Citizens' Issues
Moneylife Foundation honours women activists on International Women’s Day for the 4th year

Why it is important to have a special day to recognize Women’s issues and why this year is especially important

We live in strange times. One the one hand, almost all the glass ceilings that prevented Indian women from corporate achievement have been shattered. On the other, the rising sense of insecurity, that was manifest in the public protests that followed the gruesome gang-rape and death of a brave Delhi student have triggered the most regressive reactions and had a huge impact on women’s freedom.
Moneylife Foundation, since its inception has started a tradition of honouring women who have made a difference to some aspect of society. For details of our event this year, click here.
Just two years ago, when we still seemed to be marching ahead towards greater freedom for women, we honoured activists working on different aspects of civil society—school bus issues, advanced locality management, noise pollution, etc. The next year, we honoured activists who worked at ensuring that the rest of India caught up with those who were racing ahead and enjoying the fruits of liberalisation. In our third year, the two activists we honoured from Goa have devoted their lives to fighting child sexual abuse and trafficking of women. But if we thought that Goa’s problems were peculiar to a tourist paradise, we were so wrong. The Delhi gang-rape was a big wake up call! But it is a good time to recall the pioneering work done by two extraordinary activists for almost three decades on gender equality and working with some of the most marginalized people in India. 
Jyoti Mhapsekar and six friends set up Stree Mukti Sanghatana in 1975 to work with disadvantaged women. A playwright and songwriter—her play Mulgi Zhali Ho! (It’s Girl!) became a subject of household discussion and has also been translated into Hindi. 
This daughter of freedom fighters has now gone on to work with women ragpickers, who, she says, are at the lowest rung of the economic chain even in this work of sorting and clearing garbage. (Read more about her work in Moneylife : Beyond Money—Women for Women and the World Too!
Meena Seshu of SANGRAM is the other activist that Moneylife Foundation is honoured to felicitate.  SANGRAM, based in Sangli, is a sex workers’ collective which seeks to empower the women to fight for their human rights and work against the spread of HIV/AIDs. 
When Meena Seshu first entered a brothel in rural India, she was expecting a melodramatic scene from a Bollywood film, in which poor helpless women were being victimised by brutal, aggressive men. Seshu, who runs SANGRAM, an Indian non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works with sex workers to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, soon found that the reality was rather different. These women were, for the most part, in control of their lives, but through a combination of prejudice and fear were being mistreated by every section of society.  Meena’s work is best explained through this touching video.
Here is a glimpse of what Moneylife Foundation has done in the past:
Women’ Day 2010: Ms Kishori Udeshi, first woman deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India spoke on women’s rights and finance. That day, we honoured Ms Anandini Thakur, 82 and a well known civic activist, Ms Sumaira Abdulali of Awaaz Foundation which works on noise and environmental issues and Ms Indrani Malkani, who pioneered the safe schoolbus project.  (Know your bank as well, says Kishori J Udeshi of BCSBI, in Moneylife Event on International Women's Day and pictures here)
March 2011: Deena Mehta, the first lady director of the Bombay Stock Exchange was our chief guest. We felicitated:
Ms Nikita Ketkar of Masoom, an NGO that runs night schools for children; Ms Preeti Telang, of Swadhar Fin-Access, an NGO that teaches basics of financial literacy to marginalized people in Dharavi, Mumbai; and Ms Chandita Mukherjee, of Comet Media, which produces films and educational toys for children.
Women’s Day 2012: We felicitated two amazing women from Goa: 
Advocate Albertina Almeida, a women’s rights activist, and  Ms Nishtha Desai who has worked against child sexual abuse, got the government to pass a law to protect against paedophilia. (Moneylife Foundation honours Goa women activists and Pictures here)
Come and join us on Friday March 8th at Yacht Club, Colaba, to celebrate this year’s selection of women (supported by DSP BlackRock's Winvestor Initiative) who are making a difference to our world. Register now!


Wednesday Closing Report: Nifty, Sensex rally nearing exhaustion?

