Monday, August 31, 2009

Revisiting NREGA

In a short span of time National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) emerged as one of most profound government scheme for addressing the socio-economic plights of poor and marginalized rural workforce and infrastructure. NREGA introduced the finest example of cash for work model in India with some distinctness but same rudimentary propositions like some cash transfer programmes in other countries; Oportunidades (Mexico), Social Protection Network(Nicargua), Bolsa Escola and PETI(Brazil), Family Assignment Programme(RAF-Honduras), Chile Solidario (Chile) and Programme of Advancement through Health and Education(Jamaica).
These all implementation are in respective fields and making choices available to the poor beneficiaries.The NREGA evolved out of a political response to relentless people’s movement and the articulated needs of rural workers; indeed civil campaigns has been playing crucial role in its enactment and further in their functioning.

The NREGS is the first employment generation Programme in the country that holds socio-economic rights in a statutory framework and paves a comprehensive nexus between the mass rural workforce and the state authority which layout not only the NREGS albeit also a solid stride of democratic governance. It must be an exaggeration to expect from the partial success of this rural employment Programme to address all the hurdles of vast rural economy even though it’s a universal truth that NREGS has increased the bargaining power of rural farm and other workforce.
On many front NREGS have enhanced the prospect of revivals in rural economy but magnitude of its performances has been found uneven through region wise evaluation of its impacts on respective milieu. Despite this NREGS involves in creating productive assets, enhancing purchasing power, strengthening the Panchayats (Institution of local self governance) besides encouraging new height of transparency.

With broadening the horizons of NREGS it also raised the concern for medium and small marginal farmers as they are coping with higher and competitive labour costs for the farming; surely it’s a positive outlook in many ways but the deficiency of a rational support price, inclusive institutional credit facilities. Crop insurance, subsidies on basic inputs, cross border trade management etc are some haunting issues which jeopardizing the conditions of farmers.
This is a major issue before the government (Both the Central and State) to enabled these farmers through additional financial stimulous by that they would be able to sustain fetching the farm labourers in competitive scenario of rural labour market.

Governments must show better accountability to innovate and broaden the NREGS Programme to the other productive sectors which would further left the assumption that all poor are ready and willing to engage in physical work only. Such innovated NREGS Programme would be entrusted with the more meticulous and varied opportunities to lessen the vulnerability of literate rural unemployed. Implementation of this innovated employment guarantee Programme may come out with various challenges. The potential beneficiaries are expected to be the crucial issue that would be needed an innovative proposition in handling by the policy makers and governments as well.
Implementation of last fifty years of development programmes could make some sense in forming amicable solution of people’s entitlement that also broaden the stimulus and meet the human and social needs of diversified population.

First of all it’s most imperative to expand the existing works under NREGS and make enabling provisions to employing educated unemployed persons as support staff for the NREGS which would also fulfilled the shortage of staffs in projects. There also existed huge chances of spurting entrepreneurship with absorbing literate workforce for more useful productions which would left with finer implications like checking the outbound migration to urban areas; so NREGS could be used to maintain a fine balance and would retrieve the lost glory of Indian villages.
It may be unanimous view at least in proposition that NREGS bears the great entitlement with large pools of marginalized rural workforce that seems nearer to the Amartya Sen’s entitlement theory ‘That lack of access to food (Goods and Services) rather than failure in food supply leads to famines’ necessitated the importance of entitlement; fortunately which is core of NREGS programme.

NREGS holds very healthy composition of workforce; fifty percent of workers are women and rest of workforce consisted with majority of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, so its aim of socio-economic empowerment is much focused and well structured. Despite having many goods things in its wish list, this programme suffering from routinely violation by authorities which fudging its proper success at execution level.
Delay of payment, absence of work in stipulated time, late redressal of grievances are some of alarming happening in the execution of NREGS; social scientist and activist like Jean Dreeze have made excellent effort to unleash the various payments related discrepancies in Jharkhand. Today it’s imperative to make NREGS work efficiently and wipeout its functional maladies rather than blindly amending it.Attempts of Ministry of Rural Development to craft the format of “NREGA2” should be introduced only with a long range of debates that must involves its core constituents and ensure the basic foundation of NREGA more strengthened. The focus should be concentrated on demand based availability within the stipulated time frame without any frills and its further extension of 100 days work into a regular mode of job. Indeed with great commitments and vision this target is achievable.

