For whom the bell tolls


Economy has gone haywire. A seed of discord has been sown in the society. The voice of the opposition is gagged. The journalists who are critical of the government are falling to bullets. The rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer. Farmers are committing suicide. The government is busy in chest thumping and making election strategy. To which direction the country is going?

For whoever has will be given more, and they will have abundance. But whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them – The Holy Bible: Matthew 25:29. 

This famous maxim was used by Jesus Christ in the first Century AD while explaining his disciples about the Kingdom of God. And today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has adopted this principle to retain his Saffron Kingdom in the democratic India by making the rich richer and the poor poorer. By the grace of the Modi government and its ‘historic reforms’ the great demonetisation and the implementation of Goods and Service Tax (the good and simple tax) the Indian billionaire factory churned out several new faces. However, only half a dozen of them could find place in the top 100 in the Forbes List of Rich 2017, as the minimum net worth to make the cut rose to $1.46 billion from $1.25 billion last year.
Meanwhile, according to the Hurun India Rich Listers’ Report, on an average, the wealth of the rich has increased by 11% compared to that of last year. At least, 16 people saw their wealth double year on year. The number of dollar billionaires has also shot up to 136 from 126 last year. At the same time, these ‘great reforms’ of the ‘Messiah of the poor’ have allegedly pushed millions of Indian middle and the poor to poverty, rendered equal number of youth jobless and drove thousands of farmers to suicide. Don’t be mistaken: I have no intention to equal Modi with Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus used the maxim to teach his world that the spiritually unprofitable shall be punished by utter deprivation of the grace of God which was given for his advancement in holiness. The parable teaches that the disciples who recognised and duly employed the riches of the doctrine and powers delivered unto them would receive further revelations; but that the people who spurned the offered salvation and neglected the gracious opportunity would forfeit the blessing, and be condemned. Great theologian Matthew Henry commented on this parable that “Christ keeps no servants to be idle: they have received their all from Him, and have nothing they can call their own but sin. Our receiving from Christ is in order to our working for him. We must all be reckoned with as to what good we have got to our own souls, and have done to others, by the advantages we have enjoyed. It is not meant that the improving of natural powers can entitle a man to divine grace. It is the real Christian’s liberty and privilege to be employed as his Redeemer’s servant, in promoting his glory, and the good of his people: the love of Christ constrains him to live no longer to himself, but to Him that died for him, and rose again.”
According to media reports, India’s turbocharged-economy sputtered in the quarter ended in June, growing at a three-year low of 5.7%, due to the alleged aftershocks of demonetisation and uncertainties over the rollout of a nationwide GST. But contrary to the current reality, the fortunes of the nation’s 100 richest have boosted by leaps and bounds. Their combined wealth rose to more than $479 billion. The richest newcomer is cookies-and-airline tycoon Nusli Wadia. Other new entrants are Rana Kapoor, cofounder of Yes Bank, Dinesh Nandwana, of e-governance services firm Vakrangee Software and digital India’s poster boy Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of mobile wallet Paytm. As per the Forbes list 2017, none gained more than oil and gas tycoon Mukesh Ambani, who cemented his decade-long hold on the No. 1 spot by adding a staggering $15.3 billion to his net worth. He’s now among Asia’s top five richest. Shares of Ambani’s Reliance Industries were also boosted by improved refining margins and the “Jio effect”.