The rally that started on Monday morning may last for another two days. The Nifty may stall at around 5,850

The rally that started on Monday morning may last for another two days. The Nifty may stall at around 5,850.  The National Stock Exchange (NSE) recorded a volume of 72.52 crore shares and advance-decline ratio of 1045:474.
The market opened in the green on hopes of a recovery in the global economy. US markets had closed higher on Tuesday as the Institute for Supply Management's services index registered 56 from 55.2 in the previous month. Markets in Asia were in the positive in morning trade today tracking overnight gain in the US markets.
The Nifty opened 32 points higher at 5,816 and the Sensex started off at 19,254, a gain of 111 points over its previous close. A minor bout of profit taking in early trade saw the indices touching their intraday lows (albeit in the positive) around 9.45am. The Nifty fell to 5,795 and the Sensex went down to 19,195 at their respective lows.
Buying activity helped the market bounce back from their lows in subsequent trade. a firm opening of the key European indices kept the momentum intact in the second half of the trading session.
Sustained buying led the benchmarks to their highs around 1.45pm. At this point, the Nifty touched 5,829 and the Sensex climbed to 19,293. 
The market pared a small part of its gains on profit booking but settled in the green for the second day in a row. The Nifty advanced 34 points (0.59%) at 5,819 and the Sensex closed at 19,253, climbing 109 points (0.57%) over its previous close.
The broader indices outperformed the Sensex today, as the BSE Mid-cap index climbed 1.14% and the BSE Small-cap index climbed 1.50%.
Except for BSE FMCG (down 1.05%) and BSE Consumer Durables (down 0.44%) which ended in the negative, all the other sectoral indices closed in the positive. The top gainers were BSE Realty (up 4.52%); BSE Capital Goods (up 2.47%); BSE Metal (up 2.20%); BSE IT (up 1.32%) and BSE TECk (up 1.04%).
Eighteen of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The main gainers were Sterlite Industries (up 4.60%); Hindalco Industries (up 3.25%); Tata Motors (up 2.88%); Larsen & Toubro (up 2.86%) and Tata Steel (up 2.59%). Among the losers were Mahindra & Mahindra (down 2.16%); Hindustan Unilever (down 1.98%); ITC (down 1.57%); Maruti Suzuki (down 1.21%) and GAIL (down 0.83%). 
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—HDIL (up 12.23%) and Mahindra & Mahindra Finance (up 7.04%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—AstraZeneca Pharma India (down 7.27%) and MMTC (down 6.12%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—La Opala RG (up 20%) and Zuari Global (up 19.99%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—GSL Nova (down 12.93%) and Virinchi Tech (down 11.41%).
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 30 ended in the green. The key gainers were Jaiprakash Associates (up 5.67%); IDFC (up 4.75%); DLF (up 3.92%); Siemens (up 3.45%) and Sesa Goa (up 3.41%). The main losers were Hindustan Unilever (down 2.10%); M&M (down 1.96%); ITC (down 1.71%); BPCL (down 1.12%) and Power Grid (down 1.01%).
The Asian pack closed in the positive on firm economic data from the US and hopes that governments across the world would continue growth boosting measures.
The Shanghai Composite gained 0.90%; the Hang Seng climbed 0.96%; the Jakarta Composite surged 1.58%; the KLSE Composite advanced 0.57%; the Nikkei 225 jumped 2.13%; the Straits Times surged 1.09%; the Seoul Composite rose 0.20% and the Taiwan Weighted settled 0.22% higher.
At the time of writing, the European markets were trading with gains between 0.14% and 1.03%. At the same time, the US stock futures were in the positive, indicating a firm opening for the US markets.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of equities totalling Rs220.80 crore on Tuesday. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors were net sellers of shares amounting to Rs244.80 crore.  
The board of directors of Mukta Arts at its meeting has decided to obtain approval from shareholders to form a company as a subsidiary of Mukta Arts which will carry on the business of exhibition and programming which is presently being conducted by the company itself and forming substantial part of the company revenue. The stock rose 0.50% to close at Rs30.30 on the NSE.
Micro Technologies announced that it has received attractive orders from renowned educational institutions to provide security to their campuses in the commercial capital. These security solutions will enable to provide security cover to students and faculties of some of the top 50 educational institutions and business schools. Besides providing safety and security for the students and assets of the educational institutions, they also deter miscreants in the campus and thereby ensuring safer educational environment and eliminating problems for their administrators. The stock rose 7.57% to close at Rs43.80 on the NSE.
Pharmaceutical major Elder Pharmaceuticals has entered into a joint venture agreement with Japan-based Kose Corporation to manufacture and sell cosmetics in the domestic market. The JV will have 60% holding by the Japanese partner while the Elder will hold remaining 40%. The stock gained 1.44% to close at Rs317 on the NSE.


