Birla Sun Life MF new issue closes on 26th September
Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund has launched Birla Sun Life Fixed Term Plan-Series DN, a close-ended income scheme.
The investment objective of the scheme is to generate income by investing in a portfolio of fixed income securities maturing on or before the duration of the scheme.
The new issue closes on 26th September. The minimum investment amount is Rs5,000.
The prime minister says he has no magic wand to stop corruption; his finance minister announces there is no quick-fix to stop price rise; now the home minister tells us there is no way to prevent terror attacks completely... It’s time to deal with our inner ailments and to ensure that poor performance is punished, else we could be headed downhill
On the day of the terror blast at the reception counter of the Delhi High Court, the prime minister declared bravely from his Race Course Road residential fort, "…we shall not succumb to terrorism", although he did not labour to explain how India is safeguarding itself from 'succumbing' to the menace of terrorism. Elsewhere in Delhi, at about the same time, his home minister was nearly succumbing, saying "...we cannot prevent terror attacks... there is no way…". The terrorists must have celebrated and played this statement over and over, besides circulating it to all their budding buddies ensconced in safe houses within India, or in terror schools in Pakistan.
Ah! What a splendid playground we have laid out for the terrorists. Nowhere else in the world would terrorists have the luxury of first rehearsing live blasts on real targets and then executing their plans with such ease and impunity as was done in the case of the Delhi High Court incident on 7th September. Yes, the initiative being always with the terrorists, it is possible for a determined terrorist to carry out his mischief, but only rarely.
The fundamental job of a professionally sound intelligence agency is to reach out to the hatcheries of terrorists and factories, or couriers of their tools, so that they are able to pre-empt the terrorist preparations at the inception stage. Terrorists will always need tools and facilities like weapons, explosives, conveyance, communication, safe houses and logistics support, including local guidance. Prior reconnaissance of the target area and escape routes, post-strike surveillance, damage assessment and efficiency of the police and security agencies in cordoning off the area and evacuating the casualties, are some of the activities that the terrorists will continue to indulge in directly or indirectly even after the blasts and massacre. Our intelligence agencies are, however, made up of officers and subordinates picked up at random from various departments on deputation without much thought given to their aptitude or expertise. Most of them find such assignments 'dry' and call them 'punishment postings' with little incentive and a high-risk rating.
There are a number of serious questions that must be answered in the interest of national security. Why was there no follow-up of the blast that happened a few months earlier at the same spot? Why were CCTV cameras not functional and who bears the responsibility for their being dysfunctional? Who is responsible for the delayed police reaction and poor evacuation of casualties? Why was there no immediate pursuit of suspects? Are our police and intelligence agencies adept and equipped enough with modern electronic intelligence systems for speedy linkup and generating artificial intelligence?
Sadly, the police officers and constables on the scene looked simply as shocked and clueless as the shocked hapless public there. When will our police and systems tune up to professionally match up the challenges they are facing? Who is accountable for all the wrongs that are happening without a respite in our country? Who is in control? Why has the government virtually abdicated?
Despite the security environment being so uncertain in India, for a while it was soothing to hear that the Indian economy was on an upswing, even as the Western world was suffering an economic meltdown. Even ordinary Indians felt proud with every news of achievements by Indians-techies, entrepreneurs et al. Developments like the Tatas acquiring Jaguar, or Lakshmi Mittal acquiring the world's largest steel company Arcelor, and other success stories, added colour and gaiety to the euphoria. But the common Indian-aam admi-is now realising that he is there merely as part of the audience to clap and cheer, while the goodies of India's growth are shared by those already floating in affluence. The aam admi's songs in praise of an emerging India make him look like the proverbial Abdullah diwana in begaanishaadi. This factsheet proves it.
The government finds it easier to explain away the problems of the masses without getting overly worried about. Recently, the electricity tariff was hiked, even as Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) all over Delhi cried against the unjustifiably excessive hike in rates. The justification given by the Delhi chief minister was that the hike was to avoid loss to the discoms, as if the excessive burden on people's pockets would be their gain! Next was another petrol price hike. Reason? It was becoming commercially difficult for oil companies to meet rising costs. Instead of making them compete and advance, the consumer is loaded with the responsibility to propel them by paying from his pocket.
