Thursday, February 28, 2008

Article in The Pioneer - 28th Feb 2008

24x7 news on the idiot box
Second Opinion: Subhashree Kishore
With the flourishing of a plethora of television channels devoted to particular interests, one might be prompted to say that now television viewers in the country are spoilt for choice. They are no more dependent on a single state-owned channel as was the case more than a decade ago. But a closer look at the programmes shown on these channels tells a different story.
Almost all news channels are TRP-driven. They seek to get maximum public attention by whipping up mass hysteria and offer people what is easy and sensational and not what is desirable. This commercialisation has reached a new high as seen in the recent IPL player auction. The electronic media seems totally out of sync with the real India and its problems like food crisis, pollution, malnutrition, diseases, etc, except when forced to fill footage with stories of human grief or natural disasters. Aiming to give the stories a human face, the media makes hapless victims undergo televised trials with pointed, intrusive questions and insensitive language.
Of course, there are a handful of news channels that have debates and discussions. But sandwiched between promos of the latest films and never-ending interviews with celebrities, their kin and sycophants, they dilute the focus.
Despite its other failings, Doordarshan did its bit and still does so with programmes for farmers, coaching for school students, anti-drug addiction drives, content for family audience and children-specific programmes. Today children are made showpieces, conscripted to behave like adults with emotion-fraught mothers and relatives fighting on shows, termed as talent hunt. Quiz programmes have become a rarity. Games of chance, reality shows and film-based song-and-dance shows have become commonplace.
The saas-bahu sagas are retold with killing monotony. The jewellery, the make-up, the vamps and scheming ladies do not change. Programmes of the genre of Great Expectations, Surabhi and the like are always welcome. Sadly, nobody has the courage to ignore formulas.
Classical arts have become an anathema to most channels. Surely, if a director can effectively market a highly regressive image of the Bharatiya naari far removed from reality, he must also be able to popularise art, some real unsung heroes in society or, just for a change, happiness and triumph instead of tears and mean minds.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Letter to Editor

Pvt Players begging for sops

by Dr.Gokul Kishore on 06-02-2008 - Financial Express
It is not ironical that demand for separate exemption limit for long-term savings like insurance comes not from salaried class but from the private insurance companies. Unable to penetrate or compete PSU behemoths and not able to push FDI ceiling, private insurance players have taken the 'cause of salaried class' now. Service delivery in terms of prompt settlement will be acid test in years to come and given the U.S. experiences, better service will be at an exorbitant premium which the middle-class Indian will hardly be able to cough up. Let there not be a separate exemption for long-term savings but an overall increase without any discrimination as to product as consumer is the king in a market and he can decide which one is better.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Retailing & entry of biggies - Letter to Editor

Some circumspection please

Financial Express February 25th, 2008

Lipstick, lapis lazuli and louki under one roof is perhaps a gem of an idea (‘Open the entry point to foreign players’, Feb 16), though one could set out to buy louki and end up buying all three! Marketing revolves around demand creation and satisfaction. The economic delineation of goods as “necessities”, “comforts” and “luxuries” still persists. People pay for various levels of satisfaction, and business strategies are such that cost advantages do not always accrue to the consumer. Further, in an oligopolistic situation, in a market dominated by big brands, the customer does not have a “none of the above” option. Big retail could mean indigenous products are forced to make way for global merchandise. The soft drinks market is a case in point. Contract farming, likewise, can result in overbearing dominance by a few purchasers. What happens to the free interplay of demand and supply? It recedes. Farmers in Ghana and Thailand only get 5% of the retail realisation, while retailers and distributors garner 40%. The existence and effectiveness of legal measures to check hoarding or predatory pricing will remain doubtful. Land use patterns will certainly begin to change in favour of these biggies. So, before we open the country to such large forces, circumspection is in order.
—Subhashree Kishore New Delhi

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Article on Budget in The Pioneer

Why people don't care for Budget
Second Opinion: G Gokul Kishore

(Article published in The Pioneer (Daily) on 19th Feb 2008)

