Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Time to ride the rally in the run-up to 2014 elections

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

Election fever in the world’s biggest democracy is gripping India in the run-up to general elections due in 2014. In the coming months, politics will be in focus especially among investors.

Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were a prelude to next year’s election. The four states make up 72 seats in the Lok Sabha. Historical data suggests the electorate votes on the same lines for the Lok Sabha in case state polls are held within 12 months of the general elections.

The Congress party found itself at the receiving end on Sunday and was decimated in the four states. While voters in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh reposed faith in the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Delhi and Rajasthan saw a widespread wave against the ruling Congress. Despite its consolation win in the Mizoram state election a day later, the Congress party is likely to face its toughest test in 2014 after two successive terms at the centre.

The BJP, on the other hand, cemented its political ascendancy by dominating the state elections. The party’s momentum has been attributed to a cadre galvanized by the announcement of Narendra Modi as their prime ministerial candidate. The Aam Aadmi Party also made a spectacular debut in the capital, ensuring that they would be regarded as serious contenders in the general elections.

If change does come in 2014

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

The market is pregnant with expectations of a change after the general elections which must be held by next May. You would have to travel far and wide before you come across anyone in India’s financial market who is not hoping – even praying – for change.

The mood on the current policy direction is so gloomy that any alternative is looking like manna from heaven.

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.

Xi Jinping at the helm in Beijing, responsibility looms large

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

The carefully orchestrated and much awaited leadership transition in Beijing was formally concluded on Thursday with the elevation of Xi Jinping as the general secretary of the Communist Party of China.

A gift for Mahatma Gandhi

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(Rajan Ghotgalkar is Managing Director of Principal Pnb Asset Management Company. The views expressed in this column are his own and do not represent those of either Principal Pnb or Reuters)

Having replaced the feudal princes by colonising India, the British Civil Service carried on with the master-subject relationship which, understandably, entitled them to huge discretionary powers.

Weighing the Obama-Romney calculus

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

Much is at stake in the United States presidential elections this year, perhaps more in terms of policy than in the past few election cycles. The presidency of Barack Obama has been fraught with battles in a deeply divided Congress, leading to paralyses on some major agenda such as government debt, and significant compromises on others such as healthcare reform.

Decoding political risk no mean feat

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

Politics is playing a dominant role in financial markets today — and generally speaking, investors do not like it. Political risk is an additional layer of uncertainty that has to be factored in while making investment decisions. Because political risk is intimately linked with the uncertainties of human behaviour, the impact of political risk can at times seem to be almost random. After over two decades as a professional economist, I can assert that forecasting economies is tough. Trying to forecast what politicians are going to do is even worse.

Growing religious intolerance in Pakistan spells demise of democracy

Christians shout slogans to protest against the killing of Pakistani Minister for Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti during a demonstration in Lahore, March 2, 2011. REUTERS/Mohsin Raza

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

Today’s murder of Pakistani Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti by religious extremists establishes a pattern of growing religious intolerance. It is undermining Pakistan’s struggling democracy by shutting down free speech and political expression in the name of a ruthless ideology disguised as religion.

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