Miscellaneous Thoughts

No Cash Please

This is a crappy loud thinking post.

5-10 Years ago, before the Banking revolution, nobody would have believed that anyone could prefer cheque/card/Electronic Fund Transfer over Hard Cash. But here we are in the 21st Century.

Here are some real life situations that I can recall where people preferred banks over cash. If you remember any other unique situation, then let me know.
1) My credit card company does not accept cash. If one has to make a payment, we better pay via Demand Draft or Cheque.
2) A friend of mine was roaming around the office with a 100k in cash. His concern was that he was due for an EMI cheque payment on a housing loan and although 3 of his friends were ready to give a short term cash advance to him, but nobody wanted him to hand over this bundle of cash in lieu of the EFT (to ensure that his housing cheque did not bounce)
3) Citibank issues/accepts Demand Draft for free from its account holders. But when my father went to their branch to do a cash deposit. It slapped me with a 150/- teller charge.
4) I went to a travel agency to book my thailand trip tickets. Due to some weired reason, one of my group mate offered to pay for his expenses through cash (instead of cheque like everybody else) Initially the travel agent resisted accepting cash. But later on, to my surprise, he took cash… then went to a bank and issued a DD for the same amount and then entered the DD number into his database.

I wonder if the cashless payments are so much in vogue (esp for large legal transactions), why people resisted it earlier.


Humor Links

Theatre Premier

I love this show. In 6 minutes it shows a preview of almost all the famous singers. Why can’t there be something as creative in India
And a nice Video by Nokia depicting how nano particles can change our future. I need this keyboard device.
Watching your teenage daughter being collected by her date feels like handing over a Stradivarius to a gorilla.



Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut …and still think they’re beautiful.


India: Socialist country with a twist.

India is probably the only country in the world which claims itself to be a socialistic society, yet believes in a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

You don’t believe me
1) License Raj: Indian policy makers realized that competition is very good for the consumers and bad for the entrepreneurs. In a competitive environment, the businesses would have to provide better services at cheaper costs.. hence wiping out most of their profits. So our solution…. Force the industry to obtain permits, hence reducing supply and eliminating all competition. Even today even the basic services like taxi, auto-rickshaw and bus comes under their preview and it makes Indian commuting miserable.

2) Ban on VoIP phones: ISD calls for almost no charges, are you kidding!!!!! Govt telecom PSU, VSNL (tata), FLAG (reliance) etc have invested heavily on older telecom networks which will become obsolete (inviable) with the ISP phone and VoIP. Hence to safeguard their interests, lets ban the entire technology.

3) Land acquisition by govt for SEZ. (A massive scheme for transfer of wealth (land) from the poor and redistributed to the rich for free. And if that was not enough, they were given various SOPS and tax holidays)

4) Assured returns: In fertilizer sector, power sector etc. the government will guarantee profits no matter how ancient and inefficient the technology is. (as I was arguing that the bulk of fertilizer, Haj and electricity subsidy would go away if only govt procured fertilizers, airline tickets, and power at competitive rates… which meant not overpaying the industrialists.)

5) IRDA (insurance regulatory authority): It has put a cap on the discounts which the insurance firms can offer. (which are supposed to go from 2008 onwards) why…. too much competition would results in fall in insurance premium and benefit to the common man.

6) Retail: It will benefit the farmers, it will benefit the consumers…. who would want that… hence all corporate retail outlets are discouraged if not banned.

7) Education sector: Education is an enabler which is the surest way to escape poverty. But who would want that….. Hence even after 60 years of independence and after collection massive funds through educational cess, more 1/3 of our population cannot read and write… while the government goes and blows a billions of dollars in subsidizing higher education.

8 ) Direct taxes vs indirect taxes.: All the developed countries tax the income, rather than the expenditure.
Reason: It is easier to introduce tax slabs or progressive taxation rates so that the rich pay a higher proportion of their income as taxes. However Indians have realized that the poor spend a higher portion of their income, while the rich save/reinvest bulk of their income. Hence we decided to go for Indirect Taxes (VAT, Sales Tax, Exercise etc)
(There are other reasons for encouraging direct taxes. Primarily because high VAT discourages consumerism, and hence slows down economic growth)

9) If a poor wants to gamble, he buys a lottery ticket. If he loses, his loss. If he wins, govt slaps a 34% IT on him.
However if a rich wants to gamble, he goes to the stock market. If he loses, he gets a tax shield, while if he wins he need to pay only 10% of the earnings as IT. (or 0% tax if he holds to his stocks for more than 12 months)

10) All income made by hard working individuals are subject to income tax. But all the dividend income of rich individuals are completely tax free.
Just pick any industry, activity or sector, you will find that India has redefined socialism. All rules are designed to ensure livelihood of the rich and continuance of poverty of the poor.

