Category: Healthcare

Packaging sells and also kills !

We heard the famous marketing quote that , ‘ packaging sells’, but the story for most of the India’s middle class, who eat on roadside eateries is somewhat different , and the new message is ‘packaging kills’ , and more so, when food gets garnished with lead and other hazardous chemicals !

India is a foodie nation, and with the rising middle class, our eating habits are changing. There is an increasing tendency to eat food outside, and India, predominantly being a middle class nation, our preference is for road side eateries and small or mid size restaurants. But what goes unnoticed is; the newspapers used in packing food items, or the printed material on tea bags, and the potential dangers associated with them.

It is a fact, that the newspapers are printed with ink that is dissolved on it with the help of chemical solvents. Studies have shown that printing ink from newspapers can easily gets into foods wrapped or served in them and this is dangerous for health. The solvents used in ink are potentially carcinogenic.

Also, newspapers and cardboard boxes used for packaged foods are made of recycled paper, which may be contaminated with harmful chemicals like di-isobutyl phthalate and di-n-butyl phthalate that can cause digestive problems and also lead to severe toxicity.

It is a fact that the recycled paper used has printing ink residues. These un-cleaned residues have found to contain hormone disruptors like benzophenones and mineral oils which can interfere with reproductive cycle of women.

Through the print based packaging, there is an exposure to organic chemicals called aryl amines, such as benzidine, Naphthylamine and 4-Aminobiphenyl, which are associated with high risks of bladder and lung cancer. Apart from these, printing inks also contain colorants, pigments, binders, additives and photo-initiators, which have harmful effects.
It is also believed, that the mineral oil-based printing inks for newspapers contain mineral oils, which consists of various types of hydrocarbon molecules that can exist as Mineral Oil Saturated Hydrocarbons (MOSH) and Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH). These hydrocarbons usually convert into gases by evaporation that eventually penetrates food items.
Newspapers are usually produced by a system called offset-web printing, which requires a certain consistency of the ink (it needs to be very thick) and a particular means of drying. For the former, mineral oils (petroleum-based) and solvents such as methanol, benzene and toluene are used; and for the latter, heavy metal (Cobalt)-based drying agents are used. None of these should be used in food packaging, as they are also classified as harmful and can be dangerous for health if consumed.
According to the FAO / WHO, Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives, the safe upper limit for the MOSH in foodstuffs is 0.6mg/kg. Older people, teenagers, children and people with compromised vital organs and immune system are at a greater risk of acquiring cancer-related health complications.
Another problem lies in the plastic bags used in takeaways. These bags are made of polyethylene (polythene) and the principal potential ‘migrant’ agent is ethylene. There are a number of potential additives to polythene, such as anti-static agents, ultra-violet protection and flame-retardants. These additives can be very dangerous if they find way into the takeaway food, which usually happens.
According to an article in the British Medical Journal, ‘Food packaging and migration of food contact materials: will epidemiologists rise to the neotoxic challenge? J. Epidemiol’ by Muncke J, et al. (Feb 2014), scientists say that most food contact materials (FCMs) are not inert. Chemicals contained in the FCM, such as monomers, additives, processing aids or reaction by-products, can diffuse into foods and this chemical diffusion is accelerated by warm temperature, and in India, the temperatures can touch as high as 45 degrees Celsius.
The scientists believe that FCMs are a significant source of chemical food contamination. As a result, humans consuming packaged or processed foods are chronically exposed to synthetic chemicals throughout their lives.
Formaldehyde, another known carcinogen, is widely present at low levels in plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate. Other chemicals known to disrupt hormone production and used in food and drink packaging include; Bisphenol A, tributyltin, triclosan and phthalates.
There is an increase in the use of tea bags, and while using teabags, sometimes people squeeze the teabag using the label at the end of the loop. This can leak the ink from the label. I would recommend that the guidelines be framed and implemented to warn people of the same and prevent this practice
I also suggest that based on the facts available, it might be worthwhile banning the use of plastics, recycled materials and newspapers for food packing.

The FSSAI must act immediately and frame guidelines to control wrapping of fried foods in newspapers, banning the use of plastic bags for takeaways, and other practices that are harmful.
Further, it must mandate the use of ‘food packaging grade’ butter paper or aluminum foil for packaging food. We need to act on this without losing any further time
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

About Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Rajendra Pratap Gupta is a global healthcare leader and a revered public policy expert, and is the author of the Healthcare best selling book,  ‘ Healthcare Reforms in India – Making up for the lost decades’ . @rajendragupta

One chance to change our fate and of our Nation – Vote for India , vote for BJP

Please read this before you think about whom to vote for ?  We cannot afford to experiment with new parties or give another chance to a privately owned political party… We need a party with a proven track record of delivering results , and that is BJP ….

State of the Nation: – A Decade of Decay

Decade under the UPA I & II can rightly be summed in one line, the ‘Decade of Decay’, in which India had a free fall on all fronts – be it economic failure, diplomatic humiliation, failure of foreign policy, intrusions across borders, corruption & scams or crimes against women. There has been gross misuse & total denigration of government & constitutional institutions and this has eroded the office of the Prime Minister. The Government dithered by each passing day, casting gloom and doom on the country that was once under the NDA regime called the ‘Emerging Super Power’. In 2004, NDA left the Government with 8.1 % growth. The UPA could not even maintain that growth and mismanaged the country so badly, that the growth rate declined to 4.8 %, with the nation in a deep mess. We have lost a wonderful opportunity and have pushed the nation 20 years behind and rendered millions jobless and hopeless.

