India Insight

Vijender Singh enters the Bollywood ring with ‘Fugly’

Vijender Singh, the pin-up boy of Indian boxing, made his Bollywood debut on Friday, starring in a thriller about four youngsters who get into trouble with the police.

Singh, whose middleweight bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics helped raise the sport’s profile in India, is training for next month’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games at a boxing camp in Patiala and was yet to watch “Fugly”, a film produced by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, when we interviewed him.

Singh, a strapping 28-year-old with boyish looks, told India Insight in a phone interview that he was up for new challenges and making a movie was just one of them. Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Which do you enjoy better – boxing or acting?
A. Both. I know boxing, have been doing it for 15-16 years. I am almost a year old in Bollywood. Both are interesting and require a lot of hard work. Right now I am in a camp, I was training in the morning and will train again in the evening. It was work for me. Now I am back to my normal routine, training for boxing.

Q. You haven’t seen your movie in the theater yet?
A. I will go to watch it. There were so many phone calls and messages since morning. I came back from training, got busy, slept a bit and now I will go. The reviews are awesome. My friends are saying it doesn’t look like this is your first movie, it’s like you are a pro (laughs). I am happy, I did a movie finally.

Highlights – President Pranab Mukherjee’s address to parliament

The new government will pursue an economic reform agenda that foresees introducing the goods and services tax, encouraging foreign investment and speeding approvals for major business projects, President Pranab Mukherjee said in a parliamentary address on Monday.

Mukherjee also said the focus of the Modi government would be to:

- contain food inflation

- improve supply side of agro-based products

- prepare contingency plans for sub-normal monsoons

- increase public and private investments in agriculture

- address issues in farm pricing and procurement

- set up IITs and IIMs in every state

- have zero tolerance against violence against women and will strengthen criminal justice system

- tackle illegal immigration and infiltration in the north east region

- roll out broadband highways in every village in next five years

- vigorously follow up issue of black money with foreign governments

- focus on social media as a tool for participative governance

- provide predictable, fair and stable policy environment

- make every effort to introduce goods and services tax

- encourage investment through foreign direct investment

- promote labour-intensive manufacturing, tourism for job creation

- move towards a single-window system of clearances to promote manufacturing

- fast-track investment friendly public, private partnership

- liberalise foreign direct investments in defence

- encourage private investments in defence production

- implement reforms in defence procurement

- take up modernisation and revamp of railways on priority

- chalk out infrastructure development programmes for high-speed rails, roads and airports

Markets this week: Sensex surges 5 percent on hopes from Modi, ONGC rallies

By Ankush Arora and Aditya Kalra

The BSE Sensex ended at a record closing high on Friday, rising 5 percent during the week, as Indian shares rallied on hopes of faster economic recovery after Narendra Modi became India’s prime minister last month.

Markets have high hopes that the new Modi-led government would push for policy reforms and end bottlenecks that have stymied growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.

On Friday, the Sensex hit a new life high of 25,419.14 while the broader Nifty index touched its all-time record high of 7,592.70. Both indexes are now up about 20 percent this year.

Brokerages bullish on Sensex, revise targets after Modi win

By Sankalp Phartiyal and Aditya Kalra

Indian stock markets rallied to record highs in May with the benchmark BSE Sensex breaching the 25,000 mark for the first time after Narendra Modi won a clear mandate to govern Asia’s third-largest economy.

Markets surged as Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies stormed to power on promises to revive India’s struggling economy, which is growing below 5 percent, and create more jobs for its 1.25 billion people.

The Sensex touched a record high of 25,375.63 on May 16, the day election results were announced, while the broader Nifty hit a life high of 7,563.50 the same day. The Sensex is up 18.1 percent so far this year.

Telemedicine in India might be just what the doctor ordered

Between surgeries and hospital rounds one recent day, Dr. Rajiv Parakh made a dash into his Gurgaon office for an appointment he couldn’t miss: a consultation with a patient who lives hundreds of kilometres away.

Seated before his laptop in this city on the outskirts of India’s capital, the surgeon listened as a patient in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka described his swollen legs. For the next 20 minutes, Parakh examined the patient via Web camera, made a diagnosis and prescribed treatment.

The bespectacled Parakh, a practising doctor for nearly 30 years, spoke in Hindi during the session, enunciating his words for clarity.

Aam Aadmi’s party isn’t over yet, Bhagwant Mann says

The one-and-a-half-year-old Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) poor performance in this year’s parliamentary elections in India was a big letdown for the anti-corruption party’s members and its leader Arvind Kejriwal. One of the party’s newly elected parliamentarians, Punjabi actor-comedian Bhagwant Mann, is doing his best to keep spirits high. Following are excerpts from two phone conversations with India Insight about the future of the AAP.

 (This interview was conducted in Hindi and translated into English)

Q. Why didn’t the “Modi wave” work in Punjab?

A. There was nothing like a Modi wave in Punjab. Punjab is already affected a lot by drugs and unemployment. So Punjab’s problems are not about [BJP slogan] “Ache din aane waley hain” (“Good days are coming”) or “Har Har Modi” (Hindu religious chant, modified for Modi). Punjab wanted a third alternative, it wanted to get out of the two-party mill – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress.

Q. What is your reaction to the party’s performance in Punjab and the rest of the country?

India equity funds ride Modi rally in May, post best month in five years

India’s diversified equity funds outperformed the broader markets in May and recorded their best monthly performance in five years, as stocks rallied on hopes of an economic revival after the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a decisive election mandate.

Equity funds clocked an average return of 11.57 percent in the month, the highest since May 2009 when funds rose 30.2 percent, data from fund tracker Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company, showed. In comparison, the BSE Sensex rose 8 percent.

Though blue-chip stocks gained, high exposure to better performers in the mid- and small-cap segment, and sectors such as financials and infrastructure, helped schemes outperform the broader markets, experts said.

Modi boost helps Sensex rise 8 pct in May, Sesa jumps 51 pct

By Ankush Arora and Sankalp Phartiyal

A road sign stands next to the Bombay Stock Exchange building.Indian shares rose sharply and scaled new record highs in May, with the benchmark index rising above 25,000 points on hopes of an economic revival after pro-business Narendra Modi became India’s new prime minister.

The BSE Sensex touched a life high of 25,375 points on May 16, the day results for the five-week election gave Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party a clear mandate to govern Asia’s third-largest economy. In May, the index rose 8 percent, its best monthly performance since October.

The BJP and its allies stormed to power by winning 336 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, riding on Modi’s promises to create more jobs and push India back on the high growth path. Stocks rallied across the board, while the Indian rupee also touched multi-month highs.

Narendra Modi’s new team of ministers

The Indian government on Tuesday announced its list of cabinet ministers along with their portfolios, a day after Narendra Modi was sworn in as the new prime minister.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies won a landslide victory in a mammoth general election, grabbing 336 of the 543 seats and ending the Congress-led government’s decade-long rule.

Besides Modi, 45 other members were inducted into the new council of ministers, a third smaller than the previous government. Modi himself would look after atomic energy, space, personnel and any ministry not allocated to a cabinet colleague.

Markets this week: Sesa Sterlite, NTPC top Sensex gainers

The benchmark BSE Sensex rose 2.4 percent this week as domestic-oriented stocks surged on hopes the incoming BJP government would keep up its promises to kick start an economy whose growth has dipped to its slowest in a decade.

Shares in companies such as Coal India, that are expected to benefit from an economic revival, and utilities performed well.

Sentiment was also boosted after Reuters reported that the finance ministry was working on a roadmap for cutting welfare spending and reining in deficit.

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