When the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians take to the pitch on Wednesday in Kolkata for the first match of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, it is not just the crowd and television viewers who will be hoping for an exciting game. Advertisers, who have collectively invested billions of rupees into promoting their brands through the event, will also be cheering the teams on.

The glitzy IPL, the world’s richest cricket tournament, will be played over 47 days with a total of 60 rapid-fire matches. With the actor Shah Rukh Khan partly owning the Kolkata Knight Riders team and reports that the actress Anushka Sharma will perform at the IPL opening ceremony, there is a lot of Bollywood glamour associated with the tournament.

In a cricket-mad country, the IPL has mass appeal, meaning advertisers are eager to get a share of the action on the pitch. Adverts appear everywhere, from logos emblazoned onto the cricket ground to branding on the stumps.

“In India, the single largest sport is cricket, and within cricket the IPL is more than just a sporting event,” says Samar Shekhawat, the senior vice president of marketing at United Breweries, a major Indian beverages company that owns the Kingfisher brand. It has associated with the IPL since the tournament’s launch in 2008.

The IPL offers “the most appropriate mix of glamour, entertainment, sport, celebrity and style”, adds Mr Shekhawat. “I am very fond of saying that it is India’s biggest reality show. For India, it is bigger than the Fifa World Cup, it’s bigger than the Cricket World Cup, it’s bigger than Formula One and the Olympics.”

Advertising spending on the IPL this year is expected to reach 10 billion rupees (Dh589 million) compared to 8bn rupees last year and 3.1bn rupees when the tournament launched in 2008, according to figures from Impact, an advertising and marketing publication.

The official broadcaster for the IPL, Multi Screen Media (MSM), which owns Sony Entertainment Television, has said that it has sold the vast majority of its advertising inventory for the tournament this year, with slots selling at rates up to 15 per cent higher compared to last year, at 500,000 rupees per 10 seconds.

Amazon, Vodafone and Hero MotoCorp are among the advertisers. Pepsi is the title sponsor of the IPL.

Despite being plagued by controversies, including a spot-fixing scandal, the value and popularity of the IPL does not seem to have been dented.

There has been rapid growth of sports advertising in India in recent years, of which the IPL has been a major driver. The value of the market for advertising in sports in India was about 41bn rupees in 2013 compared to 21bn in 2008, according to a report by SportzPower, a provider of sports business news and knowledge, and GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment arm of GroupM Media. This is made up of on-ground advertising, athlete and team sponsorship, and media advertising spending. Cricket accounts for between 80 and 85 per cent of television sports media revenue in India.

The launch of the IPL in 2008 “will be recorded as the start line from where the country’s nascent sports business took off”, the report stated.

The IPL is loosely based on the United Kingdom’s Premier League football championship and the National Basketball Association in the United States. It is a Twenty20 tournament, which means that the matches are fast-paced and last about three hours each, giving the sport more popular appeal.

“This should be a great season for the Indian Premier League, with renewed interest around cricket and positive advertiser sentiment,” Rohit Gupta, the president of MSM, told The Financial Express, an Indian newspaper. He said he expected to sell the last few matches at 1.5m to 2m rupees for 10 seconds.

United Breweries plans to promote Kingfisher through the IPL this year with a new television commercial featuring cricketers from the tournament, as well as through social media and digital initiatives. The IPL accounts for its biggest marketing spending on any event.

Mr Shekhawat says United Breweries spends between 17 and 20 per cent of its annual advertising budget on the IPL. The company is increasing its overall advertising budget by about 10 per cent this year, so it will put a larger sum of money into the IPL in 2015, he says.

With the tournament expected to attract 220 million viewers, it gives the brand huge exposure across the country, including in smaller towns, he says.

The IPL follows hot on the heels of the ICC World Cup, which was held in Australia and New Zealand, but that does not seem to have eaten into the IPL’s revenue.

“It’s a longer game and the IPL is quicker, tighter, more glamorous and more in keeping with the brand,” said Mr Shekhawat, explaining that United Breweries did not do any marketing with the ICC World Cup. “Because it was in Australia, the match timings were not really conducive to running a lot of promotions.”

Vodafone has also associated with the IPL since its inception.

“Cricket resonates with Indian audiences, and no other cricketing platform packages sport, talent, chutzpah and entertainment together on one platform as successfully as the IPL,” says Ronita Mitra, the senior vice president of brand and consumer insights at Vodafone India. While Vodafone does not comment on its advertising spending, Ms Mitra says that “the effect multiplier effect and bang for the buck is unmatchable”, if a company does the right campaigns during the IPL.

In November 2012 Pepsi bought the title sponsorship rights to the IPL for five years for US$71m – almost double the amount the Indian property company DLF paid for the title rights for the first five years of the tournament.

Homi Battiwalla, who was the executive vice president of PepsiCo India at the time before becoming the senior director of beverage marketing for the Middle East and Africa, last year said that Pepsi expected to derive five to six times the investment the company had made in the IPL.

“No large-scale association with cricket is possible in India without a sizeable IPL presence,” Mr Battiwalla said. “The title association of Pepsi IPL and other benefits will allow brand Pepsi and other PepsiCo brands to gain more than conventional sponsorship benefits and generate immense universality across the country.”

It also falls in the right season for the brand to be promoting its drink products, given the heat of the months of April and May, when the IPL takes place.

“The timing of the tournament is ideal given that packaged beverages is an impulse category and nearly 50 per cent of consumption happens in these months,” he said.

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The Bollywood stars Aamir Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and Kamal Haasan gathered alongside top executives from India’s entertainment industry at a conference in Mumbai last week to discuss the sector.

The theme of the three-day conference focused on how to transform India into a global entertainment superpower.

The consensus was that India could grow its entertainment business to become an even bigger contributor to the economy and play a bigger role globally with the right efforts by the industry and state and federal governments.

“Though there is a large amount of work happening, there is still untapped potential in developing these services,” said Jyotsna Suri, the president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), which organised the Ficci-Frames conference.

