India Insight

“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)

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

Kejriwal’s administration in January barred foreign retailers from setting up shop in Delhi, a blow to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s efforts to attract overseas investment and revive the economy.

“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.

South Indian masala remakes no longer a sureshot Bollywood hit

Once considered a permanent fixture on the yearly slate of most production houses, the masala film, a hodgepodge of romance, action and comedy that revolves around a flawless hero, is slowly losing its sheen among Bollywood audiences.

Box-office figures for such films during the last six months suggest that they have missed expectations. This includes the returns on Salman Khan’s latest release “Jai Ho”, a film that has earned the star — credited with the return of these films — his lowest opening in cinemas yet.

Mostly remakes of campy south Indian films that rely on loud dialogue, garish dance sequences and a healthy dose of morality delivered amid much violent action, the genre faded during the 1990’s and the early years of the last decade.

Movie Review: One by Two

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)
Devika Bhagat‘s “One by Two” is the kind of film that best describes the word “wannabe”. It is populated with characters apparently beset with existential issues that seem superficial, and who think passing wind and chilling beer in the toilet is cool.

The plot structure is unusual in that the lead pair only meet in the final scene. But the incidents leading up to it are so drab, convoluted and uninteresting that when it does take place, it is difficult to drum up any enthusiasm for the couple.

Abhay Deol plays Amit Sharma, a “regular Joe” stuck in a dull job and being forced into an arranged marriage by his overbearing parents. Samara (Preeti Desai) is a dancer dealing with a dysfunctional family and professional woes.

Organised players, growing acceptance boost India’s used car market

One would expect the former head of India’s No. 1 car maker to drive a glitzy new SUV or an imported luxury car, but Jagdish Khattar thinks differently. The industry veteran who spent 14 years at Maruti Suzuki now buys only second-hand cars and drives a used Volkswagen Passat.

Rich people buy new cars, intelligent people buy second-hand cars,” said Khattar, the founder of Carnation Auto, a service and used-cars company he started in 2008 after leaving Maruti. The used car market, he said, is the future of automobiles.

The rising presence of well known car brands in the used cars business, coupled with growing acceptance of second-hand vehicles, is spurring demand. That is putting in shape the largely unorganised used-car business at a time when new car sales have slumped for the first time in more than a decade.

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.

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.”

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