Participants in the Moneylife Foundation’s event addressed by the Chief Election Commissioner share how big the problem of a wrong voters’ list is
“Keeping an accurate voters’ list is something we see as one of the most difficult tasks. Dead and bogus voters populate the voters list,” admitted Dr SY Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), speaking at a seminar organised by Moneylife Foundation and V Citizens Action Network (VCAN) on Tuesday.
While answering to a question raised by Mrs Indrani Malkani, trustee of VCAN, about the voters’ list being highly inflated due to non-deletion of names of deceased persons, Dr Quraishi said, “It is indeed a serious problem. But Election Commission (EC) has to manage the entire country with only 600 staff. And there are lots of responsibilities that we have to take care of.”
Mrs Malkani had pointed out that there are many names in the voters’ lists of people who were no more. However, though it is the duty of the family members to notify the authorities of births and deaths, many do not do so. She said, “The state of Maharashtra has issued a circular, which says that co-operative housing societies must assist the booth level officers (BLOs) in making an accurate voters’ list.” Praful Vora, spokesperson for India Against Corruption, also highlighted the issue of bogus voters.
Dr Quraishi agreed and said that in Uttar Pradesh, the EC identified 53 lakh deceased voters whose names were still in the lists, and had them removed. Similarly, 83 lakh missing voters were identified; who had shifted to other states, but there was no way to ensure whether they would be coming back or not.
“These dead or missing voters are very dangerous, because they leave room for bogus voters,” Dr Quraishi said. He explained how keeping photo records of voters not only made voters lists more accurate but also stopped people from voting multiple times.
However, he said that civil society organisations must participate in the process and assist the government to maintain accurate electoral rolls.
In Manipur, the number of voters has gone down because the EC now uses face recognition software to identify voters, which kept bogus voters at bay. In the recently concluded polls, Dr Quraishi hinted that re-polling may occur in some booths were proxy-voting had been reported.
However, the Chief Election Commissioner also said that people should come out and vote, because absent voters often leave ground for bogus voters. “When you do not vote, the turnout is less; this makes it easier for criminal voters to win. They then deploy their agents who vote in the place of these absentee voters,” Dr Quraishi said. Indeed, if one eliminates the bogus voters from the list, the voter turnout is not too bad in India.
Nifty has to breach 5,170 or 5275 to set a direction
Selling pressure, which increased in the second half of trade, and weak global cues led the market lower today. Yesterday we had mentioned that we may see the Nifty moving sideways in a narrow range of 5,185 and 5,275. Today the index was capped in this range. At present the index is in a “no direction” phase. An uptrend may be seen if the benchmark manages to close above the previous day’s high. However, the downside bias may continue if the index closes below 5,170. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 69.09 crore shares, which was below its 10 day moving average.
Unsupportive global cues caused the domestic market to open lower, after registering gains of over 1% yesterday. US stocks, which settled lower overnight on weak economic data, also led the Asian pack down in morning trade. Back home, the Nifty started trade at 5,232, down 11 points from its previous close and the Sensex was down 23 points at 17,234.
The market drifted lower after the opening bell as stocks of consumer durables, banking, realty and metals were under pressure in early trade. However, select buying, which began at around 10.00am, pushed the market higher. Despite being in the negative, the upmove enabled the indices hit their intraday highs in mid-morning trade. At the highs, the Nifty rose to 5,237 and the Sensex moved up to 17,246.
However, intense selling pressure in sectors like consumer durables, realty and banking pushed the market further southwards in post-noon trade. The benchmarks fell to their day’s lows at around 3.00pm as the European indices, which opened mixed, were trading in the red. At the lows, the Nifty went down to 5,169 and the Sensex dropped to 17,040.
A minor recovery in the last half hour ensured the market close above those levels. At the close, the Nifty fell by 48 points to 5,195 and the Sensex settled 136 points lower at 17,122.
The advance-decline ratio on the NSE was 475:1411.
Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index declined 0.87% and the BSE Small-cap index dropped 1.08%.
BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.29%) and BSE Healthcare (up 0.22%) settled while the other 11 sectoral indices were in the red. BSE Consumer Durables (down 3.32%); BSE Bankex (down 1.73%); BSE PSU (down 1.58%); BSE Realty (down 1.57%) and BSE Oil & Gas (down 1.23%) were the top losers.
