The Customer Is Always right. But There Are Exceptions May 27, 2013 The widespread problems of Indian customers will stop only when regulators put in place a formal process to redress investor grievances meaningfully by forcing companies indulging in mis-selling or fraudulent practices to compensate investors for their losses and impose exemplary damages for needless harassment.
Sexual Harassment: Justice for Indian Women Not in Sight May 27, 2013 As long as the justice delivery system remains slow and our courts refuse to order crippling monetary penalties, zero-tolerance of sexual harassment at the workplace will be discussed endlessly at HR seminars but never implemented.
Best Fund Houses for Equity Schemes May 30, 2013 Our annual ranking of 20 fund houses in all important categories of equity schemes, by Jason Monteiro. If you are buying equity funds, make sure you have this study on hand
RTI Judgement Series: The games babus play with ration cards May 30, 2013 Food & Supplies Department at the GNCTD prepared a ration card in someone else's name and despite a direct order from the FAA it asked the applicant to file another application for a duplicate ration card. This is the 103rd in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
Why disclosure is not enough May 30, 2013 Most small investors are ill-equipped to understand new offerings of securities. SEBI’s move to ask promoters to make disclosures in the offer document leaves investors at the mercy of disclosures and market forces
Hike in air travel costs—more to come! May 30, 2013 There should be a clear written undertaking when airline fails to deliver promised facilities as stated, under the contract of travel, and this must form part of the ticket itself. The ticket must also list out the compensation available for air travellers
RBI wants you to buy gold from banks. You will lose twice! May 30, 2013 Facing huge gold imports that is worsening India’s balance of payments, the government wants to curb gold buying. However, the RBI is pushing savers to buy gold from the banks. This is one of the worst options for everybody. While banks sell you gold at a premium the RBI does not permit banks to buy them back. You will have to sell them to jewellers and get a lower price!
Pricing power returns to Indian telcos? May 30, 2013 Fitch Ratings expect Indian telecom industry's average revenue per minute- ARPU to improve from the current level of 43 paise per minute in 2013 as competition abates
Aruna Roy quits NAC; praises Sonia, blames PM May 30, 2013 While profusely thanking Sonia Gandhi-led NAC, the social activist criticised Manmohan Singh for rejecting minimum wages under MNREGA and his government for failing to pass several money-guzzling schemes that would have put tremendous strain on the fiscal situation. Ms Roy has, of course, always been completely silent about large scale economic mismanagement and corruption that causes inflation and hurts the poorest of the poor
Ford Ecosport: Too Pricey? May 30, 2013 There is plenty of room for further price reductions in the near future, for all types of, especially foreign brands
The Fraud of Cancer Research May 29, 2013 Researchers are fabricating their findings to create the illusion of positive findings, instead of publishing their actual results, for the continuation of their steady stream of funding and grants.
Coal mines: Transparency needed in allocation of blocks May 29, 2013 A novel idea could be to announce the names of selected winners of the coal blocks, and provide a time frame of 30 clear working days within which, if anyone has any objection, he must subject the details, in writing, for a public scrutiny and debate
Why should depositors from better banks pay for cooperative banks’ failure? May 29, 2013 During 2012-13, about Rs160 crore was paid to depositors of 13 failed co-operative banks. The DICGC used money collected from depositors of other banks under the credit insurance scheme. Not a single rupee was paid on account of any failed nationalised or private banks. This only shows that dual regulation means poor regulation
Amway India chief, two others arrested under PCMCS Act. What about other MLMs? May 29, 2013 Kerala, the first state to tighten guidelines on multi-level marketing companies, has cracked the whip on Amway, which is among the first multinational direct marketing companies to enter India in the 1990s. What does the Kerala action mean for other chain-schemes such as QNET and others, which have far more dodgy antecedents?
