Citizens' Issues
Self-infecting corruption becomes economic terror, says SC
The Supreme Court Thursday said corruption is a self-infection, which has developed resistance to all sorts of curbs and controls, to becomes an economic terror as it upheld validity of the Orissa and Bihar Special Court Act providing for speedy trial of public servants accused of alleged graft and for confiscation of their properties earned illegally.
 
"Corruption, a 'noun' when assumes all the characteristics of a 'verb', becomes self-infective and also develops resistance to antibiotics" said a bench of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Dipak Misra in their judgment.
 
In such a situation, the court said that the disguised protagonist never puts a Hamletian question - "to be or not to be" - "but marches ahead with perverted proclivity - sans concern, sans care for collective interest, and irrefragably without conscience".
 
"In a way, corruption becomes a national economic terror. This social calamity warrants a different control and hence, the legislature comes up with special legislation with stringent provisions," Justice Misra said speaking for bench and upholding the validity of the Orissa and Bihar law in three separate appeals against the orders of Orissa High Court and Patna High Court.
 
Addressing the challenge to the law by the petitioners who were public servants and accused of allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, the court said that the "establishment of special courts under the Orissa Act as well as the Bihar Act is not violative of article 247 of the constitution."
 
The court further said that the both the acts "providing for confiscation of property or money or both neither violate article 14 nor article 20(1) nor article 21 of the constitution" and the "procedure provided for confiscation and the proceedings before the authorised officer do not cause any discomfort either to article 14 or to article 20(3) of the constitution".
 
Article 14 guarantees equality before law and article 20(3) says that no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.
 
However, the court said that when the Bihar act provides to follow the warrant procedure prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure for trial of cases before a magistrate, the 2010 Rules could not have prescribed for summary procedure. 
 
Holding that the rules have to be in accord with the act, the court said: "The rules can supplement the provisions of the act but decidedly they cannot supplant the same. Therefore, we declare that part of rule 12 which lays down that the learned special judge shall follow summary procedure, is ultra vires the Bihar act."
 
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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Review of ‘A wealth of Common Sense’
Keep things simple, avoid mistakes and invest for the long term
 
Ben Carlson has spent long years managing institutional portfolios for endowments, foundations and pension plans. He also runs the popular blog www.awealthofcommonsense.com. The blog is superb and this book has become a best-seller on Amazon. Carlson is the latest in the camp of investment practitioners who believe in keeping things simple and straight. The subtitle of the book is apt: ‘Why simplicity triumphs complexity in any investment plan’. As Carlson writes, “Conventional gives you much better return than exotic. Long-term process is more important than short-term outcomes. And perspective goes much further than tactics.” The most misunderstood part of investing is that while financial markets are “complex, emergent, adaptive systems,” as wonderfully explained in 20/20 Money by Michael Hanson (reviewed in Moneylife), to create wealth, you need to keep things simple and, indeed, stay away from complex strategies. 
 
This is nothing new. For more than 100 years, ever since the stock markets started getting more organised, successful experts have pointed out the merits of simplicity. Phil Fisher, a successful investor and contemporary of Benjamin Graham, wrote a book in 1975 titled Conservative Investors Sleep Well. Warren Buffett has made money from a variety of products and special situations but his wealth was primarily created from companies selling everyday products like soft drinks (Coca Cola), fast food (McDonald’s) and shaving products (Gillette). He has become world’s richest man by keeping things ridiculously simple. But, as Carlson writes, “complexity tends to be the default option that gets used to persuade investors to buy unnecessary investment products while the vast majority of people really just need to understand more conventional options to succeed.”
 
The book has nine chapters. The first deals with the individual investor and his competitive advantage—or disadvantage—versus the institutional investor. I have a major disagreement with this. Carlson says don’t try to beat the professionals at their own game. But no investor is ever in competition with another investor. He is always in competition with himself and has all the behavioural biases all humans suffer from, including herding, loss-aversion, optimism, confirmation and so on. On the other side, professional investors have been found to make gross errors of judgement, time and again. The average mutual fund cannot beat the market averages in the United States. In India, small investors, who have avoided short-termism and stuck to quality stocks, have done very well for themselves. Investing is not a competitive sport. 
 
The subsequent chapters cover: Negative Knowledge and the Traits Required To Be a Successful Investor; Defining Market and Portfolio Risk; Market Myths and Market History; Defining Your Investment Philosophy; Behavior on Wall Street; Asset Allocation; A Comprehensive Investment Plan and Financial Professionals. All these chapters are extremely useful and take investors through the essentials of investing. 
 
The only issue I have is: What does this book offer which other books haven’t? To learn of mistakes like ‘looking to get rich in a hurry’ or ‘not having a plan in place’ or ‘going with the herd’ or ‘focusing exclusively on the short term’ are not exactly new. The chapter on market myths and market history offers “caveats, counter-intuitive results and no easy answers over the short to intermediate term. Over the long term, the markets are more consistent, but it requires a great deal of patience and discipline to remain a long-term investor when short-term instincts take over.” This should sound familiar to anyone who has read even a couple of classics on investing or a few good blogs.
 
