Thursday, September 14, 2006

Multiplied by Ground Zero

I asked: “How can one say, ‘You’re either with us or against us?’” He answered: “Well, we have.”

On September 30, 2001, as I walked into the world’s holiday destination, I had to remind myself that I wasn’t here on a vacation. Even so, from a tame tour of the US, the Fellowship gathered a momentum of its own, as it attracted senior officials and soldiers from the Government and the military, businessmen, editors, academics, all targeting a new terminology, a new language, negotiating new words - and a new world of terror.

Opinion in The Indian Express, September 14, 2006

Monday, September 4, 2006

Wisdom of crowds, shared

There's something to be said about the saving and investing habits of Indians. Surprising as they may be, they have a logic that remains unseen in the short term, but when you zoom out and see the big picture, that logic, however peculiar, comes to life. Data in the Reserve Bank of India’s 2005-06 annual report released on Thursday is one such and I’m surprised it’s gone unnoticed, unreported.

Tucked away in the appendices are a set of statistics that reveal the mind of Indian investors. The percentage of household savings that went to shares and debentures in financial year (FY) 2006 rose from 1.1 per cent to 4.9 per cent. This 3.8 percentage point increase is the highest over the past six years. And the champagne corks are out in offices of non-UTI mutual funds whose share increased by 3.2 percentage points, the highest ever, though I suspect it’s more to do with smart marketing of NFOs than with great performance.

Opinion in The Indian Express, September 04, 2006

Cash and creed

The interference of religious leaders in softer and short-term issues like who should sing the Vande Mataram or which temple or mosque should be demolished to make way for development has been accepted by Indian society as a given. We are no longer shocked by restrictions on our freedoms governing marriages, processions, education. But when religious leaders issue a fatwa declaring insurance and earning interest on bank deposits as illegal, it’s time to take stock and realise that these fatwas are human interpretations that may corrode long-term security. Darul Uloom of Deoband, which was responding to a query, is looking at money through the prism of religion. I’d like to turn this around and view religion through the prism of money.

Opinion in The Indian Express, September 04, 2006