Atul Kumar Thakur
31stAugust 2009, New Delhi

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Vistas in India-Nepal Trade Relations

India still possess the tag of “Solitaire” in Nepal’s international trade domain as it’s maintain the strategic proportion of sixty one percent of Nepal’s total trade and accounts nearly sixty seven percent of total exports as per the various data suggested in 2008. Although these two friendly neighboring countries share a good deal of trade relations but they still have to tap many improved goals, so further India and Nepal should expand the scope of the existing trade agreements and engage in a more meaningful economic relationship that will aimed with the long-term benefits.
Indeed most of trade treaties in past have been limited to tariff concessions, such benefit are transitory in nature and do not contribute to long-term growth of Nepal’s economy or to sustainable trade between the two countries.

So, there is immediate need of rationalization in crucial trade treaties between these two countries with suitability to modern requirements; some timely taken and conducive approach on policy level with consistency of co-operation from both the economies would be very imperative. Here it’s worthwhile to mention that parity in trade relation between India and Nepal must be soughted even though on partial extant,because for a positive outlook in international trade at least it’s very essential to have healthy contributions from both the side.
In no manner theirs contribution should be misjudged in terms of equal partnership from both the side albeit it requires a positive contribution corresponding to their own economies.

At present Nepal runs a burgeoning trade deficit with India, which increased from $167 million in year 2000 to $1.3 billion in 2008. Nepal’s GDP growth during 2002-03 and 2007-08 was only 3.9 percent. Manufacturing grew the slowest at 1.6 percent indicating that growth in the Nepalese economy occurred with virtually no industrialization. Data suggests the feeble state of affairs in Nepalese economy which is quite below from its actual potential in different sectors.Causes of such inertia in Nepal’s economic development explicit as the under utilized performances of businesses.
For sustaining in modern business and achieving a higher growth Nepal will have to make its economic environment more conducive to the development of entrepreneurship and foreign investments. There is tremendous scope for trade in services like… Tourism, Water Resources, Financial Services, Entertainment etc; foremost area among these are water resources that is most strategic slice where India and Nepal could build numerous high level ties to share the vast hydropower potential of Nepal.

Nepal has huge hydro-power potential of 44,000 MW, which is economically feasible, yet its power deficient and a net importer of power from India; till now very few initiatives have made much progress in this area. Hydro-power would play the catalyst role in drawing the attention of Indian business community because its utmost viability for both the side; so there is immediate need for radical concrete advancement in co-operation between these two countries on water management.
Further the co-operation in this area would leave positive effects on the perennial tragedy of disastrous floods in Terai region of Nepal and adjacent areas of cross border in Indian side (North Bihar, Mithila region) as it’s hampering any large scale entrepreneurial activities in these region due to relentless approaching challenges of nature and its bad human management.

Tourism is another sector where Nepal could have bigger edge than what’s it availing in present time through its abundantly entrusted natural landscapes and historically rich tradition of hospitality.
Today tourism looks for a constructive revival inside the Nepal as its growth badly jeopardized by the decade long civil strife and unstable political situation in country; between 1999 and 2006, the number of tourists declined from 4.92 lakh to 3.84 lakh.A reversal in trend was seen only last year when the number of tourists increased to five lakh. Sharing a long stretch of border and closer ties Indian side likely remains very active in closer enhancement of tourism in Nepal.

India accounts for nearly twenty one percent of total proportion of tourism in Nepal, so its importance could be understood.In his recent visit to India, Nepalese Prime Minister Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal stressed on the need for closer co-operation in the seven fields including of Telecommunication and financial services are foremost which is very vital for the prospect of India’s more active collaboration in this regard.
As Indian banks and financial institutions are in the upswing mood of diversification such positive invitation from highest political authority of Nepal would inevitably enhanced the prospect of new chapter in financial sectors expansion in Nepal.