Tata Steel (up 2.02%); Maruti Suzuki (up 0.98%); Wipro (up 0.69%); ITC (up 0.53%) and Larsen & Toubro (up 0.36%) topped the Sensex list while Hindalco Industries, ONGC (down 2.75% each); Sterlite Industries (down 2.32%), State Bank of India (down 2.28%) and ICICI Bank (down 1.93%) settled at the bottom.
The key winners on the Nifty were Tata Steel (up 2.01%); Dr Reddy’s (up 1.55%); Ranbaxy (up 1.34%); Siemens (up 1.21%) and Maruti Suzuki (up 1.14%). The major losers were Jaiprakash Associates (down 5.29%); Cairn India (down 4.24%); Reliance Power (down 3.79%); Kotak Mahindra Bank (down 3.72%) and Reliance Communications (down 3.38%).
Markets in Asia settled mostly lower on fresh debt concerns and a report from Societe Generale SA which indicated lower earnings growth in China. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on Tuesday said that Europe’s problems remain challenging as austerity measures and a dour financial situation is impacting short-term growth.
The Shanghai Composite tumbled 2.65%; the Hang Seng declined 0.79%; KLSE Composite fell by 0.27%; the Nikkei 225 dropped 0.71%; the Straits Times shed 0.10% and the Seoul Composite was down 0.39%. On the other hand, the Jakarta Composite gained 0.27% and the Taiwan Weighted rose 0.11%. At the time of writing, two of the three key European indices were in the negative while the US stocks futures were trading higher.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares amounting to Rs42.99 crore on Tuesday while domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities totalling Rs290.05 crore.
Infrastructure and construction major Gayatri Projects today said it has raised Rs144 crore through a rights issue of shares. The rights issue, which was open for subscription from 5th March till 19th March, has been fully subscribed. The stock closed 3.67% down at Rs115.50 on the NSE.
Pharma major Panacea Biotec today said it is scaling up production of anti-cancer products with the commissioning of its new facility at Baddi in Himachal Pradesh, set up at an investment of Rs55 crore. The new manufacturing facility that started production from today will have an annual production capacity of around 1.2 million vials. The stock 1.47% closed lower at Rs67.25 on the NSE.
Mahindra Ugine Steel said on Wednesday that its board has approved sale 65 acres of land at its stampings unit at Kanhe, in Pune district of Maharashtra. “The current valuation indicates a value of around Rs89 crore for the said piece of land,” the company said in a filing to the BSE. The stock gained 1.74% to close at Rs52.50 on the NSE.
Srei Infrastructure Finance got an order from the Calcutta High Court to restrict Fitch from publishing its current ratings in their year-long dispute
Fitch Ratings said it cannot publish or update its ratings on Kolkata-based Srei Infrastructure Finance (Srei InfraFin) due to an order from the Calcutta High Court. Srei InfraFin, on the other hand, has refused to comment saying that the matter is sub-judice. This is the first instance, not just in India, but across the world where one company has restricted a ratings agency from publishing ratings through an order from the court.
In a statement, Srei InfraFin said, “In view of the fact that various media persons are wanting to know the reaction of Srei on the information published by Fitch today, we would like to mention that this matter has gone to the Calcutta High Court. There has been long protracted dispute for last one year between the parties resulting the matter taking a legal shape. Since the matter is sub-judice, it would not be possible for us to comment on this matter anymore”.
Earlier, in a release, the ratings agency said, "Fitch Ratings has received an order from the High Court at Calcutta dated 20 March 2012 pursuant to which Fitch India has been restrained from publishing a rating action with regards to SREI Infrastructure Finance. Fitch is therefore unable at this time to publish a current rating on the issuer, according to Fitch.”
The application filed by Srei InfraFin is scheduled to be heard on 29 March 2012. Earlier, during a hearing on 22nd March, Fitch told the court that under the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Credit Rating Agencies) Regulations, 1999, it is bound to make a credit rating of an issuer (Srei InfraFin) and publish it in the print media and its website otherwise its licence was liable to be cancelled.
After this submission, justice IP Mukerji, allowed Fitch to submit a copy of the court order to SEBI for record.
Last year in March, Fitch had accorded“AA-” (AA minus) ratings on Srei InfraFin’s bonds of Rs250 crore sold in 2010. Fitch also changed its outlook on the bonds to negative from stable in 2011 citing growing leverage at both Srei InfraFin and its main operating unit Srei Equipment Finance Pvt Ltd. It said, the negative outlook reflects high credit risk posed by the low seasoning and high concentration in Srei InfraFin’s infrastructure project finance books that were adding pressures on rating levels at that time.