छप्पर फाड़ कर

Till the morning of May 16th, nobody was sure, but India finally has a government, and how!

The people have delivered a verdict that leaves no excuses for performance, and have put a man who promised that at the helm.

No more whining about coalition compulsions and dual power centers with no will or abilities for the job and all the other non-sense related to governance that we saw over the past 5 years. For the past 5 years and to a large extent over close to 20 years, we have been told that for a country ‘as diverse as India’ and with ‘compulsions of democracy’, this is our fate.

But now there is hope – no guarantees, but surely and truly, fresh hope based on an electorate’s collective mandate.

Of course, nothing as far as the situation on the ground is concerned has changed immediately. But the biggest and weakest link in India’s growth – that of government – seems to have been unchained by the people themselves.

The overwhelming numbers along with the people who got them provide that hope, though their tasks especially over the next few months will not be easy. But one can expect a firm will in operation and a resolute hand in action, that will be well supported by the electoral numbers that enable them to move forward.

But along with this hope, this mandate has also provided existential threats to a number of people and various power centers in politics and thereabouts, whose bread depended on caste, religion and division.

Simple mathematics of votes suggests that a number of people made their living by catering to, or pretending to cater to specific segments within the electorate, and that made sense for a long time in the political scenarios then.

Now their survival is in jeopardy, and they won’t give up in a hurry. So expect a lot of communal vs secular arguments, caste based disturbances and even unexpected shocks over the coming months as the euphoria regarding this government settles down.

Markets and investments are not always rational so there are never any guarantees, and hence there is no need for drastic changes in investing strategy as such. But suffice it to say that Mr Market is likely to be in a good mood for a while, and it will take a lot of doing to depress him over the next few weeks and months at least.

But that is only one part of this story and its impact, and there will be occasions to make one’s own assessments on that from time to time.

Be that as it may, but for now, the probabilities of a new dawn increase from here.

The people have given themselves a fresh lease of life and a hope of a better future, and now it is up to the government to play its part and enable it. Its time starts now!!

Warren Buffett in India: The Wisdom and Simplicity

Warren Buffett, the legendary investor and among the richest people on earth is in India – partly for his philanthropic activities, partly to assess investment ideas in India. But that’s not news. He is already more than a legend, and while his investing styles have been dissected and studied many times over, this being the first time he is in India – the whole business press is all into it.

But what is amazing when I see some of his interviews or interactions is that when it comes to investing tenets, he has basically the same things to say! That’s true – and I mean it in a truly appreciative sense, not derogatory. Most of it he has been sharing with his shareholders over the past 40 plus years in much detail, and is very much in the public domain. That’s because – the truth, perhaps, is – while one may try to dig into his investment gems and reasons for his stupendous investing success – he has more or less the same key things to say when it comes to investing success. They circle mostly around evaluating businesses that you understand and are confident have a great long lasting competitive advantage; and buying them at a reasonably low price and holding them for as long as that remains true. It is quite amazing that the entire business press asks him so many questions about world economy or India’s growth story or value of dollar and what not; and is looking for snippets on these topics, and he generally has nothing much to say, many times shies away from it or simply refuses to forecast the future. So you have this whole business press waiting for crystal ball advice, and what you get is basically buy great businesses at good prices and hold them! Luckily (for the press and audiences) he has an amazing honesty and sense of humor when he talks, which leaves opportunities for some quotes for the business press – things like Buffett would like to be reborn as Sophia Lauren’s boy friend and all that! Small mercies!

Anyway, it may actually be true that – perhaps that is all there is to investing success! Buy great businesses at good prices and hold on to them as long as those characteristics stay! Of course, you could spend a lifetime discussing what ‘great businesses’ are and how to identify them, or what is ‘good prices’, or what ‘hold as long as those characteristics stay’ means – but that is a different story. Beyond that – Everything else might perhaps be some shade of noise.

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