India

In spite of Mikhail Gorbachev’s warning this month that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War, it is Asia that we should be worrying about, says former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The region is home to seven flashpoints which, if they erupt, could end the greatest economic growth story of the 21st century.

“We face this remarkable set of circumstances where global growth will be driven from Asia,” Rudd told beyondbrics in a recent interview in Dubai.“But Asia from a political perspective is a potentially unstable region. So the world [should have] a deep interest in not just the future growth trajectory, but also the political and security circumstances which underpin that equation.” Read more

When Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi (pictured) won the Nobel Peace Prize last month it was a moment of great pride for civil society in India, not least because of a recent face-off between the new government and NGOs, especially the environmental group Greenpeace.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power this year on a pledge to cut red tape and speed up decision making, winning favour with industrialists across the country. But many campaigners are more sceptical of the new pro-business administration. Read more

By Kavaljit Singh of Madhyam

After months of stalemate, India and the US have agreed to resolve their differences over food stock holdings, opening the way for future implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement at the World Trade Organization – the biggest trade deal in the WTO’s entire history.

The two countries have reportedly agreed that a “peace clause” – which protects member countries that breach farm subsidy caps under the Agreement on Agriculture from being challenged at the WTO – will continue indefinitely until a permanent solution is found. The US agreed to Indian demands to rewrite the peace clause to give adequate protection to such member countries. Read more

On a hot Tuesday afternoon Neha Arora, 32, stands outside an upmarket café in south Mumbai, struggling with two mobile handsets. She complains that her phone calls regularly cut out.

“It’s a way of life, I guess,” the wedding planner says. “You just call back or the other person calls back.” Read more

“We are waiting for you!” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told potential investors this week at the India Economic Summit in New Delhi. But the response among delegates in the conference hall may not have been the one he was hoping for.

“We are waiting for him too,” said one foreign investor, who declined to be identified, expressing impatience with the pace of reforms to make India more business-friendly. Some local industrialists struck a similar note: Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, one of the largest industrial groups in India, couldn’t hide his anticipation: “The pressure is on [the government] to walk the talk, and see the talk become action.” Read more

International air travelers will recognise the tag line from the HSBC campaign in airports worldwide: “In the future, South-South trade will become norm, not novelty”. If it depends on the Mahindra group and other Indian conglomerates, that tag line could become reality with regards to Africa and India.

Taking optimism to a new level, a collection of African leaders and Indian industrialists dared to dream big during a closed session of the WEF India Economic Summit in Delhi, agreeing to an informal ambition of $500bn Indo-African trade by 2020. Read more

The FT flagged recent concerns around the Indian car industry. Sales had picked up for four consecutive months after the new pro-business government came to power this May – but that run of growth is now ending.

Beyond domestic sales, the recent drop in exports from India is another key trend in the Indian automotive industry and the reasons for the fall are often misunderstood. Read more

By Samiran Chakraborty of Standard Chartered Bank

Just a year ago, India faced a mini-run on the rupee. Now, an improving economy combined with political stability has made the country a darling of foreign investors, with more than $35bn of portfolio inflows since January. India’s stock market and currency are the world’s top performers.

Some dismiss this as hype, predicting that post-election optimism will soon run out of steam. However, looking at the evidence, there is much to justify the bullishness. Read more

While most Indians were celebrating the Diwali holiday last week, authorities in New Delhi slipped out an order that may bring an end to the state monopoly on coal mining.

Many analysts are now questioning, however, whether international mining groups will enter India if the government follows through on last week’s ordinance. And more to the point – even if they do, is this the answer to India’s acute energy shortage? Read more

A jeweller in Surat, Gujarat, has been the talk of the town – and the whole nation – after giving cars and apartments to hundreds of employees.

Savjibhai Dholakia, chairman of Hari Krishna Exports, handed out 500 Fiat Puntos, 207 apartments and 570 pieces of jewellery, according to the Guardian newspaper, which said that he would pay for his mysterious beneficence in installments “over the next few years.”

The scale of Dholakia’s generosity is unusual, but it is somewhat in keeping with Indian tradition. Throughout the country, offices are piled high with hampers of dried fruit and chocolates, gifts from companies to employees and clients, as India celebrates its festival of lights on October 23. Read more

India has stepped up efforts to curb nearly 1m tobacco-related deaths a year by issuing new rules to embolden the health warnings on tobacco packets and make the country one of the world’s strictest in terms of tobacco labelling.

But while regulators try to crack down on branded cigarettes and similar products, there is still a vast unregulated market for tobacco in India. And it’s far from clear that slapping warnings on cigarette packs will have much impact on health.

For one thing, many more Indians smoke traditional bidis than branded cigarettes. In addition, a lot of people get their nicotine fix from chewing tobacco and other products often produced in the informal sector. Read more

There you are, taking it easy on your summer holiday in Istanbul or Dubai, searching online for the next restaurant to sample. You may not know it, but the information you seek could be coming to you courtesy of a small company based in Gurgaon, near New Delhi.

Zomato, an online restaurant directory, has become a household name in India. That could soon be true in many other markets. Over the past year the website has expanded quickly overseas – from Poland to New Zealand – through a mixture of acquisitions and organic growth. Read more

By Amitabh Dubey of Trusted Sources

Elections this week in the states of Maharashtra and Haryana offered the first popular gauge of India’s reformist government since it won its big parliamentary majority in May, and underscored its dominance of Indian politics. But an equally important test has emerged in one of the country’s most troubled sectors, coal, after the Supreme Court’s mass cancellation of captive coal block allocations last month. How Prime Minister Narendra Modi handles the issue will be the first major test of his capacity for reform affecting a vital industry which finds itself in a dire situation. Read more

The Indian Super League, the country’s new professional football league, kicked off last weekend. Sceptics who doubted its pulling power were proved wrong as Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium packed out for the first game.

In a nation where cricket is tantamount to a religion, few expected football to have much appeal. But the ISL – backed by media group Star India and IMG-Reliance, a partnership between the sports management group and Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man – has captured the attention of the public, the players and the sponsors. Will it last? Read more

On Friday Indian companies will begin posting their results for the quarter ended in September – the first full three-month period under the country’s new, pro-business government.

The latest macroeconomic indicators suggest the economy has picked up following this year’s general election, growing at 5.7 per cent in the three months to June. But if analyst forecasts are anything to go by, only some sectors have received a boost from renewed optimism in India. Read more