India

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 >>

Enthusiasm over Narendra Modi’s election in India and fears that Dilma Rousseff may be re-elected in Brazil have prompted a sharp reversal in the two countries’ positions among equity fund managers.

Source: Copley Fund Research

According to a report published on Monday by Copley Fund Research, which tracks the investments of 100 global EM equity funds with $280bn of assets under management, India overtook Brazil in September to become the second biggest EM after China in terms of aggregate country holdings, with $31.6bn in AUM, ahead of Brazil’s $29.6bn. Read more >>

For decades, a combination of ill health and high rental prices in India’s capital, New Delhi, prevented Ramy Suneja, a fashion design graduate, from setting up her own business. Finally, three years ago, at the age of 60, she started selling her sari designs from home through e-commerce company Snapdeal (one of her creations is pictured left). Today she boasts a turnover of $1m a year.

Throughout India, from dusty one-shop operations to snazzier big brands, retailers are discovering the power of e-commerce. The market is currently tiny: online retail constitutes 0.4 per cent of India’s total retail market, according to Technopak, an Indian consultancy.

But it is growing rapidly as more of India’s 1.3bn population goes online, and its potential is huge. Read more >>

By Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam

On 28th August, an ambitious programme on financial inclusion – Jan Dhan Yojana (People’s Wealth Scheme) – was rolled out across India amid much fanfare. The government claims that on the inaugural day, a record 15m zero-balance bank accounts were opened across the country under the program. Nowhere else in the world has such a large number of bank accounts been opened on a single day. This is undoubtedly a big achievement for the new government. Read more >>

Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, arrived in India on Wednesday for a visit expected to showcase significant investment deals and make progress toward resolving a decades-old border dispute.

But beyond the official bonhomie, the shallow foundations of an uneasy bilateral relationship are readily evident. Nowhere are they more obvious than with tourism. China’s outbound tourism boom appears to have largely bypassed India, which took only 2.5 per cent of its tourist arrivals from its northern neighbour in 2013.

This put Chinese arrivals behind those both from Malaysia – at 3.5 per cent of the total – and Russia – at 3.7 per cent. Read more >>

Investors have been awaiting an upturn in India’s economy since Narendra Modi, prime minister, took power in May. But a raft of recent data paints a mixed picture, with inflation moderating while slack industrial production conflicts with some robust consumer spending signals.

The Wholesale Price Index (WPI), out on Monday, confirmed that inflation is easing, reaching a 58-month low of 3.74 per cent year-on-year in August from 5.19 per cent in July. Read more >>

By Anil K Gupta and Haiyan Wang

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to India this week will likely be the most significant meeting between the leaders of China and India since Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Beijing in 1988. Indeed, India’s leading business daily has gone so far as to suggest that Xi will bring along with him commitments to invest $100bn over the next five years. But while ties between India and China are growing quickly, such estimates remain highly unrealistic and risk saddling this burgeoning relationship with unrealistic expectations.

An article in the Economic Times newspaper quotes China’s consul-general in Mumbai: “On a conservative estimate, I can say that we will commit investments of over $100bn or thrice the investments committed by Japan during our President Xi Jinping’s visit next week. These will be made in setting up of industrial parks, modernization of railways, highways, ports, power generation, distribution and transmission, automobiles, manufacturing, food processing and textile industries.” Read more >>

Until about a decade ago India was barely producing enough cotton to meet its own needs, let alone export the stuff. But this year Asia’s third largest economy will overtake China to become the world’s biggest producer of cotton.

Data from the US Department of Agriculture released on Thursday suggests that India will produce 30m bales of cotton in the season that began August 1 while China will produce just 29.5m bales. Read more >>