Politics Not A Threat To Markets For Long-Term Investors, FDI Crusade Proved!
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Politics not a threat to markets for long-term investors, FDI crusade proved!

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Politics not a threat to markets for long-term investors, FDI crusade proved!Digital biometric citizenship is going to be the best tool for the second generation of reforms, which is not opposed by the opposition!FDI in retail: US welcomes parliament's decision!
Indian Holocaust My Father`s Life and Time, Chapter:Nine Hundred Thirty Seven

Palash Biswas

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Politics not a threat to markets for long-term investors, FDI crusade proved!While the FDI in Retail is now set to become a reality, the market will now look forward to the next set of reforms and proceedings in Parliament.With the Nifty perched at a 52 week high, it will only be natural that to fuel the markets higher, more reforms and policy action is critical.Last week, the benchmark indices inched higher by just about half a per cent suggesting volatility and uncertainty weighing on investor minds.Volatility increased on Thursday but the bulls, backed by Mayawati, managed to pull off a strong recovery. The first week of December saw the Sensex unexpectedly closing 0.44 per cent higher while the Nifty rose 0.47 per cent for the week ended December 07, 2012.It would be important to remember that the market most likely to fall whenever a "nothing to look forward to" scenario exists. The decisions with regards to the National Investment Board (NIB) will be keenly watched by the market.This body was being set up by the Government to ensure speedy clearances to the projects in the Infrastructure space with more than 1000 crores of investment. Any positive policy action with regards to NIB will be definitely cheered by the street.Meanwhile, digital biometric citizenship is going to be the best tool for the second generation of reforms, which is not opposed by the opposition!

A day after winning Parliament's approval to the decision of allowing FDI in retail, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the move will benefit farmers and consumers and help introduce new technologies in agri marketing.On the other hand, United states of america shwcased its stakes as well.The United States has welcomed the decision of the Indian Parliament to allow FDI in multi-brand retail, noting that this is a win-win for all from small businesses to farmers and consumers as well; besides deepening economic co-operation between the two countries.Welcoming the nod accorded by Parliament to FDI in multi-brand retail, India Inc Friday said this will send positive signals to foreign investors which will encourage investments and boost the economic growth.Industry chamber Ficci said the progressive reform will undoubtedly send positive signals and bolter the confidence of investors.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) President M Rafeeque Ahmed said multi-brand retail will indirectly help the export sector as exporting units will get exposed to new trends emerging on the globe and shall be accessing large departmental stores for exports of quality products from the country.

Meanwhile, social activist Arvind Kejriwal who recently launched the Aam Aadmi party today demanded a referendum on FDI in retail.

"All of us have seen how political parties behaved in Parliament during a debate on FDI in retail. I think the issue should be brought under a referendum," Kejriwal told reporters on the sidelines of the panIIT conference in Kolkata.

He alleged "by arm-twisting the BSP and SP with the CBI handle, the government has been able to win the vote in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha two days back. The other point is that the issue was also not debated properly in Parliament," he said.

Kejriwal said that the government was putting across the theory that FDI in retail would help the farmers and eliminate middlemen.

"The Walmart experience shows that farmers in the US were not benefitted, but deprived besides being a very bad employer," he said.

"The government is also saying that Walmart and others will also set up cold storages. If the government could not do this for the last 65 years, is it right to believe that foreign companies will come and do this in a few years?" he asked.

"Even the theory that middlemen will be eliminated is rubbish," he said.

Speaking as a chief guest at Punjab Agricultural University's golden jubilee function here, Prime Minister said FDI in retail will help introduce new technologies in agri marketing, and will "benefit farmers and consumers".He also said the decision to allow FDI was "supported" by farmers' organisations in Punjab.

The decision to allow FDI was backed by farmers' organisations in Punjab, he said at the PAU function, where he was honoured with a Doctor of Science degree.

Government had yesterday won the approval of Parliament to its controversial decision of allowing FDI in multi-brand retail with a motion against it being defeated convincingly in Rajya Sabha, as BSP voted in favour of UPA.

123 members had voted against the motion while 109 voted in favour after a debate during which the Opposition had attacked the proposal to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail, while the government had strongly justified it saying it was in the best interest of the country.

"We welcome the Indian parliament's decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail," the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.

"As Indian officials have pointed out, FDI can create opportunities for small businesses, for farmers, spur investment in infrastructure and bring benefits to consumers as well as lower food prices," he said.

"We believe direct foreign investment in retail will grow markets in India as it has in China, Brazil and many other developing economies," Toner said in response to a question.

A number of US firms, he said, are keen to invest in the retail sector of India.

"There was a political process that played itself out. All sides had a chance to express their views, whether for it or against it, and it was approved," the US official said.

In a statement, the US-India Business Council (USIBC) applauded the Indian Parliament's passage of allowing 51 per cent FDI in the country's multi-brand retail sector.

