Investor Issues
Why traditional Indian investor is not interested in equities and other products

Five business news channels, so many newspapers, magazines and websites would not be able motivate traditional Indian investor to invest in equity and other variable return products unless the investment climate in the country is not changed significantly

He is not worried about his investments beating inflation. He abhors equity and believes it to be a gamble. Mutual funds are a strict no-no for him. He believes that investments in physical assets are as important as financial assets. He chases bank deposits and believes that insurance in an investment and not just a risk covering instruments. Media’s attempt to change his mind set towards investments has hardly worked. He continues to be the same over generations. There are no prizes for guessing it right. Welcome to the world of the traditional Indian investor, the investor who has existed for ages and has been successful as well. He has contributed significantly to the economic growth by generating one of the highest savings in the world. The recent events in the financial markets have brought focus back to this kind of investor. The turmoil in the market has shifted focus back to the strategy of this investor.
 

Before moving ahead let us look at traditional Indian investor and his investments. Investors generally make investments in two kinds of assets- financial assets and physical assets. Financial assets are bank deposits, insurance and equity while physical assets are gold, real estate and some white goods used on a day-to-day basis. As per the data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), investors in the country invested in financial assets as follows over years:
 


From this, it can be safely concluded that the majority of Indian investors are extremely conventional in approach and have no out of the box thinking. The investor has stuck to the same investments over a period of time. It is very obvious that bank deposits and insurance have been the most preferred investment option for the traditional investors. Shares and debentures are hardly preferred by the investors. The highest savings in shares has been around 7% which has fallen substantially now. The RBI data related to projection of savings  during 12th five year plan gives a bigger picture of how savings are going to be in financial and physical assets over a period of five years ( Refer: table below). It is clearly evident that bank deposits will continue to be as high as 50% of total savings. The share of insurance in total savings is also going to remain strong while that of shares and debentures will once again be consistently low.
 


What is the DNA of traditional Indian Investor?
 

Looking at the data and the nature of the financial savings made in India, the obvious question that comes to mind is why do Indian investors invest in traditional financial assets or to be more precise, ‘sarkari’ kind of assets? Why is bank deposit more important for this investor than investments in shares? Is the investor worried about volatility and is completely risk averse? The answers are both yes and no. Majority of Indian investors struggle to save because of low-income levels and hence do not want to risk their hard earned money, so they invest in traditional investment assets. It is not about financial education. In India five business news channels, so many newspapers and magazines and websites keep on bombarding investors with need for investment in equities for consistent wealth creation but this has somehow not worked. Therefore, this category of investors is fairly aware about investment options. The traditional Indian investor in keen on preserving his wealth as the ability to take risk is limited.
 

There is another group of investors, which is affluent and can take risk, but has learnt over a period of time that investment in variable investment products can be rewarding but also killing many times. This investor has been investing in the equity market but gradually, he seems to be disillusioned. The bitter experience over a period has made this investor realize that it is better to keep away from equity. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and you cannot convince an investor to invest for long term, if the returns are not good.
 

The traditional Indian investor is a very intelligent breed and knows his interest very well. The famous saying that ‘a bird in hand is worth two in the bush’ drives him. Is he doing harm to himself by not investing in equity and other variable return products? The answer is no, as long as he is meeting his financial goals. In the current market turmoil, he is sitting pretty and is not worried about what next.
 

Is the traditional Indian investor good for Indian economy? 
 

While some may argue that the traditional Indian investor is doing harm to himself, by not investing in risky, but potentially rewarding products, the fact remains that he is a boon to the Indian economy. He is a cheap source of capital and helps the economy channelize necessary savings for future investments. The deposits made by him help utilize the resources for investments in the economy. Debt is a comparatively cheaper source of capital compared to equity, and investors in India have contributed to this in a significant way, by making investments in debt products. The physical savings made by these investors sometimes become unproductive and needs to get channelized for more productive usage.
 

Is the investment profile going to undergo changes in India in the days to come? It is difficult to answer this but the fact remains that investors cannot be motivated to invest in equity and other variable return products as long as the investment climate is not changed significantly. Volatility is a part of equity investment but manipulation needs to be controlled. Better corporate governance and confidence building measures can bring more investors into the fold. But it looks difficult in the near term. The ‘Traditional Indian investor’ is here to stay.

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COMMENTS

subbu

3 years ago

Iam a financial advisor, people tend to ask for good return on their investment, I used to tell that if they want to invest for not less than five years, I suggested them mutual funds investing in equities. Now mutual funds gives negative returns, if they had invested before five years.So,they have to invest only in FDs only for better capital return.

anurag

3 years ago

The author is just another aam admi trying to prove he is not.
Let me put some factual arguments why stock market does not find any takers in India

1) Corporate Governance and Lack of faith in companies:
Most of the 7000 stocks trading in India do not have proper accounting practice and they bump up some of the numbers.

2)Dearth of quality:

Nearly all the companies offer commodotised products and services which can be easily replicated. Investors need to approach Bottom-top thematic approach.

