Neil Munshi

Neil Munshi is a beyondbrics reporter based in Mumbai. He is a graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and Esquire, among other publications.

Not every company would be happy to have a prominent right-wing extremist on its roster of clients. But for Topsgrup, India’s largest private security company, Bal Thackeray – leader of the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena political party and one of the most powerful men in Mumbai before he died this month – was just an ordinary Joe. Read more

Volvo plans to invest nearly $700m in its Indian operations, in a sign the Swedish company plans to compete in the country’s growing commercial vehicle market. Read more

India’s latest 2G telecoms auction was, as beyondbrics reported, a giant flop – it raised barely a quarter of what the government had forecast, as operators balked at what they felt were sky-high reserve prices.

Ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s have both threatened sovereign credit downgrades if India doesn’t get its fiscal house in order, and the $7.3bn the government had been planning to raise through the auction was meant to be, at least partly, a measure of its ability to close up its massive fiscal deficit – estimated to be around 5.9 per cent of GDP. Read more

It looks like Vijay Mallya may finally have been thrown a lifeline for his embattled Kingfisher Airlines. But will it be enough?

After four long years of discussions, rumours and speculation, Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company, agreed on Friday to buy a 53.4 per cent stake in his flagship United Spirits for more than $2bn. The attraction is obvious: Diageo gains great access to India’s 1.2bn consumers and the world’s biggest whisky market. But for Mallya, the stakes are even higher. Read more

A cell phone that runs for thirty days on a single charge. A smartphone with a Siri-like voice-recognition system that retails for around $100. A touchscreen phone with an 8 megapixel camera for less than $250.

These are but a few of the innovations Micromax, India’s largest domestic mobile phone and tablet maker by market share, has released in the four years it has been in the industry. The privately-held company specialises in simple-but-effective products targeted to its lower- and middle-income customers in India’s smaller cities. Read more

Another quarter, another bad loss for India’s embattled Kingfisher Airlines. Billionaire Millionaire liquor baron Vijay Mallya’s carrier reported a net loss of $138.5m in the quarter ended in September, widening from the $86.1m loss during the same quarter last year. Revenues were just $36.8m, down 87 per cent from $284.5m, according to results on Thursday.

The company headlined its press release, “Kingfisher Airlines Limited Announces Quarterly Results in line with its expectations”, and called its current status “a holding pattern”. That’s one way to put it. Read more

Wednesday’s opening panel at the World Economic Forum’s annual India meeting was entitled “Rebooting India” – a rather ominous slogan as many of the participants noted.

And while India’s law minister, two local business chiefs, and the CEO of Nestle all took their turn in analysing the country’s economic woes, it was Harvard economics professor Gita Gopinath who found the most convincing argument. Read more

On Wednesday Indians will wake up to see the results of the US presidential election rolling in – polls close in Ohio at 6am in India, so breakfast here may well see the anointing of the next president. But most Indians won’t even notice – and even for those who do, few believe who wins will have any effect on their lives. Read more

It looks like India’s controversial decision to retrospectively tax Vodafone to the tune of $2.2bn may result in more than just sternly-worded comments from the likes of George Osborne and Timothy Geithner.

New Delhi’s plans for strengthening economic ties with key partners through new bilateral investment treaties are being put on hold – starting with Canada, whose prime minister Stephen Harper is visiting the sub-continent this week. Read more

Wipro, India’s third-largest IT company by market capitalisation had a good morning on Friday – it beat profit expectations and saw its shares up over 2 per cent by early afternoon. It was the first time for quite a while that Wipro shares had done anything but fall after a quarterly results release.

The reason? The company forecast that IT services revenue for the quarter ending in December will rise 1.2-3.2 per cent, quarter-on-quarter, to $1.56-$1.59bn, in line with expectations. Read more

The magazine may not be available yet, but Playboy plans to open in India. That’s right, the magazine famous for nudity – and underrated for it’s articles – is going to open retail outlets, clubs, hotels and fashion cafés, according to the Economic Times.

This is in a country whose film industry has only recently begun showing committed couples kissing. The same country where anything – from a couple’s celebrating Valentine’s Day to an impromptu kiss between a famous Buddhist and a Celebrity Big Brother contestant – can spark outrage and protest. Read more

Reserve Bank of IndiaSince April, when the Reserve Bank of India made a surprise 50 basis points cut interest rates, before every monthly policy review meeting the markets speculate that another cut is coming – despite the fact that inflation remains sticky and high.

But the RBI seems immune to hints and suggestions. Read more

A last minute effort by the finance minister to convince the Reserve Bank of India to cut interest rates failed to bear fruit on Tuesday as the central bank held rates at 8 per cent.

P Chidambaram had said on Monday that the government would effectively halve the fiscal deficit by 2017, adding pressure on the bank to ease. Instead, the RBI cut the cash reserve ratio for banks by 25bps to 4.25 per cent. Read more

The Reserve Bank of India held interest rates at 8.00 per cent on Tuesday, despite hope that it might cut in the wake of the finance minister’s pledge on Monday that the government would effectively halve the fiscal deficit by 2017. The bank cut the cash reserve ratio for banks by 25bps to 4.25 per cent.

Given that inflation remains elevated, at 7.81 per cent for September, the RBI had little choice but to pause, economists said. Read more

If further proof were needed that India’s so-called “demographic dividend” isn’t turning out quite as planned, a new Gallup survey shows that just 26 per cent of working age Indians held full-time jobs in the first half of 2012.

The survey pours more water on the idea that India’s young population will be a panacea for its economic woes. An estimated 300m young Indians are expected to join the workforce by 2025, but at the current pace, there simply won’t be enough jobs in the country to absorb them. Read more