More than four fifths of those who kept their spot on the list from last year saw their wealth rise, with 27 adding $1 billion or more. Among them, acquisitive auto parts tycoon Vivek Chaand Sehgal, whose Motherson Sumi snatched Finnish truck-parts maker PKC Group for $610 million in May. Veteran investor Radhakishan Damani returned with a bang, boosted by the March listing of his supermarket chain D-Mart. No wonder, it’s a simple fact that anybody can shoot up his rich, if the blessing hands of somebody in power is upon him.
“Demonetisation and GST have not impacted wealth creation in organised sector. These factors, in fact, seem to have positively impacted the mega rich and their companies. Despite a solid performance of the corporate, decline in the national GDP growth points to the impact of such schemes on the unorganised sectors,” said Anas Rahman Junaid, MD and Chief Researcher, Hurun Report India. Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Sensex went up by 16.1% as on July 31, 2016 to 32,514 on July 31, 2017. For the year under review, BSE Mid Cap (16.4%) and BSE Small Cap Index (2.72%) outperformed the benchmark index. Sensex also outperformed compared to Global indices NYSE (10.5%) and DAX (13.7%). Currently, Indian stock market seems to be trading at an expensive valuation of 23.3x compared to last year’s 19.6x. Indian currency depreciated by 3% versus USD during the period under review.
“The market capitalisation of all listed companies is now equivalent to 84% of India’s nominal GDP which is the highest in emerging markets. This year, we have expanded the list to highlight the success stories of some of the emerging entrepreneurs” says Anas Rahman Junaid, Hurun Report India, Managing Director and Chief Researcher. Share price of Reliance industries hit nine year high in July 2017. Over the last one year, Reliance Industries shares have gained over 1% every seven days, rising by 56% in 52 weeks. His wealth is 50% more than the GDP of the country of his birth – Yemen. “It is rare to find a country with such a dominant richest person (Mukesh Ambani) whose wealth is thrice more than that of the no.2 in the list.
We have never seen such a wide margin between the richest and the second richest in big countries like USA, China, UK, Russia and so on”, said Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Researcher, Hurun Report Global. Haridwar-based Acharya Balkrishna of Patanjali rose to 8th position, from 25th last year, after seeing his wealth grow by 173% to Rs 70,000 crore. Patanjali, with a turnover of Rs 10,561 crore in 2016-2017 has been a close competitor to major international brands. The biggest gain registered was a 321% increase by Radhakishan Damani, Chairman of Avenue Supermarts followed by Anurang Jain & family, the Managing Director of Endurance Technologies with a wealth increase of 286%. Damani’s wealth increase was backed by the IPO of Avenue Supermarts, which runs the D-Mart brand of stores in the supermarket chain. The shares of Avenue Supermarts were listed at a premium of 102% and rallied further 43% as on July 31. Another notable performer was Kishore Biyani of Future Retail who registered a 259% wealth increase.
Merger of Future Retail and Bharti Retail created the biggest supermarket chain with a turnover of Rs 15,000 crore and its subsequent relisting resulted in significant wealth creation for Biyani. Eklavya Juneja of Mankind Pharma is the youngest person in the list. He owns 12% of Mankind Pharma which was founded by his father Rajeev Juneja. All the under 40 entrepreneurs in Hurun India Rich List 2017 derive their wealth from innovative technological ventures. Divyank Turakhia of is the youngest self-made billionaire in the list. Kushal Pal Singh of DLF is the richest real estate billionaire in the list with a wealth of Rs 27,400 crore. Mangal Prabhat Lodha, founder of Lodha Group is the richest private real estate developer in the list with a wealth of Rs 15,700 crore followed by Jithendra Virwani of Embassy Property Developments with Rs 8,800 crore. Mumbai registered an increase of 78 individuals in the rich list and Delhi added 52. With 182 individuals, Mumbai is the capital for India’s super-rich, followed by New Delhi (117) and Bengaluru (51). With 26 new entrants, Ahmedabad breaks into top 5. With 22 and 11 India Rich Listers, Chennai and Kanpur respectively breaks into top 10 cities of residence for Hurun India Rich Listers. (Inputs from Agencies).

