Sunday, March 16, 2014

shuklaam vardhanam vishnu

I had to prepare my son for his shloka competition, but it was so hard to find it..
Finally, I managed to find the right sanskrit lyrics, hopefully, they are correct.

शुक्लां वर्धनम् विष्णुं  शशिवर्णं चतुर्भुजं ।
प्रसन्नवदनम् ध्यायेत् सर्वविघ्नोपशान्तये ॥ 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

National Pension System (NPS) - India

The National Pension System (NPS) in India has been pushed for some time now. Government has been trying to increase the scope of the scheme, and hardly been successful at that.

One of the primary reasons has been the low cost structure for the Pension fund managers. While a regular mutual fund charges around 1.5% for the fund management effort, NPS fund managers were charging somewhere between 0.0009% to 0.25%.  At such low costs, it would have made little sense for anybody to be in business.

However, some of the fund managers persisted and are in relatively better standing today.  Some of them who did not continue (e.g. IDFC) continue to observe from a distance.

Over the last few years, returns from the NPS fund managers have been surpassing the general market returns, mostly in all categories.

Also, recently, govt regulations allowed hiking the fund management charges to 0.25%  in addition to allowing partial withdrawals from the NPS corpus.  Both of these measures have flamed the interest in NPS.  By and large, people are now taking notice of the possibility of considering NPS as a possible investment vehicle. 

Slowly, but surely, many private sector companies are also adopting the NPS route for their employees.  Beyond the long term investment option, NPS offers an instant benefit in terms of tax benefit above and beyond 80C.  10% of your Basic Salary + DA is the cap for Tax benefit under NPS. 

Therefore effectively, who falls in the 30% tax bracket, stands to shave of a substantial amount from his taxable income.  Furthermore, the returns on this additional investment are not as measly as the EPF (approx 8-9%), but much more controlled (you can chose ur fund options) and market linked.

All these measures are slowly resurrecting NPS as a possible investment vehicle.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Life is once.. just this once...

Watching a movie and then reminiscing my own life's memories made me realize this.. rather abruptly... that, whatever is going to be, is going to be in this single life only.. there is not going to be another chance to fix situations.. relations.. or anything else...

If you have not had something in life, there is not going to be another chance to get it.. something like  second attempt at childhood/growing up... its probably better to get over it and move on in life. Or if possible, do something about it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Infrastructure in US

I was in US (west coast) for a few weeks.

During the stay there, I realized that the state of infrastructure in US is really not that great.  Especially the picture that is presented to the outside world, thats really skewed.

I'll just take one example. The railway network.  Try to position yourself in Los Angeles, and strip yourself of a car.  Now imagine your transportation options... its hard to find any, or if any, horribly skewed against effeciency.  This is just because of the lack of a decent railway network.

I didnt have a car there, and therefore was in the exact same situation.  I tried to visit a friend in San Francisco, and there was not a decent option that I could use.  The only option was to drive (which I couldnt since I didnt have a car), or fly, which is relatively costly. 

The point is, if you dont have a car in California region, its really impossible to imagine transportation.  When I asked this question to some colleagues there, and the response was even harder to understand than the transport situation.

I got to know that, the car companies had bought out the railway networks (which were private companies) and shut them down so that the car businesses can thrive.  As a result, slowly, the railway network died down, and all the "infrastructure" development happened for the benefit of the car users.  which I'll admit, its a great job done. Absolutely fantastic roads, other services etc.

Now compare this with a typical locality in Europe.  You'd find excellent roads, as well as train network. You can pick any country, and they have an average plus road as well as railway network.  That tells me that by having both of the transportation models, citizens gain and less fuel and money is spent.

I wonder, whether the US govt doesnt know this (hard to imagine), and if it does know about it, why doesnt it do anything to fix the situation ?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Very intersting on Sardars...

कुछ दोस्त मिलकर डेल्ही घूमने
का प्रोग्राम बनाते है और रेलवे
स्टेशन से बहार निकलकर एक
टेक्सी किराए पर लेते है , उस
टेक्सी का ड्राइवर
बुढ्ढा सरदार था,

यात्रा के दौरान
बच्चो को मस्ती सुजती है और
सब दोस्त मिलकर
बारी बारी सरदार पर बने
जोक्स को एकदुसरे को सुनाते है

उनका मकसद उस ड्राइवर
को चिढाना था . लेकिन
वो बुढ्ढा सरदार
चिढाना तो दूर पर उनके साथ
हर जोक पर हस रहा था ,

