A History of Violence: Accusations But No Justice in Liberia
Many of those accused of unspeakable brutality during Liberia’s civil war have never been formally tried
Christopher Vambo had been accused by Catholic church officials and others of being responsible for the 1992 murder of five American nuns. Prince Johnson had overseen the torture and death of Samuel Doe, the former president of Liberia. Neither man was ever charged or otherwise held responsible.
Today, Johnson is a legislator in Liberia and Vambo is a security guard for one of the country’s largest communications firms. Frontline and ProPublica found both men and talked with them about their pasts and the elusive question of justice in Liberia.
Related coverage: See ProPublica and Frontline's full investigation of the American company that played a role in Liberia's brutal civil war in Firestone and the Warlord. And read more about the man accused of murdering five American nuns.


Jump In?
If investors have sceptically watched the market head higher, they ask themselves this question periodically: Is it a good time to invest? At Moneylife, we have tried to research when markets get overvalued. If you invest when markets are overvalued, your returns will be poor to average. Can one identify those periods? Is the market currently overvalued? The answer depends on a variety of factors, most notably earnings growth. Brokers appear very optimistic, expecting a 22% growth in earnings next year. Our Cover Story takes you on a tour of the past 24 years of markets identifying periods of overvaluation and what happened subsequently. This will help you make up your mind about whether it is the right time to jump in. 
Investing in stocks in not rocket science, says R Balakrishnan, in his article. He outlines the common mistakes committed by investors and the temperament one should have to be a successful investor. Another superb investor education piece by Bala. 
Sucheta, in her Crosshairs column, comments on the latest in latest twist in the jail-bail drama around Sahara Pariwar’s Subrata Roy case. The proposed $2-billion buyout of Sahara’s hotels by Mirach Capital has fallen through. Sahara has alleged that a letter of guarantee provided by Mirach is forged, while Mirach denies the forgery. Isn’t it bizarre that Sahara cannot get its owner out of jail by selling some properties? Sucheta also comments on the crores of rupees being wasted by regulators under the garb of promoting financial literacy. In her Different Strokes column, Sucheta highlights how the sweeping victory of the Aam Admi Party has put pressure on both, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal, to deliver governance and be accountable to the people. Hopefully, other politicians will start to feel the pressure too.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Moneylife Foundation is organising a special event on 8th March to be addressed by minister Nirmala Sitharaman. For details and registration visit— Look forward to seeing you there.


Withdraw from Active Involvement in Business?

This is with regard to “Three Cheers to Three Policies” by Sucheta Dalal. We must remember that we are a sovereign, socialistic democratic republic, which is why, in the beginning, Pandit Nehru got away with a lot government spending in huge projects. In a way, at that time, he was right; but a lot of things have happened in the past six decades.


It is time for government to govern and withdraw from active involvement in business. By all means, in certain areas like defence and nuclear-related matters, if the government wants to hold control, they should; but the rest should be in public hands as in most other democratic countries.


Take the case of Coal India disinvestment. Who bought the major lot? The Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). NDA (National Democratic Alliance) must set out a timeframe and start getting out of business in the next four years; hand over the reins of business to enterprising Indian companies and let the public enjoy the benefit.


They should also do the same with other indirectly controlled organisations like banks. In any case, what we have been doing in the past 60 years cannot be undone in four or 10 years, assuming BJP (NDA) comes to power for a second term. Given the timeframe, they are likely to succeed and deliver the goods to the Indian masses.

Dr Anantha K Ramdas, online comment


Overall Laxity in Governance Standards!

This is with regard to “Old Gyan about Public Sector Banks” by Sucheta Dalal. The banking system has been deteriorating over a period and this is a well acknowledged fact. The result is seen in the real economy with its deteriorating performance over a period. Banks have become greedy; to satisfy their greed, they have formed a cartel. They dictate their own terms and conditions ignoring the presence of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the needs of the people and the economy. The competition is not seen in their service to customers, or in their efficiency in managing the credit portfolio, or in expanding their business, to cover the whole country.


