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Of Golf, Women and Markets: Social Moods in the play

April 11, 2008

Indian Golf is going places.
Have you noticed, how in a country so devoid of any gaming passion [cricket is an exception], golf has steadily garnered popularity.

That makes me wonder, who actually plays it? Toldja… I held a niner once and swung it as if I am playing US Open. And to tell you that rest of India doesn’t know much about golf will not be an understatement.

But Jeev, Atwal and their likes are playing. Don’t tell me how did they start playing out. And surprisingly the money they earn. Aah! :), what a game it is!
Incidentally, today Jeev had a flying start to the Masters. And that makes me wonder, how far the Indian middle class has come.

India had two cases of a ‘Madame President’ rule. Incidentally, both from the same family. Indira Gandhi at the time of 1966 and 1980. More remarkably, Sonia Gandhi her daughter-in-law became the uncrowned princess of the Delhi Sultanate in 2004. So pardon my earlier reference of clubbing Sonia with her mother in law Indira, as the crown of Delhi Sultanate, but the way I see it, it doesn’t matter. .

So whats the point? Well, let me break a secret to you. I am a big fan of social mood studies.Its such a nascent study that, I don’t even have a wiki page to direct you to. Let me describe it in a nutshell.
Bob Prechter, an Elliott Wave expert first proposed this theory advocating that trade markets don’t follow economics as such. But what it actually is, a barometer of sorts of the overall social mood. You can find some strong evidences on it, in this post in Jump Up!, where the argument that terrorism is bad for markets falls flat on its face. Come to think about it, who decides what is a good news and a bad news. The words ‘good’, ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’ themselves are too much of subjective matter to be decided with a standard. So when it is open to interpretations, the views on a news tend to mimic the very nature of beauty. It is in the eyes of the beholder. So Valuations, forecasting, beauty and stock market all are subjective judgments! 😀

Let me start out with some basic history of golf in India. Some facts from website.

The Indian Golf Union has also set up another body called the Professional Golfers’ Association of India (PGAI). The Hero Honda Indian Open is the oldest International Golf Tournament in India which was played in 1964 at the Delhi golf club. The hero Honda Indian open tournament of 2005 was the first golf tournament which was broadcasted live on television.

The famous Indian Golfers are Ali Sher, who was the first Indian to win the Prestigious Indian Open in 1993; he has also won the Arjuna award.

Arjun Atwal who was the first Indian to play in the US PGA tour. He also takes the credit of being the first Indian to exceed $1 million in career earnings and the first Indian golfer to win a European tour order of merit event.

Gourav Ghei was the first Indian to qualify for the prestigious British open. He has also won the Gadgil Western Masters in 1995.

Jeev Milkha Singh is the first Indian golfer to become of the European tour and won the Volvo China Open. He is the highest ranked Indian golfer in the world.

Shiv Kapur is the youngest Indian golf player who is recognized internationally and has also won gold at the 2002 Busan Asian games.

Golf is becoming a common game day by day. Lots of tournaments are being conducted by the Indian golf union every year which recognizes new talent. India is also becoming a most preferred host for international tournaments. The Indian Golf PGA tour is titled as the ‘Amby Valley PGAI Tour’.

It is interesting to see, that the majority of what all has happened in Indian Golf primarily revolves around 1996-2007. The first time an Indian came into limelight was in 1993.

It may come as a surprise to you that 1993 was a year of fantastic bull run in market. After a host of bear rally, 1996 started seeing some very positive reactions from the stock market. 1997, 1998,1999 were equally buoyant years for Indian middle class due to the increasingly positive social mood. No, it is not just make-believe stories, you can check out this link for golf popularity in US. For the common benefit let me quote:

The first major American golf tournament was played in 1895, eight months before the initiation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and 10 months before a low that still stands. In each successive wave of rising stock prices, golf’s popularity has surged. In the 1920s, country clubs sprang up across the nation. The Depression, “of course, put a pinch on the country-club lifestyle. But by the late 1950s, the concept was ready for a comeback.” In the 1980s, Japan’s booming mood coincided with an outrageous golf craze

If you have a perceptive eye, you can see, with the crash of the market in 1999-2000-2001, there does not seem to be much news about Indian golfers in international circuit. Why? Did they stop performing in light of a market crash? Or were they too busy in hedging their investments. No the answer is simple. Middle class India refrained from a costly game like golf in light of tightening pockets. Social mood being pessimistic, any attempt at pursuing golf in a club looked ridiculous. It is not only about professional golfers. To a huge extent it is true for the uber-elite golfers who normally form the rich part of the Indian society. Fewer clubs got opened and even lesser golf courses were maintained. It can be today seen as a very direct correlation exists with a bull run, golf and cigar chewing, suspender strapping CEOs.

Life is not that simple. 🙂 Alas! You might say wow! But India had its own share of bad news too. At the height of political instability, pessimistic social mood, sky high naxalism and class conflict, in 1960s, it is but imperative that a bear run was in action for quite some time. In 1966, bear run had almost got over. And bang! boom! poof! comes Indira Gandhi the first lady Premier of the country. In the next two years, social mood worsened and investment scenario got darker and darker. And by the time, emergency got called out, the social pessimism was sky high.

Politically I don’t blame, IG because it was in the cards.Social unrest would have pushed anyone to the brink. But worth noticing is, how the rise of feminism (that too in a strongly patriarch society) coincided with the fall of social mood. In fact better put, a fall in social mood rejuvenates feminism.
In 2004, India had one more brush with the bear run. With middle class Indian getting rubbed the wrong way, with increasing inflation, farmer suicides and unsatisfaction, again another lady came at the helm. It was Sonia Gandhi, the daughter-in-law’s turn.

In Sri Lanka at the height of LTTE activity, Srimavo Bandarnaike and Chandrika Kumaratunga were at helm.

So in light of this I can well say, Hillary Clinton has her best chances if stock markets crashes in the coming months.
Take a look at this page to understand what I mean! No doubt women love teddy bears so much!

Update: Inflation numbers are out today and Indian inflation stands at 7.4% a 3 year high. Last week, same time the market was in doldrums. Today it has surged to more than 250 points. See, social mood in play!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2008 1:10 pm

    Mark Twain once quoted: “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

    Similarly, we had a good bullish(IT) run, and it got spoiled!!

  2. Soham Das permalink*
    April 11, 2008 1:14 pm


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