Japanese and Indian culture could hardly be more different, but senior executives at Toto, the Kitakyushu-based toilet products manufacturer, say doing business has been a breeze in Asia’s third largest economy.

The Japanese group, whose fancy ceramic toilet fittings are already used in premier properties like the Four Seasons and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai, opened a manufacturing facility in India this week hoping to expand in the fast growing market.

Toto launched a 180,000 sq metre plant in Halol, Gujarat, that will produce some 500,000 toilet bowls every year. The group’s president, Madoka Kitamura, told beyondbrics that he expects about half of the output to be sold within India while the rest is exported to the Middle East and Europe. Read more

We’re all used to the sight of emerging market portfolio investors getting nervous. Just look at the hammering Brazilian stocks have taken as its economy slumped over the past couple of years.

But what about real investors, the ones who build factories? Foreign direct investment into Brazil has stayed pretty steady at about $60bn a year. Don’t those investors get nervous, too? The answer is: Yes, they do, but in different ways. Read more

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. Read more

For the second time in just over a month, India has been hit with a toilet scandal – but instead of a vast network of bureaucrats and middlemen filching over a billion dollars across the country, this one involves an elite economic policy arm of the government.

India’s Planning Commission is no stranger to controversy – last year, it came up with a novel approach to reducing the number of poor people in India: it lowered the poverty line to Rs26 (47 cents) a day.

This week it emerged that the folks determining who is poor enough to qualify for government subsidies are enjoying their own sort of government largesse, not with fancy cars or large mansions, but with toilets – $54,000 worth to be exact. Read more

In India, it is easier to get access to a mobile phone than it is to get to a toilet. But soon this could change.

Anders Wilhelmson, a Swedish architect, professor and informal urban planning expert, has come up with a product to raise the standards of personal hygiene in a country where only 31 per cent of the 1.18bn population has access to proper sanitation. Read more

An Indian woman works in front of a torn Commonwealth Games banner in New Delhi on September 23, 2010Indians like to be as clean as anyone else.

So a suggestion by a top Indian Commonwealth Games official that Indians are content with cleanliness standards lower than those insisted upon by their more picky international brethren is breathtaking in its mediocrity. Read more