It terms of reform and development, the Indian capital market and financial sector have been the fastest to grab every opportunity presented by the paradigm shift in India’s economic policy. Their furious developmental activities have put the two top Indian bourses almost on par with the best in the world, in terms of their structure, systems and regulation. But for all the development efforts, the capital market remains seriously flawed because three key ingredients are still missing. They are adequate supervision, strict accountability, and appropriate punishment.
As a result, the markets have remained shallow and stunted and have lurched from one financial scandal to another over the last decade. Every policy change in the liberalisation process was pounced upon by unscrupulous companies, who aided by a retinue of investment bankers and consultants diverted thousands of crores of rupees to themselves. In the process, retail investors have been the biggest losers and the effect of their disenchantment is visible in the slow growth of India’s investor population. China has over 25 million investors, while India, with all its rapid development and its 130- year old stock exchange culture has only 19 million investors.
A simple roll-call of the scams of the last decade tells the story of why Indian investors are so frustrated.
· The Securities Scam of 1992: This was the mother of all Indian financial scandals. It exposed the utter lawlessness and absence of supervision in the money markets; it allowed funds to be transferred with impunity from banks and corporate houses into the equity markets; and saw thousands of crores of bank funds to move in and out of brokers’ bank accounts in what was later claimed as a “accepted market practice”. A Special Court under a separate act of parliament was set up and over 70 cases were filed by the CBI but not a single scamster has been finally convicted by the excruciatingly...