Slum loan millionaires

Dilip Cherian India's 'Image Guru' and a diehard observer of the capital wonders if Slumdog... will help in grassroot business growth

What an idea! The success of Slumdog Millionaire should inspire banks to provide loans to budding entrepreneurs from slums, feels the author
Pic/File

Eight Oscars and the runaway success of 'Slumdog Millionaire' has definitely focused the spotlight on India's poverty, slums and squalor. Home Minister P Chidambaram had already nudged it. He has suggested that the movie should now inspire banks to provide loans to budding entrepreneurs from slums, which he feels, are humming with business ideas. The government is now trying to provide the slum dwellers with a better lifestyle. Is India listening even as the hurrahs resound to Jai ho?

The government's slum rehabilitation authority scheme has provided a meagre 500 slum-dwellers in Mumbai with keys to new flats in upmarket Dadar. A similar scheme has benefited the jhuggi-jhopri (JJ) clusters in Dilli's Shaadipur Depot area, which is inhabited mostly by artisans. Clearly, the day is hopefully now not far when banks too will step in to ameliorate the lives of the slum-dwellers. Movie magic at its best perhaps?

Prism radiance

Madhu Trehan's book exposed crucial bits of this sordid story. But its after a long-drawn struggle that brokerage firm First Global's director, Shankar Sharma has finally come clean on Securities and Exchange Board of India's (SEBI) charge that held his firm responsible for the stock market crash in 2001.

Documents procured through RTI show that First Global's name did not even figure in the list of 50 largest sellers for the period in question. Madhu was right after all the state can be vicious and citizens are often helpless.

The original vicious verdict against First Global came after website Tehelka ran a series of exposés on a defence deal scandal, which shook the Vajpayee government and led to the resignation of Defence Minister George Fernandes. Allegedly, owing to political pressure, stock market regulator Sebi had accused the brokerage house for hammering down the market. Consequently, Sharma was arrested on two occasions even before charges against him could be established.

Ever since, Sharma's supporters have been claiming that the cases against him and his company were only result of their involvement with Tehelka. Author Madhu Trehan carefully exposed the ramifications of the Tehelka sting in her book, 'Tehelka as Metaphor' and hinted this outcome was the only one! Now we have several questions unanswered on Sebi's part. How will the stock market regulator cope? Watch this space for updates!

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