सब साईट सीन को देख बच्चे वापस
रेलवे स्टेशन आ जाते है ...और तय
किया किराया उस सरदार
को चुकाते है , सरदार
भी वो पैसे ले लेता है , पर हर
बच्चे को अपनी और से एक एक
रूपया हाथ में देता है

एक लड़का बोलता है
"पाजी हम सुबह से आपकी कोम
पर जोक मार रहे है , आप
गुस्स्सा तो दूर पर हर जोक में
हमारे साथ हस रहे थे , और जब ये
यात्रा पूरी हो गई आप हर लडके
को प्यार से एक-एक रूपया दे रहे
है , ऐसा क्यों ? "

सरदार बोला " बच्चो आप
अभी जवान
हो आपका नया खून है आप
मस्ती नहीं करोगे तो कौन
करेगा ? लेकिन मेने आपको एक-
एक रूपया इस लिए दिया के जब
वापस आप अपने अपने शहर जाओगे
तो ये रूपया आप उस सरदार
को दे देना जो रास्ते में भीख
मांग रहा हो , इस बात
को दो साल हो गए है और
जितने लडके डेल्ही घूमने गए थे सब
के पास वो एक रुपये
का सिक्का आज भी जेब में
पड़ा है ...उन्हें कोई सरदार भीख
मांगता नहीं दिखा

" MORAL: The secret
behind their universal
success is their willingness
to do any job with utmost
dedication and pride.

A Sardar will drive a truck or
set up a roadside garage or a
dhaba, run a fruit juice stall,
take up small time
carpentry.. but he will never
beg on the streets

Because Sikhs contribute:

* 33% of total income tax

* 67% of total charities

* 45% of Indian Army

* 59,000++ Gurudwaras
serve LANGAR to
5,900,000+ people
everyday &

All this when THEY make
only 1.4% of the total

Press like if you agree to this

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Something is not right...

Its been a while since I wrote here, and today seems to be a good reason...

In today's Sunday Times of India, there are at least 2-3 articles that made me thought, "its not fair".

Comment on Sonu's exit by fellow strikers at Manesar Maruti Plant
After Sonu Gujjar's exit from the company, there are people in worker's saying that he did not know anything of labour laws, he just chose some populist issues and rode the wave.  My question to those workers is, "where was your feeling about Sonu's lack of knowledge when you were supporting his strike for umpteen days.  Now that he's not there, you are quick to come out and talk against it"

Notwithstanding his sudden disappearance, combined with reports about he and some other leaders receiving huge sums of monies for exit from Maruti, the intention should not be doubted.

Low wages in Gujrat in addition to low strikes rates
An article talks about why industries have been successful in setting up shot in Gujrat compared to other states, example in case being the Tata Nano plant.  The article further provides some statistics about how labour in Gujrat is paid less compared to rest of the country and some other states competing for such industrial units.

There is another factor, the state govt has setup a law/amendment to central law, that allows businesses to hire/fire workers rather easily.

My point then is, is it worthwhile for Gujrat govt to push for relatively higher wages for the labour when it can provide the business entities an assurance for a relatively calmer working environment, less losses, and therefore more productivity.  But I doubt if something in that direction is being thought about by the state government.

The new media council and Justice Katju's remarks
The media today is rather more powerful and is troubling govt by uncovering rather large list of scams and corruption instances.  In such a situation why is it that govt is trying to put a restrictive institution on the media freedom, rather than looking inside and figuring out as to why is it that there is so much muck to be found out and thrown all over the place ?

The idea that the media should be controlled by a panel consisting of govt representatives among others is highly prohibitive to the freedom of press that is given as a right in the constitution...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Experience with Air India - 2

The return flight from Delhi to Bangalore, on the evening of Sunday 7th Nov 2010, turned out to be the most horrible flying experience I have ever had, till date.  The flight was AI-622, bound to fly out from T3 at 2010 hours 7th Nov.

When I reached at the airport, the check-in area was a mess in itself.  The Air India staff had invited all the passengers to check-in from all the counters, basically creating a mess of a situation. When they realized what they have done, they scrambled to a fix, and started calling out to the people for whom the flights were about to depart (and these ppl were still stuck in check-in queues).

When these people were taken away, my checkin process suddenly looked easier and faster.  Basically, I was all checked in at around 6:45 and inside the boarding gates area by that time.

The display panel had no mention of my flight but other flights both domestic and international, before and after my flight were listed properly, with whatever status applicable to them.  When inquired, they said, it was ok, not to worry, and told me of my gate no for boarding (also that the flight was on schedule).

