Monday marked the Hindu festival of Akshaya Tritiya, considered as an auspicious day to buy precious metals. And with last month’s sharp drop in the price of gold, demand in India is higher than ever.
But what does this mean for an economy where the current account deficit is weighed down by mammoth gold imports? And what does it mean for Indian households, quick to act on a price drop, buying the commodity on religious rather than financial grounds? Continue reading »
On Wednesday, the streets of India will be filled with men and women, boys and girls, flinging multi-coloured powder and water over one another as they celebrate the beginning of spring. The festival of Holi will end with stained carpets and hot baths, as people return home to spend time with loved ones – and probably drink bhang, a traditional brew brimming with cannabis.
It is a distinctively Indian sort of mayhem. Doesn’t sound like something the straight-laced Chinese could get involved with, does it? It is, though. Continue reading »
The election of the new pope is supposed to be a largely spiritual event, but it does have its material benefits, especially for the sellers of souvenirs and for the people who live in the new pope’s home town.
In the foothills of the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland, Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla, who served as Pope John Paul II, is still earning a decent return from its native son. Continue reading »
In India, there are just nine hospital beds for every 10,000 people; 626m people are forced to defecate in the open for want of sanitary facilities; and local investors are looking abroad to escape unpredictable regulation and unreliable infrastructure at home.
And yet, when religion and revelry are at stake, this same country can pull it together and host the 55-day Maha Kumbh Mela festival, where 9m pilgrims are provided with all the shelter and services they need. Continue reading »