Economy mismanaged

CAD now exceeds even 1990-91 Level – India is revisiting the crisis of 1991.

Between 2001-02 and 2003-04, the nation had a pleasant experience on balance of payments, turning surplus for continuously three years, which was unprecedented after the post-independence period. All the gains of the NDA period have been frittered away in saving the dynasty rule through various election-financing schemes

Debt Trap – A result of Wrong policies

Total public debt on India is Rs 4,606,350 crore, and the debt per capita stands at about Rs 38,000

Rising NPAs – things are going from bad to worse

Economy is slowing down and the banks are under strain. Defaults have led to NPAs almost doubling from the 2009 levels. Rs. 2.43 lac Crore of estimated NPAs are in 40 listed banks as on December 2013. Rs.4.0 Lac crore is the amount of restructured loan under the CDR scheme.

Rupee Downfall

The Indian rupee, which was at par with the American currency at the time of Independence in 1947, has touched its historic record low of below 68.80 against the dollar under the UPA

Jobs – Shrinking job market

The employment generation actually decreased sharply between 2004-05 and 2009-10, especially when compared to the earlier five-year period.

In the five years from 1999-2000 – 2004-05, NDA created 60.7 million new jobs against the 2.76 million new jobs between the years 2004-05 to 2009-10 under the UPA. Now, India is going to lose more jobs in the coming years due to the wrong policies of the UPA

Poverty & illiteracy is the result of Congress misrule

416 million poor, 316 million illiterate & more than 600 million population without toilets sums up the outcome of the economic policies followed by Congress

India continues to be one of the hungriest nations in the world & accounts for 42 per cent of the world’s underweight children.

India’s Human Development Index rank has a negative trend for the time period 2007-12, which indicates deterioration in the indicators determining the Human Development Index.

Inflation: Price rise during the UPA years – Contrary to the Global Phenomenon

Whenever it came to low rate of growth, UPA justified that it was due to global economic situation, but the same cannot be justified for the increasing food prices in India. In November 2013, the Food Prices Index fell by 4.4 % globally, while in India, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was estimated to be close to 20 % in November 2013.


On one side, we have European Union’s inflation rate declining to a four-year low, and on the other side, UPA is groping in the dark for the past decade to find a solution for inflation and deficits. Country’s growth that reached near double-digit due to initiatives of the NDA government has come down to 4.5 %, that too remained because monsoons played a face saver and there was a high growth in agriculture ( 4 %). Year 2013 had an unusually good monsoon favoring a good agricultural yield, but had the monsoons been average, the growth would have been below 3 %. It was the agriculture & not the Government Policies that saved the nation from a collapse!

The State of the Education Sector in India declining

Health and education are defining sectors for equitable human development and sustainable and inclusive economic growth of India.

Despite levying a tax to fund education and enacting a law to ensure access to education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14, the government hasn’t succeeded in improving the learning outcomes in India’s schools, because the UPA thoroughly bungled the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan initiated by the NDA.The quality of learning has either shown no improvement or actually worsened in the nine years of the UPA’s rule

Recognized as a critical element for India’s growth, the UPA government had claimed way back in its first term, that 6% of the GDP would be spent on education, which is a bare minimum for an emerging economy like ours. Nonetheless, the sector still stands at around 4% of the GDP today.


It is unfortunate, but the UPA government and the Ministry of Human Resource Development have surely missed the focus on Education and Employment, and the Research & Development expenditure has stagnated under the UPA.

Health care – India’s ticking time bomb

Healthcare is still inaccessible and unaffordable to the masses. Out of pocket spending is still high at 78 %. Goals set forth under NRHM have not been achieved and the scheme has floundered. UPA has failed to deliver health, or healthcare, despite a huge spending.

Agriculture Sector – Farmers and Farming Neglected

Due to lack of investment (both public & private) in agriculture, the share of agriculture in GDP has dropped to less than 15%. UPA has failed to increase investment, productivity & profitability of agriculture, leading to farmer suicides, migration from agriculture and widening the urban-rural divide. The Nation is left at the mercy of rain Gods!

India’s Foreign Policy – Alien to India’s strategic interests!

The past decade has witnessed, a directionless Indian Foreign Policy under the UPA I & II; of alienation and antagonism in relations with South Asian neighbours, & of international humiliation. India has been miserably failing in accomplishing its national interest due to poor diplomacy

Global Competitiveness

India has slipped to 60th position in terms of its competitiveness globally. This is India’s lowest ever rank and also 31 place below its peer emerging market -China. With regards to GCI, India is placed at 60th position out of 148 economies

India is ranked 134th position out of 189 countries in terms of ease of doing business

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 2012 ranked India at 94, out of 176 nations

In the global happiness-ranking list, India stands at rank 111-much after Pakistan (rank: 81) and Bangladesh (108).