Even though some of Indian financial entities has been already functioning there and infusing considerable proportion of businesses. According to Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) in year 2007(August}.
Indian companies like SBI (Nepal SBI Bank Ltd, share 50%), PNB (Everest Bank Ltd, share 20%), Alpic Finance Ltd( Alpic Everest Finance Ltd, share 55%), National insurance and Oriental insurance company Ltd having solid base inside the financial sector of Nepal.Albeit it’s should not be a matter of complacency for business leaders of both the side as its quite low from India’s investment potential.

Most of existing Indian financial entities in Nepal hail from Public Sector even till now very few Public Sector players are involved in full swing. So, there persists huge hope for investments in Nepal from both the Indian Public sector and competent Private Sector financial institutions.
Nepal is a formidable terrain for India in every manner and any Indian business venture in this land would be very boosting in trade relationships of these two countries. In recent time numbers of joint ventures business with India ( April 2008, FNCCI) has been considerably increased as 120 companies are operating, 33 are in under construction, 37 are waiting for license and 142 have received approval for businesses.

So some causes are being visible to be sanguine on this development but India-Nepal co-operation must expand to new horizons.To tackling the growing deficit in international trade, Nepal must check its exorbitant taxes on imported goods from India to fostering consumption and production cycle to ultimately improving the rudimentary facilities.
In same manner Nepalese leadership should ensure spurting motivation for export businesses by rationalizing many statutory hurdles as its already availing numerous concessions from Indian side.

Nepal is endowed with finest natural resources and human resources and if found a stable political condition and good law and order situation than there is no reason that it wouldn’t fetch attention for business and investment from outside.
Today for Nepal, it would be very compatible to be more realistic with their interest and must strive for home grown businesses than being an importer nation. With easiest reach and low cost of operation India would be equally benefited from expanding its commercial ties with Nepal. Policy makers should ready for exploring this opportunity with meticulous state of mind.

Atul Kumar Thakur
26th August2009, New Delhi

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jinnah: An Evangelist of Virulent Ideas

Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the patriarch of a nation called Pakistan gaining utmost limelight nowadays at least in the imagination of Armed Force officer turned Politician turned a writer Mr. Jaswant Singh who’s getting mixed sort of tag for his juvenile researched book Jinnah: India- Pakistan-Independence. This book came with an unprecedented shock to India’s long standing ethos which culminated in the long process of time, further it engraved with an adversely personified exchange of India’s nation maker’s impressions.
Jaswant Singh’s moves seems to intended for big acclamation and commercial success; in this process he became so hurried that he even forgets to put some genuine historical facts in his historical queries of highly ambiguous political scenario of pre- independent India. In this regard early and timely suited remarks of India’s leading historian, Ram Chandra Guha that “History is not a mathematical game” astutely reveals the feeble nature of this book.

Indeed Mr. Jinnah began his political life as a child of the enlightenment the seeds of which were planted in undivided India by the statesmen of Victorian England but that was not sustained as last eventuality as he was an astute expert of legal practices and his success was largely due to the fact that he was quick to seize the tactical implications of any development. In reality he was a man of ambition and had a very high opinion of his own abilities and the success which he conquered relentlessly in his early professional life.
After a considerable phase of his idealistic convictions he changed his mind for a separate platform of a nation based on communal division, than foremost reason for his avoidance the older beliefs and the Gandhian Congress was his nervousness about the consequences of rousing mass enthusiasm. Some of his quotation sourced from the book “Religion in Politics (Arun Shourie) and Federation of Pakistan which also appeared in The Economic Times dated on August 20th beaks the silence on his actual visions of future.

Countering Congress demand for freedom of a united India, Jinnah raised his voice of protest to gathered crowd at Madras… “In this subcontinent, you have two different societies – the Muslim society and the Hindu society and particularly in this land there is another nation that is the Dravidian. Attacking Mahatma Gandhi for his refusal to accept Muslim League as sole representative of Indian Muslims, Jinnah said “Why should not Mr. Gandhi be proud to say “I am a Hindu, the Congress has a solid Hindu backing. I am not ashamed of saying that I am a Musalman.I am right, I hope and I think even a blind man must have been convinced by now, that the Muslim League has the solid backing of the Musalman of India.
Why then all this camouflage? Why not proudly representing your people and let me meet you proudly representing the Musalmans”. Attacking Muslim Congressmen as “dupes”, “betrayers, traitors and cranks”.

