December 25, 2007

life in general: attaboy santa claus!

Time for some nostalgia.

Attaboy Santa Claus! Seen here spending time with his much-loved Bombay-Kandivli building kids on 25 December 2001! Observe the smallest member of the group -- the little girl in the arms of her girl-nanny. She is Sichy, the one on whom I used to shower most of my affection.

Nowadays, however, work is so intense that I hardly get time to spend time with the children in my building. Sichy is now a smart little girl going to primary school.

December 18, 2007

life in general: its been eons!

Its been eons!
- since my last post here
- since my soul came into existence
- since I went for a nature trail in the forest of north Bombay
- since I went for a walk on the beach
- since any one commented in my blog!
- since the good old days of Sat-yug
- since my aimless wandering in the universe!

November 25, 2007

life in financial markets: the myth of rehabilitation

In India, to placate any and all opposition to large projects like dams, seaports, mining, SEZs (special economic zones), airports, industrial zones etc., that will not only destroy the ecological harmony but also displace large numbers of villagers or tribals, the government of the state or the central government will use the 'rehabilitation' word. 

This is nothing but a bogey. In over 90% of all cases, where government has forcibly acquired the lands of villagers and tribals of India to use it itself or give it at heavily-subsidised rates to private companies, the rehabilitation, if taken place at all, has been on extremely poor substitutes. The promise is made of habitable or fertile rehab lands but it is never kept by our bureaucrats and politicians.

In my view, in a situation where political/bureaucratic will is missing, its naive of urban and educated affluent sections of India to lull themselves into believing that rehabilitation of displaced villagers andtribals justifies all the massive projects in the country. Isn't it easy for us to be casual and believe any falsehoods told to us because after all those large projects cater to our and export markets' consumers' demands?

November 19, 2007

life in general: (part 2) left's modi on rampage again, centrist congress leeches off the situation

West Bengal state's Communist Party (Marxist)-ruled government's involvement in--and defence of--this month's massacre of villagers in Nandigram district, is unfortunate though not unexpected. There is no political party of India who is clean or even least manipulative -- none whatsoever, not Congress, none else.

Newreports last week continued to highight the horrors perpetrated by CPM goons in Nandigram:

Smash and grab

Photo: ABP

Hundreds killed, raped and driven out, and the remaining made to join victory marches. The CPM was unwaveringly brutal in Nandigram

Night without end
'I was raped by CPM men, my two girls raped and abducted’ Gangrape victim’s house vandalised, police say can’t go there, ‘too tense’
‘CPM imposing fines on those willing to return’
Editorial: Nandigram’s spectre
Helped by officials, CPM cadres strike fear to control Nandigram

There are newsreports on the prior involvement of Maoists in Nandigram. See Maoists admit presence in Nandigram and In Nandigram, Maoist newcomers take over ‘resistance movement’ . But I think Maoists involvement is not predominant, otherwise CPM would have provided hard evidence to back up their allegations. They have provided only conjectures uptil now.

Even assuming that Maoists were involved in some aspects then the question still stands as to why weren't state police authorities arresting them after having got the necessary evidence that Maoists were breaking the law of the land in Nandigram. What business had CPM's party goons in Nandigram to indulge in large-scale violence and atrocities against all villagers that opposed them? All villagers opposed to CPM were--and are--not Maoists.

The actual opposition group in Nandigram, Bhoomi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), is not comprised of Maoists. One can read an insightful write up by one of their members in Tehelka's latest issue -- "They kill people like birds".

November 10, 2007

life in general: left's modi on rampage again, centrist congress leeches off the situation

This is the dark reality of the largest democracy on planet Earth. The right-wing and left-wing parties are prone to commiting ugly violence on the people -- the right-wing targets Muslims frequently and the left-wing targets the rural population.

Few months back two posts of mine, here and here, had covered the issue of the communist government of West Bengal state of India behaving in a manner that will make the most false capitalists in the world proud. The state's chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, is indulging in violence against villagers because villagers are standing up against forced displacement from their homes and fields at the whims and fancies of Bhattacharya's extreme industralisation drive in the state. He is the Indian-Left's version of Indian-Right's Narendra Modi, both of them representing the darkest side of human nature. Dick Cheney would be pleased to know that the Indian sub-continent has people like himself.

The central government of India, a Congress-allies government, headed by a Prime Minister who has not even been elected to India's Parliament by the people, meanwhile, continues to leech off every situation created by India's Right and Left. It would be happy that the Left government is doing its job of extreme human-rights violating industralisation

Rule of law has evaporated once again in the villages of Nandigram district in West Bengal. For a country that claims to be a democracy, the media is being prevented by the state authorities to even visit the district.

Here is an update on the development in Nandigram:

9th November 2007
Press Release
Nandigram Under Fire
Thousands Forced to Flee from Nandigram, Activists Under Arrest
Memorandum Submitted to Governor of West Bengal
Dharna begins in Kolkata, Two Day Protest Fast to Commence Tomorrow

Nandigram is under fire and scare. On the festive days of Kalipuja, the light emerging from the land of Martyrdom is not of the lamps women would light in their 'badis' (houses) but from the burning houses, put on fire by cadres entering village after village and occupying land forcibly.

The reports coming from the land and the citizens as members of the Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee indicate that AT LEAST 20,000 FAMILIES ARE MADE TO FLEE FROM THEIR HOUSES IN SATANGABARI, SAMSABAD AND OTHER VILLAGES which are either demolished or looted. We met Taslimadi in Kapasberia with Minudi, who have taken shelter in their relatives' houses. But the tears in their eyes and choked voices brought to us the pain and anguish for being made destitute and homeless which could not be hidden. While thousands of families and more than a lakh people have shifted either to the schools and other public buildings, or to the open grounds where huge camps are set up by the committee where most of the people are being fed, if not left hungry.

Tens of people, from the villages that laid their lives for land in 2007, the very year of remembering of Gandhiji's Satyagraha, the Martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and 150 years of the Sepoy Mutiny, saw their victory in the cancellation of the Chemical hub to be brought on the lush green land in Nandigram, East Midnapore. But that was not all. They are facing worse of the battles, a war. Beyond throwing small bombs, firing across the Khaals (naalas) and rivulets, demolishing 60 houses in Satangabari (May 2007) and such other attacks threatening and targeting villagers; boycott of labourers and hawkers going to work and customers going to nearby market is also a serious concern. Resistance to this also became violent, as people and some of the supporting social and political activists claimed that they could not survive without it.