“I see no reason why India should not become a global entertainment superpower. Our country has a vast wealth of spectacular terrain and it is important that we explore all locations for shooting.

“This, dovetailed with affordable world-class production amenities, including VFX, 3D and animation, can make India a one-stop shop for film production. We also have well-equipped film cities across the country like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Noida.”

India’s media and entertainment industry grew by 11.7 per cent to 1.02 trillion rupees (Dh59.64 billion) last year from 918bn rupees a year earlier, according to a report by KPMG and Ficci published last week.

It is expected to grow by 13.9 per cent annually to reach 1.96tn rupees by 2019, a growth rate that is close to double that of the global industry.

The report said to become a global entertainment superpower, the government needed to ensure measures were in place to facilitate speeding up permissions for film shoots and clearances for building more multiplex cinemas.

The industry should concentrate on creating the right content for the audience, as well as having advanced digital strategies in place for easier access, it added.

Television actually contributed the biggest share to India’s media and entertainment revenues, accounting for almost half of total earnings in 2014. Print was in second place, contributing 263.4bn rupees last year.

Despite all the glamour and frenzy that surrounds Bollywood, films were in third place, at 126.4bn rupees.

India’s film sector only grew by 0.9 per cent last year over the previous year.

“I think it’s time for the film industry to take stock and evaluate its business model,” said Jehil Thakkar, the leader of the entertainment practice at KPMG in India.

“Domestic theatricals were flat, largely because multiplex additions slowed down somewhat. Talent costs have gone crazy. Really some of the core issues need to be addressed.”

He pointed out that China’s box office revenues had overtaken those of India.

“Just six years ago India was a bigger market than China,” Mr Thakkar said.

“In terms of multiplex expansion, China is adding 18 screens a day, while India is adding 150 screens a year.

“So lots needs to change on the ground if India is to become that superpower,” he said. “They add more screens in 10 days than we do in a year.”

Radio, digital advertising, gaming and animation were all segments of the industry that rose strongly in India last year in terms of revenues.

Kamal Haasan, an actor and producer in India, said it was all too easy to look at the numbers for the entertainment industry and “lean back”. “No empire, however big it is, can afford this complacency,” he said.

“It’s a very strange industry where it is driven by content. They might say that the automobile industry is also like that. Not so.

“You can rest for five years. But you can’t rest for five minutes in this industry, especially the television industry.

“And we have come to a stage where the platforms have been merging. My industry now, I think, includes the television and the cell phone.

“Before, I used to be so small-minded and thought I belonged to the film industry. I belong to the moving images industry now in this digital world.”

Aamir Khan, a popular Bollywood actor, said the issues that worried him and were holding back the sector included censorship.

“I’m totally against banning any kind of material,” he said. He referred to the Kamal Haasan 2013 film, Vishwaroopam, which was banned in the state of Tamil Nadu because of religious sensitivities.

“Once a film has received a certification, then it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that people can watch the film without any fear,” Mr Khan said.

Harit Nagpal, the chief executive and managing director of Tata Sky, one of India’s major satellite television providers, said India needed to do much more to develop its entertainment industry.

“If it hasn’t moved from being one of the top 15 [media and entertainment countries] to being a superpower in the last five years, then how will it move to become a superpower over the next 15 years, if we continue to do the same things we’ve been doing over the last five years?”

He expressed disappointment at what he described as “a lack of new thinking”, referring to a dearth of original content on television in India.

“I could blame it on lack of experimentation by the producers but I am told when I speak to these producers that the economics of the business, the restrictions and the permission they have to get, do not provoke them to take risks, so they choose the safe and successful path which often leads to failure,” Mr Nagpal said.

The entertainment industry in India was about far more than “power and propaganda and glamour”, he added.

“This industry is like any other industry. It’s created to benefit its users, it’s created to generate employment, it’s created to drive the economy.”

At a government level, he said things had improved over the past few months in terms of securing clearances more quickly.

But it would be better if there was no need to seek such approvals at all, he added.

“I am still awaiting an approval for a 250 crore [crore = 10 million] rupee investment into my company for which the money has already come and if the approval does not come in the next 48 hours, I will have no choice but to return that 250 crores back to the investors sitting outside the country.

“It’s a small amount for the country, but it’s these small, small, small approvals that pile up and force us not to do our job that we are supposed to do.”

JS Mathur, the additional secretary of the Indian government’s ministry of information and broadcasting, agreed there were challenges the government had to meet to help to boost the industry.

“There are issues of content diversification and also of newer business and revenue models,” Mr Mathur said.

“These are exciting times and exciting times always come with challenges.”

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When Kapil Jain wanted to buy a three-bedroom property in Pune, he found signing up for a home loan in India a daunting process.

Mr Jain, 40, a digital marketing technologist in Dubai who hails from Lucknow in north India, was fortunate to have friends who could advise him.

“I went with word-of-mouth and with recommendations from a few of my financial consultant friends working for Indian banks,” explains Mr Jain, who wanted the property as a future home. “Since I was banking with Axis Bank I went for the home loan with them. Another reason was the property builder was listed with the bank, which also gave some confidence.”

Mr Jain made a trip to India to secure the mortgage for 3.6 million rupees (Dh212,000) on the 6.8m rupee property – a process that took two weeks.

He took out a five-year loan in 2011 – in a bid to clear the debt quickly – with a two-year fixed rate of 11 per cent. After the two-year fixed rate expired, the interest was calculated on a floating basis, going up to 11.75 per cent.

Despite eventually gaining approval, he warns that securing the mortgage was a “tedious” procedure.

Many UAE-based non-resident Indians (NRIs) are currently investing in property in India amid optimism surrounding the economy and a weak Indian rupee. While some buy for investment, others buy to help support family members or as a future home for themselves.

“NRI customers have a big share of the premium and luxury home market in India,” says Praveen Kutty, the executive vice president and head of retail and SME banking at DCB Bank, an Indian lender. “Given the depreciation of the Indian rupee, it’s becoming easier for NRIs to afford their home loan EMI [equated monthly instalment].”

