We have missed out on the correct valuation of cooperation over competition, quality over quantity, standard of ‘life’ over standard of ‘living’ and the innate urge to give rather than to grab
The advent of high-tech, high-speed life has impacted societies all over the globe in a big way. The societal impact has been diverse and enormous. On the positive side, Indian techies are emerging more competitive and grabbing higher salary jobs than any other in the world market. Yes, Indians have created a niche of honour for themselves in diverse fields like IT, medicine, environment, astrophysics, et al.
On the domestic side, our economy has managed to remain on a steady growth path despite a roller-coaster journey through scams, red-tape and corruption. We are now a society that is fast adapting international norms of social, professional and commercial behaviour. With mobile-wielding rickshaw-pullers, roadside hawkers and their non-haggling, cash-ready customers milling around, chain-snatching bikers too have melded as a category in the milieu.
Notwithstanding the minor hiccups, there is plenty for everyone to enjoy life-air-conditioned homes, workplaces, malls, cars, bars, clubs… 'What's not there, man?'
On the negative side, in our exuberance to compete and hurry to win, we seem to have forgotten to carry with us some valuable paraphernalia that we will require to sustain our achievements on reaching the destination-our value system based on ethics and morals. We have missed out on the correct valuation of cooperation over competition, quality over quantity, standard of 'life' over standard of 'living' and the innate urge to give rather than to grab.
The national scene today is a veritable mix of oddities and contradictions. In affluence, we have our cities that will challenge the world's best. In poverty, too, we have regions in the hinterland that could make Somalia, Burundi and Zimbabwe appear affluent in comparison. We have business empires and tycoons whose wealth and lifestyle will disconcert the best-known kings and emperors. Yet our ordnance factories are so primitive and dysfunctional that we depend on others to arm and equip our military, which is the world's second largest military might. Israel, which came into existence in the most desolate part of our world and after India gained her independence, also manufactures and supplies sophisticated military equipment to us!
We have the world's most educated and 'honest' man heading the government, yet, no previous government has been more maligned than the government of Dr Manmohan Singh and there is no sign yet of the flood of scams abating. We have set up lavish civic infrastructure like primary health care centres, dispensaries, roads, electricity, television and telecommunications networks (even water supply networks in some remote areas), but these amenities lie in utter neglect due to neglect by a callous government, despite a glut of government grants, and have failed to deliver.
Despite easier access to modern amenities, rural India has been left far behind the high-speed urban advancement. The rural-urban divide has widened. Even poverty has its own status and class, clearly setting the urban poor apart from the rural rustics. Whereas the exploited destitute of our city slums assume an urbane swagger at the sight of a displaced tribal from Orissa, Madhya Pradesh or Chhattisgarh, or a debt-burdened farmer from the barren lands of Vidarbha, the farmer presents a pathetic picture, like that of a humbled warrior in dire need of justice and fair play, rather than a share of the loot.
It is these contradictions that are threatening to slow down India's march to a glorious future in the new world that's emerging from the recession in the West and the movement against autocracy in North Africa and West Asia. The younger generation is already providing high-tech solutions to complex problems of organisations and governments all over the world. Our reservoir of skilled and semi-skilled workforce too is larger than China's. A new class of entrepreneurs is also well poised to venture out, to take the global lead. But what is holding them up? It's the environment creators at home! And who are the environment creators? They are a vicious circle of people whose insider-trading techniques keeps them camouflaged, away from public view.
Recently, a former minister simultaneously agreed and disagreed with my argument, and sought to explain away this vicious environment of corruption and callous governance. "Forget about the theories you read in political science books about democracy and governance. Agreed, it is the people who matter in democracy, but which people?"
"The people, citizens of the country, of course! Who else?" I stressed hard.
"No, it is not that simple. The people who count here come in four categories.
I - The top academic brains who compete and win the most coveted careers through IITs, IIMs and other top grade institutions. It is the guys in this category who get the fattest salary packages.
II - The next best join the civil services at the centre and in the states. They control everything, including the first category, through a maze of regulatory mechanisms.
III - Those who fail to qualify for the above two categories, take to politics and constitute the third category, the Third Reich of Indian politicians! In the name of democracy, they control both the top categories.