3) Manipulation and speculations:

It is no secret that practices like circular trading and black money of 1 trillion dollar are making their way onto trading. Gullible investors lose their money and prefer FD ,real estate and Gold

4) Aam Admi never made any money in stock market as the market made strides from 4000 to 21000 just in 4 years of 2003-07. Rest of the period , stock market absolutely gave no returns for long investors in NIFTY.

5) Most of the money made in market in India requies use of derivative and intra day/short term technical charts which are used by few specialised traders and common people cannot do it

6) Mutual funds do offer real potential to common people but they are very selective and requires again lot of due deligence

Panna Thakkar

3 years ago

To make the Tradational Investor to even think or dream of to come to the equity cult. The Govt, Stock brokers etc should work hard to be transparent.
There is curroption everywhere there is cheating everywhere stocks lying in demat a/cs are used by brokers.
Why then the tradational investor ever think beyond this safe comfort zone?

REPLY

Gautam Haldipur

In Reply to Panna Thakkar 3 years ago

If as you say there is cheating in totality, the system ought to have collapsed long ago. The fact is it has not & the reason being it is vibrant, dynamic & reasonably strong. If you check your Demat A/c regularly & your Instruction stationery is with you, then you can opt to sue your DP & seek fair compensation. It is possible that it cud have happened, but the thought is honestly far fetched.

I am glad to see you ask why beyond the Comfort Zone? Here is the answer:
Comfort Zone, not just in investing but in every aspect of our life tends to bring in complacency & that is what is the beginning of a downfall.
If people understand & can perceive the future with Interest Rate Risk, Systemic Risk & several other associated factors, they will automatically venture to think beyond the Comfort Zone

Gautam Haldipur

3 years ago

Dr.Gautam Haldipur, Hubli, Karnataka

Very interesting article indeed. Having invested & worked with different financial products across the spectrum, I would like to make the following observations:-
1. The traditional Indian Investor largely looks for GUARANTEED RETURN PRODUCTS.
2. As it stands today he is in a COMFORT ZONE which he obviously does not want to transgress.
3. The tendency/willingness to take calculated risk is missing which becomes Crystal Clear from the Excel Charts above.
4. His pristine love is for F.D.'s, Real Estate & Gold.
5. Going forward as we integrate with the Global Economy (which I think is irreversible now)the traditional Fulcrum of Investment thinking is slowly but surely going to crumble; what with Deposit rates going down, Inflation perking up & the purchasing power of people going down. Real estate is artificially overvalued without justification & could burst sooner or later. Though Gold is likely to go up, its returns parameters are going to be subdued.
6. The earlier the Investor comes to terms with this reality the better. This truth needs to be taken to him with proper qualified advisory. There is no reason why his mind set cannot change, the percentage though may not be great. With proper Risk Profiling done it is possible.

REPLY

Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar

In Reply to Gautam Haldipur 3 years ago

Sir,
I am also invested in equities....I do love to take calculated risk; but your calculations go totally wrong when there are frauds &/or mis-goverance....Tell me few names of brokers who don't mis-use the POA....There is no basic safty !!!....India is full of frauds.

Gautam Haldipur

In Reply to Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar 3 years ago

With utmost regards to Shri Vinayak Mudholkar, may I request that I be read correctly:-
1.Calculated risk is a relative term. If you like to believe your broker with implicit unquestioned faith, then yes this definition changes. A POA would obviously be given in a PMS & yes it is open to abuse. There are other ways we can deal with this.
2.Study the subject thoroughly & build your stock valuation parameters based on your individual risk profile; most likely you may not go wrong save for for a few blips here & there. You cannot be 100% right all the time. The learning curve in this never ends; it is an ongoing process. After 38 years of investing, yes! I am still learning a lot more of new things. Well! it has taken me close to 20 years to imbibe the art of investing with care.
3. Put in simple terms if you can manage a 25% post tax return on your investment, that will be a great deal.
4.As far as the name of a broker is concerned:- My personal experience with HDFC Securities Ltd.has been fairly good.This online platform is user friendly, fairly good & exhaustive. Most of all its security features are good.However it is marginally more expensive compared to your regular brokers.Good things rarely come cheap.As a Investment Planner I have recommended this to my Client Friends. Believe me, I am yet to hear any of them complain any wrong doing there.As a friend, may I suggest you try this?
5.Last but not the least, please do not despair. There are good things that coexist with the bad things. Things are far better than they were about 20 years ago. To say that I have not had problems would be unfair. I continue to have my share of problems. The only way out is to fight your way out methodically & that is what I precisely do!

Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar

In Reply to Gautam Haldipur 3 years ago

Thank you for the explanation & suggestions....Once again thanks.

Panna Thakkar

In Reply to Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar 3 years ago

Yes The brokers have misused Power of attorney and have used shares lying in demat a/c .
Where is the saftey ? Why people will come to stock market.
All big names are involved in this thing.
Everywhere there is fraud cheating and lootmaar.
and Govt. is silent because these brokers are funding them

VGANESAN

3 years ago

i AM AGREEING WITH YOU.At the same time i like to mention the indian investor is willing to take and accept political risk currency risk country risk natural calamity like flood and drought and business risk all this put together 95 percent. But in india the 95 percent risk is from manipulation and speculation and
above mentioned risks are only 5 percent.How one expect our savers to put money in equity

REPLY

Nilesh KAMERKAR

In Reply to VGANESAN 3 years ago

1) As employees, we are willing to risk our career and future on someone else's enterprise.

