Ravi Samalad tells the story of one man's quest to build a home for the mentally ill, destitute and aged men and women wandering the streets of Madurai
N Krishnan, a catering graduate from Kamaraj University, worked at a five-star hotel in Bengaluru. He was even short-listed for a job in Switzerland that would have boosted his career. But, instead of serving the well-heeled at a five-star hotel, he chose to give it up to pursue a mission of feeding the hungry and the mentally ill on the streets of Madurai.
Once on a trip to his hometown, Madurai, Mr Krishnan came across a homeless man under a bridge who was suffering from extreme hunger. Krishnan rushed to a nearby stall and bought him idlis. The man ate greedily. The overwhelming gratitude in the man’s eyes as he gulped the food changed Mr Krishnan’s life forever. The very next week, he rejected the Swiss job offer and started Akshaya Charity Trust. “Had the old man been vocal in his gratitude or thanked me profusely, I would probably have gone my way and never looked back to learn what happens to people like him,” Mr Krishnan told Moneylife.
He and his volunteers now feed around 400 destitute people thrice every day, 365 days a year. It costs over Rs15,000 each day. The Trust has served around nine lakh meals so far without skipping a day.
Mr Krishnan also received the ‘Unsung Heroes of Independent India’ award from the CNN IBN TV channel last year for his outstanding social work. The award consisted of a trophy and Rs5 lakh.
“Our main focus is feeding people… we cook a fresh meal every time and the menu is changed every day,” said a committed volunteer. It all began with Mr Krishnan using his savings to buy food packets for around 30 people in June 2002. Although resource constraints forced him to limit his effort, he has been at the job for over seven years, even though the mentally ill can neither thank him nor understand his selfless effort. The meals include substantive and nutritious preparations like idlis, dosas, pongal, coconut rice and biryani. Care is taken to ensure that the food is neither too spicy nor too oily, but just right to soothe hungry stomachs.
Over time, word-of-mouth information about his work has brought in donations. But he still does not have an office and administrative expenses are nil. Neither Mr Krishnan nor his volunteers draw any remuneration. Only the cooks, drivers and assistants are compensated for their work.
The Trust is also drawing people’s attention and contributions from places like the USA, Europe, Middle East and Singapore.
“We help anyone who is old, helpless or mentally ill who we find on the streets. These helpless people don’t know how to take care of themselves and are usually left on the streets by their families,” said a volunteer who did not wish to be named. Mr Krishnan also helps extremely ill patients who are discarded even by hospitals. He provides them food and medication. He also helps cremate unclaimed bodies.
Mr Krishnan wants to build a home for the aged and the mentally ill who are living on the streets of Madurai and ensure they get freshly cooked meals. If his project continues to receive monetary support, his dream could soon come true. His Trust has already purchased 2.6 acres of land with the funds donated by business organisations and other well-wishers.
The Trust has mobilised Rs30 lakh so far and construction of two blocks of 4,800 sq ft has already begun. The land has been registered, permissions have been obtained and electrification as well as a bore-well are in place. The plan is to have eight blocks with dormitories covering 24,000 sq ft. The total construction cost is estimated at Rs3 crore and will include a kitchen, medical facilities, toilets and a dining hall. At the moment, construction has halted due to a shortage of funds.
“We come across mentally ill women who are exploited by anti-social elements and have even delivered babies on the street. That is why we want to build this home on a priority basis,” said a volunteer. You can help this plan to fructify through monetary donations or by volunteering your time.
Akshaya’s Helping In H.E.L.P Trust
9, West 1st Main Street,
Doak Nagar Extension Madurai – 625 010
Phone: (0) 452 4353439 / 2587104
Mobile: (0) 9843319933
Athough the Sensex is a good way off from its all-time high of 21,000-plus, the index’s current P/E valuation is close to its high of January 2008, which means further gains may be fuelled solely by the liquidity factor
The jingles of the Sensex hitting 21,000 are being heard once again after it made a 20-month high on Tuesday. However, the only question that arises is: What will drive the Indian markets to new highs? Which are the stocks that are still undervalued relative to the previous highs of the Sensex in terms of the market expert’s favourite tool, the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio)?
On 1 January 2008, the P/E ratio of the Sensex was 26.10 based on March 2008 earnings. But no one expected that the market would plunge 64% from a high of 21,207. Currently, the forward P/E of the Sensex is 21. For the Sensex to reach new highs, it will have to rally 20% from the current level which will take the Sensex P/E to over 25. But the question is: Are the index heavyweights still undervalued enough to carry on the index rally? Let’s check.
Among the Sensex-30 stocks, index heavyweights Maruti, Tata Motors, Infosys Technologies, Mahindra & Mahindra, Tata Consultancy Services and Hindalco are much more expensive than they were in January 2008. For instance, the forward P/E of Maruti is 27.10 against 16.55 two years ago. That of Tata Motors is 25.75 (14.50), Infosys is 25.12 (22.37), M&M is 23.98 (19.27), TCS is 23.34 (22.89) and Hindalco is 13.67 (9.24). It is, therefore, unlikely that these stocks will push the market higher.
