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“. Continue reading »

India ElectionsIt 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. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

India ElectionsThere 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. Continue reading »

Everyone knows that Indian voters are increasingly turning to regional parties and abandoning Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the two established national groups. Right? Continue reading »

Indian investors may be gloomy about their domestic economy after a sharp slowdown in growth to less than 5 per cent a year, but they seem to have lost none of their enthusiasm for Africa’s emerging markets across the Indian Ocean.

According to a new McKinsey report – “Joining hands to unlock Africa’s potential: A new Indian industry-led approach to Africa” – Indian companies should be able to quadruple their revenues from Africa to $160bn by 2025 by focusing on IT services, agriculture, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. Continue reading »

India ElectionsIn most democracies, by the time an election approaches the field of possible prime ministers or presidents has narrowed to two or three.

Not so in India. Narendra Modi, the candidate of the Hindu nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, remains the favourite to replace Congress’s Manmohan Singh and become India’s next prime minister, but the field of possible alternatives seems to be growing by the week. Continue reading »

If electoral success were measured by publicity alone, Arvind Kejriwal could rightly claim victory in the tumultuous first day of the Indian election campaign.

Hours after the Election Commission announced dates and details of the general election to be held in April and May in the world’s biggest democracy, Mr Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party was publicly arrested in Gujarat, the stronghold of his main rival Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Continue reading »

It’s the ultimate frontier market. On the top floor of a building in the Himalayan town of Thimphu are the modest headquarters of the Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan, which has just 11 employees, 21 listed companies, four brokers and a turnover that sometimes barely exceeds 10m ngultrum ($160,000) a month.

“We haven’t yet established all the fundamentals of a capital market,” says Dorji Phuntsho, chief executive of the exchange, acknowledging that some of the latest prices shown date back to the 1990s. “It’s embarrassing that the shops are open but there are no customers.” Continue reading »