The Rise & Rise of BSE PSU index

Bombay Stock Exchange gives thumbs up to Operation Green Hunt

What is the truth behind operation Green Hunt? Is the official narrative to be trusted that it aims to crush the Maoist menace so that welfare & development schemes may be rushed in to tribals? Or are the activists working in tribal areas for umpteen years to be believed that it is a grand strategy to dispossess the tribals of their ancestral lands in the name combating Maoists? The answer to this vexing issue is to be found in the behavior of BSE PSU index on Friday last (6thNovember09). BSE PSU index tracks the market’s perceptions of Public Sector Undertakings. Stock markets are supposedly prescient about the functioning of the economy & the future of companies operating within it. Whole range of events unfolding elsewhere in the economy & the polity that have an impact on the prospects of a company are factored into its share price by operators on stock exchanges. BSE PSU index rose 3.91% on that day. Remarkable, but not extraordinary considering that the government had announced a sale of some stake in PSUs. Sensex, the bellwether index of Bombay Stock exchange, itself had a pretty modest outing in the field rising only 0.6%. An extraordinary event was the performance of NMDC (10% rise), MMTC (20% rise), Hindustan Copper (10% rise) etc. The market cap or the notional worth (Number of outstanding shares x market price/share) of NMDC rose by Rs. 120 Billion & of MMTC by Rs. 300 Billion. Why were these companies worth so much more overnight? The answer lies in their business. National Mineral Development Corporation is in the business of “exploration of wide range of minerals including iron ore, copper, rock phosphate, lime stone, dolomite, gypsum, bentonite, magnesite, diamond, tin, tungsten, graphite, beach sands etc“. Minerals & Metals Trading Corporation on the other hand boasts of managing with “commendable élan the bulk operationsspread across far – flung areas in the mineral rich states of the country and by exporting minerals from all the major ports of India“. The third company, Hindustan Copper, modestly claims that “It has the distinction of being India’s only vertically integrated copper producing companyencompassing mining, beneficiation, smelting, refining and casting of refined copper metal“. So this troika straddles the mineral wealth of the country – and they are currently owned by “We the People of India…….” Turning to the other side of the story, the State of Chhattisgarh
is home to 28 varieties of minerals including diamonds as per the Mining.pdf document available on its official website. It lists Coal, Tin, Iron Ore, Bauxite, Limestone, Dolomite, Corundum, Alexandrite, Beryl, Garnet, diamonds, gold among others minerals. Now a very tight coupling is complete. On one hand is a state extremely rich in minerals. On the other you have companies best placed to exploit those treasures. The only irritant is that the minerals are buried deep below the lands that for millennia have belonged to tribals. The minerals can be got out if the tribals can be got off that land. The stock market has given resounding thumbs up to operation green hunt because it knows it will vacate the mineral rich lands of the nuisance of tribals. It is happy at the twin gravy train UPA-II government has set rolling for it. First it is unlocking the mineral wealth. Then it has started the process of eventual privatization of public assets by selling stake in PSUs – bit by bit. A grand scheme of defrauding ‘We the people of India…..‘ So Bastar & Bombay are interconnected after all. It is the misfortune of Bastar, but lady luck is smiling on BSE.

Lyrical Scribe.

