Archive for ‘India alert’

01/09/2014

India Outpacing China’s Oil Demand – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s oil demand has grown faster than China’s so far this year, highlighting slowing energy demand in the world’s most populous country and fueling expectations that India may pick up the slack over the medium-to-long term. The pace of India’s demand also reflects optimism about India’s economic growth under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In absolute terms China is Asia’s largest oil consumer, having burned 10.76 million barrels a day of oil and accounting for 12.1% of global oil consumption in 2013, according to BP PLC. The second-largest oil consumer in Asia is Japan, though its oil consumption has been declining as its economy has matured.

India ranks third at 3.7 million barrels a day and accounted for about 4.2% of global oil consumption in 2013.

India’s oil demand has shown steady growth through July at an average of 3%, or 101,000 barrels a day. China’s oil demand has declined at an average of 0.6%, or 62,000 barrel a day, in the same period, Barclays PLC analyst Miswin Mahesh said.

Indian oil demand growth has “organic, domestic, economic activity-linked factors still driving it,” he said. Mr. Mahesh expects the south Asian country’s oil demand to accelerate to 210,000 barrels a day next year, spurred by healthy construction activity, government-financed industrial projects and strong growth in car purchases.

China’s oil-demand growth, on the other hand, remains uncertain, with a large portion of its imports this year going into strategic stockpiling instead of consumption. Its oil demand fell into negative territory in July and its oil imports declined for the first time this year.

“This surprise drop in crude imports further supported our view that [China's] full-year oil demand could be weaker than current market expectations,” Thomas C. Hilboldt, head of Asia Pacific oil research at HSBC Holdings PLC said last week.

The disparity of the demand drivers in India and China is also telling.

The bulk of oil demand in both countries is for diesel, the most widely consumed liquid fuel in Asia. China’s diesel consumption has shown a sharp decline because of its industrial slowdown, while India’s diesel demand rose sharply in the last few months because of power shortages and delayed monsoon rains.

Despite this, the extent to which Indian energy demand can compensate for China’s decline remains doubtful.

Markets are looking for the next emerging-market economy to take over as China moves into its post-industrial phase. Yet India has a fundamentally different economic structure and growth model, Janet Kong, head of market analysis at BP Singapore’s trading division pointed out last week.

“It’s very much a service-oriented economy…not relying on a lot of infrastructure investments or manufacturing,” she said.

The manufacturing sector in India has underperformed for many years, contributing to about 15% of gross domestic product and 12% of employment, compared with 25% or more of GDP in countries like China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the Asian Development Bank’s 2014 report. Meanwhile, China is transitioning from an industrial economy dependent on exports to focus more on domestic consumption.

via India Outpacing China’s Oil Demand – India Real Time – WSJ.

01/09/2014

Japan and India vow to boost strategic ties during summit | Reuters

Japan and India agreed on Monday to strengthen strategic ties as Asia’s second and third biggest economies keep a wary eye on a rising China, and said they would accelerate talks on the possible sale of an amphibious aircraft to India’s navy.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands before their talks at the state guest house in Tokyo September 1, 2014. REUTERS/Toru Hanai/Files

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi also agreed to speed up talks on a so-far elusive deal on nuclear energy cooperation, welcoming what they called “significant progress” in the negotiations.

“The two prime ministers reaffirmed the importance of defense relations between Japan and India in their strategic partnership and decided to upgrade and strengthen them,” Abe and Modi said in a statement after a summit in Tokyo.

Modi, on his first major foreign visit since a landslide election win in May, arrived on Saturday for a five-day trip aimed at capitalizing on a personal affinity with Abe to bolster security and business ties in the face of an assertive China.

In a sign of their warm ties, the two leaders greeted each other with a bear hug when they met on Saturday in Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto for an informal dinner. Modi is one of three people that Abe follows on Twitter, while the Indian leader admires Abe’s brand of nationalist politics.

“The 21st century belongs to Asia … but how the 21st century will be depends on how strong and progressive India-Japan ties are,” Modi told Japanese and Indian business executives earlier in the day.

“The 18th century situation of expansionism is now visible,” Modi said, referring to incidents such as encroachment of others countries’ territories and intruding in other countries’ seas, in a veiled reference to China, with which India shares a long disputed border.

“Such expansionism would never benefit humanity in the 21st century,” he said.

Sino-Japanese ties have also been chilled by a row over disputed isles, feuds over the wartime past, and mutual mistrust over defense policies as China seeks a bigger regional role and Abe loosens the constraints of Japan’s post-war pacificism.

