Book Reviews
A Muffled Voice
The first two chapters made me jot down: ‘putdownable’. Thank God, I continued. Sue the Messenger then starts to read like a detective novel. Each Smart-Alec chapter-title is followed by journalistic sleuthing, digging up dirt, exposing the filthy tricks bag of corporates—be they chemicals manufactures, the fourth pillar robber barons—or sundry nasty characters, out to stifle, not dissent, but truth.
 
Shooting the messenger may seem more humane. Here are examples of harassment, hounding, ingestion of fatal substances; and the ever-present halo-backed denials. Sabse Badaa Rupaiya. And to hell with the public! Mark Twain said, attributing to Benjamin Disraeli, that there are lies, damn lies and statistics. We now add unholy refutations, doctored reports, manipulative press conferences, et al. Finally, there is resort to ruinous litigation where the small guy is driven into the ground, not allowed to function, financially decimated and made to shut up.   
 
As a lawyer, I asked myself: Would I issue notices, actually legally worded threats, if I were offered a million bucks? As one who has often said that the “Let’s-teach-him-a-lesson” litigation is taboo, what would I do? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.    
 
This very magazine has faced similar tribulations. Laws do not allow me to elaborate on sub-judice matters, especially where I was involved; but the reader will find fairly accurate reportage in the book. Maybe one day, Sucheta and Debashis (and why not I too), will be able to pen a volume. Till then, this is all you get.
 
It’s frightening to read. To think that we are exposed to toxicity every waking and sleeping moment. In the mad rush of the 1950s and 1960s, the Holy Grail was import substitution. Chemicals formed no mean part and South Gujarat baited the Bombayite. Vapi was the preferred destination. Asia’s biggest chemicals estate, it was billed; and caution was thrown to the winds. Winds carried the deadly fumes for miles around. Rivers turned to every rainbow hue, fruits shrunk by 30%. Well-water was contaminated, effluent discharged into nullahs.
 
I know. As a young salesman, I had tried to sell pollution control equipment in Vapi. I sold none. The stock excuse was that the inspector could be paid off; why invest in equipment and waste money. 
 
With this attitude, chemicals banned in other countries, along with forbidden and scrapped plants, found ready buyers in India. Worse was to follow. The font of the estates sprayed the entire country with poison. And any attempt to expose the noxious nexus was thwarted by crushing litigation. Read it. It’s all there in this book.
 
There are two distinct writing styles discernible in the book. One staid. The other racy. But the research and facts stand out. One never feels that there is any wavering from the truth. Where the authors, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Subir Ghosh, were personally involved, they make it clear. It is for the reader to decide whether they have axes to grind.
 
Constant vigilance is the price of freedom. Newsmen, and women, help in no small measure. But investigative journalism is not for the faint of heart nor for the weak of spirit. 
 
Moreover, is there a journalist who has made his pile by exposing the crooks and the corrupt, the high and the mighty? Methinks not. The breed will live and die penniless. But we, and the truth, will survive.
 
At the end of the day, we must understand this. Every time David slays Goliath, we can rejoice. Not because of victory, wherein we need to demonstrate magnanimity, but because we live in a free world. A world where informed choice overcomes lies and deceit, where human bulldozers are stopped in their tracks, and men and women enjoy the fruits of their labour; and those that seek to prosper by oppression are laid waste.

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Nifty, Sensex may rally if weekly lows hold – Weekly closing report
We had mentioned in last week’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex were trendless. The major indices of the Indian stock markets suffered a sharp correction during the week due to deterioration in Indo-Pak relations. The trends of the major indices in the course of the week’s trading are given in the table below:
 
 
Indian equity markets plunged on the back of negative global cues and caution ahead of F&O (futures and options) expiry during the mid-afternoon trade session on Monday. The key indices traded in the red with losses of more than 1% each, as selling pressure was witnessed in stocks of banking, automobile and capital goods. The BSE market breadth was tilted in favour of the bears -- with 1,644 declines and 1,052 advances. On the NSE, there were 542 advances, 1,070 declines and 259 unchanged.  Volatility in global crude oil prices and negative Asian markets dragged the Indian equity markets lower at the start of the day's trade, pointed out market analysts. Lower European market accelerated the falls in the key domestic indices. Unwinding of positions ahead of F&O expiry also depressed the equity markets. The CNX Nifty traded lower tracking negative global cues. IT and banking stocks traded down on profit-booking. Auto and oil-gas stocks traded with sideways sentiments.
 
