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Jun 10, 2010

Asia stocks rise, euro steady on China data

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian stocks rose on Thursday on better-than-expected Chinese exports and assurances from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that the U.S. economic recovery was on solid footing.

The euro steadied but continued to look fragile near four-year lows against the dollar, with traders awaiting a European Central Bank meeting later in the day to see if it plans any fresh steps to helped debt-stricken euro zone countries.

Jun 9, 2010

Asian stocks, euro struggle on debt worries

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian stocks fell on Wednesday and the euro wobbled near four-year lows after Fitch Ratings said the UK faced a “formidable” fiscal challenge, fueling concerns that Europe’s sovereign debt problems could stifle the global economic recovery.

Adding to the uncertainty, U.S. Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday gave conflicting signals on the direction of interest rates, highlighting an increasingly important split within the central bank as the U.S. economy shows signs of slowing.

Apr 5, 2010

Asian stocks rise on strong U.S. jobs data

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian stocks rose on Monday after data showed U.S. employers created jobs last month at the fastest pace in three years, boosting hopes of a sustained economic recovery.

U.S. S&P 500 stock index futures <.SPc1> rose 0.4 percent in the Asian day after the job report, topping an intraday peak in an abbreviated futures session on Friday.

Sep 17, 2009
via India Insight

Will the Congress party’s austerity drive work?

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When India’s ruling Congress party asked ministers and bureaucrats to cut down on needless expenses at a time of recession and deepening drought, many in the country had one question on their lips: will the austerity drive work?Rahul Gandhi tried to set an example by travelling by train as an ordinary passenger. His mother, Sonia, abandoned her private army plane and flew economy class on a commercial flight for a party rally in Mumbai.But there is still a great deal of scepticism among people. Some of the doubting was fuelled after the train Rahul was travelling in was pelted with stones. Experts said Rahul’s train trip was a security risk, which could cramp the austerity drive.But it’s not just the security concerns alone. The austerity drive also drew ridicule following a controversy over two senior government ministers staying in luxury hotel suites priced at $1,000 and $1,500 a night until their official residences were ready.Both ministers said they’d paid for their suites themselves, but stung by criticism amid the government’s austerity drive, they moved to more modest temporary homes.However, it was too late to change the mind of ordinary Indians who over years of Nehruvian socialism had begun to associate Congress politicians as leaders in simple hand-spun cotton, or khadi, clothes who drove around in old-fashioned Ambassador cars.Now, the question many are asking is: will the austerity drive last with election campaigns for Maharashtra and Haryana about to begin?True, with the economy in trouble, the government is making an effort with the finance ministry appealing for fewer overseas trips and smaller entourages as well as a ban on conferences in luxury hotels.But it isn’t easy: one minister protested he was “too tall” to fly economy while another said their positions demand they entertain in style.So, will the government’s austerity drive last? The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) doesn’t think so. A BJP spokesman said it was just an “election gimmick” and they would go back to their usual ways once the state elections were over.Will they?

Jul 2, 2009
via India Masala

Is “New York” a balanced film?

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By international standards, Kabir Khan’s “New York” is an extraordinarily ordinary film. It hasn’t impressed critics abroad and reviews in international media haven’t been very charitable.But even if you were to ignore the mediocre performances and shallow characterisation, “New York” does raise several issues about life for South Asian Americans after 9/11.Khan says that while researching the film he discovered “a huge volume of prejudice” and at least 1,200 people from different nationalities who were detained on the “basis of suspicion alone”.”New York” puts the spotlight on that prejudice through the story of Samir, an American of Indian origin who turns to terrorism after he is picked up by the FBI and brutally tortured for months only because he took some photographs of the twin towers for a school project.The movie already looks set to be a monster hit in India, with massive collections in the first weekend after its release.It’s got all the ingredients of a blockbuster: a star cast, an emotive story line and a viewpoint very sympathetic to Indians.Khan is emphatic that unlike most Indian films on terrorism that are often jingoistic “New York” provides “a balanced view“.But the question is: is it more balanced? Isn’t “New York” a one-sided look at a very complicated issue dividing the world? Isn’t the film likely to fan more hatred and anger with its underlying anti-Americanism?(Reuters photo: The cast of ‘New York’ poses for a photo at a news conference in Mumbai)

Jul 1, 2009
via India Insight

Is Rahul Gandhi prime minister material?

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He’s been called the “Quiet Revolutionary“. And India’s prime minister-in-waiting. But does Rahul Gandhi, a virtual novice in the rough and tumble of Indian politics, have what it takes for the country’s top job?He didn’t exactly set the house on fire during his first five years in parliament. And until this election, Rahul’s only USP was that he belonged to India’s first family, the Nehru-Gandhi family which has given the country three prime ministers.He’s only 39, and has no experience with complex subjects such as Pakistan or the economy.But after the recent election, Rahul has emerged as a savvy politician, a grassroots activist with a finger on the pulse of the real India.His strategy of not allying with any of the regional parties in northern India despite pressure from party officials paid off big time.The Congress party’s decision to go it alone in northern India helped it more than double its seats in Uttar Pradesh.Initially, based just on his political strategy for this election, there was much speculation over whether he would join the cabinet, and if he did what portfolio he’d get.Eventually, Rahul wasn’t a part of the cabinet, but he’s still seen as the face of the Congress party from now on — and perhaps prime minister at some point in the future.But isn’t there a danger he could be sidelined if he isn’t part of the federal cabinet?Sure, he has age on his side and he can learn over the next five years. Besides, like his father, Rajiv, he appeals to millions of young voters in India.But he’s not alone in that sense. He is part of a new generation of young parliamentarians like Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia who have a completely new perspective on politics.So the question many in India are asking is: could Rahul Gandhi be overshadowed by other younger politicians who are in the cabinet?

May 13, 2009
via India Insight

Will the Gandhi magic work again?

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The countdown has begun in India. As political pundits peer into their tea leaves before the results of another marathon election, the question on everybody’s lips is: will the Gandhi magic work again?

Exit polls show the coalition led by Sonia Gandhi will fall short of an outright majority, but her Congress party has a slight edge over its rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
But then exit polls in India have been way off the mark in the past. Like the last election.

    • About Sugita

      "Based in Singapore, I am part of the money, politics and general news team which handles everything from violence in Pakistan to elections in Australia. In earlier avatars, I have worked in the Indonesia and India bureaus, and have written on a host of subjects from politics and economics to literature and lifestyle."
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