2) As customer's will are willing to consume products and services offered by these businesses

3) We will just stand and see foreigners own significant chunks of our businesses.

4) We will also see foreigners set up their business operations in our own country. And some of us will risk our careers there.

5) We will spend our entire lives in India as proud Indians.

6) We will also boast of India's progress & prosperity over the past six decades.

But when it comes to profit from India's growth we start imagining call sorts of excuses. We become the biggest prophets of doom and gloom.

Invest in Indian Businesses and profit from India's growth. India will continue to grow. Have faith.




Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar

3 years ago

If I am not wrong, during 2001 - 2003 bear market F & O was just introduced so there was a time correction as against a sharp price correction during 2012-2013. According to me during the next bull run the same F&O will lead to sharp price appreciation irrespective of fundamentals.....If you want to become wealthy grab the untouchables!!!....fundamentally sound but highly priced stocks won't make you wealthy.

REPLY

Vinay

In Reply to Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar 3 years ago

That's a pretty nasty suggestion.
Would you buy a hotel that serves rotten food and should be closed down any time soon?

Why would you recommend people to compromise on fundamentals?

Shit like this is why people lose money. They think anything and everything will go up and keep buying until everything crumbles.

Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar

In Reply to Vinay 3 years ago

I must explain what I mean by "untouchables". During the last bear market there were stocks like Pennar Industries, Diamines & chemicals. The Book Value of both stocks was negative for few years; so they got butchered but when they recovered; they became multibaggers....The eps growth of HUL from 2000 to 2012 is just 5%; but the P/E & P/B ratio is very high. When the tide turns the distressed equities outperform. That is why Tata Capital & Icici Ventures set up a distressed equities fund & expect 25% return!!!....I am not to say each & every distressed co. will turnaround....Do you know - Filelity Liveraged Equities Fund?....It is one of the successful of its kind.(S&P was beaten by it with a 17% average return)

hasmukh

3 years ago

Very good Article to show that Investors are now (in last few years), shying away from Equities.
I am investing in shares since last about 40 years and was quite satisfied (except during last 5/6 years or more). I am investing in IPOs, Rights and buying from market. But am a big looser from my fresh investments made in last few years. Reason? To me (i) Excessive speculation and manipulation. It appears all these F & O s have made very big damage and same must be stopped immediately (ii) Cunning Issue Managers & Advisors, who advise Cos. to price IPOs/Rights aggressively (and selling with Big Advertisements), leaving the investors to only cry. I will be interested to know experience and views of other Investors too.

Pantulu

3 years ago

Right now common people have no interest because it is only speculators who are reaping benefits at the cost of gullible people. The share prices do not reflect the companies performance with only a couple of exceptions. There is a need to link the share prices with performance parameters so that ordinary people will know where to invest.If the market is left in the hands of speculators no improvement is possible.

REPLY

Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar

In Reply to Pantulu 3 years ago

"To link the share prices with performance parameters" is the best idea!....no doubt!....but we are to live in the world which we don't like.

Nilesh KAMERKAR

In Reply to Pantulu 3 years ago

While investing in stocks, being gullible is a major handicap. Sceptics tend to survive and prosper; to be sceptical is a necessary precondition for becoming a better investor.

Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar

3 years ago

If you look at the eps growth of HUL (one of the most defencives)since 2000 to 2012 it is roughly 5%(cagr) which is equal to the average after tax returns from bank F. D.(if you are in the 30% tax bracket.) If you want anything beyond that try to withstand volatility!....Though ideally speculation is untouchable; in practice it is not so!!!

Nilesh KAMERKAR

3 years ago

Investing in market linked investment products is a matter of individual interest. But before everything else it is an act of faith. If done correctly it yields disproportionately higher rewards. Contrary to popular beliefs, investing like any other profession calls for putting in lot of hard work & continuous learning. – While most people would love to have superior returns, not many are keen to work towards it.

REPLY

Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar

In Reply to Nilesh KAMERKAR 3 years ago

Sir,....I always appreciate your views....In addition to hard work & continuous learning one needs lot of courage because stocks with good fundamentals & relative strength crashed by 50-60% from their respective 52 week high(eg. Yes Bank, Dena Bank)

Nilesh KAMERKAR

In Reply to Vinayak Bhimarao Mudholkar 3 years ago

Agree. As Benjamin Graham said

"Have the courage of your knowledge and experience. If you have formed a conclusion from the facts and if you know your judgment is sound, act on it - even though others may hesitate or differ."

pravsemilo

3 years ago

I beg to differ. I think the averseness to equity is also due to financial education. It has been embossed into our minds that equities are risky.

