Nuclear Deal Payout

I thought of updating my previous post on nuclear deal. 2 years ago, I had wondered why USA signed this deal. After all the terms of the deal (atleast those revealed to the public) seems to be lopsided in benefiting India. Even the gains made by the rest of the world because of opening up of india as a nuclear market seems to benefit Austraila, Russia and France much more than anybody else.

When India came to the nuclear negotiation table, it had 3 priorities:
1. Nuclear Fuel: India has excess of Thorium, but most of its nuclear program is Uranium based. The shortage of nuclear fuel had reached critical stage when the deal was signed.

2. Electricity: India is already short of electricity and as per India Core every 1% rise in India GDP needs 3% rise in electricity consumption.

3. Technology: Without being disrespectful to Indian Scientists and Engineers, there is always a lot to be gained by exposure and access to technology from a distant land. Plus one cannot ignore india’s skills in reverse engineering.

Areva recently offered not to install turnkey nuclear reactors but is also offering to sell its stake in Uranium mines of Africa.
So basically india is getting all it wants .. and that too at competitive prices.


Retail making losses

A year and a half ago I had predicted that with a little effort, the Indian kirana stores can beat the MNCs, and big supermarkets black and blue.
Basically the big retailers have to:
1. Organized retail pay a much higher rent than the local shop/hawker
2. The salary in organized retail is much higher than the daily wage paid by the kirana store.
3. Its hard to believe that any retail can be more efficient than HUL and P&G in managing inventory and supply chain.

Today I read this news in telegraph which says that on a annual sales of 1070 crore, Spencer (RPG group) made a staggering loss of 289 crore.
Subhiksha went out of business and almost every other retail store is cutting back on its expansion plan.

Reading this post, you might feel that I am against organized retail. However personally I prefer malls and organized retail because of better retail experience.


Non Vegeterian Food

In Indian restaurants the famous green and red dot help us identify if the food is vegetarian or not. However abroad often such distinctions are not so easy.
1. Language barrier: Its often very hard to communicate in a foreign language, the how can one be sure if you can specify its ingredients properly.

2. Definition of Vegetarian: In India cow milk and dairy products are considered vegetarian, but elsewhere it is not. Similarly I had an experience where the food contained fish and sea food.. because the chief did not consider fish as meats.

3. Boneless: Its almost impossible to tell if the cake/icecream contains egg or not. Hence most orthodox indians stay away from it. However sometimes even harmless looking stuff like burgers also have meats.

3. Feigning Allergies: One of the safest bet is to repeatedly and publicly announce that you are allergic to animal products and hope for the best.

If you are a vegetarian how do you cope up with the uncertainties of alien food. Do you believe that
“What you don’t know cannot harm you.”
or you have some other trick up your sleave


if its white and tasty, its toxic

What is common between
Common Salt
White Flour (Maida)
and these days also Milk

All dietitians will tell you that they are bad for health and would like to regulate its intake. However one cannot stop and wonder why all of them needs to be white and how a few grains of salt, a spoonfull of Ghee and Sugar makes the food tasty.


Income Tax: Pay Commission

Because of Sixth Pay Commission report implementation, a lot of government and PSU employees on India are getting substantial backwages. This lumpsum payment has resulted in a substantial tax payout for even the lowest paid employees. Not only now these individuals fall under the higher tax slabs, but most of the officers need to pay a surcharge on their income tax (which typically was paid only by the highest paid private sector employees)

However, I was talking to my tax consultant and he said that if an individual has preserved all his tax papers, then there is a way out.
Pay Commission Arrears are payouts of the income withheld by the employer (Government). Hence they are technically income generated in the past years. Hence the individuals can submit a revised income tax documents and correct (increase) their salary in the previous years to reflect the new pay commission pay scales. Doing so they can avoid landing up in the highest tax slab for the financial year 2008-2009.

More details about the Sixth Pay Commission and official notifications/circulars on the same can be found here.

PS: Please consult your tax consultant for further details.


Mob Violence

The reduction in the train stoppages led to a widespread violence, protests and burning of public property. This made me question that if the public would be subjected to such widespread inconvenience then why the rail ministry deleted those stoppages.

I talked to an ex DRM (Divisional Railway Manager), his answer was:

A typical passenger train with 24 bogies services about 2000 passengers per trip (one side). If on an average if less than 10 passengers board/depart from a station then it is eligible for removal. Logic is simple if less than 10/2000 = 0.5% of the general public use a stop, then it is not economical to service it. Even the busses won’t ply for 10 persons then why should railways run a whole train for them.

Not only does less braking reduce the cost of running a train, it also increases the speed of the train. So it is in best interest of the public and the nation.

Similarly recently the assassination of Sant Niranjan Dass in Vienna led to widespread violence in Amritsar. (I am not trying to be disrespectful to him, not I condone the killing) However one aspect of the protest felt very odd. Although he was a Guru (religious leader) of the sikh community, none of the video footage or pictures of the protest demonstrations had people wearing turbans. This is very odd because Sikhs esp. the religious ones are supposed to have long hair and wear a turban at all times.

Somehow I am convinced that all these protests are stages. People are simply trying to extract political mileage.


India’s Politics – Bimal Jalan

I was fortunate enough to pick this book by the former governer of RBI. 200 page hard bound book (with plastic seal intact) costed me less than 100/-,  so I was a bit cautious if it was any good. My intention was to read the fist few chapters and get a gist about his views on Indian politics and economic policy making. This would give me an insight about what this man saw and why he did what he did.


However this book surprised me. Its well written in high school level english. The book is basically a summary of the current political schenario and a little history about why things are the way they are. Although no document on politics can be unbiased, I must say this book is good attempt for someone who is writing his first book. For some one like me who want to get a feel about the political scenario of the country, but are too afraid/proud to ask this is a god send gift.