Jinnah said: “The conduct of these dupes of the Congress and these betrayers well nigh disheartens me and I some times ask myself if a community which can still produce so many foolish or treacherous men is worth carrying for, praying for and weeping for. Yet, gentlemen we must not, we can not and we will not yield despair.On a constitution for a united India and democracy, Jinnah said: “Democracy means, to begin with majority rule. Majority rule in a single society is understandable.
Representative government in a single nation, harmonious and homogeneous, is understandable but can such system ever succeed when you have two different nations? Demanding Pakistan, Jinnah told League legislators in Delhi: “I have explained in great detail the fundamental and vital differences between Hindus and Muslims. There never has been for all these two nations.

The Indian unity that we talk of up to today in held by the British and they by their ultimate sanction of the Police and Army maintained peace and law and order.Jinnah’s reply to Congress’ opposition to Pakistan “The Musalmans are not a minority as is commonly known and understood...Musalmans is a nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their homelands, their territory and their state.
All these comments showed complete contrast to the Mahatma Gandhi with whom he shared some crucial initiatives during the three decades he dominated Indian political arena and who, however much he might adapt himself to the thrusts of circumstances but he aggressively managed on a long range of his own changed perceptions about the future political development with remarkable consistency. He anticipated that a backward community like the Musalmans could be roused to action only by an appeal, its religious faith.

He kept the vows of communalism for communal causes and drawn poignant inspirations from the hard core dictators of Europe like Mussolini, Hitler etc to emerge in the helm of power that further pushed him to a perfect technique of propaganda and mass integration with like minded to which atrocity – mongering was central. For materializing his isolatory aspirations which was also proportionally conducive for the sake of British rule further strengthen the disastrous “ Divide and Rule” diplomacy over a period of half a century was blindly motivated towards this goal.
In his megalomaniac action he could never visualized own faults and kept fostering the wild motives of colonial forces who possessed utmost interest in such large scale growing strife among the India’s political parties and likely changed in key discourses. All this later development in his mindset marked a complete shift from his early ideological temperament which he profoundly shown at many junctures.

On Minto- Morley reforms, he set his face sternly against the British attempts to entice the Muslims away from their allegiance to the Congress and India’s national movement; for long he kept aloof from the Muslim League but alas such thinking couldn’t be endured forever. Here it’s inevitable to illustrate that Jinnah was deeply surrounded with contradictions over his role in contemporary Indian politics; at one side he felt impatient with emerging leadership in Congress and kept himself aloof from the Congress on the other side he also shown cold response to some very strategic stand of Muslim League.
His little sympathy with the Ali Brothers’ Khilafat Movement in Turkey and his favour of unitary government at the first Round Table Conference because of its diversity and unviablity of federal propositions are some of very lucid example of federal propositions are some of very lucid example of his ambiguous policy.

So for any proper evaluation of his work it’s quite essential to conduct a comprehensive introspection in the light of diverse time frame and issues, otherwise any judgments would be ended with improper and frivolous ramifications. So, reaching on an amicable convergence is impossible by vilifying own national heroes in the context of an amorphous act to glorify a man of contradictory nature. Despite this Mr. Jinnah even during his most fractional state never undermine the viability of strong friendship between Pakistan and India besides he also shown great faith in democracy which in subsequent phase strucked downwardly in absence of his own replacement with equal international stature and unquestioned authority over the masses.
He might have been facing many anxious thoughts about the future of newly created Pakistan.Indeed he shown some temptation for secular ideas in his initial days of career but he couldn’t sustained it for longer time; consequently Independence could be materialized only for two divided nation.

So, with such harsh consequences of a long cherished dream of millions of Indian the leaving British colonizers received an unexpected and permanent gift in terms of a long- stretch of disturb south Asia. The British colonizers found a very inevitable place for them in upcoming level playing fields of diplomacy in south, such hassle free materialization of theirs dream became possible through a very synchronized political approach of Muslim League; there folly even haunting today the Pakistan and region in terms of a consistent western intervention in their own pursuits.
Even Jinnah was completely failed to endure his own democratic vision for Pakistan in later period; in no manner he does deserves the epithet like “secular” and any glorification's of his role as torch bearer of secularism would be misleading in an integrated assessment. It would have been quite better for Mr. Jaswant Singh to focus on his meticulous Statesmen quality rather than getting involved in frisking a very in-depth and complex side of his character. Whatever may be further reaction on such more subversive standpoints it must be taken in mind by the every creative person to avail their autonomy judiciously and never on the cost of India’s moral principles which culminated over the long period and sacrifices of countless martyrs. Unsolicited aberrations must be avoided for common goods.