Then as Prax pointed out:
11) If common man cannot buy cannot buy more than 40-50 acres of land. But the Rich, under the name of plantations, infrastructure development etc can acquire thousands of acres. Also while the common farmer is committing suicide, the Zamindars are minting money because their farm income is Tax free.

12) All the gifts that we give are taxed, while the corrupt politicians don’t pay a single penny in tax on the thousands of crore they receive as gifts.
PS: If I have omitted any sector, then please let me know


Sharad Pawar and Money Lenders

Sharad Pawar has asked farmers not to repay the loans given by the money lenders. Worse still he is planning to create a militia out of his party workers to neutralize the money lenders who still insist for repayment.

This stupid and irresponsible act should be stopped ASAP. Moneylenders, inspite of all their vices are an important part of the Indian society. They provide quick loans and short term credit to those who need it.
Indian banks often do not cater to people who live on daily wages. Micro credit organizations, in spite of all the hullah gullah demand very cumbersome and stringent rules. The poor need to organize themselves in groups, take collective responsibility for all the members in the group etc. In contrast, these money lenders don’t ask for any complicated compliance, they are ready to give whatever amount you want, whenever you want and have no foreclosure penalty. If you can produce some sort of surety (preferably in gold), the interest rates which the money lenders charge is less than what is charged by Micro-Credit organizations.

Indian banks are still living in the communistic era where they were a instrument to suck up all liquidity from the poor. Post offices, co-operations and banks still exist for the sole purpose of taking money/deposits from the poor and lending to the rich. However what India and esp its poor need is totally opposite. Flow of capital from those who have in excess to those who need it. So essentially, these individuals are a cost effective, simple solution to all the shortcomings of our fledging banking system.

If this call for large scale defaults and dismantling of the Money Lending business gains momentum (and there is no reason why it won’t), then the poor and entrepreneurs won’t get credit in time and at terms they want. They won’t be able to earn their living, expand their operations, get money for medical emergencies, or to pursue a trade which they know would be lucrative. So essentially Sharad Pawar is condemning the poor for eternal damnation.


review Thoughts

Indian Budget

Over the lunch, we guys could not help but wonder how complicated Indian Budget is.

After reading the budget, I was wondering what is the tax rate on Umbrella.
Honestly, the only correct answer is:
“It depends on who is asking.”

The tax rates depends on whether it was made by a big industry, cottage industry or a medium industry.
It depends on whether the umbrella was fold-able or not. If foldable, then how many folds does it have.
What fabric it was made from silk, polyester, plastic.
Was the cloth imported or domestic.
If domestic, then was it made in a hand loom, a power loom. By an Indian company or a MNC?
Were the components assembled in Mumbai (or developed regions where it rains) or some arid backward regions of Rajasthan?

The list goes on.

Why do Indians make everything so complicated?
Does it really help and serve its purpose?

I would have really helped if the Budget was a 2 page document
1st page is the balance sheet, explaining how, where and how much were the taxes collected and spend
2nd sheet: a simple addendum stating the difference from the last time.


Don’t judge too quickly

some good short videos
Don’t judge too quickly

Is this equilibrium even physically possible? 

Follow your heart

Cool pool shot

Here is why I don’t introduce my girls to my friends

Why do girls think so much?

And here is why I hate people talking over phone


Jodha Akbar, A mockery of History

Can somebody teach Ashutosh Gowariker elementary level Indian History. A friend finally managed to pull me for this 4 hour long movie. She knew that I am very much interested in History and thought I might love to see it come to life. But this movie was a mockery of history. Here is how.

1) Rajputs at the time of Akbar spoke Marwari (or its variants) while Mugals spoke Persian in court. However the movie made a mockery of the history by making the Hindu actors speak so pure Hindi that it looked like speaking Sanskrit and Muslims speak Urdu.. I agree that expecting the audience to understand Persian might be too much to ask for, but Marwadi is an easy language to grasp.