By 7:25 pm, the boarding should have begun, but there was no air india official to be seen around the gate till that time, or even later, till 2000 hrs.  I think thats when I begun to think, that something was wrong.  I went to the info desk and asked the person there, he had no information.

Slowly people started assembling around the gate and asking questions. There was nobody to answer them. Slowly the mob mentality was becoming visible. People shouting, grabbing whoever was visible in an air india garb, or with some kind of airport office link.

Initially, someone caught hold of a lady, fairly senior (by age i mean), and started asking her questions. She DID NOT know anything. Someone said that she was the duty manager, and this angered people even more.  

By now, it was well past 2100 hrs and still nobody had appeared on the assigned gate.  Then people caught hold of two air india officials who were just passing by. The mob really got angry and wanted answers.  The two guys were so visibly helpless they couldnt do anything.  Ppl asked them to call up the responsible officials, but none of the officials were picking up their phones.  Then one passenger asked for the officials' number and called from his own mobile. The official did pick up the phone, but, still couldnt offer any answers to the situation.

Slowly a pattern was emerging out of the situation. No flights scheduled to leave after 1900 hrs or so were taking off. Flights to Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Dubai were in this unknown situation. Some people for bangalore flight were waiting since 1100 in the day since their 1300 flight was cancelled and they were bumped up to this 2010 flight.  Effectively they were the worst hit guys, waiting for about 10 hrs already.

Finally, the mob started walking with this official, demanding to be put in touch with the officials face to face, nothing happened, since the passengers are not allowed to leave the boarding area after check-in. People were diverted to another official at another gate, who could not answer any questions anyway.

By now, it was already 2300 hrs, and still no answers. It was pretty chaotic, since nobody knew whats the status of the flight, and whats going to happen.  There was some infants among the passengers. Their parents were the more anxious lot. A Danish national got migraine attack during all this chaos. There were at least 10 people who were over 70 yrs old, and the waiting process was not helping them at all, let alone the uncertainity.
As it turned out, around 2330 there was announcement of the cancellation the bangalore flight.  It just broke some patience barriers. People started shouting at the info desk guy, since he had not been advised about the next steps for the passengers.  

He made a few phone calls and a lady appeared.  This lady tried to offer some hope, but it was a failed attempt. People had realized by now that air india has no intention of flying the people to their destinations and it would be a cancelled flight for good. They are just not announcing it in good time so that they wont have to pay the passengers' hotel stay etc.

They still had no clue around the solution to the problem.  Now a new face appeared, Mr Nalin. He claimed to be in an executive authority and wanted to fix the problem for good. He promised a special flight to Bangalore at 0145 hrs in the night. After making some other promises, he went off. Nowhere to be seen again.

People thought that they have been conned again.  By now, its already 0015.  Suddenly, people caught hold of two female officials in air india garb. The poor girls didnt know anything but were shouted at anyway.  A new face appears now, Mr Pankaj, supposedly GM of Air india.

He was shouted at all possible ways. Everybody was venting his anger on him, but guy showed remarkable patience and didnt react even once. We were thinking, had he reacted even once, god knows how the mob would have acted/reacted.  I would say, he was not physically handled, barring that, all possible ways were used to vent anger at him.

Finally, he started moving some things, the officials started appearing. He found a crew for one of the flights, and then another crew came in.  Some more officials came in, a lot of CISF people showed up. Apprantly to handle the situation if the mob went physical with him.

Already 0100 hrs and no sign of boarding activity. Mob had not let him go anywhere, so he announced that the bangalore flight will leave "if not 0145 perhaps by 0200 or 0215".  Another 30 minutes passed by, and now the mob was on the brink.  A gentleman, father of two young kids, literally charged at him, wanting to know when the flight would actually go.  

Now he says, 0300. And this was genuinely interesting, the guy asked Mr GM, what would you do if the flight does not depart by 3 AM... the GM guy had no answer, literally tense face, sweating brows, no voice. 

Finally, around 0255 there was an announcement for boarding for the bangalore flight.  A decent 7hrs 30 mins delay, and I am sure, had the people not been so vocal and demanding, the flight would never have been arranged and we got home the way we got home.

At the end, the flight, which should have landed bangalore 2240 the previous evening, now landed past 0600 the next morning, spoiling the next day for everybody, more so for the working passengers.

Someone rightly spoke, "this is my last flight with air india, never again". Well, I am with the group who says, "never say never", but for once, for this one I feel like agreeing with him. Never Again with air india, or at least till the wounds are fresh :)