Atul Kumar Thakur
25th August2009, New Delhi

Monday, August 17, 2009

Changing Paradigms in India- Nepal Relations

Today Nepal stands at the crossroads amidst the swiftly changing political tracts and it becoming scarce now to found a closer understanding over the core issues among all the political parties. Such political opportunism truly missing the plight of democracy besides pulling down the national priorities in crucial matters;lucidly it’s an outcome of internal political strife instead from an imposed international pressure. Stability is very crucial for Indian point of views,as in the case of Nepal,India hasn’t any option except to see a sovereign Nepal; concerned authorities in India’s External Affairs Ministry have been consistently showing similar concern and landed all possible support to assist in Nepal’s integration.
Through an honest introspection it’s easily revealed that India never resolute any action in past against the national interest of Nepal, further India never obstruct the formation of any democratic government even including the Maoist government and send their foreign secretary just three days before the government formation.

India- Nepal relations are so strong that it’s very hard to shape in mere words because these two neighboring nation has a history of deep ties and shared concern from ancient times. Quality of relationship between these two countries shouldn’t be seen in terms of treaty; having faith in each other’s role any dispute can be solved and consensus could be formed between these two friendly nations. Indeed there are no reasons among the peoples of the both side of border to involved in any sort of hate campaign against each other; any development in this regard would be ended with an impractical and unviable consequences.
So, it must realized that that interest of India wouldn’t affect the any move of peace process in Nepal; it’s need of hour to end the causes of political insecurity among the diasporas on the both side of borders.

State of Nepal’s internal security possessed as much concern as her own existential safety for India, so any anti Indian move will jeopardize the friendly terms and left alarming ramifications for both the country. India’s concern over the presence of ISI’s agents inside the territory of Nepal must be seen in genuine light by the Nepalese government since it could be highly disturbing in long term for Nepal’s own sake as well. Indian government is very serious towards tackling the terrorist network with wrenched resoluteness and would keep affirming on Nepalese government to check their activities from their sovereign territory.
With more meticulous action some unfortunate developments may be easily avoided; that would required a consensus based approach in top notch Nepalese political circle and within their civil society towards the India’s plight for security.

India never felt any sort of discontents with the democratic proceedings in Nepal; of course Maoist should stay and play active role within their national political framework. Indian government would remain very keen for strengthening of democracy in Nepal and issues like human rights would be a key priority for them with putting finest efforts to see it in universal way beyond the geographical boundaries. In recent past Gorkha’s role in Indian Arm Forces has gained some critical applauds from a reactionary section in Nepal which is quite unfortunate and is an effort to dampen the historic and marvelous symbolic ties between these two friendly nation.
The word consensus has been largely misused in Nepal consequently ultra nationalism in Nepal largely seen in the context of anti- Indian sentiment; a very clear approach would be needed from Nepalese side over such relentless unfortunate developments.

In international affairs domain Nepal needs to play more matured role and must develop a sense of its own best interest; mutual integrated relationship with India paves way for safe passages of trust between them which is quite symmetric to the actual requirements and should remain a foremost concern for both the countries to keep intact these flame of spirits; any constructive solution of joint interest would be emerged from mutual effort instead through isolatory stances.
In changing circumstances it’s quite essential for both the countries to make immediate revisions in bilateral treaties and shaping them as per the suitability of present time. Infrastructures are major issues that needs to look on in such active manner since perennial floods is a major impediment for socio-economic structure of Terai region in Nepal and entire north Bihar.

A radical shift in policy towards the existing infrastructure of water management is the first step that required to be taken by the governments of both countries. Water management possessed very crucial and strategic place in the sphere of India- Nepal relations as their catchments are very productive for the vast agricultural areas as well an alternative source of energy; projects like Pancheswar, Saptakosi, Naumure etc needs rational handling as they are immensely crucial for the sake of both countries energy requirements.
Border management is another issue that needs more regulated treatment though it should remain open as even before because prevalence of open border is the biggest asset of India- Nepal relation and it has potential to be framed as an ideal border of south Asia.

