World
Lahore blast: Taliban suicide bomber targeting Christians kills 69
Lahore : A powerful blast ripped through a public park in Lahore where Christian families were celebrating Easter on Sunday, killing 69 people and wounding over 250, mostly women and children.
 
The blast, apparently caused by a suicide bomber, occurred in a parking lot at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, one of the largest parks in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, said Haider Ashraf, a senior police official here.
 
"Some 65-70 people have been killed, included women and children, and over 250 were injured," an Edhi spokesperson told IANS.
 
The splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it deliberately targeted Christians on Easter Sunday.
 
“We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter,” a spokesperson for the terrorist group was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
 
“It was part of our annual martyrdom attacks we have started this year,” he said and warned that more attacks would follow.
 
“We had been waiting for this occasion... we want to convey... to the prime minister that we we have arrived in Punjab and we will reach you," it added.
 
The 67-acre park is frequented both by residents and visitors to the city, and is popular with families. It has walking paths as well as rides for children.
 
"It was a soft target. Innocent women and children and visitors from other cities have been targeted," Ashraf said. "Apparently, it seems like a suicide attack."
 
The explosion coincided with violence in other parts of the country as hundreds of protesters took to the streets to condemn the February 29 execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who had killed Salman Taseer, a governor who campaigned for changes in the country's blasphemy laws, in January 2011.
 
Sunday was the 40th day since Qadri's execution, a mourning observance called 'chehlum' in Pakistan, and drew his supporters into the streets of a number of cities, including Rawalpindi, one of the country's largest urban areas.
 
Taseer had tried to soften the blasphemy laws, which he said had been used to persecute religious minorities. But to many in Pakistan, the idea of altering the blasphemy laws was itself criminal, and to his supporters Qadri has become a revered figure.
 
Protesters clashed throughout the day with police in Islamabad, marching on the main avenues of the city and trying to force their way into the Red Zone, a high-security area that includes the parliament building, the Supreme Court and many diplomatic missions.
 
Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters, but appeared to be overwhelmed by their numbers. The protesters said they planned to hold a sit-in on Sunday night in front of the parliament building. Army was called in to secure government buildings.
 
A state of emergency was imposed on hospitals in Lahore after the blast. Television footage showed rescue workers and ambulances rushing to the park and ferrying victims to hospitals.
 
Distraught relatives milled about in hospital corridors as the wounded were treated.
 
"There was no prior intelligence report about the attack," Muhammad Usman, the district coordination officer in Lahore, told reporters.
 
Usman rebutted some reports that Christians were targeted in the blast. "The park belongs to all," he was quoted as saying.
 
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced a three-day mourning in the province.
 
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and expressed his grief over the blast.
 
"The coward terrorists attacked children and women," Modi said.
 
"It's condemnable to attack innocent children and women. We are with the Pakistani nation at the time of this grief movement," Express News quoted Modi as saying.
 
"Heard about the blast in Lahore. I strongly condemn it. My condolences to families of the deceased & prayers with the injured: PM," Modi tweeted from his PMO India account.
 
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf leader Imran Khan strongly condemned the blast. "Strongly condemn the terror attack in Lahore in which our innocent citizens including women & children lost their lives."
 
The US condemned as "cowardly" the suicide attack, vowing to work with Pakistan to defeat those sowing terror in the country.
 
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms today's appalling terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan," National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a White House statement.
 
British Prime Minister David Cameron also expressed shock over the deadly attack and expressed his desire to give all possible support in the hour of grief.
 
"I'm shocked by the terrorist attack in Lahore. My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims. We will do what we can to help," Cameron tweeted.
 
Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people, is plagued by a Taliban insurgency, criminal gangs and sectarian violence. Punjab is its biggest and wealthiest province but has traditionally been more peaceful than other parts of Pakistan.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Lahore attack: Facebook sorry after 'safety check' tool goes haywire
New York : The social networking giant Facebook apologised on Monday after a bug turned its "safety check" feature into a breaking news alert for all users after a powerful blast ripped through a public park in Lahore, killing 69 people and injuring over 250.
 
Facebook turns on the "Safety Check" feature to help let friends and family know they are safe in case being trapped after a natural disaster or terror attack.
 
But in the case of Lahore terror attack, people nowhere nearby, or even near Pakistan, received notifications, Quartz reported.
 
