Supermodels - The Honest Truth By Ajit Dayal
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Investing in India - Honest Truth by Ajit Dayal
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3 OCTOBER 2008

Walking in a mall in USA (yes, malls still exist in USA and people are still shopping, though maybe less) I came across an interesting poster created by the PTA (Parents Teachers Association).

"Name 3 supermodels" it yelled.
And then below that in equally defiant text: "Name 3 teachers in your children’s school".

I shook my head in shame.
I could think of the 3 Supermodels for sure but the names of 3 teachers in my children’s school...uh, that was a tough one...

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And yet, the teachers are more important to me than any Supermodel. And the biggest influence on my children will be what they learn from their teachers.
Just as I was influenced by my teachers: Ms. Hallegua, Mr. Elaisha, Ms. Shroff, Mr. Harver, Ms. Ballaporia, Ms. Shahani, Mr. Behrman, Mr. Lee and Mr. Bell.

The children go to school for 7 hours a day.
For maybe 175 days in a year.
For 14 years of their life - if you were to count the pre-school time.
That is 17,150 days during their impressionable age.
Even if - and this is a big if - I was to land up with a supermodel, that relationship is not likely to last 17,150 days - and will definitely not last nights (take it from me: I will be 62 years old in 14 years).

And yet, I know the names of the supermodels.
More than 3 of them.

Terrible.

Role models
And so we go on in life: blinded by the halo of beauty when the really important things are what is underneath. What lies in the heart?

So we have the list of:

  1. The Richest
  2. The Wealthiest
  3. The Famous
  4. The Most Successful
  5. The Most Powerful
  6. The Largest
  7. The Biggest
  8. The Most Influential

And, yes, the lists of the prettiest, the sexiest, and the most beautiful.
But where is the list that really matters: the nicest? The most honest?

The media have created an image of what is important and the media have led us to believe that these lists compiled by them are the best judge of what is important in life.

Everyone wants to be on those lists. And those that are not on them - or know they cannot get there - worship the false gods and goddesses that populate the lists.

The meltdown in the global financial firms is yet another reminder that we have worshipped the wrong gods. Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill - the names synonymous with the power of Wall Street are dead.
The health of the global giants like AIG and UBS is suspect.

Stan O’ Neil (Merill Lynch) has reportedly received USD 159m as a severance package on top of his annual pay of USD 48m - Source :The Guardian UK

William Fuld, (Lehman Brothers) , took home at least $168.5 million when Lehman had record profit from 2005 to 2007, according to proxy filings and pay consultants -Source: Bloomberg.com

Flip through the newspapers and magazines of 2006 and early 2007 - see who they worshipped. See the lists that were plastered all over the media. And see where they are now.

The superheroes are ordinary men - well, greedy and misguided ordinary men and women. They had no vision - they were riding a wave of greed and chasing market share.
Don’t fool yourself: we have our share of these superficial superheroes in India. They stood posing in their dark suits, with their hands crossed with the label of richest, most powerful, and most influential. There will be shocks in India, too.

So, list your business hero - and watch them crumble like ordinary mortals.
List your supermodels - and see if they last the 17,150 nights.

Meanwhile, go to your children’s school and meet their teachers.
3 teachers, not just one.
I am on my way to my children’s school.

Suggested allocation in Quantum Mutual Funds
Quantum Long Term Equity Fund Quantum Gold Fund
(NSE symbol: QGOLDHALF)
Quantum Liquid Fund
Why you should own it: An investment for the future and an opportunity to profit from the long term economic growth in India A hedge against a global financial crisis and an "insurance" for your portfolio Cash in hand for any emergency uses but should get better returns than a savings account in a bank
Suggested allocation 80% 15% 5%

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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