It's a tricky year to be Finance Minister and have a Budget to present. On the one hand, after a dream run, the Indian economy is showing telltale signs of what could be a slowdown. Already, the decline in global economic growth, caused mainly by a likely US recession, is making its impact felt in both Indian software service exports as well as manufacturing exports.
Both have been hit hard by a 12 per cent appreciation of the rupee against the US dollar. Domestic costs, too, have been rising and this includes everything from cost of food and fuel as well as money. This can make the task tough for any Finance Minister, but for P. Chidambaram, who will present Budget 2008 on February 29, things could get even tougher. As many as 10 states are going to the polls later this year and next year is when general elections are scheduled. Will Budget 2008 be a populist one that has an eye cast on the elections? Or will the FM, who has often proved to be his own man, buck the trend and deliver a Budget that is truly growth-oriented? In What Will He Do?, BT's Associate Editor Shalini S. Dagar tells you what you could expect in Budget 2008. Don't miss the Business Today-Synovate India survey, which polled 495 CEOs, Fund Managers and Corporate Executives to see what decision-makers are expecting from the Budget.
Anil Ambani's Rs 11,500-crore Reliance Power mega IPO got a rude reception from the market when it sank below its offer price after listing, but Ambani's company has other challenges to face. In the next six years, Ambani wants to set up six plants that will together add 7,060 MW in generating capacity. This will be followed by seven more projects. Huge projects have always been de rigueur for the Ambanis; only, this time, the younger Ambani, who split with elder brother Mukesh in 2006, will be attempting such projects on his own. The challenges he could face range from tying up fuel supplies to ensuring high returns on the aggressive bids (read low tariffs) that have enabled him to bag the projects. In Mega Plans, Giga Risks, Assistant Editor K.R. Balasubramanyam examines whether the younger Ambani has bitten off more than he can chew.
A special report by Assistant Editor Kushan Mitra on the automotive industry looks at whether India could emerge as a small car hub even as the luxury segment seems to be enjoying boundless growth; the package also has reports on how auto component makers are emerging as global competitors and on how motorcycle manufacturers are shifting to the higher end of the market.