Is this the most sought after job for Next Gen Indians? - The 5 Minute WrapUp by Equitymaster
Investing in India - 5 Minute WrapUp by Equitymaster

Is this the most sought after job for Next Gen Indians? 

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In this issue:
» Will China topple US in banking?
» Housing loans under more scrutiny
» Can pension funds boost Indian stock markets?
» The next 'safe haven' currency
» ...and more!

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Jobs in consultancies and investment banks are still amongst the most sought-after in India, even after the financial crisis of 2008. Rewind to a decade back and it were the software coders that every teenage Indian looked up to and aspired to be. However, it seems that the next generation of Indians would prefer to toil under the burning sun rather than sit in plush air conditioned offices. At least that is what an article in leading business daily claims. It cites the examples of professionals working with MNCs quitting their jobs to become farmers. Yes, you read that right! Given the steady rise in prices of food products in recent months, farming is the next obsession for a small group of young and educated Indians.

Why do the farmers then commit suicide you may ask! Honestly, we ourselves do not see the young and ambitious agricultural entrepreneurs doing too well in the long run. That is unless the government policies change dramatically in their favour.

Despite years of subsidies and minimum pricing offered for agri produce, the small and marginal farmers continue to remain at the mercy of rainfall. True the educated lot can use research and technology to their advantage. But at the end of the day, inability to sell the produce at profitable rates could make the sophisticated farmers as debt burdened as their illiterate peers.

Hence farming could certainly be a good option for a nation of young and largely unskilled population. Literacy and better technology could also help minimize risks. The certainty about rise in commodity particularly food prices makes the option that much more lucrative. However, in the absence of adequate government policies to secure farmlands and make farming a profitable venture, the scope remains limited. We keep our fingers crossed.

Do you think farming can be a good career option for educated Indians? Share your comments with us or post your views on facebook page.

01:15  Chart of the day
Financial inclusion requires banks to open as many branches as possible in the hinterlands. This is to allow the unbanked population access to banking channels. However, as seen in today's chart, data from the RBI shows that the share of rural bank branches has dropped from 58% to 38% of total branch network in the past decade. An obvious reason is rapid urbanization and classification of erstwhile rural areas as urban regions. However, resistance from the banks to open branches in less profitable areas is a cause for worry.

Data source: RBI

Leading consultant, PriceWaterHouse Coopers (PwC) has released a report that states China would become the world's largest banking economy by 2023. It would surpass the US to take the crown. Chinese banks are heavily tapping into China's huge untapped domestic population. In addition to this, they are rapidly expanding their footprint into the fast growing emerging markets that have a booming demand for financial products. Especially from the young and increasingly wealthy population.

The western banks on the other hand have been severely weakened by the financial crisis. As a result, they have started to lag behind their counterparts in the emerging markets. This would eventually lead to a change in the global scenario where countries like China and India overtake current leaders US and Japan.

The underlying assumption is valid and it will probably come true that China does overtake US in terms of domestic banking. However, it is important to note that Chinese banks do have a reputation of forced lending. As a result, they tend to have a high proportion of poor quality assets on their balance sheets. This feature increases the risks associated with them. So if China were to become the global leader then would we see another banking crisis because of the additional risk? We certainly hope not.

Ever since the global financial crisis erupted in late 2007 with the root cause pointed to the US housing market, properties and lending to them has become a touchy topic indeed. What happened in the US is well documented in history. Makings of a property bubble were witnessed in China as well as banks lent indiscriminately to property players.

India's financial sector never had to deal with the kind of problems that the US and China faced. But regulators here want to make doubly sure that lending to the real estate sector is within certain limits. And with this aim in mind, the National Housing Bank (NHB), has increased the own funds requirement for a housing finance company fivefold to Rs 100 m. This is to ensure that only serious players enter the business. Net owned fund is the aggregate of the paid-up equity capital and free reserves.