But for those without cash to buy outright, taking out a mortgage is the only option to complete their purchase.

And just like resident Indians, expatriates must prove to the lender they can repay the loan.

“The NRI should be able to provide the bank the evidence of sufficient disposable income to service the home loan, stability and security of his employment and income through a steady stream of remittances,” says Mr Kutty.

Documents required normally include a salary certificate and employment contract, passport and visa copies and bank statements.

“Evidence of any financial investments such as fixed deposits or mutual fund investments et cetera can further validate the customer’s repayment capability. Since the NRI resides in a country where India’s laws might not be applicable, the bank at its discretion might also ask for a local guarantor.”

Indian expats should have an NRI bank account before securing a home loan, adds Mr Kutty. “As long as the customer is able to establish his creditworthiness, it is not very difficult for an NRI to take a home loan. Identifying a good property in a location of choice in a specific budget and completing the documentation required for the property purchase and the loan will be the bigger hassle.”

The current weak rupee is a major advantage to homebuyers from the UAE, but those taking out home loans must be prepared for future currency fluctuations that could work to their disadvantage.

Sakthi Prakaash, the lead research analyst at WealthRays Securities, a broker and research firm in Bangalore, says that currency issues are “one of the most important criteria NRIs should look into before they buy properties in India”.

But investors have other factors to consider such as who will manage the legal affairs in their absence.

Anuroopa Mukherjee and her husband, Kaushik, took out a 15-year home loan of 1.9m rupees with the Indian bank HDFC in 2012 at a rate of 11.25 per cent to buy a 3m rupee two-bedroom apartment in Kolkata.

“The property was approved by HDFC so we just went ahead with them without doing much research with other banks,” says Ms Mukherjee, 35, who owns a public relations and marketing company in Dubai. “We felt it would be a better choice as they have a rep office in Dubai.

“We chose the property in Kolkata and applied for loan there itself. We assigned my brother’s younger bother as the power of attorney so he could complete the formalities in our absence.”

Lenders will often demand that the NRI gives power of attorney to someone in India and some banks insist that this person should be a close blood relative.

However, a number of major lenders have offices in the UAE, so it is not essential for an NRI to go to India to secure the loan.

“For submitting the income proof and other documents, we have our relationship managers stationed in GCC countries, who can collect such documents from the applicants,” says KA Babu, the deputy general manager of retail business at Federal Bank, headquartered in Kerala.

As well as income, banks are also concerned about educational qualifications, commonly demanding that customers seeking loans should be graduates.

Sankara Srinivasan, the chief operating officer of Realtycompass.com, says buyers should look carefully at the fine print when it comes to choosing a loan “to avoid any surprises further down the line”.

And don’t ignore the interest rate. These are far higher in India than the UAE, but taking out a home loan from a UAE bank to buy property in India is not an option offered by local banks.

However, some NRIs take out personal loans to help cover a deposit on an Indian property.

“Sometimes personal loans in those countries [such as the UAE] are far cheaper, so people do take unsecured personal loans to whatever extent possible and then the rest of it will be taken up through a home loan,” says Mudassir Zaidi, the national residential director at the property consultancy Knight Frank India.

“It would be at much lower interest rate, but the amount wouldn’t be very high. Generally people will not be able to fund the entire purchase through that.”

With interest rates on home loans so high in India, Ms Mukherjee suggests considering other funding options. She and her husband decided to pay off their entire home loan last year as early repayment came without any fees or penalties.

“I feel if you have the cash then it’s better not to take any loan,” she adds. “You can go for construction-linked plans or other schemes that builders come up with where you only need to shell out money in instalments. That way you save on the bank interest.”

The lowdown on home loans for Indians abroad

What is the best way for NRIs to compare home loans in India?

There are several websites that allow NRIs to compare home loans, including BankBazaar.com, ApnaPaisa.com and policybazaar.com.

Are there significant differences between loans offered to NRIs and those offered to Indian citizens?

Interest rates are generally similar. The biggest difference is probably the tenure of the loan. NRIs are typically awarded loans for up to 20 years, while resident Indians can get loans for up to 30 years.

What are the requirements and fees?

ICICI Bank, for example, demands that salaried NRIs in the UAE have an annual income of at least Dh36,000 to secure a five-year loan and earn at least Dh48,000 for a six or 10-year home loan. The requirements are higher for self-employed NRIs. It charges a processing fee of 0.5 per cent of the loan amount and services tax and surcharges are added to that. For loans of between 11 and 15 years, the bank demands a diploma or graduate minimum educational qualification with a minimum of three years of employment abroad or professional qualification with one year of employment abroad. Banks will offer 80 to 85 per cent of the property value, depending on the individual’s earnings and financial situation. In general, they will be prepared to lend 35 to 40 times the monthly salary of an individual.

What kind of interest rates are in place?

Federal Bank offers housing loans to NRIs of up to 150 million rupees for buying or constructing homes in India. For loans up to 7.5m rupees, the interest rate is 10.20 per cent.

What other factors should an NRI borrower consider?

It is worth checking the track record of banks in terms of how quickly they might pass on interest rate cuts to existing customers with floating rate loans. Interest rate cuts are expected this year in India. When rates come down, some lenders pass the benefits on to new customers to lure them in, but existing customers are left at the earlier interest rate levels for longer.

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Shaishav Dharia, the development director, strategy, at Lodha Group, who is overseeing Palava City, talks about the “smart” elements of the project.

How did you go about putting the technology infrastructure in place?

Before we even engaged IBM or Cisco, we started this work ourselves two-and-a-half years ago. For about six to nine months the team spent time understanding what a smart city is and what the technology parts are that help a city become better. Only after we had a reasonable understanding did we actually start the design work with one of these consultants. One of the advantages we have is that we are a greenfield [new-build] city. I am not constrained by infrastructure that was laid with a different thought. It comes down to which smart technologies either make a citizen’s life better or reduce operating costs – those are the ones we go for.

Was it challenging?

