Jottings: Black Money Matters
India’s loss against West Indies in the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 left several supporters heart broken. But that was not all.
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Even as the Narendra Modi government has announced the setting up of a multi-agency group to examine the Panama Papers revelations, questions are being asked as to why did it take a journalists’ collective to unearth the murky goings-on involving the who’s who and why couldn’t the government find out the alleged cases of massive tax evasions and money laundering? Questions are also being asked that when a Special Investigative Team is finalising its action-taken report on black money, how could it not have known about the tax havens, tax evasion, and some powerful Indians’ alleged ill-gotten wealth parked there? While the flight of money began well before the Modi government was voted to power, it’s being asked whether the government failed to stem the rot, even though it says it’s committed to bringing back money parked abroad. In that case, would the new multi-agency group make any difference? Finance minister Arun Jaitley though would have us believe that by next year, due to a number of efforts, including India’s, the world will become a far more transparent place.
— Suman K. Jha
Don’t Cheer Yet
“Perhaps more important (at this juncture) is to ensure that current and past policy rate cuts transmit to lending rates,” said Raghuram Rajan in his first bi-monthly monetary policy statement (2016-17). Simply put, that’s what will make a material difference to you and I. The groundwork to make this a reality is now in place – a cut in the small savings rates in March, a new base rate regime and a tweak in the liquidity management in the policy review. Now while the “rack rate” will go down, what matters is what you pay on the loan. Remember also that banks are saddled with dud-loans — April will tell us how much it’s gone up by. Until then the repo rate cut by 25 basis points to 6.50 per cent may turn out to be more of the same — good optics. Of course, you can’t blame Mint Road if banks do not do what they are expected to do. In any case, banks have to care for their bread and butter as well.
— Raghu Mohan
India’s loss against West Indies in the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 left several supporters heart broken. But that was not all. Many who had bet on the Men in Blue were also left shattered. Although definitive figures are hard to come by as betting in India is illegal, experts in the know of things peg the total amount at Rs 30,000 crore. This is as big as the turnover of several corporate giants and official broadcaster Star Sports. Typically, individuals bet anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000, but the amount could also go as high as Rs 50 lakh. What’s more, different types of bets go by different names such as ‘lambi baari’ and ‘up-down’. The most basic variety is the one on which team will win. So next time when your team’s loss leaves you devastated, spare a thought for all those who put money on your team. Bet you will feel less distraught.
— Monica Behura
Enough Is Enough
“She has a prepaid face. I don’t like her.” That was one of the mildest comments doing the rounds on social media and they’re all directed at the hapless victim of a company’s unpopularity. Sasha Shettri, or the Airtel 4G Girl, as she is known online, has been at the receiving end of the wrath of Airtel’s customers. This young actor and musician has been airing in commercials for Airtel’s 4G services intensively, including during the recent T20 cricket matches. With her omnipresence on billboards all over the place, people seem overdosed on her and don’t hesitate to say so, claiming she’s as identifiable as the Rasna Girl or Surf’s Lalitaji. The antipathy towards the Airtel 4G girl probably has more to do with how unhappy customers are with the company’s services, particularly with the amount of ‘call drops’ or inability to even make a call because of poor coverage. Airtel would do well to feel more put out than Shettri, who has apparently gone over to Reliance’s 4G if reports are correct.
— Mala Bhargava
Radio One’s Cruel Joke
For those catching a hot auto ride at noon in Delhi or rubbing against sweaty bodies in a Mumbai local on a commute to work, the Radio One jingle “A New Day ..A New Sun...It’s Time to Get Some Sunshine” on their cellphone radios is like rubbing salt on burning wounds. The international music FM station 94.3 has been celebrating some peculiar branding with actor Ranveer Singh belting out “We are Sunchasers” on the programme Get some Sun Season 3. In earlier years, there was Milind Soman and tennis star Leander Paes urging roasted Indians “to get out of their homes and get some sun”. Now someone should stop this nonsense! We are not exactly penguins in Antarctica at minus 40 degrees who need to soak up the sun that is seen for 12 days in the year. We are in ‘Indiyaa’ where the sun blazes down our necks 287 days of the year causing drought and sun stroke. Somebody from the creative ad agency should be made to pay with his job for this ad jingle! We know it is meant to attract our millions to the sun and casinos of Macau; but for drought-hit Marathwada, it sounds like a cruel joke. If no one else, the sponsor ICICI Lombard should show some sensitivity and pull out this ad when even birds and cattle are falling dead due to heatstroke in central India.
— Gurbir Singh
Dry Patch Ahead
India’s startup sector that attracted hordes of capital from the investor fraternity is likely to witness a temporary slump going forward as investors are increasingly adopting a wait-and-watch policy before pumping in more capital. Reason? It is now time for the budding entrepreneurs to deliver. As per data available with VCCEdge, venture capital funding, which hit a peak during the year-ago quarter, witnessed a drastic decline with 88 deals being recorded in the first quarter of the current calendar year against 138 deals recorded during the same period in 2015. Total deal value too has declined to $334 million in Q1 of CY16 from $1.8 billion during the same period last year. Not all of them who raised money last year has been able to take their businesses to the next level. However, that is not to say that all early stage ventures will fail. Needless to mention, the next few months are crucial.
— Paramita Chatterjee
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