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Thursday was ‘Super Thursday’ in India – the biggest day in the country’s protracted general election – and beyondbrics takes a look at the battle in Maharashtra.

With Easter this weekend, the FT India team will give the blog a break on Friday – but check back next week as elections continue in the world’s largest democracy. 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 »

As we heard from the FT this morning, film stars in India often graduate into politics, putting their fame to use at the ballot box.

Stars from Bollywood and many of its regional language peers have been making the move into politics for decades now, supporting parties from either end of the political spectrum. But this year, parts of the film industry have been pushing the electorate to vote for a ‘secular’ party – a thinly veiled nudge away from would-be prime minister, Narendra Modi. Continue reading »

By Gavin Bowring, Asean Confidential

China’s two-way trade with the 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has grown more than fivefold over the past decade and is on course to reach nearly $500bn this year. However, Chinese direct investment into Asean has been relatively anemic by comparison, accounting for only 7 per cent of China’s total foreign direct investment (FDI) stock.

But if Beijing gets its way, this is set to change. China plans a fivefold ramp up of its FDI in the region to a cumulative $150bn by 2020 from $30bn currently. Over the same period, it sees a doubling in bilateral trade to $1trn by 2020. The map below sets out the current trade flows and dynamics. Continue reading »

With the Indian Premier League cricket tournament kicking off on Wednesday, people were a little distracted from the mammoth general election.

But beyondbrics took a look at the criminal and financial history of candidates in Mumbai and questioned whether anyone – even Narendra Modi – can kick start the economy quickly. Continue reading »

Voting is already underway in the state of Maharashtra, with citizens in the city of Mumbai casting their ballot next week.

And to stir things up, National Election Watch has released a new report analysing the financial and criminal records of candidates in the region. The questionable past of many leading figures in Indian politics is, sadly, old news. But the fact that organisations are digging up such detailed information on would-be leaders is a sign of progress in the world’s largest democracy, where governance has become the issue of the day. Continue reading »

China’s release of GDP data on Wednesday is triggering a fresh bout of scepticism over the accuracy of Beijing’s statistics. The key question is whether the reported GDP growth rate of 7.4 per cent in the first quarter gives a misleadingly strong impression of the real state of the world’s second largest economy?

“In our view, the 7.4% YoY growth does not reflect the full scale of the economic slowdown in 1Q14, and the actual growth is closer to 7.0-7.2% YoY,” wrote Shen Jianguang, economist at Mizuho Securities in Hong Kong. Continue reading »

By Rajeev Malik

Fixing India’s economic ills will be challenging, even for Modi.

India is a country with multiple social, political and economic personalities. Decisions and their outcomes often appear to challenge logic, and rarely fail to confound, amaze or disappoint – sometimes all at once. Even on a good day, there seems to be crisis somewhere in the folds of this chaotic democracy. On a bad day, one often wonders how it functions at all, let alone how it evolved to be Asia’s second-fastest growing economy, before losing that status to multiple and self-inflicted policy mistakes. Continue reading »

Lukoil has agreed to sell its stake in several oil projects in Kazakhstan to Sinopec for $1.2bn, in the latest of a string of Chinese investments in the country’s energy sector. The Russian company – the country’s largest private-sector oil producer – said the purpose of the sale was to “optimize Lukoil’s overseas hydrocarbon asset portfolio”.

But the deal is also symbolic of China’s rapid expansion in Central Asia, part of Russia’s traditional “sphere of influence”. Continue reading »

Management consultants at McKinsey say the Indonesian middle class consists of 45m people, while their rivals at Boston Consulting Group cite a figure of 74m. The Asian Development Bank puts it at an eye-popping 146m, or 59 per cent of the population.

Either way, investors are whetting their appetites at the prospect of selling their goods and services into this undoubtedly large and fast-growing market of consumers. Continue reading »

Infosys kicked off earnings season on Tuesday morning and inflation numbers were released later in the day, putting the spotlight on business and the macroeconomy in India.

Beyondbrics took a look at the latest opinion polls and the more charismatic but yet less politically active of the Gandhi siblings – Priyanka Gandhi. Continue reading »

Though opinion polls are predicting that the Bharatiya Janata Party will lead India’s next government, there are some skeptics. They don’t doubt that the opposition Hindu nationalists will win enough seats to form a coalition, but think it may not win enough to appoint its controversial prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi.

Now, a new poll says the party will win 226 of the 543 elected seats in the Lok Sabha. Add in its allies and that is a total count of 275 seats – enough to give Modi the top job. Continue reading »

By Avantika Chilkoti in Mumbai and Thomas Hale in London

Three major private banks have closed operations in India in recent months, as cultural and regulatory challenges derail groups initially drawn by growing wealth in Asia’s third largest economy.

An emerging market with a high savings rate, a collection of some of the world’s most flamboyant businessmen, and economic growth hovering around 5 per cent despite a sharp slowdown, India should be a gold mine for the private banking industry. Continue reading »

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 »