A dangerous journey - The Honest Truth By Ajit Dayal
Investing in India - Honest Truth by Ajit Dayal
A dangerous journey A  A  A
21 APRIL 2008

So it is now official.
Travelling on the Bombay trains is dangerous.
You can be run over by a train or electrocuted.
Over 7 million people travel on the trains every day.
The railway officials say that, in most cases, it is the people who need to take the blame.
People run across tracks, people jump over gates and walls.
Everyone wants a short-cut.
The trains keep on rolling.

While the irresponsible behaviour of passengers is surely a factor that resulted in many of the 20,000 deaths over the past 5 years, the fact is that the railway system is also in a mess.
The lack of new coaches, over-crowding of trains, and slack security for women - many of these could be fixed. The number of deaths would reduce.
But it would not be anywhere close to zero. People still do silly things.
They still go for the shortcuts.
They still want the easy way out.
In taking trains - and in investments.

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India investment journey.
Twenty years ago there was no regulator overseeing the Indian stock markets. And we had scandals and disasters. Investors jumped into the stock markets looking for that quick money. They came out injured and poorer. Today, we have a regulatory body. There are rules. There are better frameworks.
But greed is greed.
The short cut to riches is still the lure for millions. While the regulators may still be in learning mode and still have loose ends to tighten up, the investors still cross the rail tracks.
Many don’t make it to the other side.

Like the train system, the stock market is an avenue to get you from point A to point B.
Based on a time-table, based on some planning.
But who wishes to plan? Why wait? Why take the small steps that make you cross over all the hurdles and the dangers?

Investing in stock markets - responsibly.
There is something called "responsibility".
I read about it all the time. I am sure we all do.
But how many of us practice it?
The liquor companies tell us about "responsible drinking".
The AIDS health workers tell us about "responsible sex".
The tobacco companies warn us that smoking can kill us - since there is no apparent way to enjoy your tobacco and not die, they cannot tell us about "responsible smoking".

And how many of us worry about the consequences of irresponsible behaviour?
What will happen if we drink too much - or drink and then drive a bike or a car?
What can go wrong if we smoke - and damage our lungs?
What can go wrong if we gamble at a casino or, worse, gamble in the stock market?

If we lose our life, who will we feed our families?
And it is getting more expensive to feed them, these days.
The price of rice, milk, bread is rising rapidly.
Maybe we can feed them all those stupid stocks we bought in the last bull run? "Here, munna, eat some of these demat slips - and I can buy you more, the price of all these shares has come down."

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Everything in life requires some responsible behaviour. Some common sense.
We cannot expect the railways or the stock market regulators to do all the thinking for us.
We know that many of the institutions that are supposed to make our life easier have failed in their duty.
Well, we can either spend our whole life grumbling about the terrible government we have - and their silliness. Or we can take control of the situation to the best of our abilities.

Ten killed in railway tracks in Bombay - is this a reflection of the failure of the system or our irresponsible behaviour?
Millions lose money in a hot IPO like Reliance Power that was supposed to double in price based on all indications in the "grey market". And Reliance Power was only one of many such IPO’s.
You can blame anyone you want: the investment bankers who brought the issue to an over-heated stock market, the media, and the long list of stock market analysts that told you it was a great buy.
They were not acting responsibly when they give you that kind of wrong advice.
Just as the railways don’t act responsibly when they don’t build better coaches and better crossing points across platforms.

There may be 20,000 killed in railway accidents in five years. There are tens of thousands killed in stock market excesses in every bull run.

Life remains a journey - so does investing. No short cuts, please.

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Disclaimer: Past performance may or may not be sustained in the future. Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks, fluctuation in NAV's and uncertainty of dividend distributions. Please read offer documents of the relevant schemes carefully before making any investments. Click here for the detailed risk factors and statutory information"

Note: Ajit Dayal, the author is a Director in Quantum Information Services Private Limited and Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited. Views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author and may not be regarded as views of the Quantum Mutual Fund or Quantum Asset Management Company Private Limited or Quantum Information Services Private Limited.

Mutual Fund Investments are subject to market risks. Please read the offer documents of the respective schemes before making any investments.

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