News Thoughts

Airlnes refuse to help the disabled.

My goodness India is a very cruel society. I wonder if they have something called a heart.
Firstly hardly 1-2% of the passengers are crippled/need wheelchair assistance. So helping 1-2 passenger board a flight should not be a big deal. right?
About the passing the cost to other healthy passengers. If your airlines is so much lean and mean as you claim it to be, then why don’t u allow them to have a companion who would roll them to their airport seat and quickly board off the plane (without creating any disturbance) …. it works perfectly well for Railways, Bus services.. I wonder why it won’t work for airlines…
or if you have problems in doing that… make a announcement…. I am sure not 1 not 2 but alteast 20 co-passengers will love to volunteer.

BTW one of my best friend has a polio… and I have been friends will some physically challenged individuals and none of them want to be assisted or any special treatments. All they want is that the buildings and airports should have a ramp comfortable enough for them to roll. They r not looking for charity… so don’t portray as if you are giving them one
Is it too much to ask for? Is it something for which they should pay extra?


Dynasty Rule

Recently I saw this nice post at TNSatish

The text inside the cartoon is, “Monarchy in Nepal is abolished, and all the powers are transferred to the Prime Minister”.

The text outside the cartoon is, “It would be good, if we also abolish monarchy, and transfer all the powers to the Prime Minister”.

and this made me think:
1) The Bush and the Clinton family has been ruling America for the past 20 years and the next President is very likely to be another Clinton.
2) The Nehru family (Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and now Sonia Gandhi) have been ruling the country for the past 60 years.
3) The Bhutto family Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, and now her teenage son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are controlling the political sphere of the country.

How on earth can a teenager lead a country? Is it really the return of the dynasty rule? or is democracy so irrational?



These days I was facing terrible trouble in getting a good newspaper.
I had started reading the newspaper ever since the First Gulf war. That time I used to read Times of India a habit which continued way till my college days.

Immediately after coming to Bangalore, I started subscribing to Hindu, but it turned out to be too dry and communist for my taste.
So inspired by the quality of editorials, I switched to New Indian express. But due to ultra low volumes, the distributor stopped distributing it to my household. I even called up the newspaper’s head office and they assured me that i will have newspaper at my doorsteps within 48 hours. But like all promises made by the politicians, the promise was hollow.

Forced, I switched back to Times to India. Although I liked the articles of Gurcharan Das and Swaminathan A Aiyar, it did not take me long to realize that my IQ has started dropping rapidly by skimming through the glossy pages filled with skimpy models and celebrity gossips.

So Finally I have decided to amend my ways and have switched back to LiveMint. It is very affordable, the quality of articles and editorials also seem to be good. Lets hope the alliance works out for me.

So what newspaper do you read, and what do you like the most about it.



My work involves dealing with a lot of text. It could be anything starting from a piece of code, document/agreement, script to even the short essays I write about my blogs. Often these texts evolve over a period of time and every time one opens them, we add/remove some text from that. Some of these changes are for good, but some unknowingly degrade/spoil the text. So to revert back to the previous copy I use Version systems.

1) Word Documents have tracking feature which records who added what and when.
2) Online documents can be typed in a Twiki (enterprise Wiki) which tracks the changes.
3) I put all my code and scripts in CVS (Concurrent Versions System)

However sometimes some text files or scripts escape these processes and I have a hard time tracking and undoing the changes there. In that case I use WinMerge (or VIM-Diff) It compares the text of the 2 files and highlights just the lines which are different. Hence making my job of reviewing the edits much easier.

As far as possible, I like to have a version system. I enable tracking on all Word Documents, I have Twiki


Direct Tax collection and inequality

“The government said last week that its collections of direct taxes between 1 April and 15 December this year was 42.5% higher than their level in the same period of 2006.”
I was reading an article in livemint about why the direct tax collection was rising?

Their answer was:

direct tax collections could be soaring because of better tax compliance or because the rich and companies are getting a growing share of national income. In other words, the cause could be either that fewer people and companies are evading taxes or that inequality is increasing.

I agree that lowering of tax rates and introduction of PAN card and TDS has increased the tax compliance. but rising inequality??????????

How did they come to this conclusion?

Now if the rich (say earning 1 cr p.a.) was getting rich… then
last year he paid almost 33% of his income in tax (33 lakh) and this year even if he earns 2cr, he will still continue to pay 33% of his income….
i.e. the direct tax collection would rise with the growth of the economy.

