The outrage over the dastardly Delhi gang-rape has subsided, but at the end of it, women seem to be paying a price for the lack of security it exposed. People don’t trust ham-handed police investigations, more importantly we don’t really trust the justice system to deliver. What lies ahead? Lets hear Justice Sujata Manohar on “The case for delivering better Justice to Women: A view from the Judge's Chair” on this International Women’s Day (supported by DSP BlackRock's Winvestor Initiative)
In December last year, it seemed as if all of India had risen in protest against the horrendous gang-rape of a Delhi student who later succumbed to her injuries. Students, teachers, parents and, it would seem, every male member of their family stood with the women protesters, braving the cold as well as the abuse, the lathi charge and the water cannons unleashed by the police at us, the people of India.
And yet, when the protests have died down, it seems as if life has become tougher for women. As teenagers, we enjoyed enormous freedom at home—so long as we were willing to deal with the curse of constant eve teasing. Today’s teens are not so lucky. We seem to have regressed!
Women half my age, watch their daughters even when they are 100 meters away from home. Some need them to text their parents every hour. Women’s hostels have tightened curfew timings and parents watch the clock until their daughters are safely home. The State, which cannot offer protection to women, finds unique ways to evade responsibility. Women should stay at home after 6 pm. Women should dress more conservatively. Women should wear overcoats—like a burqua. Why are they “painted and dented”? It is almost as though 25 years of hard-won freedom is vanishing before our eyes!
The new motto for mothers is—avoid trouble—even if it means locking your daughters up. Why? Probably because people don’t trust ham-handed police investigations, and want to protect victims of abuse from more humiliation that could scar them for life.
More importantly, we don’t really trust the justice system to deliver. Given the national mood, the subject for Moneylife Foundation’s 4th International Women’s Day event (supported by DSP BlackRock's Winvestor Initiative) chose itself. We are fortunate to have someone of the eminence of Justice Sujata Manohar to speak on “The case for delivering better Justice to Women: A view from the Judge's Chair”.
Justice Sujata Manohar has broken many glass ceilings. The first lady judge of the Bombay High Court, and the first lady Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and the Kerala High Court and a Supreme Court judge from 1994-99.
In her early years as a young lawyer, Sujata Manohar used to take up family law cases under legal aid and also worked pro bono for several NGOs. Since the year 2000, she has been a member of the National Human Rights Commission; her focal point of work was on trafficking, women’s issues and AIDS. She is also the chairperson of the Committee on Feminism and International Law of the International Law Association.
It is absolutely fitting that the keynote address on 8th March will be delivered by Justice Manohar!
And even more so that the two women activists that we will felicitate this year have done pathbreaking work on women’s rights. They are: Jyoti Mhapsekar of Stree Mukti Sanghatna and Meenu Seshu of Sangram. But more about them later!
Please register to join us on 8th March at the Yacht Club, Mumbai, for this session!
Foreign brokers and institutions’ expectations were dashed when the recent Union Budget did not meet their expectations after being seduced by the finance minister not so long ago. Why is it not a surprise to us?
Just when foreign brokers and investors were getting ready to toast their cocktails to the possibility of the finance minister pandering to their expectations, they were taken aback by a ho-hum budget that addressed the vast majority of the electorate instead. Earlier, we had written how the finance minister was wooing foreign capital and broking firms like Citi were falling for it. In a pre-budget meeting Palaniappan Chidambaram, finance minister, had addressed several foreign institutional investors (FIIs), debt investors and corporates in Singapore and Hong Kong and briefed them of the status of India’s economy and how he hopes to fix it by magically reducing the fiscal deficit to 3% by 2016-2017. At that time we had said that this would not be possible given that the general elections nearing and that the government was draining away coffers to win votes. Hence, there was no way that any rational investor could buy the logic. But foreign investors indeed fell for this and got their hopes dashed.