Downgrade to downfall !

International rating agencies have been warning that India’s Baa3 rating is in danger of a downgrade, which has vitiated the investment climate. Any further downgrade would club the economy with junk-grade countries.

The fiscal profligacy of the UPA government has put India into a tight corner when it comes to repayment of borrowings. Government bonds worth Rs 1567 billion (Rs 1,56,700 crore) is coming up for redemption in fiscal year 2014-15 & In the fiscal years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, government bonds worth Rs 114600 crore, Rs 231200 crore, Rs 256700 crore and Rs 242400 crore are coming up for redemption, respectively.


Where is India headed ?

Erosion of moral and societal values and governance

Crimes & corruption are on the rise across the nation and scams have impacted all the sectors like Panchayat, Housing, Education, Health, Agriculture, Mining, telecom etc. No one is untouched from corruption in the UPA regime


Corruption has become a part of the daily life. There is hardly any day when we do not come across the cases of flourishing corrupt practices getting exposed in one form or another. The policies of UPA have resulted in fast degradation of moral, societal,and cultural values

Use your right to vote to seek a change for a better India

Rajendra Pratap Gupta 











Time to start the work on the new National Health Policy


 Rajendra Pratap Gupta

President & Member

Board of Directors

October 27, 2013

Shri Keshav Desiraju

Secretary to the Government of India

Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi – 110108.


Reference: Need for a National Health Policy – NHP

Dear Shri Keshav ji,

I am writing on behalf of the Disease Management Association of India – The Population Health Improvement Alliance. We have been proactively taking up issues with regards to healthcare policy & reforms in India.

On February 01, 2013, when you were appointed as the Health Secretary, people involved with the health sector felt happy that the nation had got its best health secretary!  Expectations are running high!

This communiqué is about the need for setting up a team to draft the National Health Policy. Since the last National Health Policy was drafted more than 10 years ago in 2002, a lot of things have changed, like;

  • NRHM was launched in 2005 as a flagship program focused on rural health
  • RSBY was launched
  • Pandemic outbreaks like H1N1 (Swine Flu) have been a surprise and have shaken the world
  • Rise of MDR – T.B.
  • Increase in the incidence of chronic diseases & the issues related to child health
  • Occupational hazards
  • High IMR/MMR & MDGs deadline approaching in 2015

Besides, a lot of other developments have taken place, like;

  • UID –Aadhaar number for the entire population have been initiated
  • Emergence of mHealth & telemedicine
  • Newer technological interventions for diagnostics and treatment
  • Emergence of Big Data Analytics
  • Also that, India is focusing on transitioning the healthcare system to Universal Coverage
  • Emergence of innovative concepts, like Disease Management, ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations), HMOs (Health Management Organizations)  & Meaningful use.
  • Emergence of the prominent role of civil society organizations in healthcare delivery
  • Role of social media

The 12th five year plan has often been referred to as the plan for health, and I believe, that it is the right time to set up a committee to draft the new National Health Policy by 2015. Even if the committee is set up in early 2014, it will take at least a year to do the survey and complete the policy and so, most likely, the NHP would be tabled by 2015 and would cover a period of next 10 years (2015-2025).

We are sure that you will consider our request seriously and initiate the process for the new National Health Policy

With best wishes and with warm regards


Rajendra Pratap Gupta


Dr.Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, Government of India.

Shri. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare

Dr.Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, Government of India

Chairperson, UPA

Presidents of all the National Political Parties

Food Security Bill – Another bill for poor and dollars for congress

Please ask the Hon’ble PM to give a statement on a scheme similar to the Food security bill launched with much fanfare in 1975 to reduce malnutrition . This scheme was called the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) . It has been around for the past 38 years and now again another bill to remove malnutrition ?  Despite this scheme being around for about four decades, the scenario is as mentioned below ;

It is a matter of serious concern that the mean per capita consumption of calories has never crossed the minimum threshold  for intake ( 2400 Kcal in rural and 2100 Kcal in urban areas), and still about 3/4th of the households do not consumer the minimum calorific intake (Dr.D.K.Taneja, 2013, p. 21)

Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) most commonly prevalent in India . 45.3 percent of children under 3 years are under weight as per NFHS -3.  Also, as per NFHS-3 , 33 percent of adult women and 28.1 percent of adult men have below normal BMI (Dr.D.K.Taneja, 2013, p. 301)

According to the information procured from the Ministry of Women and Child development via RTI through their letter dated 25 July 2013 ( F. No. 10-1/2011-CD.II(Pt.II)

Total money spend in 11th plan on ICDS was Rs.43829.53 Crore

Total money spent in 2012-13 is 15701.50 crore

During the 12th Five Year Plan, a total approved allocation of Rs. 1,23,580 crore has been made for the scheme. Any additional requirement of funds under ICDS Scheme can be met through Supplementary Demands for Grants and savings. ( Source )

I think food security bill means  ‘another bill for the poor and dollars for the congress’ .