Indeed open border plays crucial significance in the lives of population adjacent to border; since time immemorial they have been sharing the ties of Roti (Bread) and Beti (Matrimonial ties) which even creates complexities of identity.In present state Nepal is coping with the difficulties of constitution making besides having to win the trust of peoples in democratic institution which shown severe fluctuation in immediate past.In this situation grooming of an idea of ethnic federalism and other major issues wouldn’t be less than a fatal as handling of such major issues depends upon the state of stability which is completely out of seen in present circumstances.
Terain’s plight and refugee’s problems are some other rudimentary issues that need proper concern and action from the governments of both the side as law and order situation is a matter that requires the co-operation of other side due to geographical nature and open borders.

In decade long civil war like situation, the Terai region faced adverse setbacks and witnessed the losses of human lives, infrastructure, ecology, law and order etc. Even in last few months toll of losses in Terai is quite frightening, almost 1200 peoples has been killed and more than 3600 were abducted; situation is still very grim inside the Terai region and peoples have some distraught feeling as they used to feel during the bloody strife phase.

Glorifications of Terain Armed groups are caused by the political affiliations and patronage that’s making situation worse in any effort to contain and disband their growing role; catchments areas of North Bihar or Mithilanchal region becomes a hideout place for these groups in the absence of a specified and clear set of mechanism on joint level; a strategic move in this regard is immediately required.
Till today Nepal is missing the actual taste of democracy and whatever has been represented on the name of democracy that never touched the ground of actual aspiration of its citizen. Maoists short stint in government couldn’t materialized their own professed goals instead they turn up to attack on religious identities, authoritarianism, non-pluralism, against right of property besides showing very immature stand on Nepalese Armed Force chief Rukmangad Kotwal; such bad conflict management with Arm force deciphered the feeble understanding of realpolitik in Maoist camp.
Before that incident Nepali Army has history of passive presence and following the civil supremacy which was very conducive with the expectation of Nepalese intelligentsias. But now stands humiliated, Nepalese Army becomes more powerful and strategic which may played crucial roles in further phage of development.

India too witnessed some implications after this incident as the role of India felt prominent by a section of reactionaries in Nepalese politics; former Prime Minister Prachanda’s remarks as “Promped by Prabhu” to present Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal was clearly referred towards the India which was completely unjustifiable. India maintains silence over such rambling propositions even the Indian side never downbeat with the growing Chinese influence in Maoists rule and regarded it just as lacking immune system.
India has huge concern with Nepalese state of affairs in similar manner; Nepal too has immense benefits from a stronger India, so despite some ups and down in events it would be compatible to remains in same strong bond of sharing forever’ Brotherhood always remains a great idea as in such set of relationship every member has some specific roles to play irrespective of identities like big brother and small brother; being sanguine for same must in case of India- Nepal relations.

Atul Kumar Thakur
17thAugust 2009, New Delhi

Bumpy Quivering In Indian Mutual Fund Industry

As on July end, the Indian Mutual fund industry manages an asset base of RS 6, 86,946 crore which seems quite impressive in first impression but an in-depth introspection reveals this performances as below of actual potential of presently existing thirty six fund houses. It’s not less surprising that top five Mutual funds houses accounting for over fifty present of the total asset base, so there is huge scopes persist for entry of new players in Mutual fund industry.
According to a recent report of The Economic Times, twenty six funds waiting for approval of business before SEBI (Security and Exchange Board of India); expected potential for more players foraying into the Mutual fund space may lead this industry for stronger consolidation.Mutual fund industry despite having an existence of fifteen years has yet to secure its position as a formidable player in the domain of financial services.