In the circle of people that I know, there is hardly anyone who invests in equities and is even aware of mutual funds. I have trouble explaining the concept of SIP to them. The generation above me never invested in equities and so didn't I in the early part of my career. Those who did coax me to invest in IPOs and do short term profit booking - don't bother about the short term capital gain. My colleagues have bought homes and invested their savings in it. In fact, you get criticized for taking a term plan.

I do agree that Indian savers give importance to safety, but they are not aware of financial and economic jargon like inflation, asset allocation etc.

Vociferous protests across country against political parties slipping out of RTI

A legal activist questions the validity of political parties going out of RTI ambit, while citizen activists in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and other cities hold public protests

The beginning of this week has witnessed vociferous protests by leading Right to Information (RTI) activists across the country, against Indian government’s amendments to exclude political parties from the RTI Act.

 

Backdrop:

In a release issued by Press Information Bureau (PIB), on 2nd August, the government tries hard to explain that, “the political parties are registered with the Election Commission under the provisions of section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951… which provides for dissemination of information relating to political parties, candidates and donations.’’

 

It further states there are enough provisions in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which contains “sufficient provisions in the Act to deal with each and every aspect of financing, its declaration and punishment for filing false affidavit and all such information is made available to the public through the website of the Election Commission.’’ The release also says that since political parties claiming tax exemptions have to file income tax returns, information can be sought by the public under the RTI Act, if the information is in public interest. (detailed press note of PIB below the story).

 

Exceptions: CPI and AAP oppose amendments:

Communist Party of India (CPI) is an exception amongst the six big political parties, as it has agreed to come under the RTI Act. While speaking at a public meeting in Delhi, D Raja, the party’s leader and a member of Parliament (MP), said, “During elections, given the unholy nexus between capitalists and political parties, there is no doubt that RTI is an invaluable weapon to fight fraudulent and corrupt practices” and he went on to add that the left parties have in the past always opposed all amendments to the RTI Act.  

 

The upcoming political party, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also opposed the government’s move. On its website, the party says, “The root cause of corruption is political corruption. And political corruption begins with sources of political funding. Transparency in political funding is the need of the day. If Political parties are really serious to fight corruption, they should offer total transparency in their funding. On its part, Aam Aadmi Party has always strived to maintain transparency in all its dealings. It has put up its donors list on the party website. We request all parties to bring in such transparent ways in their functioning so that common man starts believing in politics and politicians.’’

 

Citizen Protests:

Mumbai: A public meeting was held in Mumbai at the St Xavier’s College Hall at Dhobi Talao on 6th August that was attended by over 350 citizens. Leading RTI activists, media persons and eminent citizens – Shailesh Gandhi, Fr. Frazer, Julio Ribeiro, Bhaskar Prabhu, Sucheta Dalal and Dolphy D’souza spoke on the occasion. Mr Gandhi, the former Central Information Commissioner (CIC) said that every citizen should call MPs and lodge their protest (against the amendment in RTI Act). “"The Parliament has a right to frame a law. But once they've made it, to change it for their benefit is completely third-rate and unacceptable," he said.

 

Mr Ribeiro, the former commissioner of Police at Mumbai, said citizens are entitled to know where parties got their funding from as many problems arose from the use of black money in elections. “Parties have said that they are not public bodies. Why don't they go to court and prove it?” the supercop said.

 

Suggestions that came out during the meeting, include sending emails to Congress and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, releasing petitions through social media sites and holding a series of protests across the city.

Delhi: A release from National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) says,  “Over 500 people from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat Bihar, UP, Haryana other than Delhi poured into the capital to not only protest against RTI amendments, but also to demonstrate the growing groundswell for the anti-amendment protest. They strongly condemned the proposed move by all political parties to amend the RTI Act. They opposed the undue haste with which all major political parties are seeking to amend the RTI Act, without any consultation and dialogue with the people.

 

Aruna Roy, leading RTI activist, emphasized that this “anti-people move which has sparked protests in different parts of the country will soon explode into a nation-wide mass protest.”

 

The online campaign supported by the website Change.Org has within a few hours got nearly 25,000 people signing the petition against the amendments in the RTI Act. The protests have gone global and viral with non-resident Indians (NRIs) from Washington demonstrating and 30 other cities calling several MPs urging them to not push this amendment without due consultation with people.

 

“It is significant that out of all the six parties that have been declared by the Central Information Commission (CIC) to be ‘public authorities’ under the RTI Act, with the exception of the CPI, all others stayed away from the Jan Manch, organised by the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI).’’

 

Besides, is it legal for the cabinet committee to put political parties out of RTI ambit?

 

RTI activist Sunil Ahya argues, “Given the said CIC decision, if they are now able to establish themselves as private authorities or entities in a court of law, then RTI Act in its present legislated form does not apply to them, and the matter rests there for the moment. Until then, they continue to remain established as public authorities, and as such, they happen to come under the ambit of the RTI Act.

 

“Political parties are either private authorities or public authorities, I am not aware if there is any middle path available to them. They are entities with certain natural attributes, and they would not be able to change or redefine those inherent natural attributes, for example, there is no way they can redefine themselves as a military or security or an intelligence organization,” he said.