A new phase began, with steady increase in the large number of persons, known to be Harmad Vahini, CPI (M) cadres, and an open attack on the houses and villages and also persons, started in October. Persons of both sides seem to have been killed but no one is sure of the final tally. The information from the area was in parts and parcels and delayed but now it's clear that CPI(M) cadres from outside the area, as they are identified with goons, have been marching, beating, hitting ……. forcibly occupying territory. News conveyed and flashed clearly indicate that Satangabari, Samsabad, Sonachura and few other villages are partially or fully vacated, occupied and houses looted and damaged, even burnt. Beyond this, the total picture of the fight going on among the unequal forces is not coming out but it's certain that unlike what is presented from the ruling quarters in West Bengal, there is no infiltration of Maoists that has caused all this. There may be a handful of activists belonging to various ideologies – Gandhian to Maoism – reaching Nandigram, but we have not doubt that the battle was started, led and is carried forward by the local residents, women, men youth and children included.

We know that hundreds and hundreds of families have been left without livelihoods who are only crying halt to snatch away their land, asserting their rights but also appealing for peace. They, in thousands, are innocent, they are challenged but they are committed even to lay their lives but not bent or submit. They are beyond party lines, accepting the leadership of Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee with representatives of villages' communities, peoples' organisations such as Gana-unnayan and Jana-adhikar Raksha Samiti and also local residents representing SUCI, TMC, PDCI and Congress as parties and Jamait-e-Ulema-i-Hind. This must be understood by all.

What is going on in Nandigram is undemocratic, criminal and also inhuman. People on both sides are losing lives while property and livelihood in the area is irreversibly damaged. This is unacceptable.

The West Bengal Government has been repeatedly appealed by various organisations, to control the situation by compelling the CPI (M) cadres to withdraw the siege and stop forcible entry and occupation, but to no avail. THE POLICE, INCLUDING SENIOR OFFICIALS, SEEM TO BE INACTIVE AND APATHETIC AS PER ORDERS AND UNDER THE POLITICAL CONTROL OF LAKSHMAN SETH, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND CHAIRMAN OF HALDIA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.

It is all these which necessitates an urgent intervention by not only the Central Government, the Home Ministry but also the Constitutional authorities and the National Human Rights Commission, to say the least.


We, representatives of Peoples' Movements, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti and New Trade Union initiatives, NAPM, APDR, Forum of Artistes and Intellectuals, Teachers and Scientists' forums, representatives from SUCI including Tarun Sanyal, Sunondo Sanyal, Tarun Naskar, Sujata Bhadra, Meher Engineer, Amit Bhattacharya, Debaprosad Sarkar(MLA), Anuradha Talwar ,Swapan Ganguly and Medha Patkar, decided to visit Nandigram on being invited through repeated calls and messages from the people facing the onslaught.

Yesterday, November 8th 2007, we proceeded towards Nandigram accompanied by tens of policemen and officials, who warned us of security problems but also assured us of being there to protect. On their conveying to us a possibility of having a dialogue with the Chief Minister or Chief Secretary in the Government, we agreed to hold the dialogue after visiting the area and assessing the situation there. We took the Haldia route instead of the route we took earlier, where CPI (M) cadres had stopped us.

We reached Kapasberia More at about 12:30 p.m. A gathering of 30-40 CPI (M) cadres with Red flags stopped our convoy and started shouting abusive slogans against us. Interestingly the police pilot car leading the convoy stepped aside and made way for the goons so that they can have a free hand on us. A few cadres specifically targeted Medha Patkar, Tarun Sanyal, Debjit, Deboprosad Sarkar and Meher Engineer as well as a few media persons in other vehicles. They started attacking Medha Patkar with fists, violently pulling her out of the car by holding her hair and Sari. They broke the specks of Debjit and partly tore the clothes of Sunondo Sanyal. They also broke the camera of a media person.

All the while, the cadres were encircling all the cars (except the police ones) and breaking the glass panes, shouted abusive and filthy languages to all of us. Even at this point, police chose to be silent spectators who are watching some fun for free. Five vehicles were able to turn back and move a few yards. One sumo car (WB 02H – 4402), carrying Meher Engineer, Amit Bhattacharya and Hindustan Times reporter Alok Banerjee, was severely damaged and the passengers including Alok Banerjee were badly beaten in this unprecedented act of violence by CPI(M) terrorists. The driver somehow managed to move forward towards Kapasberia School where the local residents gave the passengers first aid. Medha Patkar and others began to stage Dharna on the Kapasberia bridge and had a protest sit-in for 3 hours and more. We handed over a letter addressed to the Superintendent of Police and asked to make way for our visit to Nandigram and to book the attackers under law.

Local residents came out in large numbers and showed their support and solidarity towards us and to the struggle of common people of Nandigram and condemned the CPI (M) attack on us. They also condemned the deliberate and directed police inaction. Subsequently we lodged two complaints with the local Mahishadal Police Station, one relating to breaking down of the above mentioned Sumo car, and the other regarding the physical attack on Medha Patkar, Deboprosad Sarkar (MLA) and others by CPI (M) cadres. We returned to Mecheda for further action where Medha Patkar and Tarun Sanyal addressed the local residents.

- We condemn such undemocratic and criminal tendencies by the ruling party and demand as free and concerned citizens of India as well as representatives of peoples' movements that we should be allowed to visit Nandigram where more than a lakh people have become homeless and need our immediate support and relief.
- We are shocked by the apathy, inaction and both direct and indirect support of the police to the CPI (M) hooligans, indicating a break-down of State Machinery resulting in non-availability of any channel for security and redressal of grievances of common people.
- We urge an urgent intervention by the Governor of West Bengal as well as the Union Government of India to open up Nandigram by ensuring withdrawal of siege and stopping outsider-attackers from entering Nandigram.
- We demand that peaceful defenders of Human Rights' belonging to known Peoples' organisations should be allowed and protected and their entry to Nandigram area should be facilitated.
- We hope that all concerned and progressive citizens, civil organisations as well as political parties will protest against the onslaught on Nandigram, forcible occupation of their territory and violation of basic human rights and civil liberties, compelling the Constitutional authorities and government to intervene in this battle between the State and people for freedom, democracy, right to life and livelihood.

Latest News:
1. Three People including Sadikulla from Jamat-e-Ulema-Hind, Schoota Das and Samar Das, have been arrested while going towards Nandigram today.
2. Activists and intellectuals including Medha Patkar met the governor today and submitted the memorandum to ensure the freedom of the people of Nandigram and also the protection of their Constitutional rights.
3. People across India have written to the WB government condemning the attack and the situation in Nandigram.

