It sounds like a case of selling coals to Newcastle, but UK drink mixer company Fever-Tree plans to start exporting its premium Indian Tonic water to India, where the substance was first concocted about 200 years ago to stave off malaria among British troops in the Raj.
The move is the latest sign of India’s emergence as a big market for luxury consumer goods in spite of a slowdown that has cut overall economic growth to less than 5 per cent annually for the past two years.
Tim Warrillow, who co-founded the company in 2005, is to announce that India will become Fever-Tree’s 50th export market at an event in New Delhi next week with Nick Clegg, UK deputy prime minister. Read more
India’s new government is to launch an ambitious “financial inclusion” plan to bringing banking services to the 40 per cent of the nation currently outside the formal financial system.
Arun Jaitley, finance minister (pictured), made the announcement in New Delhi on Thursday, adding to the economic and financial reforms already heralded by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Read more
It is an understatement to say that confidence has returned to Indian entrepreneurs following the election victory of Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party after 10 years of Congress party rule.
“I feel very good about the country right now,” said a jovial Rana Kapoor, founder and chief executive of Yes Bank, who embarked on a $500m capital-raising exercise on May 16, the same day that the election results were announced. Read more
The issue of caste never really went away during this election campaign. How could it in a country where government jobs and seats in parliament are set aside for “scheduled castes”, where some parties are run by and for lower-caste citizens or dalits (the former “untouchables”), and where parents routinely seek same-caste spouses for their children in the classified advertisements? But caste has loomed particularly large in the past week of political debates and disputes leading up to today’s final day of voting. Read more
It’s a scene to strike terror into the heart of the most hardened foreign correspondent. After a long, hot day on the Indian election campaign trail in Gujarat – home state of Bharatiya Janata Party hopeful Narendra Modi – the thirsty journalist finds a hotel. Puzzlingly, there’s no Kingfisher or Carlsberg in the minibar. His mouth watering at the prospect of a cold beer, he marches downstairs to find one. Only then does he learn the awful truth from a sympathetic receptionist: Gujarat has been dry since 1960, and he will have to wait until the next day to acquire a special foreigner’s permit to buy alcohol. Read more
It’s only fair. After our provocative blog on Monday on the four things that could go wrong for Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – as they march towards what they hope will be a convincing victory in the Indian general election – we turn our attention today to the demoralised Congress party and its figurehead Rahul Gandhi.
What are the things that could make life and politics even worse than they are today for the incumbent party and the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty? Read more
Most voters have now cast their ballots as the world’s largest exercise in democracy – otherwise known as the Indian general election – draws to a close, and Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are still favourites to win when the votes are counted on May 16.
But even if the opinion polls are right and the party wins more seats than any other, the BJP and its controversial leader face innumerable dangers before they can say their positions are secure. Here are four of the biggest: Read more
If Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, wants to win a thumping election victory in his chosen parliamentary seat of Varanasi, he would benefit from the votes of at least some of the city’s famous Muslim sari-weavers.
A walk through the streets of the largely Muslim district of Lallapura suggests it will not be easy. Amid the clattering power-looms that occupy the ground floors of the houses crammed into Lallapura’s narrow alleyways, Muslims express everything from fear of the BJP’s muscular Hindu nationalism to doubts about Modi’s recipes for the recovery of the clothing trade. Read more
India is known worldwide as an orthodox Westminster-style democracy, albeit the world’s largest. But the current general election has reminded us of one of its peculiar features – the tendency of leading politicians to stand in not one but two parliamentary seats.
This insurance policy to try to guarantee a seat in parliament is illegal in most other democracies, and not without critics in India itself. Read more
It has already been a long election campaign – India is not even half-way through the five-week process of electing a new government -and the strains of behaving sensibly are starting to show among those on the fringes of the country’s politics.
The most explosive comments reported thus far were attributed to Pravin Togadia, head of the Vishva Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council, a right-wing organisation whose members overwhelmingly support the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its controversial leader Narendra Modi. Read more
It has been years since Priyanka Gandhi was first touted by India’s governing Congress party as a political secret weapon who would one day be wheeled out to save the party and perhaps the nation.
Priyanka – daughter of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, sister of the party’s figurehead Rahul Gandhi and great grand-daughter of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru – was the subject of an article two years ago by my FT predecessor James Lamont entitled “Priyanka Gandhi’s time will come“. Read more
It was the worst-kept secret in India, but the confirmation in a book by the prime minister’s former media adviser that Manmohan Singh has been dominated by Sonia Gandhi and her Congress party has nevertheless aroused a flurry of official protests and opposition jibes and unleashed a new tsunami of political punditry. Read more
India’s neighbours tend to think that its leaders spend much time plotting to influence events in their own countries. South Asia’s overweening regional power, they assume, is obsessed with what goes on across its borders in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, the Maldives, and of course China.
The manifestos released by the national Indian parties ahead of the current general election suggest that these assumptions are wrong. Read more
One of Narendra Modi’s advantages as Indian prime ministerial candidate for the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has always been his lack of a family. He is not corrupt, he and his supporters say, and has no need to emulate India’s venal political class by amassing wealth for his children because he doesn’t have any.
So it is no surprise that Indians, especially his political enemies, have always been fascinated by the mystery of Modi’s abandoned wife Jashodaben, now a retired school teacher in her early sixties. Read more
Palaniappan Chidambaram has long boasted of his refusal to cross the red lines he has set as the upper limits for India’s fiscal deficits. In his interim pre-election budget in February he even lowered the deficit forecast for the current financial year ending in March to 4.6 per cent of gross domestic product from his earlier prediction of 4.8 per cent.
Trouble is, few analysts believe the target could have been met when the year ended on March 31. And even if India’s Congress-led coalition government did keep (or nearly keep) its fiscal promises on paper, cynics think the accounts have been juggled and large sums of money shunted around the books and between fiscal years to make the picture rosier than the reality. Read more
Every time it runs an Indian general election, the Election Commission (EC) has to manage the largest democratic exercise in history. This time it will have dealt with up to 825m voters by the time ballots are counted on May 16, and the EC is understandably proud of its logistical efficiency and of its record of ensuring free and fair procedures on the days that people vote. Read more
Who says India cannot compete with China? As Indian politicians gird themselves for the coming general election, they have managed to achieve high levels of economic growth with Chinese characteristics. Read more
Those who are in shall be out, and vice-versa: defections from one political party to another have increased at a dizzying pace as the first day of voting on April 7 approaches for India’s nine-phase general election.
Narendra Modi’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to oust Congress and win the most seats in parliament – and it is therefore no surprise that the BJP has been the main beneficiary of ideology-free politicians seeking re-election and of intellectuals hoping to bask in the glow of its predicted success. Read more
What is it about Adolf Hitler and India?
I thought it was the British who were uniquely persistent in their post-war obsession with the Nazi dictator. (Humourist Alan Coren entitled one of his books Golfing for Cats and put a Nazi flag on the cover because he had learned that golf, cats and Nazis were the three topics that sold well.)
The approach of the Indian general election, however, has demonstrated that today’s Indian politicians are as eager as the British to talk about Hitler. Read more
There is so much encouraging economic data coming out of India these days that Palaniappan Chidambaram, the finance minister, must be hoping that some of the good news will translate into votes and soften the drubbing at the polls that awaits the Congress-led government in the coming general election.
It is almost certainly too late for that – voting starts in April and ends in mid-May – but the numbers are nevertheless better than expected even a few months ago. Read more