This bill might be another money-making scheme in the name of aam aadmi .. Already, all the FM channels have been bombarded with advertisements for the Food security bill making the intentions of congress very clear that this is a poll gimmick

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Healthcare policies for a political party

On 5th April, 2013,  was invited to lead the discussions on a healthcare policy meeting of a fast emerging political party

The following discussion points i put forth for the kind consideration of the committee ;

Three key components for reform:




Key challenges :

longevity of life

Expenses as budgetary allocation

Timely and quality interventions

Preventive promotive and curative health care

Child health

Chronic diseases

Rural health

Technological interventions

Role of pharmacists and nurses

Private community  partnership-sector

Outcomes with patient satisfaction

Health is not a standalone topic

Four pillars of public health . Hygiene , water , sanitation and nutrition

Protocols & treatment guidelines

Soft skills

Tax on unhealthy products and foods

Challenge is huge country , diverse population , demographics and poor infrastructure .

Why doctors don’t go to rural india ? Poor infrastructure for families and staying locally  coupled with no infrastructure for operations in rural

Several solutions few execution is the problem

Following inputs were given in the format the party needed ( Point wise );

Primary care :

1. Rural healthcare centres be accessible 24 X 7 using technology – Health Helplines

2. Mobile applications on phones connected to ASHA workers etc

3. Clinic on Ambulance model

4. 75 % of the funding of healthcare should go to Primary care

Refer the article on primary care

Child Health 

1. Incorporate health in school curriculum from class IV onwards

2. Pictorial charts and audio-visual films to teach hygiene and health

3. Health parameters be reported in annual and six monthly report cards

4. Junk foods be banned in and around school premises

5. Calorific and nutritional value be written on every packaged food items in relation to RDCA

6. 3 % of the curriculum marks be allocated to health of the student

7. Health & Hygiene be included in school curriculum as an exam based paper from class 4th onwards

Health IT 

1. All programs must be backed by an IT backbone

2. Mobile health record ( PHR ) as an alternative to electronic health record be linked to Aadhaar card

3. Reporting , surveillance and monitoring all programs through live data reporting at the taluka, district and national level

4. Standards and protocols for  all the treatments be issued , so that the AAM AADMI is not fleeced by unscrupulous people in the name of healthcare / treatment

5. All village sub centres be connected via telemedicine and mobile healthcare

6. At least 2 % of the healthcare budgets be spent on Healthcare IT

Chronic diseases 

1. Mass screenings be made available through pharmacies across the nation for diabetes , hypertension & obesity

2. Disease Management Programs be launched for all chronic diseases

3. mobile health be used for chronic disease management

4. Those with habits of smoking and drinking should have a higher co-pay to seek universal healthcare benefits ,  so that the healthy should not subsidise the ‘irresponsible’ sick people

5. Companies spending on wellness should be given incentives

Public health :

1. Focus on healths should be centred on wellness and not just on treatment

2. 75 % of the health budget should be spent on prevention and promotion

3. Corporate and five-star hospitals in urban india / metros should be taxed (levied  5% surcharge )  to subsidise the healthcare delivery in rural India

4. Set up the epidemiological data

We should change the slogan from ‘Health for all’ to ‘All for Health’

Budget 2013-14

I am not an economist , so in case, my predictions go wrong ( so far, i have not been wrong on a single occasion ), i do have an option to take refuge in my lack of educational qualifications in the Economic theory unlike the proficient doctors of economics do at PM’s office , Planning Commission & the Finance ministry …..

My belief is that in 2013-14;

1. This Government will struggle to revive growth

2. Inflation ‘might’ ( 50 % chances ) come down a bit , as consumption story of India will go down

3. Manufacturing sector will slow down

4. Fiscal deficit will increase, and might create a balance of payments problem , or the Government will open more avenues for FDI ( or bend to the demands of the industrialists )

5. Tax collections will go down

6. Divestment target will not be met under the current situation unless some more ‘targets’ are divested

7. India might face a ‘security threat’ before the next elections

8. Investor confidence cannot be revived due to ‘Governance deficit’ and ‘Scamful’ Government at the centre .

Also, you can expect this Government to come out with injecting ‘Oxytocin’ in the economy as mentioned in my earlier blog ….. but this will be a short-term story, and will further dent the strength of the economy

Overall, not a good omen for job seekers and this nation . Hopefully, this will be the last budget for Congress

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

India – from Emerging to a Submerging economy

India – from Emerging to a Submerging economy

On 22nd March 2012 , I wrote this on my blog and also sent the same to leading public figures .I had stated dwelling  in detail about how,  ‘ Have we oversold the India story’, and this was much before the bad news starting sinking in !

Link to the blog is .

This blog clearly mentioned that we must be prepared for bad news in April – May – June Quarter , and we know that,  India was downgraded as an economy by the international rating agencies ( S&P & Fitch ) and many Indian banks also faced the brunt , many retailers are gasping for breath ….

This time , I have decided to write about the story of how Indian economy would  enter a dark phase if immediate steps are not taken ,and this note is not against anyone but for everyone who wants to see India doing well !  I have tried my best to put data for every statement ( Besides Almighty , everyone should believe in data !).

So now , it is time to peep in the story of how an emerging economy can become a submerging economy .