Abe is keen to expand Japan’s network of security partnerships with countries such as India and Australia to cope with the challenge presented by China.

via Japan and India vow to boost strategic ties during summit | Reuters.

01/09/2014

Independence for Intelligence Bureau, tackling Maoism are Home Ministry’s biggest challenges

The Home Ministry is possibly the most crucial cabinet portfolio after the prime minister’s seat. Under Narendra Modi‘s leadership, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart Rajnath Singh bagged the coveted spot on Raisina Hill, an appointment that was widely predicted during post-poll speculation in the capital, New Delhi.

Singh played the part of Modi’s right-hand man for much of the former Gujarat chief minister’s gruelling campaign. But Singh did much more than help with Modi’s election trail; he was effectively Team Modi’s chief executive, managing the power games and personality clashes erupting in the party and, above all, placating the old guard’s resentment toward Modi’s popularity and apprehension about their status.

For many days after the BJP-led National Democratic Front swept the election, Singh said that he would be glad to continue as the party president and was not angling for a cabinet berth. Yet he got possibly the most important cabinet position, besides the prime minister’s, and accepted it with great alacrity.

But many people did advise him against moving to Raisina Hill’s North Block, where the ministry is located, and to stay on as the party president, a position they said was more powerful than a cabinet berth. But Singh has his own political ambitions and the cabinet berth certainly has greater national prestige.

Today, it’s unclear why exactly Modi’s right-hand man is in the government, especially after Singh’s outburst last week following reports that his son had been upbraided by the prime minister for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for arranging police postings. The battle for that primacy is between Singh and Arun Jaitley, the finance minister who is doubling up as defence minister, both wily politicians who know how to navigate the BJP and its various spheres of influence.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

30/08/2014

The backup power in Indian apartments are funded in the name of a poor Indian farmer

In India’s urban areas, you can tell the interruption in power supply by an accompanying noise – a diesel genset whirring into life somewhere nearby, releasing plumes of dark smoke into the air. Power failure is so endemic in some areas that factories, call centres, hotels and apartment complexes all install large gensets to provide back-up power.

So much so, that the installed power generation capacity of diesel gensets in India has now exceeded 90,000 megawatts, or the equivalent of 36% of India’s total power generation capacity. This estimation by the power regulator, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, in fact takes into account only large units with over 100 kilo volt ampere. If smaller units in apartment complexes and household are taken into account, the figure could be much larger.

Policymakers thus far believed that the installed capacity of such units was just over 1,000 MWs, while in reality it was 90 times as much. And so there is no estimation of how much fuel is consumed by these gensets.

There should be. Because these gensets all consume subsidized diesel.

Fuel subsidies were a little under 2% of India’s GDP in 2011-12, according to IMF calculations. Diesel subsidies accounted for nearly half of it.

The rationale for subsidizing diesel is two-fold. Farmers use it to operate motor pumps to irrigate their farms. And second, cost of transporting essential goods and food needs to be kept down to rein in inflation.

Both these reasons are undermined by the situation on the ground and what researchers have shown.

Nearly 27% of diesel sold in India is consumed by vehicles, the economist Kirit Parikh estimated in 2013. All of these are not trucks transporting vegetables. Many are sports utility vehicles owned by the rich. Parikh estimated that an SUV owner received an annual subsidy of Rs50,000 on account of the diesel subsidy in the name of the poor.

Researchers at the thinktank Integrated Research and Action for Development showed in 2012 that a 10% increase in the price of diesel would only result in a 0.6% rise in consumption expenditure of the poorest 10% of people both in the rural and urban areas. A 4% rise in wholesale price index, which can be caused by fiscal deficit-fuelled inflation, can have a much greater impact, they found.

The government recently set up an expenditure reform commission to streamline spending and ensure better targeting of subsidies.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

30/08/2014

India posts highest GDP growth figures in over two years

GDP up by 5.7 per cent in April-June quarter

India’s Gross Domestic Product increased by 5.7 per cent in the April-June quarter, up from 4.6% in the previous quarter. Growth in this quarter was the highest since March 2012, and it was sparked by a boost in the manufacturing and service sectors. However, economists said that this rebound could be temporary and stifled by poor monsoon rains and rising food inflation.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

29/08/2014

In India, Slum Dwellers Move Into High Rises – Businessweek

Indian developer Babulal Varma’s job requires the human touch. The company he co-founded, Omkar Realtors & Developers, specializes in coaxing Mumbai’s slum dwellers from their hovels, then bulldozing the slum and erecting a mix of luxury condominium towers and free new homes for the slum dwellers on the cleared land. Omkar has completed 12 projects, rehousing 40,000, with 12 more in the works, making it the most successful business in this niche. Mumbai’s slums still house 6.5 million people.