A large segment of the population is still out of the banking fold, despite making a hue and cry on financial inclusion and inclusive growth. It is a reflection of the inefficiency of banks’ boards and RBI’s functioning in developing a healthy competitive banking system. There is an overall laxity in governance standards.


Despite the deregulation of savings bank accounts’ interest rate, the banks have failed to implement them. This is an indication that banks have lost their competitive business acumen and they are satisfied with lazy banking. They are expecting continuous support from the government through capital induction and protection from banks’ failures through Budgetary support.


Banks are not run on professional lines; but, if they still survive, it is only because of the fact that the government backing is them. The middle class has no other choice but to invest their savings in banks. This is fully exploited by banks.


The article by Ms Dalal should be an eye-opener for RBI, banks and the government to seriously introspect and take some concrete measures to make banks professional in their business. They should provide the much-needed support to the real economy to expand and grow. A lot needs to be done to strengthen banks.

Gopalakrishnan TV, online comment


Brilliant Analytical Insight

I read with great interest Moneylife (issue dated 9 January 2015). The Cover Story on “Wealth Creators” evoked much interest. This article will be very useful for the readers who are long-term retail investors. Few of the Top 20 Wealth Creators belong are blue-chip scrips. Most of them are either small- or mid-caps. Symphony, the top wealth creator for the last one decade, started from scratch in 2004 and has risen to the top, year after year. Its compounded annual total shareholder return (CATSR) is 99%, leaving behind the number 2, Mayur Uniquoters, whose CATSR is 69%. Chairman Achal Bakeri is a young, low-profile entrepreneur. Though, so far, the company has not declared any bonus, tremendous amount of capital gains and fat dividends have rewarded its shareholders. I really commend the efforts put in by Moneylife and its team for enlightening the readers with brilliant analytical insight.

Ramesh Kapadia, by email


The Idiom is ‘Competitive Corruption’!

This is with regard to “Doctors for Ethical Practices” by Dr Nita Mukherjee. While it is a lame excuse—an effect-and-cause story—many doctors justify excessive monetary benefits as return on investment for expensive medical studies. The cost of medical education may be high, but budding doctors go in with their eyes open. Then ask how many would prefer a doctor as a match for one’s child and WHY? It’s the money, honey. And it’s our society that feeds the unethical standards. We live in a country where the idiom is ‘competitive corruption’.

Bapoo M Malcolm, online comment


Reputed Promoters?

This is with regard to “De-listing Outpaces Listings” by Sucheta Dalal. When reputed promoters like Ambanis give investors a rotten egg like “Reliance Power”, what else will investors do other than exit from the markets? There is also a company called Datar Switchgear that around the year 2001 or so declared a 1:1 bonus and then disappeared shortly thereafter. There is also a promoter who was given a banking licence. Luckily, for the public, before this crook could establish the bank, he was caught in an over Rs600-crore scam. Then, we have a company called Uniscans and Sonics which vanished. But, some years later, we saw the promoter of this company, boasting about his capability, on the famous Tehelka sting which cost Bangaru Laxman his party presidentship.

Kaviraj B Patil, online comment


Protect the Elderly

This is with regard to “Budget and Senior Citizens” by SD Israni. Fiscal Laws must be designed to protect the vulnerable members of a society. Just as a higher deduction must be provided to women, a similar practice must be designed to protect the elderly.

Ralph Rau, online comment


Investigate SEBI Officials?

This is with regard to “Callous regulator and bourses leave investors to the mercy of shady brokers”. SEBI exists merely to serve the interests of large and corrupt corporates. Each SEBI official should be investigated by EOW (economic offences wing) and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) along with I-T (income-tax).

R Balakrishnan


Related to Our Past Karmas!

This is with regard to “Nature as a Cure for Our Ills” by Prof BM Hegde. An unborn child, or a just-born child, often hears the word paracetamol, as if this wonder drug has been given by God to cure fever! The word antibiotic is known to everybody in the world. What we need is to have a healthy life; I wonder if it is related to our past karmas.



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