Let us look at the following data :

Sector – Industry / company Financials ( Loans / NPAs) Source / Remarks
Telecom Sector Rs. 2.00 Lac Crore debt TOI, 26th September , 2012.
Banking Sector NPAs Rs.1.37 Lac crore as of June’12 Mint , 7th September, 2012
Banking Sector According to RBI’s assessment , a fifth of all re-structured loans go   bad . According to RBI, as on March 31, banks had Rs.2.18 Lac worth of   restructured loans on its books Mint, 7th September, 2012
Banking Sector State-run banks  NPA crosses   Rs.1.23 Lac crore Mint , 23/ August/ 2012
Credit card outstanding Rs. 22150.00 Crore As on July/ 21 Ref. ET 14/9/12
Indian Government Total planned borrowing is Rs.5.71 Lac crore for FY 13, of which   Rs.2.0 Lac crore would be in the second half of the fiscal by Dec’12 As per Mint dated September 28, 2012
Banking Sector Report by Credit Suisse group AG points that exposure to 10 large   Industrial groups constitute 13 % of the entire banking system Mint, August 21, 2012.
Banking Sector As of 27th July, Indian banks had loans outstanding of   Rs.36,600.00 Crore to the mining and quarrying sector, and Rs.93,170.00 Crore   to the Telecom sector Mint, 12th September, 2012.
Power Sector As of March, 2011, the accumulated losses of the State power distribution   companies are estimated to be alone Rs.1.90 lac crore which, by now,  would have crossed  Rs.2.0 lac crore IBN Live dated 23rd, September,  2012
Air India ( NACIL) Rs.67520.00 crores in loans & dues NDTV Profit, 8th Feb, 2012
Pantaloons ( Kishore Biyani’s ) Rs.3300.00 crore ET, 14th June 2012 . After selling a portion of its   apparel business to Aditya Birla Group. Before the sell-off , the debt of   Pantaloon was about a billion dollars
Reliance ADA Group Rs.86700.00 crore  FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
GMR Rs.33600.00 croreFY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
JSW Rs.40,200.00 crore FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
Jaypee Rs.45,400.00 crore FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
Lanco Rs.29,300.00 crore FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
Essar Group Rs.93,800.00 crore FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
Vedanta Rs.93,500.00 crore FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
Adani Group Rs.69500.00 crore FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
Videocon Rs.27,300.00 crore FY’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
GVK Rs.21,000.00 crore F’12 Business Line August 26th, 2012.
Fortis Healthcare Rs.6237.00 crore Business Line August 15th, 2012
King Fisher Airlines Rs.7500.00 crore The Hindu, July 2nd , 2012
Losses of top three oil marketing companies Rs.40,500.00 crore in April-May-June’2012 Forbes India , Sept 03, 2012
Airtel Rs.60,018 Till Q1, 2012 Business Line , Aug 3, 2012

The total debt level of  ten companies alone (Adani, Essar, GMR, GVK, JSW, Jaypee Group, Lanco, Reliance ADA, Vedanta and Videocon) has jumped 5 times in the past five years to Rs 5,39,500 crore  ( Indian Express , September 06, 2012 )

Business Line dated August 26, 2012: Credit Suisse said that the aggregate debt of the ten groups accounts for about 13 per cent of total bank loans and a whopping 98 per cent of the entire banking system net worth.

“Therefore, surprisingly now in terms of concentration risk, Indian banks rank higher than most of their Asian and BRIC counterparts,” it added.

The report said a strong loan growth of Indian banking system in past five years is increasingly being driven by a select few corporate groups.

“Given the high leverage, poor profitability and pressure from lenders, most of these debt heavy groups have initiated plans to divest some of their assets. However, given that most domestic infrastructure developers are already over-geared, demand for these assets may be limited,” Credit Suisse said.

Each of these groups alone account for 1-2 per cent of total banking system loans, the report said, while noting that all banks appear to have high exposure to the same few groups.

“With the economic slowdown and a downturn in these sectors, multiple assets of each group appear stressed and financials of these groups are stretched,” the report said.

Bank’s exposure to real estate sector ( ET dated 22nd August , 2012)

Bank Exposure to real estate FY 2011-12 ( Rs. Crore )
State Bank of India 144668.38
ICICI Bank 81421.73
Axis Bank 52730.39
Punjab National Bank 48474.59
IDBI Bank 36784.47
Bank of Baroda 22157.40
StanChart 26027.78
HDFC Bank 25020.26
Total exposure Rs. 437285.00 Crore

Despite an exposure / investment of about Rs.4.37 lac crore from banks  ,still five lac houses remain unsold ( ET, 22/ 08/2012 & TOI dated 18/ 09/ 2012. ) . So land became costly as the builders brought them with loans , houses became expensive due to builder cartels and now that houses are not getting sold , all are a part of the downturn …… solution is in sight except for NPA’s and its cascading affect later .

Clearly, Indian economic story lacks ‘depth’ but has been built on ‘debt’ and this is a painful bubble waiting to burst …. So a common man must have enough savings to last a few years if without a job  !

