India finance

“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

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

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

An eccentric Indian tycoon, some of the world’s most luxurious hotels and now the Sultan of Brunei. The story of one Indian company’s tortuous journey out of legal hot water has just taken another twist.

The Sultan of Brunei has emerged as the lead bidder for the Grosvenor House Hotel and other luxury properties that India’s beleaguered Sahara group has been trying to sell off in a desperate attempt to get its ‘managing worker’ out of jail. Read more

Introducing Raghuram Rajan, governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), at an Independence Day lecture on Wednesday evening, Sajjan Jindal of JSW Steel said he felt ‘at peace’ since the former International Monetary Fund (IMF) economist took over at the central bank last year. That was at a time of turmoil, as a financial crisis swept through emerging markets and the rupee plummeted.

“You’re at peace but you still want lower interest rates,” quipped Rajan in response. “They’ll come.” Read more

As Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, gets his feet under his desk in New Delhi, it seems everyone is optimistic about the country’s prospects. That includes Ravneet Gill, chief executive of Deutsche Bank in India.

Modi won this year’s election with a powerful majority, having promised to restart India’s manufacturing sector, to get investment going by cutting red tape, and to improve the country’s crumbling infrastructure. Gill says all this will help India’s struggling banking sector – but running a bank in the country still isn’t an easy job. Read more

How do you bank the “unbankable”? The question could hardly be of more importance to small businesses in emerging markets, an estimated 200m of which are starved of the finance they need to grow.

One somewhat unlikely – but increasingly popular – answer is through psychometric tests. By yielding profiles of loan applicants’ honesty, intelligence, aptitude and beliefs, the tests facilitate lending to otherwise “unbankable” borrowers who do not possess a credit history, collateral or accounts.

Artful questions are key to the tests’ efficacy, say finance executives and industry experts. For example, if you want to assess a prospective borrowers’ honesty, it would be naïve to simply ask if they are honest, or if they prize integrity. Read more

In spite of the 6.8 per cent slump in the share price of Adani Enterprises on Friday, the shares of the group led by billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani are up 163 per cent over the past six months – a performance that far outstrips the 11 per cent rise in the benchmark Nifty index over the same period.

The question is: what has turbo-charged the share price over the past six months and in particular on Thursday this week, when shares jumped 22.9 per cent before the partial correction on Friday? Read more

Ritu Kumar is the Vera Wang of Indian bridal wear, one of the oldest and most coveted designers for Indian women on their big day. She’s also a big name for formal women’s fashion and even western clothing in India. Her stores are fondly known as “Ritu’s”.

The Everstone Group, the India and South East Asia focused private equity investor that recently invested in Burger King here, has now put Rs1bn ($16.7m) into buying an equity stake in the brand, part of a wider trend in investor interest in India’s luxury fashion sector. Read more

He lives in a property modelled on the White House. He had his company’s name emblazoned on the shirts of India’s beloved cricket team. And his group owns some of the world’s most prestigious properties, including London’s Grosvenor House.

Subrata Roy, head of Sahara India Pariwar, an unlisted hotel to sugar conglomerate, doesn’t jump at anyone’s demand. Or so he thought. Read more

Over Christmas, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) finally published a comment warning the public about the dangers of dabbling in Bitcoin. Raids have followed, forcing websites that trade the virtual currency to suspend operations.

Enthusiasts have long hailed Bitcoin as a panacea for India’s economic problems, from low rates of financial inclusion to an unsustainable demand for gold. But even the most zealous Bitcoin miners admit that the future of the virtual currency lies with the regulator – which seems to be wary. Read more

China’s ban on banks doing business in Bitcoin, the volatile digital currency, throws up big questions for Bitcoin enthusiasts in India, who insist India is the world’s largest potential market for the e-currency.

The Bitcoin community in India remains small, with just 50,000 people using or even aware of the e-currency so far according to Sathvik Vishwanath, chief executive of CoinMonk Ventures, an Indian Bitcoin service and investment company. But interest is growing. Read more

Second quarter numbers from India’s largest bank by assets, State Bank of India (SBI), were announced on Wednesday – and despite weak profits the markets are still cheering.

As the economy slows and companies suffer, the focus for India’s public sector banks is firmly on asset quality. Read more

One bright light for gender equality in India is the world of banking, where a relatively impressive number of powerful posts are filled by women.

You can add Arundhati Bhattacharya to that list: on Monday she took over as chairperson of the State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest lender by assets. Read more

It was not a downgrade but Moody’s decision to cut its outlook on Brazil’s sovereign rating was something of a blow for Latin America’s largest economy.

Given the problems that India has been having with its plunging rupee and widening fiscal deficit, is there any reason to think that India could be next in the firing line? Beyondbrics spoke to Atsi Sheth, a senior credit officer at Moody’s, to hear her views on Asia’s third largest economy. Read more

What to make of the “big bang” from incoming governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan, as he announced a set of unexpected reforms on his first day in office?

Well, the markets have given the ex-IMF economist the thumbs up. The rupee was up 1.5 per cent to 66 to the US dollar on Thursday morning, while the benchmark Sensex index rallied 2.2 per cent to 18,971.03. Read more

Speak to people in Mumbai’s business community and it sounds like it’s about to go into pause mode, as investors wait for the general elections to bring some clarity before shelling out any cash.

PwC seems to think otherwise. In a new report, the consultancy says there are several business reasons for private equity funds to invest in India in the coming months. Read more

Crowdfunding may be the new fashionable financing option in the global start-up scene but it’s a well-established practice in India. In 1976, director Shyam Benegal financed his film Manthan by collecting Rs2 each from thousands of Indian farmers, whose cause was presented in this story about a rural milk co-operative.

Like Manthan, most examples of crowdfunding in India have occurred offline. But now green shoots are emerging in online, too. Read more

It’s a problem that many countries are experiencing: the central bank cuts rates, but the banks aren’t passing the reductions on to borrowers. What can be done to make more credit available?

In India, finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram is trying the direct route. On Wednesday, he met with the heads of public sector banks and requested they reduce lending rates. Will they? Read more

Need a bank account?

In the last 20 years, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank, has licensed just a dozen new private sector banks. Now, the RBI has invited applications for a new round of permits and Monday was the deadline.

It’s anybody’s guess what will set the succesful applicants apart. But one thing is for sure – the government is out to improve financial inclusion. And a new index developed by Crisil, the ratings agency, uncovers the problems across India. Read more