The chapter on investing philosophy tells you to do systematic investing, choose low-cost funds and stay disciplined. How rare is all this? From marketing literature of mutual funds to investment blogs that have mushroomed, this is, after all, the main mantra of everyone. A chapter on behaviour on the Wall Street cannot possibly cover new ground, given that awareness about this sordid facet of investing is widespread, appearing many times in films and popular television serials. 
 
I am, therefore, quite surprised by the rave reviews the book has got from hard-core practitioners like Wesley Gray who has done new research in value investing (his co-authored book, Quantitative Value, has been reviewed in Moneylife) or from Josh Brown, author of bestselling book Backstage Wall Street. It would be better if you read these two writers and also the books of Ken Fisher (all reviewed in Moneylife) and Dr William Bernstein. 

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COMMENTS

Abhijit Joshi

1 year ago

Debashish,

Thanks for informing about this book. Your insights into wealth creation are truly helpful to all the readers.

Just something interesting discussion for all Moneylife community.
Warren Buffett's not so well known dimension is his insurance business, which he, on more than one occasion, has pointed out as the core to his strategy.If not mistaken from 1970s. It's the insurance float which provides him interest free money to buy entire businesses & open up income streams to buy more businesses / listed stocks in future. The scale of insurance floats affords him to be content with very reasonable returns & insulates from vagaries of stock markets. Its becoming like a rolling ice ball. He hasn't become this wealthy just by investing in listed securities, although that was starting point. Presently they contribute not so significant portion of Berkshire Hathaway's portfolio.

Regards

Abhijit

A Passion for Teaching
Providing learning opportunities in the most modern way, even in backward areas, is the aim of eVidyaloka
 
In 2011, Satish and Venkat, two employees of Microsoft, decided to do something about improving the quality of education in the Indian public school system. Their passion, to use technology to solve social challenges and empower the community as a whole, resulted in the setting up of eVidyaloka, a not-for-profit organisation. 
 
eVidyaloka focuses on working with local communities to own the digital classrooms, inspiring and empowering volunteers to contribute from wherever they are, by providing standardised lesson plans and teaching aids for a consistent learning experience for children. 
 
The eVidyaloka model brings people with passion together from across the globe, leveraging the power of technology, and enables access to high-quality teachers for children in remote villages of India. It is focused on children in the age group of 10-14 years (6th to 8th grade), delivering live interactive classes in the local medium, through a powerful partner ecosystem. eVidyaloka’s objective is to enable every child to understand and apply the concepts, by ensuring accessibility and affordability of high-quality teachers and teaching resources. It is a delivery model developed with a strong conviction in connecting people through technology which is scalable, replicable and sustainable.
 
The respective state board curriculum is being taught by the volunteer teachers, using rich digital media content like videos, visual flows, pictures, activities, etc. This helps the child to visualise and understand complex concepts. It also inspires the child to participate in the teaching-learning process with a higher level of involvement.
 
Today, 25 centres are operational on ‘My eVidyaloka’, across three states (Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) through over 180 teachers. The teachers work across 76 cities in 13 countries delivering quality education in regional languages to over 1,200 children in India. An open content platform, WikiVidya, is being promoted, where volunteers build standardised lesson plans in vernacular languages and aggregate the digital resources and aids for a consistent learning experience for children. 
 
In the academic year 2015-16, eVidyaloka plans to establish a scalable, replicable and sustainable service delivery platform aimed at reaching 2,500 children across 50 villages in five states (adding Karnataka and Telangana). It hopes to have over 400 active volunteer teachers. WikiVidya has the potential to reach one million teachers in India. eVidyaloka’s long-term plan is to mobilise 100,000 volunteer teachers in the next 10 years with a potential to change the lives of 1.5 million children. The online classes happen in a digital classroom through a variety of communication technologies—wired broadband, WiMax, 3G mobile and smart routers. 
 
Over 70% of the volunteer teachers involved are qualified professionals in various fields, post-doctorates, home-makers, retired teachers, graduate students, PhD students and working professionals in India and abroad. One of the key challenges is availability of uninterrupted power supply; this has been addressed by providing a captive UPS unit for the digital classroom. Over the next two years, eVidyaloka’s ambition is to expand from the current reach of 50 villages to over 200 villages in seven to eight states and, eventually, cover the entire country. “What sustains us is the passion of the participating volunteers and what continues to inspire is the enthusiasm of the children to learn,” says Venkat. 
 
The NGO’s website provides detailed guidelines for volunteering or donating towards its activities. Do take a look.
 

eVidyaloka Trust

608, 27th Main, 2nd Stage,
BTM Layout, Bengaluru 
Karnataka 560076
Phone: +91 080 40903939

 

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

1 year ago

This is incredible. I salute the innovation and dedication of these individuals.
Every state has retirees who can add meaning to their life by volunteering just a few hours a day. If they own a computer, they need not even step outside the house to do this work.
I sincerely hope that this effort spreads to all states, particularly the poorest.

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