July 26, 2012 in TOI, it was reported that at least eight cases of FDI in some obscure real estate companies – each worth more than USD 100 Million – from Singapore have come under scanner , with Income tax Overseas unit (ITOU) having investigated them for alleged round tripping . Suspicion was raised when authorities detected huge FDI inflows into some little known real estate firms in India in the form of equity participation . A senior finance ministry official said they suspect these real estate firms to be front entities of some corporate houses and their black money has been routed through Singapore to acquire real estate in the country . All these FDIs coming from Singapore pertain to 2011. India received Rs.1.74 Lac crore worth of FDIs in 2011-12, of which Singapore contributed third highest at Rs.24,700.00 , after Mauritius ( Rs. 46,700.00 crore ) and the U.K ( Rs. 45,000.00 Crore).  So , now we can understand why an Indian’s politician’s family have a flat in Singapore and why Indian Government along with a few ‘parties with vested interests’ are pushing  for FDI ! Does it also not answer the question why Government opened the real estate sector to FDI in 2005 ? So that money stashed abroad can be brought back in real estate sector, and further money could be made by investing in and increasing the prices by buying land !  Does Lavasa ring a bell in your ear !

In absolute terms, bank’s bad assets have doubled in three years between 2009 and 2012  – from Rs. 68216 crore to Rs.1.37 Lac crore ( Mint 21st August , 2012).  Bad assets in coal, iron and steel , mining , construction , textiles and aviation sector have been on the rise . Bankers see stress in telecom and power sector, too.  The biggest beneficiaries of loan restructurings are large industrial houses in the manufacturing sector – 8.24 % of loans given to industries have been recast. In the services sector , the comparable figure is 3.99 % , and in agriculture loans , 1.45 %.  It is clear that the small borrowers don’t get relief  from loan servicing but the large industrial houses have gotton one ( Mint , 21, August ,2012. ). According to the same article , public sector banks have 90 % of the restructured assets , and this in my view clearly states one fact – a strong political – bureaucratic and business houses nexus to make loans and buy private jets and show companies in losses to the investors !  What right do the business houses have to question the Government on profligacy and spending when these business houses have huge debts but have their CEO’s / promoters taking home 10’s of crore in salaries plus stakes in companies and still flying private jets on borrowed money ! We know of the large business house where the debts are more than revenue but the flamboyant chairman / promoter flies on private jets ! Such company’s ( any company that has over Rs. 50 crore external debt ), boards must be restructured by the MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs)  and independent directors with fixed term and remuneration should be appointed by the Government , so that the loans and shareholders money is not misappropriated by such promoters in the name of expenses and privileges  !

Three more developments to be noted to give you a sense of state of affairs in the Indian economy :

India S&P rating is BBB (Minus) . Outlook  – NegativeFitch rating is BBB (Minus ). Outlook – Negative  ( TOI, 26th June, 2012 ).
Bharti Airtel Downgraded by Goldman Sachs and other banks. ET .  10th , August , 2012
Retail Sector Fitch has downgraded the ratings to negative

Agriculture / Food crises : The US is facing a severe drought , and India has witnessed a bad spell of monsoon this year with erratic and unpredictably low rainfall . When India imports pulses and oilseeds , & the prices of these commodities is set to rise. Stock piles of the biggest crops will decline for a third year as drought parches fields across three continents , raising the food-import costs already forecast by the United Nations to reach a near record $ 1.24 trillion . Combined inventories of corn, wheat, soya beans and rice will drop 1.8% to a four year low before harvests in 2013, the US department of Agriculture ( USDA) estimates . Crops in the US, the biggest exporter, are in the worst condition since 1988, heat waves are battering European crops . Wheat production in Russia , the fourth largest exporter , will fall 20 % this year , and in Australia , output will decline 19 % and, God forbid, another year of bad spell of rain in India will spell disaster for this country . This situation warrants an emergency action ! On 9th August , 2012 on page 7 of ET, I read an appeal to the GOI by All India Starch Manufacturer’s Association regarding the crises due to non-availability of maize in the domestic market.  Even if starch manufacturers were ready to buy maize at higher prices, it was not available and adding to it was the monsoon failure   !  We are all awaiting a miracle to happen with Wal-Mart et al. But the reality is that these players have not much to contribute. We must not forget that , the supply chain structures in these companies are leaner and they work on shortest inventory, so clearly , these people will not do much for supply chain management . Also, the biggest contribution is stated to be creation of 10 million jobs in India . I wish to ask that these companies have a ROI ( Return on investment ) for each employee and so , clearly , we must see what is the cost that we are going to pay to these MNC chains for them creating 10 million jobs & the Government must come out with a white paper on this ? After all , Wal-Mart is not here in India for charity !  For sure , it would mean we paid will pay them dearly for doing what we could have done 100 times cheaper ! All FDI investments to me appear to be taking the ‘economy in debt’ to ‘sell off’ ( divestment )… We are back to what East India Company did to India but this time , it is not one company, but multiple East India Companies !

Also , a time to look at the sectorial composition of GDP 1950-51 – 2011-12 from CSO data

Agriculture Industry Services
1950-51 53.1 % 16.6 % 30.3 %
2011-12 13.9 % 27 % 59 %

In 1950, India had a population of 350 million and now it is 1210 million. During independence,  the population dependent on agriculture was 72% and now it is  54 %. But except Madhya Pradesh, where agricultural growth has increased to dramatically  , not much is visible in other states .