In fact, people as far as New York city, South Africa, Nepal and Canada tweeted about receiving the "Safety Check" notification activated after the Lahore bombing.
 
"We activated Safety Check in Lahore, Pakistan, after a bombing took place there. Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. We worked to resolve the issue and we apologise to anyone who mistakenly received the notification," a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying.
 
According to a post from Facebook's disaster response team, "this kind of bug is counter to the product's intent."
 
In January when a powerful earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale rocked Manipur, Facebook activated its "Safety Check" tool to help people in the area let friends and family know they are safe.
 
Facebook had also activated the feature for its users in flood-hit Chennai to provide them with a way to reassure loved ones that they are safe.
 
The blast, apparently caused by a suicide bomber, occurred in a parking lot at Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park, one of the largest parks in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province of Pakistan.
 
The splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it deliberately targeted Christians on Easter Sunday.
 
"We claim responsibility for the attack on Christians as they were celebrating Easter," a spokesperson for the terrorist group was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
 
"It was part of our annual martyrdom attacks we have started this year," he said and warned that more attacks would follow.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Why Savers Have Stayed Away from Stocks for Two Decades
SEBI is preoccupied with more powers, hefty fines and other issues which have nothing to do with investor interest or protection
 
At Moneylife, we are of the firm view that investment in good stocks for the long term (7-10 years) is the only way that people can hope to beat inflation and grow their savings to last them through a couple of decades of life after retirement. Except ‘government servants’, who are on an inflation-adjusted salary and pensions, all of us have to worry about how much to save, to take care of galloping healthcare costs, cost of services, food and education. 
 
But investors dread the capital market and with good reason too. Moneylife has repeatedly pointed out, over the past 10 years, that India’s investor population has shrunk in the 25 years since we embarked on economic liberalisation. People are scared about investing in the market after being scammed by market manipulation, inadequate disclosures, dubious management practices and initial public offerings (IPOs) at inflated prices that seldom leave room for returns. Worse, complaints to the regulator are a waste of time and resources, since policy-makers have yet to grasp the fact that investors are more concerned about getting their money back than seeing the culprits punished.  
 
Yes, 25 years after the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was set up as an independent regulator and its powers expanded comprehensively to make it one of India’s most powerful regulators, investor confidence in the capital market remains dishearteningly low. SEBI has never publicly acknowledged this issue, let alone address it. Hence, it was refreshing to read that Ashish Chauhan, CEO of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), said recently that India’s investor population “has reduced in the last 20 years, despite many technological advances and there is a need to introspect as to what led to the fall.” Mr Chauhan estimates that India has 270 million investors; while the Indian middle-class has grown 10 times in the past two decades, the investor population has remained the same. Our estimate of the investor population is considerably lower. But acknowledging a problem is the first step towards addressing it. It is now important that the regulator also admits that there is a serious issue and works on fixing it. 
 
Unfortunately, SEBI is more focused on expanding its regulatory remit and increasing its punitive powers, rather than on redress of investor grievances. Although it is already one of the most powerful securities regulators in the world, SEBI is lobbying for powers to conduct search and seizure operations without getting a court warrant (as required under the regulations notified in September 2015). A court warrant is a basic judicial oversight prevalent in most developed nations to prevent flagrant misuse of powers by regulators; however, SEBI argues that local courts do not understand markets and are quick to grant stay orders to companies or individuals against SEBI action. A former SEBI law official is quoted as saying that getting permission for a raid leads to leakage of information and destruction of documents. If these are SEBI’s arguments to demand unbridled powers, then, we, the people, can make a far stronger case to hold the regulator accountable and make it less capricious and more transparent in its dealings. Consider this: 
 
