India may not just emerge stronger from the global financial downturn but has an opportunity to show the rest of the world the road ahead.
That was the train of thought that emerged on the second day of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Saturday.
“When the market recovers, ours will probably be among the first few that recovers the fastest and when we do that, our weight will be more than many others,” said Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) chairman C.B. Bhave. “Then we should have the ability to run those markets.”
Domestic non-institutional investors, Bhave said, had invested Rs 5,600 crore between September and November 14, indicating that India remained an attractive place to do business.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair carried that thought forward when he said India had moved towards “its rightful place in the sun”.
“We know power is shifting East and from now on, no issue that affects the world can be effected without India’s leadership,” said Blair, who spoke passionately of broadening the representation of the UN Security Council and global financial institutions given India’s ascent in global power hierarchy.
Addressing a packed audience on the theme “We stand together or we fall together,” Blair said the chief characteristic of the economic crisis was that it is global, interconnected and interdependent. Whether it’s the economic challenge, the terrorist threat, climate change or the battle for resources, we are in this together, he said.
Making several references to the globalised world of his youngest son Leo, he spoke of how he saw this world as driven not by governments, but by people. He had the audience in splits when he spoke of the Hindi jokes he had picked up from his son’s friend’s Indian father but declined to repeat them for fear of them being politically incorrect.
“The economic crisis has done to our perception of the economy, what September 11 and its aftermath should have done to our perception of security. Terrorism, too is a global challenge requiring a global solution. In reality, there is one global movement based on a perversion of the proper faith of Islam. Its roots are deep. It has an ideology, it must be subject to military means where it poses a military threat. But its ultimate defeat can only come, not through force of arms but force of ideas,” he said to a loud applause.
Bhave offered tips to retail investors worried about investments. “Equity investment is risky,” the Sebi chief said. “The entire savings kitty and money kept for emergency should not be directed towards the equity market as no one can forecast how markets would behave.”
While the Sensex has been in a free fall since January, when it touched a high of over 20,000, Bhave ruled out the existence of any manipulative practices.
A study conducted by Sebi found out that more than 90 per cent of FMP investments are in ‘AAA’ rated securities. “There is no evidence that their underlying investments are in bad assets,” said Bhave.