Press Conference

Sukhendu Bhattachrya - Sanhati Udyog/NAPM
Anuradha Talwar - Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti/NTUI
Sujata Bhadra- APDR
Tarun Naskar/ Dilip Chakraborty- Forum of Artists and intellectuals
Meher Engineer- Teachers' and Scientists' Forum
Shyam Bihari Singh- Janata Dal (Secular)
Kartik Pal- CPI (ML) Liberation
Shaktiman Ghosh- National Hawkers' Federation
Amit BhattaCharya- Prof. Jadhavpur University
Gautam Sen- Intellectual
Medha Patkar- National Alliance of People's Movements

life in financial markets: icici prudential mutual fund's opaqueness in disclosures

There are some players in the financial world have a negative record when it comes to transparency in disclosures mandated by regulators. I came across one such instance recently.

Mutual Funds (MFs) in India have to be registered with the stock market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi). Sebi regulates the MFs through specific regulations for MFs. In these regulations, Sebi requires all MFs, among other things, to disclose once every six months their unaudited half-yearly financial results.

Now, these half-yearly results include giving of notes to accounts of which one relates to disclosing investments made by any scheme of the MF in debt/equity of a company where the company is holding more than 5% of the corpus of any of the MF's scheme. For instance, if company 'A' has invested Rs 5 crore in Scheme 'X' (say, a liquid fund) that has a corpus of Rs 100 crore and if any of the MF's scheme has invested in a debt or equity instrument of company 'A' then the MF has to make two disclosures:
– name of the scheme in which company 'A' has invested (and where it holds more than 5% of the corpus), and
– names of schemes that have invested in company A's debt/equity and exact scheme-wise details like cost of investment during the six month period and the outstanding market value of the investment at the end of the period.

For the six-month period ended September 30, 2007, the MFs made their unaudited financial
statements disclosures towards the end of last month (October). I went through most of them and discovered that ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund was perhaps the only MF that was acting smart with the disclosure I described in the previous paragraph. It was not giving the name of its schemes in which the companies (like 'A' referred to in previous para) were holding more than 5% of corpus. Also, while it gave gave scheme-wise detail of the outstanding market value of the investment as on September 30 it did not give details of the cost of investments made from April 1 to September 30.

ICICI Prudential clearly is trying to hide something by not disclosing the details in their entirety. And, I think, it is the second or third largest mutual fund in India currently. Sebi, as usual, is sleeping, not interested in enforcing their own regulations on the big players in the stock market except against those where its chairman or member would have a vested agenda to do so.

November 08, 2007

life in journalism: wily PR machine

First of all the official full form of PR should not be Public Relations. They should change it to Press Relations because interaction with the press (media) is the only thing I encounter them doing. They might argue that they are reaching out to the Public through the Press but that's ingenious because they can reach out to the Pubic in a guaranteed manner through advertisements. The only relation the PR industry tries to cunningly build is with the Press and not with the Public.

Anyways, thats not the thrust of this post. What I am sharing now is the sheer frustration a journalist is faced with to handle when dealing with PR people. They bombard you emails with photo/lword file attachments with embedded logos (these emails are generally more than 500kb-1mb in size) without first checking with us whether we want to receive them all or some only. In addition to email, some send faxes to us, again without checking with us whether we are ok or not with this environmentally-unfriendly use of paper. Just today, I received an email as well a fax on half-yearly result of 3i Infotech by Phiroza Choksi of its PR agency, R&PM Edelman. When I called her up to tell her not to send a fax as the email was enough she started making stale excuses of other journalists wanting it. I had to tell her that some journalists wanting to receive an email+fax DOES NOT mean that ALL journalists want it that way and that she should have done her job of calling each one of us to find out our individual preferences. Thats their job. The sooner so-called professionals working for the large PR firms realise the better it will be for their clients. Their clients do not know the cost of irritation and harassment caused by their PR firms to journalists.

Then there were recent examples of PR companies sending me large-sized email attachments that were not sought for by me nor was I asked before-hand. I have a problem with any attachment that is an image file of more than 100 kb in size. Or it could be a word file but with embedded logo images of the companies that jack up the file size by 10-20 times. So if a word file with just text would be just 30 kb in size by adding the tiniest of logo image file inside it would jack up the file size to 300-600 kb in size. Irritating to say the least because why should we journalists (and in particular magazine journalists like me) care what the logo of the companies look if if we are not particularly seeking it for publishing purpose. Also photo files attached will have some official of the client company cutting a ribbon here or lighting a lamp there over an inauguration ceremony, or just the photo of the official. Tell me, what am I to do with these photos?

The most notorious PR company that does this to me again and again is Perfect Relations whose senior image executive, Heena Uttamchandani, keeps sending me large-sizes attachments of their client, Multi-Commodity Exchange of India. Recently, when it happened it was the third time and I had already called her on the earlier two occasions to tell her to stop this practice. Another PR company with whom I had this problem recently was again R&PM Edelman but thankfully after telling them once they have not yet repeated it. My fingers are crossed!

Why can't PR companies officials just do some hard work and prepare different emailing and fax lists of different journalists with different preferences? It does not involve rocket science. Just some hard, honest work will do. Will the lazy, inefficient and inept among the PR companies wake up, please?

life in general: noise pollution all around

Drill and shrill! Deafening, nerve-grating sounds! That is the ugly reality of urban India that supposedly has the most educated industrialists, businessmen, affluent citizenry. In Bombay, noise levels are at their highest noise. Be it the daytime-&-nighttime heavy-duty construction machinery of builders or the tile-cutting drill machines used in affluents' homes or society compounds. Or be it is the loud prayer calls emanating from loud speakers in mosques, or the relentless clanging of temple bells. Or be it the annual torture of nerve-grating bombs during Diwali.

But they are fast asleep -- not just the police or municipal authorities but also the high-income citizenry -- oblivious to the serious harm they are causing to everyone's health by their actions (citizens) or lack of it (enforcement of the noise pollution laws by the authorities). Till they wake up, those who don't indulge in these things will have to stay awake on account of the noise pollution. How much more great can high-class urban India get?

November 07, 2007

life in financial markets: number game

In terms of number of orders disposed off, the appellate authority to the orders passed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India, the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT), is catching up after a very sluggish period in the first nine months of this year. In October, SAT, has passed orders in about 42 cases of appeals against Sebi orders, more than the number (40) of orders it passed in the entire nine month period from January to September.

The problem for the market is that it would not know the nature of the 42 October orders. On Sebi's website where SAT orders are posted in addition to Sebi's own orders, only four SAT orders are seen for the month of October and none till 4 November. "Whatever soft copies of orders we receive from SAT we upload it on our website," says a Sebi official. "Maybe there are delays or technical problems causing this," says a SAT office official.

This year has unusually seen the number of SAT orders subdued as compared with previous years (see table below). Therefore, the October surge holds significance. Provided, of course, all of them get uploaded on Sebi's website anytime soon.

