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Middle class enrolls in Sensex school

A new class of Indians is queueing up to learn the ABC of the stock markets — to move up and, as they say, “out” of the middle class, reports Paramita Ghosh.

business Updated: Jan 06, 2008 02:09 IST
Paramita Ghosh

It’s taking all kinds to get ‘market-savvy’. Thirty two-year-old Amarja Nafrey, a former insurance agent, who now helps her husband run his business, attends Vijay Kumar’s Stock Market Classes in Dadar, Mumbai. Mangesh Surve (40), a shopkeeper selling saris and dress material, has also signed up for Sensex-literacy classes. His fellow classmates are Rajesh Thakur (39), an interior decorator who negotiates busy Mumbai roads after a 45-minute ride from Chembur, and Jack Pinto who takes the train from Goa.

A new class of Indians is queueing up to learn the ABC of Sensex and the stock markets — to move up and, as they say, “out” of the middle class.

<b1>The BSE Training Institute, known by its acronym BTI, offers 30 courses related to capital markets. "BSE also runs an Investor Service Cell, which provides information regarding stock markets to people all around India by conducting seminars," says Sanjay Saksena, senior general manager, Knowledge Management, BSE. "The essence of sound investment is sound knowledge. There has been a definite rise in the number and quality of participants coming to BTI for various programmes.”

Delhi-based analyst Aditya Kalra says the Sensex has created a "new excitement" among the middle class. "Each time it shoots up, a middle class person will at least put some of his/her earnings into mutual funds — an indirect way of ‘doing’ the stock market.”

Rajiv Prabhakar, VP, Retail Business, Sharekhan Ltd in Mumbai, attests the popularity of his First Step programme from first-time investors — even from places like Calicut and Ankleshwar. (Last month, for instance, 26,000 new accounts were opened all over India.) At least 35 to 40 people attend the Sharekhan classes every week. "Professionals between 25 and 35 are the most enthusiastic," says Prabhakar. "And 80 per cent of those who attend my seminars are from the service class."

The Learning Center of ICICIDirect operates as an online university. The site talks of it beginning its investment ‘course’ with a dose of encouragement: "With enough time and a little discipline, you are all but guaranteed to make the right moves in the market…"

Harjit Sidhu, executive director, Delhi Stock Exchange says "even schoolchildren and college-goers want to dabble in stocks." During his last stint as head of the Ludhiana Stock Exchange, DAV College Amritsar, Ryat Institute of Management, Remit of Mandi Gobindgarh and Apeejay School of Fine Arts, Jullunder had sent their students on a familiarisation trip to the stock exchange to educate them about the security market.

In two months, DSE will start a four-team Investers Service Centre to teach live trading, educate investers in the secondary market with library facilities and phone-ins. "We expect a lot of queries so it will operate daily for eight hours," says Sidhu.

Vijay Kumar, whose students swear by his software, actually call him a ‘social worker’ for his service. Mangesh Surve, for example, has made 1.5 lakh on the stock market after being taught to read the sensex. In 2006, Kumar’s three-week crash course classes had two students; in 2007, he has 5000 students in and around Mumbai. "My students are market novices. The software helps them to predict right buy and sell choices, when to enter and exit in stocks and make profits at very small intervals."

Amarja now speaks the language of stock markets confidently. "Investments should be diversified," she says having recently earned Rs 15,000 through stock trading. So has her niece in Delhi. "Even if you don’t put in all your money, you must invest 10 per cent in stocks.

Construction, power, metal and steel, communication stocks are booming, these are the red-hot." For her, the Sensex is now a good friend. "Earlier I would just keep mouthing that the Sensex has made it to the front page or that it is rising, now I feel happy that with it my money is rising too," she says.