Anonymously browse, post through Tor to protect your privacy May 29, 2013 Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity, including “visits to web sites, online posts, instant messages and other communication forms”, back to the user. Tor is intended to protect users' personal privacy, freedom, and ability to conduct confidential business by keeping their internet activities from being monitored
Has the Stock Market Turned Irrational? May 28, 2013 The markets have ignored all bearishness, but the upward movement is not sweeping across all stocks and sectors. Good quality stocks are becoming expensive. It is time to take some money off the table and preserve liquidity
Should You Chase the American (Equity) Dream? May 28, 2013 US Equity Schemes made available to Indian investors have delivered scorching returns over the past five months. Should you consider these schemes for your portfolio?
RTI Judgement Series: Non-cooperation between government departments leading to encroachments May 27, 2013 Various departments in Delhi went around stating that they feel it was an illegal encroachment but did not make any comment, leaving the appellant and the CIC wondering whether there was any governance structure at all. This is the 100th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
Mobile operators getting away from penalty due to laxity by TRAI May 27, 2013 Who is monitoring the implementation of quality of services and in cases of violations, what the TRAI is doing? If a service provider explicitly or deliberately violates the QOS, it gets immunity till the violation is set right and no penal action for such anti–consumer act is transparently envisaged
Japan: Blunted arrows of Abeconomics May 27, 2013 The course Shinzo Abe is following is not unique to Japan. Central bankers, by following Japan, are making the same mistake over stimulus and reforms. Stimulus alone without the most important part, reforms, is simply a recipe for trouble
Bank bad loans have not worsened in the March quarter May 25, 2013 Pressure on NPAs, especially for public sector banks will continue as more loans turn into non-performing assets due to the overall slowdown in the Indian and global economy, says a study by NPAsource
Biomimicry: The science of learning from nature May 25, 2013 Respect nature as your mother and learn from her; if you abuse nature, she will kick you in the teeth! Long live mankind learning from nature as our Indian scientists of yore did
RTI Judgement Series: Nobody takes responsibility of informing citizens about flash floods in Delhi May 25, 2013 An aggrieved father, who lost his son due to a sudden flood, wanted to know if anyone in the Delhi government was responsible for informing citizens about sudden discharge of excess water from reservoirs and the Yamuna River. This is the 99th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
A prosecutor, a wrongful conviction and a question of justice May 25, 2013 Jabbar Collins spent 16 years in prison for murder before he won his freedom and a chance to take on the man who put him behind bars. ProPublica examines the career of that prosecutor, Michael Vecchione, the allegations against him, and what strikes many as an inexplicable lack of accountability
Quantitative easing myths debunked May 25, 2013 Quantitative easing is a powerful monetary policy tool to revive markets and the economy. However, recent analysis has shown that there is no difference on how it affects economy. If at all, central banks’ policies has made markets more volatile than before with Warren Buffet stating that if QE is halted it will be the “shot heard around the world”
Chit Funds: Not just new laws; implementation is the key May 23, 2013 While there are enough provisions in existing Acts like the PCMCS Act, it has become difficult to curb dubious chit funds and MLM companies so far, thanks to multiple regulation and lack of coordination between authorities
Phaneesh Murthy iGate scandal: Time for Directors and Officers insurance? May 23, 2013 A third sexual harassment case against Phaneesh Murthy’s should wake up the corporate sector to insurance for Directors and Officers that also covers liability due to financial misstatements, sexual harassment and vulnerability to stakeholder claims, but Indians companies seem to be slow in getting such protection
Can traders create a “vote bank” to assert themselves? May 23, 2013 More than five crore traders in the unorganized sector are providing livelihood to more than 22 crore people, according to a traders’ lobby. Fed up with “anti-trader” policies they want to assert themselves politically
Sound, Fury and the IRS Mess in the US May 23, 2013 The uproar over the IRS scandal last week reinforces the point that much of the heat is just the latest expression of Washington cynicism and its consequences -- that the talk show hosts and their fellow travellers, and the representatives and senators and officials in the executive branch, aren't really looking for answers here. They're just putting on a show
Sunlight: The ‘be all and end all’ of human health May 23, 2013 The sun teaches two important lessons: it does not make any difference and shines on everyone, rich or poor showing us the universality of existence. The more important lesson that the sun teaches us is humility, the kingpin for good health and happiness. The sun has been burning for so long without exhausting his fuel!
