Nifty looks set for a fresh decline unless it closes above 7,900
We had mentioned in Monday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex are to hit a resistance soon and that only if Nifty stays above 7,930, the upmove may continue. Weak European cues, dwindling rupee value coupled with anxiety over the upcoming derivatives expiry eroded investors' confidence at the Indian equity markets. The major indices in the market fell sharply by over 2% having easily sliced through 7,930.
Market observers cited weak European cues, especially after the re-elections in Greece, the dwindling rupee value and the upcoming derivatives expiry, as the main reasons for the markets' fall. The RBI (Reserve Bank of India) will decide on whether or not to cut interest rates in its upcoming monetary policy review slated for September 29. Sector-wise, banking, capital goods, automobile, metal and oil and gas stocks came under intense selling pressure. However, consumer durables stocks managed to stay afloat.
The top gainers and top losers in the major indices are given in the table below:
The closing values of the major Asian indices are given in the table below:
Among European indices, DAX was at 9,624, down 3. 26% and FTSE 100 was at 5,961, down 2.42%. The pre-market futures in US were deeply in the red (Dow futures down 280 points) taking their cue from European markets, a 3% drop in oil prices and fears of more negative news from China against the backdrop of slowing global economic growth. It also appears that the Federal Reserve’s move to not raise interest rates has been interpreted negatively by the market. The market now worries about whether the Fed could possibly be seeing a serious slowdown and that is why it chose to keep interest at the same level.
On 20th September, about 14 people died on Mumbai suburban rail network. Reason? Mega block, more crowd due to the Ganapati festival and apathy of Railway Managers
I have always been a supporter of the Mumbai railway's policy of mega-blocks (weekly engineering work for upkeep of the line) and need for maintenance of such an overly burdened railway network, which the BBC TV series recently called the 'world's busiest railway'.
Mega-block is like that breathing space that any such system requires to get over wear and tear and fatigue. It is a technical requirement. It is also a global phenomenon with all railways across the world doing it on a weekly basis under some name or the other. Due to some reason, the technical engineering word of a 'section block' which means blocking a section to take up some engineering work has become a common parlance in Mumbai in the form of 'mega block' and 'jumbo block'. Never mind.
Every day, the Mumbai suburban railway runs 2,905 services (or train trips), ferrying 7.5 million commuters (which is approximately Hong Kong’s population). For historical reasons, the network is split into two systems – the Western Railway and Central Railway – each with a separate administration. Today, the Western Railway ferries 3.5 million passengers on its 1,305 services and the Central Railway’s 1,600 services carry 4 million commuters; making the Mumbai suburban railway the world’s busiest.
All this is perfectly fine and there are no two opinions on the fact that the system does require strict maintenance and attention.
But is it required to do so at the cost of its 7 million commuters is the question. Ask this to city railway officials and they will be confused. The average death rate on Mumbai railway is 9 to 10 passengers per day. This is due to various reasons- track crossings, falling from train, rooftop travel, falling in platform gap and more. The railways say they are doing everything to cut down the numbers, by building fences, more bridges, running a trial close-door train and even tied up on a multi-million project with the World Bank under the transport upgrade project to have a trespassing control programme.
On Sunday, 20 September 2015, 14 people died on Mumbai railway, of these 12 on Central Railway. This is on the higher side. The reason - excessive crowd due to Ganapati festival. This was natural given the fact that the railways have been the cheapest and fastest and hence popular mode of transport. And on this day of excessive crowd, the railways decided to go ahead with their proposed mega block because it was a Sunday. A mega block means less than 60% services operate -- that means lesser services and a more than average crowd, which led to crowding and chaos and resultant deaths.
(A shocking video of crowd on 20 September 2015 at Kurla station, sent by divisional users consultative committee member Subhash Gupta)
Mega block chaos
And why was the mega block not cancelled? Railway managers shamelessly say there was no demand from anyone. This is atrocious and unacceptable. Staying at the Mumbai's poshest localities of Malabar Hill and Badhwar Park in Colaba, the railway managers seem to have a complete disconnect to the ground realities, the city's culture and ethos. It seems that they only assess Mumbai's needs by the various demands that they keep getting and not by living in it. Their vision must also have been also blinkered by the railway minister's recent order on 'safety preparedness' and upkeep dated 17 September 2015.
And if 'demand' is the question, who is responsible for not raising the demand? Who is responsible for those 14 deaths? Whose failure is it? It is, I think, the failure of the city six Members of Parliament (who I am sure may not be even aware of the point that so many died due to this), the passenger consultative committees and the various NGOs who keep on meeting railway managers and take smiling pictures while submitting sheets of paper raising frivolous demands. It is also the failure of all those railway managers who fail to gauge the mood of the city they live in and also the failure of the transport department as a whole that is yet to implement the idea of a unified transport body that can look at such needs.
And I am not blaming all of them without a reason. Last year, there were elections and just before the Ganapati festival, politicians of all kinds crowded the railway managers' cabins to get a 'concession' from mega blocks, demanding that the blocks should be cancelled to deal with increased crowd. And the demand was attended to and all mega blocks were cancelled.
This year, no elections and no one seems to be bothered. This also tells us the character of our politicians, which do not seem to be bothered about anyone once the elections are over.
It is by now clear that the decision to have a mega block and cut down services was in the benefit of the railways as such, but not commuters. This gets us back to the subject of decision-making and city needs. If we had railway managers, who could take real-time 'commuter interest' decisions, without depending on politicians' demands or railway ministry's national interest, macro-level decisions, we could have had a Mumbai railway, in a real sense, and not a disconnected Mumbai railway. It would have probably saved those 14 lives! This is why we need a separate body to run Mumbai railway. A body that could stay grounded in reality and take real-time decisions as per the city's needs. It would save lives, help those 7 million commuters and help the Mumbai's railways.