This will usher in much needed investments and expertise into supply chain development that can more efficiently link farmers directly to markets, thus minimising loss due to inadequate storage and transportation facilities, said Ron Somers, the USIBC President.

"FDI in multi-brand retail will support the government's goal of achieving remunerative prices for farmers, and will also increase quality and choice for India's increasingly sophisticated consumer base," he said .

Recognising that it will be up to individual states to implement this big bang reform, USIBC is keen to work with progressive state governments including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar, and in 2013, will lead many of its 350 member companies to visit these states, it said.

Speaking at the University, Prime Minister asked leading farm varsities like PAU to gear up to meet the existing and future challenges in the agriculture sector.

He said agriculture supply chains in India are fragmented and stressed the need for development of efficient and vertically integrated supply chains.

Stressing that investments in backend infrastructure can help cut down loss of perishable crops, he asked Punjab "to take the lead in best practices of crop management".

Singh also hoped that Punjab will fare better as 12th five-year plan has for the country as a whole "targeted 8.2 growth in the GDP and 4 per cent in agriculture".

Expressing concern over exploitation of ground water in Punjab, the Prime Minister said it far exceeds what can be recharged.

"80 per cent development blocks have been categorised as over exploited," he said, adding that the challenge for sustainable agriculture was to help farmers take up diversification.

Even though the rice-wheat cropping pattern is profitable, it has led to over-exploitation of the water, he noted.

Singh said gradual phasing or shifting to other crops as well will not affect overall food security of the country and pointed out that in addition to states like Punjab, eastern and central parts of the country together with leading agrarian states, can help ease the burden of food security.

For crop diversification, he said state like Punjab can take up alternative crops like maize, cotton, sugarcane, oilseeds, besides fruits and vegetables.

He also made a mention of the Centre's National Food Security Mission launched five years back and said the efforts under it were producing results.

The Prime Minister asked farm varsities like PAU to also gear up to face the challenges posed by the climate change.

"Rising temperatures will also have negative effects on productivity," he said, adding current varieties of wheat can also be hit by the climate change.

Asking PAU to develop varieties that are resistant keeping the climate change in mind, he said, "We must deal now with the expected threats that appear on the horizon."

In an interview with ET Now's Niraj Shah, Sashi Krishnan, CIO, Bajaj Sun Life Insurance shares his views on Markets. Excerpts:

ET Now: You would have guessed the first question, the kind of mood change if at all that has happened in the minds of inventors at least with FDI in retail getting a see through in the Lok Sabha as well -- 1) do you think it is a potential game changer or do you think that there is too much being made of this and lots more needs to be done before we can actually call the political landscape changing?

Sashi Krishnan: If you look at equity markets at 19,400 index levels of the Sensex, we are just around 8.5% from its all time high of 21,000. So the markets have moved quite a bit over the last couple of sort of days. There are three or four reasons why the market has moved like this. One is the fact that there is greater confidence in terms of the reform process going forward and the government taking the right steps to revive the investment cycle and address the fiscal deficit issue.

The second is that there is greater certainty that global liquidity will continue to through 2013 especially with US facing up fiscal cliff and some resolution happening in Europe and the fact that a lot of this liquidity will move into risk assets as we get into 2013. So it is a combination of a couple of these factors that have led the markets to go where they are.

Now whether the recent political developments will be game changing, my opinion is that if you look at the long term and for long-term investors, politics is not as much a threat to the markets as most of us tend to believe and the long-term secular story, this long-term secular growth story still remains intact. A lot has yet to be done to sort of bring back the kind of growth that we need for this country.

ET Now: In which case, I am not asking you to do a technical prediction, but one year for now, one and a half years down the line, we will talk about it in great deal, but are you bullish on the equity markets? Do you believe we could be 10%-15%-20% higher from we are assuming that everything falls into place?

Sashi Krishnan: Yes as global liquidity find itself into India, clearly equity markets will do well because equity markets get driven by two fundamental things -- one is liquidity and two is the earnings expectation and clearly global liquidity is in favour of coming into India and on the side of the markets.

I would also like to add out here that in spite of the fact that 20 billion came in 2012, the domestic institutions are actually the net sellers to the extent of almost 45,000 crores in 2012 primarily because the retail investor who puts his money through mutual funds, who puts his money through insurance was a little worried about the volatility in the market, was not too sure of the trajectory that equity markets would take and therefore actually you had mutual funds facing net redemptions to the extent of something like 40,000-42,000 crores last year.

7 Dec, 2012, 08.50PM IST, Rakhi Mazumdar,ET Bureau
UIDAI targets 400 million enrolments by mid 2013, Aadhar hopes to give unique identity to some 1.2 bn residents

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) hopes to enroll 400 million people by mid 2013 as part the government's ambitious Aadhar programme that hopes to give a unique identity to some 1.2 billion residents of the country.
"Our target to is get 600 million enrolled into the sytem by 2014. While we have capbility to add a million people into the database per day, we are currently doing about 6 lakh,"" Nandan Nilekani, chairman of UIDAI said. The government's plan of direct cash transfer hinges crucially on the Aadhar database. It is the first application that we are building on the database, Mr Nilekani said. Currently 270 million people are enrolled into the system, while unique ID numbers have been issued to 220 million. It is already the world's largest database based on biometrics like iris scan, finger printing technology,"" he added.