Yes, it was challenging. With the ICT part, the challenge for us was just understanding futuristically – because I didn’t have consumers that time living there to tell me what was their need – what are the most relevant needs and those that make practical sense. The best decision we made in 2011 was we wanted to [instal] fibre [optic across] the entire city. We just knew that in the future, the fact that everything is connected, we would have the potential to do more. Today that is paying off because all my sensors, all my security cameras, every lift alarm, every fire alarm provides data on that fibre back into my command centre. That investment in fibre made a huge difference, without which we’d be redoing everything. What we actually realised as we were doing this is that Palava is actually helping to grow many small companies because they are open to come here, pilot it and then scale up.

All the technology must be expensive, so can such cities be affordable?

It’s expensive if you take a snapshot view of today. But if I look at my operating costs of the city, all of these technologies actually lower my long-term operating costs. Upfront, yes, you feel it. With the example of security, we already have about 300 cameras. We’ve just started work on analytics, whether it’s motion triggered or cameras following certain cars, so the camera is not just dumb recording large amounts of information. We don’t have a guard in every building lobby. We don’t need it. It more than compensates the cost of cameras and running a command centre.

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MUMBAI // About 35 kilometres north-east of the congested chaos of Mumbai, one of India’s biggest developers is building what it hopes is a future-ready city.

Palava City, which will spread over 4,500 acres with a planned investment of 280 billion rupees (Dh16.4bn) by 2025, is incorporating the latest technology to try to make life for its citizens as easy as possible.

As work continues on the project by the Mumbai-based Lodha Group, 5,000 families have already moved in and the city is starting to trial some of its “smart” elements. These include a cashless smart card and a mobile application that allows users to do a range of things, from reporting a faulty streetlamp or a pile of rubbish that needs to be cleared to booking a tennis court or paying bills.

Lodha Group is aiming for the city to become one of the top 50 most liveable cities in the world by 2025. Work on the project started in 2010.

It has partnered with IBM and General Electric, among other major international companies, to bring advanced features to the project.

All lighting in common areas will be solar or LED, while utility metres will be installed to reduce wastage, for example by detecting any water leaks. Everything is linked to a central command centre.

“A lot of what we have developed is to some extent trial and error with global learnings adapted to India,” says Shaishav Dharia, the development director for strategy at Lodha Group.

Such a development is paving the way for understanding how technology might be used in future smart cities, he says.

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has talked about ambitious plans to create 100 smart cities across the country. With rapid urbanisation taking place, there is a desperate need for such projects to alleviate the pressures from growing populations on existing cities.

There are varying definitions of what a smart city is exactly, but there is some agreement on the main features such developments should have.

“A smart city is a city that is self-sustained,” says Tanuj Shori, the chief executive and co-founder of Square Yards Consulting, a property advisory firm. “Smart cities make ardent use of digital technology to enhance infrastructure performance. A smart city has smart computing systems, a cohort of integrated hardware, software and network information technology with real-time cognisance of the surrounding world that can help citizens make quick decisions. The crucial feature of a smart city is the amalgamation of affordability, resources and sustainability. Smart cities should be able to deliver good infrastructure such as water, sanitation, waste management, reliable utility services and health care. Their processes should be transparent, simple and citizen-friendly.”

Debasis Chatterji, the chief executive of Netxcell, says that India needs smart cities to boost its economic growth.

“From online shopping to remote home surveillance and managing home appliances, smart cities enable more and more efficiency,” he says. “Smart cities make the common man’s life more convenient in such a way that commuting is smarter by an efficient mass-transport system.”

Other projects that are incorporating smart city features include Lavasa, a hill city being built near Pune in Maharashtra, and Gift City, which is being developed as an international financial services centre in Gujarat. Dubai’s Tecom is building SmartCity Kochi, an IT and business park, in Kerala.

“Envisioning itself as the first smart city of India, Lavasa’s vision is that each infrastructure layer will interoperate under the control of the smart city management infrastructure,” says S Narayan, the chief executive and president of Lavasa Corporation.

But Gift also says that it is on track to become India’s first smart city.

“By integrating various infrastructure and utilities through an optical fibre-based IT network spread across the city and by building intelligence in every building and utility, Gift City is able to see the status of various services in a holistic manner and manage them on a real time basis,” says Ramakant Jha, the managing director and group chief executive of Gift.

A number of companies are expecting to benefit from the push for smart cities.

“Involvement of technology companies holds the utmost importance in terms of network infrastructure – establishing CCTV control rooms in the cities, data centres and wireless devices,” says Manoj Kumar, the executive vice president and chief executive of Ricoh India, an automation services company.

BVR Mohan Reddy, the founder and executive chairman of Cyient, explains that the Hyderabad-based engineering and networking company is working on a number of initiatives geared towards smart cities.

“For utilities, Cyient has implemented enterprise ICT solutions to help utilities operate smarter,” he says.

“In communications, we have been involved in network planning and expansion for major communication service providers across major cities in India.”

Schneider Electric is involved in bringing energy-related smart city initiatives to India, and its projects include a partnership with Palava City. But it says that the government’s plans to build 100 smart cities will be far from easy to implement.

“The biggest challenge is the sheer scale, size and complexity of the initiative,” says Ravi Kant Malhan, the director of smart cities and special projects at Schneider Electric India. “Nowhere in the world, including in advanced developed economies, has ever anything of this magnitude been undertaken. There are no comparable past learnings and lessons. India is planning to leapfrog everything that has been done until now.

“Availability of land, proper connectivity among cities and lack of skilled labour in most of the industrial sectors are also some serious issues that the government will need to address as it moves ahead on its ambitious vision of developing 100 smart cities in India.”

Developers are also hoping to benefit from a smart city building boom.

“A smart city could take between 8 to 10 years to build and even more time to attract businesses and people,” says Kamal Khetan, the chairman and managing director of Sunteck Realty, a property developer based in Mumbai.

“The challenges that India would face when it comes to smart cities would be obtaining timely clearances and approvals from authorities and the financing of the projects for these smart cities.”