No one has a monopoly over truth. Truth has many facets. Facets that don’t find expression in the media need to be told with vigour. It is not a privilege but duty of the media to give voice to the most dispossessed. Such reporting strengthens democracy by helping to reach benefits of growth to reach all. Press is therefore called the fourth estate – the 4th leg of parliamentary democracy. Yet, time & again we find mainstream media not only reporting official narrativewithout questioning, but even supporting it with unabashed enthusiasm. Sample this piece by Sankarshan Thakur in Raipur for The Telegraph : “Vishwa Ranjan is a poet and a pragmatist, a palpably split persona who can sing the eloquent song of injustices done to tribals and, in the next breath, bluntly set out the imperatives of crushing the Maoist surge”. “His is a finely articulated position on reasons and requirements — he can understand, he says, why the Maoists have been able to make a base for themselves in Bastar and expand, but isn’t willing to accept their strategy of redressing wrongs“. One would imagine that Vishwa Ranjan is being honoured & felicitated for his accomplishments. But, No! He is the DGP of Chhattisgarh (“chief executive officer of Green Hunt“, as he is approvingly called by the scribe) & Thakur is there to find out what is happening there in the wake of ‘operation green hunt’. Thakur should have been skewering the top cop with some tough questions to get at the bottom of what exactly is going on. He should also be doing that to activists & social organizations that have expressed serious apprehensions about government’s motives & repercussions of its actions on the tribals. What he is doing instead issinging paeans to the man whose actions will have serious consequences for the region. This is what is going on in the name of reporting. Reader be aware!

Democracy for Sale

Hindu editorial, Journalism for sale, Says, “in 2009 the free, fair, and democratic attributes of these elections have been compromised as never before by the large-scale, illegal, and scandalous use of money power — which, to a considerable extent, involved recycled dirty money garnered through corruption in executive and legislative office“. Distribution of money to voters is not new, though the scale this time was unprecedented. What is of more interest is the role played by media as pointed out by P Sainath, the well known journalist & author, in his article “The medium, message and the money“. “Sainath’s article exposes the phenomenon of ‘coverage packages’ exploding across India’s most industrialised State during the recent Assembly election. Candidates paid newspapers different rates for well-differentiated and streamlined packages of news coverage. Those who could not or would not pay for the packages tended to be blacked out. The Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists has, on the basis of a sample survey conducted in West Godavari district, estimated that newspapers across the State netted Rs. 350 crore to Rs. 400 crore through editorial coverage sold to candidates during the 2009 Lok Sabha and Assembly elections“.

Figment of Imagination

Palaniappan Chidambaram would have the nation believe from the IPS academy in Hyderabad that operation green hunt is a ‘media invention‘. He further added “There is no such operation. The Green Hunt or whatever is a pure invention of the media. The state governments are carrying out counter-insurgency measures against Naxalites wherever it is necessary. The Central government is providing assistance by way of central paramilitary forces, intelligence sharing and technical help“. He obviously wants to downplay the seriousness of it all by terming what is going on is all routine. Serious note has been taken by many researchers, activists, thinkers of the biggest exercise so far to dispossess the tribals of their mineral rich lands everywhere, but more particularly at the moment in Chhattisgarh. His artifice is a classic attempt at disguising extra-ordinary events as common. Mercifully the media has not accepted in this case the official line from the man in charge of internal security of the country. Soumitra Bose reporting for Times of India writes, “Despite home minister P Chidambaram’s assertion in Hyderabad on Friday that Operation Green Hunt against the Maoists was a `media creation,’ preparations are on in the rebel-hit areas of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh to mount such an operation. Special forces belonging to Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) are being flown in to Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra where a few companies of the CRPF are already in place. Besides, other paramilitary forces and police personnel would be there to help the elite force“. He has also raised a crucial point, “However, the big question is: where are the Maoists and how to identify them in the thick jungles of Gadchiroli“, which has made many people concerned about the heavy toll of lives that innocent tribals will have to bear.

Science is concerned

It is heartening that students of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore are concerned about the fate of our fellow tribals in far away Chhattisgarh. On 7th November they organized a seminar, “The War Within : The Maoists, The Tribals and The State“. The title is very apt too as it shows the tribals caught between the State & the Maoists. Ramchandra Guha, the noted historian & sociologist, pointed out that “the tribals were the most dispossessed people in the history of India“. Sudeep Chakravarti, a journalist & author of the book The Red Sun travels in the Naxalite country, commented that “the state is deeply disconnected with its own people“.

O O O O O O O O O O O O O

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2 Responses to “The Rise & Rise of BSE PSU index”

  1. Rahul Banerjee Says:

    A good criticism of modern journalism.

  2. Rahul Banerjee Says:

    A good criticism of modern journalism.

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