On the other hand, in 2008, the forward P/E of DLF, Reliance Communications and Reliance Infrastructure were an eye-popping 70.94, 59.09 and 49.69, respectively. These stocks are cheaper now, as is Bharti Televentures. But Bharti is in the same boat as Reliance Communications, badly battered by intense competition in the telecom business. So, it is unlikely that any of these four companies will be able to drive the market higher. Let’s now consider Larsen & Toubro and Bharat Heavy Electricals. Neither of these two stocks is currently cheap. Other index heavyweights like HDFC Bank, Housing Development Finance Corporation, ITC, Wipro and Hindustan Unilever have the same P/E as in January 2008. Tata Power (42.59), Sun Pharmaceuticals (26.14) and Hero Honda (20.69)—three stocks that have only recently been added to the Sensex—are also more expensive now than in January 2008.
The only stocks that are still cheaper than what they were two years ago are ICICI Bank, Reliance Industries, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, ACC, Grasim Industries and Jaiprakash Associates. Can cement stocks lead the market higher?
While the demand for cement remains strong, there is a problem of regional oversupply. So, all eyes will be on RIL and ONGC. Will the flow of speculative money target these stocks over the coming weeks?
Indian bourses stayed volatile due to fears over a possible hike in interest rates
Indian markets remained volatile due to fears over an immediate hike in interest rates by the central bank. However, volatility declined following strong comments from government officials. During the day, the Sensex was up 128 points from the previous day’s close, ending the day at 17,686, while the Nifty closed at 5,278, up 46 points.
Yesterday, we had said that the market would open higher today and it did so. Bourses will open higher tomorrow, but may not sustain momentum through the day.
Steel Authority of India (SAIL) rose 3% after the company reported a 32% growth in sales at 1.3 million tonnes in December 2009 from a year ago.
JSW Steel jumped 11% after the company’s crude steel output soared 88% to 14.70 lakh tonnes in the December 2009 quarter over the December 2008 quarter.
Bharti Airtel rose 2% on reports that the firm had received an approval from Bangladesh’s telecom authority for its proposed $300 million investment in Abu Dhabi Group’s Warid Telecom.
Dr Reddy’s Laboratories rose 3% after the company said its Balaglitazone diabetes drug had met its primary target in the first of its Phase 3 clinical trials. As per reports, Balaglitazone reduced blood glucose levels over a period of time in the study conducted on 409 patients.
Maruti Suzuki India fell 2% on reports that Shinzo Nakanishi, managing director, had said that exports will be hit next year by removal of incentives in Europe. He also said that there would be lower off-take from Nissan for exports as a result of the removal of incentives. He further said that the company aims to keep operating margins at 10% in fiscal year 2009-10 but profitability would be impacted by a rise in raw material prices and a rise in the yen.
As per the EPFR global funds tracker, emerging market equity funds posted a record $64.50 billion in inflows in calendar year 2009, helped by record flows into the BRIC countries, comprising funds in Brazil, Russia, India and China. The Chinese economy’s return to robust growth also boosted Asia (excluding Japan) equity funds, which posted record inflows of $19.10 billion. Emerging market bond funds attracted record inflows of $8.20 billion.
According to the finance ministry, direct-tax receipts during April-December 2009 rose 8.51% from a year earlier to Rs2,50,000 crore. Corporate-tax receipts were up by 13.47% at Rs1,67,000 crore, while income-tax paid by individuals declined by 0.41% at Rs83,178 crore, it said.
On Monday, Kaushik Basu, chief economic adviser to the finance ministry had said that the government does not need to tighten monetary policy now and risk stalling a nascent economic recovery as inflation pressure was mainly caused by high food prices. He also said that Asia’s third-largest economy was likely to return to 9% growth in the fiscal year 2010/11, after topping 7.5% in the current year to end-March.
Mr Basu said that India’s high savings and investment rates would help sustain the recovery and an annual economic growth rate of 10% was possible within a “couple of years”.
As per media reports, C Rangarajan, the prime minister’s economic adviser, said that liquidity tightening may be needed. However, an adjustment in policy interest rates is not warranted at the moment, he added.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is set to hold its quarterly monetary policy review on 29 January 2010. The central bank is widely expected to tighten cash reserve ratio (CRR) requirements for banks, with economists divided on when the central bank will raise policy rates.
According to latest RBI figures, total loans, including food credit loans to Food Corporation of India for food-grain procurement and non-food credit (all other loans) amounted to Rs29,41,293.07 crore as on 19 December 2009. This represents a sequential growth of Rs34,028 crore since 27 November 2009 compared to a growth of Rs7,698 crore in the whole of November 2009.
The Union government has allowed duty-free import of raw sugar to tide over the domestic production shortfall. In the 2008-2009 season ending October 2009, domestic sugar output fell 42% to 15 million tonnes, causing retail sugar prices to more than double. At present, in retail stores, sugar is being sold at Rs42-Rs43 a kg.
During the day, Asia’s key benchmark indices in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore rose by between 0.04%-2.09%.
On Monday, 4 January 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 156 points while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 18 points and 39 points respectively.
As per US media reports, the ISM’s gauge of manufacturing showed growth for a fifth straight month, rising to 55.9 in December 2009 from 53.6 in November. Participants shrugged off the bi-monthly construction spending data that showed a slightly steeper-than-expected 0.6% monthly decline for November. However, in premarket trading, the Dow was trading one point higher.