Of course, big players who are already in the business and have sufficient capital at their disposal will not really be impacted by this new limit. But the smaller players will now have to shore up their capital base. Real estate in India has been a very grey area. This has been due to poor disclosures by companies and so many scams and scandals. Little wonder then that the housing finance regulator wants to ensure that lending to this sector does not get out of hand.

You would all agree that the Indian stock markets swing to the tunes of Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs). It is something definitely to worry about. For the healthy functioning of our financial markets and the economy at large, we need long term investors.

The chief of India's market regulator, Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI), shares similar views. According to him, there needs to be more equity investment pouring in from our country's pension funds. On one hand, it would help counter imbalances caused by equity flows. The other benefit is that pension funds are long term money.

It is important to note that there are significant limits and prohibitions in India as far as pension fund investments in equities are concerned. At the moment, the pension fund regulator is wary about increasing equity investment limits by pension funds. According to him, given the current uncertain scenario, the limits are adequate.

Think of Switzerland and one's mind is flooded with images of snow capped mountains and gorgeous landscapes. But to the economically inclined, the country also stands for something else. You see, thanks to its economy's low inflation and current account surpluses, the Swiss' local currency Swiss Franc is widely regarded as a safe haven currency. Agreed that few years back there were more currencies vying for the very same status. Prominent ones include the US dollar and the Japanese Yen. But perhaps not anymore. The US Fed's loose monetary policy and Japan's long standing debt travails have taken a considerable sheen off their currencies. What more, even the Euro seems to be coming apart on account of its sovereign debt concerns. Hence, amidst such a scenario, it is the Swiss Franc that seems to be walking away with all the accolades. And with the Swiss central bank showing no intentions of letting the currency decline, looks like the accolades will stay for some time to come.

It's rare for Indian Government to achieve the targets it sets for itself. This fiscal it has surpassed them. The Government has managed to bring down country's fiscal deficit to 4.7% of GDP. This is way below the budget and revised targets. And that is not the only feat. The revenue deficit for the country has also fallen to 3.1% versus a revised estimate of 3.4%.

Should we take this as a positive signal for what is in store this fiscal? Well, there is no easy answer to that. For FY12, the fiscal and revenue deficit targets at 4.6% and 3% of GDP are even more daunting. And then this comes along with juggling other parameters like inflation and growth rate. In India, with numerous Government subsidies and tax breaks to different sectors and associated vote banks, expenditure reforms are a Herculean task. To make it worse we have ever volatile oil prices where any surge can make us slip.

That said, the Government has taken the baby steps by deregulating petrol and going for disinvestments. With an improvement in the quality of spending, regular monitoring, accountability and an eye on the target, FY12 could witness the trend continue.

After a buoyant start, selling pressure in auto and commodity stocks combined with weak cues from other Asian markets dragged the Indian stock market into the negative territory as the session progressed. At the time of writing, the BSE Sensex was trading lower by 67 points (0.4%). Asian indices across the board closed lower, with Hong Kong and Japan leading the pack of losers. European markets have opened on a mixed note.

04:50  Today's investing mantra
"Obviously the stock market is quite irrational in thus varying its valuation of a company proportionately with the temporary changes in its reported profits. A private business might easily earn twice as much in a boom year as in poor times, but its owner would never think of correspondingly marking up or down the value of his capital investment." - Benjamin Graham
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20 Responses to "Is this the most sought after job for Next Gen Indians?"


Jun 7, 2011

Farming can be a lucrative and profitable alternative only of its done on large scale with deep pockets. People may not believe but farming is a capita intensive business- high cost of land and substantial investment required for land acquisition is long term apital required. Again farming cycle- from seed to product ready to sell in market is normanlly 3-4 months and substantial investment in seed, labour, fertilizers etc is working capital. Also risk of crop failure ensures that its too big a job for small and marginal farmers. However prices of the agro products on a long run are bound to go up and if corporates are aollowed to do farmimg, they can handle all the capital requirements and also handle risk. They also have capacity for proper storage and minimum wastage.Govt should change old age laws and allow corporate farming. This will also help country to become self sufficient in food grain.


