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What’s the big deal about Sensex reaching 13,000? Sigh... nothing...
Not long before, on September 4, 2005, we saw India jump with joy at the news of the BSE Sensex breaching the 8,000 mark. Then came February 6, 2006, which witnessed celebrations & overwhelming media coverage for the so-called breaching of the five-digit landmark. Yes, the Sensex had crossed 10,000 points due to heavy buying by FIIs! And October 30, 2006, witnessed something historic. After all the wait, the much worshipped index once again glorified itself among a handful of traders by leaping past the 13,000 mark!

When on one hand there was celebration among some investors, on the other, the media (over)did its bit by covering the incident as though it was India’s biggest economic achievement ever! What does the Sensex crossing the 13,000 mark mean to the common Indian? Well, you could ask this to the hungry farmer who has no credit facility to buy seeds, or the poor child who has just lost her mother due to deplorable health facilities, or the illiterate unemployed youth who is exploring newer crimes to earn money to just get one meal, or even the common Indian, who’s more worried about from where to get money for his or her children’s education... Go ahead, ask anybody what the Sensex means to them. The most likely response would be a bland – “Mind you own business!” And what a coincidence, it’s indeed ‘business’ I am talking about here. The only difference being, that it’s not just the future of those ‘30’ hotshot corporations linked to the Sensex that bothers me, it’s the entire nation’s! How can the media, corporate bodies and policy makers forget so conveniently that the Sensex is only a mere representation of the stock movement of 30 companies? How can they forget that all the listed stocks in all Indian stock markets together have only a mere 4% contribution of savings of Indians? How on earth can we talk about the whole nation prospering, when it is just those few FIIs (who control around 75% of trading in the market) who are being pampered with the index crossing four thousand points in a single calendar year – all thanks to the Rs.6,500 crore FII inflow?
The other day, I was reading the ET Awards coverage in The Economic Times and it was great to understand that our Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, was awarded the Reformer of the Year 2006 award. But I could not quite understand whether this year’s wonderfully melancholic budget (that was as pathetic as it could ever get) was the reason why he was awarded the same? Or was it because he has succeeded in allocating a splendiferous 0.9% of India’s GDP to developing the health sector (compared to around 5% in other countries), resulting in a magnanimous 70 beds being available per 100,000 people? Well, surprises never end, do they? Think of the fact that today, according to the Planning Commission itself, 38% of Indians fall below the ‘poverty line’, a figure of a gut wrenching 400 million, more than the total population of United States. Even the most recent National Sample Survey report openly blasts all poverty alleviation efforts of the government during the years 1993-94 to 2004-05 – the years in which honourable Dr. Manmohan Singh held various specific posts, from Finance Minister to Prime Ministerial responsibilities. Does the Sensex really matter to India’s majority comprising poor, illiterate, unemployed and the likes? It’s sad, but true, that the Sensex is a thoroughly ‘false’ representation of the state of the nation’s economy and of 1.1 billion Indians. Can India ever learn something? Sigh... nothing...
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