Business in the name of "Religion"

I hear a lot of criticism around the movie "PK" for making fun of religion esp. Hinduism. I haven't watched the movie yet but based on what I have heard , I see a lot of correlation with real life mockery being done in the name of religion. 
Here's one such example:-  There was a news article about 108 divya desam lords ( 108 vishnu temples sung by alwars) in one of chennai's leading news paper.Me and my wife got curios as to what this was about .We had also seen a few posters on the streets of chennai about the same place. We thought this should be some earnest attempt to recreate the 108 divya desam lords in chennai. We googled to find more information and saw that this was organized at shrivaaru venkatachalapathy palace vanagaram.

We decided to go and drove down.On reaching the place, we were charged Rs 100/ per head and Rs 20/ for car parking. No complaints yet, the expectations were real high as to "How would be the recreation of those 108 divine lords".

Within a few seconds of entering the hall, I was left with nothing but disappointed. Replicas of divya desam lords were made with sub standard attention. All 108 lords were recognizable only by posture a.k.a sitting standing or lying. Apart from this , there was no significant effort made to distinguish between the look or portray any significance of the specific lord. Only if you read the name board, you would know who the lord was and the name of the divya desam.

The display of lords was followed by a mini "food" exhibition.( obviously, you need to pay for the food)

There was a lot of crowd going around merrily taking pictures.of course, you might argue that one shouldn't expect too much from such "exhibitions". . In fact apart from the entry fee, I also saw some people throwing money at the idols, coconuts and arthi plates being sold at counters , etc etc.

But I see this as a ruthless effort to earn money out of a vacant mandapam ( In chennai-No one hires a marriage hall in Dec-Jan season) using an unpatented concept of 108 divya desam. 

These guys in collaboration with another tamil magazine- Kumudam "Bhakthi"?? have made a fortune with just the title 108 divya desam without actually making any effort to justify the theme.

But if some one makes fun of  us , we get real angry :-) ( Including me). The fact is there are a lot of folks who know to  milk money out of "religion".

Ultra Walkathalon - some experiences

Last week , I had the opportunity to do an ultra walk from Chennai to Tirumala  ( around 130 kilometers). It was definitely a good experience. Both mentally  and physically the activity was definitely a "stretch". At the end, the overall experience taught me a lot.

There were moments ( especially on the second and third day) when reaching the destination seemed almost impossible. The only thing that helped to reach the goal was to "slow down ", " take rest" and most importantly " focus on the next step alone". Many times in life we get overwhelmed by the things that are ahead of us but focusing only on the next step might really help.

Another significant observation:  - Either it be a national highway or a road crossing through a small village , there was one thing in common - 80% of the road stretches are being used as open public toilets. We as a nation have a long way to go in terms on imbibing "Cleanliness". Huge piles of plastic garbage was also a common sight next to all human settlements along the way.Mother nature is truly and extraordinarily patient with all of us!

Basic money managment tips

1. The cheque is the "real" money, not the credit card. Therefore, the cheque amount you receive as salary should determine your spending pattern; not your credit card limit. Utilise your card to the limit that you can comfortably settle at the end of the month.

2. Contrary to popular perception, cars, televisions and phones are NOT assets. They are liabilities, because they depreciate and because you need money to use and maintain them. So don't accumulate too many "fake" assets.

3. For greater transparency, flexibility, liquidity, simplicity, convenience and better returns, do not mix insurance and investments. Avoid policies that combine investment with insurance.

4. Borrowing means spending tomorrow’s unearned (and possibly uncertain) income today. So be very careful. If you have to borrow, borrow for the "right purpose", the "right amount" and at the "right cost".

5. Start early, invest regularly and stay invested. Time makes money. Fixed deposits, stocks, mutual funds, property, gold, and other such assets, are merely the tools that time employs to make money for you.

Rest of the article ,

This post has been written by Sanjay Matai, a financial adviser and author. This is the advice he penned down for his son when he got his first job and first pay cheque. 

#GOSF and other #discount sale - Do all consumers benefit from these sale?

There has been a lot of fuzz around the discount sales , primarily the online ones . People are tempted to buy a lot of things online for a "discount" as they are available at seemingly " throw away" prices.

One of my friends bought a tablet for Rs 4000 as it was available at a cheap price. he already owns a smart phone,a  phablet and a laptop.

Another friend of mine from Chennai bought a thick winter jacket for Rs 400 for future usage .... he might travel sometime in 2020 :-)

These are some just a few examples.