However Say there is a guy who earned 100,000/- last year.. he would have not paid any taxes.. but with the booming economy if he earns 150,000/- this year then he would pay a small tax…. which when compared over last year would lead to a significant percentage increase in taxes.

Indian economy is close to a Trillion Dollars and the per capita income of an Indian is about a thousand dollars (39,000 INR) While the income tax slab starts at 1,10,000/- INR i.e. 3 times the per capita income. The tax slab starts at 10% and then gradually increases to 33.4%
Now 8% p.a. of GDP growth rate would double the country’s per capita income in 9 years. Applying some bell curve theory (statistics) you won’t be surprised that the number of tax payers will simply boom. Hence the tax collection. So this increase in direct taxes is not a sign of rich paying a higher share if their income in taxes, but the middle income group paying taxes for the first time. Hence a proof that the benefits of liberalization are finally reaching the masses.

This theory is confirmed when one looks at 2 data:
1) Gini Coefficient: the scientific statistical measure of inequality. You would find that the inequality in india has almost remained constant since the Mughal Period.
2) The number of people registered for PAN (direct taxes) is growing at a rate faster than the IT office can issue PAN cards.


Oil Subsidy. my Foot!

The retail price of a gallon of petrol in USA is $2.824 USD. Source
A gallon is 3.78541 Liters
So 1L of petrol/gas costs $ 0.746 USD
I USD is 39.345 Source Yahoo
So after conversion 1L of petrol costs 29.35222 INR in USA

The why on earth does Indian Government charge me 50.60 INR per liter? (retail price in Bangalore)

Whats worse they give me all sorts of crap that how fuel subsidy is breaking their back and why the oil price should be raised…
For heavens sake you are charging a 72% markup. I don’t care where whether you are losing it in an oil spill, or because you have lazy public sector workers… the bottom line is the Oil PSU have monopolized the retail of Oil and formed a Cartel. The MRTP (Monopolies and restricted trade practice act) should be enforced to find out how they can over charge the customers.
SEBI should start a probe to probe how can a company who is overcharging common man is losing the public money

The story of Diesel is also no different. The prices in India are 20% higher than that in the rest of the world.
In kerosene I agree that the price of the fuel distributed in PDS (ration shops) is subsidized, (but that is required to curb the unhealthy practice of burning firewood and cow dung cakes). And Please do not quote this as an argument. because this subsidy is not borne by the oil companies. The government buys all the food grain and oil at full Price for the PDS and then redistribute it for social causes.



If you have not tried the amazing Ubuntu 7.10 version (also called Gutsy Gibbon) then you have missed an experience.
Installing an operating system could not get any simpler.

All you have to do is
1) go to their website
2) Type in your mailing address and request for CDs of Ubuntu 7.10 ( also called Gutsy Gibbon). Ubuntu will ship the CDs for free (they will not even charge you for postage/handling)
3) Insert the CD into your machine and boot it.

The entire OS (along with all its packages) can be run directly from the CD and requires no installation. If you like the Operating system then you can opt to install it (it takes 5 minutes) else all you have to do is remove the CD and your machine would be back to normal.

The entire interface is fast and simple and does not occupy much space. You can upgrade the kernel, install/remove software without any REBOOT. It comes with pre-installed Open Office (so you do not have to pay for Microsoft Office), Firefox. So essentially you can be up and running in 10 minutes.

Simple isn’t it? Hence no wonder that its logo also says “Linux for Humans”

Although it looks and feels like a Linux, regular users of Fedora /Red-Hat might find it real hard to get used to. Primarily because its command line interface is not very strong, the scripts and the usual commands are either not there or are under a different name.

PS: If anybody from Bangalore has any trouble in getting their hands on the CD, they can always drop by and use my CDs.


old motor

The marriage of an 80 year old man and a 20 year old woman was the talk of the town.

After being married a year, the couple went to the hospital for the birth of their first child.

The attending nurse came out of the delivery room to congratulate the old gentleman and said, “This is amazing. How do you do it at your age?”

The old man grinned and said, “You got to keep the old motor running.”

The following year, the couple returned to the hospital for the birth of their second child.

The same nurse was attending the delivery and again went out to congratulate the old gentleman. She said, “Sir, you are something else. How do you manage it?”

The old man grinned and said, “You gotta keep the old motor running.”

A year later, the couple returned to the hospital for the birth of their third child. The same nurse was there for this birth also and, after the delivery, she once again approached the old gentleman, smiled, and said, “Well, you surely are something else! How do you do it?”