SAT orders' history

No. of orders passed











a - till October

The SAT orders are important because they tend to highlight how many Sebi's orders are upheld fully, partly or not at all, and give a rough indication of Sebi's enforcement efficiency levels. Data released by Sebi last month showed that out of 283 Sebi orders that were appealed against and on which SAT ruled in 2006, only 131 were upheld fully, 101 partly, 29 not at all and 22 were remanded back to Sebi for re-working.

November 03, 2007

life in general: pakistan’s martial law, problems, hypocrisies et al

So, Chief of the Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf has imposed martial law in Pakistan today. But, in my view, he was already by and large a one-man dictator. But whatever little democratic rights the people of Pakistan had now stands threatened. The judiciary has been suspended. I just hope the best for the common Pakistani citizen who would face the most problem on account of this new development.

The development also exposes the machinations behind US government’s long-standing support to Musharaf. The US government has of late been harping about the lack of democracy in Iran. But in supporting Musharaf it has allowed democracy to be subverted n Pakistan. The US government will not genuinely oppose Musharaf’s imposition of martial law/emergency and instead harp on Musharaf’s endeavour to take on the Taliban in north-west provinces of Pakistan. Surely, Musharaf’s action today wouldn’t have happened without a green signal from US government.

And this is just the latest example of American government’s hypocrisy. The last 30 years has been peppered with many more such examples.

Another aspect of today’s development that raises strong suspicion of fraud in my mind is the news of Benazir Bhutto being in Dubai and coming to know of Pakistan’s emergency when she was boarding a plane to Pakistan. This appears very shady. She came to Dubai 3 days ago knowing very well what was going to happen in Pakistan. One needs to remember that Bhutto is also US government’s favorite.

India, where I live, will as usual hem and haw. It will toe the US line since it has surrendered itself to US interests. India’s record with other dictators in the region is no better – Burma being the most prominent one. India’s right-wing party, the BJP, will criticize Pakistan for its lack of democracy when the most shameless quasi dictatorship is going on in the Indian state of Gujarat where its chief minister Narendra Modi is in power.

India’s left party will also criticize Musharaf easily forgetting that their own Chief Minister in West Bengal state is doing deeds like shooting villagers which would make a Musharaf proud.

The people of the world will, in the meanwhile, pray for sanity to prevail.

Here's a look at the excuses Musharaf used in his statement of Emergency:


Text of ‘Proclamation of emergency’

ISLAMABAD, Nov 3 (APP): Following is the text of the Proclamation of Emergency declared by Chief of the Army Staff General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday:
“WHEREAS there is visible ascendancy in the activities of extremists and incidents of terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, IED explosions, rocket firing and bomb explosions and the banding together of some militant groups have taken such activities to an unprecedented level of violent intensity posing a grave threat to the life and property of the citizens of Pakistan;
WHEREAS there has also been a spate of attacks on State infrastructure and on law enforcement agencies;
WHEREAS some members of the judiciary are working at cross purposes with the executive nd legislature in the fight against terrorism and extremism thereby weakening the Government and the nation’s resolve and diluting the efficacy of its actions to control this menace;
WHEREAS there has been increasing interference by some members of the judiciary in government policy, adversely affecting economic growth, in particular;
WHEREAS constant interference in executive functions, including but not limited to the control of terrorist activity, economic policy, price controls, downsizing of corporations and urban planning, has weakened the writ of the government; the police force has been completely demoralized and is fast losing its efficacy to fight terrorism and Intelligence Agencies have been thwarted in their activities and prevented from pursuing terrorists;
WHEREAS some hard core militants, extremists, terrorists and suicide bombers, who were arrested and being investigated were ordered to be released. The persons so released have subsequently been involved in heinous terrorist activities, resulting in loss of human life and property. Militants across the country have, thus, been encouraged while law enforcement agencies subdued;
WHEREAS some judges by overstepping the limits of judicial authority have taken over the executive and legislative functions;
WHEREAS the Government is committed to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and holds the superior judiciary in high esteem, it is nonetheless of paramount importance that the Honourable Judges confine the scope of their activity to the judicial function and not assume charge of administration;
WHEREAS an important Constitutional institution, the Supreme Judicial Council, has been made entirely irrelevant and non est by a recent order and judges have, thus, made themselves immune from inquiry into their conduct and put themselves beyond accountability;
WHEREAS the humiliating treatment meted to government officials by some members of the judiciary on a routine basis during court proceedings has demoralized the civil bureaucracy and senior government functionaries, to avoid being harassed, prefer inaction;
WHEREAS the law and order situation in the country as well as the economy have been adversely affected and trichotomy of powers eroded;
WHEREAS a situation has thus arisen where the Government of the country cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution and as the Constitution provides no solution for this situation, there is no way out except through emergent and extraordinary measures;
AND WHEREAS the situation has been reviewed in meetings with the Prime Minister, Governors of all four Provinces, and with Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chiefs of the Armed Forces, Vice-Chief of Army Staff and Corps Commanders of the Pakistan Army;
NOW, THEREFORE, in pursuance of the deliberations and decisions of the said meetings, I General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff, proclaim Emergency throughout Pakistan.
2. I hereby order and proclaim that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan shall remain in abeyance.
3. This Proclamation shall come into force at once.”

November 01, 2007

life in general: abysmal service standards in india of telecom & broadband companies

I do not know about the levels in other countries but, here, in India, the service standard levels of telecom and broadband companies are very low. This, I say, based on my experiences as a mobile phone customer of Vodafone (earlier called Hutch), and a broadband subscriber of Tata Indicom and Sify.

The most jarring note is the very low competency of the first-level customer service staff -- whether on phone or at their physical service centres. If your problem is even a tad beyond a basic problem (like bill not received or opting for charged-for new features) then you will encounter sheer incompetencies and disregard for your time.

Then there is the issue of inflated bills. Recently, Vodafone charged me for 35 Mb interent usage(around Rs 200) in a month when I was already a subscriber to that internet tariff of theirs (fixed Rs 500 per month) that provided for 500 Mb free usage .

I don't blame the front staff really. It is really the vice-presidents and other senior managers in the customer service divisions of these companies who are oblivious to their responsibility of ensuring adequate training to the front staff and then actively monitoring them on a daily basis. They are the ones who need to be taken to task. But who can do that? Their bosses? That is, the CEO or MD? Problem is, more often than not, these CEOs or MDs are also not interested in monitoring their vice-presidents or other senior managers.

The above description might even hold good for most of the rest of the corporate world.

October 28, 2007

life in general: two videos of my july visit to village on narmada river shoreline

This is a follow-up to my
28 July 2007 post on my visit to a village in Madhya Pradesh on the shoreline of Narmada river with regard to the issues surrounding the huge Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river and consequent displacement of villagers, submersion of villages in water and diversion of dam water to corporates and industries at cheap rates.

