Sebi pushes Stock exchanges and brokers to use local languages..

In India there is this continuous tussle between centralisation and decentralisation in most spheres. This is in languages too. On one hand there is this focus to push English down the throat of most children so that they remain part of the global workforce. On the other, we have to find ways to communicate with the rest of the country which does not care for all this global ways. They prefer to remain local and demand if you want us to be included talk in our language.

This even comes out more ironically in financial markets where in order to make it in the big global league, knowledge of English is crucial. But then in order to spread one’s policies and make it more inclusive, one has to keep looking to translate English documents in local language.

SEBI recently said that brokers should publish investor risk related documents in 15 vernacular languages. The same number of languages are published on our currency notes as well:

SEBI had prescribed the following documents in order to make clients aware of their rights and obligations vis-à-vis the stock broker & sub-broker, make the clients aware of the risks involved in trading in securities market, bring in uniformity in the documents being signed by the clients as part of the account opening process and to instil greater transparency and discipline in the dealings between the clients & the stock brokers:

  1.  Document stating the Rights & obligations of stock broker, sub-broker and clients (including additional rights & obligations in case of internet / wireless technology based trading).
  2.  Uniform Risk Disclosure Document (for all segments / exchanges).
  3.  Guidance Note – Do’s and Don’ts for trading on exchange(s) for trading on exchanges.

In the interest of investors it has been decided that the above mentioned documents shall be provided to clients in vernacular languages. In this regard, SEBI has advised stock exchanges having nationwide terminals to provide the above said documents in 15 vernacular languages viz. Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu to clients through their members and also to make it available on their websites. These documents are already available on the websites of National Stock Exchange of India Limited, Bombay Stock Exchange Limited and Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India Limited. The Stock brokers have also been advised by the stock exchanges, to make available these documents to their clients on demand and also display the same on their own website.

This move will help retail investors in better understanding of the securities market thereby facilitating financial inclusion.

Hmm. Here is NSE page where one finds these documents in the 15 languages. One was thinking how matters of risk etc would be translated into different languages. But it looks like a very good job. After all most communities here would have some understanding of maters of money and risk. So translation must not have been as difficult.

Wondering what took it this long?

I recall hearing Mr CB Bhave speech on how vernacular languages helped in a much quicker achievement of demat targets. The first set of instructions to demat shares were obviously in English which got maximum responses from Kerala! This led the NSDL team to be puzzled which expected maximum response from either Mumbai or Gujarat where there were most investors. They did some research and figured that English was best understood by investors in Kerala. This led to releasing demat related information in other languages.

Unfortunately, these things are hardly documented or researched in the country. Even the regulators do not put such data on their websites. Did we see better understanding of risks and investments post localisation? Or it did not matter much? Did people of certain language misinterpret the documents? These questions might help us understand what leads to build up of equity market culture in different communities.

These are the kind of questions which are highly exciting to look into other than the usual markets going up and down.


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