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India’s democratic pageant

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

Last week, India’s independent Election Commission announced the dates for the next general election. The world’s largest single exercise of the democratic franchise will take place over a staggering 37 days in nine “phases,” some a week apart, from April 7 to May 12. Some 814 million eligible voters will elect, for the 16th time, a new parliament and government, casting their ballots at more than 930,000 polling stations — after choosing from an estimated 15,000 candidates belonging to more than 500 political parties.

Democracy, of course, is a process, not an event. But India’s elections — with their outsize logistical and security challenges, myriad languages, and candidates identified not just by name but also by electoral symbols to aid illiterate voters — are events that evoke admiration each time they occur.

It takes a sizeable forest to furnish enough paper for posters, electoral rolls, and ballots. And the thousands of electronic voting machines that are manufactured in India can survive heat, dust, and power failures — and retain their results safely until the votes are ready to be counted, sometimes weeks later. (Because no votes are counted until the last ones are cast, counting day is May 16.) Moreover, every election has at least one story of officials battling through snow or jungle to ensure that the preferences of remote constituents are duly recorded.

India’s disrupted democracy

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

India’s 15th Lok Sabha (the lower house of Parliament) passed into history ignominiously this month, following the least productive five years of any Indian parliament in six decades of functioning democracy. With entire sessions lost to opposition disruptions, and with frequent adjournments depriving legislators of time for deliberation, the MPs elected in May 2009 passed fewer bills and spent fewer hours in debate than any of their predecessors.

India Markets Weekahead – An opportunity for investors

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

Indian markets were down for a third consecutive week with the Nifty closing 2 percent lower at 5565 on weak economic signals and disappointing corporate results.

The rupee held on at 60.67 to the dollar.

The appointment of Raghuram Rajan as the next governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) brought the market some cheer. Rajan, a former chief economist at the IMF, is seen as a pro-growth policymaker.

India Market Weekahead – Inflation, FII inflows to be key

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

The bulls are back and their four-week winning streak saw the Nifty close at a 29-month high of 6107 on Friday, up about 2.75 percent for the week. Liquidity flows remain robust, fuelling the momentum despite political heat in New Delhi.

The Congress win in Karnataka boosted positive sentiment, followed by industrial output data that was marginally better than expectations. The overall earnings season has been favourable and along with the global rally provided the right environment for the markets to cross the psychological barrier of 6100 in the Nifty and 20000 on the Sensex. The only thing missing is euphoria on the street and broader participation by investors.

Time for a shift in the tax incentive regime?

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

The Indian economy is currently on the path of reform with the government liberalising FDI policy and relaxing overseas debt funding. And with the union budget just around the corner, investors are hoping for incentives on the tax front as well.

Traditionally, the government provides profit-linked tax incentives to promote investment in specified industries/states. However, considering the increasing need for investment in developing economies like India, the government is considering a shift from profit-linked tax incentive schemes to investment-linked tax incentive schemes. The desire for such a shift was clear under the proposed Direct Tax Code Bill.

India Markets Weekahead – An opportunity to ride the rally

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

It was a stupendous week with 4.5 percent gain and the closing at 5879, the highest point for Nifty in 19 months. The week started with positive international cues of a Greek bailout, and was further strengthened with Moody’s confirmation of a stable rating for India.

Will Indian stocks end 2012 on a happier note?

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(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 Reuters)

The rally in the Indian stock markets, fuelled by the so-called reform announcements, seems to have fizzled out. Frontline indexes have retraced more than 60 percent of the gains made since Sep. 13, 2012, the day the reform measures were made public.

India Markets Weekahead – It’s a no trade zone for now

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Indian markets were in a narrow Nifty band of 5550-5650 last week but volatility kept market participants on tenterhooks.

Yet another infructuous parliament session?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

The last session of parliament was a washout. The present one looks to be no different going by its chaotic start.

The year ahead: expectations and apprehensions

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The economy is presently under stress and there are no indications that recovery is underway in spite of recent reforms announced by the government. India is not alone in under-performance. But it has fared too badly for its own reasons.

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