Infrastructure – Construction firms sector ( Mint , September 11, 2012): for a set of 87 firms with a significant presence in infrastructure , sourced from Capitaline database , these numbers show an increasing difficulty to service debts

For these firms , the interest coverage ratio (ICR), for fiscal 2012, plunged  1.9 times , the lowest in at least five years. In other words , for every Rs. 100 of interest payments, the firms earnings before interest and tax ( EBIT ) stood at Rs.1.90 . The comparable number for 2007 was almost five.

In the fiscal 2012, at least 17 firms did not earn enough to pay the interest ! The list includes some of the bigger and better known firms such as Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd, Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd and GMR Infrastructure Ltd. This might give us a sense of where India is headed . First we oversold the India story, and now we are gonna pay heavily for it ….. !

Emerging Economy – really ? Let’s have a look at the following figures ;

  • According to the NSSO survey( July 2011 – June 2012 ), 10 % of India lives on less than Rs.17 a day . As per the survey , half of the population in rural India was living on a per day expenditure of Rs. 34.33 , and this is after two decades of reforms in India !
  • About 8.3 % of the population is unemployed
  • 54 % of Indian families live in houses that don’t have concrete or brick roof ( Census, 2011 )
  • 47 % of the total households live in houses with mud floors ( Census , 2011 )
  • More than 800 Mn don’t have toilets at home
  • Millions of tonnes of grains are stored in the open as we have no place to store !
  • Tata shut production of passenger vehicles for two days to avoid inventory pile up due to bad economic situation
  • 1/3rd of rural Indians and 1/5th of urban Indians forego treatment due to lack of money
  • 47 % of rural Indians and 31% of urban Indians finance treatment by loans or sale of assets
  • One child dies every 16 seconds due to malnutrition , diarrhoea or pneumonia
  • All major currencies have appreciated against dollar but rupee has weakened . Even Singapore dollar is up by about 50 % compared to rupee last year

GDP & Growth without fundamentals & eventual Collapse :  This is the India’s growth story’s fate . Let me give you two glaring examples and rest you can relate for your conclude;

I have travelled to the draught prone areas, and heartland of farmer’s suicides i.e. Vidharbha region of Maharashtra .  Lanco is setting up a power plant in Wardha and has purchased land for as high as Rs. 25 lac per hectare ( as per the farmers statement ). So  , let’s look at this example where Lanco purchased 7 acre land from a farmer for Rs.1.75 crore . A farmer who was drought and debt ridden for years becomes a millionaire overnight, and buys a SUV for himself along with a rifle , gold jewelry for his wife , builds a pucca house with the money he gets , and the money is spent soon as he did not know how to plan and how much to spend and the land is also gone to Lanco ! Also, money brought in a lot of vices ( please check the number of AIDS patients in the region ! ).   This company Lanco, runs a debt of Rs. 29300.00 crore and has gone for CDR ( Corporate debt restructuring ).  The banks that gave the loan should be ready for a NPA ( Non-performing asset )! So , the farmer , the company Lanco and the bank have become a non-performing asset ….. whereas , the farmer buying a SUV, Gold etc, would have boosted the sale of vehicles , gold, wines, apparel companies temporarily , and soared the rates & increased the GDP ! So this is growth in GDP but not a sustainable one or growth without prosperity !

Let me quote another example :  Country auctioned the airwaves (spectrum), a few years ago for which the companies paid tens of thousands of crore for airwaves. The companies took loans , passed on the cost to consumers ( Co’s were not wrong as they had to get an ROI for their investors ) and finally , like Airtel with over 200 million customers, run into a debt of about Rs. 60,018.00 crore ……….So , let me consider an alternative scenario . If companies were given spectrum for a nominal administrative fee of say Rs. 500.00 crore + 50 % revenue sharing . In that case, the companies would have invested more into infrastructure and services would have been better and much cheaper , also , the Government could have made a cool Rs.80,000.00 crore every year taking the current revenue of all telecom operators to be Rs.160,000,00 crore, with probably very little debt on telecom companies and no such scams !  Today, the telecom sector has a debt of Rs. 200,000.00 crore and government barely gets anything of the total revenue of Rs.160,000.00 crore as its revenue sharing is in lower single digits .  All have lost due to myopic policies of the Government . This is what I call GDP without prosperity ,  and this is what our entire Indian economy is passing through . It has no depth but debt ! What I call as lack of strong fundamentals, for which none of the parties have shown a concrete action plan . Companies have stock valuations and we are measuring our strength on the stock market indices which are not at all in relation to our ground realities ,  and only 2 % people in our country dabble in stock markets whereas 98 % suffer the hallucinations of this economic growth and GDP which is backed by loans , subsidies and political doll outs and have become a drain on our economy  & our economy is becoming a bottomless pit ! Here I will not fail to quote  the maiden address of our former finance minister and current President of India on 15th August , 2012  ‘It is indeed a wake-up call to Indian polity that even 65 years after independence and 74 years after Bose’s observation ( Subhash Chandra Bose in 1938 had flagged at the 51st session of Indian National Congress at Haripura that country’s primary challenges were poverty , illiteracy and hunger ) , the number of poor in the country today outstrip the population of the country in 1947’

All the sovereign wealth should be leased on 50-50 % revenue sharing between the Government & the private sector companies , and never be auctioned ! There is no other sustainable model for our meeting the financing needs and auctions only give a one-time income ! This must be made a policy so that every year , Government can make decent money and invest in the infrastructure,  growth and give good governance to all Indians

Indian population a mere statistics  ? Let us take the example of the recently concluded London Olympics . China with a larger population came 2nd with 38 gold , 27 silver and 23 bronze medals and India came on 55th position amongst 79 nations with zero gold , 2 silver and 4 bronze medals ….. this is what our leaders have led us to ! With committed leadership we must have made it the top by now …..

