Saturday, September 30, 2006

Right Here Right Now (The Sensex Mix)

With the resurgence in the Bull market ... those who had been sitting on the sidelines for that much awaited "correction" - have given in to the lure of the market and have finally entered the fray ...

I was "inspired" (Ha!) by the song from BluffMaster (so appropriate !) and thought what if the words were actually sung by a Miss Sen-sex, who is luring the retail investors to Come into the Market .. well here goes ...

(Sung to the tune of "Right Here Right Now" ... the words in Italics belong to the extended Hip-Hop version)

I wanna say heya to my market player Ramesh J
Large Caps to Small Caps and some Caps Middy
My crew the fundmaster movie
And those SENSEX fakers – loosers and shakers

Here we go!

Come to me bhool jaaye sara Hisaab
Come to me hum banale sirf apni Kitaab

Come to me bhool jaaye sara Hisaab
Come to me hum banale sirf apni Kitaab

Listen up Bull

Ek main aur ek tu hai, aur Market mein Rumour hai
Brokers bekabu hai, samjho saare Reports jaali
Funds ka kya bharosa, Basket-sell kar jaaye
Kal agar na mil paaye, reh na jaaye Target baaki

Right here right now, hain Futures ka samaa
Book your Profit one time
Right here right now, kum hai Margin yaha
Book your Profit two time
Bhool jaao, Maallaao, reh na jaaye, Profit saari

Ek main aur ek tu hai, Mutual Fund mein golmaal hai
Managers bekabu hai, samjho saare NAV jaali
FED ka kya bharosa, Rates upar le jaaye
Kal Nikkei neeche khul jaaye, reh na jaaye haath khaali

Come to me
Come to me

F-U-N to the big D masta let’s push it up this Stocks’ too sasta
Yeah its a Short call ..
But im a Big Bull ..
Buy in the club, or in your car, or in your bar, Bull
Fund Manajah rides a Maybach, while u don’t get no pay back
SEBI inquires and finds all those kick backs
They fine, a small fine, and Manajah keeps on smiling
Tells nice lies for short trading

Aao mil jaayen hum tum, aur Price ko yu giraye
Never gonna let it rise, Bull
Never gonna let it rise no no no no
Na koi Support bane, na ho stop loss
Never gonna let it rise, Bull
Never gonna let it rise no no no no

Right here right now, hain Support ka nishaan
Call your Broker one time
Right here right now, arre woh hai kahaan
Call your Broker two time
Bhool jaao, ‘net kholo, direct karo, apni kharidi

I’m the Manajah of the Fund stuff,
I take it smooth but put u thru the ruff stuff
The oldies just cant be getting enuff of the SIP stuff
Now I can be easy or I can be givin yea junk stuff

Ek main aur ek tu hai, aur sab Charts bekaar hai
NIFTY bekabu hai, samjho naye Highs baaki
Trend ka kya bharosa, hum Traders phas jaaye
Market crash kar jaaye, reh na jaaye Margin khaali

Come to me bhool jaaye sara Hisaab
Come to me hum banale sirf apni Kitaab

Come to me bhool jaaye sara Hisaab
Come to me hum banale sirf apni Kitaab


My apologies to all those whose sensibilities have been offended.. but ..

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Why the ban on Coke is a real Joke !

We, as consumers, today are a lot more conscious about what we buy and what we eat - which is a good sign. The increasing alertness about our eating habits and our lifestyle has led to a series of changes that have happened all around us.

- Food manufacturing companies are giving more nutritional information on the packs.
- Fitness Equipment Manufacturing companies have increased their visibility.
- Healthy Food alternatives have "mushroomed".

Overall, we are more aware about how, what we do, affects our health.

Gone are the usual suspects .. drugs, tobacco and alcohol. The latest entrants to our "hit list" are .. Sugar, Trans Fat, Carbohydrates, Caffeine, Calories and even Sodium and Calcium ! Its Ironic, that till some time back most of these were considered to be actually healthy for us. Well, no more !

It is now an acknowledged fact that "lactose intolerance" is a valid reason for excusing someone from drinking milk. My kids would love to use that one !

Fast Food is now synonymous with Junk Food and the two phrases are often (mis)used for each other. Pizzas, Burgers, French Fries, Hot Dogs - are all viewed with a jaundiced eye - and so are Colas. It's surprising how Colas have got automatically connected with Junk Food - speaks volumes for the marketing prowess of Fast Food proponents like McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Wimpeys. Their combo deals of Burgers+Fries+Cola have ensured that all these food categories now enjoy (?) the same fate.

