As the quality of our lives improve along with higher disposable income, we spend more and more money on false beliefs and superstitions
Even as the average income of urban Indians are increasing, we are flocking more and more to the so-called spiritual advisors, gurus, self styled clairvoyants, gemologists and astrologers. A whole lot of newer professions are now flourishing to help mankind overcome stress. Tarot cards, crystal healing, tai-chi, yoga, sahaja meditation, rudrakshas, gems, healing gurus, self-styled siddhas, are proliferating. Yoga also has fawned lot of new techniques like Power Yoga, Mind Matter Yoga, Spiritual Yoga, etc. Then we have other forms of meditation techniques like Kritta Yoga, Brahm Vidya, Extensive Yoga, Intensive healing, self healing, etc. The Art of Living (AOL) volunteers have really succeeded in creating a robust business model by selling such programs and then claiming that all such contributions received as fees are diverted to social causes by the AOL foundation.
Vastu and Feng Shui, like the rudraksha therapy, have successfully milked people’s miseries to empty their wallets by giving all sorts of vague recommendations. It is amusing that these people make money without the need for any accountability and without the need to deliver any results. It is a well-known fact that one astrologer’s opinion never matches with another’s. Similarly, one Vastu expert’s prescription will never match with that of another expert.
The latest to join this bandwagon is the so-called suppliers of Rudrakshas. Exorbitantly priced rudrakshas, whose genuineness is suspect, are sold to gullible people who believe that this is a one-stop solution to their problems. Rudrakshas are also being sold like garments along Linking Road in Bandra, Mumbai. One rudraksha supplier in Wadala, Mumbai, also has “Ek Ka Do” offer; meaning, if you buy one rudraksha, you will get two free gifts. Those who salivate under the name of free gifts will be dejected to know that these gifts comprise candles, mud lamps, incense sticks and all the roadside stuff that are generally available for a song. I am ashamed to admit that I too fell prey to such marketing gimmicks and ended up blowing around Rs25,000 in purchasing such rudrakshas and crystals.
Then we have the so-called crystal shops which wax eloquent about energy healing and sell Chinese items as “lucky charms” that ward off evil. A few years back, a so-called lucky tree was sold in some malls as a lucky charm. As if the myriad forms of healing therapies in India were not enough, soon we had Chinese imports in the form of Feng Shui products like Laughing Buddha, Wish Cow, Dragon, Lizard, Tortoise, etc.
One of my uncles, who went through a terrible patch in his life after taking voluntary retirement from ACC, kept on moving from one astrologer to another. Each one fleeced him. One astrologer in Malad asked him to do a special pooja for Rs8,000 when he was under severe financial duress and also assured him that he would live for 100 years. Sadly, my uncle passed away barely within six months after performing the pooja.
Iodised salt had resulted in the plummeting sales of rock salt. So, the crystal therapists were contacted and soon enough recommendations were made aplenty to use bowls of rock salt as negative energy absorbers. This is nothing new actually but the age-old Indian tradition and nani-ma’s chuska of warding off evil using salt. A bottle of ayurvedic oil (Sandhi Suddha) is sold for Rs3,000 using an assortment of ex-actors and out-of-job character artistes on television.
Not Just Trinkets
The latest businesses to gain from the average Indian’s increasing affluence are the medical profession where (for instance) every delivery is made into a Caesarian section to grow the business. The pharmaceutical industry is too happy to supply drugs for newer forms of illnesses even before anyone contracts it. The unholy nexus between the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession thrives in the modern world as eminent professor BM Hegde reminds us time and again.
The latest to join this bandwagon are play schools. Hefty fees are charged all in the name of “preparing your child” for school. Disturbingly, new-age parents are leaving their two-month old child in play schools (and mind you these are not crèches). If you look at Bangalore, every independent homeowner has successfully transformed his garage into an activity ground for the play school students. All of them deserve a standing ovation for the most innovative names that they come up when it comes to naming their play schools.
I know of one such play school near our area, which uses the AOL brand name to attract students and charges them exorbitant fees. The teachers in this school are paid a pittance in relation to the hours they put in. On top of it, they are also expected to be ayahs and nursemaids to the tiny tots. It looks plausible that in the future, some of the new-age mothers will directly drive down to a play school from the maternity ward in a hospital.
