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January 24, 2008
New Index Contains Companies that Support Stewardship
    by Anne Moore Odell

Index leader launches first index series based on the Dharmic religions.


Dow Jones Indexes in partnership with Dharma Investments made investment history when they recently released the first index series based in the Dharmic practices. The Dow Jones Dharma Global Index also is available as four country specific indexes: US, UK, Japan and India.

The companies included in the Dharma Global Index are screened according to principles found in religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. However, its creators also hope that its broad range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) screens has appeal to a broad range of investors, inside and outside of these religious practices.

Dow Jones' website defines Dharma as "spiritual concept central to the many religions originating in South Asia. . . Dharma has a range of meanings that include 'duty', 'law', 'ethics', and 'fundamental principle' in Hindu traditions, and 'teaching' or 'reality' or 'truth' in Buddhism."

The two principles guiding the index family are "Ahimsa/Karuna" or non-violence and "Loka-samgraha/Metta" or the concept of stewardship.

"The development of the Dow Jones Dharma Indexes marks the collaboration of Dharma Investments, Dow Jones, and leading academics, spiritual leaders and theologians from around the world," said Nitesh Gor, CEO, Dharma Investments Ltd.

Gor continued, "As such, we have developed an expertise in the creation and application of Dharma financial screens. Dharma Investments will use this expertise and research capability to provide bespoke or existing 'dharma' screens for a range of third parties in areas such as private equity, listed equities and commodities."

"The launch of the new Dow Jones Dharma Indexes marks a major step in our effort to further expand our range of faith-based indexes," said Michael A. Petronella, president of Dow Jones Indexes. Dow Jones Indexes pioneered this space by launching the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes in 1999, today the leading Islamic market indexes worldwide."

The starting universe for the Dharma Index series is the top 5,000 components of the Dow Jones Wilshire Global Total Market Index and the entire Dow Jones Wilshire India Index. The indexes are weighted by float-adjusted market capitalization. Fifty-eight countries are represented in the indexes.

Three panels of religious leaders and experts within the Dharmic religions helped create screens for the new I seriesndex. These screens include extensive environmental and corporate governance screens. Certain businesses are also considered unfit with the Dharmic practices including adult entertainment, aerospace and defense, alcohol, casinos and gaming, genetic modification of agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco.

The Dharma Index screens sets it apart from other socially responsible screened indexes. Explained Gor, "Two examples of difference [between the Dharma Indexes and other SRI indexes] are a) animal slaughter / leather industries are out and b) the unique combination of various screens such as the sin sector screens and ESG screens, animal rights screens."

As of December 31, 2007, the Dharma Global Index had a total number of 3,445 stocks. The India Index had 250 stocks, the Japan Index 415, the UK index 208, and the US index 1,065.

Dharma Investments, with offices in Guernsey, off the coast of England, was launched in January 2008 with these Indexes. Dharma Investments is a specialist investment and advisory firm, pioneering the development of faith-based investing for the Dharmic religion. Dharma Investments invited the members for the three boards, Dow Jones Dharma Academic Advisory Committee, the Dow Jones Dharma Supervisory Board and the Dow Jones Dharma Religious Council and will maintain the board responsible for determining the index criteria.

Last week, Dow Jones Indexes was awarded the "Best Islamic Index Provider" by Islamic Finance News for its Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes launched in 1999. This index family was the first index family created to measure the global universe of investable equities that pass industry and financial ratio screens for Shari'ah compliance.

More than 70 regional, country and industry indexes are derived from the flagship the Dow Jones Islamic Market Indexes. Excluded for the Muslim Indexes are companies that are involved in alcohol, defense/weapons, entertainment, financial services, pork-related products and tobacco.

 

 
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