Mehul Thakur, the director of Viva Homes, an Indian developer, says: “With smart cities coming up, more land will be available at cheaper costs. With the development of the smart cities, people will chose to move from the main city into the suburbs because of the affordability factor. The government needs to ensure that the market is ready to absorb that kind of supply.”

Other experts have also voiced concerns.

“It is to be seen how government will pull off such an ambitious and mega project,” says Manoj Sai Namburu, the chairman and managing director of Alliance Group, a developer based in Chennai. “In a nutshell the government announced a very ambitious programme without doing their homework properly, and even before defining the modus operandi as to how they are going to develop these smart cities. In my opinion, it will take some time for us to see the smart cities in reality.”

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MUMBAI // Until recently, Babu Qureshi had cooked the same dish every day for the past eight years: beef kebab masala. The 67-year-old chef, who works in Al Rehmani restaurant in south Mumbai now stands idle, having been demoted to the position of a waiter following a ban on beef in the state of Maharashtra. He faces an uncertain future.

“What can I do?” he sighs.

The beef ban, which was imposed by the state this month, ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP, extended the existing prohibition of slaughtering cows to bulls and bullocks. Under the new law, sale or possession of the meat can result in imprisonment for up to five years. Cows are considered sacred by majority Hindus.

This is having a major impact on businesses across Mumbai, the state’s largest city, involved in the meat trade.

“About 15 million people in Maharashtra are directly or indirectly dependent on beef,” said Mohammed Aslam Khan, a beef trader, who was among those led a protest in Mumbai last Tuesday, which attracted hundreds of those affected by the ban. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen to our livelihoods. We demand that the government reverses the ban or provides us with alternative employment.”

In Crawford Market, one of the Mumbai’s most popular and historic markets, butchers who sell beef have gone on strike because of the ban.

Anis Qureshi, 50, says he has been working as a beef butcher almost all his life, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

“The government has got it wrong,” he says. “We’ve been working here selling beef since the time of the British.”

He says that there are 200 stalls which used to sell beef in Crawford Market, each one on average employing six people.

The Qureshi community – a Muslim sub-caste in India – has been associated with the beef industry for generations.

Aslam Khan, 21, a migrant worker from Lucknow in Utter Pradesh is a labourer for the butchers in the market. He was earning 250 rupees (Dh14) a day, 100 rupees of which he would send home to his family in north India. Now, he is earning nothing, he says.

Zahoor Khan, 55, another butcher in Mumbai, says that his family of four children and his wife who live in the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh were dependent on the 3,000 to 4,000 rupees he would send home, largely generated from sales of beef.

Those butchers could still sell water buffalo meat but have chosen to shut down completely in protest.

The Deonar abattoir in Mumbai, which according to Bloomberg, slaughters 400 buffalo and bullocks a day and generates 250,000 rupees a day for the city’s government, has stopped operations following the ban. Other abattoirs across the city have also halted the slaughter of water buffalo by way of protesting against the ban.

Water buffalo meat, which sometimes comes under the definition of beef, however, is still permitted in the state. The vast majority of bovine meat which is produced and exported from India is actually buffalo meat.

India is the world’s largest producer of buffalo meat, known as carabeef, accounting for 42.8 per cent of production globally, according to the US department of agriculture (USDA). It expects production of the meat to grow from 4.1 million tonnes last year to 4.3 million tonnes this year, with exports to the Middle East, Africa, and South East Asia predicted to rise.

Exports of buffalo meat to the UAE reached about 7.8 billion rupees and 43,793 tonnes in the year ended March 2103 compared with 6.6bn rupees and 43,651 tonnes the previous year.

Exports of cow meat from India are not permitted under the law, although it is widely believed that exports out of the country do consist of some cow meat. Cattle are often smuggled to states where slaughtering cows is not illegal, including Kerala.

Al Qureshi Exports in Mumbai, which exports buffalo meat to countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, has its own abattoir and meat-processing plant, has not felt any impact from the beef ban.

“We have no problem in our business and volumes,” says Shakir Qureshi, who runs the company. “Everything is working as normal.”

Russia in December announced that it would accept buffalo meat from India, which is expected to help boost business for exporters.

In India, consumption of bovine meat is about 2 million tonnes a year, the USDA’s figures show.

Several states in India, including Gujarat, prohibit the slaughtering of cows, although some of them allow consumption of beef if it is brought in from outside of the state.

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, is against cow slaughter and has expressed discontent with what he has described as “a pink revolution”.

Bovine meat exports rose 11-fold to reach $4.4bn in the last financial year to the end of March 2014 compared to $395 million 10 years earlier, according to data from India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

One of the major appeals of beef is its price. Mohammed Zakir Qureshi, 45, a butcher, says that he was selling beef for 120 rupees a kilogram. Goat meat, meanwhile, sells for 500 rupees per kg and the price of chicken is about 50 per cent more expensive than beef, he explains.

“I used to buy three kilograms of beef a day for my own household of 10 people,” he says. “Now we’re eating vegetarian food, which is more costly. I’ve been eating beef since I was a child.”

Mohammed Mushtaq, a 50-year-old taxi driver in Mumbai, says that he is buying goat meat instead of beef now, but because it is four times in price, he can only afford to buy it in small quantities.

“Nobody has the right to tell me what to eat,” he says. “I am more inconvenienced than angry.”

A number of restaurants in Mumbai and the rest of India, including McDonald’s, do not serve beef at all anyway, because having it on the menu would deter many Hindu customers.

But for some eateries, beef was driving sales.

Yasin Kadiwal, who manages Al Rehmani restaurant, which was popular for its beef dishes, says that he has seen a drop in business because of the ban.

“We’re giving chicken instead but there’s no taste with chicken,” he says.

A manager at another restaurant in Mumbai said that a number of customers were turning up and asking for beef and would then walk out out when they found it was unavailable.

There are concerns that the ban could lead to a rise in prices of other meats and to a rise in black market trade, as well as impact on other industries including leather.

Wilfred D’Sylva, a retiree, 80, says that he relishes the taste of beef and managed to pick up half a kilo of the meat last week in Mumbai, but he paid double the market rate compared to when such a purchase would have been legal.

