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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 »

We at the FT have this week been running a series on the “Fragile Middle”, defined as some 2.8bn middle class people in emerging economies who are vulnerable to ebbing fortunes. The issue has been provoking fresh debate on just what it means to be “middle class” in the world today.

Here is a run down on some of our thinking. Let us know what you think in the comments field below.

 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 »

** FT News **

* China GDP growth slows in first quarter | Slowing growth is raising pressure on Beijing to provide fresh stimulus to head off a potential collapse in growth in the world’s second-largest economy

* US Treasury slams China over currency | Beijing is attacked for its efforts to hold down the renminbi, but latest official American report stops short of naming any country a “manipulator” Continue reading »

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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 »

** FT News **

* Kiev sends troops to dislodge separatists | Ukraine’s acting president said special forces had retaken control of an airport at Kramatorsk, with operations there and in nearby town of Slavyansk

* China GDP growth slows in first quarter | Slowing growth is raising pressure on Beijing to provide a fresh round of government stimulus to head off a potential growth collapse in the world’s second-largest economy 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 »

China invented printing several centuries before Gutenberg’s mechanical press in Germany. Now a Chinese company in Shanghai appears to have stolen a march over Europe in the race to build the world’s first 3D printed house.

A Shanghai company, Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co, says it made 10 3D printed houses (see photos) each costing $4,800 each in less than 24 hours, according to 3ders, a 3D printing industry website. Continue reading »

** FT News **

* Ukraine raises rates to defend economy | US President Barack Obama warns Vladimir Putin of his ‘grave concern’ about Russian support for the actions of armed pro-Russian separatists

* Risk seekers turn to Latin American bonds | Some countries in South America are now seen as opportunities by yield-hungry investors but some observers fear complacency about risk 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 »