Corporate marketing genius notwithstanding, personally, I'd stay away from a Cola. Yes, that stuff dissolves teeth - and I've seen it happen. I put my daughter's (broken, milk) tooth in a cup of Cola and it actually dissolved in 2 days' time.

Probably nothing to do with the Pesticide content, but more to do with the Phosphoric Acid (or some such component, they'll never tell us, will they ?) inherent in Cola drinks.

This new found awareness has also led the consumer movement to "move" the Government and it has risen to the occasion. It's one of those rare times that the Government has actually reacted - even though it has done so in its typical bureaucratic, knee-jerk, haphazard, unthinking, tunnel-visioned way !

Which brings me to the recent "ban" on Colas .. and the even more recent "lifting" of the ban. The big ruckus started with one Lab report that there was a high content of Pesticide found in the Colas.

Now this is not something new. A few years back, there was a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) Report that spoke volumes (literally) about the harmful effects of Colas. and surprisingly, the Government chose to do nothing till now.

In fact, this matter came to the fore again when Swami Ramdev (who in his own inimitable style) raised the issue repeatedly in his yoga discourses .. his catch phrase was "thanda matlab toilet cleaner". I'm sure when the cat is out of the bag, he may well be proved right !

Anyway, in spite of the JPC Report it seems we still don't have a law for Cola companies to adhere to, which I believe was their legal defence. They probably said, "Tell us clearly what the law specific to Cola manufacturing is and prosecute us if we don't comply".

Much as I do not like the stuff myself, I'm willing to grant them this concession. Sounds pretty fair to me !

Incidentally, while Aamir Khan actually put his mouth where his money is ... did you notice that the Pepsi CEO didn't actually "drink" the stuff !

I would have really loved to see Pepsi's entire Board of Directors' families drink the stuff ... kids and grand kids, included. And don't try and tell me that the Advertising Standard Council of India has banned the depiction of children in Ads, etc. etc. If they can be shown consuming Horlicks, Maggi, Real Juice and Boomer gum, well they can be shown drinking Coke and Pepsi.

So whether it contains Pesticides or not, I'm not going to let my kids drink that stuff and I don't care if Aamir Khan and the CEO of Pepsi run their Ads every 5 minutes.

There are still a few misguided people whose actions are, well .. misguided to say the least ! Other than sensational political mileage, what good can come out of raiding the warehouses and godowns of the Cola manufacturing companies ? It’s just a cheap publicity gimmick - just like saying, "Don't write us off, we're alive!"

If they're really interested in the common good, they should get their own "experts" to draft a policy and submit that to their partners in the UPA Government, and force the Government into approving it. Once it becomes a law, then get the Cola companies to tow the line.

But, our Government has a sense of humour - and it just loves to be ambiguous. They have recently passed a "Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006".

The FSSA supercedes (and repeals) at least SEVEN different current laws including The Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act 1954, The Milk and Milk Products Order (MPO) 1992, The Fruit Products Order (FPO) 1955, The Meat Food Products Order 1973, The Vegetable Oil Products (Control) Order 1947, The Edible Oil Packaging (Regulation) Order 1998, The Solvent Extracted Oil, DeOiled Meal and Edible Flour (Control) Order 1967.

What is really very amusing is that the FSSA is dated August 23, 2006, while there has been a PFA (Seventh) Amendment Rules passed on August 21, 2006 !!

The PFA Amendment lays down strict guidelines for labelling instructions, including the mention of and two days later another law is enacted that repeals the PFA Act completely ! So what are the food manufacturing companies going to do ? Do they follow the labelling requirements .. or not ?

It is this ambiguity that permits ridiculous things to happen. For instance, pick up a bottle of Coke .. and check the label. You will find some Nutritional Information like Carbohydrates and Proteins mentioned per 100 ML (millilitre). It’s easy to figure out how much does the whole bottle contain, as the product sold is by volume, i.e. 500 ML, 1 Litre, etc.

But, here's the catch .... (you knew there was one, didn't you ?). "Added Sugar" is mentioned very prominently, as "10.2g/100gm" ... !!!!!!

Now how in God's name are we to figure out how many ML of Coke weighs how many GMS ?? Who is the person responsible for this rule and who cleared it ? I want to know (RTI et al) and I want him accountable for the agony it has caused me trying to calculate ! I want it changed so that we don't have to become mathematical geniuses to figure out what to eat !