How will Budget 2013-14 affect property prices?

The finance minister’s moves on the housing policy will increase demand and give a fillip to the real estate sector, making it more consumption-oriented

In an impact analysis on the Budget 2013-14, Liases Foras says that the proposals are targeted towards giving a boost to affordable housing. Construction and real estate sectors are expected to benefit, making it more consumption oriented. The moves will dilute speculation, making the market more efficient thus helping the industry to attain the economic balance. Since it is an election year, one can notice that the government has thought of the needy and the middle class, in its housing policy in urban areas.


Apart from giving a direct fillip to the housing sector, finance minister P Chidambaram has allocated a sum of Rs14,873 crore to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) towards public transport and connectivity and an award of 3,000 kilometres of road project for 2013-14. This is likely to encourage decongestion of the cities by boosting demand for housing in peripheral regions and opening more land for increased supply. Similarly, cheaper credit for infrastructure companies and the issue of tax-free infrastructure bonds up to Rs50,000 crore are likely to provide ancillary benefits to the realty sector.


However, Chidambaram has been strict with home buyers in the luxury segment with a higher service tax burden. The rate of abetment on homes and flats of 2,000 sq ft, or costing over Rs1 crore have been reduced from 75% to 70%. This would also increase service tax outflow to an extent of 0.62%. Already, sales in the high-end segment have been sluggish across India, along with inventory pile-up. Liases Foras feels that the government policy changes should be considered as little steps towards curbing the high supply in the luxury segment.


Further, in a move towards transparency in transactions, the finance minister has proposed to deduct 1% TDS (Tax Deduction at Source) for all transactions with a value in excess of Rs50 lakh. The provision will be applicable from 1 June 2013. A buyer shall have to deduct TDS on every payment made to developers and sellers. The buyer will have to deposit the same with the government and issue the TDS certificates. The long-drawn process would make property purchases more tedious. It may dissuade investors, especially flippers and traders, from entering the market. Also, the excise duty on marble has been doubled to Rs60 per sq metre, leading to an anticipated escalation of construction cost.


All told, the finance minister has tried to help the home buyer in urban areas, buying one (or first) flat to reside in with his family. An allocation of Rs2,000 crore has been made to set up an Urban Housing Fund by the National Housing Bank and is aimed at giving an impetus to demand to urban housing. The budget proposal is a positive step towards providing mortgage finance to the urban poor, who generally do not qualify for bank finance.


An additional interest benefit of Rs1 lakh on first time home loans upto Rs25 lakh has been announced. However, this is applicable only for the first year and with a carry-forward benefit of the unutilized deduction to the next year. At the ongoing interest rates of nearly 10.5% pa, the total outflow for the loan amount of Rs25 lakh would be Rs3 lakh, of which Rs2.64 lakh (for first year) would be interest. Thus a consumer would get tax benefit equivalent to 95% of the total interest burden, which was earlier only 57%. The increased benefit would trigger demand from first time home buyers in the affordable segment across the country.


The finance minister intends to curtail the flow of black money in the housing sector, at least to the extent of ready reckoner prices. In case of purchase of immovable property by an individual or HUF (Hindu Undivided Family), if the difference between the agreement value and the ready reckoner rates/ stamp duty value is more than Rs50,000, then the difference would be chargeable in the hands of buyers as other income and would be taxed accordingly. While computing business income for developers, the clarification is as follows: In case the agreement value of any property is less than its ready reckoner prices/stamp duty value, then the Income Tax department would consider the ready reckoner prices as the full value of the property.


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