Babu Philipose

Jun 5, 2011

If the govt of india adopt a strategy of purchasing the produce from the farmer's place at say double the market price as the German Govt. did decades ago in increasing their Solar Energy produced at rooftops sold to the govt. power grid for 200% of the prevailing price, there will be heavy rush in the agriculture by the young Indians.



Jun 5, 2011

I don't think farming is the most after job for next gen indians. A few guys, mostly from IT background, who are justifiedly frustrated with IT but have spare money do not make up the entire next gen. Any profession becomes "sought after" only when people see money in it. Just like it is IT now. Farming will become attractive when there is acute shortage of farmers and therefore food, food prices shoot up and people see it as a money making profession. Having said that, the section that is being touted as next gen, will not actually want to toil in the hot sun. They need not. The trick is in identifying areas related to farming where money, intelligence and management are needed and money is to be made. All this, in my opinion is at least a decade or two away.



Jun 4, 2011

Farming may be attractive when people look at it from outside. But coming from a framing family i know too well it is not a profitable business where the farmer is at the mercy of others (govt, middleman, etc) to fix the price for the product that he toiled in the soil. It is not the farmer or end user who is benefited from farming, it is always the middlemen.



Jun 4, 2011

Farming is a good option for young Indians.But,the difficulties faced by the Indian Farmers in disposing the yeilded crop prevent young Indians from entering in this field.
It is time for (both states & central) Govt to take necessary measures including establising mobile market yards to reach Farmers at their door steps and bying their yeilded crop & arranging timely payments so as to attract young indians to opt and become Farmers.



Jun 4, 2011

Dear everyone commenting here and EM,
I have repeatedly commented on farming-in-EM-newsletters. I am going to join this tribe of farmers very soon and I am a techie.

On EM's this newsletter
EM: Honestly, we ourselves do not see the young and ambitious agricultural entrepreneurs doing too well in the long run. That is unless the government policies change dramatically in their favour.
Yug: Wrong. What needs to change is how we see nature and how we change our farming methods to STRICTLY CONFIRM to nature.
EM: True the educated lot can use research and technology to their advantage. Literacy and better technology could also help minimize risks.
Yug: Wrong. Trying to grow crops using technology is not only foolish but also a 'false dream'. Confirm to nature and farm. It solves a great number of problems that humanity is facing today and not just the food problem.

No matter how many subsidies govt. provides it will not solve the problem until the INPUT costs are eliminated. It is possible by CONFIRMING to nature and not going against it. Even the prices of output can fall rapidly and give both the consumer and producer a benefit.

I have done much research on this. I have visited many natural farmers. But be aware that even though organic farming and permaculture are good they have been turned into huge business opportunities. The only true farming that benefits humans is 'natural farming' and I suggest everyone to read the book 'The One Straw Revolution' by Masanobu Fukuoka.

Best Regards



Jun 4, 2011

I am surely looking for AGRI As my post retirement Hobby cum profession. I love to be called " Farmer " soon !!



Jun 3, 2011

It is just fancy for crazy rich indians.Attraction in the farming is subsiy from many forms,tax free income,real estate value at later stage..that is it..



Jun 3, 2011

With shortage driving prices up, with considerable improvement potential in productivity, with a better information flow of where to sell and current prices besides the fact that agricultural income is exempt from income tax there is definitely a great possibility that the next gen may want to go for agriculture ....



Jun 3, 2011

The reason for this is very logical.
Imagine working under tension for all the years and earning lots of money. But the parody you cannot even long enough to enjoy them !!!

Now imagine working as farmer...You are your boss. No tension of work....And I am 200% sure that all these educated Indians who opt for farming have already a good cushion to maintain their lifestyle irrespective of whether this succeeds or fails.

So the reason is simple : You want to maintain a healthy life after earning all the money...Go for farming. It will not only make you self-sufficient in terms of food , but also make you rich :-)
Kill 2 birds in 1 stone :)

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