A walk on the wild side - The Honest Truth By Ajit Dayal
Investing in India - Honest Truth by Ajit Dayal
A walk on the wild side A  A  A
28 MAY 2012

The great news is that people in power are walking to stay fit.

The bad news is that most of them seem to be taking a walk on the wild side which would have made Lou Reed and the coloured girls sing:

"Hey Babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.
And the coloured girls go, doo dodo..."

In a recent exclusive interview to Economic Times - which read more like a lobbying note for a candidature of his Presidency - Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said,"I love to walk in the morning...all by myself and my thoughts. I take 40 rounds of my lawn measuring 90 metres, which I am told, makes about three-and-a-half kilometres. The President's House, Rashtrapati Bhavan, has large lawns. One would not need 40 rounds."

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The Finance Minister made it clear that, despite his correct multiplication of 40 rounds x 90 metres = "makes about" 3.5 kilometres (the precise answer is 3.6 kilometres as most students from the 5th standard onwards would know), the possibility of him running (or gunning) for the post of President is "hypothetical".

But what is not hypothetical, is that many Indian leaders are busy walking.

Some alone and some with crowds.

Some for good causes that may not necessarily have good outcomes.

But, yes, everyone in India is walking.

A randomwalk along India's political fields

Rahul Gandhi walked a lot in UP in between his helicopter trips. His walking and eating habits helped the Congress Party to increase the number of seats from 22 to 28 in the recently held state elections. This "makes about" an increase of 27.27272727% and while such a number would be a respectable gain for the BSE-30 Index this calendar year, it is not the sort of gain that the "Indira Gandhi and Assorted Heirs" party hoped to achieve.

The revered Prime Minister of India walks a lot. With the typical stiff-arms puppet walk and a frozen smile on his waxen face, many commentators have asked to check his pulse. There are rumours that, along with the mythical Yeti, an Egyptian mummy with moving legs has been roaming the leaderless earth. In case you are wondering, that is why the pilots in Air India have gone on a strike. The Air-India pilots, frightened of flying a plane with a VIPM (Very Immobilised Prime Minister), have resorted to walking in protest. The psychologists, meanwhile, are looking for specimens of species ruled by a mother-complex with an ingrained habit of a perpetual need to check with Madam on what to do next.For all the controversy and inaction, the fact is that the VIPM has helped set the trend for Indians walking.

Anna Hazare walked - and talked. And while his movement stirred passions and many candles were lit, in the end, his advisors made it all sound like a lot of hot air. To make matters worse, the 1 million candles that were lit for 10 minutes each generated about 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide adding to the heat wave that is currently enveloping India. Poor Anna seems to have walked with a team that is not in step with what he pronounced. There is, if press reports are to be believed, disconnect, discord, and discontent. As the new age social media language would say, Anna seems to have been "dissed".

The other famous walkers are from the BJP. While some took rathyatras that helped destroy the social fabric of India and are thankfully retired, others want to take to the streets on May 31 to protest the recent hike in petrol prices. A few months ago, one of the BJP's multiple Potential Prime Ministers was on the screaming TV channels telling us how his (NDA) government took the hard decisions to raise petrol prices. This UPA-2 government, the BJP leader proclaimed, was "soft". So now that this soft UPA-2 government finally shows some signs of delayed manhood, the BJP has decided to protest. True to their description as "Opposition Party", they are ready to oppose.The UPA-2 government which has been on a 3-year random stroll along the banks of the lazy Ganga - when they are not busy attending useless G-20 meetings along the banks of the River Thames, the Siene, or the Potomac - must be wondering why they ever woke up from their Rip van Winkle sleep and actually tried to do something.

The other people who seem to be doing a lot of cross-country walking are the Naxalites. And wherever they walk, they find the urge to destroy whatever comes in their path. Some justify their recourse to violence as a reaction to the other walkers - sorry, stalkers. The forest department officials and local police, many say, have raped - figuratively and literally - the tribals and the poor for so long that this is the violent reaction. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth does not - in the language of the Naxalites - make the whole world blind and nor does it reduce the demand for toothpaste. Revenge delivers justice in some warped equation - and money on the side.

The Indian army, if reports are to be believed, also had its own walk sometime in January. Tired of sleeping in tents and eating military supplies, some say they were keen to check out the nicer structures in New Delhi. The canteens in some of the government buildings in New Delhi, they have heard, offer food that is even cheaper than in the military canteens. And, hey, they know the exact size of the gardens in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Unlike some people who are only into approximations and submitting targeted budgets that don't even come close to the actuals, the men in uniform are very precise.

SRK seemed to have been on a hurried walk at the MCA grounds and bumped around quite a few people in the process. Well, for the next five years, he may have to walk somewhere else. And I don't suggest he should head to the USA for a walk along the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Not only is it crowded in the summers, but the US immigration seems to have some problem with his name. Maybe his next movie should be "My name is not that Khan".

On a personal note, I walk slowly, I like to stroll. A friend of mine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill once suggested that I should increase the pace of my walk and "walk with a purpose in life". But, I confess, I enjoy walking at an aimless pace.