 

Ahya asked, “If by virtue of their access to legislators they make amendments, whereby, they take themselves outside the ambit of the RTI Act, whereas other public authorities continue to remain within the ambit of the RTI Act, then the question is, would they not be enacting a law which violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India titled ‘Equality Before Law’?” The law lays down that ‘the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAWS within the territory of India’.  

 

“Equal Protection of Law” means if political parties need to be protected because their functioning may get affected by virtue of coming under the RTI Act, then similarly other public authorities also need to be protected because their functioning too gets affected in some way or the other. If the functioning of political parties is affected, then so is the functioning of other Public Authorities, at least that is what the preamble of the RTI Act suggests,’’ he said.
 

“If political parties get exempted, leaving other public authorities under the ambit of the RTI Act, then the Act, in effect would be contravening Article 14 of the Constitution by way of a legislative enactment, which by a reasonable inference would mean an indirect amendment of the basic structure of the Constitution, ’’Ahya added.

 

RTI activist, Maj Gen Sudhir Jatar (retd) said, “In South Africa, the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 (PAI Act) is applicable to private bodies also. In the court case regarding applicability to political parties [IDASA & Others Vs ANC and Others 2005 (5) SA 39 CPD], the court held that political funding is not for a public purpose because parties pursue private interests of their members even if they may ultimately govern the country(which is clearly a political purpose). The court also held that the difference between private and public bodies is, by no means, impermeable. It held that the PAI Act, 2000 is not applicable to political parties.

 

I had quoted the above statement only for information and not as a precedent, because PAI Act of South Africa and RTI Act of India are different as compared to other countries and hence, the interpretation will not be the same.  The aim of the RTI Act is to ultimately improve governance. It is the political parties that are mainly responsible for bad governance but are not accountable for it. Since money is the root cause, as seen again in Durga Shakti Nagpal’s case in UP, there is more urgency to control political finance.

 

Why not put pressure on corporates?

 

Mumbai based RTI activist Krishnaraj Rao along with 10 other activists have appealed to leading industrialist Anil Ambani and others to make his donations to public parties available in the public domain.

 

Krishnaraj Rao argues that, “Political parties have always succeeded in putting a veil over their funding, despite all rules and regulations. The legal bribery known as ‘campaign contributions’ (and routine contributions to individual members of legislative assembly-MLAs and MPs), turns party chiefs, ministers and legislators into agents of the Tatas-Birlas-Ambanis, big builders, hoteliers, tanker-lobbies and sand-mining mafias. Our votes become meaningless; our democracy hijacked by ‘donations’.”

 

“Corporate lobbyists are using such ‘donations’ to arm-twist the government to relax environmental and health norms, enabling commercial activities such as putting up 75% unauthorized cell phone towers and selling harmful drugs banned by USFDA,” he said.

 

Government’s press release on the amendment to the RTI Act, 2005

 

The Union Cabinet has approved introduction of a Bill in the coming session of the Parliament to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005, to exclude the political parties from the definition of Public authority for the purpose of the Act.

 

The Central Information Commission (CIC) in its decision dated 03.06.2013, has held that the political parties, namely, AICC/INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, and BSP are public authorities under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. While deciding that the said political parties are public authorities, the CIC has relied mainly on the grounds that there is substantial (indirect) financing of political parties by the Central Government and they perform public duty.

 

The political parties are registered with the Election Commission under the provisions of section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Under this section any small group of persons, if they so desire, can be registered as a political party by making a simple declaration under sub-section (5) of section 29A.

 

With reference to the political parties, detailed provisions exist in the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which provides for dissemination of information relating to political parties, candidates and donations. The said Act, inter alia, provides for –

 

Registration with the Election Commission of associations and bodies as political parties (section 29A)

Political parties entitled to accept contribution (section 29B)

Declaration of donation received by the political parties (section 29C)

Declaration of assets and liabilities (section 75A)

Account of election expenses and maximum thereof (section 77)

Lodging of account with the district election officer (section 78)

Penalty for filing false affidavit etc. (section 125A)

 

The above provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 indicate that there are sufficient provisions in the Act to deal with each and every aspect of financing, its declaration and punishment for filing false affidavit and all such information is made available to the public through the website of the Election Commission.

 

Under section 13A of the Income-tax Act, 1961, the political parties claiming exemption from tax are required to file their return of income before the due date before the tax authorities along with audited accounts; and form 24A prescribed under section 29C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 read with Rule 85B of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 declaring the list of persons making donations to the political parties exceeding 20,000/- rupees.

 

As per section 138 of the Income-tax Act, any information with the Income-tax Department would be ordinarily held confidential, but can be made public, if in the judgment of the Commissioner of Income-tax, it serves public purpose.

 

Under section 10A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, for failure to lodge the account of election expenses as per the requirement of law, the defaulting candidate may be disqualified by the Election Commission for three years from the date of the order of disqualification.