India's foreign exchange reserves went down $369.60 billion as on September 16, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced on Monday. According to data released by the RBI, the reserves stood at $369.60 billion as on September 16, as against $371.27 billion as on September 9. On September 16, the foreign currency assets stood at $344.07 billion, gold at $21.64 billion, special drawing rights at $1.49 billion and the reserve position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at $2.39 billion. The Indian stock markets did well in attracting investments from foreign institutional investors, when the foreign exchange reserves moved down.
 
On Tuesday, the key indices closed in the red as selling pressure was witnessed in capital goods, banking and automobile stocks. The BSE market breadth was tilted in favour of the bears -- with 1,430 declines and 1,254 advances. On the NSE there were 614 advances, 828 declines and 61 unchanged.  IT (information technology) stocks traded with mixed sentiments, while banking stocks traded down due to profit booking. Textile and FMCG stocks traded with mixed sentiments on profit booking, according to market analysts.
 
State-run Coal India Ltd's share buy-back offer will open from October 3 to October 18, a regulatory filing said on Tuesday. Coal India board had approved the buy-back of over 10.89 crore shares at a price of Rs335 per share for an aggregate consideration not exceeding Rs3,650 crore. SBI Capital Markets Ltd on Tuesday informed about the letter of offer regarding buy-back offer to the equity shareholders of coal miner. "The buy-back offer size represents approximately 24.95 per cent of the aggregate of the fully paid-up share capital and free reserves, as per the audited accounts of the Company for the financial year ended 31 March 2016 and is within the statutory limits of 25% of the aggregate of the fully paid up share capital and free reserves as per the audited accounts of the Company for the financial year ended 31 March 2016," the filing said. Coal India shares closed at Rs332.00, down 0.20% on the BSE.
 
Value buying, along with short covering and a firm rupee, lifted the Indian equity markets during the mid-afternoon trade session on Wednesday. Buying was witnessed in automobile, banking and capital goods stocks. The BSE market breadth was tilted in favour of the bulls -- with 1,644 advances and 1,003 declines. On the NSE, there were 932 advances, 482 declines and 70 unchanged. 
 
The banking sector, especially the public sector banks, led the recovery. Positive European markets and a firm rupee have also supported the upward movement. The CNX Nifty traded with firm sentiments due to short covering. IT (information technology) stocks faced profit booking at higher levels. Auto, oil-gas and textile stocks also traded firm. Aviation and FMCG stocks traded with mixed sentiments due to profit booking. Power and cement stocks also traded firm on buying support.
 
Indian equities tumbled sharply on Thursday after the army said it conducted surgical strikes on terror camps along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, inflicting "significant casualties". The barometer 30-scrip sensitive index (Sensex) of the BSE, which was ruling strong in the morning after the unexpected production cuts agreed to by oil producing countries, took a fall of more than 500 points after the relevant briefing by the Indian Army. However, value buying arrested the steep falls and led to a bounce back. Nonetheless, speculative selling, profit booking and derivatives expiry dynamics again dragged the key indices lower during the late-afternoon trade session. The BSE market breadth fell prey to the bears -- with 2,297 declines and 442 advances.  On the NSE, there were 77 advances, 1,415 declines and 31 unchanged.
 
The CNX Nifty and Bank Nifty traded down on selling pressure. IT (information technology) stocks witnessed some recovery at lower levels tracking firm USD/INR futures prices. Banking, pharma and auto stocks traded down on selling pressure. Aviation stocks traded down tracking higher crude oil prices. Oil-gas, textile and FMCG stocks also traded down on over all selling pressure in the market.
 
