Economists and investors have turned optimistic about the Indian economy since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over in New Delhi this May.

Sweeping to victory with a strong majority, the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration is expected to roll out a series of policy reforms that will kick start growth in Asia’s third largest economy. But has this triggered a boom in the Indian consumer sector too? Read more

Those splashes of rouge on India’s street corners? The culprit is paan.

Made of the heart-shape betel leaf, paan is chewed across south Asia as a mouth freshener and thought to help digestion. But the less discourteous of chewers carelessly spit the remnants straight back out, a constant gripe for municipal authorities that has led to repeated demands for a ban on the stimulant.

So, in its own little way, chewing gum brand Center Fresh is doing its bit for society as it launches a new paan flavoured gum. Read more

William Pinckney, chief executive of Amway India, the country’s biggest direct selling consumer goods business by sales, was released on bail on Tuesday evening after his arrest along with two fellow directors. Business leaders have been dismayed by the episode, saying it will damage investment and confidence.

It’s an odd tale that says much about the unpredictability of India’s police forces. What lies beneath is even more perplexing: the way a business regarded as entirely legitimate in the west may be viewed as an illegal pyramid scheme under Indian law. Read more

India’s outsourcers and industrial conglomerates have found success in western markets but consumer goods group Godrej sees its future in the developing markets of Africa and South America, where its experience of marketing to poorer consumers gives it an advantage. Adi Godrej, chairman, talks to the FT’s James Crabtree about marketing and innovation at the bottom of the pyramid.

In the world of fast-moving consumer goods – known as FMCG in the retail industry – China is a big prize. With a rapidly-expanding middle class, and the quick adoption of western brands alongside home grown products, it’s also a highly competitive market.

So which companies are making headway? Chart of the week takes a look. Read more

Opening the only five-star hotel in Iraq two years ago was a bold move by any standards. Throw in marketing cigarette makers in Lebanon and distributing Shell Lubricants in Iraq, and Malia Group looks like a controversial risk-taker. Read more

The big dilemma for smokers is normally over health or habit: whether to give up is the key question rather than which brand of cigarette. But if the Indian government has its way, those who prefer foreign brands like Marlboro and Benson & Hedges may no longer have that choice.

According to the Economic Times, two years after the government banned foreign direct investment in cigarette manufacturing, Delhi is considering curbing imports, though it won’t likely concede to the full ban that the Consortium of Indian Farmers has demanded, for fear of violating WTO obligations. Read more