With the date for the announcement of Annual Budget approaching, one wonders if the pre-Budget and post-Budget debates will make any sense to a majority of our countrymen this time.
Average citizens seem to have resigned to fate as budgetary consultations don't accommodate the concerns and needs of the majority. Nor do the farmers, having left with no choice but to end their lives, have any say in the process. The vast majority of labourers in the unorganised sector are not even in the reckoning. Despite myriad schemes, the perennial paradox of intended beneficiaries caught in the vicious circle of lending, usury and sporadic relief persists. Sloppy implementation of NREG does not help them either.
A robust eight per cent growth and soaring Sensex - never mind the occasional dips - try to reinforce an image of all-round prosperity. But cars, colas and creams cannot substitute food, houses and medicine. Education and health still manage just a minuscule percentage of the GDP. Public schools are nakedly commercial today where the net worth of a family determines whether its children will have access to quality education. A hospital with minimum facilities is a mirage in most places.
Income generation is conspicuous by its absence. Unless the per capita income of rural households also registers an increase through substantial employment generation, consumption will stagnate. The sheen of IT/ITES or call-centre jobs cannot combat unemployment; such sectors remain irrelevant to the rural and semi-urban youth.
Equities are touted as 'patriotic' investments today. Government-backed savings schemes give low returns; ironically, the Government, too, is looking up to the market for parking its pension funds. Capital markets are risky and regulatory bodies can hardly protect small investors and senior citizens.
Catchy phrases like millennium goals and four per cent growth in the farm sector sound hollow as they appear more like strokes of fortune rather than result of policy. The overwhelming opinion seems to be to encourage industry, which will take care of all social needs through linkages and trickle-down effect. People forget that the corporate sector can supplement but cannot run a welfare state.
At a time when tax collections are extremely buoyant, Finance Minister P Chidambaram can afford to look beyond mere economic progress. Will he?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Letter to Editor, Financial Express

Letter to Editor, Financial Express, Published on 13th Feb.

Tax breaks still lure savingsThe Financial ExpressPosted online: Tuesday , February 12, 2008 at 2354 hrs IST

The article (‘Self-sustained savings’, Feb 11) argues that it’s time to do away with tax breaks or bring pension products in line with tax treatment of small savings. But savings, investments and returns are not synonymous. As a safely regulated stockmarket is a myth, it’s irresponsible to suggest that we leave senior citizens and small investors at the mercy of bulls and bears. We have had enough bad experiences with NBFCs. Every investor would like security and returns, in that order, and not as mutually exclusive benefits. Also, private sector life insurers’ clamour for tax rebates (under Sec 80C) for their products, and the demand to grant a separate exemption upto Rs 1 lakh for insurance policies, defy the contention that tax breaks don’t affect investment decisions. Note how the extention of 80C cover to equity-linked schemes has improved their desirability at the retail level.
—Subhashree Kishore, New Delhi

Friday, February 1, 2008

Budget fever - New article

EVEN as Delhi shivers in cold wave, the North Block is probably warming on a teeming, beaming cup of joy, for tax collections are up by 40% and direct taxes at that. So have Indians become more prosperous, honest and law-abiding? Perhaps yes. There is also optimism among tax-payers that the FM will keep his promise of simplification of tax laws and easing of tax burden now that compliance has improved. Of course, corporates, their organized associations and professionals are probably ready with their wish list - respectably labeled ‘suggestions’. Despite the sporadic enhancement of threshold limits and progress towards a three-tier system on par with world economies there is still much to be done to make personal income tax sufficiently ‘personal’ rather than apathetic as it is viewed to be now. This write-up proceeds to propose a few changes aimed at easing the squeeze of individual assessees, more particularly the salaried class. For more...............

Check out the article with this link for Budget suggestions on Personal Income Tax front.
If you have problem in accessing the webpage, please check "Budget Run-up" [Inside "More Articles"] in the website