In that post, among other stuff, I had given a link to a video I had taken during my visit. In this post, I am giving link to two other videos taken during my visit that I have been able to upload to YouTube. One is a conversation I had with an elderly lady (Maushi) of Eklara village near the Narmada shoreline and the other is a general video of a flock of goats and three children.

These videos give a visual idea of what kind of villages, villagers, village life, animal life will get uprooted when they come under submersion due to the ever-increasing height of the Dam.

October 21, 2007

life in financial markets: hectic!

Its been two weeks since my last post. Things have been pretty hectic at my workplace. As a journalist writing on the financial markets there has been little breathing space with the volatile action in recent days and weeks.

Will endeavour to update here my thoughts, & contributions to Business World (the magazine for which I write) on the financial markets.

October 07, 2007

life in journalism: cowering before a police state?

From whatever limited I hear, see and sense around me in Indian journalism I have no choice but to say that a vast majority of editors (editor-in-chiefs, executive editors, deputy editors, chiefs of bureau etc) of mainstream newspapers, magazines and television news channels have, in the last 10 years, become almost completely silent on the various dangerous operational biases (anti-minorities, anti-poor, anti-labourer, anti-farmer etc) of the police of most states in India. There is a eerie silence every day in the media on the police’s machinations.

Some (or many) journalists who write on issues related to police, crime, civil, environmental and social issues do not mind this and go along, binding themselves completely to sources in police who provide them with selective information on various cases.

But there are journalists who do not want to be puppets of the police administration. They keep trying their best in their work despite being actively discouraged by their editors and ugly pressures from the police force. Hats off to them. For instance, Tehelka weekly newsmagazine does regular stories on the police (although I find Tehelka goes soft stories on business and stock markets). To take as an example, in their latest issue (13 October 2007, that would have hit the stands on 6 October), there are two stories exposing police machinations. One is on the Delhi police's Special Cell yet-again dubious role in an important investigation and the second and the other is on police-criminal nexus in Tamil Nadu.

October 03, 2007

life in general: excerpts (part 1) from a citizen panel's report on bombay's communal violence of 1992-93

I have been born and brought up in Bombay. In 1992, at 22 years of age, I was working as an executive in a financial services company in Bombay. At the end of that year, in the aftermath of planned demolition of a mosque in Ayodhya (in Uttar Pradesh state in north India) by Hindutva parties (BJP, VHP, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal & RSS), my city was rocked by crimes against humanity in the name of religion. I clearly recollect how utterly shocked and deeply hurt I was by what I saw and read at that time. Similar violence also took place in some other parts of the country like Surat in Gujarat.

Sometime soon after the communal violence against minorities subsided a citizens' group headed by former high court judges S.M.Daud and H.Suresh came out with a report titled 'The People's Verdict: An enquiry into the Dec '92 & Jan '93 riots in Bombay' and commissioned by the Indian People's Human Rights Tribunal. I present below excerpts from this report:



Having taken an overall view of the two bouts of rioting in different areas of Bombay, we have to now address ourselves to various questions listed in the terms of reference.


A Century Old Precedent

The December 1992 and the January 1993 riots came almost a century after the Bombay riots of 1893, An account of the last century's riots is found in the "Economic and Political Weekly" dated January 1993, pp. 182-187. On that occasion also, rumours and incendiary writings had excited passions on both sides. This followed from a pamphlet entitled "The Dreadful Bombay Riots" ("Mumbai ma thaelum bhayankar hoolad") published for the "Cow-Protection Society", which could well compare with the outpourings of the 'Saamna' (the Shiv Sena mouthpiece), the 'Navakal' (a Marathi daily), not to speak of the 'Organiser' (the mouthpiece of the RSS). Published on August 24 1893, only 13 days after the first outbreak of the riots, the Gujarati pamphlet contained verses "praising the actions of rioters for what they had done; the rioters were not riots but brave fights undertaken by Shivaji's warriors; the participants not rioters but soldiers who had fought like men.”

Incidents had taken place all over the city then, as they had in our present limes. As in those days, there were numerous instances when members of one religion protected members of the other...

Historical Background : A Survey

Even prior to the departure of the British from India, communal polarisation had been used by individuals and groups as a means to attain a following amongst the masses… and through such a route, attempt to gain power. The British policy of divide and rule enabled such groups to legitimise their aspirations and actions. In course of time, there arose political formations brazenly parading their parochial platforms. The Hindu Mahasabha, the Muslim League, the Akalis – all these and many more splinters made no secret of their striving for the advancement of a section of the people to the exclusion of others. Thus the Hindu communalists advocated the supremacy of the Hindu faith, traditions and aspirations. The Muslim was seen as a polluting element in the polity and his subjugation if not elimination was openly advocated. In the same way the Muslim communalist spoke of a mythical past when Islam and its adherents had brought glory to various lands including India.

...Thus began a contest between the communalists of different faiths and even within the same faith. ...

September 29, 2007

life in general: how at least the usa, china, france & india support burma's (myanmar's) military dictatorship

There is nearly almost double standards in the foreign policies of all the democracies with regard to non-democracies. Most human rights-supporting people of existing democracies know how the military dictatorship of Burma (Myanmar) has been repressing the rights of its people for so long. But most of these people wouldn't know how their own democratic governments, in order to further oil & gas interests or other corporate interests using the justification of doing this to maintain their economies for their citizens, have pampered Burma's military dictatorship all along.

We have been reading the current news (here, here and here) of Burmese military government's ugly attacks on its protesting citizens. There is a very insightful write-up on the dynamics in Burma here.

As far as my country (India) is concerned, I do not agree at all with my government (of India) pampering the military rulers of Burma and not pressing for restoration of democracy and release of Aung San Suu Kyi. Many Indians and government officials keep cribbing about US pampering Pakistan (which is true) at the cost of allowing extremists trained in Pakistan to carry on with their violent activities in Kashmir.

Indian military is known to supply arms to the military rulers of Burma to suppress the democracy-seeking rebel groups. Its a sorry state of affairs. In my work as a financial journalist, I had recently interacted with an official of Excise Revenue Intelligence department of the government and among other things that we discussed he told me that in quite some of their raids on companies and agencies they have come across caches of arms belonging to the Indian military and earmarked for dispatch to Burma.

Officially, Indian government denies sending arms. But it does harp on wanting to prevent insurgency operations by ULFA and other groups in North-East states of India (which, in my view, have always been excessively forced to be a part of India even when their local populaces would rather prefer to be independent countries) many of which, it claims, operate out of the the Burmese side of the India-Burma border.

Last 3-5 years, India is also trying to get oil & gas projects in Burma and has preferred to ignore the fact that Burma is run by a military dictatorship in its cheap attempts to bag those projects.

