Welcome to the September 4, 2014 bulletin of key policy decisions and high-impact news from India, presented by the Embassy of India, in Washington D.C.
High-Impact News

India Shares at New High

Shares of Indian stocks have risen to a record high as expectations of an economic recovery and firm Asian markets helped buoy sentiment. The S&P BSE Sensex index has gained 27% so far in 2014, making it one of the top performers in Asia. Indian shares have been rising on optimism that the country's new Government would speed up policy changes which would help the economy recover this year. Most recent data show economic activity is beginning to rebound.

Japan Vows to Invest $35 Billion in India Over 5 Years 

India and Japan vowed to upgrade their ties to a strategic and global partnership covering a range of defense and economic issues following Prime Minister Modi's visit to Japan. While Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe promised to pump in $35 billion over the next five years and speed up talks on a civil nuclear deal, India rolled out the red carpet for Japanese investment, with Modi announcing a special Government management team, including two Japanese nominees, that would facilitate business proposals.

Moody's: Modest Reforms Could Easily Boost Indian GDP Growth to 7%    

The Indian economy is in the early stages of a cyclical upturn and second-quarter GDP figures are expected to show the beginning of this improvement, said a Moody's analyst. "We expect GDP growth to hit 5.1 percent in the three months to June. However, this is still well short of potential GDP growth, which is currently around 6 percent, but could easily lift towards 7 percent with some modest economic reforms," said Glenn Levine, Senior Economist, Moody's Analytics.

India Among Cheapest Emerging Markets Relative to Earnings Growth
The Indian stock market has some of the lowest valuations relative to its growth, coming in third amongst 13 emerging markets, according to JP Morgan data, making the country a prime destination for value-minded investors. With both its price/earnings multiple as well growth in the mid-teens, its PEG (Price/Earnings to Growth) ratio of 1 is higher than only Taiwan (0.9) and Korea (0.7). Those more expensive than it include Brazil (1.3), Singapore (1.9) and Malaysia (2.6).

Nike Seeks to Open Fully-Owned Stores in India Following Foreign Investment Easing 
A result of the Government's easing of foreign-direct investment rules has already borne fruit: Athletic apparel giant Nike has asked the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion to set up fully-owned stores in India. Single-brand retail policy now allows 100 percent foreign direct investment. "Nike welcomes the government's decision on foreign direct investment in single-brand retail in India," the company said in a statement.

USIBC Concludes Successful Pharmaceutical Mission to India

The U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) has concluded its Pharmaceutical Executive Mission to Delhi, expressing its commitment to the Indian market, calling for further dialogue with the Government on issues related to pricing and intellectual property, and discussing strategies for expanding greater access to healthcare and health insurance in India. USIBC's Executive Mission was led by Paul Schaper, Executive Director, Global Health Policy, Merck, and included senior representatives from Johnson & Johnson, Baxter, Mylan, Abbott, Eli Lilly, Waston and Quintiles.

Key Policy Decisions

Modi Launches Financial Inclusion Plan, 15 Million Bank Accounts Opened


Prime Minister Modi has launched the Government's financial inclusion program, aimed at providing a bank account for every Indian household. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said 15 million accounts will be opened on first day of the program with the hope of adding another 60 million by late January of next year.     

Reserve Bank Eases Rules for Foreign Investors Buying Govt. Bonds 

Foreign investors can now invest directly in Indian secondary market debt instruments, thanks to an easing of rules by the Reserve Bank of India. "Consequently, the eligible investors can acquire such securities in any manner as per the prevalent/approved market practice," the central bank said.   


Govt. to Review Environment Laws, Seeks to Speed Clearance     

With an eye toward boosting economic growth, the Government will review its environmental laws to speed green clearance for new projects without compromising measures designed to protect the environment  

Govt. to Bring India's Inflation Gauge on Par with Global Standards

The Government will devise a new inflation barometer called the Producer Price Index (PPI) as it discards the Wholesale Price Index. The proposed index will seek to bring India's inflation gauge on a par with international standards, with PPI tracking changes at the producer level for goods and services.  

Jaitley: Deficit Target will be Hit Thanks to Rapid Growth
India's rapid growth over the past two years shows the economy is recovering, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, adding that the robust expansion will help the Government meet its ambitious fiscal deficit target. India's economy grew by a forecast-beating 5.7 percent in the first quarter, its best pace since early 2012, according to official data, as the election win by Prime Minister Modi's party spurred business confidence.

Govt. Creating Comprehensive Health Policy
The Government is formulating new nationwide programs to deal with major diseases, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said. "We are looking at programs for control and diagnosis of various diseases. We are brainstorming about various health sector issues and how we can develop new programs so that we can convert health into a big social movement," he said.

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