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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Value of dishonesty

Dishonesty manifests in different ways. In politics, it normally refers to corruption.

Once a Chief Minister proved to be corrupt had to submit his resignation to the Governor. The Governor accepted his resignation and asked him to continue as CM till a honest politician was chosen to replace him. Thus the corrupt CM became CM for life.

Pakistan shows the way !

Nawaz Sharif loses his primeministership because the Supreme Court of Pakistan did what it was supposed to do: that is deliver justice.

Sharif should be regretting that he is not a politician in India. Indian courts give a long rope to political criminals. In cases like Bofors, 2G and Vyapam, the criminals can trust the legal dilatoriness to save them. Even Jayalalithaa would have been pronounced innocent had she survived.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sunanda's son makes a timely intervention

Shiv Menon, Sunanda's son through an earlier marriage, is contemptuous of those who want unnecessary enquiries into the natural death of his mother. What is the locus standi of Subramanian Swamy to plead for CBI enquiry when the Delhi police has repeatedly proved its efficiency by closing its eyes to what was happening ?

It is a pity that even the Delhi High Court is unable to appreciate the genuineness of Tharoor and Shiv Menon. Following is an interesting excerpt:

"Mehra (the counsel representing the Delhi police) further stated that he found it strange that a son is objecting to a petition seeking a probe into his mother’s death. This observation was seconded by the Bench,
“That is what we thought. A son should be extremely happy that a probe is sought in his mother’s death. It gives him an opportunity to ask why a chargesheet has not been filed.”
The Bench concluded by saying that if in a criminal case, the chargesheet is not filed in 3 years, then it is a serious matter. The Bench further stated that the son should first get himself impleaded in the petition and then they will hear his submissions."
Does the Honourable Bench appreciate Tharoor's anguish? Do they know what is lupus? Tharoor should educate them.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Poor Shashi Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor has once again confirmed his readiness to cooperate in any police investigation on Sunanda Pushkar's death. He is more anxious than anybody else to know the truth.

As an innocent person, he initially believed that Sunanda died a natural death. So he took care to cremate the body the soonest. He could not get reconciled that Sunanda was no more. This made him develop chest pain and get admitted in AIIMS. He made use of this opportunity to advise the doctors that Sunanda was suffering from lupus and this was possibly the cause of her demise. The inefficient doctors could not diagnose the cause of his imaginary chest pain and they discharged him.

Tharoor had immense faith in the Delhi police that they would not find the reason for Sunanda passing away. He is so wet behind the ears that signs of injuries on her body did not make him suspicious. He perhaps thought these were self-inflicted wounds as she was suffering from 'lupus'. Only Tharoor knows that lupus is much more consequential than what doctors suspect.

As a harried husband, it hurt Tharoor immensely when people started suspecting him. He did his best to mislead the AIIMS and the public. But they never appreciated his unimpeachable integrity and faithfulness to Sunanda. That Sunanda was his third wife made him an experienced faithful.

Tharoor in all his innocence was greatly upset as to what ails this society if it unnecessarily suspects that Sunanda's death was not natural just because autopsy and viscera examination spotted poisonous substances in her body. Only Tharoor knows that there are so many toxins in our body and therefore does it mean that all deaths are unnatural? The common man could not understand the intensity of Tharoor's mourning because the common man is probably married only once and so what does he know about the grief surrounding the separation from third wife?

Acutely aware of the chronic pain resulting from lupus (what else?), Tharoor desired to reduce the suffering of Sunanda by aligning with Mehr Tarar and others. Unfortunately, like everybody else, Sunanda also suspected Tharoor. The crude open fight between the couple that occurred in the flight from Thiruvananthapuram a couple of days before Sunanda's murder (sorry, natural death) was considered as yet another proof of the troubled relations between Sunanda and the innocent Tharoor. Only Tharoor knows that it was only a public show of affection. It is a pity that even Manish Tiwari of the Congress who was in the same flight did not understand Tharoor's child-like innocence.

