Below the line

| Updated on February 16, 2020

Namaste President Trump

If you were amused by the thought that Gujarat will welcome US President Donald Trump during his upcoming visit to India with ‘Kem Cho Trump’, you may be in for some disappointment. The buzz in the corridors of power is that this Gujarati expression will be dropped and replaced with ‘Namaste President Trump’, when Trump visits Ahmedabad.

Given that over one lakh people are expected to attend the opening of the newly constructed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium (also known as the Motera Stadium) — to be inaugurated and addressed by Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this could be much larger than the ‘Howdy Modi’ show that took Houston, Texas by storm in September last year during Modi’s US visit. Brace yourself for some breathtaking performances from the two leaders at the public event.

Breed of a different kind

An overzealous attempt to portray the superiority of the Indian cow breeds horribly backfired recently. In an uncalled-for tweet, IIT-Bombay’s official Twitter handle stated that the “curd made of milk from a pure Indian cow breed is more beneficial” only to retract it when a section of the Twitterverse started questioning the claim. While there was nothing wrong with the study — carried out by researchers from the University of Davangere in Karnataka, the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysuru, and the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi — surprisingly, IIT-Bombay had no role in it. In fact, there was a bit of exaggeration in its interpretation of the study, leading to misrepresentation of facts.

Ironically, at least one section of scientists often complains that journalists — particularly those writing on their work — exaggerate their findings leading to embarrassment. What is, however, not known is whether the mistake here was a genuine one or meant to please the powers that be.

Showing the mirror

SEBI Executive Director Nagendraa Parakh was at his provocative best when he did some plain-speak in chaste Hindi at the Association National Exchanges Members in India’s 11th international convention on capital markets last week. The theme was ‘Redefining Capital Markets — a must for $5-trillion economy.’

Parakh wanted the broking community to do some soul-searching as to why retail investor interest in the secondary equity markets is at the lowest ebb. The situation is such that a retail investor is now hesitating to open a demat account with a broker, or even provide a power of attorney, Parakh pointed out. Broker misconduct and unfair practices reported have left several retail investors sceptical in doing direct investments in secondary markets.

He went on to say: “While the mutual fund industry has clearly showed its smartness with the “mutual fund sahi hai” campaign and walked away with ₹26-lakh crore assets under management (about 8-9 crore KYC clients), you (the broking industry) are gloating that ‘all is well’ with just two crore active demat accounts and nearly zero broker margin in a country of 120 crore people.”

If mutual funds are sahi, does it imply that “brokers are ghalat (wrong)”, as significant fund flows go into mutual funds rather than come directly to brokers for secondary market trades, he wondered!

A long wait

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman may have delivered the longest Union Budget speech, but the wait for the final draft of the speech was never-ending. Ministry officials confirmed that the final draft was delivered to the Finance Minster — and subsequently to the Budget press — during the wee hours of February 1, the day of the Budget presentation. Therefore, it was not an easy job to print the speech, place a copy in all the packets of Budget documents and prepare press releases quickly.

Our Delhi Bureau

Published on February 16, 2020

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