Let us do a rough sum of Indian economy which has a GDP of approximately Rs. 100 lac crore and we still borrow about Rs. 5.2 lac crore every year, and we already have  debts of about Rs. 45 lac crore . India’s  42 % of the net annual tax revenues of Rs.7.71 lac crore goes in servicing its debt ( Rs.3.20 lac crore ). Another 25 % goes in subsidies ( Rs.1.90 lac crore ) – an annual amount that would actually be Rs.78000.00 crore higher if off-balance sheet fuel subsidies to oil marketing companies were included.  The fiscal deficit of Rs.5.19 lac crore – 5.9 % of nominal GDP – is 67 % of the net central tax revenue . This was detailed in TOI dated 19th August 2012. I had read somewhere that , 54 % of Indian’s income goes in interest payments on debts taken for decades , 30 % is the cost of running the inefficient Government & bureaucracy and 16 % for subsidies ……so I keep wondering , does India have any money at all to invest in infrastructure or for future !!!! ( Hope I am wrong in remembering these numbers and India does better ). If not , time to take action !

According to Apparel Promotion Export Council ( APEC) , an estimated 4.5 million jobs have been lost over the past 3.5 years . Do our policy makers know how an ordinary Indian would survive without a salary for even a week and what pains his family and relatives pass through him being a jobless !

If all of you witnessed the discount sales season, it was advanced and even extended to make up for the shortfall , and this must show the desperation from the companies to meet the numbers . Unfortunately , If corrective steps are not taken immediately , we will have more companies getting into CDR or closure and millions of jobs might be lost till 2015……worst is yet to come !

Let me quote a facts about why India gained political independence and what was the average age of leadership . Maulana Azad became the President of INC at the age of 35 , Bose became the President of INC at the age of 41 and Nehru became the  President of INC at the age of 40… So now we know  why we got political freedom and why we have not been able to get economic freedom ??? For a nation with more than 65 % of the population below 35 years , it is important to take care of the representation of youth to lead this country with fresh innovative ideas for a double digit growth and that too  grounds up. Though our policy makers tell us that we cannot grow at about 8 % , but the fact is that, in 2011 calendar year , 12 countries clocked more than 8 % growth and some of them like Ghana , Iraq , China , Argentina and Turkey are not exactly small . We have been capped by the ‘old school of policy makers’ and their thinking , who believe that they know all and what they do is right ! This has to go now ! We need leaders with a nose on the ground , good governance and a strong political will and rest will fall in place . Government must earn from the rich and middle class, and help upgrade the lower income class to middle class on a ‘mission mode’ basis by empowering them by providing them training , education, healthcare  and technology  .

Our country’s finance ministers have taken to ‘Populonomics’ ( Economics of populism ) , and not ‘economics’, and this has clearly shown the results to the common man . India is heading towards an economic disaster and short cuts like FDI are short lived solutions !

I can bet you that if a party rises above caste , religion ,reservation, dynasty ,  and parochial regional politics, it is sure to win the youth and come to power without taking to populism !

It is the time for the finance minister to move from being an ‘efficient tax collector’ to ‘passionate creator of wealth through innovation & entrepreneurship ’. India is the only country in the world at this time that  has ample opportunities for each problem to be solved and is a fertile basin for innovation ! If you were born as a human- being , you must be lucky, but if you are born as a human -being and that too, in India , you must be the luckiest on earth, and this describes our India today and what it can offer to the world !

All ministries must have wealth creation strategies  ! Just imagine that for the year 2012-13, India will have gross tax receipts of 1,077612 crores and expenditure of Rs.1490925 crore…. Even if we do the sell-offs , we still cannot pay off the Rs.45 lac crores of debts that India has ! Which assets will be left to sell for our next generation ( oh boy that’s too far , I must say in the next 10 years ) ,to sustain our economy ? I think then , our Government will call upon the US President and ask his farmers & companies to come and invest in Indian land and make it more productive , and that will be the final sell off of this once a great nation i.e India

I am not an economist, though , I have studied economics during my graduation ( but I must confess that I do not remember anything I studied during graduation J , and I am glad that I don’t remember anything J) All that I have written here is a common man’s perspective from the data and facts available in the public domain.  I have researched the state of economy well over five months to help our dear policy makers to do a better job and making the life of a common man better and not bitter !

I am leaving to US for two weeks on 14th October evening , and on my return, I will launch ,and would welcome your suggestions and participation

With best wishes

Rajendra Pratap Gupta

Economy I Healthcare I Retail I Innovation