IV - School dropouts and those who fare poorly academically join the underworld of crime, handle black money and control the other three categories!"
Little wonder then, that the last category is now joining active politics and assuming direct control as 'elected representatives' in Parliament and state legislatures.
The emerging amalgam of crime, corruption and politics is a more potent threat to India's security than any external threat-even the nuclear danger. As the crime graph continues to rise steeply, rape, murder, highway robbery are becoming more daring in metros and towns. The audacity of the criminals and the failure of the police to act effectively only indicate the patronage and impunity that they enjoy. The politico-bureaucratic combine is now busy drafting innovative bills that could silence the public outcry against raging corruption in higher government echelons and to protect the high and mighty engaged in corruption.
Hopefully, India will be inducted as a permanent member of the UN Security Council in the near future. A plethora of opportunities lie ahead for India to assume a bigger role at the regional and world levels. There is enough talent too. But the government machinery has gone rusty and needs urgent overhauling and oiling. It is not that those in authority are unaware of what is required to be done. They have become accustomed to move only when pushed by public pressure. Corruption is the breeding ground for all crime and terrorism since such pursuits need black money. However, corruption has seeped so deep into our political system that no political party today is keen to institutionalise any effective mechanism to curb and punish corruption at the political and bureaucratic levels.
People power alone can coerce them into positive action. The public anguish over rampant corruption and government apathy is fully justified. This simmering energy needs to be carefully harnessed and channelled to bring in accountability and good governance. Anna Hazare's movement against corruption has been so far fair, straight and transparent. More organisations need to lend a helping hand and all people must rise for a peaceful but sustained campaign. No doubt there are a number of reforms pending, but let corruption be the first enemy to be vanquished.
(The writer is a military veteran who commanded an Infantry battalion with many successes in counter-terrorist operations. He was also actively involved in numerous high-risk operations as second-in-command of the elite 51 Special Action Group of the National Security Guard (NSG). He conducts leadership training and is the author of two bestsellers on leadership development that have also been translated into foreign languages).
Nifty has been wilting slowly. The next support is at 5,520
The market is expected to remain range bound till the much-awaited monetary policy review meeting of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), scheduled for next week. The macro events do not support a downward movement on the indices. The US market had a flat ending with a negative bias on Wednesday, while Asian indices closed mixed today, with most of them ending in the green. The Nifty may find support at 5,520.
A mixed bag of corporate results offset the sharp dip in weekly food inflation data, leading the market to close in the red for the second day in a row.
Weak corporate earnings and dismal global cues resulted in the domestic market opening lower. The Nifty started at 5,555, 12 points lower from its previous close, and the Sensex resumed trade at 18,515, down 13 points. Auto, healthcare, realty and IT stocks were on the sellers' list in early trade.
A short while later, however, buying in select stocks pushed the market to its intra-day high. At this point the Nifty was at 5,579 and the Sensex was at 18,567. But volatility saw the indices swing on both sides of the neutral line in subsequent trade.
Mixed corporate results put pressure on the market in the noon session and the indices moved in the red. The market touched its intra-day low in the last half hour and the Nifty dropped to 5,533, down 46 points from the high of the day, while the Sensex retraced 152 points to 18,415 from its intra-day high.
At the close, the Nifty settled with a loss of 25 points at 5,542, and the Sensex ended at 18,436, a decline of 66 points.
The advance-decline ratio on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) was 586:1110.
The broader markets were equally punished in trade today with the BSE Mid-cap index settling 0.43% lower and the BSE Small-cap index declining 0.45%.
The BSE IT index (up 0.14%) and BSE TECk (up 0.09%) were the only two gainers in the sectoral space. The top losers were BSE Consumer Durables (down 2.20%), BSE Realty (down 1.43%), BSE Bankex (down 0.98%), BSE Healthcare (down 0.80%) and BSE Oil & Gas (down 0.78%).
Hero Honda (up 1.57%), Tata Motors (up 0.71%), Hindustan Unilever (up 0.60%), Wipro (up 0.58%) and Infosys (up 0.57%) were the main gainers on the 30-share Sensex. The major losers were Reliance Communications (down 4.24%), Reliance Industries (down 1.66%), Jaiprakash Associates (down 1.39%), HDFC Bank (down 1.30%) and NTPC (down 1.16%).
