits from Indian to surpass those from its core Hong Kong market by this year. The prediction was accurate. In 2010, India became StanChart’s most profitable market, generating a pre-tax profit of $1.2bn, a sixth of it overall profits.

But fortunes come and go. And on Wednesday, the bank’s disappointing first half performance in India, where profits fell by 39 per cent, is a gentle reminder that doing business in Asia’s third biggest economy is tough and not without its pitfalls. Read more

Antilia houseMukesh Ambani’s lavish skyscraper home could be brought down to earth, as the 2003 acquisition of the land on which India’s richest man has built his 27-storey ‘palace in the air’ could end up being probed by the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog.

The Maharashtra state government has sought the Home Department’s advice on whether to order an investigation into the allegedly illegal purchase of the land used to build ‘Antilia’, the Ambani’s family residence.

This isn’t the first time the dispute has popped up either. Read more

Bankers rejoice. India’s market regulator on Thursday introduced new takeover rules that would make it easier for strategic investors such as private equities to invest into listed companies in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The Securities and Exchanges Board of India said investors would be allowed to buy up to 25 per cent, up from the current 15 per cent threshold, before being forced to make a mandatory bid for the target company. The regulator also raised the mandatory offer to 26 per cent from the existing 20 per cent. Read more

A Sri Lankan labour makes bricks by hand at a make-shift factory in Biyagamam, a suburb of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, on July 17, 2011. Far away from the sovereign credit doldrums affecting Europe, a small island state in the Indian ocean seems to be attracting the attention of foreign investors.

Sri Lanka raised $1bn on Thursday after its 10-year bond sale was seven times subscribed, in a sign that investors remain confident that the island’s sustained economic recovery is on track. Read more

If you are planning to open a bank in India here’s some free advice from the global management consulting firm McKinsey: forget bank branches, invest in online and mobile banking services.

Why? A survey of India’s consumer banking sector released on Tuesday by the management gurus in Mumbai shows that fewer people use branches than they did just four years ago amid booming internet and mobile phone services. Read more

Mumbai streetRatan Tata, India’s leading industrialist, has warned that the government anti-inflationary fiscal policies could harm access to credit and choke economic growth and infrastructure development.

His warnings this week come just days after Deepak Parekh, another prominent business leader, said that big Indian companies had lost patience and were investing more abroad. Read more

Infosys Technologies, India’s second largest IT outsourcer by revenues, has a tough job. The Bangalore-based company is always the first in its sector to report quarterly results and its performance and outlook tend to influence the share price of all its peers, as investors see Infosys as a bellwether for the entire $60bn plus industry. Read more

India’s business community is sick and tired. It is sick and tired of the corruption scandals that have rocked the country and of the government paralysis that has since followed. Such is the level of frustration that businesses are turning their back on India to focus on investment opportunities overseas.

That at least is what Deepak Parekh, one of India’s most respected business leaders, told the Times of India, in an interview that highlighted how the nation’s largest groups have lost their patience with the country’s ineffective government. Read more

India’s banking sector is in for a long-awaited overhaul.

The Reserve Bank of India’s long-standing opposition to allowing conglomerates into the lucrative banking sector will be scrapped soon after it publishes draft guidelines outlining the rules to enter the club, according to sources familiar with the matter. The move will bolster competition in an industry dominated by inefficient and antiquated state-owned banks. But the process will not be smooth. Read more

The London Stock Exchange couldn’t have picked a better time to lure Indian companies to list on Europe’s biggest bourse.

Tuesday’s decision by the Reserve Bank of India to hike interest rates for the 10th time in 15 months to tackle inflation could convince many industrialist – worried by the higher borrowing costs at home – to go for a listing in London to raise cash. Read more

Taj Hotel, Mumbai, a hub for India's richIndia’s economic boom has given life to a new “caste” of uber-rich risk-takers that are set to become even wealthier over the next decade.

A report called “Top of the Pyramid” by Kotak Mahindra Bank, a Mumbai financial group, and Crisil, the Indian ratings agency, said households with a net worth of Rs250m ($5.6m) would triple within five years to 219,000 on the back of economic growth. What’s most interesting is that many of these families will be headed by risk-on entrepreneurs,  not the safety-first conservatives that have long dominated India’s rich lists. Read more