Price inflation is shooting up unabated in a strange manner, sacrificing interests of the aam admi and bringing added comfort to the economically well-off. LCD TVs, laptops, digital cameras, luxury cars, hotel tariffs, almost the entire luxury inventory is becoming cheaper, even as those buying these comforts wouldn't care much about 'prices'. In sharp contrast to this, the vegetables, fruit, milk, oil, medicine, electricity, water and food-all so vital and necessary for sustaining human life at the lowest end of society-are shooting up beyond the poor man's reach. Ironically, it is all happening at a time when India has a famed economist in the prime minister's seat, aided by a highly experienced finance minister, and yet another man of international reputation leading the Planning Commission. Yet, they have proved to be quite ineffective in safeguarding the genuine interests of the largest segment of the population.
Even before the UPA-2 government came to power, Manmohan Singh had expressed his concern about the alarming level to which corruption had risen in government departments in the country. Yet, the prime minister of the world's largest democracy with an apparently booming economy expressed his helplessness from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15 August 2011, saying that his government had 'no magic wand' to tackle the menace of corruption. The next day, a farmer-soldier of yesteryears, Anna Hazare, took it upon himself to tackle the evil with hunger his invincible weapon and power. Lo and behold, even the unwilling government started moving within a fortnight.
It is sickening to see leaders on whom the nation has bestowed power and authority to lead the country in such a pathetic, callous and helpless state. The prime minister has publicly confessed his helplessness against corruption, the finance minister has confessed his inability to do much against price rise, and the home minister now raises his hands against terror attacks, too. At a time when people and civil society groups are demanding greater accountability, we find the authorities audaciously justifying their failures and inaction.
When it rains in Delhi or Mumbai, roads become canals in the absence of any functional drainage system despite huge money spent (or siphoned off). Thanks to our accountability practice, the culprits do not even take note of who is watching and reporting about their misdeeds, for they know that life would go on as usual the day after. In the worst case scenario of 'punitive action', they are deft enough to meander through an odd transfer or suspension and get back to where one would wish to be. Harsher administrative actions, though existing in service statutes, are never invoked by the superiors for fear of being exposed themselves.
Are our ministers disoriented in their vision and perceptions? Yes, it appears so. Otherwise why should an otherwise brilliant home minister like P Chidambaram publicly express his helplessness in preventing terror attacks? What message is he sending out by expressing the government's weakness and vulnerability? By implication, his 'confessed inability' serves to boost the morale and spirit of the terrorists to make bolder moves. On the other hand, such helplessness emanating from the highest authority is bound to induce a sense of despondency among the police and security forces. It could destroy their confidence and morale while they need to be motivated, confident, swift and efficient to handle crises with professional zeal and finesse.
It was also strange that the home minister quoted the US experience saying that even that country continued to suffer casualties from terror despite their war against the menace in Iraq and Afghanistan. One would wish the learned home minister knew that there has not been a single terror attack in the US post 9/11, whereas the FBI and state security apparatus have often nipped possible terror attacks at the inception stage. How disappointing that despite attacks on Parliament House, the Red Fort and repeated blasts in Mumbai and Delhi, our intelligence agencies refused to wake up from their slumber, even as David Headley and his accomplice Rana surveyed and recorded vital data that helped the ISI plan the 26/11 attack on Mumbai and who knows how many more.
Further, if our learned home minister is eager to follow the US as an example of how to deal with terrorism, he would know how 'Operation Geronimo' was conducted to get to Osama bin Laden in his 'safe house' in the heart of Pakistan. Osama bin Laden was unarmed and, as per reports, wanted to surrender to the US Navy Seals during the raid. But the US commando shot him in the forehead from point-blank range. A government that espouses human rights and preaches about the legal process over summary executions, not only killed an unarmed Osama bin Laden, but also wrapped his body and dumped it in the Arabian Sea for the sharks to devour the remains of the world's most wanted terrorist. This was to foreclose the possibility of any mausoleum coming up on his grave if his body was left behind to be buried.
