Politics & the Nation
  • India, China talk trade, leave out core concerns
    • India and China tip-toed around the thorny issues between the large South Asian neighbours in a joint statement issued after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held talks on Thursday. While the two countries committed to increased co-operation in banking and a more balanced trading relationship, contentious issues such as China’s silence on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and the practice of stapling visas for certain Indian visitors remained conspicuous by omission.
    • The two countries set a bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2015 and agreed to take measures to bridge the rising imbalance in trade. Bilateral trade is set to touch $60 billion this fiscal, but India’s trade deficit (China’s surplus), too, is expected to widen to $20 billion.
    • The two countries also agreed to encourage greater mutual investment and project contracting cooperation between businesses, appropriately handle economic and trade frictions and differences and jointly oppose protectionism in all forms. An India-China CEO forum has also been set up to make recommendations on expansion of trade and investment cooperation.
    • China also agreed to work on giving India more market access in areas such as pharma, information technology and services.
    • On the issue of stapled visas, which is a gesture that undermines India’s authority over territories such as Arunachal Pradesh and Kashmir, China has agreed to let bureaucrats work out a solution.
Finance & Economy
  • Hero and Honda split up
    • Honda is reportedly exiting Hero-Honda by selling its 26% stake for an undisclosed sum.  Analysts say that the price of the stake could be around $2 bn.
    • The split between Hero and Honda is expected to kick-start a price war in the motorcycle market with companies expected to offer discounts and freebies, which the local customer had been missing for the past three years.
    • Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India, the country’s fourth-largest twowheeler maker, can now take on the market leader in every segment, while other companies will also try to make the most out of an expected weakening of Hero Honda’s brand image.
    • After selling off its 26% stake in Hero Honda to the Hero group, Japan’s Honda is expected to focus on growing its share in the Indian two wheeler market, the second largest after China.
    • Hero Motors, which can use the Honda name until 2014, may have a tough time protecting its market share of 60% in the motorcycles and 43% in two-wheelers. One big challenge will be to keep its dealer network of 4,500 touch points under control.
    • Take a look at this graphic which depicts some important milestones in this JV.
  • AP passes microfin bill to regulate interest rates
    • Andhra Pradesh, the nation’s biggest market for microfinance companies, on Thursday passed a law to regulate interest rates and recovery practices among companies that offer loans to the poor.
    • The bill replaces a two-month old government order and will make it mandatory for companies to collect payments once a month instead of weekly. The new law is expected to raise costs for companies.
    • Microfinance companies in Andhra Pradesh, which account for a third of India’s microfinance market, collected less than 20% of loan repayments from 98% after the state ordinance was introduced in October.
  • Growth in clinical trial leads to new entrepreneurs
    • Global pharma companies, which are developing new molecules, are encouraging a new breed of entrepreneurs for testing laboratory products on patients.
    • Site management organisations, or SMOs, are a sub-segment of the clinical research organisations, or CROs, that test drugs on volunteers before launching them into markets. Unlike CROs, site managers do not have their own units, but are attached with hospitals and check a drug’s efficacy through accurate data. The result is then passed on to CROs and subsequently for regulatory approval.
    • The number of clinical trial contracts has doubled in the past six months, assuring a promising business for SMOs, which are growing at 50% in the country. The market size of the SMOs is almost 30% of the 500-crore CRO segment.
    • The number of clinical trial contracts has doubled in the past six months, assuring a promising business for SMOs, which are growing at 50% in the country. The market size of the SMOs is almost 30% of the 500-crore CRO segment.
  • Google to unveil body browser
    • After its controversial Street View programme, Internet search giant Google is all set to unveil a new browser that can map out the entire human body.
    • The high-tech 3D application, called Google Body Browser, has been hailed as a breakthrough in the study of anatomy that could revolutionise people’s understanding of the human body and even fast-track medical research.
    • The application, yet to be released officially, lets one explore the human body in much the same way you can navigate the world on Google Earth — a virtual globe, map and geographical information programme. In 2007, Google introduced another application called Street View which provides panoramic views from various positions along many streets in the world.