The direct cash transfer plan will be the first in a series of citizen-centric services that is expected to use the UIDAI -based system to identify an individual and target the right beneficiary so as to minimise wastage in the government's Rs 300,000 crore subsidy regime, he said. Mr Nilekani was speaking at a special plenary during the 4th National Conference on Leadership at the CII-Suresh Neotia Centre of Excellence on Friday.

Earlier in the day, speakers deliberated on how strategic business leadership can spur economic growth which holds the key to taking on challenges of recession hit economies. Adressing a session on 'Markets Global & Local in a Recessed Economy', Shekar Viswanathan, deputy MD Toyota Kirloskar Motors spoke on issues of critical market sustainability in the automtive sector.

'A pollicy on hybrid cars, eco friendly vehicles, simpler tax laws are the need of the hour to sustain the next round of the auto industry's growth which has been a key driver of the Indian economy,' he said.

Speaking on behalf of the organised retail industry, tipped as another major growth driver, Mohit Kampani CEO of Spencer's Retail said retail FDI can realise its potential for generating huge employment if the challenges of trained manpower and a proper regulatory framework is met and complex tax rules are simplified.

I P Tantia, CMD Tantia Construction pointed out the need for sustained public investment in infrastructure to boost connectivity and drive economic growth to fight recessionary trends. Lord S K Bhattacharyya chairman of Warwick Manufacturing Group emphasised the need for a strong political will to get the reforms agenda running.

Speaking of initiatives required to ensure India's leadership in the 21st century he said it is essential to invest in education, especially innovation, with the aim to create an ecology of R&D. Lord Bhattacharyya who advised the Margaret Thatcher govt in the UK in privatising Rolls Royce and British Aerospace in the '80s said private capital and strong political leadership can work towards a common goal.

He warned against India's reliance on outsourcing-led IT services industry saying that backlash against it was already evident in the US, the UK and Germany. Instead, a deeper academic industry partnership and an ecosystem that fosters innovation, similar to Korea and Eastern Europe, holds the key to a solid foundation for long term economic growth, he said.

UPA govt stronger after FDI vote, no mid-term polls: Lalu Prasad

Patna: RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on Saturday ruled out mid-term polls in the country and said the UPA government has emerged stronger after the parliamentary nod on the government's decision to allow the FDI in multi-brand retail.

"There is no question of mid-term polls taking place in the country as the UPA government has emerged stronger after the parliamentary nod on the government's decision to allow the FDI in multi-brand retail," he told reporters here.

The next general elections will be held as scheduled in 2014 and the same will be fought between the secular forces headed by the UPA versus the BJP-headed 'communal' forces and the ruling coalition will emerge victorious, Prasad claimed.

The RJD supremo was, however, not explicit about pre- poll alliance among the UPA allies for general elections and said that it may so happen that the political parties supporting the Congress-led government have option to either work out seat-sharing arrangements with friendly parties or contest the general elections on their own in the states and come together to form a secular government at the Centre.

"Whatever may be the options before the UPA constituents, one thing is clear that the Congress-led secular front will come back to power in the next general elections and keep the communal and fascist forces at bay," he said.

Prasad said the clarity about political situation in the country in the run up to the general elections in 2014 will emerge after the Gujarat assembly polls later this month.

"The clouds will clear after the Gujarat assembly polls," he said.

Prasad dared the BJP to come 'online' about Modi's prospects as its prime ministerial candidate.

He wondered whether the saffron party will be able to keep its allies together if it did announce Narendra Modi as its PM candidate, referring to strong opposition to Modi's candidature by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The RJD supremo also ruled out emergence of third front to oppose both the UPA and NDA in the general elections and said that there were no takers for such a non-existent third front in the political firmament of the country now and in future.

On the FDI in multi-brand retail, he said that the UPA government has rightly gone ahead with allowing foreign investment in the retail sectors and the consumers and the farmers will get their best bargain even as the retail stores will open up more employment opportunities for the unemployed youths.

More over, it was not mandatory for the states to allow the FDI in multi-brand retail in its jurisdiction if one was opposed to the concept, he said referring to opposition by the BJP and other political parties.

"For BJP, the decision to allow the FDI in multi-brand retail is like a sour grapes as it could not get to implement the measure in spite of commitment in its election manifesto to allow 100 per cent FDI in retail," the RJD supremo said.

On his own party MP Raghuvansh Prasad Singh not voting for the FDI in multi-brand retail in the Lok Sabha, he said that by abstaining from voting Singh only helped the UPA.

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