India Insight

Tata Power scouts for opportunities abroad

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

Tata Power Company Ltd, part of the salt-to-steel Tata conglomerate, is India’s largest integrated power producer. It aims to generate some 20,000 MW by 2020, up from more than 8500 MW now, and is scouting for opportunities abroad as well as building its thermal and renewables business at home.

Like its peers in the industry, the company has faced problems of land acquisition and fuel supply shortages in developing new projects, projects that are seen as key to help revive India’s flagging economy and fix blackouts.

Moreover, its plant at Mundra in Gujarat has been hit by a jump in the cost of imported coal, and Tata is still waiting for a decision in April by India’s power regulator, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC), to come in to force to allow it to raise tariffs to existing customers.

(Related blog: Counting the cost of India’s power cuts http://r.reuters.com/pep48t )

Indian television getting too hot to handle

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

Comedy Central was back on Indian television screens on Tuesday, getting what appeared to be a court-ordered reprieve four days after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting banned the network for 10 days for showing content deemed unsuitable for Indian audiences.

“Hey guys! We’re happy to announce that #CC is back on your TV screens! Thanks for your support-we appreciate it! Keep on Laughing It Off :)” Comedy Central India said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Mumbai blames lingerie-clad mannequins for sex crimes

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

You can’t blame it on illiteracy or poor policing. Or patriarchal mindsets in India.

It’s the fault of the racy mannequins haunting Mumbai’s lingerie stores, seducing passers-by and turning them into sex offenders. At least that’s what the city’s municipal corporation would have you believe.

Reliance Industries posts biggest single-day gain since Sept 2012

Reliance Industries, India’s third-biggest company by market capitalization, surged more than 5 percent on Monday, after the conglomerate and its partners said on Friday they had made a significant gas discovery in the KG-D6 block.

Niko, the Canadian oil and natural gas producer which partners with Reliance and BP, said the discovery is expected to add to gas resources in the block without revealing potential reserves.

The blue-chip stock ended with gains of 5.3 percent at 828.30 rupees, posting its biggest single-day percentage gain since Sept 14, 2012. The stock, however, is still down around 13 percent from its 2013 high hit on Jan 21.

Collaboration key to Bollywood’s global appeal – Irrfan

Irrfan is no stranger to Hollywood. The Indian actor, who uses only his first name, has been part of critically acclaimed films such as “Life of Pi”, “The Namesake” and “A Mighty Heart”.

The 40-something actor is doing his bit to help Indian films reach more audiences worldwide. Irrfan says he’s goading local movie producers to collaborate, find new markets and swap its Bollywood image for a more universal language of cinema.

His new film “The Lunchbox” is one such international co-production and won the Grand Rail d’Or at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival Critics’ Week. Director Ritesh Batra‘s debut feature film is about a mistaken lunchbox delivery by Mumbai’s dabbawalas that connects a young Hindu housewife to an old Catholic man played by Irrfan.

Tracking Sensex: Top five losers, gainers this week

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Aditya Kalra

It was a tough week for Indian shares as the BSE Sensex fell nearly 3 percent and the Nifty lost 3.3 percent as U.S. Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke’s suggestion that stimulus measures may be scaled back at one of their next few meetings dented sentiment.

Weak factory output data from China also spooked global markets, with the Nikkei plummeting more than 7 percent on Thursday.

Here are the top five Sensex gainers and losers for the week ending May 24:

LOSERS

State Bank of India (SBI): India’s largest lender was the worst Sensex performer this week with losses of 11.3 percent, taking a hit after posting its first quarterly net loss in two years on Thursday.

Bollywood fashion at Cannes

By Arnika Thakur and Shashank Chouhan

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

The image of Aishwarya Rai in a striking yellow sari with lots of gold jewellery walking the red carpet at Cannes 2002 is one that a generation of Indian movie fans may not forget.

Few Indians were familiar with Cannes until the actress made an appearance on the French Riviera. Not only did Rai introduce fans back home to the world’s leading cinema showcase, she also made global audiences take note of Bollywood. This year, the 66th Cannes festival is showcasing India as a guest country to mark the centenary of its film industry.

Counting the cost of India’s blackouts

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

Is it better to pay more money for more electricity, or keep prices low and look forward to blackouts that will conk out offices, factories and homes in India? That is the question that lies at the heart of an ongoing debate about whether authorities should allow utilities Adani Power Ltd and Tata Power Co Ltd to raise their tariffs on existing contracts to clients, to compensate the companies for the domestic coal supply shortages and the rising cost of buying coal from overseas.

Much of it a relic from before the 1991 economic reforms that kick-started the India growth story, the country’s infrastructure is screaming out for more investment to fix pot-holed roads, modernise the railway network and build more power plants. But unable to match the spending power that the likes of China have, the Indian government has turned to the private sector to fund much of the new infrastructure it needs. Indian politicians must therefore strike a balance between allowing the private sector to make money, while at the same time protecting the interests of customers (and voters) in a country where hundreds of millions live below the poverty line.

The way ahead for India’s “caged parrot”

When India’s top court berated the government this month for interfering in a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) report, it put the spotlight on a long-standing opposition gripe that the federal law enforcement agency was being politically influenced.

“The CBI has become the state’s parrot. Only screaming, repeating the master’s voice,” Justice R.M. Lodha said on May 8, urging the government to strengthen the agency’s independence.

The CBI denied the accusations and emphasized its impartiality.

Reuters India Online spoke to various experts for their views on whether the CBI was indeed a “caged parrot” and if yes, how best to ensure it could withstand political pressure. Excerpts:

Tracking Sensex: Top five gainers, losers this week

The BSE Sensex ended above the 20,000 mark on Friday after gaining 2.6 percent in the last five trading sessions. The index has now risen for four straight weeks. Here are the top five Sensex gainers and losers of the week:

GAINERS

Tata Motors: The automaker’s stock surged 8.15 percent in the week ending May 10, making it the best Sensex performer. Though the stock is still flat in 2013, it has gained nearly 15 percent since April. However, Ambareesh Baliga of Edelweiss Financial Services advises caution: “Tata Motors’ overdependence on Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to negate the Indian underperformance makes it a risky investment at this juncture especially in view of lower margins at JLR”

Hindalco: Shares of India’s largest aluminium producer surged 8 percent this week. The stock extended gains throughout the week after rising 3.5 percent on Monday, on expectations of better realizations after copper prices rose more than 6 percent last Friday.

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