Follow the Didi

The most inspiring walker of all, though, could well turn out to be Mamata Banerjee - lovingly called Didi by the few that still love her. She could, it seems, turn us into a nation a walkers - whether we like it or not. Management consultants will one day recognise her as a "game changer" and Harvard Business School will probably do a case study on her just as they did on Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Didi demanded that her own party colleague (or should I say "follower" since no one can ever be equal to her) roll back the proposed passenger fare hikes in the railway budget.

Now - as anyone who has studied economics can tell you - unless the Railways collect more revenues, they cannot run the trains. So, as the UPA-2 evolves into a UPA-3 (highly likely since the BJP is still trying to figure out who their leader is) we will have many more years of frozen railway fares. Eventually, the railways will go bust and we will all need to walk.

To ensure that we will not have any buses, cars or 2-wheelers, Didi took to the streets of Kolkatta, to protest the recent petrol price hike. What a beautiful photograph for a Sunday morning: Didi in the lead and everyone else a respectable 2 metres (which, I am told, is about 6 feet) behind her. If the petrol price rollback does happen and if the government cannot increase the prices of diesel, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) will close down and we will not have any petrol pumps from which to tank up our vehicles.

Well, with no buses and trains India needs to be prepared for a long national walkathon. The senior management of Reebok who allegedly stole shoes and kept them in undisclosed warehouses must have planned for this expected surge in demand. Rather than trying to arrest them, Adidas and Reebok need to honour them for selling more shoes as Indians feel the need to walk.

For walk we will. Some of us in the gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and some of us on the pollution-free roads of a country with no petroleum products.

Oh, yes, and that leads me to the one bit of wonderful news on the economic front.

The recent concerns of a collapsing Indian Rupee will no longer haunt us. Since India will no longer use petroleum products, our oil import bill will collapse, our current account deficit will disappear, and we will have a stronger Indian Rupee.

Maybe there is a method in this madness no matter how mad the method itself may be! J

This, after all, is Bharat and we are mahaan!

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Disclaimer: The Honest Truth is authored by Ajit Dayal. Ajit is a Director at Quantum Advisors Pvt. Ltd and Quantum Asset Management Company Pvt. Ltd. The views mentioned above are of the author only. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and has not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author, Equitymaster, Quantum AMC and Quantum Advisors do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. Please read the detailed Terms of Use of the web site. To write to Ajit, please click here.

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8 Responses to "A walk on the wild side"


Jun 12, 2012

Beautiful!! Loved it! Do keep writing!


Dr R Kapur

May 30, 2012

Nicely written- serious issues dealt with a great sense of humour. Enjoyed reading it. Keep writing, Mr Dayal

Like (1)

Borkar M.R.

May 30, 2012

Only walk u have not mentioned is that of "walking in the sleep
or walk in the dream" which we all have been doing. Congress
party 'Bapuji's Ramrajya" BJPs "Rath Rajya" Leftists' Social
Justice Rajya, and all NETAJ Loot Rajya. Poor Indians are still
walking the "Dandi Yatra" meaning Dandi of Corruption, scarcity,
Hafta at all. Will GOD come to our rescue? Though he said long
back "Yada Yada he Dharmasya" and of course that was long back
and that long march is not yet over. So we wait for Pranbda
completing his round. You cannot go there if you are not
decisive. Sorry Dada u missed the bus that passed by your road.
We would have liked you there instead of Buchha's grooming.

Like (1)

K V Ramani

May 30, 2012

Posting these banner ads on EM home page is wasting our time.
You seem to be desperate to sell your reports.
If the reports are good, they will sell without bombarding all subscribers with these banner advts.
Pl. stop this practice. or provide Unsubscribe option.

Like (1)


May 29, 2012

Walk = move. All the walks are moves to unstable the nation and move towards chair or show the nuisance value.Secondly roll back means rolling up the sleeves to show the nuisance value.The leg pulling is main job of the political parties or self proclaimed social workers. Who rules the nation that is the question. Otherday BJP leader when questioned what he would have done in the present circumstances which warranted the petrol price hike? He simply dodged the same saying he is not the minister. When water/property taxes and bus/auto fares are increased, it is claimed as need (or is it greed)and not a burden on common man but when any hike by the Govt. it is labled as burden. Walk is good for health that why we see walk out in houses more than working of the houses.

Like (1)


May 29, 2012

Enjoyed reading. You missed out the recent news item clarifying to the rumour of Johnnie Walker shutting down all its famous "labels". The company scotched away the news items telling that it only walked away from its oldest bottling plant at Kilmarnock in Scotland, assuring the world that they can count on them for Keep Walking, aimlessly.

Like (1)


May 28, 2012

By his own admission, our FM can't multiply two integers and has to be "told" what the result is!!.Even then he can only manage to remember the answer "approximately".
Mahaan indeed is mera Bharat.

Like (1)


May 28, 2012

Brilliant. Enjoyed reading & happy that there are many like minded frustrated souls out there. I would have laughed were it not so tragic.

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