The Delhi police is highly sophisticated in its thinking. It is aware that there was poison in Sunanda's body. But it wants to know where is the proof that a poison caused her death. This is a very scientific reasoning which the police will appreciate only when the needle of suspicion points towards people like Shashi Tharoor.

Republic TV which is under the illusion that it is the duty of media to unearth truth is prolonging the controversy claiming it has fresh evidence in the case. Does it appreciate how worried Tharoor is about all these false accusations? Out of genuine concern for Sunanda's health, Tharoor made her stay in Leela Palace Hotel because his house was being re-painted and Sunanda might be allergic to paint (remember lupus?) . It is a canard to say that she decided to stay there, away from Tharoor. If there is any doubt, one can check up with Sunanda's mobile. But unfortunately, many messages in the mobile have been erased. You may think that someone deliberately deleted these messages. No, Sunanda herself removed these . Why? Because of lupus.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Supercluster Saraswati

Did you see the news regarding the recent discovery of a supercluster now named Saraswati? Containing 43 clusters across 600 million light years and located 4 billion light years from us, its hugeness and antiquity are  likely to antedate the age of our universe which is now placed at 13.8 billion years.

Since this supercluster is unlikely to be the most ancient of similar sized or even larger superclusters, the age of the universe will ever remain an enigma. It is always a formidable challenge to understand the attributes of either the largest or smallest structures.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Failure of criminal justice system

There is an eternal controversy as to whether the criminal justice system ought to be reformative or retributive. Should criminals be so treated that they reform themselves or should they simply be punished for their offences?

Sasikala has proved the futility of our criminal justice system. Allegedly offering a bribe of Rs. Two crore to prison officials, she is enjoying normal luxurious life in prison. There is neither retribution (punishment) nor possibility of reformation in this case.

It is normally a cause of worry when a criminal goes back to criminal activity after release from prison. Recidivism causes concern. Sasikala has gone one step further. She has resumed her criminal practice of corruption even while in prison as if bribery is her dharma and she shall not desist from it. This is an interesting case of expedited recidivism. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

BBB's bungling

The Bank Boards Bureau headed by Mr.Vinod Rai recently announced a panel of 15 GMs of public sector banks whom it has recommended for posting as EDs.

It is reported by Economic Times that the list is being amended because marks were not tabulated properly. How can such a ridiculous mistake happen?

IDBI Bank's false claim

IDBI Bank claims that it is charging a concessional rate for demat accounts maintained by senior citizens and women. But a sample survey shows that all are charged the same regular rate.

Is IDBI Bank fraudulent or negligent or both? This is not the first time that this bank has acted in a non-professional way. This blog had referred to this kind of problem earlier also.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill

The central government is proposing to introduce the captioned Bill in the Parliament.

Section 49 (1) (f) of the Bill ominously empowers the specified authorities to mandate the following:

"(f) the reduction of interest or rights which the members,
depositors and other creditors have in or against the
covered service provider before its resolution to such
extent as the Corporation and the Appropriate
Regulator considers necessary in the public interest or
in the interests of the members, depositors and other
creditors or for the maintenance of the business of the
covered service provider;"

For the first time, the government has chosen to sow seeds of suspicion in the minds of depositors of both private and public sectors that their deposits may not be repaid fully. Similarly, those who have taken insurance with LIC need to reappraise their insurance strategy.

Politicians collude with businesspeople and bankers. Huge bad debts are generated. Ultimately depositors pay the price. How fair is this?

Saturday, July 01, 2017


1) Charges were framed against AIADMK (Amma) general secretary V.K.Sasikala on July 1, 2017. The case was filed by the Enforcement Directorate in 2001, that is 16 years ago. Snails move faster.

2) Narendra Modi claims that the 'tough steps' taken against black money by his government have begun yielding results. Proof? He cites the record low balances held by Indians in Swiss banks last year as the proof. Black money is shifted from one place to another and the government claims credit for this! The government has not seized this money.

These news items appeared in The Hindu on the front page today (July 2). Are we really progressing?