A quick U-turn

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Stock market regulator SEBI recently came up with draft regulations on settlement of administrative and civil proceedings that deal with insider trading cases and so on. But do all the sections gel with each other? For instance, Section 5 (3) sternly declares: “An application in respect of proceedings involving alleged defaults referred to in sub-regulation (2) may be rejected by the Board, without examination” by the internal committee or high powered advisory committee. So then, has the door been firmly slammed on defaulters? Not quite.

The next clause, 5 (4), says: “Notwithstanding anything contained in this regulation, the Board may in the interest of the investors and the development and regulation of securities market, consider an application for settlement of the alleged defaults referred to in sub-regulation (2).”

When what is at stake is insider trading, how can an application for settlement be allowed “in the interests of investors and development..” wonders a market watcher. A deliberate loophole?

Historical toilet

Union Minister Jairam Ramesh is desperately keen on visiting a toilet in the Rajya Sabha. Okay, okay, let’s put this in context.

During a speech at the launch of former finance secretary G. Ramachandran’s book, Walking With Giants, Ramesh referred to a passage in the book which says that the vote to abolish privy purses was narrowly lost in the Rajya Sabha because one member, S. S. Rajendran, locked himself up in the toilet and refused to come out.

“This is a historical toilet,” Ramesh quipped. “I would like to visit it.”

Planned leak?

Senior officials at the Planning Commission were clueless about who leaked the story that it would oppose the Raghuram Rajan Committee’s recommendations on development index. None of the key advisors owned up when asked. The Commission was preparing to issue a denial, but changed its mind at the last moment and settled for a prosaic clarification, leading an agency to run a story that the report was under the consideration of the Commission.

Customised problems

Inflow of gold into the country has reportedly resumed over the last three weeks with customs officials finally understanding the ‘nuances’ of the Reserve Bank of India’s 80:20 rule for gold import announced in July.

But what still remains unclear is why it took the officials over two months to understand a simple provision which basically stated that gold importers would have to re-export at least 20 per cent of all the purchases made from overseas.

Where a phone call from the Central Board of Excise and Customs to the Custom formations could have resolved any doubts, it took a meeting of top officials from the customs department, the Commerce Ministry and the RBI to sort out the matter.

“It is completely bizarre how such a simple rule can be misinterpreted,” said a senior Commerce Ministry official when asked to explain where things had gone wrong.

Special show

World Mental Health Day on October 10 was celebrated in a unique way in Mumbai.

A special showing at the Institute of Contemporary Indian Art at Kala Ghoda included a travelling exhibition, ‘Breaking the Chains of Stigma’, on the history of mental health. All the works on display were by mentally ill patients from across the world, with some dating back to the early 20th century.

A peep into the exhibition revealed the richness and diversity of the material, and this from patients who are sometimes condemned as ‘mental’ or not normal.

Land battle

There was a time when Vijay Mallya and G.R. Gopinath were fighting to grab air space. Then the battle reached terra firma.

The land in question had an old-style bungalow on tony Vittal Mallya Road. Gopinath won that war handsomely and managed to buy the bungalow, next door to Mallya’s palatial house but the latter wasn’t going to give up that easily. A few weeks ago, Gopinath sold his bungalow to a realtor to square off his debts. And what did the realtor do? Turned it in for a higher price to the neighbour. Peace has returned to Vittal Mallya Road.

What’s your worth?

How much is a human body worth (in value terms)? This question was posed by Apollo Hospital’s executive chairman, Pratap C. Reddy, to an audience consisting of bankers at an event organised by Apollo Munich Insurance recently. The answers ranged from about Rs 1 crore to Rs 10 crore. The good doctor kept rejecting each one of them, much to the surprise of the bankers who believe they know more about money than anybody else.

When no one could come up with the right one, Dr Reddy’s answer floored everyone. It is apparently a cool $6 trillion, according to a US-based agency involved in conducting research on human organs.

The smiling Buddha

Guess what? Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her predecessor and bête noire Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee are exchanging pleasantries post dashami. Truly, it is the festival fever.

Published on October 20, 2013
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