 

Section 29C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, provides that each political party shall submit report to the Election Commission (before filing its income-tax return) regarding all contributions in excess of 20000/- rupees received by it in a financial year and failure to submit this report will deprive them of the tax benefit. Further, the candidates are required to file affidavit along with their nomination papers giving the annual income of the candidate and filing of false affidavit attract punishment for furnishing wrong information.

 

The RTI Act was enacted to provide for an effective framework for effectuating the right of information recognised under Article 19 of the Constitution. The RTI Act was enacted to ensure greater and more effective access to information by making the Freedom of Information Act, 2002 more progressive, participatory and meaningful.

 

The definition of public authority given in clause (h) of section 2 of the RTI Act is well defined to include only such authority or body constituted by or under the Constitution or by any law made by Parliament which is substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government. The political parties do not fall within the parameters of the definition of public authority given in the RTI Act, as they are only registered and recognised under the RP Act, 1951.




(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

Sethi

3 years ago

If Parliament does amend the RTI Act exempting poltical parties from being public authorities , what is the next step for civil society , file a PIL in the Supreme Court challenging this amendment ????????

Neela Govindaraj

3 years ago

Our elected representatives have become arrogant and certainly there is a conflict of interest when they frame laws for themselves. There has to be some way of countering the Parliament. That "Parliament is Supreme" sounds like they are God.

RBI needs to come out clean on NPAs

If NPAs are not curbed effectively, it will not be long before India heads the Greek route.  The Ministry of Finance has to necessarily leave micromanagement of the banking sector to the RBI

Dr KC Chakrabary, deputy governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) while speaking in the capital on 26th July at an Assocham Conference on Financial Frauds, very rightly rued – “Many of the frauds are wrong sanctions at the highest level of banks. The problem is, we are not able to take definite action in definite period. Banks are indifferent to monitoring large frauds and whatever fraud reporting was happening, was in silos. Some of the reporting in large transactions happened only after they had been recognized as NPAs (non-performing assets)… While the numbers have not gone up significantly, the quantum has increased manifold… Loan-related frauds are a major concern for the RBI. Over the last ten years, there have been 1.77 lakh frauds, amounting to Rs31, 400 crore. In the last 25 years, 61 fraud cases involving Rs50 crore or more have happened through 208 bank accounts and accounted for a whopping Rs13,000 crore. When the times are good, the rich steal. When the times are bad, the poor also steal. But this means that the rich are stealing more.” 

 

This was amply substantiated by the Hindu Business Line study of companies’ latest balance sheets of top distressed debts of banks (Rupees in crores):-

 

  • Jindal Steel & Power              Rs14,372
  • Kingfisher Airlines                 Rs8,030
  • Suzlon Energy                          Rs6,416
  • Electrosteel Steel                    Rs5,232
  • HCC                                           Rs4,574
  • Bharati Shipyard                     Rs3,862
  • Leela Ventures                         Rs3643
  • GTL Infrastructures-             Rs3,190  
  • Tulip Telecom                          Rs.2,175

          

At the meeting of public sector banks and financial institutions on 4 July 2013, the RBI asked the banks to focus on the top defaulters and take action against them. About 30 top non-performing accounts form bulk of bank NPAs – gross NPAs (GNPAs) of banks rose to 39.7% from 34.5% a year ago. For nine public sector banks, GNPAs have gone up by more than 50%, for those of SBI group and PNB have crossed 4%, the GNPAs as a percentage of gross advances has gone up to 3.78% from 2.32%.

 

In the west, post-Lehman brothers, new financial jargons like bailout for stressed assets have come up. But here in India, they are termed as Non Performing Assets or NPAs, both meaning the same-bad or irrecoverable loans/ debts by whatever name called.

 

Moneylife had carried a cover page report and a series of articles on bad loans, done by a veteran banking analyst. I wish to add another angle to the analysis, arising out of my experience of over four decades as a Central Statutory Auditor on RBI’s Panel, auditing major banks, both domestic and foreign.

 

On 16 December 2012, Dr Chakrabarty, the senior most deputy governor in charge of Banking Supervision and a former CMD of a PSB, in an interview to PTI rightly lamented, “Knowingly, you give money to some unviable projects. In many cases, our PSBs have forgotten to say ‘no’, except to small borrowers…The agricultural loans are not as bad as loans to big corporates. The poorer borrowers are subsidizing the rich. It is not the small borrower who is a threat to banking -his track-record is much better than the larger ones. So long as corporates can pay, they all deal with private sector and foreign banks. But when they are vulnerable, they come to the state-run banks. Unfortunately, a combination of factors is responsible for this. Fundamentally, it is a structural and governance issue. The problem of rising bad debts can be attributed to poor administration and low risk management practices.” He cited examples of the PSBs taking bad decisions that resulting in stressed assets and said that lower risk assessment capabilities in comparison to their counterparts in the private sector and foreign banks is their fundamental problem.

 

In March 2013, the finance minister informed the Lok Sabha that bad loans amounting to Rs68,000 crores were up, to nearly 7,300 accounts by end-March 2012. Leading the pack were SBI, PNB, IDBI Bank and BoI. A financial journalist rightly reported that the data given in support of statements made in the Parliament does not support the statements. The FM’s Parliamentary statement mentioned mechanisms for early detection of signs of distress, prompt restructuring of viable accounts and a loan recovery policy. This includes norms for permitted sacrifice, waiver and other factors like monitoring of write-offs, waiver cases and valuation of securities including collaterals.  