The top Nifty gainers were Hero Honda (up 1.82%), Cairn India (up 1.45%), Siemens (up 1.30%), Sun Pharma (up 0.96%) and ITC (up 0.87%). Major losers on the index were RCom (down 4.13%), Kotak Bank (down 3.53%), IDFC (down 2.67%), Sesa Goa (down 2.61%) and RIL (down 2.08%).
Markets in Asia settled mostly higher, but preliminary data from the purchase managers' index in China indicated that manufacturing may have contracted in July to 48.9 from 50.1 in June. The final reading is due on 1st August. The data pushed the Shanghai Composite down 1%, its biggest decline since 12th July. However, the deal on the Greek debt crisis by European leaders, expected later today, kept hopes alive in other markets in the region.
The Jakarta Composite gained 0.43%, the KLSE Composite rose 0.21%, the Nikkei 225 added 0.04%, the Straits Times advanced 0.38% and the Taiwan Weighted climbed 0.13%. On the other hand, the Shanghai Composite tumbled 1.01%, the Hang Seng fell by 0.07% and the Seoul Composite declined 0.46%.
Back home, on Wednesday foreign institutional investors were net sellers of stocks worth Rs90.44 crore, whereas domestic institutional investors were net buyers of shares worth Rs20.48 crore.
In a bid to expand its overseas footprint, Canara Bank plans to open offices in five countries, including Germany and Japan, during the current fiscal. The bank is also pursuing a licence from the US authorities to set up banking operations.
Currently, the bank has overseas branches in the UK, Hong Kong and China. The total business of these overseas branches aggregated $4,376 million for the financial year ended March 2011. Canara Bank declined 1.81% to end at Rs516.45 on the NSE.
State-run mining giant Coal India (CIL) plans to invest about Rs30,000 crore to augment its capacity over the next five years. The funds will be spent on new mining projects, washeries, machinery and equipment. The Maharatna firm has set a production target of 452 MT (million tonnes) for the current fiscal and wants to ramp it up to 556 MT by 2016-17. In 2010-11, it had recorded production of 431 MT. CIL added 0.05% to close at Rs367.30 on the NSE.
The Punj Lloyd Group has bagged a civil contract worth Rs210 crore from NTPC, for its thermal power project. The company will undertake balance offloaded work for the power plant in Bongaigaon district of lower Assam. The project is scheduled for commissioning by 2014. Punj Lloyd lost 1.41% to close trade at Rs73.25 on the NSE.
"The trend is encouraging so far as the domestic sector is concerned. But we do not have total control over international issues, international commodity prices, fuel prices, and the influence of the external inflationary pressure could have some adverse impact on our domestic front," finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said
New Delhi: Encouraged by moderation in food inflation to 7.58% for the week ended 9th July, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday expressed hope that the price situation would improve in the days ahead, reports PTI.
"If this declining trend continues, I do hope it will have a moderating influence on the price front," Mr Mukherjee told reporters here.
His comments came after food inflation fell to a three-week low of 7.58% for the week ended 9th July on the back of cheaper pulse prices and a high base last year.
Food inflation, as measured by the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) stood at 8.31% in the previous week. It was as high as 19.52% in the corresponding week of July 2010, suggesting a high base.
During the week under review, prices of pulses went down by 7.67% on a year-on-year basis. However, prices of other food items continued to rise.
Inflation of overall primary articles stood at 11.13% during the week under review, down from 11.58% in the previous week. Non-food articles reported an inflation of 15.50% for the week ended 9th July, compared to 15.20% in the previous week.
Mr Mukherjee said the domestic situation on the price front was improving, though concerns remain over international issues.
"The trend is encouraging so far as the domestic sector is concerned. But we do not have total control over international issues, international commodity prices, fuel prices, and the influence of the external inflationary pressure could have some adverse impact on our domestic front," he said.
The government had on Wednesday said that inflation will continue to remain high till December on account of "seasonal effects and upward movement in crude oil, manufactured and administered fuel prices..."
Headline inflation stood at 9.44% in June. It has remained consistently above the 9% mark since December 2010.