Now the going away of entry load will leave greater obstacles before industry players in attracting the investors. Scrapping entry loads has apparently put Mutual funds at a disadvantage vis-à-vis viable products like ULIPS at the distribution end. Before August 1st, Mutual funds were charging an entry load of 2-2.5% and paying a commission of around 3% to their distributors that mean fund houses had to burn around the cost of 50 to 100 basis point. Such proportion of cost for Asset Management Company was quite low which now they wouldn’t longer afford in the wake of new SEBI ruling.
Even though withering of entry load by SEBI is logical for the sake of investor’s interest as previously availing with fixed nature of commission hardly compelled distributors and Independent Financial Advisors for better consultancy to investors. In absence of adequate information generally investors couldn’t secure there intended benefits from investment.

Now the Mutual fund distribution set to become more demand based rather than sales push, so the time is ripe for investors to be more careful as distributors might push other products such as ULIPS more at least in short term. Indeed the new ruling will lead market towards stiff competitive regime in which the investor will have greater voice although that would require a better financial literacy scenario which at present is quite unsatisfactory in India.
On the other end new SEBI ruling will adversely affect the Mutual fund industry as the overall distribution network is going to face severe challenges; risk has arises of small distributors losing their business and large distributors getting consolidated. Even before the implantation of new ruling Mutual fund industry lacked the distribution network to cover the entire country in a meaningful manner; some plans are in the air for establishing the grand distribution and trading platforms.

Such materialization would of course mitigate the long pending sluggishness of proper distribution network but that must not oust the IFA’s role; they must have to co-exist for further deliberation.In the new set of condition it would be quite imperative to have a triangular interface amidst the Mutual fund , investors and distributors with a consensus based settlement of commission and various other impetus; certainly it would be require disclosure norms more tightened and transparent. There must be a definite set of rules that apply equally to similar products irrespective of seller’s identity.
Apart from the challenges of new directives from SEBI, existences of some non-serious players in the business are equally posing serious concern over the maximization of its reach in financial market.

It seems quite astonishing after passing through the facts regarding very low requirements (Rs 10 crore) to start a Mutual fund unlike the Banking or Insurance business. Despite such hassle free monetary norms; leaders in Mutual fund couldn’t visualize the need for its pan Indian presence like the counterpart’s Bank and Insurance. Presently majority of Mutual funds business comes from corporate (around 70%); here the Mutual funds business urgently needed for some stringent regulatory mandate like rural penetration of business like the counterparts in financial services.
As per a survey of Value research ( An independent research and analysis institution), the industry’s present penetration is estimated at 4.5% as against 10-15% of Insurance business; there are around 3 million agents for Insurance products and just 80,000 distributors for Mutual funds. Indeed both have their own strength and weakness of business but at the moment Mutual fund industry required a tectonic shift in their products distribution in enhanced innovation and co-operation with Banks and Insurance sector.

Mutual fund industry by remodeling many products can leverage upon Insurance’s distribution networks since both are ‘push’ products. Structural changes in selling practices and better offers of reward in distribution network would be a crucial impetus in sustaining and rising of falling esteems in this business.
Today Mutual fund industry is standing at crossroads where it has to cope with many swiftly approaching challenges including a very consistent stiff competition from Insurance industry. Insurance businesses are in win-win situation in comparison of Mutual funds as they availing the traditional edge of being a tool of tax saving besides having a wide network of its distribution channels lead this industry to every threshold in both the urban and rural spaces in equal manners.

To gain an actual breakthrough, potential think tanks of Mutual fund sector should reassess their ongoing business model in terms of targeted breakthrough and further marched towards the comprehensive diversification. Diversification's in the sense, that it would reduce any adverse exposure from a specific sector and would mitigate other invisible travesty.Probably this lesson is most rational after suffering a chronic, meltdown of international financial system which not only raises question on the confined treatment of financial planning but also showed the solution in a diversified and transparent way of business behavior.
Indian market has a huge potential for the growth of Mutual fund business but it would require first to decipher the codes of investor’s expectation from the products. More and more adaptation with the Indian condition would harness the success story; fewer amounts of frills along with the greater amount of ethics and trust would be matched with the genuine plight of this growing sector.

