India society

Mumbai is in the midst of one of the nation’s noisiest and most fun-filled festivals: Ganesh Chaturthi.

During the 10-day festival, statues of the elephant-headed God are set up at mandals (temporary shrines) around the city and worshipped before being immersed in water – usually on the seafront.

But who foots the bill for this vast celebration with its enormous sculptures, temporary altars and elephantine decorations? Continue reading »

Yoga guru BKS Iyengar passed away last week. As the tributes poured in, Iyengar was credited with spreading awareness of Indian culture around the world.

The yoga master was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India, earlier this year – and his style of teaching has become big business in the western world.

The New Yorker provides a glimpse into the master’s childhood and his own education in yoga as a young man in the 1930s, when ‘physical culture’ was taking off around the world: Continue reading »

Just three months ago, this blog reflected the widespread public interest in Narendra Modi, now India’s prime minister. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power in May’s general election with a majority that India hasn’t seen in three decades. It was seen as a presidential campaign, with the charismatic and controversial leader at the forefront of public debate.

Back then zealous optimism had commentators suggesting the former chief minister of Gujarat would do for the country what he did for the state and quickly turn around the beleaguered economy. Perhaps disappointment was inevitable – but is it fair? Continue reading »

Two out of the four BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China face severe labour shortages as soon as 2020.

“Many emerging markets are reaching the final phase of their demographic peak,” say the authors of a report by Boston Consulting Group which quantifies the extent of potential labour shortages and surpluses globally over the next 16 years.

The danger of a declining work force is well recognised in China, which is already suffering the impact of the one-child-per-family policy, in effect since 1979. BCG estimates that China’s surplus of about 65m workers in 2020 could turn into a shortage of up to 24.5m people by 2030. Recent proposals to ease the one-child policy, if implemented, would have only a limited impact, since children born now would not enter the workforce until after 2030. Continue reading »

With votes counted next week, we’re looking forward at what lies ahead of the general election.

James Crabtree ponders whether India can actually overhaul its restrictive labour laws and kick off a manufacturing revolution. While Ravi Venkatesan, former head of Microsoft India, writes on what the next government will need to do to revive growth and investment. Continue reading »

Most voters have now cast their ballots as the world’s largest exercise in democracy – otherwise known as the Indian general election – draws to a close, and Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are still favourites to win when the votes are counted on May 16.

But even if the opinion polls are right and the party wins more seats than any other, the BJP and its controversial leader face innumerable dangers before they can say their positions are secure. Here are four of the biggest: Continue reading »

By Deepak Lal

In the midst of an interminable election, all the opinion polls are predicting an absolute majority for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance. If the polls are right – which they were not in 2004 and 2009 – Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, will be at the helm of the world’s largest democracy in about two weeks.

So, it is important to assess Modi’s character and what he stands for. Given the starkness of the divergent images being projected by those for and against Modi, the question arises: will he be a Margaret Thatcher who restores economic growth and India’s standing in the world, or an autocrat who kicks away the democratic ladder which has led him to power, like Hitler, promoting an ideological pogrom against a religious minority? Continue reading »

By David Keohane and Avantika Chilkoti

Step 1: Go there and make a video. It adds authenticity:

Step 2: Mention that Dharavi competes for the title of ‘the largest slum in Asia’, with some 700,000 people living in an area of barely 550 acres.

 Continue reading »

After a 23 year-old student was brutally raped in New Delhi in December 2012, women’s safety has been at the centre of public debate in India. A year on, the US-based Pew Research Centre conducted a survey and found that nine out of ten Indians feel rape is a “very big problem” in the country. Continue reading »

Crime, ill-gotten gains and violence are closely linked with electoral politics in India and with 30 per cent of lawmakers in the outgoing parliament facing criminal charges, the issue of ‘money and muscle power’ in the world’s largest democracy has once again emerged as a serious concern in the ongoing general election.

Civil rights groups such as the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) have mounted a robust campaign to educate voters about the background of the candidates and have joined hands with 1,200 non-government organisations across the country to drive home the message. Continue reading »

Indian voters are turning out to cast their ballot in unusually high numbers, as the controversial Narendra Modi goes head to head with Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

That’s good news for Indian democracy. But why are more people coming out to cast their vote this year? And what does that mean for the results of the 2014 general election? Continue reading »

India’s equity markets continue to rally as voting gets underway, with the benchmark indices closing at new record highs on Wednesday.

Beyondbrics takes a look at the new campaign posters of India 2014 and Modi’s new phone line to the public – a poignant reminder of the limits of online electioneering in a country with limited internet penetration, on the very same day that Facebook crosses 100m users in India. Continue reading »

India ElectionsMuch of the recent ramp up in Indian equities and its currency has tracked polls which increasingly point to a stable government being formed after the elections. Now, there is a chance that markets are getting over excited — as JP Morgan put it, they run the risk of getting ahead of themselves and becoming a victim of their own ever-growing expectations… Continue reading »

Confused by the Indian elections? How many seats and how many votes? So many political figures from so many regions.

This new package from the FT runs through the intricacies of the world’s largest democracy. Continue reading »

Slowly but surely Mumbai’s billboards are being filled with large, stern faces that gaze down ominously at passersby.

One picture of Rahul Gandhi, undeclared candidate for the incumbent Congress party, is emblazoned with the words: “Mein nahi, hum” (Not me, us). Even away from the streets in the confines of your sitting room, turn on the television and you might chance upon an advert by Tata Tea which encourages women to vote, making a symbol out of the black spot that will mark the forefinger of every voter in just a few weeks. Continue reading »