“I’m upset because the price of everything else will go up. Why not ban alcohol? Why not ban chicken?”

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MUMBAI // Until recently, Babu Qureshi had cooked the same dish every day for the past eight years: beef kebab masala. The 67-year-old chef, who works in Al Rehmani restaurant in south Mumbai now stands idle, having been demoted to the position of a waiter following a ban on beef in the state of Maharashtra. He faces an uncertain future.

“What can I do?” he sighs.

The beef ban, which was imposed by the state this month, ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP, extended the existing prohibition of slaughtering cows to bulls and bullocks. Under the new law, sale or possession of the meat can result in imprisonment for up to five years. Cows are considered sacred by majority Hindus.

This is having a major impact on businesses across Mumbai, the state’s largest city, involved in the meat trade.

“About 15 million people in Maharashtra are directly or indirectly dependent on beef,” said Mohammed Aslam Khan, a beef trader, who was among those led a protest in Mumbai last Tuesday, which attracted hundreds of those affected by the ban. “We’re not sure what’s going to happen to our livelihoods. We demand that the government reverses the ban or provides us with alternative employment.”

In Crawford Market, one of the Mumbai’s most popular and historic markets, butchers who sell beef have gone on strike because of the ban.

Anis Qureshi, 50, says he has been working as a beef butcher almost all his life, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

“The government has got it wrong,” he says. “We’ve been working here selling beef since the time of the British.”

He says that there are 200 stalls which used to sell beef in Crawford Market, each one on average employing six people.

The Qureshi community – a Muslim sub-caste in India – has been associated with the beef industry for generations.

Aslam Khan, 21, a migrant worker from Lucknow in Utter Pradesh is a labourer for the butchers in the market. He was earning 250 rupees (Dh14) a day, 100 rupees of which he would send home to his family in north India. Now, he is earning nothing, he says.

Zahoor Khan, 55, another butcher in Mumbai, says that his family of four children and his wife who live in the Gonda district of Uttar Pradesh were dependent on the 3,000 to 4,000 rupees he would send home, largely generated from sales of beef.

Those butchers could still sell water buffalo meat but have chosen to shut down completely in protest.

The Deonar abattoir in Mumbai, which according to Bloomberg, slaughters 400 buffalo and bullocks a day and generates 250,000 rupees a day for the city’s government, has stopped operations following the ban. Other abattoirs across the city have also halted the slaughter of water buffalo by way of protesting against the ban.

Water buffalo meat, which sometimes comes under the definition of beef, however, is still permitted in the state. The vast majority of bovine meat which is produced and exported from India is actually buffalo meat.

India is the world’s largest producer of buffalo meat, known as carabeef, accounting for 42.8 per cent of production globally, according to the US department of agriculture (USDA). It expects production of the meat to grow from 4.1 million tonnes last year to 4.3 million tonnes this year, with exports to the Middle East, Africa, and South East Asia predicted to rise.

Exports of buffalo meat to the UAE reached about 7.8 billion rupees and 43,793 tonnes in the year ended March 2103 compared with 6.6bn rupees and 43,651 tonnes the previous year.

Exports of cow meat from India are not permitted under the law, although it is widely believed that exports out of the country do consist of some cow meat. Cattle are often smuggled to states where slaughtering cows is not illegal, including Kerala.

Al Qureshi Exports in Mumbai, which exports buffalo meat to countries including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, has its own abattoir and meat-processing plant, has not felt any impact from the beef ban.

“We have no problem in our business and volumes,” says Shakir Qureshi, who runs the company. “Everything is working as normal.”

Russia in December announced that it would accept buffalo meat from India, which is expected to help boost business for exporters.

In India, consumption of bovine meat is about 2 million tonnes a year, the USDA’s figures show.

Several states in India, including Gujarat, prohibit the slaughtering of cows, although some of them allow consumption of beef if it is brought in from outside of the state.

Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, is against cow slaughter and has expressed discontent with what he has described as “a pink revolution”.

Bovine meat exports rose 11-fold to reach $4.4bn in the last financial year to the end of March 2014 compared to $395 million 10 years earlier, according to data from India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

One of the major appeals of beef is its price. Mohammed Zakir Qureshi, 45, a butcher, says that he was selling beef for 120 rupees a kilogram. Goat meat, meanwhile, sells for 500 rupees per kg and the price of chicken is about 50 per cent more expensive than beef, he explains.

“I used to buy three kilograms of beef a day for my own household of 10 people,” he says. “Now we’re eating vegetarian food, which is more costly. I’ve been eating beef since I was a child.”

Mohammed Mushtaq, a 50-year-old taxi driver in Mumbai, says that he is buying goat meat instead of beef now, but because it is four times in price, he can only afford to buy it in small quantities.

“Nobody has the right to tell me what to eat,” he says. “I am more inconvenienced than angry.”

A number of restaurants in Mumbai and the rest of India, including McDonald’s, do not serve beef at all anyway, because having it on the menu would deter many Hindu customers.

But for some eateries, beef was driving sales.

Yasin Kadiwal, who manages Al Rehmani restaurant, which was popular for its beef dishes, says that he has seen a drop in business because of the ban.

“We’re giving chicken instead but there’s no taste with chicken,” he says.

A manager at another restaurant in Mumbai said that a number of customers were turning up and asking for beef and would then walk out out when they found it was unavailable.

There are concerns that the ban could lead to a rise in prices of other meats and to a rise in black market trade, as well as impact on other industries including leather.

Wilfred D’Sylva, a retiree, 80, says that he relishes the taste of beef and managed to pick up half a kilo of the meat last week in Mumbai, but he paid double the market rate compared to when such a purchase would have been legal.

“I’m upset because the price of everything else will go up. Why not ban alcohol? Why not ban chicken?”

business@thenational.ae

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The number of superwealthy people in India is expected to double over the next 10 years, a new report predicts.

The number of superwealthy, defined as those with a net worth of US$30 million or more, excluding their main residence, is expected to increase to 3,371 people over the next decade from 1,652, according to a wealth report by Knight Frank.