The reality is captured by the words of Manishi Raychaudhuri, Asia Pacific Strategist, BNP Paribas, who wrote in a report on Friday: “Following FM Chidambaram’s meetings with investors across the globe in January, the financial markets were hopeful of a strong pro-growth message and fiscal consolidation signals in the budget. Disappointment came on both counts. The pro-growth message was diluted by sharp cuts in planned expenditure in FY13. The attainability of a 4.8% fiscal deficit looks suspect—though more achievable than previous years’ targets. In summary, we see no explicit direction to the budget and we are back to considering fundamental drivers and global cues.” The BNP report is titled: “Let’s Forget the Budget and Move On”.
However, this isn’t surprising to us, given our understanding of finance minister, P Chidambaram. In the Fortnightly Market View column readers were cautioned that the finance minister is not exactly a good ‘listener’. Anybody who has observed the finance minister carefully over the years would have seen this coming.
BNP Paribas was disappointed that the budget did not address growth concerns (i.e. lack of growth). The report stated: “The budget for FY14 didn’t quite give a sense of direction. Ostensibly the thrust was on growth—with a 29.4% increase in planned expenditure, but in reality that increase was on the back of a 17.5% reduction in FY13 planned expenditure.”
Furthermore, with respect to double-taxation, the BNP Paribas report mentions: “The classification of Tax Residency Certificates (TRC) as “necessary but not sufficient” documents for claiming tax benefit under DTAA is bound to create uncertainty in the market about fund inflows from countries that have double taxation agreements with India. Such uncertainty is already visible in Friday’s market reaction.” It is pertinent to note that GAAR has been pushed and postponed to 2016, and therefore caused enough uncertainty so far, and will continue to be uncertain till it is finally implemented. It is also pertinent to note that domestic investors were actually taking the opposite tack as foreign investors—by selling in droves. Perhaps, domestic investors know the ground realities better than foreign investors and brokers. We had written about this earlier as well. Click here to read about the differences between FIIs and DIIs in terms of fund flows.
This isn’t the first time that foreign investors’ expectations were belied and it won’t be the last either.
GMR group sold its 70% in GMR Energy FPM Power Holdings for 660 million Singapore dollars, earning a profit of Rs1,356 crore
Cash-strapped GMR group said it sold its 70% interest in GMR Energy (Singapore) Pte Ltd to FPM Power Holdings for an equity value of 660 million Singapore dollars (S$). Out of this, FPM Power would invest S$60 million in GMR Energy as balance equity, the group said in a release.
GMR said, “this sale translates to an enterprise value of S$1,612 million (or $1,293 million) for GMR Energy on project completion by end 2013. The transaction, expected to close by end of March 2013, is subject to approval from the project finance lenders to GMR Energy. This divestment of our stake results in a profit of Rs1,356 crore and releases capital of around Rs1,616 crore.”
GM Rao, chairman of the GMR Group, said, “The divestment is the offshoot of the Group’s well thought out strategy of an Asset Right-Asset Light and Cash Flow based model that the Group has embarked in the recent times. This is the second such strategic move after last month's divestment of 74% stake in the GMR Jadcherla road project at a premium. The cash flows will help GMR Energy to focus on our domestic energy business and accelerate ongoing projects totalling to 5790 MW.”
GMR Infrastructure, which manages three airports, five power generating stations and five highways, is deep debt of Rs37,000 crore under a gearing of 3.5 times. It is looking to slash this number by Rs10,000 crore during next fiscal through its “asset light - asset right - asset churn” strategy.
For the quarter to end-December, GMR reported a net loss of Rs217 crore while its consolidated revenues increased 7% to Rs2,378 crore.
GMR Infrastructure (Singapore) Pte Ltd owns 66.4% of GMR Energy and 3.6% is held by GMR Infrastructure. Petronas, which holds the balance 30% stake would continue to stay invested in the project.
FPM Power is a 60:40 joint venture between First Pacific Co and MERALCO Power Gen Corp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Manila Electric Company.