India’s richest in Forbes list for 2017
Rank   Name                 NW (in $ bn)                                Company

1   Mukesh Ambani                38                         Reliance Industries
2   Azim Premji                      19                                              Wipro
3   Hinduja brothers                18.4                            Ashok Leyland
4   Lakshmi Mittal                  16.5                               Arcelormittal
5   Pallonji Mistry                   16               Shapoorji Pallonji Group
6   Godrej family                    14.2                               Godrej Group
7   Shiv Nadar                         13.6                       HCL Technologies
8   Kumar Birla                       12.6                      Aditya Birla Group
9   Dilip Shanghvi                   12.1    Sun Pharmaceutical Industries
10 Gautam Adani                    11                        Adani Ports & SEZ
11 Uday Kotak                        10.5                Kotak Mahindra Bank
12 Radhakishan Damani         9.3                       Avenue Supermarts
13 Cyrus Poonawalla              8.9               Serum Institute Of India
14 Sunil Mittal                        8.3                                  Bharti Airtel
15 Bajaj family                       8                                         Bajaj Auto
16 Savitri Jindal                      7.5                            OP Jindal Group
17 Vikram Lal                         7.2                                Eicher Motors
18 Benu Gopal Bangur           6.6                                Shree Cement
19 Acharya Balkrishna           6.55                        Patanjali Ayurved
20 Burman Family                  6.5                                            Dabur
21 Subhash Chandra               6                                      Essel Group
22 Pankaj Patel                       5.9                          Cadila Healthcare
23 Vivek Chaand Sehgal        5.85              Motherson Sumi Sytems
24 Kushal Pal Singh               5.7                                               DLF
25 Nusli Wadia                       5.6                       Britannia Industries
26 Ajay Piramal                      5.2                       Piramal Enterprises
27 MA Yusuff Ali                   5                                      LuLu Group
28 Madhukar Parekh              4.75                         Pidilite Industries
29 Kalanithi Maran                4.55                          Sun TV Network
30 Pawan Munjal                   4.5                               Hero Motocorp
31 Kapil & Rahul Bhatia        4.4                        Interglobe Aviation
32 Micky Jagtiani                   4.3                           Landmark Group
33 Harsh Mariwala                 4.2                                           Marico
34 BR Shetty                          3.9                                  NMC Health
35  Ravi Pillai                         3.8                                       RP Group
36 Mangal Prabhat Lodha    3.75                            Lodha Group
37 Kuldeep & G S Dhingra  3.7                    Berger Paints India
38 Karsanbhai Patel              3.6                                        Nirma
39 Ashwin Dani                    3.5                               Asian Paints
40 Gupta Family                   3.45                                       Lupin
41 Shashi & Ravi Ruia         3.4                               Essar Group
42 Sudhir & Samir Mehta    3.35                          Torrent Group
43 Samprada Singh              3.3                    Alkem Laboratories
44 Anil Agarwal                   3.2                     Vedanta Resources
45 Anil Ambani                    3.15       Reliance Communications
46 PV Ramprasad Reddy     3.14                   Aurobindo Pharma
47 Baba Kalyani                   3.13                            Bharat Forge
48 Vinod & Anil Rai Gupta  3.11                                     Havells
49 Sameer Gehlaut               3.1                        Indiabulls Group
50 Hasmukh Chudgar          3.05               Intas Pharmaceuticals
51 Jain Family                      3                 Bennett Coleman & Co
52 Ashwin Choksi                2.95                             Asian Paints

53 Rajan Raheja                   2.9                          Exide Industries
54 Rakesh Jhunjhunwala     2.8                          Rare Enterprises
55 Kishore Biyani                2.75                            Future Group
56 Abhay Vakil                     2.71                             Asian Paints
57 Chandru Raheja               2.7                          K. Raheja Corp
58 MG George Muthoot       2.67                     Muthoot Finance
59  Abhay Firodia                         2.65                                      Force Motors
60  Yusuf Hamied                         2.62                                                   Cipla
61  Rajesh Mehta                         2.6                                      Rajesh Exports
62  Vijay Chauhan                        2.5                                       Parle Products
63  Amalgamations Group family  2.48             Tractors & Farm Equipment
64  Jai Hari and Yadu Hari Dalmia 2.45                                  Dalmia Bharat
65  Sunny Varkey                         2.4                                  GEMS Education
66  Murugappa family                  2.38                               Murugappa Group
67  Rajendra Agarwal                   2.3                   Macleods Pharmaceuticals
68  Harsh Goenka                         2.28                                         RPG Group
69  Sunil Vaswani                         2.25                                    Stallion Group
70  Jitendra Virwani                     2.2          Embassy Property Development
71  Leena Tewari                          2.19                                           USV India
72  Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw          2.16                                                 Biocon
73  Sanjiv Goenka                        2                        RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group
74  Lachhman Das Mittal            1.98                                    Sonalika Group
75  Murli Dhar & Bimal              1.96                                                   RSPL
76  Mofatraj Munot                      1.95                                             Kalpataru
77  Murali Divi                            1.94                               Divi’s Laboratories
78  Ramesh Juneja                       1.92                                  Mankind Pharma
79  Anurag Jain                            1.91                      Endurance Technologies
80  Ranjan Pai                              1.9                                      Manipal Group
81  Vikas Oberoi                          1.87                                      Oberoi Realty
82  Ravi Jaipuria                          1.84                                                RJ Corp
83  Salil Singhal                          1.83                                         PI Industries
84  NR Narayana Murthy            1.82                                                 Infosys
85  Nirav Modi                            1.8                                   Firestar Diamond
86  Rajju Shroff                           1.77                                                      UPL
87  Sunder Genomal                    1.75                                     Page Industries
88  Dinesh Nandwana                  1.72                                            Vakrangee
89  Nandan Nilekani                    1.71                                                 Infosys
90  Radhe Shyam Agarwal          1.64                                                  Emami
90  Radhe Shyam Goenka           1.64                                                  Emami
92  Senapathy Gopalakrishnan    1.61                                                 Infosys
93  Satish Mehta                          1.6                        Emcure Pharmaceuticals
94  Shamsheer Vayalil                 1.57                                    VPS Healthcare
95  Shyam & Hari Bhartia           1.56                                     Jubilant Group
96  Anand Mahindra                    1.54                         Mahindra & Mahindra
97  Reddy family                         1.53                      Dr Reddy’s Laboratories
98  Arvind Poddar                        1.48                           Balkrishna Industries
99  Vijay Shekhar Sharma            1.47                                                  Paytm
100 Rana Kapoor                         1.46                                              Yes Bank


