Thursday, August 10, 2017

Makings of a banana republic

A banana republic is defined as
  1. "a small state that is politically unstable as a result of the domination of its economy by a single export controlled by foreign capital."

In contemporary parlance, any state where the rule of law does not prevail is named a banana republic.

If a state is not to become a banana republic, various institutions need to perform their role responsibly. In particular, the judiciary, the police, the election authority and the so-called nominal heads like the President and the Governor have to be true to their calling.

In this regard, India is in a perilous state for a long time. Judicial delays and motivated judgments are legion. The police dances to the dictates of political masters. The election commission seems to be on surer footing. President, Vice-President and Governors are at the beck and call of the party in power. Some of them become conscious of their duties only after demitting office.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Unruly BJP

BJP seems to bent on proving that it is as murky as any other political party.

The Kerala State BJP President is actively involved in medical college admissions scandal.

The son of the Haryana State BJP President was stalking and attempting to kidnap a lady in Chandigarh. The state government is doing its best to protect the criminal.

In Chandigarh, a BJP leader obstructed an ambulane which led to the death of a patient.

Power has corrupted BJP pretty fast.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Lessons from Ahmed Patel's victory

Ahmed Patel fought very hard to be elected to the Rajya Sabha once more. There was prolonged suspense before the votes were counted because of contravention of electoral rules by two estranged Congress members.

Two lessons are obvious from this episode. One is that the Election Commission is capable of resisting pressure from the government / ruling party to bend rules. This is a good example worthy of emulation by other institutions.

The second lesson is that BJP lost the contest because of its obsessive urge to defeat Ahmed Patel. It is this pathological urge that forced Amit Shah to have an unauthorised look at the ballot of two Congress members. Determination and persistence are desirable and productive. Excessive anxiety to score a victory at any cost is counter-productive.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

As fleeting as --------

Phrases like "as fleeting as a rainbow" and "as fleeting as ripples on the pond" are out.

"As fleeting as the tenure of Donald Trump's staff" is in.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

AGM : Cholamandalam Finance

The only issue that came up repeatedly at the recently held AGM of Cholamandalam Finance was the shareholder-unfriendliness of the company.

Granted that the company is conservative. But, Sundaram Finance which is the citadel of conservatism is declaring twice the dividend per share as Cholamandalam though SFL's earnings per share is almost the same, in fact marginally less. Cholamandalam has not issued any bonus share so far, again unlike Sundaram Finance.

If shareholders are not rewarded when the going is good, the PE Ratio of the company will continue to lag behind its peers'. Dividend Distribution Policy which the SEBI has mandated to be disclosed in both the annual report and the company's website, is not published in the annual report. The policy which is available on the website takes shareholders for a ride by disclosing that the Board will recommend dividend to the extent of nearly 20% of PAT minus transfers to statutory and regulatory Reserves. The Reserves account for nearly 50% of PAT every year. So dividend payout is only nearly 10% which is dismal. By contrast, Sundaram Finance declares 20 to 30% of its PAT as dividends.

The claim of Cholamandalam that it is professionally managed is therefore a myth.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Lessons from Charlie Gard

The sensational life of Charlie Gard, the angelic child who was a victim of mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome has ended, but not before teaching us a lot of lessons about life and death. As we mourn his passing away, we need to admit our inability to understand the ways of nature completely.

Parents of Charlie Gard initially wanted to try an experimental treatment offered by a particular doctor in the U.S. The hospital in England where the child was in a ventilator was sceptical about this treatment and in fact about any other treatment for his unfortunate condition. HH the Pope and President Trump were on the same page supporting the parents in a desperate attempt to save the child or at least to prolong his life.

This is a classic example where it is almost impossible to decide what is just and ethical. Should a life be sought to be saved at any cost? Is it just to deny a possible opportunity for sustained life simply because the suggested treatment was possibly never tried earlier? What about dignity of life? Is it fair to keep a life without the ability to see, hear and think and thus dependent on others for life?

Who has the authority to decide, doctors, parents or the state?  This is a puzzle we may never be able to solve.

Truthfulness and Righteousness

No one will disagree that leaders need to be truthful and righteous. Righteousness may be interpreted in different ways , but truthfulness is probably not a negotiable term.

Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Pakistan require the prime minister to be truthful and righteous respectively. Karan Thapar translates 'sadiq' and 'ameen' accordingly. Nawaz Sharif has been unseated by the Supreme Court for violating these requirements.

One wonders if there is any reference to truthfulness and righteousness in the Indian Constitution. If there is such a requirement, Manmohan Singh would have received the sack a thousand times.