This weekend Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, came to Silicon Valley to promote his Digital India initiative. His trip signals that the Indian government sees technology as critical to delivering on its development goals. One example is a programme called Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), which Modi launched to ensure that all Indian citizens have access to financial services.
In the last year, the government has opened 175m bank accounts under the scheme, with deposits totalling more than $3.4bn. This progress is already a triumph of technology. Read more
Connecting the dots between disparate trends can help unearth surprising opportunities in emerging markets. In our view, the impact of infrastructure investment on healthcare is a little-known link with big implications.
India provides a fascinating case study. Last year, the new government led by prime minister Narendra Modi set an ambitious target to increase national highway construction from two kilometres a day to 30 kilometres a day within two years at a cost of five trillion rupees. We believe the biggest impact can be found beyond the obvious. In our view, improvement in healthcare will enjoy a huge boost from the highway campaign because better roads make it much easier – and cheaper – for hundreds of millions of rural workers to access better doctors, clinics and hospitals. Read more
By Simon Currie and Stephen Begley, Norton Rose Fulbright
India is the latest in a string of markets to witness a solar energy boom. Solar power currently accounts for just over one percent of India’s total installed power capacity of 261 gigawatts (GW) and the government’s new target is to add a staggering 100 GW of solar capacity by 2022.
Traditional markets for solar, like Europe, don’t offer the same growth prospects making India one of the next big stories for the global solar industry. It has already come a long way from just under 12 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity at the end of 2010, to 3,743 MW as of March 2015. This has largely been achieved through federal reverse auctions, with the first tranche of the next round eagerly awaited later this year; a significant 1000MW will be up for grabs. Read more
India’s ecommerce market is on a rocket-like trajectory. The success of home-grown players such as Flipkart and Snapdeal has grabbed investor attention and now venture capitalists and global tech giants are flocking from China and elsewhere in the hope of finding India’s Alibaba – vital ammunition in the battle for the Indian middle class, which is set to outstrip that of the US in a matter of years. Read more
A stark dichotomy has emerged between Indian economic data and the reality on the ground. In the latest example, the Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged at its last monetary policy review earlier this month and issued a dovish statement. Signs of an investment revival are meagre and consumption demand remains weak – in strong contrast with the GDP growth estimates of the government and the Central Bank.
Despite general optimism following the election of the Narendra Modi government last May, the pace of economic revival has been slow as both investment and consumer demand remain weak. Read more
Since Narendra Modi’s government has been in power, significant changes have been made to boost India’s economy and society. One major change was implementing the Indian Insurance Act, first proposed by the previous government.
The Act enables global reinsurers to enter as 100 per cent owned branches and increases overall foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance industry from the current limit of 26 per cent to 49 per cent. While there are many aspects of insurance, the most significant opportunity not only for insurers but also for Indian society, is the health insurance sector. Read more
By Rajeev Malik of CLSA
The general drift in the financial trenches is that Governor Raghuram Rajan of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will stay on hold at the bank’s April 7 policy meeting. After all, he just cut rates – in a second consecutive out-of-meeting action – in early March. What’s more, consumer price inflation moved up in February; this will constrain the RBI from easing. Finally, following the surprise rate cut in January, the RBI had stayed on hold at its February policy meeting; it will repeat this behaviour next month.
For these reasons, hardly anyone expects a rate cut next week. However, valid as these arguments are, they are overshadowed by factors that make a stronger case for another cut. Read more
Gulzar Ahmed is one small link in the human bridge between Dharavi, one of India’s largest shanty towns, and the fashion boutiques of Milan.
The master tailor in a small workshop run by Italian designer Viola Parrocchetti, Ahmed is one of thousands of skilled craftsmen that live and work in Dharavi, providing tailoring and embroidering services to India’s thriving fashion industry, much of it destined for export. Read more
Narendra Modi, India’s pro-business prime minister, swept to power last year offering a new efficient form of government and a crackdown on the high-level corruption that has weighed on growth for decades.
But in a new report, analysts at Ambit Capital, a Mumbai-based brokerage, suggest that this otherwise positive shift may be negative for India’s rural economy – if only in the short-term. Read more
By Sanjeev Prasad, Kotak Institutional Equities
The Indian government’s annual budget – to be announced on Saturday – will be intensely scrutinised for clues about the evolving policy priorities of Narendra Modi, the prime minister.
But while many will be focused on expenditure and revenue plans, Indian business will be looking in a somewhat different direction. It is hoping that the budget will further reforms to bring about a lower ‘visible’ role of the government in the economy, under which it relinquishes or reduces its multiple roles of financier, manager, owner, policy-maker and regulator.