  1. The casual manner in which SEBI used its power of arrest for the first time after the sweeping 2014 amendment of its Act itself makes a strong case against granting more powers to the regulator. Its action came in for serious criticism by the Bombay High Court.
  2. SEBI claims that information is leaked during a court process; but this is symptomatic of the massive corruption in India, including in SEBI. Let us also not forget the 2008 episode where a SEBI manager, Jerome K Alexander, colluded with market operator Nirmal Kotecha to fabricate an official SEBI letter which was sent to Pyramid Saimira asking it to make an open offer. SEBI was unconcerned that its order to send Pyramid Saimira into liquidation, instead of forcing a change in management, caused massive losses to shareholders and employees. There are other instances where even senior SEBI officials have been under scrutiny, including in the Saradha scam.
  3. There are innumerable examples where SEBI has steadfastly refused to act against certain powerful companies or has acted selectively, despite documentary evidence supplied to it. Helios & Matheson is one such case. Thanks to long years of inaction by SEBI, the company has effortlessly cheated hundreds of senior citizens who were lured to invest in its fixed deposits. 
  4. Media reports, including documents seen by this writer, suggest that SEBI did not act on specific information on Vijay Mallya’s foreign transactions when it was tracking Anil Ambani’s dealings with Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS).  
  5. In another case involving a powerful media house, SEBI’s refusal to act on written complaints for several years has, finally, landed up as a complaint with the Central Vigilance Commission. 
  6. Even on simple matters, like taking cognisance of anonymous complaints, SEBI has different standards. It will follow the rules and ignore anonymous complaints when it chooses to (including those against its own chairman) and go to the extent of seeking a response from the board of directors, in select cases. The rules vary according to the entity involved. 
  7. Finally, SEBI has landed in a soup over the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) interpretation of its discretion to reduce penalties under Section 15J of the SEBI Act, after it was amended, in 2002.  SEBI’s consent orders, as well as the penalties that it levied, have usually been decided without a clear and written linkage to the gravity of the wrongdoing. If one entity was levied a penalty of Rs1 lakh for insider trading, another may be slapped with Rs1-crore penalty, without any explanation. This game may have come to end with a case involving Roofit Industries. This company had repeatedly ignored SEBI’s show-cause notices amd had been slapped with a Rs1-crore penalty in 2002. The appellate tribunal cut it drastically, to Rs60,000, since Roofit was then on the verge of bankruptcy. SEBI filed an appeal and the SC delivered a bombshell in November 2015. It said that between the amendments of 2002 and 2014 to the SEBI Act, the wordings of the law provide the regulator no discretion to reduce penalties. On the contrary, the law was amended specifically to enhance penalties. SEBI is likely to seek a review of the order; but, until then, all undecided cases in the 12-year period (and there are many) will be in limbo. 
 
A common thread that runs through the examples cited above is that none of them benefits or relates to the ordinary investor who may have lost his shirt due to stock price manipulation, cheating by intermediaries, insider trading, poor accounting or dodgy disclosures. Whether SEBI collects a fat payment under consent proceedings or levies a hefty fine on a wrongdoer, who has been cheated by an intermediary or wrong corporate accounts and disclosures, there is no specific relief for the investor. 
 
SEBI’s policies must be framed to ensure grievance resolution rather than imposing penalties that only support its vast and expanding bureaucracy. Take the case of IPOs whose prices head south on listing. The intermediaries are directly responsible for disclosures and omissions in the prospectus. Investment bankers or auditors have almost never faced the music, so why will they mend their ways and ensure fair pricing? Until regulatory action is recast with investor interests in mind, only a few investors, with access to serious financial analysis or knowledge of trading, will invest in equities. All others will stay away. 

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COMMENTS

Sagar Rao

1 year ago

Really good article.

Fairy gada

1 year ago

Being a financial writer, I keep on praising SEBI in my blogs and articles and telling investors that SEBI is there for you...

Need to edit those sentences and add "theoritically SEBI is for investors..."

Pushpesh Kumar Sharma

1 year ago

hope this article helps to break the slumber of SEBI.
pushpesh kumar, bathinda, punjab

sundararaman gopalakrishnan

1 year ago

Excellent article..You have hit the nail on the head..SEBI works for the rich and powerful only.
The ordinary investor does not benefit at all thru SEBI's existence
No doubt, the common man is afraid of stock markets and instead parks his money in Gold and real estate

V ganesan

1 year ago

I am a mutual fund ifa I advice people to invest based on their needs and advice only for long term through systematic investment .But majority of the savers ask me returns .i reminded them my own experience Between years 1992 and 2002 market return is nil.I frankly point out that period .Where as savers ready to put money in insurance and ready to wait 15 to 20 years for a pathetic return.because confidence level is very high in insurance but people are not beleiving mutual funds or direct equities.I am not selling insurance .and lot og mf agents and insurance agents gave false promises and missold mf schemes at the 2003 to 2008 bullrun.