This is one of the main reasons why I feel that any talk of a ban on Pepsi and Coke .. is .. well .. a cruel joke, on the common man. The Kerala State Government banned the manufacture and sale of Colas under the Kerala State PFA Act and the High Court reversed it saying that the Government has no authority to ban the manufacture and sale of a product under this Act !

Now didn't the Kerala State Government know this ? What with the highest literacy in the country .. these smart guys didn't know it ?? Or was there an ulterior motive of the ruling political party of that State in gaining some mileage ?

But seriously, if this happens in the State with the highest literacy in the country ... where does that leave us commoners ??

... And what was that about common sense being so uncommon .... ?

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"Adult Content" on TV

Over the past few weeks, there has been a big hue and cry over "adult content" on television, leading to suspension of services by certain Cable Operators ONLY in Mumbai (Ha!)

Apparently a PIL (Public Interest Litigation, for the uninitiated) had been filed by a concerned citizen over the nature of "adult content" being shown on TV and the High Courts promptly ruled (surprising how they can make decisions on some issues much faster) that Cable operators have to discontinue showing films with "Adult" certification.

As usual, the general fracas followed ... public outrage, self-appointed moralists going on a rampage, police being authorised to seize equipment of defaulting operators, operators in turn accusing channels for being responsible for content ... etc, etc.

Definition of Adult Content
From the Press reports it seems that only foreign films with an "A" certification are "adult content."

Hindi films like "Gangajal" (*ing Ajay Devgan) continue to be broadcast. So do Reality shows like "America's Top Model", warped soaps like "Kasauti Zindagi..." and lifestyle channels like FTV and VH1 continue, while ONLY HBO and Star Movies are still off the air !

With due respect, I don't think the issue has really been addressed by the PIL. I don't think we have gotten to the root of what is adult content.

Not that I am an expert at this ... but in a very layman way ... I would define adult content as that which is unsuitable for children to watch for the reason that they may not comprehend the intracacies, nuances or implications. I would rather prefer the term "mature content."

Children, and maybe even preteens, are not really able to grasp or understand certain issues ... like maybe Gay marriages ... but yet are "exposed" to these. Short-sighted people (and I'm not talking about the ones who are literally short-sighted), would like to generalise .. that all "mature content" = PORNOGRAPHY ! The truth couldn't be further away !!

In my opinion, it would have been more appropriate for the Courts to rope in educationists, psychologists and counsellors to first define what constitues "mature content" .. and could then have referred this issue to the already existing Censor Board to take appropriate steps in implementing some kind of compliance.

This typical knee-jerk reaction to populist issues should be avoided.

The Courts have enough on their plate ... the Mumbai Bomb Blast case decision is still pending (inspite of being put on a fast-track special court).

Shooting the Messenger for the Message !
Also, why are Cable Operators responsible? They are merely transporting the signal to end customers.

It's like saying VSNL and MTNL and other ISPs should have their equipment confiscated as there is pornographic material available on various websites !!

Cellphone operators like Hutch, BPL, Airtel should have their towers pulled down ... as they can also carry "unsuitable" material.

Also, I don't see the ASCI (Advertisements Council of india) suspending the newspaper publications for inappropriate or misleading advertisements ...

And while we're on bashing the messengers ... how come DTH operators like Dish TV and Tata Sky ... were excluded from the witch-hunt ? ... Maybe because the police (and/or the Courts) didn't know how to take action against them !!

Individual Rights
Why can't an adult individual be able to go and watch whatever he/she pleases ?

I'm not advocating free uncontrolled public broadcast of mature content ! But yes, just like an adult individual has the right (?) to access mature content over the internet, he/she must be allowed access to mature programming ... and as I mentioned, mature programming DOES NOT always mean pornographic material !

Maybe the implementation of the CAS could actually be hastened, as this would mean that adults could "password protect" certain inappropriate channels and thereby control the access of their children to certain channels that they deem inappropriate for their own children.

Put the control in the hands of the parents themselves. We need to have enough faith in the parenting system and the institution of the family to "self-regulate" what the children of the house watch.

Once a generic law has been laid down and general guidelines given to the Censor Boards ... why do we need the self-appointed moralists, the Courts, the Cable Operators or the Channels to separately regulate our viewing options?

Having put a sensible system in place, let the market forces determine who will watch what - and put a NGO-type autonomous watchdog in place - where the public can refer such issues to ... very much like the ASCI or the CGSI (Consumer Guidance Society of India).

In any case, most advertisements brazenly target children when they really shouldn't be doing that either.

