New Delhi: Businesses came to a halt in some of India’s biggest cities that day in response to the opposition’s call for a strike. It was protesting both soaring inflation and the government’s hikes in fuel prices. Shops were closed in Mumbai and the streets were deserted. The strike was almost total in Bangalore and Kolkata, both of which lie in opposition ruled states. Delhi was better off, though there were fewer public transport options on the road. And much of the old city remained shuttered. Industry bodies estimated the cost of the strike at anywhere between Rs3,000 crore and Rs13,000 crore.
In a surprise prediction, the I M F this week said India’s economy would grow at 9.4% in 2010. The IMF has been hiking its projection for India’s growth since October of 2009, when it predicted a growth of 6.4%. The government’s own estimate for the fiscal ending in March of 2011 is 8.5%. Reacting to the I M F projection, the Planning Commission’s Pronab Sen told Mint it appeared to be an over-estimation. Sen said India’s growth could fall in the last quarter of 2010 once the low base rate ceases to be.
The government’s department of public enterprises is all set to go on a hiring spree. It’s looking to recruit independent directors for government-run firms making public offers this year. The move is part of its efforts to comply with Sebi’s listing norms. Under those rules, firms with non-executive chairmen should have independent directors in at least one third of their boards. And independents should make up at least half the board when there is an executive chairman. Engineers India, Hindustan Copper and Coal India are getting ready to make public offers by September end.
New rules are in place for foreign workers and their employers. Mint has learnt the government has removed the limits of the number of foreign hires. Under old rules foreigners could only make up one percent of an organization’s workforce. Also gone is the minimum salary requirement of twenty five thousand dollars a year. What’s been added is a rule that says only skilled foreigners should get work visas. This week Mint learnt that the home ministry sent out the new rules to the external affairs ministry in a letter dated 31 May. The rules came into effect immediately.
Foreign retailers had something to cheer about this week. On Tuesday the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion released a so-called discussion paper on foreign investment in multi-brand retail. The paper says FDI in organized retail can help modernize back-end infrastructure and make supply chains more efficient. It adds that cold storage facilities will cut down wastage and help control food inflation.
Though the DIPP paper on retail calls for greater foreign investment, it does not specify how much. The paper also says the sector will be opened up in what it calls a calibrated manner. Several political parties are opposed to opening up the retail sector. They fear foreign giants will put India’s traditional kirana stores out of business.
Internet service provider Tikona says it will adopt whatever technology RIL decides to use for broadband wireless. CEO Prakash Bajpai told Mint it made sense for his company to follow the market leader. R I L will choose from either of two broadband technologies- Wimax or LTE.