REPLY

Fairy gada

In Reply to V ganesan 1 year ago

This was helpful. Thanks.

manoharlalsharma

1 year ago

Why Savers Have Stayed Away from Stocks for Two Decades / Ans; is Not only SEBI but all of the agencies failed to deal with complaints and no one has time to followup year after years even courts r failed.

Mohan Sivanand

1 year ago

The question now is how will somebody convince investors that the stock market is a good place to grow wealth? Most people "invest" in insurance products because there are agents to lure them. An equity-investment culture can be created only if youngsters are financially educated. If that happens, the next generation will change things. It may now be difficult to convince older market-skeptics, especially those who may have lost money to scams and IPOs that never did well.

REPLY

Fairy gada

In Reply to Mohan Sivanand 1 year ago

My friend's father-65 years old, actively invests in d stock markets. My father-50 years old has 0 investments.

I dnt knw wht is he afraid of...

R Balakrishnan

In Reply to Mohan Sivanand 1 year ago

It is a constant dilemma in a country like ours. Savers, who cannot afford to lose money, are the ones who get badly impacted. They are all alone out there. My advise to people is that you should come in to equities, with money that you CAN afford to forget or lose. That, unfortunately, cuts out the majority of folks out there, who think that equities are a sure fire way to make money. The point, as Sucheta is making, is that we need a regulatory framework that protects us from fraud. Our risks just multiply, with careless regulators like these.

Divya Shah

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 8 months ago

i am new in Market. aur mere friend dalalstock.in ki services le rahe he. aur usne muje suggest kiya ki me bhi dalalstock.in ki servics lu. to mene google me dalal stock search kiya aur galti se dalalstocks.com ki service leli. aur uske bad meri capital zero hi hogai samjo.
to meri sab logo se guzaris he ki DalalStock.in se hi services le. dalalstock ka name use karke dalalstocks.com chala rahe he. dalalstocks.com se free me bhi services naa le.
kafi sare aise log hoge jo dalalstock.in aur dalalstocks.com me dhokha kha gaye hoge.
and sabse important baat ye hi dalalstock.in wale kabhi kisi ko samne se call nahi karte. agar aapko aisa koi call aaye to vo fraud he. because dalalstock.in ki services lene ke liye wait karna padta he.

Vivek Naik

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 1 year ago

excellent advice sir.

K. M. Rao

In Reply to R Balakrishnan 1 year ago

Sir, Why should I invest in stocks if I have to be prepared to forget or lose money when there are other alternatives ( atleast where my investment is safe) available ? This is the first stumbling block for those who can afford / want to invest in stocks. Unless this is satisfactorily addressed, no amount of "investor education" will help. Take my own case; I subscribed to this wonderful magazine and also to MSSN but I did not invest even a single rupee, though I can, as there are other safer and better options.

Fairy gada

In Reply to K. M. Rao 1 year ago

I dont think forget means to completely forget it. Just not to disturb it.

I read somewhere.. to cook the rice properly, proper amount of water must be added, accurate heat and time is required. if you keep on opening the lid again and again, you are spoiling the process. But this does not mean you have to forget that the stove is on.

this was compared to equity investing.

uttamkumar dubey

1 year ago

Nobody talks about transparency and even they does they dont implement it.

The rules and laws of SBI, LIC, PNB and alike can be floated by any powerful politicians to favor them making the country and people poorer...

i dont see any fairness, lets hope and pray for good luck and slowly gradually start to become corrupt.

Suketu Shah

1 year ago

One very important point I wish to make against MF agent,share brokers and esp wealth management companies-it is not that we investors are "greedy" for money and hence take high risk and lose money.It is that YOU PEOPLE fool us (due to our lack of knowledge) promising high returns and we fall for it.You people are cheats and frauds.We are not at fault.You people are at fault for cheating us with false promises when we used to be ignorant.We investors are NOT "greedy".

No wonder investors have fled equity markets as rightly pointed out in the super article above by Ms Dalal as SEBI has done nothing at all last several yrs to protect investors in equity markets or otherwise only watching the show like one is watching an Akshay Kumar movie.

Vaibhav Dhoka

1 year ago

SEBI's actions seem to be income garner SEBI never stood to to its PREAMBLE,For safeguarding investor but its action are anti investor and pro broker/corp orates.

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