Of all the places .. off-air in Mumbai !
This is a real joke .. only Cable operators in Mumbai faced the brunt ! So according to the learned courts and implementation authorities .. only the children in Mumbai city need to kept away from "adult content."

And the rest of Maharashtra .. and the rest of India can continue to watch all this uninterrupted ! Ha !

Speaks volumes for what the courts think about the quality of parenting in Mumbai ... and I object to this as it is a personal attack on even my parenting skills !

The parents in Orissa, Jharkhand and even Solapur are apparently doing a better job than the parents in Mumbai city ... for the courts to have banned HBO and Star Movies only here .. and left things open for the rest of the country !

Maybe we parents of Mumbai city need to get together and give them a piece of our mind!

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Retro or Remixed and Rotten !

The music scene nowadays has exploded with a vengeance of its own. For those who are not from this blessed land, let me make this clear .. I'm talking about the music scene here in India (and Mumbai, in particular).

Just last night I heard the radio, as I was falling asleep .. and was rudely shaken up by a hindi film song, sung to the tune of "My Way."

Now this is a beautiful English song, sung by many ... popular versions rendered by Frank (Ol' Blue Eyes) Sinatra and Paul Anka ... also Engelbert (?).

It was ghastly, to say the least ! I was shocked .. and angry .. but then spent the rest of the night thinking that well, I guess, creativity gives you the right (?) to do as you please.

Plagarism .. or Inspiration ??? .... a very thin line lies between them ... the same thin line between genius and insanity ???

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Vulgar Celebrations & Fundamental Rights !

There is just one word to describe the way we celebrate our festivals ... VULGAR !

Over the years, we have seen how our celebrations have been degraded into a vulgar display of money, power, clout and attitude. And we have spared no festival, right from Ganesh Chaturthi ... to Janmashtami .... to Christmas ... to Eid .. to Holi.. to Diwali .. to Ambedkar Jayanti (Ha!) to Mahavir Jayanti .. to Navratri .. the list is endless.

I guess only the Parsis have not yet succumbed to this yet .. I have yet to see the friendly "Bawas" make a vulgar display at Pateti ! Kudos to them !!

Each such "celebration" has spawned some new Fundamental Rights:
1. The Right To Use The Loudspeaker Whenever (and Wherever) I Want
2. The Right To Erect A Pandal Wherever I Want
3. The Right To Collect Money And Not Be Accountable For Expenses
4. The Right To Block The Road During Processions
5. The Right To Use (and Abuse) The Law In The Name Of My Festival
6. The Right To Use A Political Plank (or Politician) To Further My Religion

I resent the fact that we have allowed these "Rights" to become automatically "enforceable" by those who want them !

What I'd really like to see .. is another set of Rights ... for the common man:
1. The Right To Stop A Procession From Obstructing Traffic
2. The Right To Stop An Offensive Loudspeaker
3. The Right To Remove A Pandal From The Middle Of The Road
4. The Right To Prevent Any Politician or Political Party From Endorsing/Supporting (or Otherwise Participating) In Any Religious Festival

If the first list is a given .. why is it so hard for the second list to become a reality ?

Needs a lot more gumption to do that I guess, but the day we are able to do it, is the day we will truly enjoy an Independent India.

Well ... and that's how I feel ...

Mutual Fund Manager under scanner

I hate to tell you .. but "I told you so" ...

Just days after I wrote about Mutual Fund investments being more subject to Fund Managers' inadequacies ... we have the CBI reportedly zeroing on on a few Fund Managers' for their alleged nexus with the head-honchos of a private company in an IPO placement. This apparently resulted in loss of approx Rs.63 crores to the Fund itself.

Ha .. now we have the rest of them on the run ! CNBC recently reported that quite a few Fund Mangers have switched jobs and have moved into "private equity management" .. whatever that means !

The point being, is there no agency that can really hold these guys accountable for the things that they do ?

Yeah sure .. a caveat emptor is fine .. but what about basic ethics ??? Have we become such doormats that MFs can actually turn around and show us the (middle) finger and there is nothing one can do ?

I DO believe that the longer one stays invested in the market, the more certain is the return going to be .. which is exactly what one needs to do .. and one doesn't need a fund manager to do that.

As I said, pick the sensex, nifty and nifty junior stocks, invest equally in all three .. and sit back for three years and enjoy your money doubling ! This is not rocket science !

The Fund managers need to be able to perform much better, at least better than the market - and they need to reward their customers. Failing which, they should be unceremoniously be sacked .. maybe even penalised !

Well .. and that's how I feel ...