Monday, August 25, 2008

Not a nano question

It is not about Ratan Tata or India’s largest auto company, Tata Motors —which is challenging assumptions of costs the world over. The Rs 1,500 crore that the company is ready to forego for employee safety is as generous a promoter as any worker can aspire for. The amount — 9 per cent of the company’s market capitalisation — has been taken in stride by the 309,530 shareholders. Between Tata’s exit threat and today, its stock has risen almost 5 per cent.

Opinion in Hindustan Times, August 25, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Singh is Kinng is that many-splendoured thing: a great entertainer

There is a herd mentality that plagues fund managers — the top holdings of the funds they manage are frightfully similar. The Indian film critics seem no different. They kneel at the altar of Kurasowa’s Rashomon but there are no eight versions from eight critics on offer. They pray to De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves but there are no twists in their climaxes. They worship Ray’s Pather Panchali as a classic, but there’s nothing beyond black and white in their writings.

Opinion in Hindustan Times, August 12, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pension tension

The decision by the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) last week has unequivocally and irreversibly opened the gates for pension reforms. While the decision to open fund management to three private sector fund managers — HSBC AMC (Asset Management Company), ICICI Prudential and Reliance — and to the State Bank of India is rather simple, the fact that the EPFO’s powerful Central Board of Trustees felt the need for better fund management — and found private firms worthy of shouldering that responsibility — is a step that shows a new thinking in tune with changing times.
I am enthusiastic about this move not merely from the political or public policy perspective. The numbers thrown up as a result of this decision show a high level of economic efficiency, unseen so far. The charges bid by the three firms to manage about Rs 30,000 crore per annum are the lowest we’ve seen in independent India. At less than one basis point (100 basis points make a percentage point), HSBC, ICICI and Reliance are offering economies of fund management that scale allows them.

Opinion in Hindustan Times, August 03, 2008