 

It needs to be pointed out that no bank loan goes bad overnight, but happens over a longer period. Some of them commence at the sanction and disbursement stages, to begin with. Loans and Lines of Credit are inadequately and badly appraised, approved by the topmost management and are pushed down to disbursing branches with orders to proceed without proper documentation, securities and guarantees. When they do go sour, inadequacies crop up but it is too late to enforce recovery proceedings effectively. This gives the defaulting borrowers an upper hand.

 

Next, laxities in monitoring processes followed at the branch level play their role- the incipient bad borrowings arise more out of the branch officials’ negligence towards acting promptly to the red signals, leading to irregularities- borrowers exceeding drawing powers and not submitting inventory or debtors security statements, being one example. If only the branch had curbed them and also reported to the controlling authorities, all these could have been taken as warning signals of impending NPAs. Branches tend to take such operational irregularities lightly, only to wake up when the outstandings mount.

 

The RBI Panel under its executive director, B Mahapatra, in its report, observes that restructuring amounts to an ‘event of impairment’ irrespective of whether it is asset classification or not, undergoes a downgrade. It has rightly recommended that all loans that are subjected to restructuring should be classified as NPAs, since they are already Sub-standard. This is particularly true when restructuring requires banks to grant concessions like substantial reductions in interest rates, moratorium or elongation of repayment schedule, part waiver of principal and/or interest or converting debt into equity at inflated values a la Kingfisher. There is absolutely no valid justification to make any such distinction that obfuscates the underlying problem of mounting bad debts!

 

When internationally accepted accounting standards treat restructured advances as impaired, there is no reason for the Indian banking system to deviate from the internationally accepted prudential accounting practices, primarily from the transparency perspective.

 

The RBI’s suggestion of a two-year “Regulatory forbearance” for withdrawing standard classification benefits has had a change for the better. By recognizing these loans as NPAs, we have kept up with prudent and accepted international accounting practices.

 

The banks’ statutory auditors, in helping the bank managements to window dress their annual accounts to overstate the profits for the year, have, in my considered opinion, wrongly misinterpreted the RBI guidance for deferrals. This is equally applicable to the RBI guidelines for recognizing and providing for the accrued gratuity and pension liability. The bank auditors are under a wrong impression that they can get away by merely stating in their auditors’ report - “Without qualifying our opinion/report, we draw attention to Note...” This is no qualification, as it does not explicitly state that the liability did and does exist on the date of the balance sheet and that not providing for it impacts the profits for the current year. The RBI’s advisory merely directs them to defer it over a period of time and in no way absolves them from providing for and disclosing the liability from subsisting and existing. The RBI, the banking regulator and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), the accounting regulator, ought to review this unhealthy practice of window dressing that only results in overstating the profits. The regulatory forbearance certainly cannot exceed its brief!                

 

In the two years between March 2009 and March 2011, the gross NPAs of our banks shot up from around Rs68,000 crore to Rs94,000 crore. By bringing in so-called restructuring, NPAs had wrongly been classified as standard. They have actually soared from just over Rs60,000 crore to almost Rs1.07 lakh crore. According to a statement laid on Lok Sabha in March 2013, gross NPA in 7,295 accounts rose to over Rs1 crore in March 2013 from Rs68,262 crore in March 2012. In March 2011, the figure for 4,589 accounts has risen to Rs34,633 crore from Rs26,629 crore for 4,099 accounts in March 2010.

 

The Sick Industrial Companies Act (SICA) has been on the statute books for long.  Companies are invariably rendered sick by the promoters who themselves continue to remain hale and hearty having skimmed the cream from bank funding. Bankers have been dealing with them with kid gloves, hesitating to make demands on large industrial chronic defaulters. The Securitization & Reconstruction of Financial Assets & Enforcement of Security Interest Act 2005 (SARAESI) empowers lending banks to seize mortgaged assets of recalcitrant borrowers to realise the best prices without having to resort to court sanction.  It is most commonly applied to small-time borrowers, who have defaulted on EMIs for home loans, vehicles loans and small time traders-it tantamount to using a sledge hammer to swat a fly and not touch the large chronic defaulters like Kingfisher Airlines.

 

The big-ticket defaulters manage to keep out bank attachment orders by obtaining court stay orders. This is simply because the banks and the RBI are found to be speaking with forked tongues. They blow hot and cold at the same time and are caught pussyfooting – a case of willing-to-push-but-afraid-to-hurt attitude, not touching big guns, but attaching tiny factory owners or traders. This proves right the good old Hindi adage – Hathi janey dega, magar doom pakad ke baitega - translated letting the elephant pass through only to cling on to its tail.