The old man replied, “It’s like I’ve told you before, you gotta keep the old motor running.”

The nurse, still smiling, patted him on the back and said: Well, I guess it’s time to change the oil. This one’s black.


Investing Thoughts

Global Recession and Indian IT Services Companies

This recession might not be as severe as the 1928 Great Depression or the Black Friday (24th Sept 1869) but it sure will spoil the boom party and might even spell doom to a lot of banking and housing giants. But what does it mean for indian IT Companies?

My theory says more business, higher revenues and profits. Not convinced, here’s how:

1) Little effect of Weakening of Dollar:
I agree that IT industry earns primarily in USD and spends in INR, but have you realized what are the margins in the industry?
Do you actually think that an industry which works on a profit margin of 30%+ would worry about a percentage point or two drop in the exchange rate?

2) No Fixed Costs:
Lets even assume that the dollar devalues so much that the margins in the IT industry are in trouble. But the beauty is that the single largest cost component in the industry is salaries. With the attrition being as high as 30% and the company recruiting at the rate of 25,000 employees a year, it should not be hard to cut costs and restore the margins back to the original levels. Also almost half to 1/3 of the salary is through performance linked pay, variable pay, or bonus, hence the HR has a lot of freedom to cull costs.

3) Desperate times need Desperate Measures:
If you have realized, one of the biggest problems that Outsourcing industry was facing was resistance from US nationals. This is the major reason why the outsourcing industry could not expand at the rate at which they want to. However when the US company itself is in danger of going under, they will see Indians not as a threat, but as a saviors which would help them cut costs and reduce the losses.

4) Revenue sharing model.
Recently indian IT companies are trying to move up the value chain by not only doing small projects but also becoming strategic partners. The entire IT is outsourced to India and in return the IT company gets a percentage of the company’s revenue. Software is like WindowsXP, making the first copy is expensive, but once that is done, churning the next 1 million copy does not cost much. Also once an indian IT company enters into one such contract, it would be virtually impossible to displace them. and sooner or later when the recession is over, everybody would reap the benefits.

5) Acquisition, expansion,
Just like the 2001 software bubble, this could be a wonderful opportunity to acquire new companies, open new office and grow globally.

6) Its a business cycle
Come on u did not believe in that there can be a perpetual growth. All businesses have their cycle, and thats part of life.

7) Debt free
Indian companies have almost zero fixed costs, no debts, huge margins and are sitting with stock piles of cash…. and u are worried about their fate?

8. currency futures/hedging
Most of the contracts have a fixed payout and a pre-negotiated time line. So any smart company would buy future contracts so that the rupee value of the existing contracts does not dip.

9) Europe:
The next big growth story is Europe and thats where India’s future and most growth is.

In short no matter what happens indian IT will continue to prosper.

education News Thoughts

Study Loan Subsidy

Yesterday GoI came up with a foolhardy 4000 CR (1 billion USD) scheme of subsidizing the interest on the study loans for all Indian students.

GoI has been recently collecting educational cess on all the taxes and financial transactions. This was a welcome move, because in a country where half a billion souls have never attended schools/colleges now the Human Resources Ministry has almost infinite funds to educate the masses. Or this is what I had thought.

All the tolls collected via cess went directly to the center. While Primary education was funded by state government and panchayat/local administration (Madhya Pradesh) So in reality, although a huge war-chest was build, the spending on education hardly increased over the past 3 years.

Another problem faced by the HRD ministry was that budget was to be presented in a few months. Traditionally, any department that does not spend the funds it had been sanctioned in the previous budget is penalized in three ways:
1)It has to answer why it had not been able to plan and execute efficiently
2)The funds are taken away from it
3)In the next year, the department will get lesser funds.

I have a feeling that this scheme is nothing more than a plot to squander away our taxes.

If government wants to do something for an “All Inclusive Growth”, then open a thousand primary schools, open vocational and technical schools. The higher education is already very subsidized (a engineering graduate’s first year salary would be more than adequate to cover for his entire educational expenses).

Also if you look at the fine print, it covers only the undergraduate/post graduate study loan taken from Nationalized Banks. Now if Government wants to help the poor but deserving students, then isn’t providing a scholarship/full tuition waiver a better way to help them. After all its general knowledge that students work harder and perform better when they get study grants, for these students need to display good academic achievements for continuance of the grants.

In short there is nothing new or significant in the scheme.