Other countries are no better. Dick Cheney, current US vice-president, was in the past a cheerleader for American companies oil & gas exploration investments in Burma among other countries. Read more about it here.

France's oil company, Total, has a presence in Burma.

China, as everyone knows, has always supported the Burmese military dictatorship.

September 21, 2007

life in general: presence outside the eternal void and amidst eternal matter!

I was reminded recently that all life in our universe (earth's living beings are not the only livings beings in our universe) originated from the void. The void, that is, the nothingness, is eternal. But from it parts continously emerge as living dots, each surrounded by white light. When a living dot surrounded by white light looks back at the place where it emerged from it sees nothing because you can't see something that is void. It looks elsewhere around, observes matter and gets attracted to it.

Assume the matter to be like a prism. When white light passes through prism it converts into VIBGYOR (violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red) colours. Thus newly emerged entertwines with matter and takes form of something different. This keeps on happening and getting manifested in different life forms. Humans are just one kind of the ongoing and continuous manifestations between living light and matter.

The search for identity by a soul (living dot) can only end through a return to the void.

life in financial markets: nse's egg-headed approach to information dissemination

The National Stock Exchange (NSE) is better than the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in many many areas. But in one area--that of information dissemination to the media--the NSE is as bad as the BSE. I say this because I interact with them as a part of my work as a financial journalist covering the stock market.

Two weeks ago, I sent a formal email to NSE's corporation communication department ( asking for the 3.30 pm (closing time) values of the Nifty (NSE-50) index for the last three years.

The official closing values that is available at NSE's website for downloading purpose is calculated on the weighted average of the trades of the last 30 minutes of trading (usually 3 pm to 3.30 pm). I wanted the exact 3.30 pm value and not the weighted average based closing values.

I wanted this to compare with last traded values (usually the 3.30 pm ones) of Nifty futures and arrive at the accurate premiums/discounts of the futures prices to the underlying. Ideally, this should be provided by NSE at its website in the derivatives data download files. But the spot underlying value at the the time of last traded price of the futures and options trades is not given. So, I said let me do the hard work myself by getting the underlying spot values of at least the Nifty as at 3.30 pm and mix it with the last traded price of the futures price to get the premiums/discounts for the last 3 years.

This was only for the Nifty values. I also wanted the 3.30 pm prices for the stocks in which futures trading is very liquid. But I said let me first try for the Nifty values.

But, yesterday (Thursday) evening, when I followed up with NSE on my 2-week old email for the 4th-5th time I was told that I can not be given the information "because it is not published information for the public". I was appalled! Firstly, the 3.30 pm value is available to all members of the public if they visit the NSE's website at 3.30 pm and check the real-time values of Nifty and all the stocks. Since the public and the media might not be able to do it day after day they might want to get it later separately from the exchange.

NSE's egg-headed approach to such basic sharing of information is worrisome. This is not the first time I have encountered such egg-headedness of NSE's corporate communications department. It has happened earlier too. I have even brought this notice to the managing director of NSE, Ravi Narain, a couple of times. But he does not appear to have done anything in this regard. He seems to be blinded to the deficiencies of the corporate communications department.

September 17, 2007

life in financial markets: slow website of sebi

In my work, I often have to download stuff from the website of the stock market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), It is the slowest and the most user-unfriendly website I have come across of any regulatory body worldwide.

To give one instance, many documents like regulatory orders, monthly bulletins, IPO offer documents etc are available for download in pdf format. The download happens compulsorily in a pop-up window, so if you are using Mozilla Firefox browser you can't take it to a new tab. Then the speed of download is the slowest and there is no monitoring indicator during the download process. If Sebi's website server hangs, or your computer is giving some problem, you will never know because you will think the download is taking time becuase of a high file size. But in reality the download would have hanged and you will end up waiting a long time before realising it and trying all over again.

The Sebi website server is equipped with poor processing strength and is badly configured.

Stock exchanges, depositories, brokers, depository participants, listed companies, investment bankers etc use internet technology intensively as a part of their daily bsuiness activities and Sebi, as their regultor, has the powers to take them to task if their systems suffer from inadequacies and slow speed. But who will take Sebi to task for their miserable website?

There is another market site which is important for investors but which is just the worst designed one. I am referring to Bombay Stock Exchange's website which too I have to use heavily in my work. To get to advanced data you want to download you have to hunt for it endlessly in the site. Its worse than Sebi's site.

Another example is that of a commodity derivatives exchange in India. The website of Multi Commodity Exchange of India, Some months back when I wanted to download basic data on aggregate trading volumes monthwise across each commodity I couldn't. Because the data is given in such a manner that you have to take every day's data and aggregate it yourself on your computer. And even the daily data is not presented in a direct downloadable file. I noticed the site was giving 15-20 records in a single page. I could not but sense that there was a deliberate mischievous attempt by MCX to prevent researchers and journalists to analyse its trading data.

(this part was added on September 18) The fact that w
orldwide market regulators give a lot of significance to their websites can be gauged by yesterday's (September 17) press release of the US Federal Reserve Board pertaining to its website.

September 15, 2007

life in general: the (mostly) false celebration of gods in india

Today, a 10-day religious festival of Ganesha began here in Bombay and in all parts of India. Anyone and everyone who wants to revere Ganesha, who is considered as an important God by Hindus, can do so in a more enhanced manner during this 10-day festival. But, like all aspects of our society and polity, this has, by and large, become polluted with loudness, commercial exploitation, extortion, political manipulation, religious extremism and vulgarity.

Living in Bombay since last 37 years from the time of my birth I have seen with my eyes how Ganesh Chaturthi (as the festival is called) has come from a less shrill affair to the vulgar display that it has become today.

The big and small Ganesha idols, made largely from plaster of paris material that pollutes the sea and rivers where they are immersed, are taken through the streets in the most boisterous manner possible. The streets of many cities are taken over by the so-called devotees on 4 out of the 10 days of the festival. The most obnoxious thing, in my view, is their use of thousands, nay millions, of extremely loud and heavy smoke-emitting firecrackers. During Diwali festival, towards the end of every year, this is hundred times more worse.

To cater to false religious pride, the government and the authorities allow things to happen during the festival which on other days they will pounce upon any group or groups doing it. I consider this hypocrisy on the part of Indian society and administration.

To be sure, we see such fanaticism in the celebration of the festivals of most of the religions worldwide. But I wonder whether the fanaticism seen here during the current Ganesh Chaturthi festival, the forthcoming (in October this year ) Navaratri festival and the Diwali festival (in November this year), surpasses all of them.

September 14, 2007

life in financial markets: what investors want

Last month, I contributed to Business World a story on how investor complaints against companies, like old wounds, are still widely prevalent in India's financial system. The story is given below.