Indians are struggling to find job
Indian workers are increasingly face risks of redundancy, or of failing to find a decent job in the first place. A big part of the challenge stems from automation. According to McKinsey, a consulting firm, machines could eliminate some 52% of India’s jobs if current technology were adopted across the board.


For example, at a sprawling site outside Chennai run by Hyundai, a South Korean firm, some 8,500 workers toil alongside 530 robots. The fully digitised facility turned out 661,000 cars last year, one every 72 seconds. It ranks second in productivity and quality among the firm’s 34 factories across the world; its engine plant is number one. Slowing economic growth, a decline in investment rates, the shock of economic reforms, a long-term decline in agricultural employment and a faulty education system have combined to reduce the proportion of Indians who hold proper jobs. For the first time in nearly a decade, India’s high-flying IT industry this year laid off thousands of workers. A survey of private-sector workers by the Economic Times, found 62% agreeing that their job prospects were shrinking. India’s labour force will soon overtake China as the world’s largest, but the country is struggling to generate opportunities for a workforce with the wrong skills. The country is also in the midst of a demographic transition, as birth rates fall. The share of the population that is of working age is peaking relative to the share of children and old people. The proportion of working-age people actually in work has been falling steadily. India, home to a sixth of humanity, is in danger of forfeiting its “demographic dividend”.
Just to keep unemployment in check, India needs to create some 10m-12m jobs a year. When economic growth is strong, it has just been able to do that: the government’s Labour Bureau estimates that from 2013 to 2015 the economy added 11m jobs a year. A slowdown in the prior two-year period, however, had kept job growth at half that level, leaving a shortfall of 10m jobs. The tipping point seems to be economic growth of about 7%. Ominously, growth has steadily slowed since 2016; in the quarter ending in June it fell to 5.7%, although transitory factors may have played a part in that. Officially, India’s jobless rate has hovered at an enviable 4% for many years. But the government is generous in its definition of work. By its own admission, some 35% of workers in 2015—the most recent year for which in-depth surveys are available—had held a job for less than 11 months in the previous year. According to the World Bank, over 30% of Indians between the ages of 15 and 29 are NEETs, “not in education, employment or training”.
In a country where some 86% of workers are reckoned to be in “informal” employment—i.e. untaxed and without a contract counting can be difficult. But the pressure for jobs is real. Last year thousands of Jats, a community in northern India that traditionally owned small farms but has become increasingly urbanised, rioted to press demands for an expanded quota of government jobs. The unrest left 25 dead and briefly severed the main water supply to the capital Delhi. Successive governments have tried to tackle the dearth of employment. The current government has also tried to boost skills. Last year its National Skill Development Corporation trained some 5,57,000 workers. By its own count, however, only 12% of these trainees found jobs. The central government has also promised to clarify India’s dauntingly complex labour rules: it says it will streamline compliance, and shrink some 44 different labour statutes into four simpler bundles. The rules are indeed onerous. In many states, firms with more than 100 employees must seek government approval to fire a single worker. As a result, many resort to contractors to fill their payrolls with temporary hires, a solution that evades red tape but produces neither dedicated staff nor a happy workplace. If the government does not do more to boost growth and to tip the balance between hiring people and installing robots, the jobs crunch will grow ever more severe.
Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.




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