The budget is an ideal opportunity for the government to re-evaluate its role in the economy at a time when the private sector, states and local governments are playing an increasingly larger role in economic and social development. A greater ‘invisible’ role of the government simply as a facilitator of private sector investment is required. Read more
By Bibhas Saha, Durham University Business School
When Narendra Modi, the India prime minister, assumed office in May 2014 everybody knew big changes were coming, but very few could foresee that labour reform would be one of them. Modi knows that if India wants to export more it has to take China on at its own game by creating a more flexible labour market and upgrading skills in a vast pool of potential labour supply.
India is far behind on both, with low literacy and complex labour laws. The laws are archaic (one dating back to 1926) and among the most rigid in the world. Of particular concern is the job security law, which was first introduced in 1976 and then further stiffened in 1982. At that time the objective was to improve job security in private sector firms so they were in line with the public sector. Read more
Abdul Halim removes an envelope from the inside pocket of his fake leather jacket and slides it carefully across the counter at MTB Exchange, a money transfer shop on Whitechapel, in London’s East End. Within hours, the £500 it contains will be picked up by his father, a chicken farmer in a remote part of northern Bangladesh. “He needs it very much,” says the impeccably mannered 30-year-old.
Every other month, Halim sends home nearly a month’s worth of wages, earned in a 20-hour-a week job as a kitchen porter in a Knightsbridge restaurant. He would like to earn more, he says, but the terms of his visa require his presence at a north London college, where despite his almost non-existent English, Halim is studying business management. Read more
As global oil prices have crashed, central bankers around the world have had to deal with new disinflationary pressures. For some, like Thailand and Korea, this may be bad news but for Raghuram Rajan, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) who has been battling with spiraling inflation, the recent trends are a welcome relief.
Rajan began loosening policy in the new year – but is there any risk, beyond rebounding oil prices, that inflation could pick up pace again in India? Read more
Given the problems of female infanticide and sex-selective abortions in India you might think that the country would one day be filled with single men unable to find a bride.
You might well, however, be wrong. A new academic paper predicts that by 2050 India will face the reverse problem: women will find it more difficult than men to find an eligible partner. Behind the findings are two main factors: the typical age gap between Indian men and women at marriage, and rising levels of education among Indian girls. Read more
Maruti Suzuki led a two-track recovery in India’s car industry last year, dragging up overall sales while local competitors such as Tata Motors floundered. But new figures out on Tuesday have disappointed analysts in the festive period.
The 32 year-old brand, with a reputation for churning out reliable and affordable cars, posted net profits of Rs8.02bn ($131m) in the quarter ended December, up 18 per cent year-on-year. That’s well below an average forecast for profits of Rs9.06bn in a poll by Thomson Reuters. Read more
Just what are we to read into this? Mainstream and social media in India are abuzz with the revelation that, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama on Sunday, the pinstripes of his suit were not pinstripes at all but his full name, Narendra Damodardas Modi, spelt out in block capitals over and over again. Read more
By Kavaljit Singh of Madhyam
It’s official: India and the US will resume negotiations on a high-standard bilateral investment treaty (BIT). In a joint statement on Sunday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama, the leaders affirmed their “shared commitment to facilitating increased bilateral investment flows and fostering an open and predictable climate for investment.”
Since 2008, the two countries have been engaged in sporadic discussions to arrive at such a treaty. In the coming days, negotiations will begin on its wording, based on each country’s revised model treaty texts. Read more
Emerging Asia is set to be the world’s fastest-growing region again in 2015, skirting the contagion from Russia’s crisis and riding the fall-out from weak commodity prices, according to Fitch, the credit rating agency. Nevertheless, structural frailties stalk seven out of 10 countries in the region, with surging debt levels a particular concern, the agency said.
The region, excluding China, is expected to expand by 5.9 per cent in 2015 and 6.1 per cent in 2016 – compared to an average for global emerging markets of 4.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent respectively, Fitch said in a report. These forecasts compare with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) estimates that developing economies would this year grow at 4.3 per cent, accelerating to 4.7 per cent in 2016. Read more
By Kavaljit Singh of Madhyam
President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to India is likely to kick-start stalled negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between the US and India that has been under sporadic discussion since 2008, aimed at facilitating greater cross-border investment flows.
Negotiations will resume based on model treaty texts prepared by each side. In April 2012, the US released a new version of its model BIT. New Delhi launched a review of its investment treaties in mid-2012 in the wake of public outcry over arbitration notices served by 17 foreign companies (including Vodafone and Sistema) challenging various policy measures and demanding billions of dollars in compensation for the alleged violation of India’s BITs. Read more
By Frederic Neumann, HSBC
Things in China look a bit soggy. True, growth a touch above 7 per cent is nothing to sneer at. But it’s down sharply from days past. And as the Mainland matures, those double-digit growth rates seem even less likely to return. Where, then, to look for the next story of hyper-charged growth?
Plenty of promising places around: Sri Lanka will probably grow faster than China this year, and so could the Philippines, Vietnam and Bangladesh at some point. But, from a global perspective, these will hardly make a dent; certainly, commodity markets will not get terribly excited about accelerating demand from these markets. Read more