What Investors Want

Its a revealing peep into retail investors minds. They can't complain about losses in equities if the market prices go down but surely do if they don't receive declared dividends. And if their investments in fixed deposits are not redeemed by companies they do raise a hue and cry – you will receive at least two complaints a day if you invite investors to email you. This is borne out of an analysis of one year's data of investor complaints received by a Ministry of Company Affairs-funded and Midas Touch Investors Association-operated (MTIA) internet-based informal service called

A first of its kind, this website had become operational on September 9 last year. In its first year of operations it has got 2,400 valid complaints against companies of which 950 were just for non-receipt of principal amounts and/or interest amounts in past cases of deposits with companies. About 430 investors said they were not receiving annual reports or annual general meeting notices, another 330 had not got shares alloted or amounts refunded in primary market issues and IPOs and about 250 claimed they were not getting dividends on shares they owned.

The depositors' grievances which formed the largest chunk mostly pertained to over five year old cases where companies were defaulting on principal repayments and interest payments (see table: 'Most complained against'). Around 30 such companies against which 663 investor complaints were received are undergoing judicial process involving court hearings or liquidation proceedings.

Most complained against:
Lloyds Finance - 313 complaints
Morepen Labs - 188 complaints
PAL-Peugeot - 69 complaints
DCM Financial - 45 complaints
Nagarjuna Finance - 39 complaints
Duncans Industries - 34 complaints
CFL Capital - 33 complaints
All the above are on non-refund of deposits

MTIA managers have got over 60% of valid grievances redressed. "The investor helpline service does not have legal power, yet the response from companies to redress the complaints was much beyond our expectations," says Virendra Jain, president of MTIA. The worrisome point, Jain found, was that there a little over 100 companies complained against came back undelivered because their names or addresses had changed and the BSE did not have their up-to-date contact information or status.

Shareholder complaints against listed complaints are actually supposed to be resolved by stock exchanges and Sebi but Jain says these are probably not given much importance by them. Depositor complaints lie with the RBI if the deposit taker is a NBFC and the rest lie with the Company Law Board (a judicial body set up under the Companies Act 1956). This is the reason for getting so many investors writing in with their grievances.

It also perhaps shows that helpline services are not only successful in social operations like child abuse, violence against women and suicidal tendencies among depressed persons but also for investors or depositors in the financial markets. At the same time, however, depositor complaints of the kind that got are legacy issues and will not arise afresh simply because there is very few companies who accept deposits from the public currently.

September 10, 2007

life in general: freedom in australia goes down under

All over the world the governments are using the police force to take away people's rights to protest against undemocratic policies of the state and world powers. The latest example is what happened in Sydney in Australia yesterday (or day before).

Here is a fellow blogger's report on it:

They came in their thousands, in defiance of a month long fear and intimidation campaign by the state and federal governments, the police and the Murdoch media.

Of the more than 6000-8000 who marched, all but a few dozen protested peacefully, without violence or aggression. More than half of all protesters were women, hundreds of elderly people marched, joined by hundreds of families, with young children.

But the 2500 police deployed, backed by a full riot squad, a water cannon, backpacks full of pepper spray, dogs and snipers in a helicopter hovering above the crowd, were pumped for the long promised "worst riots ever seen in Sydney." A promise made only by the police and state government ministers over the past few weeks.

Protesters were wrestled to the ground, put in headlocks, had their arms twisted up behind their backs, had knees rammed into their spines and, in a number of assaults by police, were punched in the back and neck with a flurry of hard blows while being held down. Few of those assaulted and beaten displayed any resistance at all.

Dozens were removed from the Sydney protest on Saturday for taking photographs or video of police, dozens more were shoved, thrown to the ground and generally provoked. But still the crowd did not erupt into the expected mass violence and disordert.

An accountant, who crossed the street in the wrong place, was slammed onto the footpath and had his face rammed into the ground by at least six police officers. His young son stood nearby, clearly trembling in fear, as police wrestled the man who offered up no resistance, except to protect his glasses. He was held in a police cell for 22 hours and was denied contact with his lawyer and family members. Police didn't return his glasses until after he was released from custody.

But for all the violence unleashed on the protesters, only a few were arrested, and less than 10 face any charges at all. Two of the charges related to nudity. Some were detained for swearing, others were dragged away by police because they dared to question why someone else was being dragged away. Some were charged with resisting arrest. You could be arrested for resisting arrest by simply asking "why are you detaining me?"

The media came under attack from the police as well. Photographers and videographers were assaulted, detained and in some cases arrested.

The vast majority of the violent incidents mentioned above were captured on video.

Of the actions of police, the new Chief Commissioner, Andrew Scipione is reported as saying the tactics were well practised and cleared defined :
"That's the way that we do business in NSW now."
The majority of police officers involved in all the violent incidents listed above had removed their mandatory identification badges before they unleashed on the vastly peaceful protesters who gathered in Sydney on Saturday to voice their dissent against the Iraq War and the presence of President Bush in their city.

Hundreds of police were captured on video with no visible identification.

The Police Service manual advises all uniformed police officers to follow the law and display identification at all times.

Hundreds of police and detectives disguised themselves as as protesters and infiltrated the huge crowd.

When a protester in Hyde Park moved as though he was acting to set fire to a small American flag, six to eight undercover police or detectives swooped on him and dragged him away.

One eyewitness claimed that one of those who took part in the arrest of the potential flag burner had earlier been seen throwing small objects from within the crowd and had been chastised by protesters. At least one protester was reported in the media to have been dragged away by police for throwing objects. The eyewitness refused to give their name, and said he was fearful of repercussions from police.

Sydney To Stay Under 'Martial Law' Until September 12

September 09, 2007

life in general-&-financial markets: capital/communis/social--ism

Worldwide, many hold passionate views on the three
isms -- capitalism, communism and socialism. I, for one, think that all the three of them are the same in respect of good effects and bad effects, for the simple reason that each of them involve human management. The effects are good if humanity is not forgotten by the practitioners of any of the isms and the effects are bad if humans get driven by greed and manipulative tendencies.

The objectives of all three of them are to benefit a majority of mankind. But one sees cronyism in all of them. Many capitalists run their businesses in a manner which violates the basic tenets of capitalism -- including that of transparent and fair competitive bidding. Many communists exploit the very downtrodden classes whose rights they claim to uphold. Socialists allow anti-social elements to hold too much power in their system.

isms that I would prefer are humanism and environmentalism. Provided, of course, humans practise it fairly.

