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Innovative Remedies

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It seems the finance minister has realised it. A business-as-usual approach will not help bring the economy back on high growth track. Pranab Mukherjee says India now needs "innovative remedies" to check the twin jeopardy of slowing industrial growth and high inflation. Addressing a conference on global economic situation in Delhi, he said fiscal and monetary measures are having only limited effect in taming inflation. "We must turn our attention now to reviving growth as quickly as possible," said Mukherjee. Partly blaming global trends for the current fall in industrial output, he said the slump is worrisome because it impacts employment. Creating enough jobs over the medium term is also a key challenge for the government, he added. Despite the current gloom, India will be back on high growth track soon, Mukherjee later said. That's good hope.

TAB TIME: India's tablet PC market is set to grow manifold (BW pic by Sanjay Sakaria)

Cometh the Tablet Era
Tablet makers, lo and behold! A study by research firm Frost & Sullivan says the tablet PC user base in India will increase from 60,000 in 2010 to 300,000 in 2011. The overall user base is likely to grow at a compounded annual rate of 107 per cent to reach 23.38 million by 2017.

Saint Buys Electro's Biz
France's construction and building materials major Saint-Gobain will buy Electrotherm India's pipe business for Rs 950 crore. Saint-Gobain says Electro-therm's pipe division was worth Rs 549 crore in 2010, with 715 employees and two production sites in Gujarat and Karnataka. Analysts expect the move will help Electrotherm focus on its core businesses of engineering and steel, and cut debt.

Small Is Big
The next wave of growth in India's FMCG market will come from small towns. Thanks to lifestyle changes and booming demand, the market in about 400 small towns could cross $20 billion by 2018 from $6 billion in 2010, says research firm Nielsen. Since 2002, the sector has grown 3.5 times in these towns, vis-a-vis 3.2 times at the all-India level.

THE TOPPER: Mukesh Ambaniled RIL regains top spot at BSE (BW pic by Subhabrata Das)

Back To Heights
Reliance Industries has regained its top spot on the BSE Sensex. On 15 Dece-mber, the Mukesh Ambani-led company surpassed Infosys to become the most influential stock. At the end of the day, RIL's weightage on BSE Sensex stood at 10.39 per cent, higher than Infosys' 10.21 per cent. But at Nifty, Infosys continues to retain lead over RIL.

The Rupee Fallout
It is getting all bloody. The ailing rupee has added Rs 50,000 crore to the fuel subsidy, says oil secretary G.C. Chaturvedi. "Every time the rupee depreciates by Re 1 against the dollar, Rs 8,000 crore is added to the subsidy bill." State fuel retailers will lose a record Rs 137,605 crore this fiscal on selling diesel, LPG and kerosene at state-fixed rates.

WHAT NEXT? Olympus manages to retain stockmarket listing (Bloomberg)

Limping Back
Japan's scandal-struck camera maker Olympus has retained listing on Tokyo Stock Exchange, though its shares fell sharply again, by 20.8 per cent. Investors seem to be worried over the company's cash balances. A few weeks ago, Olympus had admitted it had been hiding losses of $1.5 billion over the past two decades.

Foreign Ticket
The civil aviation ministry has reportedly given its nod to allow foreign carriers to buy 26 per cent stake in private airlines. Earlier the ministry had proposed a cap of 24 per cent on foreign direct investment by overseas carriers.

Coke Speaks Arabic
The world's largest cola maker is eyeing the lucrative non-alcoholic drinks market in West Asia. Coca-Cola has bought 50 per cent in the beverage business of Saudi Arabia's Aujan Industries for $980 million.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 26-12-2011)