Impending issues may create huge shortage of coal May 23, 2013 By 2017, the demand for coal will reach a staggering 980 million tonnes whereas the supplies are expected to touch not more than 795 MT. There is, therefore, the urgent need to handle the issue in a war footing rather than admitting that there are delays due to factors of our own making—such as state government, ministerial and environmental clearances and so on
RTI Judgement Series: CBI enquiry of AAIDU in distance education scam May 23, 2013 The applicant was seeking to know why the DEC did not recommend UGC for a CBI enquiry against Allahabad Agricultural Institute-Deemed University (AAIDU). The CIC noted this as an important issue, but said it can only ensure delivery of information and cannot order an enquiry. This is the 97th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
RTI Judgement Series: An old woman’s struggle of over 15 years to get family pension May 21, 2013 The illiterate old woman was not receiving her family pension for over 15 years after her husband's death. When the complaint reached the CIC, the PIO promised to make sure that she received her due pension payment. This is the 95th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
Make ‘basic’ banking services free! –Part-I May 21, 2013 In the first part of this two-part series we identify certain basic services rendered by every bank, and ensure that these services are offered free of all charges across the board, so that every customer is treated fairly, equitably and in a non-discriminate manner
Garnering money has never been easy as regulators are still in slumber! May 21, 2013 Do not ask the investors’ for PAN number, address proof or for any KYC. Just promise huge returns in few months and give 35-40% commission to agents and voila! You can garner any amount of money from people, both educated or uneducated living in urban and rural areas. And don’t worry about the regulators. They would be the last one to know about your fortune
Cobrapost exposures: What next? May 21, 2013 No need for more exposures as of now. What the common man is waiting for is a change that would reduce corrupt practices and infuse a semblance of ethical behaviour, on the part of individuals and organisations handling public funds, on which, in reality, they have only trusteeship rights
Book Review: Value Investing in Growth Companies May 20, 2013 Unlike most value investing books, this one is set in the Asian context, particularly the Singapore market. Although there is no mention of Indian markets, it is useful to understand investing in Asian markets
Making Democracy Actually Work May 20, 2013 Aditya Govindaraj writes about a unique non-government organisation that tracks governance & transparency issues for the common man
VVIP cremation: Some birds are more equal... May 20, 2013 Delhi is also famous as a cremation ground and subsequent memorial places for top political leaders. However, there exists a semi-VIP class in the capital, created by the babus at the crematorium ground for themselves and other privileged people
Is the interest in Gold ETFs waning? May 20, 2013 Traded value of gold ETFs on the National Stock Exchange hardly rose on Akshaya Tritiya. Besides, last month Rs36 crore went out of gold ETFs
Free-look period policy cancellation is not free May 16, 2013 Did you know that cancelling your policy during the Free-look period has a cost attached? In case of ULIP, the NAV fluctuation is also part of this cost. But, what if the policy has been mis-sold to you? Is there any advantage in bypassing an intermediary to escape and avoid mis-selling and inaccuracies in the proposal?
