Citizens' Issues
Khushwant Singh passes away at 99

Khushwant Singh, who was ill and had faded from public life, passed away in Delhi

Noted author and journalist Khushwant Singh, one of the finest Indian writers in English in contemporary times, died in Delhi on Thursday at the age of 99.


The veteran writer, who was ill and had faded from public life, passed away "very, very peacefully", his son Rahul Singh, also a journalist said on his demise.


He led a very full life, Rahul said, adding, he had some breathing problems.


People associated with the well-known raconteur paid tributes on social media and recalled their time shared with him.


Calling him a remarkable man and a great writer, veteran journalist Mark Tully said Kushwant Singh had a great sense of humour. "He never minced his words and was a courageous person. I remember once having dinner with him when he showed up his tremendous knowledge about Urdu poetry. What a lovable man he was!" said Tully.


Journalist and author, MJ Akbar said Khushwant Singh was an admirable man. "I have this unreserved gratitude for him. I was a kid, 20-year-old in a newspaper, and he really picked us up from nothing. He gave us opprtunities which were undreamt of for any young person wanting to do anything," he said.


Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Rajmohan Gandhi remembered Singh as someone with a desire to build other people. "Apart from being a popular writer and utterly fearless man, what I found unusual in him, very rare in others was his great desire to build other people. He was always praising new authors, giving time to them. He was frank in his verdicts," said Gandhi.


People from all walks of life took to Twitter to offer their condolences.


"The bulb is extinguished ...Goodbye Khushwant Singh," tweeted journalist Ashok Malik.


"So Khushwant Singh goes, like we all must. what a life led! a 100 would have been excellent but he gave us 99 & we must be thankful for that," tweeted cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle.


‘Don’t get too excited by election outcome’

Even if the BJP-led government comes to power, it may not mean the start of an investment cycle, cautions Credit Suisse because only a fourth of projects are stuck with the central government; the rest are constrained by overcapacity, balance sheets, or state governments

At the cusp of elections that can transform the policy-making and administrative landscape, India's prospects are in stark contrast to the troubles in several Emerging Markets (EMs). However, don’t get your hopes too high, says Credit Suisse. Although hopes are high among investors that elections can re-start the investment cycle, it may not happen easily, feels the investment banking firm.


According to a Credit Suisse research report, there are four possibilities post the general elections. One, Narendra Modi leading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with just two-three partners. Second, Modi leading the government with five-six allies. Third NDA leader other than Modi leading the government with 8-10 allies and last, the third front government with outside support from Congress. What are the economic prospects under each of these scenarios?


Opinion polls have predicted a stronger victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and currently put 230+ seats for the alliance.


However, Credit Suisse says, "We find the opinion polls an unreliable indicator of the upcoming election results, due to the flaws in raw data collection; insufficient sampling given the large variations in voting behaviour and subjective interpretation. However, in the absence of any better predictions, the market is likely to assume the opinion polls as indicative."


According to the research report, the performance in the immediate aftermath of election results is likely to be dependent on the electoral outcome. "Given the recent opinion poll results and the resultant market excitement, we believe the market's base case is Scenario I, i.e. 220+ seats for the NDA. This would enable the BJP to form a government with far fewer allies, possibly just two-three (272 is the number of seats needed for majority), with several other potential allies waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Such a government would be stable and strong, and excite the market, as it would allow for administrative stability and meaningful legislative action," it said.



Third front government?

According to Credit Suisse, in an extreme result, though much less likely would be if the BJP-led NDA gets less than 180 seats, which could open the possibility of a third front government or a coalition of disparate regional parties, which have no common agenda. Congress may end up supporting this government from the outside, i.e. it would not have any ministers, but would vote with the government on various issues.


"Such a scenario could potentially drive a ratings downgrade a few months later, and investors may be apprehensive of redemptions and an outflow of funds from India that cannot invest in economies rated below investment grade," Credit Suisse said.


New coalition with/without Modi as PM

Between the two extremes, where BJP-led NDA would secure more than 220 seats or less than 180 seats, there are two scenarios, as per the research report. One is a not so emphatic verdict in favour of the BJP-led NDA, driving them into uncomfortable alliances, which would constrain their reformist tendencies, at least in the eyes of the market. Within these two, the markets may be more enthused by Scenario II than Scenario III. “If the BJP-led NDA were to get less than 200 seats, the necessity of forging a coalition could potentially see a leader other than Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister," Credit Suisse said.


"However," it added, "we believe the market's early optimism is misplaced. Based on constituency-wise analysis of earlier election results and how strongly vote share can swing in one election shows the far more likely scenario is 190-204."


