India Insight

Railway Budget 2014: Highlights at a glance

Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge left train fares and freight rates unchanged on Wednesday, in an interim rail budget ahead of a national election due by May.

It wasn’t really a surprise. In 2012, Dinesh Trivedi was forced to resign as railways minister after his decision to raise passenger fares for the first time in eight years prompted a furious response from his own party — the Trinamool Congress — that was part of the Congress-led coalition government at the time.

The government did raise fares last year, this time with a Congressman at the helm of affairs, as a cash-strapped railways ministry tried to raise money to pay its employees.

But there was no repeat of that on Wednesday, as any hike in passenger fares would have run the risk of upsetting commuters in a crucial election year. The government limited itself to announcing some people-friendly measures without increasing fares.

Here are some of the key announcements for passengers travelling on the world’s fourth-largest railway network:

In India, grassroots comics rule where media cannot reach

Devender Ojha was a student in high school when he created a comic strip about a headmaster who used to turn up to class drunk. The teenager made copies of his work and displayed them in his village in Uttarakhand. It wasn’t long before it got noticed.

“After that, that headmaster was sacked from the school and new headmaster came there,” said Ojha, who is now 24 and has turned his adolescent doodling into a career as a newspaper cartoonist.

Ojha was trained at a World Comics India workshop and is one of thousands of volunteers working with villagers in India’s heartland. They organise workshops where people learn to draw and depict topical issues — such as genetically modified cotton or radiation exposure — on A4 sheets joined together to make four-panel strips. The organization’s founder, Sharad Sharma, describes them as “grassroots comics“.

Markets this week: BHEL, TCS top Sensex losers

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Ankush Arora

The BSE Sensex ended down 0.7 percent in what was a slow week for Indian shares. The week began with the benchmark index sliding 1.5 percent on Monday as foreign institutional investors (FIIs) continued to sell as part of a slump in emerging markets.

Investor sentiment remained subdued despite a survey on Monday showing that Indian factories started 2014 on a high note, with manufacturing activity growing at its fastest pace in nearly a year as domestic and overseas orders increased.

The remaining four sessions saw the Sensex ending marginally in the green. The benchmark is, however, down 3.7 percent so far this year.

Movie Review: Hasee Toh Phasee

(The views expressed here do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

Vinil Mathew’s “Hasee Toh Phasee” has the trappings of a conventional Hindi romantic comedy — the big fat wedding; the quirky extended family; two lost souls; and much song and dance.

Yet, Mathew manages to combine these elements into an unusual film that sparkles with humour and witty repartee, and despite a few bumps along the way, makes for a fun ride. The humour is reminiscent of TV sitcoms, and draws on several modern Indian pop culture references, including campy Bollywood songs and cult TV favourites like CID, to draw laughs.

At its heart, “Hasee Toh Phasee” is about Meeta and Nikhil, who meet a few days before he is to get married to her sister. Nikhil is stressed because his fiancée wants him to be successful and rich, while he is struggling with his event management business. When Meeta — who gets mysterious phone calls from China; compulsively gulps down mysterious pills; and seems decidedly neurotic — returns home, Nikhil is asked to take care of her and ensure she doesn’t ruin the wedding.

Interview: DC Design mulls IPO to raise up to $24 million in 2014

Indian automotive design and modification firm DC Design is considering an initial public offering this year to raise about 1 billion to 1.5 billion rupees ($16 million-$24 million) to expand its operations, its founder said in an interview on Wednesday.

The company would consider filing for an IPO among other ways to raise capital after its Avanti supercar goes on sale later this year, Dilip Chhabria told India Insight at the Delhi Auto Expo in Greater Noida.

“So far we have somehow managed, but really we want to exploit the full potential of our brand, capability and market segmentation, then obviously we have to have access to capital,” Chhabria said ahead of his two new car launches.

Health start-ups tap India’s growing home care sector

When Krishnan Ganesh’s father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, Ganesh had to “run from pillar to post” to get quality medical care at home, a concept that is not prevalent in India. That’s when he hit upon the idea of a home healthcare service.

The Bangalore-based entrepreneur, who founded online tutoring company TutorVista in 2005 and sold it to British publisher Pearson for $213 million, then bought start-up Portea Medical in July 2013.

Portea Medical and start-ups such as Health Care at Home India, Homital and India Home Health Care provide at-home services ranging from geriatric and post-surgery care to physiotherapy and general doctor visits.

Photo gallery: A walk through the India Art Fair 2014

At the sixth edition of the India Art Fair, there were probably half as many photographers as there were makeshift art galleries from different parts of the world. For a photographer, a visit to an art fair of a global scale can be awe-inspiring, overwhelming and baffling at the same time.

As I walked through the many stalls in the sprawling grounds of a south Delhi suburb, I asked myself a question: how do I capture someone else’s story, one that is already etched on a canvas or an installation?

One of the most intriguing works was by Narendra Yadav – ‘That original may also be a reflection’. Portraits were hung upside down on a wall, with a mirror in the centre that also reflected upside down. Next to it was a dark room. You walk in by yourself. Stand in the centre. A mirror rolls out and you see eight reflections of your self. The display stays for a few seconds and you’re left wondering how long this would last.

“Levels of corruption have gone down drastically in Delhi” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 3

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

By Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new chief minister, stormed to power in the national capital in December on an anti-corruption platform.

His Aam Aadmi Party, or “Common Man’s Party”, uses a broom as its symbol to suggest it is sweeping the dirt out of politics. Kejriwal, a bespectacled former tax collector, spoke to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview a month after getting the top job, from the same modest apartment he’s lived in for the past 15 years. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the third and final part of the interview.

(“Allow us to make mistakes, allow us to learn” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 1)

“People need to be allowed to do business” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 2

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

By Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new chief minister, stormed to power in the national capital in December on an anti-corruption platform.

His Aam Aadmi Party, or “Common Man’s Party”, uses a broom as its symbol to suggest it is sweeping the dirt out of politics. Kejriwal, a bespectacled former tax collector, spoke to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview a month after getting the top job, from the same modest apartment he’s lived in for the past 15 years. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the second part of the interview. Reuters will publish the third and final part on Sunday.

(“Allow us to make mistakes, allow us to learn” – The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 1)

“Allow us to make mistakes, allow us to learn” — The Arvind Kejriwal interview, part 1

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

By Frank Jack Daniel and Sruthi Gottipati

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new chief minister, stormed to power in the national capital in December on an anti-corruption platform.

His Aam Aadmi Party, or “Common Man’s Party”, uses a broom as its symbol to suggest it is sweeping the dirt out of politics. Kejriwal, a bespectacled former tax collector, spoke to Reuters in a wide-ranging interview a month after getting the top job, from the same modest apartment he’s lived in for the past 15 years. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the first part of the interview. Reuters will publish parts two and three over the next few days.

On Monday night — surrounded by idols of the deity Ganesh (known in Hinduism as the remover of obstacles), books on Mahatma Gandhi and the translated Quran, activism awards, plastic flowers, and of course  a broom — Kejriwal sipped a glass of warm water for his bronchitis as he spoke.

  •