One of Omkar’s luxury high rises, under construction

In one slum several years ago, an old woman wouldn’t leave her home. Omkar was keen to develop the site into a $1 billion complex of six luxury high rises and modern housing nearby for the slum dwellers. As Varma recounts it, he visited her and learned that the woman wanted two free apartments, not one. The woman lived with her two sons and their wives in a 90-square-foot shack. The wives argued constantly. Yet the law regulating slum redevelopment says a family that proves residency since 2000 can get only one new, 269-square-foot home on the same land.

Varma came back with a piece of paper showing a line drawn through the unit they’d be moving into, with a second door cut into the hallway. The wives could live separately, he explained. Agreement came in 45 minutes. “If you can understand their problem, if you can understand their issues, all the issues are very small, like a peanut, but to them this is the biggest thing,” says Varma, who cites karma as his operating philosophy as he sits beside an incense-burning Hindu altar.

By law, Omkar and other developers must secure the consent of 70 percent of a slum’s inhabitants before a project can go forward. Slum dwellers who have lived in the same spot since 2000 hold rights to the land but can sign them over to developers.

Omkar (the long form of the Hindu mantra “om”) contributes to the city’s efforts to get its slum dwellers into the middle class. “There is all-round social upliftment as people move from slums into proper apartments,” says Nirmal Deshmukh, chief executive officer of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), which selects the developers for the slum projects.

Since her marriage to a postal worker 13 years ago, Swarangi Pingle had lived in a 90-square-foot bilevel hut with her in-laws, her husband’s two siblings, and her daughter, now 11. On May 1 she and her family became homeowners in the development where Varma persuaded the old woman to go along. Pingle’s home on the top floor of a 23-story building has plenty of ventilation and sunlight. In the slum, Pingle would wait an hour to fill water jugs at the communal tap and for her turn at the common toilet. “This is much better,” she says as she shows off the private bathroom, kitchen sink, and aqua-painted living room. The new homes allow space for children to study, she says: “I may have married into a slum, but my daughter won’t go back to one.”

via In India, Slum Dwellers Move Into High Rises – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek

India’s Supreme Court said Monday that all government allocations of coal reserves to private companies from 1993 to 2010 were conducted illegally, and it will hold a hearing to decide whether to cancel them.

More than 200 coal blocks, or areas of unmined reserves, were allocated during that period to companies for their use in power plants or steel or cement factories. The companies were allowed to sell excess coal on the open market, but the court said commercial sales from the reserves must be suspended until it makes its decision at a hearing on Sept. 1.

The court’s ruling extends beyond the initial case — dubbed “Coalgate” by the Indian media — in which the previous Congress party-led government was accused of costing the treasury hundreds of billions of dollars by selling or allocating about 155 coal blocks in 2004-09 without competitive bidding. A report by the country’s Comptroller and Auditor General leaked to the media in March 2012 estimated those losses to have been around $210 billion.

The scandal along with other high-profile cases of alleged corruption were seen as a key reason for the Congress party’s loss in this year’s elections to Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s pro-business Bharatiya Janata Party.

The court said in its ruling Monday that between 1993 and 2010 there had been “no fair and transparent procedure” in the coal allocation process, “resulting in unfair distribution of the national wealth.”

“Common good and public interest have, thus, suffered heavily,” said the court, led by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha.

via Top India court says coal allocations were illegal – Businessweek.

26/08/2014

For young Indian urbanites, caste is no longer a marital consideration – but Mummy and Papa are

Caste and language are losing significance in urban India, at least as far as marriage is concerned, according to a survey of more than 400 single adults in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. But other social traditions are not being forgotten: adults between the ages of 20 and 35 say the most important thing is that their partner respects elders and treats their spouse’s family just as they do their own.

More than half of the participants in the survey conducted by Floh, a forum for singles to meet and interact online and offline, said they would take the decision of whom to marry jointly with their parents. Only 22% believed that they could marry someone their parents did not entirely approve of. The respondents all came from similar socio-economic background, with at least an undergraduate degree and earning more than Rs 40,000 per month.

Floh founder Siddharth Mangharam believes that the survey shows that India treads its own path when it comes to social interactions. “We are not following some Western ideology, just 20 or 30 years behind,” he said.