Atul Kumar Thakur
17th August2009, New Delhi

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bikhare Bimb: An Introspection of Inner Fallacy

During present year’s Sangeet Natak Akademy Awards programmes, presentation of Girish Karnad’s written and directed Hindi play “ Bikhare Bimb” was a very precious gift for the city’s theatre lovers. Undoubtedly Girish Karnad is doyen of Indian theatre who proved his creative sophistication in his very first play by Yayati in 1961 which was centered around the alluring Mahabharat sagas; further he kept strengthening his own unique developed style through his acts like Tuglaq, Hayavadan, Nag- Mandala, Teledanda, Agni aur Barkha and Bikhare Bimb (Odaku Bimba, October 2004).
Girish Karnad’s exemplary career in modern theatre and Cinema was precedent with very successful academics as a Rhodes scholar in Oxford University, which was a parallel epithet of his life.

It’s a measure coincidence with this play (Bikhare Bimb) that Girish Karnad directed his play for the first time (His last directorial venture was forty years back when he did Badal Sirkar’s Evam Indrajit) though he received great assistance from co- director K.M. Chaitanya.
Basically Bikhare Bimb (A Heap of Broken Image) is a monologue and remaining characters has no physical representation in entire play.
Role of the protagonist (Manjula Nayak) have been played by the renowned thespian Arundhati Shankar Nag who have a glorious career graphs with IPTA branch, Bombay along a very close associations with the Activists like M.S.Sathyu, A.K.Hangal, Kaifi Azami, Balraj Sahni etc.

Her measure works are included (Khid ka Khala, (IPTA, M.S Sathyu), Satranj ke Mohare (Ramesh Talwar), Neela Kran (Shafi Inamdar), Road to Mecca (Prassana); apart from that she has penned the dialogue for Television serial Malgudi Days and assisted Director David Lean in Passage to India. At present she is working for Banglore based Rang Shankara, this play was especially written for this premier group.The story initiated and ended in same premises at a TV Studio; main led Manjula Nayak who is a professor of English and a low profile Kannada writer got an unprecedented name, fame and wealth over nightly through her work over an English Novel.
In the wake of her extraordinary achievement she had called up for an interview on Television, after her artificially crafted revelation of her success she suddenly caught in confrontation with her own inner self about her betrayal with her mother tongue and real identity.

Here her own image seems quite involves in three sort of role,as confessor, moderator and inquisitor. After a steep confrontation with her inner self she emerged though hesitatingly for a confession of her new falsified identity that actually pertains to her paralyzed sister. In further course Manjula revealed the story of her family life; she got huge amounts from her parents in their lifetime to carry on the proper care of her differently abled sister since Manjula has no child, so there are only three members in her family along with her husband and bedridden sister.
Implicitly there are three dimensional relationships are existing between these three characters; Manjula facing an insecurity with growing soft relationship between her husband and sister which finally got more deeper after the demise of her ailing sister.

After such occurring her husband got away from her world and shifted in America, this left a major blow for Manjula as she has been believing her husband faithful for her; equally that shattered her previously held affection for her deceased sister.Meanwhile in her desperation Prof Manjula managed to find the manuscript of a novel originally written by her sister, though she was aware about the creative energy of her bereaved sister but she infact never made her mind to go in detail with it.
She came thrilled to know about her hostile portrayal in novel but surprisingly in meantime she got a call from foreign publishers on her misunderstood identity with her sister. She now lost her own identity to come before the literary world as genuine author … she simply overtook her own ordinary past by attaining the identity of her bereaved sister.

Even though protagonist seems more indulged in opportunism and character assassination but in glaring light Prof Manjula being stood as equally cheated in glimmering nexus of relationship with her sister and unfaithful husband. In his natural and meticulous approach Girish Karnad tries to quest for complex intricacies of relationships which rapidly moving with unconventional eventualities.Indeed watching this play in pleasant atmosphere of Kamani Auditorium was full with deep satisfactions for realistic theatre lover…. And such feelings enhanced manifold if the creator of such plays happens to be among ones favorites. Of course the plays of Girish Karnad offers unique proposition to see candid realities in very comprehensive manners that heavily emerged from his very deeper ties with the Indian culture.
Undoubtedly his creative production has immense value to judge modern realities in cultural context.... such collaboration indeed makes things more liable for deeper introspection in new light. Indeed he is a man of focus with very few frills in his creative vision that simply make his contribution very close to the universal truth that frequently occurred in prevailing social structure.

Atul Kumar Thakur
August 1st 2009, New Delhi