Contrast this with India's stance in dealing with those who had the audacity to attack Parliament House, the symbol of our national prestige and authority. The government is timidly avoiding carrying out sentences awarded by the Supreme Court against the nation's enemies like Afzal Guru and others, despite their having exhausted all legal recourse open to them, including review petitions and mercy petitions for grant of clemency to the President of India. Are we waiting for someone to call us from Kandahar or Peshawar to release and deliver Afzal Guru there in exchange for Rahul Gandhi or a handful of other pricy Indians?
Rather than improving our own systems, training and accountability standards, we seem to have outsourced intelligence to the US, as is clear from our frequent whining over why the American agencies are not informing us! As if the CIA and FBI bosses should be reporting to the Indian home minister. Nevertheless, it was the US intelligence agencies that informed us about how and where the Mumbai 26/11 attack was planned.
But who will tell the worthy home minister that the country is not asking him about our casualties in the battlefields of Siachen Glacier, or in a direct armed conflict on the Indo-Pak borders. Our gallant soldiers will fight and even sacrifice their lives because they are face-to-face with the enemy. Even the police and unarmed citizens will fight and chase the terrorists if only they are told when and where the threat is likely to come from. But letting our unsuspecting people fall easy prey to the terrorists in the heart of the national capital repeatedly is certainly a sign of inefficiency, weakness and unpardonable callousness.
It is crucial for a rising India to address its inner ailments and enforce stringent accountability norms to ensure that 'omissions' and delinquent conduct in performance are summarily punished. Unless we do so, we are heading towards chaos.
(The writer is a military veteran who commanded an Infantry battalion with many successes in counter-terrorist operations. He was also actively involved in numerous high-risk operations as second in command of the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guard (NSG.) He conducts leadership training and is the author of two bestsellers on leadership development that have also been translated into foreign languages).
Pankaj Kapoor, managing director, Liases Foras, explains what is wrong with increased capital inflow in the realty business
Despite abysmal property sales, prices have been increasing. While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made borrowing more difficult, developers have been turning to other players for money, and in most cases, they have succeeded. However, whether the capital has come in through private equity or any other means, it is only making the market more inefficient, said Pankaj Kapoor, managing director, Liases Foras. He was speaking at a seminar organised by the Moneylife Foundation last weekend.
Data put together by Liases Foras shows that though private equity deals have gone up both in value and volume, sales have gone down. Inventory has been piling up as equity inflow has increased, but there is hardly any offtake.
Mr Kapoor explained how builders get finance through private equity. "We had an interesting insight while studying y-o-y increase in floor space construction in the main cities. Except Pune, where construction has gone up by almost 60%, all other cities have recorded a decrease. It means that apart from Pune, realty projects in other cities have failed to take off and there has been no construction," Mr Kapoor said.
Even when the builders declare that the whole project has been 'sold out', there is no construction. So after some days, many customers sell their property to another buyer, and demand their deposit from the developer after deducting transfer charges. With no construction underway, the builder has not received any other payment from the customer apart from the amount deposited at the time of booking.
"So the cycle goes on. Developers are not receiving any money-they only get the deeds and certificates for sales. Then they go for IPOs to raise money and approach private equity players," said Mr Kapoor.
The builders convince the private equity financers that that area is a good market, showing him the multiple deeds of property sales. "But the truth is, there is no actual sale, nobody has made money out of it. Everything is only in trading. Still, the private equity flows in," he said. But since there are no sales, neither the builder nor the PE players make any money. In most cases, the PE players exit after seeing losses over time. The builder, meanwhile, has seen no sales, and is about to go bankrupt.
"Lot of people say that private equity is the solution. How come then some developers have almost Rs38,000 crore in debt? This is exactly how in many investments in NCR, money has gone down the drain," said Mr Kapoor.
There are other dubious sources of capital too. "Money also comes in through various other opaque means, and this prevents the prices from coming down. The people involved hold back. But there are no sales, and the areas where these buildings come up are uninhabited. Other buyers then shy away from such locations," he said.
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