Young urban Indians – and parents, who were also interviewed – seem to have unshakable faith in the idea that humans fall in love at first sight. When asked, 71% of single adults and 62% of parents said they were convinced the phenomenon existed. Most respondents’ main reason for being single was that they had not found the “right one”.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

22/08/2014

India and China: Strangers by choice | The Economist

For those readers really interested in China AND India, this is a ‘must-read’ article.  I’ve only extracted the first part.  For full article go to – India and China: Strangers by choice | The Economist.

FEW subjects can matter more in the long term than how India and China, with nearly 40% of the world’s population between them, manage to get along. In the years before they fought a short border war, in 1962, relations had been rosy. Many in China, for example, were deeply impressed by the peaceful and successful campaign led by Mohandas Gandhi to persuade the British to quit India. A few elderly people in China yet talk of their admiration for Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali writer who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1913. And though Nehru, India’s first prime minister, was resented as arrogant and patronising by some Chinese leaders, the early post-war years saw friendship persist and some popular respect for him too. In China, for example, books on India were then easily available—unlike today.

The past half-century has produced mostly squabbles, resentment and periodic antagonism. India felt humiliated by its utter defeat at the hands of Mao’s army in the 1962 war. China’s long-running close ties to Pakistan look designed to antagonise India. In return India is developing ever warmer relations with the likes of Vietnam and Japan. An unsettled border in the Himalayas, periodic incursions by soldiers into territory claimed by the other side and China’s claim—for example—that India’s Arunachal Pradesh is really a part of Tibet, all suggest that happier relations will be slow in coming. Even a booming bilateral trade relationship is as much a bone of contention as a source of friendlier ties, given India’s annoyance at a yawning deficit.

One glimmer of hope, in theory, is that ordinary people of the two countries might start to understand each other better as levels of education, wealth and interest in the outside world all grow. As tourists, students and business types visit each other’s countries, perhaps they will find that they have more in common than they believed. In fact, judging by a sharp and well-crafted memoir by an Indian journalist who was posted in Beijing for four years, ignorance and bafflement are likelier to persist.

Reshma Patil was sent by the Hindustan Times, a large Indian newspaper, to Beijing in 2008, one of only four Indian print journalists in the country (by contrast Chinese media groups had 16 correspondents in India). Her account of time there, “Strangers across the border; Indian encounters in boomtown China”, is revealing for its detail and anecdote, but also for its broadly damning conclusion about the state of ties between the countries: “extreme ignorance and nationalism illustrate their mutual relations”, she says.

Most entertaining, from an Indian point of view at least, are her accounts of Chinese ignorance about India. She visits a centre in Beijing devoted to learning cricket in case it ever becomes an Olympic sport (it is called shenshi yundong, or “the noble game”), whose players have never heard of Indian stars, or of the cricket world cup, and who appear to prefer playing ping pong. During numerous forays to universities she finds students learning foreign languages who routinely dismiss India as dirty, poor and irrelevant. A wide misapprehension, she says, is a belief that India is Buddhist. Officials and journalists tell her that India suffers from an “inferiority complex”, that it is so backward (“naked…children piss on the streets”) that there can be “nothing to learn” from the country. She suggests that one Indian drink, the mango lassi, has become popular in China, but otherwise the Chinese she meets mostly have little interest in Indian products or culture. Indian traders are famously stingy. Its brands, such as those of big outsourcing firms, are poorly understood or assumed to be of low quality. Persistent racism towards dark-skinned Indians is broken in only one case, by the head of a Chinese modelling agency who says he is fond of Indians who can pull off a “Western look”.

India meanwhile makes pitifully little effort to correct Chinese misunderstandings. As well as few journalists, India had only 15 diplomats based in Beijing during Ms Patil’s time, most of them inactive. Only two had any economic expertise, and most only started learning Mandarin after their arrival in the country. A big Indian business lobby group had a single representative based in Shanghai. She estimates that only a few hundred Indian businesses, in any case, are active in China (with even fewer Chinese ones in India), and few of the Indian ventures are led by Mandarin-speakers or local hires. As an example of ignorance, she mentions a Chinese business reporter who has never heard of Infosys, a $33 billion Indian IT firm. India’s low profile in China, she argues, “prolongs the shelf-life of anti-India propaganda”. For if most Chinese are merely ignorant, many are troublingly nationalistic where their neighbour is concerned.Ms Patil dismisses annual exchanges of a few hundred students each as a hopeless affair.  Sometimes India ships a low-cost dance troupe to China. Most such exchanges of students, journalists and others end up in mutual frustration; a failure to communicate; and terrible hunger among vegetarian Indians horrified by Chinese cuisine.

via India and China: Strangers by choice | The Economist.

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