Archive for March 7th, 2017

Chit funds demand insurance cover to safeguard subscribers’ money…

March 7, 2017

If there is something common across most Indian things, it is our lack of appreciation of our own history. We just don’t care for most things which are so much part of our history.

Chit funds is one such thing which have been found in India ages ago. Edith Jemima Simcox in  her study pointed to chits existing in Malabar 1000 plus years ago:


One reason why we can’t solve gendered bathrooms (and some history too)…

March 7, 2017

It is deeply embarrassing to enter into other gender’s bathroom. Each place has different signage leading to even more confusion. Why not have unisex toilets?

Jay Stooksburry looks at the issues and blames the government  regulations for the problems.

Yes, you can blame the International Building Codes (IBC) for those obnoxiously-named bathrooms that segregate genders. (Actually, just the restaurant owners bear the brunt of the blame for goofy names.)

Building code standards are adopted at the state and local level to enforce uniformity in construction-related benchmarks—everything from how high the handrail for your stairway needs to be to how many fire-suppression sprinkler heads you must disperse throughout your building. Within the scope of the IBC is the requirement that certain businesses and facilities must build separate, gender-specific bathrooms.

These restrictions placed upon business owners and construction contractors are the biggest hurdle to addressing this issue of gender-neutral bathrooms in public spaces. Even if a progressive-minded business owner wanted to install unisex, single-occupancy bathrooms in her restaurant, she would be in violation of universally adopted building codes and would likely be forced to close until the code violation was remedied.

Some history:

Urinary segregation laws date back in the United States to the 19th century, and, much like most bad ideas that originated during that era, it was the result of pseudoscientific claims that masked social agendas as biology. This particular brand of ideologically-drenched science was called the “separate spheres” movement. This movement, which predicated itself on the “biological determinism” of the genders, suggested that men and women were inherently different—thus, each gender must be treated differently in public spaces to maintain their unique virtue.

Pittsburgh established a mandate that there must be at least 3.75 female toilets to every individual male urinal in all public spaces.

This prudish thought was a response to the growing presence of women in an increasingly industrialized and centralized workforce. Misguided concerns over how female menstruation might impact male lavatories inspired efforts to offer separate facilities in the factories. Terry S. Kogan, legal scholar and author of the book Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing, found that segregating genders was a “kind of cure-all” for the Victorian-age anxiety over women “ignoring their duties”—namely, housekeeping and childbearing.

Biological determinism was codified into law in 1887 when Massachusetts passed what is considered to be the first public mandate regarding separate bathrooms. The “separate but equal” binary quickly became the statutory solution across the nation. By the 1920s, nearly all of the U.S. states had adopted similar legal requirements.

“Potty parity” laws became the implicit norm for building codes, establishing awkward ratios that attempted to compensate for the differences in men and women’s bathrooms. Such differences include the “fact” that men’s urinals take up less physical space than women’s toilets, which may result in the construction of more urinals, creating a disparity in gender equality. For example, Pittsburgh established a 3.75:1 ratio, mandating that there must be at least 3.75 female toilets to every individual male urinal in all public spaces. (How one exactly installs three-fourths of a toilet is beyond my engineering abilities.)

Didn’t know this and never even struck to question the design…

Let people figure..

So until building code mandates become more liberalized, freeing up businesses to build facilities in a way that best meets the needs of their clientele and liberating municipal governments from the burdensome legalese trickling down from the state and federal levels, you can expect more public disputes, like the transgendered bathroom issue, to arise

How and whether financial regulators should be independent? UK Sinha’s view…

March 7, 2017

This exit interview of former SEBI chief UK Sinha has many interesting details about SEBi functioning and challenges. But it his views on regulatory independence which could catch immediate eyeballs. After all we just don’t know SEBI’s thinking on the matter:

What was the most toughest, most challenging part of your job in the last six years?

There is a perception and an ongoing debate in this country on how independent a regulator is and what should be the level of interference from the government. I have said it in the past and as I am leaving, I would like to reiterate it. Successive governments have been very, very supportive of SEBI and without the government’s support, SEBI would not have been able to achieve even a fraction of what it has achieved. Whenever we required any changes in regulations or laws, we got full support from the government. If, for example, when we were dealing with the collective investment scheme (CIS) matter and we realised that there is a lacuna in the law and the law would have to be amended, in 2013 the then government came out with three rounds of ordinances and this is rather unprecedented. When the government changed and the next government came, and they were in the position to pass this law, it was one of the first things they did. So we have got full support from the government.

The question of independence of the regulator has to be taken, not at a superficial level, but at a very intensive level. And that intensive level is, what is the role of a regulator? A regulator, and especially SEBI, is created by an act of Parliament, so the regulator has independence in operational matters. But the SEBI board has representation from people in the government. So SEBI has to work within the parameters of the policy requirements of the government.

For example, if the government of the day decides that there will be no minimum public shareholding in public companies, there is nothing more that SEBI can do. This is the law of the land. Take the example of foreign portfolio investors (FPIs). If the government of the day decides that there will be no inflows allowed for FPIs, there is nothing that SEBI can do. But once that policy decision has been taken, then the role of SEBI starts. As an expert body, we have full freedom to devise our regulations.

And once the regulations have been framed, the actions which are taken in specific cases…what can I say about the government interfering with me, even I can’t interfere with my investigation officers, I can’t interfere with my adjudication officers, I can’t interfere with my whole-time members. You’ll be surprised that many orders that are passed by SEBI, I come to know of them once they have been put on the website. That is the level of independence given to our officers. So it’s a wrong notion that the government of the day interferes in our work.

So the challenge you were talking of – about how the government interface has been – my opinion is that the government interface has been very, very positive. It has only helped in the strengthening the working of the SEBI.

Let me give you an example. The law of SEBI which was amended in 2014, has prescribed that the monetary penalty which will be imposed by adjudication officers, they have no discretion in that. So we said, ‘look this is not going to work out. There are accentuating circumstances where it has to be done.’ So the law was amended in 2014, and it said that based on certain criteria in the amended law, the officers can exercise their discretion. But there has been a case in the Supreme Court where the court has held that these amendments are prospective. So they can’t be applied retrospectively. The problem is that 80-85 percent of the cases we have on our hands today are prior to 2014. We have been urging the government to pass an amendment and issue a clarification that this also applies to retrospective cases. The government may have its own compulsions, and fine, they are not able to do it. But because of that, the adjudication process has been suffering. That is the point I’m making.


Actually independence is too strong a word for regulatory bodies which are created by the government. Likes of RBI, SEBI etc. get powers because they are formed by the government. So they can never be independent from the government.

The word independence should be replaced by autonomous and it is on latter we should judge regulatory actions. Given the broad policy objective set by the government, has the regulator gone about achieving it without interference. But then autonomous is hardly as glamorous as independence…

How mother tongue instruction influences education….

March 7, 2017

A very interesting paper by Prof Tarun Jain of ISB.

The summary is given at Ideas4India. The basic idea is students prefer instructions in their mother tongue . If this does not happen due to policy the learning suffers:


Are we all macroprudentialists?

March 7, 2017

Julien Noizet of Spontaneous Finance is back to blogging after a break. He questions the government/central bank intervention in financial matters.

In his recent post, he asks the question: Are we all macroprudentialists?


Exploring the world of India’s women fish workers (by women fishery researchers)….

March 7, 2017

Fascinating piece by Ila Ananya.

She points how India’s women fish workers in Tamil Nadu handle everything in fish business but are not allowed to go to sea. Though, those in Orissa and Goa have more rights. Ila writes about plight of women researchers in fisheries.