Mumbai: Jeetendra Martak, a 55-year old Bombay Stock Exchange broker, ordered tea for his broker friends to celebrate Sensex hitting the 15,000 mark.
“In early 1980s, when Sensex was around 400, I went to a seminar where an economist predicted that it would go up to 1,000 in next three to four years,” he recalls. “We laughed him off. But Sensex did reach that level in a matter of few years. It’s an amazing feeling to see the Sensex at 15,000 because, unlike in the past, it’s no longer an operator-driven market.”
As the 133-year old exchange’s benchmark index touched a new milestone, the old-time brokers had a feeling of nostalgia. After the electronic system was introduced in 1995, brokers no longer have to meet each other in the trading ring or the hall.
“It’s a great feeling to see that our stock markets have reached such a high level,” recalls Vidyut Devendra Kumar, a BSE broker who inherited his father’s broking business in 1975. “But the old world charm was different. If there was a news of stock price going up, we could see the happiness on each other’s face as we were in the same trading hall. Whether it was a jobber, sub-broker or a broker, everyone would enjoy the lunch together. Now, I don’t know who’s buying my shares or from whom I am buying.”
Under the earlier system, trading was restricted to two hours: 12-2pm. The prices of stocks were updated every half an hour and were displayed on a board.
There was also a live commentary of the market for the trading ring, done by aRashik Bhai.
This has now been replaced by live commentary on business channels and the internet, where one can see prices in real time.
Jasvant Parekh, a broker who has been trading even before the birth of Sensex in 1978-79, recalls how making Rs2,000 a day in the trading ring gave a great sense of pride to the broking community. “Today people make Rs5 lakh a day and that’s quite normal,” he says.
He says he is a bit surprised by the Sensex level. “It was only by word of mouth we used to get an idea about who is buying and who is selling a particular scrip,” says Parekh. “Or people used to blindly follow whatever Harshad Mehta used to say,” referring to the broker who ended up being blamed for India’s biggest stock market scam.
“Nobody could have thought that Sensex will go up to 15,000,” says Madhukar Sheth, a 58-year-old broker. “I have made a lot of money since I entered the business in 1975 but, had the market moved this way during our time, I would have made money faster and splurged the way the youngsters do today.”