“This reflects a more positive outlook for India’s economy after 2014 was marked by capital outflows and a sharp devaluation of the rupee,” said Shishir Baijal, the chairman and managing director of Knight Frank India.

The country’s economic growth slowed sharply over the past couple of years, although there are signs that the economy is picking up. The fastest rise among the superwealthy will take place in Mumbai, followed by Delhi and Hyderabad, according to the report.

Mumbai’s luxury residential property is more expensive than Dubai, costing 61,300 rupees (Dh3,596) per square foot compared to 40,455 rupees per sq ft in the emirate, according to the report. But wealth distribution is a major challenge in India, where well over half of the population lives on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

“In spite of the government of India taking bold steps towards financial inclusion, wealth concentration continues to remain a challenge,” said Samantak Das, the chief economist and director of research at Knight Frank India.

“At 0.1 ultra high net worth individuals per 100,000 population, India ranks a distant 84 among 97 countries globally in terms of equitable distribution of wealth. The concentration of wealthy Indians also extends geographically, as the top six cities contribute 58 per cent of the number of superwealthy, which is likely to accelerate to 68 per cent in the next 10 years.”

Close to half of Indian superwealthy investment portfolios are allocated to property, which is the highest of any country in the world, the report showed. About 15 people a day globally last year joined the ranks of the ultra-wealthy, Knight Frank said.

The superwealthy in Asia have a total wealth of $5.9 trillion, ahead of North America with $5.5tn. Europe is in the lead with $6.4tn, it added.

India will be in fourth place globally by 2024 in terms of the number of billionaires it has, compared to seventh place last year. It had 68 billionaires last year compared to 26 in 2004, and it will have 136 billionaires by 2024, the report said. Only the United States, China and Russia will have more billionaires in a decade’s time, the report predicted.

India’s population of billionaires is expected to have overtaken the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany by then.

It was revealed last week that Dilip Shanghvi, the founder of Sun Pharma, had displaced Mukesh Ambani as India’s richest person in an index of billionaires compiled by Bloomberg. Mr Shanghvi’s net worth is $21.7bn compared to Mr Ambani’s fortune of $21.6bn. There were 14 billionaires in the UAE last year, compared to seven in 2004, the report revealed.

The population of billionaires in the UAE is expected to reach 18 by 2024. The country has 658 superwealthy, a number predicted to rise to 856 over the next 10 years.

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Some of the biggest names in the Indian business world, including the billionaires Mukesh Ambani and his brother Anil, gathered at a conference at a plush hotel in Mumbai on a Friday morning last month.

They were eager to hear the state government’s ambitious plans to transform Mumbai into a global financial and commercial hub.

The government pledged to fast-track major infrastructure projects including a new coastal road and to build more financial districts.

For state authorities, the need to radically improve infrastructure and the business climate to firmly position Mumbai – the largest city in the state of Maharashtra – as a leading financial and commercial destination has never been more pressing. Other states are fiercely competing to become business hubs and grab a bigger share of domestic and foreign investment.

Maharashtra, meanwhile, has been losing some of its shine as a business destination because of the challenges of insufficient infrastructure and cumbersome bureaucratic processes which companies face.

“I am extremely delighted that Mumbai and Maharashtra has joined this big renewed race for inviting investment into the state and for marketing the state as a major investment destination of India,” said Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister, who was speaking at the event by a video link from New Delhi.

In recent months, there have been similar pushes from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Rajasthan, holding major conventions to pitch to attract investors, he said.

“I was recently myself a witness to how the chief minister [of Maharashtra] Devendra Fadnavis and also the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu were aggressively marketing their states in Davos,” Mr Jaitley said, referring to the World Economic Forum meeting held at the Swiss ski resort in January.

“We have entered the era of competitive federalism. He who reforms, he who has an ability to attract greater investment will eventually be able to take the state forward.”

At Davos, Mr Fadnavis secured deals with multinational companies including General Electric, Cognizant and Microsoft.

Mr Fadnavis, who was appointed chief minister of Maharashtra in October, believes there is an urgent need to overhaul the investment climate in the state.

The state government is working to reduce the number of licences and permissions needed for companies to operate and to cut the time it takes to secure construction approvals.

“Now the states are competing,” said Mr Fadnavis at the Maharashtra Economic Summit in Mumbai in January. “States are trying to bring their policies to attract more investment. If we lack the flexibility in tweaking and adjusting our policies, I think we’ll lag behind. That is why our government has started many initiatives so that we again make Maharashtra the most preferred destination in all the sectors.”

Among these initiatives, the state government wants to encourage more manufacturing activity to take place in Maharashtra and reduce the bureaucratic process that businesses face.

“Cities in other parts of our country used to look at Mumbai and used to envy it,” Mr Fadnavis said. “In the last 15 years, Mumbai is looking towards many cities in India and saying, ‘Let me match these cities, which are moving ahead of me’.”

Not too far away, in the state of Gujarat, work is under way on a new 800 billion rupee (Dh46.8bn) financial centre, called Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (Gift).

Spread over more than 350 hectares near the state capital, Gandhinagar, it is being touted as India’s first international financial services centre along the lines of the Dubai International Financial Centre and La Défense in Paris.

The development is planned to include a world trade centre, shopping malls and hotels. The first phase is nearing completion and several private and public sector banks have already started operations there. The entire project is slated to be completed by 2024.

“People shouldn’t really look at this as competition,” says Ramakant Jha, the managing director and group chief executive at Gift. “India is a large country. In fact it’s a very complementary centre to Mumbai. Complementary centres should come up in the various parts of India.”

This is a flagship project of the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, who was formerly the chief minister of Gujarat. Part of his victory in last year’s election was credited to his transformation of Gujarat into a business-friendly destination, which raised hopes that he would be able to do for the country what he did for the state.

There has been a strong focus on infrastructure development in the state, including new roads, airports and ports. Gujarat also has a surplus of electricity generation, in contrast to many other states where power cuts are frequent.