The Indian currency, which opened at 66.44 to a US dollar, had already depreciated in the initial hours of the day's trade in line with the weakness in Asian currencies. The sharp fall occurred around 1.00 p.m. when the rupee depreciated to 66.95 to a US dollar. This level was last seen on September 22. However, the Indian currency bounced back marginally to 66.85 to a greenback before speculative selling dragged it lower to 66.90 at 4.10 p.m. on Thursday.
 
Value buying and short covering, along with a recovering rupee, buoyed the Indian equity markets on Friday. The key indices traded in the green during the late-afternoon session, as buying was witnessed in automobile, oil and gas, and banking stocks. On Friday, the major indices closed with small gains over Thursday’s close.

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Commodities Trading: Stock exchanges will have to wait for some more time
Erstwhile commodities regulator Forward Market Commission (FMC) was merged with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to ensure commodities come on stock exchange platform for better regulations. However, stock exchanges will have to wait for some more time before offering commodities trading on its platform.  
 
SEBI Chairman UK Sinha, says, "We will have to wait for some time...need to ensure proper risk management to avoid any instances of misconduct, improve surveillance and put in place an enforcement mechanism for integration of markets with SEBI's surveillance system. We do not have a clearing corporation for commodities. We are moving gradually and in cautious way". He was speaking to media person in a press conference called to inform steps taken by SEBI during the past one year since FMC merger. 
 
“Immediately after taking over the regulations of the commodities markets, the markets were integrated with SEBI’s integrated surveillance system that is used for the securities market. This enhanced the vigil over the commodities markets very substantially and enabled SEBI in taking action against the instances of misconduct. Action in the case of 18 entities was also taken under Section 11B of the SEBI Act, debarring them from participating in the market as an interim measure,” Mr Sinha said.
 
Last year on 28th September, SEBI took over regulation of the commodity derivatives market post the merger of FMC with itself. At that time, SEBI had given itself three years for allowing services of a clearing corporation in commodities. However, it had asked the commodity exchanges to ensure guarantee for the settlement of trades including delivery of goods. 
 
Mr Sinha says, "Taking over the regulation of a new sector and bringing it at par with the regulation of securities market was a lengthy process, which involved Gap analyses, widespread consultation with stakeholders, amendment to various regulations, integration of trade data with our integrated surveillance system, upgrading risk management framework, improving governance system of exchanges and laying down an elaborate mechanism for investor grievances and arbitration, capacity building and necessary organisational restructuring."
 
During the year, SEBI had allowed one agri and non-agri commodity for options trading. The government has also taken the e-Agri market initiative to link spot markets for agricultural commodities across the country, which the SEBI chairman feels will also improve linkage of futures market with spot market.
 
When asked about allowing foreign institutional investors (FIIs) and foreign direct investment (FDI), Mr Sinha said, SEBI is in discussion with other regulators for allowing these institutions to operate in commodities derivatives markets. 
 
Replying to a question on ban on certain commodities, the SEBI chairman said, "We are strengthening our risk management and surveillance mechanism. We reduced position limits in agri commodities to align with existing liquidity, while cutting the daily circuit filter to 4% from 6% to reduce volatility. We put up a new risk management in place on 1 September 2016 to deal with risks in commodities markets. With such steps, I do not think, we will have to ban a commodity in future."
 
SEBI has allowed trading in options in one agri and a non-agri commodity over the past one year. The government, on recommendation of the market regulator, has notified diamond, brass, pig iron, eggs, cocoa and tea for futures trading.
 
Earlier, SEBI set up an advisory committee headed by Prof Ramesh Chand, member of NITI Aayog, to suggest ways for future development of commodities market, including improving liquidity of the market and making sure the benefits reach to all stakeholders.
 
“This committee is deliberating on the most important issues of the market such as improving hedgers participation, improving liquidity of the contracts, having objective criteria for introducing new commodities to futures trading, improving price polling mechanism and bringing new participants, institutional as well as non-institutional, to the market,” the SEBI Chairman added.
 

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COMMENTS

Mani

2 months ago

very fine

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