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Straight from the Specialists

First Drive: Mercedes-Benz GLA

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The trend of luxury crossovers was started by BMW with the X1. Audi followed suit with its Q3 and Mercedes-Benz is now entering the game with the GLA.

On sheer looks, Mercedes-Benz seems to have got it right with the GLA. It’s a great effort of making the A-Class hatchback look like a crossover. Though they may not have managed to pull off a crossover per se, the GLA definitely looks well proportioned and flaunts pronounced curves. It even looks slightly muscular from some angles. It’s a bit odd, as the GLA – to the keen eye – will look more proportionate and attractive in comparison to the A-Class. The A-Class now comes across as the GLA that the Hulk sat on.

The resemblance to the A-Class isn’t limited to surface design and overall appearance; the GLA looks similar on the inside too. There’s oddity around – like the tab-type screen hooked on in the middle of the dashboard – but it sort of looks fine. Mercedes is being aggressive globally in their strategy, and that’s odd too. But it’s working, no?

The space in the cabin is also very hatch-like, which means it’s not much – especially at the rear. Particularly so if you’re tall. The business end, conversely, is supportive and finding the right driving position isn’t an issue. The quality inside is also typically Merc – properly blue-chip.

The Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and its fallout on India

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The Islamic State has invigorated jihadi establishments in South and Southeast Asia. It has shaken up the al Qaeda, so far occupying the spiritual pedestal of Islamist Jihad, spurring it to announce the formation of a branch in the Indian subcontinent. Apparently, the Indian subcontinent won’t remain unscathed with the contesting constituents of Islamist jihad locked in a battle of dominance.

Conventional assaults like in Iraq and Syria are, of course, inconceivable. However, something like the 2008 attack in Mumbai could definitely be attempted. A few basic requirements need to be met before any of these players think of enhancing their scale of operations in India. Boots available for deployment is one of them.

Little chance of an RBI rate cut

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

At the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy review in August, India’s policy parameters looked encouraging but the central bank was not eager to make any significant change to monetary policy – and none at all to the interest rate. Since then, perspectives have changed. And yet, it is unlikely that the RBI will make any cut, though desirable, to the interest rate.

China’s WMD cooperation with Pakistan looms over Xi-Modi talks

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India and his meeting with Indian Prime Minister  Narendra Modi this week has elicited considerable positive interest in both countries. It has the potential to recast the uneasy Asian strategic framework, and by extension the relations of emerging global powers that are currently clouded by acrimony and mutual mistrust.

Where the growth in Q1 came from

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

GA man walks his cow under high-tension power lines leading from a Tata Power sub station in Mumbai's suburbs February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/FilesDP growth of 5.7 percent in the April-June quarter was unexpected in view of the southward drift of India’s economy over the past two years. No wonder it pepped up the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at a time when the ruling coalition is listing its achievements after 100 days in office. The question is where this growth came from and whether it will be sustained in future.

India’s economy has been slowing after achieving 9 percent growth three years ago. That was because the Congress-led government failed to fuel the economy. The absence of policy reforms, paralytic governance – combined with persistent inflation – discouraged investment. Growth tapered to 4.7 percent last year.

A call to action to galvanize momentum around maternal, child health in India

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The last decade has witnessed one of the most sincere, dedicated and coordinated efforts toward addressing global development and healthcare challenges. National and international policymakers, development partners and researchers have come together to work toward a common vision of a better and healthier world.

In September 2000, building upon a decade of dialogue, world leaders unanimously adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. In doing so, they committed to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and laid out a series of time-bound targets with a deadline of 2015 that have come to be known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Afghanistan a building block for China-India ties

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

The appointment of a former ambassador to Kabul and New Delhi by China to the role of Special Envoy for Afghanistan highlights China’s thinking of what it can do in Afghanistan.

China is not seeking a leadership role in the country, but is rather looking for regional partners to support its efforts. A key partner is being sought in New Delhi where the Narendra Modi administration has welcomed Xi Jinping’s early overtures for a closer broader relationship. The opportunity presents itself that Afghanistan’s two largest Asian neighbours might be on the cusp of closer cooperation to help the nation onto a more stable footing.

How high will the Sensex go?

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

A bronze bull sculpture is seen as an employee walks out of the Bombay Stock Exchange building in MumbaiSince April, the stock market has been in a frenzy after a long period of utter gloom. In quick succession, the Sensex jumped month after month to cross 26,000 on July 7. This was not mere euphoria created by the election of the Narendra Modi government, with a single-party majority in the Lok Sabha after a long time.

National agenda to bring $100 billion of domestic household savings in capital markets in next five years

(Rajiv Deep Bajaj is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Capital Ltd. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

Currency of different denominations are seen in this picture illustration taken in Mumbai April 30, 2012. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash/FilesIndia is an attractive investment destination for foreign institutional investors, due to its vibrant economy, favourable demographics, high growth potential and well diversified capital markets. In fact, the benchmark Nifty has representation from 10 broad sectors, four with weightage in double digits.

India’s Iraq problem

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(This piece comes from Project Syndicate. The opinions expressed are the author’s own)

Iraq seems to be falling apart, with the rapid advance of the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threatening to lead to the country’s division into Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish entities, while blurring its border with its turbulent western neighbor. Moreover, the tumult is now threatening to spread to two more nearby countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, which already are facing myriad internal challenges. For India, the message is clear: its national security interests are at risk.

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