 

The standard of toughness of recovery proceedings are high with small retail borrowers, where flats and vehicles are attached with ease. The banks’ attitude generally signifies when one small entity borrows a couple of lakhs from a bank, the borrower will be in trouble, but when one big ticket borrows crores, it is the bank which is in trouble. Banks mollycoddle the big time borrowers to collect their dues.

 

To minimize NPAs, the RBI needs to direct the banks to put in place, tough measures of going for the defaulters’ jugular. Personal guarantees and not dud corporate guarantees should be insisted upon and the promoter-directors of public companies should also be called upon to sign personal guarantees, similar to what is followed for private unlisted entities. This is because the promoter clan takes the company stakeholders and bankers for a ride after collecting money from IPOs. They should be required to bring in margin money in hard cash and not by pledging shares of group companies and/or providing their equally dud corporate guarantees.  They should be asked to cough up not less than 25% of the value of the diminution in the value of securities and/or 10% of the sanctioned limits, before considering any rescheduling / rescue act. The end use of the borrowed money has to be strictly monitored to ensure there is no misuse thereafter.

 

The rising NPAs call for strong arm-twisting. The RBI should call upon all banks to furnish a listing of their top 100 defaulters with a brief on their ages, causes and steps initiated to effect recoveries. The banks and RBI should make available the listing along with the progress report on the reduction or otherwise, on their websites. Most of the defaulters would be big names with strong pull, right up to the Ministry of Finance, capable of pulling all strings to keep action at bay. The banks should not stop short of opting for strong coercive proceedings under the securitization laws rather than yield to the mirage of corporate debt restructuring.

 

If NPAs are not curbed effectively, it will not be long before India heads the Greek route.  The Ministry of Finance has to necessarily leave the micromanagement of the banking sector to the RBI.

 

This oversight task is best assigned to Dr YV Reddy, the tough acting former RBI Governor!

 

(Nagesh Kini is a Mumbai based chartered accountant turned activist.)

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COMMENTS

Gopalakrishnan T V

3 years ago

There are five categories of NPAs in banks. Those closely associated with banks, their accounting, auditing, regulation and supervision know fully well that there are Abinitio NPAs, Potential NPAs, camouflaged NPAs, hidden NPAs and disclosed NPAS. what is generally discussed is only about disclosed NPAS and other NPAs are always under the carpet. Part of such hidden NPAs appear as Restructured assets waiting to be disposed of as either irrecoverable or with all possible reliefs and Concessions. Innocent depositors, good borrowers, shareholders and tax payers bear the brunt and this has been going on since evolution of banking in India without any serious approach to fix the Problem with some inbuilt mechanism involving banks and borrowers. Auditors, Management of banks, directors of both banks and defaulting Companies enjoy an easy loot with official sanction as NPAs and write offs.

Gopalakrishnan T V

3 years ago

NPAs are partly the making of Banks themselves and partly by the poor performance of the economy. While the former can be easily tackled with an inbuilt mechanism of disciplining the borrowers and making the banks to perform in a disciplined manner,the latter can be taken care of only by improving the economy. In this connection the book on Management of Non performing advances brought out by the Indian Institute of Banking and Finance in the year 2004offers a very practical solution to tackle this menace of NPAs and had the solution been introduced then the problem could have been contained to a very great extent by now.The book carries a forward by none other than by Dr.C. Rangarajan the then Chairman 12th Finance Commission and the present Chairman of PMEAC. There are some vested interests in keeping and encouraging NPAs and no sincere attempt is made to have a pragmatic solution to get rid of this menace and improve the balance sheets of banks and health of the defaulting borrowers is a fact that cannot be ignored. Will some one be serious in implementing the solution offered ?

TIHARwale

3 years ago

This much long write up is not necessary. the fact is that that the executives at ED and CMD level are corrupt. in majority of cases they are selected based on their indulging in corrupt practices and sharing the boot with MOF people which they have pay cash or sanction loans which become NPA some after the corrupt ED or CMD retires. Harish Chandra (India) Ltd and other 4- Rs 476,80,09,979/- a possession notice has been published in TOI dt 01 August 2013, on behalf of Corporation Bank and other
member banks including Andhra Bank. an illegitimate off spring of Bala Krishnan ED of Andhra Bank who had come from Corporation Bank.

REPLY

Dayananda Kamath k

In Reply to TIHARwale 3 years ago

corporation bank is darling of finance ministry,primeministers office, presidents office and central vigilance commission and central beureue of invesigation, ministry of corporate affairs. you can see how cases complaints against them are being kept on backburner for years together and some times deliberately misinterpreted so that they can protect them. fcnr fraud which was raised by hongkong monetory authority.suspence debtors enry in crores in bandra branch in forex transactions. third party l/c in gold tranactions. wrong calculation of gold deposit interests.multiple challans in diferent names by sameperson to buy gold whenever it goes below rs.50000/- loss of crores of rupees in investment department. investments shown as expenses.you name it they have done it and has been brought to the notice of every authority mentioned above but no action so far.

Dayananda Kamath k

In Reply to Dayananda Kamath k 3 years ago

yesterday i got the clue from khemka's report why corporation bank is darling of all these authorities including rbi. they are bankers to vadra son in law of india.

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