How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Manfest - IV

Talk by Mr. Ashok Desai

On the 22nd, I attended an impromptu talk by Mr. Ashok Desai. He is a person who speaks his mind, and clearly expressed his irritation with the way the previous day's panel discussion had gone. Whatever he wanted to say at the discussion, he would say now, he stated. It was only a 40-minute session, but Mr. Desai put forth certain ideas related to India's position in the world.

The two main ideas that came out from his talk were: one, that corporate India's earnings growth over the last several quarters has been helped a lot by India's favourable forex reserve position and low interest rates, besides increase in internal efficiency of enterprises; two, that India should allow Bangladeshis free entry and exit into and from India, arguing that their contribution to India's GDP would be more than the cost to the country of maintaining them, and of the cost of keeping them out. Dwelling on the first idea, he predicted that this high earnings growth pattern would slow down some time in the next financial year itself. It was a little difficult to agree with his second view. He argued that the Bangladeshis who came to India would go to places where jobs were available (like Mumbai and Gujarat) and do something, anything. Mr. Desai said he did not believe that there was a labour surplus in India, as everyone was involved in some kind of work (even if it was vending peanuts) to make a living. He did not consider the social cost of even more people emigrating to already overcrowded cities, competing with Indian people, and creating social tensions thereby.

Finance panel discussion

A panel discussion on the Indian financial markets went much better than the earlier discussion, but that too, was only because of the first two panelists mentioned below: Mr. Arun Kejriwal, equity market analyst and founder of KRIS, who also moderated the discussion (incidentally, his son is our batchmate here); Mr. Harihar, from the Derivatives unit of Karvy Stockbroking; Mr. C. V. Rao, a senior executive with SIDBI; Mr V. K. Garg, CMD of Power Finance Corporation; and Dr. M. Ravi Sundar, V-P of Morgan Stanley India, and till recently, professor of finance at IIML.

The first two panelists fielded most of the questions on the Indian equity markets, like: the regulatory setup and how it compared with the rest of the world; the valuations in the markets today; whether the current bull run is sustainable; whether and when global liquidity might stop flooding India; the trend in specific sectors like sugar, etc. They answered the questions very crisply and made their position as clear as possible. As for the other panelists, their contribution was not substantial.

Performance by Naveen Prabhakar

Naveen Prabhakar is a stand-up comedy artiste who has appeared in the TV show 'The Great Indian Laughter Challenge'. His hour-long performance was quite amusing. His jokes were pretty crude actually, but I liked his mimicry skills. The highlight of his performance was the way he produced the sounds of the ankle ornaments: the paayal and the paazeb.

What I missed

Apart from attending or participating in all the events mentioned above, I also missed a few. I missed the opening ceremony with a talk by Mr. Ishaat Hussain, finance director of Tata Sons. I also missed, though deliberately, a talk on the Indian retail sector by Mr. Arvind Singhal, MD of KSA Technopak. Due to a clash with the Business Quiz prelims, I could not watch the stage play. I could not attend a talk on trading and investment in equities delivered by Mr. Harihar of Karvy, which was crisp and informative. I gave the performance by the rock band Parikrama a miss. And I also missed the party which began in the wee hours of the morning of the 22nd, and which people say they enjoyed a lot.


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