2) Siege of Chittorgarh: Chittorgarh was one of the most strongly defended fort of Rajputs and was the center of all resistance to Mugals. The fort was considered impregnable and Akbar had to lay an expensive and bloody 58 day siege to defeat it. (which also included a lucky matchlock hit to then Rajput chief Jaimal which demoralized the defending army) This battle established Muslim dominance over the region and make Akbar famous. but the movie conveniently ignored this important siege. Also it ignored the slaughter & rape that followed.

Then there were lots of discrepancies in the weapons used:
3) Cavalry archer and composite bow: Although towards the end there was a small scene where cavalry archers were shown, the movie simply ignored them.
The reason why Mugals (from the time of Babar) had military dominance was because of their mastery in making composite bow (an Mongol art which is now lost). Unlike the bows made of traditional wood, these bows were made of bone tendon of ox and wood shavings binded together in a short, light yet powerful bow. These bows were light enough to be used by a mounted archer and yet powerful enough to inflict a lethal wound at even 400 yards distance (500 m).
Cavalry archer was a highly trained Mongol/Persian soldier (Native Indian soldiers were never allowed to join these ranks dominated by Khans) against which there was actually no defense. A foot archer cannot defend himself once the enemy closes in, hence his use and deployment is limited. But a mounted archer could close in at lightning speed, shoot a couple of arrows without stopping and flee to safety before the enemy could even think of retaliating. Also since they wore little or no armor, these soldiers were faster than normal heavy cavalry, who were glorified in this battle. Hence making a chase not only impossible, but one which could potentially lead into traps. Cavalry archers were the primary reason why Babar, with his tiny army could decimate the then Indian rulers.

BTW the depiction of a lone foot archer taking repeated shots at Hemu Vikramaditya is ridiculous. No archer can even stand a chance to be so close to enemy infantry as was shown in the movie.

4) Matchlock: Akbar’s weapon of choice was never a sword, but Matchlock. Its like a musket, but uses a slow burning wig instead of a flint-stone to ignite the charge. These weapons were light, deadly, had a good range and were easy to train/master. However I could not see any matchlock in the movie.

5) Elephants: Whoever has even seen a real life elephant would agree that elephants are not tamed in the way shown in the movie. It would be plain stupid to even think that a lone unarmed man could be a match against the beast. horses might be trained in the way as the elephants were trained in a movie, but you cannot compare the two.
Also in a battle, the elephants move before the infantry does. Once the battle starts and the ranks are broken, a charging elephant would kill more friendly soldiers then foes. Also during those days, the tusk of the elephant was sawed off and replaced by a sharp saber. Something which the movie missed.

5) Cannons: In the battle against Hemu Vikramaditya, there was no cannons & no infantry. Hemu had 30,000 horses and 500 war elephants against a mere 10,000 light cavalry of Akbar. This made Hemu arrogant & careless. His lightly guarded artillery train was lost to the scouts & foragers of Akbar. Akbar’s army was mobile and he did not have sufficient gunpowder or operators to strategically man these guns. Hence no cannon shots were fired in his decisive second battle of Panipat.

Also during those days hollowed out brass cannons were used (most of them manufactured in Rewari). This was because cast iron was brittle, and for machining a hole in the barrel you needed a high quality of steel & forging skills that India did not have. It was only in the later years when the metallurgy technology was perfected and when the brass prices went sky rocketing high, did Indians switch to Cast Iron. But the cannons in the movie were exclusively cast iron ones, which is wrong.

6) I am not even talking about Jodha Bai and all the mushy scene, because the movie started with a big disclaimer about her origins and how scanty and inconsistent historical records are about her.

7) Tobacco and wheat: Remember the Akbar’s visit to the market disguised as a commoner? Tobacco was an Latin American crop that was not available in India for at least a century after Akbar (read this BBC Link). Also the prices of the coarse grains (jowar, bajara) were shown more than that of Wheat. Something which is historically wrong. Only after the green revolution of 1970, wheat became an affordable staple grain.

All I am trying to say is that although the Director wanted to depict this as a historical movie, it would have been more accurate if he had the basic courtesy of checking the details with even a guy who has a Undergraduate degree in Indian History (if fees of a professor was too much to pay for)cav