Now, an index for Hindu, Buddhist investors

Business Standard, January 24, 2008

Mumbai, India -- There’s now an index for Hindu and Buddhist investors, on the lines of the (Islamic) Shari’ah-based index which tracks stocks complying with Islamic rules.

Global index provider Dow Jones indexes and Dharma Investments, a private investment company, today announced the launch of Dow Jones dharma index for measuring the performance of companies selected according to the value systems and principles of Dharmic religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism.
The index series includes the Dow Jones Dharma Global index and four country indexes for the US, the UK, Japan and India. The indices are designed to track financial products such as exchange-traded funds and other investable products, thereby enabling investors to benefit from the performance of companies compliant with Dharmic religious traditions.
The Dow Jones dharma index will include the top 5000 components of the Dow Jones Wilshire Global Total Market index measured by float-adjusted market capitalisation and all components of the Dow Jones Wilshire India index.
Stocks will be screened on industry, environmental and corporate governance parameters before being included in the Dharma indexes. The index constituents would be reviewed on a quarterly basis.
Industry screens include unacceptable sectors and business practices.
Environmental screens consider a company’s impact or policies with regard to emissions, climate change and carbon footprint analysis, oil and chemical spills, waste management and recycling.
Corporate governance screens comprise the handling of labour, relations/disputes/discrimination allegations, human rights violations, working conditions and wages.
Socially responsible investing (SRI) has taken off in a big way. The global SRI assets increased from $639 billion in 1995 to $2.29 trillion in 2005. SRI assets represent over 10 per cent of the total assets under management in the US.