New era for India as BJP wins poll; Slow car sales growth dents Europe recovery hopes; How drones lift the realty market

1 New era for India as BJP wins poll (BBC) The opposition Hindu nationalist BJP party has promised “good times ahead” as early results suggest it is on course for a landslide victory. The scale of the predicted victory is such that the ruling Congress party has admitted defeat. BJP leader Narendra Modi tweeted: “India has won. Good times ahead.”

This is the most resounding victory for a political party in India for 30 years, say correspondents. Mr Modi, chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, is seen as a no-nonsense, can-do leader who stands for development and muscular nationalism. He campaigned on promises of a revival in economic growth.

But many Indians still have profound concerns over Mr Modi because of claims he did little to stop the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, in which at least 1,000 people died, most of them Muslims – allegations he has always denied and over which he was never charged.

The election result will be a crushing blow to the Congress party, which is led by the Nehru-Gandhi family and has dominated Indian politics since independence. It reflects voter anger with Congress, which has been mired in serious corruption scandals and whose leadership has been considered ineffective in recent years, analysts say.

2 Slow car sales dent Europe recovery hopes (Graeme Wearden in The Guardian) European car sales have risen at their slowest rate in five months, adding to concerns over the durability of the recovery. Industry body ACEA reports this morning that new car registrations across the EU rose by 4.6%, year-on-year in April to 1,089,226. That’s the the third lowest figure for an April since 2003.

On the upside, this is the eighth month in a row when sales were higher than a year ago. And the late Easter this year probably won’t have helped. But the concern is that the revival is tailing off, at levels that are still historically weak. Car sales actually fell year-on-year in Germany, which doesn’t suggest domestic demand in Europe’s largest economy is going to drive the euro recovery strongly onwards.

Sales were down 3.6% in Germany, compared to April 2013. The Italian market was little changed, up 1.9%. But they rose 5.8% in France, +8.2% in the UK, and +28.7% in Spain — where a government scrappage scheme has been driving demand. Gian Primo Quagliano, head of automotive-research company CSP in Bologna, Italy, says the data shows there’s no significant recovery in the industry – which employs hundreds of thousands of Europeans.

Analysts are also concerned that the pick-up in cars sales this year is due to aggressive price-cutting, and a growing trend of selling demonstration models as “nearly new”, at a discount. Reuters recently found that various incentives and discounts are cutting 12% off the price of a car – good for consumers, but eating into profit margins and also pushing down inflation. That’s another reason to fret about the news that growth slowed to +4.6% in April, from March’s 10% jump.

3 How drones lift the realty market (Kathleen Pender in San Francisco Chronicle) Once reserved for luxury-home listings, aerial photos and videos are popping up in ads for moderately priced places, thanks to the use of relatively inexpensive drones. It’s especially popular in San Francisco’s Bay Area, where water, hills, beaches and vineyards can lend drama to even mundane homes.

John Hayes, president of Open Homes Photography, says his firm was hired to photograph a modest home in Foster City. “The regular photos on the ground are not very impressive, but you get in the air and it looks like you are in the Florida Keys or something.” Although the word drone conjures up images of military spy craft, real estate photographers typically use small remote-control quadcopters (a helicopter with four rotors) with a camera – usually a GoPro – that takes stills and video. The setup that videographer Dough Canning of 3rd Gorilla Productions uses costs about $1,300.

A lot of drone photographers are trying to get around FAA restrictions “by not charging for the flight but charging for the editing,” says Canning. Congress has ordered the FAA to come up with a plan for integrating small unmanned aerial vehicles into the domestic airspace by September 2015. Hayes says his drone operations have been “well tolerated, even by the police. We have had police drive by and wave.”


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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