Is India's growth exaggerated?

  • 1 June 2015
  • From the section India
A worker carries an iron pipe inside a metal fabrication workshop in an industrial area of Mumbai February 9, 2015
Many experts say the economy is still waiting to gather momentum

Last week, India announced growth figures which would make the world envious.

Asia's third-largest economy grew 7.5% in the three months ending in March, higher than the previous quarter and above expectations. Forecasts were for growth of about 7.3% for the period compared with a year earlier.

But the new growth figures have come at a time when Indian companies are at their weakest in two years. Earnings are flat and profits are down. Most major industries, including infrastructure and automobiles, are struggling. Historically, says Business Standard newspaper, when India's growth has hit 7.5% at constant prices, corporate revenues and profits have soared above 14% on average. So how does the economy grow so fast when corporate growth is so slow?

A month after the government declared a new way of calculating GDP, India baffled experts in February when it announced 7.5% growth between October and December compared with the same period a year earlier. The latest figures again raise questions about the new way.

Some critics say the government is raising GDP figures to meet fiscal deficit targets, and trying to present a rosier picture of the economy. Economists such as R Nagaraj say the new and higher figures "seem quite at odds with other economic indicators such as growth in bank credit, the index of industrial production and corporate performance". Even the government's Economic Survey earlier this year found the new growth figures "somewhat puzzling" when compared to the falling savings, investments and exports.

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India's first transgender college principal

  • 27 May 2015
  • From the section India
Manobi Bandyopadhyay
Manobi Bandyopadhyay has been appointed as the principal of a women's college

Her Facebook page is overflowing with messages complimenting her for her new job.

Congratulations, you have hit the headlines, writes a student, attaching a newspaper story headlined "Bengal college to have India's first transgender principal". "We salute your courage," writes a friend.

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Has Narendra Modi lived up to expectations?

  • 25 May 2015
  • From the section India
Narendra Modi
Mr Modi swept to power by inflicting a heavy defeat on Congress

Is a year in power long enough to evaluate the performance of a new government? Possibly difficult in a country with many unresolved social and economic issues like India, but it is a good time for some stock-taking.

So it is with Narendra Modi and his BJP government, which stormed into power last May.

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The dressing up of Narendra Modi

  • 18 May 2015
  • From the section India
Indian Prime Minister Modi visits the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, in Xian
Mr Modi at the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, in Xian

"Make way, Tom Cruise. Modi's the new top gun", screamed a headline in The Times of India over the weekend.

It was alluding to one of the most striking by-products of last week's grand summit between India and China: a torrent of astonishing images emanating from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government's feed.

Narendra Modi - sunglasses from his twitter feed

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A bad seven days for Indian justice

  • 13 May 2015
  • From the section India
Jayalalitha
Jayalalitha is one of India's most powerful politicians

It's been a bleak seven days for justice in India.

In three separate cases, high profile and influential individuals - a Bollywood star, a powerful politician, and a former business baron - were allowed to walk free by appeals court despite being found guilty by lower courts.

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Salman Khan: Bollywood's popular 'bad boy'

  • 6 May 2015
  • From the section India
Salman Khan
Salman Khan has acted in more than 80 Bollywood films

Salman Khan has been the "bad boy" of Bollywood for as long as anyone can remember.

The brawny 49-year-old superstar has appeared in more than 80 films in his nearly three-decade-long career. Khan has played a range of popular roles - from the cloying romantic hero to a flashy action star. Popularity chased him swiftly to the small screen when he become the convivial host of Bigg Boss, the popular Indian version of Big Brother.

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Why is Indian media facing a backlash in Nepal?

  • 4 May 2015
  • From the section India
An Indian shopkeeper reads a newspaper with front-page news of Nepal earthquake in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 26, 2015
Many in Nepal feel Indian media's coverage of the earthquake has been shrill and jingoistic

Narratives of disasters can easily go awry and make the affected people angry. So it seems to be the case with the Indian media and its coverage of the devastating earthquake in neighbouring Nepal.

As the impoverished Himalayan state struggles to recover from a calamity which has killed more than 7,000 people and left more than 14,000 people wounded, the media next door has been facing a lot of criticism for its coverage of the tragedy.

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Nepal earthquake: How India and China vie for influence

  • 28 April 2015
  • From the section India
An Indian Air Force person walks carrying a Nepalese child, wounded in Saturday’s earthquake, to a waiting ambulance as the mother follows after they were evacuated from a remote area at the airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 27, 2015
Indian air force personnel have rescued Nepalese people wounded in the quake

The alacrity with which India and China have reacted to the massive earthquake in Nepal again demonstrates how the two Asian giants continue to vie for influence in the tiny, landlocked Himalayan country.

India lost no time in sending aircraft to Kathmandu carrying disaster response forces, medical teams, food, medicines and rescue equipment. China promptly flew in rescue teams, sniffer dogs, medical equipment, tents, blankets and generators. Leaders of both the countries - Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping - were also quick to convey their condolences. "For many people of our country, Nepalis are our own people," said Mr Modi in his monthly radio show on Sunday.

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Delhi farmer death highlights countryside crisis

  • 23 April 2015
  • From the section India
Indian labourers gathering wheat
Millions of Indians depend on agriculture for their livelihood

If you believe media reports, Gajendra Singh, the man who died after hanging himself at a political rally in Delhi on Wednesday, was hardly the poorest of farmers.

Journalists visiting his village in Rajasthan found that his family owned more than 10 acres of land, growing wheat, gooseberry and teak.

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Is India's Aam Admi Party no place for intellectuals?

  • 21 April 2015
  • From the section India
Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan
Mr Yadav (left) and Mr Bhushan (right) were founder members of the party

Vaclav Havel, the Czech Republic's first president after the Velvet Revolution against communist rule, once said that politics needs more intellectuals.

"I hear objections," Havel, a former dissident playwright wrote. "Politicians must be elected; people vote for those who think the way they do."

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