The week in review

The week in review

New Delhi: There are at least four bidders in the race for a 51% stake in Satyam, the company caught in the country’s biggest corporate scandal. India’s largest engineering firm Larsen and Toubro Ltd, Mahindra Group’s Tech Mahindra Ltd and B.K. Modi’s Spice group are among the companies bidding for a majority stake in Satyam. The Hinduja Group pulled out quietly on Thursday without giving any reasons. On Friday, the board met to discuss the expressions of interest.

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3e9a7b7e-0ff7-11de-9865-000b5dabf613.flvFactory output contracted for the second straight month in January while the wholesale price-based inflation dropped to 2.43% in the week closing 28 February, the lowest in at least six years. This is the first time in 16 years that industry production shrank for two consecutive months.

Inflation dipped to a six year low of 2.43% for the week ended February 28 as compared to 3.03% for the previous week. It was at 6.21% for the corresponding week last year and the lowest ever in India at 1.13% on 2nd February 2002.

The index of industrial production for January fell by 0.5% as compared with a fall of 0.6% in December 2008. The cumulative growth for the period April-January 2008-09 stood at 3 % over the corresponding period last year. Experts say what the two key indicators mean for the Indian economy for the next few months.

“I expect inflation to fall further while IIP will worsen over the next four months and get better towards the second half of calendar year 2009-10," says analyst DK Joshi of Crisil.

P N Vijay of P N Vijay financial services says, “If you look at numbers like credit growth , consumption of steel, cement, auto etc numbers you see that, IIP will be better in Feb and march."

The good news is that the experts definitely see light at the end of the tunnel.

Ever since they fell out with their erstwhile alliance partner the Congress, the Left parties have been keen to come up with an alternative that is non-Congress and non-BJP. They launched such an alliance at Tumkur in Karnataka this week. Eight political parties, led by the Left have come together to form the third front---an alliance to take on the might of Congress-led UPA and BJP-led NDA in the upcoming elections. The two leaders who could be kingmakers AIADMK’s J. Jayalalithaa and BSP’s Mayawati skipped the meeting and had instead sent their representatives. Mayawati’s emissary had a clear message – that she’ll join the front only if she is its prime ministerial candidate.

NCP president Sharad Pawar who is in the final stages of sewing up an alliance with the Congress has however opted to keep the doors open for any post poll scenario. On Thursday he said the third front cannot be ignored, if the ruling alliance does not get enough numbers on its own. He also set the cat among the pigeons by saying Manmohan Singh was only Congress Party’s prime ministerial candidate and not that of the UPA.

The global meltdown has not spared even the billionaires. Forbes, releasing its annual list, said the number of billionaires fell to 793 from 1,125 last year and the net worth dropped for almost all of them. For Indians the story is even more traumatic. More than half of the billionaires, who were on the list last year, have dropped off. Only two Indians---Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani and NRI tycoon Lakshmi Mittal continue to be among the world’s 10 richest. The rest---that included Anil Ambani, DLF’s K P Singh, Unitech’s Ramesh Chandra, Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, Wind-power man, Tulsi Tanti and India Bulls Sameer Gehlaut have fallen off the cliff .

The ultra modern abattoir in East Delhi, which has been caught in controversy since its inception, has started functioning after persistent intervention from the Supreme Court. But it continues to be a cause for concern for the Central Pollution Control Board.