WPI or CPI: Which inflation number should an individual look at May 16, 2013 It is not possible to capture inflation details with one set of numbers, howsoever wide it may be in terms of coverage. Fighting inflation also requires homework from each individual, which needs gauging of inflation at the individual level
Directors of public sector banks: The ground reality May 16, 2013 The market is merciless in evaluating bank performance and corporate governance standards. If the government does not wake up to streamline entire system of appointment of Directors, all of us may have to repent in leisure
Moneylife Foundation Seminar: The best way one can invest safely May 16, 2013 The very first step to smart investment is to understand various investment classes, the risks that they carry and how to decide what suits your needs, income level and your personal risk profile. Debashis Basu, in a session titled “Invest Smartly” explained these concepts and how to use various investment classes successfully over different time horizons
RTI Judgement Series: Five PIOs say they do not have any information May 16, 2013 Five PIOs, who dealt with the RTI application, finally said they did not have any information. The CIC said, this shows a pathetic deficiency in the government where nobody knows who is responsible for something. This is the 92nd in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
Hybrid Gold Schemes: No Golden Touch May 16, 2013 When hybrid schemes with gold in their asset mix were launched, we had suggested you stay away. That suggestion has proved right, writes Jason Monteiro
RTI Judgement Series: PIO wilfully delayed giving information despite orders from FAA May 14, 2013 The PIO at GNCTD did not give information despite orders from the FAA. The CIC while issuing a show-cause notice to him directed the divisional commissioner to enquire into this serious fraud. This is the 91st in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
High Mark to sell 250 million records to another credit bureau? May 14, 2013 High Mark Credit Information Services' promoter Prof Dr Pandya is negotiating with another credit bureau for an asset sale including about 250 million records collected from members. This is a gross violation of CIRC Act, alleges a former employee in a complaint to the regulator
Distortions of US housing markets May 13, 2013 Housing is usually more stable because the motivations of the buyers are for long-term occupancy rather than exclusively for profit. But by rigging the market toward speculators, the Fed may have queered the pitch. Sadly, once the money has fuelled a boom, you can’t just take it back
System glitch deducts 40% amount as TDS from SBI depositors’ account! May 10, 2013 State Bank of India has admitted that a computer glitch led to deduction of income tax or TDS @40% for FY13 from accounts of its special term deposit holders. SBI is in the process rectifying the issue, but not all depositors will see their entries reversed as yet. How is a common saver supposed to know such deductions from his ‘trusted’ bank and whether there are any costs attached?
Deutche group’s lavish corporate bond offer: real or fraud? May 9, 2013 No, we are not talking about an offer from the German Bank. This is a new corporate bond scheme from Deutche Group, whose name resembles with Deutsche Bank AG, which promises lavish returns on its Facebook page. Savers are advised to ignore the scheme and stay away from the namesake
SEBI still not ready to share PMS data despite CIC order May 8, 2013 In January, the Central Information Commission directed the market regulator to upload from April onwards information about PMS schemes on its website. Despite assurance from SEBI to the CIC, it has not uploaded any data on PMS for which Moneylife has been fighting a long battle
SBI General health insurance policy offers location based premium May 8, 2013 SBI General retail mediclaim offers differential premium based on your location, which is a growing trend. While the premiums are reasonable, the maximum cover offered is only Rs5 lakh. SBI bank and other bancassurance partners will be the lead channel for the sales
RTI Judgement Series: IGNOU vice-chancellor asked to probe NHD certificates issue May 8, 2013 IGNOU failed to provide NHD certificates to some students who have cleared the course offered by Edexcel International. The CIC directed the vice-chancellor of the University to probe the matter. This is the 87th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
Watching the financial watchdogs May 8, 2013 In India, we are plagued with a multiplicity of authorities and shadow boxing of regulators in the financial arena. There is an urgent need to place consumer protection at the heart of financial regulation with a stronger Financial Redressal Agency or mechanism
You can file RTI application through designated post office as well May 8, 2013 In case you are filing your RTI application to any of the central government departments, just head to the designated Post Office where the central assistant Public Information Officer (CAPIO) is duty bound to not only accept but also help you out in filing the application
Born-again family physicians May 7, 2013 Doctors are frustrated, patients are angry, hospitals in the west are going broke, insurance companies that are there only to make money are also declaring Chapter eleven by the day. Time to get back to the old, trusted tradition of family doctors?
