India Financial market is one of the oldest in the world and is considered to be the fastest growing and best among all the markets of the emerging economies. The history of Indian capital markets dates back 200 years toward the end of the 18th century when India was under the rule of the East India Company.
The development of the capital market in India concentrated around Mumbai where no less than 200 to 250 securities brokers were active during the second half of the 19th century. The financial market in India today is more developed than many other sectors because it was organized long before with the securities exchanges of Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata were established as early as the 19th century.
By the early 1960s the total number of securities exchanges in India rose to eight, including Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata apart from Madras, Kanpur, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune.
Today there are 21 regional securities exchanges in India in addition to the centralized NSE (National Stock Exchange) and OTCEI (Over the Counter Exchange of India). However the stock markets in India remained stagnant due to stringent controls on the market economy that allowed only a handful of monopolies to dominate their respective sectors.
The corporate sector wasn’t allowed into many industry segments, which were dominated by the state controlled public sector resulting in stagnation of the economy right up to the early 1990s.
Thereafter when the Indian economy began liberalizing and the controls began to be dismantled or eased out, the securities markets witnessed a flurry of IPOs that were launched. This resulted in many new companies across different industry segments to come up with newer products and services.
A remarkable feature of the growth of the Indian economy in recent years has been the role played by its securities markets in assisting and fuelling that growth with money rose within the economy. This was in marked contrast to the initial phase of growth in many of the fast growing economies of East Asia that witnessed huge doses of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) spurring growth in their initial days of market decontrol. During this phase in India much of the organized sector has been affected by high growth as the financial markets played an all-inclusive role in sustaining financial resource mobilization. Many PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) that decided to offload part of their equity were also helped by the well-organized securities market in India.
The launch of the NSE (National Stock Exchange) and the OTCEI (Over the Counter Exchange of India) during the mid 1990s by the government of India was meant to usher in an easier and more transparent form of trading in securities. The NSE was conceived as the market for trading in the securities of companies from the large-scale sector and the OTCEI for those from the small-scale sector. While the NSE has not just done well to grow and evolve into the virtual backbone of capital markets in India the OTCEI struggled and is yet to show any sign of growth and development. The integration of IT into the capital market infrastructure has been particularly smooth in India due to the countrys world class IT industry. This has pushed up the operational efficiency of the Indian stock market to global standards and as a result the country has been able to capitalize on its high growth and attract foreign capital like never before.
The regulating authority for capital markets in India is the SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India). SEBI came into prominence in the 1990s after the capital markets experienced some turbulence. It had to take drastic measures to plug many loopholes that were exploited by certain market forces to advance their vested interests. After this initial phase of struggle SEBI has grown in strength as the regulator of Indias capital markets and as one of the countrys most important institutions.