August 24, 2007

life in financial markets: new nifty-sensex dynamic

"Everything is the same except the name", say the various sets of twins in the adverts for UTI Bank changing its name to Axis Bank. Watching news channels in the night or reading their newspapers next morning, many tend to say the same thing about the twin barometers of the country's stock market performance, Nifty and Sensex. But here, since the last four years, "nothing has been the same except the game." For some good reasons.

Its not that Nifty, or S&P CNX Nifty as is its formal name, is run by India Index Services & Products (IISL), a joint venture between National Stock Exchange and Crisil, and Sensex, or Sensitive Index as is its formal name, is run by the Bombay Stock Exchange. Both claim to be the best barometer of Indian stock market. Nor is it because Nifty is made up of 50 stocks and Sensex 30 stocks if we go by market analysts' claims that most portfolios having 20-25 diversified large cap stocks will return almost the same percentage profits or losses no matter what their composition.

Its because on September 1, 2003 the BSE changed the way it calculated Sensex from a market capitalisation-weighted index to a free float capitalisation-weighted index. IISL was continuing with the market cap-weighted approach for Nifty. Its time to take stock of how much impact has this change made in the movements of Sensex and Nifty when we co-relate them for the period leading uptil now and a similar period prior to the change.

New dynamic. The two graphs below tells us that the daily co-relation between the two indices didn't suffer greatly but it did result in their returns switching sides. From September 2003 to now is four years and the Sensex has returned 338.3% moving up from 4244 on August 29, 2003 to 14358 on August 17 this year. The Nifty, in this time, has returned 302.8% moving up from 1356 to 4108, and that is a difference of 25% in returns between the two. It was the reverse from September 1999 to August 2003. Sensex was down by 13.3% from 4898 to 4245 Nifty was down by a much smaller 3.9% from 1412 to 1357.

The cause... Due to its free float methodology Sensex is using a part of the total market capitalisation of its stocks. For instance, at August 17 closing prices, the current Sensex stocks had a combined total market capitalisation of Rs 18,61,500 crore but the BSE was using only Rs 9,35,600 crore of it as the free float part to calculate the Sensex.

An index value at any given point reflects the sum of market cap (total or free float as the case may be) of all the index stocks in relation to the corresponding market cap on a specified base date. If you start an index today with 10000 as the base value then if the sum of market cap of its stocks falls from say Rs 1,00,000 crore today to Rs 95,000 crore tomorrow then your index value tomorrow will be 9500. Of course, the base market cap has to be adjusted whenever there the share capital of a stock changes.

Based on quarterly disclosure by companies on its shareholding pattern, BSE's index committee decides which shareholding of Sensex companies are to be considered as promoter or having controlling interest in the company and then calculates the market cap for the remaining shareholding only. For instance, if it finds 61 per cent of Bharti Airtel's total market cap to be of such kind then after rounding it to 65 per cent it uses only 35 per cent of it.

Now, a 10 per cent rise in Bharti's share price will impact a full market cap-weighted index more than a free float-weighted index because the former uses 100 as the base and the latter only 35. As a result of such impacts, among the 29 stocks common to Sensex and Nifty, weights vary much more than they otherwise would based only due to additional 20 stocks in Nifty. See the table below.


Security Full market cap (Rs crore) used in Nifty1 % of full market cap used in Sensex
Weight in Nifty (%) 1
Weight in Sensex (%) 1
Reliance Industries 244254 50
ONGC 167409 20
Bharti Airtel 150728 35
NTPC 134401 15
Infosys Technologies 106094 85
TCS 103349 20
Reliance Communication 100891 35
ICICI Bank 91810 100
State Bank of India 79971 45
BHEL 76308 35
Wipro 69380 20
Larsen & Toubro 65512 90
ITC 57693 70
SAIL 56772

HDFC 51239 90
Reliance Petroleum 49140

Hindustan Unilever 42420 50
HDFC Bank 37741 80
Sterlite Industries 36608

Suzlon Energy 33856

Tata Steel 33167 70
Satyam Computer 29400 95
Grasim 25117 75
GAIL 25065

Tata Motors 24713 60
Bajaj Auto 22775 65
Maruti Udyog 22543 45
ABB 21714

Siemens 20061

HCL Tech 19940

Ambuja Cement 19269 65
Sun Pharma 18568

ACC 17853 60
Hindalco 17186 70
Reliance Energy 16442 70
National Aluminum 16092

M&M 15980 80
Punjab National Bank 15171

Cipla 14302 65
Tata Power 13879

Ranbaxy Laboratories 13099 70
Zee Entertainment 12654

Hero Honda 12454

BPCL 11117

VSNL 10552

IPCL 10525

Dr Reddys 10506 75
Glaxosmithkline 9512

Dabur 8587

MTNL 8426

HPCL 7643

1 - based on Aug 17 closing price

..and the ongoing debate.
The Nifty and the Sensex do not just serve as colourful indicators of market movement but investors in index funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) actually make or lose money based on their movement. There are around 18 index funds of which around 12 are based on Nifty and the rest on Sensex. ETFs on indices are only four – one each on Nifty, Sensex, Junior Nifty and CNX Bank. See the table below.

Index Funds:


Franklin Templeton



Birla MF

Canbank MF


Principal PNB

Reliance MF


Tata MF


Junior Nifty CNX Bank

ICICI Prudential


These funds have to mimic the index movements and keep their tracking errors low. They also have to keep their transaction costs the lowest in the industry. I asked an ETF manager in the country he said "We think the index should reflect whatever is there in the market and thats why the market-cap weighted indices choice for our ETFs. If the market thinks the free float of a company is very low there will be a illiquidity premium on it, so we are saying that let the market define that and let us not impose a number on it through a free float factor."

I sought the views of an independent scholar and he said "There is a certain body of economic theory, however good or bad, that accepts that only the market cap-weighted index gives the best Sharpe ratio." Sharpe's ratio gives the excess return (actual minus risk-free rate) on an investment for the extra volatility endured in holding the investment. "There is no comparable theory for free float-weighted index", he added. The BSE, on the other hand, claims on its website that "an index based on free float is more accurate and indicative of the actual trend."

Whether leaving out promoters holding, the crux of the matter, is good or not continues to get hotly debated across markets in the world. The independent scholar I spoke had this to day: "Is the promoter holding fixed? Not really. They transact. They respond to prices like you and me. He is a part of the normal market process. I am uncomfortable with this thing of the promoters being "up and there" that he is somehow external where the rest of us are in."

Even in the United States the popular Dow Jones index is not a full market cap index – its a evenly-weighted index where all stocks are assigned the same weight regardless of the size of the market cap. But the other popular index—S&P 500—is on total market cap method and is the one that majority of index funds and ETFs deployed in the US.

So, as an investor in an index fund or ETF, you might want to form your own opinion before you decided between a Nifty-based or a Sensex-based one.