Elections won't kick-start investments

According to Credit Suisse, over the last three years, India has seen a sharp slowdown in investment. Hopes are high among investors that particular electoral verdicts can kick-start investments in a short period of time. But "even if the electoral verdict is favourable, such misplaced optimism ignores the realities of the business cycle, and overestimates the powers of the central government. Only a fourth of investment projects under implementation are stuck with the central government; the rest are constrained by overcapacity, balance sheets, or state governments," the report says.


Credit Suisse said, "Two-thirds of the projects awaiting central approval are in Power and Steel sectors, both wracked with massive overcapacity, obviating new investments. True utilisation in thermal power generation is below 60%, near 20-year lows (reported PLF is 65%). Of the litany of problems in the sector, two are crucial: state electricity board (SEB) reforms, and coal availability. The sudden stoppage of working capital loans to SEBs, risks of fuel price pass-through schemes, and stalled reduction in AT&C losses has hurt demand growth. The central government cannot revive it: state governments need to. Similarly, solutions for anaemic coal production growth i.e., restructuring Coal India and coal block auctions are likely to take several years."


Talking about challenges everywhere, the report says legal challenges are likely to stall the National Highways projects, and matter less for India's road network; Railways lacks financial muscle, and private partnership schemes are yet to take off. The government may also struggle to give a fiscal boost as the underlying stresses in government finances remain.


Going forward, Credit Suisse said, it sees three distinct phases in the Indian market. (1) the run-up to the elections, (2) the period immediately after elections (say three months), and (3) the period that ends with the calendar year 2014, where economic delivery and earnings changes will drive the market.


"Unlike a mean-reversal rally where investors jump on to stocks that had fallen the most in the prior period, the recent rally has focused on sectors benefiting from a revival in large-scale infrastructure investment. With the sectors that had outperformed thus far, i.e. IT, healthcare and staples remaining unchanged, the Indian market has been among the best performing globally in the past month," it said.


According to Credit Suisse, irrespective of which of the Scenarios plays out, the markets are likely to discover that the path of the economy hasn't changed and earnings trajectories of various sectors are unchanged. "In this phase, 'defensive' sectors like IT, healthcare and staples, and more bottom-up stories like in energy or consumer discretionary are likely to outperform, in our view," the report concludes.



Challa Hanumanth Rao

3 years ago

I am very much delighted that MONEY LIFE is publishing many good articles and it is very good .
Especially "Don’t get too excited by election outcome’
It is a realistic analysis of the events.

Request to collect opinions from eminent economists and intellectuals like Amrthya sen,SubbaRao,YV Reddy etc about what we have to do.Examle :Advise the voters on how best to utilise their vote. Build forums and get the election promises recorded and educate voters on how to pressurise the Political parties to impelemnt the promises made.

Legal help line is another excellent idea being implemented by MONEYLIFE.

I am hole heartedly appreciating MONEY LIFE and wish to come out with many such ideas and implement it for the benefit of society.

Challa Hanumanth Rao

Suiketu Shah

3 years ago

Agree.Main problem is Mr Modi and Co wl have to reverse loads of wrongdoings of the Congress of last several yrs which itself wl take quite some time maybe more than 1 yr.

CBI initiates action against fake doctors

Several doctors, who studied in the Commonwealth of Independent States or CIS countries are practising in India without fulfilling necessary formalities and taking permission from the MCI

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday launched a nationwide operation against medical practitioners operating on the basis of fake degrees and documents obtained from the Medical Council of India (MCI).


According to sources, CBI has got information that several doctors, who studied in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries are practising in India without fulfilling necessary formalities.


It also came to light that some of them allegedly colluded with officers from MCI, who gave them permission to practice in exchange of illegal gratification even as the doctors did not fulfil necessary parameters.


“When the report came to us, we viewed it with utmost seriousness and today after finalising the first information report (FIR), we have carried out nationwide searches,” CBI Director Ranjit Sinha told reporters.


The sources said CBI started a coordinated search operation across the country. “This is an important case as such people were playing with the lives of patients,” Sinha said.


Earlier this month, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party (AAP) has accused Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) providing patronage to Dr Ketan Desai, the former chief of MCI. According to AAP, despite the ongoing criminal cases pending against Dr Desai, these parties are helping him to gain re-entry in the MCI, which oversees medical education in the country.


In 2012, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a charge sheet against Dr Desai for allegedly taking bribe from the management of a Patiala-based private medical college. He was also arrested later. In 2001, the Delhi High Court had removed Desai as MCI president on charges of 'misuse of office'.


After the arrest of Dr Desai in April 2010, MCI was dissolved by the government and a board of governors managed the affairs of the Council for three and half years. However the MCI was again restored in early November 2013 by the government.


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