Tata Motors in 2008 moved its Nano car plant from West Bengal to Gujarat and Ford is launching a US$1bn plant in the state. Gujarat’s economy in recent years has grown at rates substantially higher than that of the overall country, with the state averaging 10 per cent expansion between 2004 and 2012.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) plans to set up an international exchange in Gujarat’s new financial centre.

“States competing to attract businesses is a very healthy thing,” says Ashish Chauhan, the managing director and chief executive of BSE.

“It was always there. Every state tried to get the industries and services sector to the region. Earlier Bangalore became an IT hub and so Hyderabad wanted to take up that challenge and they set up an electronic city.”

He adds, however, that the exchange “will remain in Mumbai forever … and that there is nothing that will take away the BSE from Mumbai”.

The government of Madhya Pradesh, in central India, is among the other states that have been striving to attract more businesses and foreign and Indian investment, investing in infrastructure and making processes easier for companies to set up operations there.

Chadrakant Salunkhe, the founder and president of the Maharashtra Industrial and Economic Development Association, says that many other states are doing things better in their efforts to attract industry and investment.

“Other states are taking initiatives for more investment and showcasing potential [internationally],” he says.

“Why is Maharashtra lagging behind in branding?”

business@thenational.ae

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Some of the biggest names in the Indian business world, including the billionaires Mukesh Ambani and his brother Anil, gathered at a conference at a plush hotel in Mumbai on a Friday morning last month.

They were eager to hear the state government’s ambitious plans to transform Mumbai into a global financial and commercial hub.

The government pledged to fast-track major infrastructure projects including a new coastal road and to build more financial districts.

For state authorities, the need to radically improve infrastructure and the business climate to firmly position Mumbai – the largest city in the state of Maharashtra – as a leading financial and commercial destination has never been more pressing. Other states are fiercely competing to become business hubs and grab a bigger share of domestic and foreign investment.

Maharashtra, meanwhile, has been losing some of its shine as a business destination because of the challenges of insufficient infrastructure and cumbersome bureaucratic processes which companies face.

“I am extremely delighted that Mumbai and Maharashtra has joined this big renewed race for inviting investment into the state and for marketing the state as a major investment destination of India,” said Arun Jaitley, India’s finance minister, who was speaking at the event by a video link from New Delhi.

In recent months, there have been similar pushes from Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Rajasthan, holding major conventions to pitch to attract investors, he said.

“I was recently myself a witness to how the chief minister [of Maharashtra] Devendra Fadnavis and also the Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu were aggressively marketing their states in Davos,” Mr Jaitley said, referring to the World Economic Forum meeting held at the Swiss ski resort in January.

“We have entered the era of competitive federalism. He who reforms, he who has an ability to attract greater investment will eventually be able to take the state forward.”

At Davos, Mr Fadnavis secured deals with multinational companies including General Electric, Cognizant and Microsoft.

Mr Fadnavis, who was appointed chief minister of Maharashtra in October, believes there is an urgent need to overhaul the investment climate in the state.

The state government is working to reduce the number of licences and permissions needed for companies to operate and to cut the time it takes to secure construction approvals.

“Now the states are competing,” said Mr Fadnavis at the Maharashtra Economic Summit in Mumbai in January. “States are trying to bring their policies to attract more investment. If we lack the flexibility in tweaking and adjusting our policies, I think we’ll lag behind. That is why our government has started many initiatives so that we again make Maharashtra the most preferred destination in all the sectors.”

Among these initiatives, the state government wants to encourage more manufacturing activity to take place in Maharashtra and reduce the bureaucratic process that businesses face.

“Cities in other parts of our country used to look at Mumbai and used to envy it,” Mr Fadnavis said. “In the last 15 years, Mumbai is looking towards many cities in India and saying, ‘Let me match these cities, which are moving ahead of me’.”

Not too far away, in the state of Gujarat, work is under way on a new 800 billion rupee (Dh46.8bn) financial centre, called Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (Gift).

Spread over more than 350 hectares near the state capital, Gandhinagar, it is being touted as India’s first international financial services centre along the lines of the Dubai International Financial Centre and La Défense in Paris.

The development is planned to include a world trade centre, shopping malls and hotels. The first phase is nearing completion and several private and public sector banks have already started operations there. The entire project is slated to be completed by 2024.

“People shouldn’t really look at this as competition,” says Ramakant Jha, the managing director and group chief executive at Gift. “India is a large country. In fact it’s a very complementary centre to Mumbai. Complementary centres should come up in the various parts of India.”

This is a flagship project of the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, who was formerly the chief minister of Gujarat. Part of his victory in last year’s election was credited to his transformation of Gujarat into a business-friendly destination, which raised hopes that he would be able to do for the country what he did for the state.

There has been a strong focus on infrastructure development in the state, including new roads, airports and ports. Gujarat also has a surplus of electricity generation, in contrast to many other states where power cuts are frequent.

Tata Motors in 2008 moved its Nano car plant from West Bengal to Gujarat and Ford is launching a US$1bn plant in the state. Gujarat’s economy in recent years has grown at rates substantially higher than that of the overall country, with the state averaging 10 per cent expansion between 2004 and 2012.

The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) plans to set up an international exchange in Gujarat’s new financial centre.

“States competing to attract businesses is a very healthy thing,” says Ashish Chauhan, the managing director and chief executive of BSE.

“It was always there. Every state tried to get the industries and services sector to the region. Earlier Bangalore became an IT hub and so Hyderabad wanted to take up that challenge and they set up an electronic city.”

He adds, however, that the exchange “will remain in Mumbai forever … and that there is nothing that will take away the BSE from Mumbai”.

The government of Madhya Pradesh, in central India, is among the other states that have been striving to attract more businesses and foreign and Indian investment, investing in infrastructure and making processes easier for companies to set up operations there.

Chadrakant Salunkhe, the founder and president of the Maharashtra Industrial and Economic Development Association, says that many other states are doing things better in their efforts to attract industry and investment.

“Other states are taking initiatives for more investment and showcasing potential [internationally],” he says.

“Why is Maharashtra lagging behind in branding?”

business@thenational.ae

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