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Accountability and SEBI

Hi all,
This post would share about accountability and how SEBI (the market regulator for securities/shares/stocks) uses or doesn’t use accountability with the common investor.

A few days ago, I got an e-mail from a long-lost acquaintance about a technology-accountability barcamp to be held in Delhi. Because its Delhi and really the peak of summer and have other commitments wouldn’t be going to the barcamp. While there are and continue to be many a solution to accountability and transparency in the software world, I have unable to comprehend why have those solutions not have been embraced by so-called progressive institutions. Case in point SEBI .

One of the far-reaching measures taken by SEBI in 1995 was making BSE , the premier stock exchange to move to an electronic trading system vis-a-vis the open outcry model. This sorta democratized the stock purchasing and selling environment, the effects of which are still seen today.

Some of my friends and uncles do either day-trading or/and short-term to long-term trading. Various options such as ShareKhan.com and 5 paisa.com (India Infoline property) serve as intermediaries and make money by providing technological platforms to people. While how good or bad they can vary from person to person’s needs, expectations etc.

What I want to stress though is one of the golden rules which is also followed in Accountancy as well as in any financial dealings, each and any transaction should have some sort of transaction ID/number associated with it to track things later. All modern Accounting and Stock applications has this solution implemented for real-time feedback to the user and that’s the reason more and more people engage in this risky behavior as well.

What is perplexing to me though, that the market regulator while has made many a change and demanded that the Stock Exchanges improve transparency and accountability to the common man seem to be lacksidal when it comes to its own.

Bit of History :- SEBI made a website for the common man to get information, education and complain about errant companies few years back. For years, it was an Internet Explorer site (as were quite many other financial websites as well) but became with all the alternative browsers 2-3 years back.

Although this step should be lauded, it still is far from optimum. What they have failed to implement is the crux of why Indian Investors feel they will never be worth anything. See for instance SEBI’s complaint corner.
The complaint corner results into number of digital forms where a stock-holder if he had issues with any company in any stage during the buying or selling of securities has problems is not being adequately serviced either by the Company concerned or/and the registrar involved they can ask SEBI to take the case to the companies on their behalf. At least, that’s how the theory goes. Now let’s see the implementation.

Now go to any complaint form, for instance take type 2.

What was that, the ordering of the Complaint number and the type are incorrect, must be an oversight . Let’s move further.

What do you say, the page should have had https:// so investors are secure in the knowledge that the information they are sharing with SEBI is not leaked to any vested interests, brokers, new stocks players etc.

Perhaps again an oversight ?

The https:// protocol has been in operation for over 7-8 years. While its not a complete solution in itself it does make it slightly harder for the bad guy to do his work.

As said before, it might be an oversight.😦

What did you say, you completed the form and you got an answer to this effect :-

” We have got your complaint. We will send you a postcard with a number and then you can track what happened to your complaint “.

Who gives instant transaction number/ID after complaints or whatever.

Sadly, the water department, the Cooking Gas Distributing Agency and the Electricity department all of them score above them on by a huge scale. The Railways, who really should be thanked even have gone a step ahead and you can query time tables, your PNR No. and know status of your tickets and whatever by an SMS, a computer not needed.

So it’s either that they do not want to be hold and held transparent and accountable for a service they are supposed to be giving to the general populace.

The computer software industry is also full of complaints but save for the simple fact, they made something called bug-tracker years, years ago. One could go to any public software project and have an overview of the health of the product. Here are few projects and their bug-tracker :-

1. Chromium/Chrome Web Browser Issue List

2. Mozilla Firefox Browser Issue List

3. Debian project Bug List

Now while I can give literally thousands of such bug-tracker instances both in the public space and the private space, it points to only one thing, checks and balances. Accountability and Transparency, two ideals where SEBI has failed at least in this regard.

Now people may differ on my taking ‘SEBI’ as I guess that only 2-5% of the population is affected by whatever shenanigans are played by SEBI. Some people could also term it as being elitist for which I have no answer.

The only thing I would say, what I just gave is barely scratching the surface, there are far deeper questions left remaining to be asked but sadly they would require face time, hence the need for the above barcamp. So whoever has issues as well as ideas put forth both their hopes and their issues at least heard in the open fora and hopefully find some solutions in a participatory manner.

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