India Insight

India will be an important art centre in five years – India Art Fair director

If Christie’s debut auction in Mumbai last month is any indication, buyers are flocking towards Indian art as investors shake off the remnants of an economic downturn.

An untitled work by abstract painter Vasudeo S. Gaitonde sold on Dec. 19, fetching $3.7 million (237 million rupees) – a record for modern Indian art. Another of his works will be the showpiece in Sotheby’s South Asian art sale in New York in March. It’s not just Gaitonde. The Christie’s auction raked in $15.4 million (966 million rupees), doubling pre-sale estimates and defying the economic downturn. A November report by art market analysts Art Tactic said confidence in Indian modern art was on the rise.

That’s good news for Neha Kirpal, founder and director of the India Art Fair which opens in New Delhi this week. Kirpal told India Insight the Christie’s auction was a “booster shot” for the leading art exhibition in South Asia.

About 3,500 works by about 1,100 artists will be on display at the sixth edition of the art summit. The four-day fair runs till Feb. 2. Here are edited excerpts from an interview:

What kind of interest have you seen in the art fair in the past five years?
About 40 percent of the buyers in the fair are first-time buyers, and it’s throwing up a really interesting segment in the arts that previously wasn’t part of the art circuit. And in a sense the art fair is playing the role of market builders bringing in a new  audiences. So we have seen a great change in the buyer base especially over the last few years in terms of both Indian and international buyers.

Mumbai’s local delicacies no longer everyone’s cup of tea

Every day, for the past few decades, Dayanand Shenoy has taken an early morning train to Grant Road station in south Mumbai from his home in the suburb of Borivali. Initially, it was for work but now it’s just for oven-fresh mava cakes from B Merwan.

The bakery, on the ground floor of a dilapidated four-storey building, has many admirers in India’s financial capital. Hundreds line up daily, some at sunrise, to buy cups of sugary tea and some bun maska (sweet milk bread slathered with butter).

“I don’t remember how long I have been coming here, ever since I can remember,” said Shenoy, a retired businessman. “It is far away, but I can’t do without having some mava cake every day.”

Markets this week: Sensex up marginally, Axis Bank gains 4.7 percent

After registering record closing highs, the BSE Sensex ended with small weekly gains as the index fell sharply on Friday after the RBI governor’s strong comments on inflation dented sentiment.

Raghuram Rajan called inflation a “destructive disease” on Thursday. Earlier in the week, a panel recommended that the RBI should make managing inflation its main policy objective and set monetary policy by committee.

The central bank is likely to keep the repo rate on hold at its policy review next week, a Reuters poll published on Jan. 23 showed.

Movie Review: Jai Ho

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

Five minutes into Sohail Khan’s “Jai Ho“, lead actor Salman Khan beats up scoundrels, saves a damsel in distress and breaks into a dance number (along with thousands of background dancers wearing orange sunglasses), singing about what is wrong with India.

Khan sings about farmers dying, women being unsafe and politicians looting the common man. The irony of this spectacle is that it’s been shot in Lavasa, a township in Maharashtra mired in controversy over illegal land acquisitions and regulatory clearances.

That is the kind of dichotomy that “Jai Ho” is pretty nonchalant about. Khan’s character claims to stand for women’s rights, but thinks nothing of commenting on a woman’s underwear. He rages against politicians for blocking traffic and inconveniencing the public, but rides his motorbike onto a crowded railway station platform.

Analysts remain positive on India’s IT stocks after 2013 rally

India’s information technology services businesses will continue to benefit from improving client demand from developed countries in 2014, pushing stocks higher after a stellar performance last year, analysts told India Insight.

India’s No. 1 IT services exporter Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and its rival Infosys beat analysts’ expectations in their financial results that were released earlier this month. They also raised their sales growth forecasts on signs of improving economies in the United States and Europe.

“In Europe we are gaining market share; in U.S. things are looking up – that will drive discretionary and new technology spends,” said Kuldeep Koul, IT-sector analyst at ICICI Securities. “What’s also helping the industry … is the fact that the rupee continues to remain at very benign levels.”

Interview: Modi a bloated figure, country will disintegrate if he’s in power – Veerappa Moily

By Frank Jack Daniel and Nidhi Verma

(This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)

Veerappa Moily, oil and environment minister in India’s Congress-led government, told Reuters on Thursday that Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, is a “bloated figure” and the country would disintegrate if he is voted to power.

Here are edited excerpts from the interview. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity:

What’s your take on Narendra Modi and what he could offer to the country?
Mr Modi is a bloated figure and ultimately when it comes down to realities, I don’t think he will be a figure who will be counted for the country, forget about becoming prime minister. He cannot contribute any value to the BJP, he cannot contribute any additional value to the NDA (National Democratic Alliance). And no sooner he was declared as a leader, there was a disintegration of the NDA. Many of the important major partners, they just left the NDA … They’ll win Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh or some. They may be solid. With two or three states solidly backing BJP, I don’t think in this country, they can [form] the government.

Interview: AAP’s Yogendra Yadav defends Delhi protests, blames media

By Aditya Kalra and Sankalp Phartiyal

Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Yogendra Yadav on Wednesday defended his party’s protest against the police on the streets of New Delhi and blamed the media for “unsympathetic” coverage.

Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the AAP, or “common man’s party”, ended his planned 10-day dharna” after two days on Tuesday.

The protests were unusual considering state chief ministers do not use street protests to achieve their ends. Last week, the party accused two police officers of negligence, one of whom was in charge in the tourist area where a Danish woman was reportedly gang-raped.

Catching them young to revive India’s glorious hockey past

It’s just after sunrise on a foggy winter morning in north India. Most people are snuggled up in quilts, but a group of teenagers with hockey sticks is out on the field. The ragtag bunch chasing a ball in Khera Garhi village, about 20 kilometres from central Delhi, shares a dream — to play in India’s field hockey team.

It’s an unusual dream in a country obsessed with cricket, but one that former national player Rajesh Chauhan hopes to foster among youngsters across India. Chauhan, 37, played for India during the second half of the 1990′s and set up the Jai Bharat Hockey Academy in 2011 to try to restore Indian hockey to its former glory.

India was a men’s hockey superpower in the last century, winning eight Olympic gold medals. Since 1980, the national team’s fortunes have declined.

Sunanda Tharoor found dead in Delhi hotel room

Sunanda Tharoor, wife of Congress party minister Shashi Tharoor, was found dead in her room at a luxury hotel in New Delhi on Friday, police said.

“Her dead body was found in her room,” Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told Reuters by phone. He declined to give details.

Abhinav Kumar, Tharoor’s personal assistant, said the junior minister for human resource development was at a Congress party session the entire day on Friday. Sunanda was found lying in bed in her room, Kumar said.

Markets this week: Sensex up 1.5 percent; BHEL, Infosys jump 5 percent

By Ankush Arora and Aditya Kalra

The BSE Sensex gained 1.5 percent this week, its first weekly gain in 2014, as easing headline inflation data raised hopes the Reserve Bank of India would keep interest rates unchanged at its Jan. 28 meet.

Headline inflation eased to a five-month low of 6.16 percent in December on lower prices of vegetables. This was the slowest pace of growth since July 2013 and below economists’ expectations of 7 percent.

Sentiment was also boosted for the rupee, which rose 0.6 percent during the week to touch a five-week high. However, share losses on Friday weighed on the currency.

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