Dilemmas in investments can be reduced if risk is accepted May 7, 2013 An expert opinion or textbook answers may not be the best possible solution for dilemmas like generating returns to beat inflation, investing in short term or long term and how to recover from losses. Of course, these dilemmas can be reduced but like systematic risk, they have to be accepted
Intern vs. Mayor: Battle bares Bloomberg’s argument for secrecy May 7, 2013 When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg tapped Cathie Black to be schools chancellor, a lowly intern filed a freedom of information request that the city fought for two years. Now, that intern reflects on why the mayor tried so hard to keep secret emails that turned out to be innocuous
For once, some practical advice on investing in frontier markets May 7, 2013 Bubbles happen all the time in frontier markets. The index in Ghana is up 50% in four months. Assuming you wanted to take the risk, what are the safest investment vehicles and do their returns really represent the mouth-watering headline numbers?
Securitisation tax to hit NBFCs? May 6, 2013 The growth of non-banking financial companies-NBFCs in India has piggybacked on using the priority sector norms of banks, through the securitisation route. If securitisation becomes difficult or costly, as is likely, it will affect the profits and growth of NBFCs. Are there options?
Gold Turns Cold May 6, 2013 Is gold a hedge against inflation, a safe haven investment in a mismanaged world? Or is the gold mystique a big myth built around what is really a speculative trade? Debashis Basu & Jason Monteiro explain the myths & facts of gold that will clear your mind
Gold: Many wrong beliefs, strongly held May 6, 2013 In an enlightening session on Gold at the Moneylife Foundation Knowledge Centre today, Debashis Basu, editor and publisher of Moneylife used decades of data to expose many myths about gold that are (freely available and strongly propagated on the Internet) and strongly held by both retail and institutional investors. He also suggested what should be the correct approach to gold buying
RTI Judgement Series: Display info about patients from EWS treated by private hospitals May 3, 2013 The CIC directed the PIO of Delhi's Health Department to ensure that details of beneficiary patients from the EWS treated in private hospitals are displayed on the website each day. This is the 84th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
Do we need a regulator for ‘unclaimed’ deposits? May 3, 2013 Besides real miscreants who collect deposits from public with the ulterior motive of cheating their ‘clientele’, the government and corporates too become indirect beneficiaries of accumulating “unclaimed deposits”. This is because money not paid back to the original depositors/ savers becomes surplus income or profit for them in due course
Should you hold on or sell your HUL shares? May 3, 2013 Shareholders holding on to the shares from now on will be living in hope that Unilever wants to delist HUL and will revise its buyback or open offer price from time to time
40% buildings in Mumbai do not have OCs. Will axe fall on them? May 2, 2013 All those responsible for constructing illegal buildings often get away scot-free and the end user has to pay the price. If at all the government is keen on demolishing illegal buildings, why not start with unsafe buildings first instead of bringing down sound structures, asks Ramesh Prabhu
Unilever PLC tightens reins on Hindustan Unilever May 2, 2013 With a voluntary buyback announced at a premium of Rs600 per share, it is clear that Hindustan Unilever’s parent company wants a piece of action in India. But what are the implications to its shareholders?
RTI Judgement Series: Defiant PIO, 3 others fined Rs25,000 each for not providing information May 2, 2013 Despite three orders from the FAA, the PIO refused to provide information sought by a senior citizen. However, the CIC, seeing this as a very rare case where the appellant was harassed by the obduracy and obfuscation of authorities, fined all four officers responsible. This is the 83rd in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
New power related projects: No waivers as MOEF clearances mandatory! May 2, 2013 Fortunately, in the case of SAIL, the Cabinet Committee for Investments, headed by prime minister Manmohan Singh, has stipulated that “within a month” MOEF is to issue clearance after obtaining the necessary information from the Jharkhand government, to facilitate commencement of work at the iron ore mines in Gua