China, India finally appear on Bush’s Radar
Standing at a podium in New Delhi recently, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates was asked for a sound check. Instead of the usual 1, 2, 3, 4 “he counted 1 billion, 2 billion.” The joke referred both to India’s billion-plus population and the billions his company and others are investing in that country. It delighted his audience, as did his announcement in December that Microsoft would pump $1.7 billion into India. 
Gates called it a “fairly conservative’’ amount considering “the evidence of the role we see for India and the growth we see.’’ He said Microsoft’s “employment growth in India will be far more rapid than in the U.S.’’ Such realities have caught the White House’s attention, if President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address this week was any guide. Looks like the gold-rush mentality is driving corporate chieftains to move an ever-growing number of US jobs to India and China.
15 mn credit cards in circulation
Nearly US$ 50 billion was withdrawn with the help of credit cards including US$ 26 billion through Visa credit cards alone in the country last year through ATMs, Uttam Naik, Deputy Country Manager, Visa International, South Asia, said today. 
In India, there were nearly 15 million credit cards in circulation which were in the possession of five million people, he told reporters after Indian Bank launched the visa global credit cards, gold and classic, at a function here today. 
The Executive Director of the Bank, B Sambamurthy, launched these cards in the presence of Naik and a few customers were handed over the cards to mark the launch.
India major market for video conferencing equipment
The widespread popularity of distance learning, coupled with stronger thrust on e-governance and administration of justice, will make India a promising market for video conferencing equipment, felt experts at a round-table conducted here on Wednesday. While the utility of the equipment was obvious for the corporate sector, it is more relevant for speedy, efficient and low-cost administration of official systems, the experts opined at the meet, Video Conferencing: Bridging Distances. 
According to Alok Shende, director (ICT Practice) at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, the video conferencing equipment market was currently estimated at $10.8 million and was expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 24.9 per cent to reach the $50 million mark by 2011.
India to zoom past Japan in 2006
India will become the world’s third largest economy by equalling or surpassing Japan sometime this year much earlier than previously projected according to a new forecast. 
Measured in purchasing power parity terms, the economy will eclipse the $4 trillion mark in 2006, making it equal to or greater than Japan’s , according to William T Wilson, chief economist of Keystone India. Only the US and China will possess larger economies. 
The Indian expansion is riding on “significant accelerations” in growth, especially the liberalisation in strategic sectors such as telecom, banking, aviation and real estate, Wilson said. After growing at 8.5% and 6.9% in 2003 and 2004, the economy is expected to grow 7.5-8 % in 2005-06. And faster growth is expected to boost salaries by an inflation adjusted 7% this year, fuelling robust consumer spending.
India Inc crossing the trillion mark
India Inc was on a roll in 2004-05. The year proved to be a record-breaking year for Corporate India, as net sales and net profits for the country’s top 1,000 companies crossed $225 billion and $22 million, respectively. 
Essentially, corporate India is reaping the benefits of the restructuring exercise of the past decade and has managed to shrug off the rising oil prices and higher input costs to post a small improvement in operating margins. The improvement in top-line growth translated directly into excellent net profit margins. 
While net profits shot up by 40 per cent, operating profit margins moved up to 17.58 per cent, up from 17.55 per cent last year, and net profit margins increased from 7.89 per cent to 8.91 per cent.
Hyundai steps on gas
Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, said it will expand the production capacity of its second factory in India by 50 per cent, preparing to sell more of its popular Santro compact cars in a growing automotive market. Hyundai Motor will be able to make up to 600,000 vehicles a year in Chennai in southern India when its second factory is completed by October 2007, the company said today by e-mail, without providing financial details.
The Seoul-based carmaker will expand production at its first Indian factory to 300,000 units a year from 280,000 vehicles. Demand for compact cars in India, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, may grow 60 per cent to 960,000 units a year by 2010, according to Hyundai Motor’s estimate.

March 2006

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