It is worthwhile to think calmly about the reason for the mushrooming of such professions. The truth is that people’s emotions, fears and hopes are being capitalized as a wonderful business opportunity. If we all did what our forefathers did (simple living, modest expectations, balanced diet, safe investments, etc) then we really do not need to spend money on this. One man’s pain becomes another man’s gain.
Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu said, “you cannot beyond a point, shelter the population from the global phenomena—which is increase in oil price”
New Delhi: Cautioning the Indian government against a roll-back of hike in petrol prices, Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu on Friday pitched for increasing prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas, reports PTI.
In an interview to Karan Thapar’s television programme “Devil’s Advocate” on CNN-IBN, Mr Basu said increasing the prices of these three items should be done in line with the trend of global prices.
“Professionally in people’s interest, the answer is yes (diesel price deregulation). In fact for diesel, all the three items which you are talking about the under recoveries are now huge which means the government is subsidising to keep the price down,” he said.
When asked about the possibility of government rolling back petrol price hike in the view of widespread protests, he said: “Things can happen, but I hope it won't happen.”
More importantly, he added, the failure of the government to contain fiscal deficit to 5.1% of the GDP (gross domestic product) would have adverse implications on inflation.
“There will be a damage, if we make moves where there is risk that we will breach our fiscal deficit target... which means in the long run (there will be) higher prices in general”, he added.
The oil marketing companies (OMCs) on Wednesday increased the price of petrol by over Rs7.50 per litre in view of rising prices in the international market and falling value of the rupee.
On raising prices of other petroleum goods like diesel, kerosene and cooking gas, Mr Basu said, “you cannot beyond a point, shelter the population from the global phenomena—which is increase in oil price”.
Although the government has taken an in-principle decision to free diesel prices, it has not been able to implement it fearing political implications.
“Certain defaults including insider trading, front-running, failure to make an open offer, redress investor grievances and respond to the summons issued by SEBI, are excluded from the consent process,” the market regulator said on Friday
Mumbai: Taking a tough stand on insider trading and other serious offences, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) no Friday decided to exclude these violations from the consent order, a window available for settling disputes on payment of a fee, reports PTI.
The modified guidelines, issued by SEBI, also said that this window will only apply for offences committed two years prior to submission of application to SEBI for a consent order.
“Certain defaults including insider trading, front-running, failure to make an open offer, redress investor grievances and respond to the summons issued by SEBI, are excluded from the consent process,” SEBI said.
Besides, serious fraudulent and unfair trade practices, which have caused substantial losses to the investors, will also be kept out of the consent order.
“The new guidelines will give more clarity and transparency to consent order mechanism,” SMC Global Securities research head Jagannadham Thunuguntla said.
SEBI introduced consent settlement system in April 2007 with a view to cut down on its costs, time and efforts in taking up the enforcement actions. So far, the regulator has passed more than 1,000 consent orders.
According to the new guidelines, if an applicant has obtained more than two consent orders, he will not be eligible to file consent application for three years from the date of the last order.
As per the new guidelines, consent application would not be entertained before the completion of an investigation or inspection, SEBI said.
Besides, for pending proceedings, consent application would be considered only if filed after 60 days from the date of the service of the show cause notice, it added.
“All consent applications shall be accompanied with a non-refundable processing fee of Rs 5,000 per applicant...” SEBI said.
It further said that the High Powered Advisory Committee (HPAC) on consent orders will have the power to enhance or reduce the settlement amount according to the merit of the case or refuse to consider the case under the consent process.
It may also issue directives like disgorgement of ill-gotten profits, among others.
Prior to the new guidelines, SEBI could impose a penalty higher between Rs25 crore and an amount equivalent to three times the profit allegedly made by the suspected entity through insider trading or other manipulative activity.
The HPAC would consist of a chairman who shall be a retired judge of a high court and three other external experts, as may be decided by the board from time to time.
SEBI further said that in case of rejection of the consent application, no subsequent application with respect to the same default would be considered.
“The consent application shall be disposed of expeditiously, preferably within a period of six months from the date of registration of the consent application,” SEBI said.