Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Oxford History of Indian Business

Despite the innumerable opinions and the countless debates about its factual authenticity, the economic history of India is fairly well documented.
Gautam Chikermane
Tata Power quotes at Rs 360 today, but did you know that in 1910, even after the success of setting up the Tata Steel plant, the then chairman of the Tata Group, Dorabji Tata, found it difficult to attract Indian investors. Had it not been for Lord Sydenham, the governor of Bombay and some Indian princes, Dorabji may have had to turn to British financiers, “who would have certainly demanded their pound of flesh” through some control over the affairs of the company.
In most of the civilised world, the consumption of addictive opium is considered illegal, but way back in 1784, Bengal was a major exporter of this drug to the “passionately addicted” China, under the direct jurisdiction of the East India Company. In 1818, about 51,000 bighas of land was under poppy cultivation in central India and another 45,500 bighas in north India. Two hundred years ago, junkies of the time must have had a great time in India.
Book review in Outlook Money

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

'From Agents to Financial Planners'

Interview: K.K. Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj Capital
Gautam Chikermane
WITH FOUR decades of experience in the business of financial intermediation and a client base of over five lakh retail investors, Bajaj Capital is among the pioneers in the business of financial intermediation in the country. K.K. Bajaj, chairman, Bajaj Capital, and the driving force behind the company, speaks to Gautam Chikermane on the history of the company, his views on responsible intermediation and what he sees as the road ahead.
How did you enter the business of intermediation? What was the objective of the company when it was set up?
We started out as Capital Investment Centre and corporatised as Bajaj Capital in 1965. I was working as an advocate when I recognised the potential of this business, as I was dabbling in the markets through my brother’s brokerage. Studying his clientele, I realised that most of them lost money on the bourses.
With my educational background in mind, the broking community at DSE roped me in to handle their press briefings and meets. I offered to help with prospectuses and drafting memoranda of association. With the public issues gaining ground in the 1950s, there were rich pickings, as I could take a certain percentage of the issue size as an advisor to an issue.
Interview in Outlook Money

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Where to invest in 2004

One size doesn't fit all. So, tailor investments to your unique financial goals.
Gautam Chikermane
AT 26, she’s the CEO of a Rs 250 crore technology company, earns more money in a month than many of us would in a year, jets around the world with the who’s who, swings and jives at parties with the gay abandon of Hrithik Roshan in Koi Mil Gaya, gets interviewed by TV channels every other day, is expected to be among the 50 most powerful Indian women in 2009, and has the looks to kill for. She might be the most desirable of women, but is she the right one for a 45-year-old professor of history, whose wildest fantasy is to discuss the intricacies of dharma with Veda Vyasa and Valmiki, who has a fear of flying, whose most intense interaction with technology is reading the morning newspaper, whose idea of growth is the grand awakening of his consciousness?
Perhaps not.
Investing is no different. Life insurance may be the best instrument to protect your family, but why mistake it for investment? Sector funds may offer the highest returns in short three- to five-year spurts, but why should the risk-averse take this uncharacteristic short-cut to supernormal returns? Bank deposits may be absolutely safe, but why should young people with many working years ahead of them be content with the pathetic returns they offer? Gold may look pretty on a woman’s neck but why should anyone make the mistake of believing gold jewellery is an investment for her girl child?
Opinion in Outlook Money