Of course, how one spends his or her money is a "personal" thing.
But I feel that these online sales seem to drive some "crazy" consumer behavior.

Those who succumb to the "cheap or discounted" price tags end up buying things that they actually don't "need".

When you buy things that you don't "need"-you think that you got a deal in terms of discount,but  you actually loose all the money that you pay to get the product. So,discount doesn't matter when you buy something that you don't really need.

"Buy -what you need" -Distinguishing between what you WANT and what you NEED can make  intelligent consumers.

Happy Shopping!

God is a gamer - Book review

Ravi Subramanian’s new novel  “God is a gamer” is a thriller woven with a banking background ( as usual). I received this copy of the book signed by the author from blogadda for review
When I picked up this book for review and reading, I thought it is going to be a one another typical Ravi’s novel with overdose of NYIB events. But to my surprise there wasn’t any overdose of banking power politics. The story is although woven around the concept of “Virtual money”.
The narrative starts in the US with companies like Master card, Visa doing some lobbying to protect their business. It also gets into how the US government tries to kill wiki leaks et all. The official involved in all of these activities gets killed and then the story moves on to India.
( Hats off  to the author  for using real life names in the book- Mastercard, Visa, wikileaks, Facebook, RBI, Farmville, etc except for “Citibank” and “E-serve”)

The story in India takes us back to the characters from Ravi’s first book.  Story moves on with narratives of investigation in the US, Board room of a gaming company, Romance in the beaches of Goa, The race for governor of RBI and  Series of ATM crime in the US.
The story confluences at the end to reveal the plot. However, I felt that the plot got a big dragged in mid-way. So, any reader can safely skip a few chapters after pg 150 or so and then read the climax ( without having really missed anything).
The real culprit is caught in the end. The story after the epilogue actually reveals “the culprit” and the real culprit was trapped for the misdoings of the past.
The author seems to have done some decent research on topics covered including bitcoins, encryption, card skimming, etc. Atleast a non-technical reader will find the facts stated to be convincing.

Some lines- which I liked from the reading.

“In those days India , I could have spund the ‘ India as an investment destination’ story. A country of one billion people made global bankers salivate and put in money year after year in the hope that profits would come some day.People these days don’t have the appetite for that.There is no room for dissent.Indian teams of multinationals these days a expected to execute and NOT THINK”

“Career longevity is more important than career enhancement.Jobs are few and many people are chasing them.Your first priority should be to save your job.if you live, you get to fight your battle another day”.

“ How Can I Expect you to remember how Socrates died 2500 years ago?” “Well, 2500 years pass and the means of killing remain the same”- Hemlock seeds.

Overall, a good read if you have not attempted any of the author’s previous book. Else you may be able to predict the events that unfold. Should we expect anything from the author that doesn’t have any influence of  Citibank ..oh Sorry NYIB…Looking forward for a fresher theme and thinking from Ravi.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

"LED "on a personal loan

Names have been changed to protect identities.

Rajesh works for a software company . He has been paying EMIs for his personal loan ( >5 lakhs). The personal loans were availed during the last two years for various purposes like closing down a credit card loan, to meet some personal expenses and to "invest" in a piece of land ( which is a few 100 kms close to the metro where he lives :)).
Realizing that 16% pa being paid was too much, he decided to close the personal loan as fast as possible. Then Govind ( close friend) approached him with an offer. Govind's employer was offering him to buy an LED  TV worth 72 K for 42 K ( @30K discount!!) as a part of tie up with the TV brand. Govind offered to give the TV to Rajesh for 50K( 8 K profit for him).
Rajesh found the offer irresistible, he thought it was a golden offer to GAIN 22k. He went ahead and purchased the TV through Govind. Was happy to have got such a bargain deal!!!. Source of 50K- Another personal loan:-)
Rajesh also switched from a local cable operator to a branded HD DTH provider increasing his monthly cable outflow from Rs 75 to Rs 300.

 I am simply surprised by Rajesh's financial behavior. When I ask him about this, " Hey man, we should learn how to enjoy life".

What do you think??

Book Review : Private India

"Private India " is co authored by  Ashwin Sanghi and James Patterson. Sanghi has previously authored  best sellers like Chanakya’s Chant and Krishna Key. In this book he has partnered with America’s mystery-teller.

I havent read any of the author's work earlier.Looking at their profiles , I started reading this book with "great expectations". The story begins with a good suspense and is plotted in the city of Mumbai

A series of murders seemingly linked to each other come out and the investigation is with private investigators. The head of "Private India" is the chief investigator and he has an international boss.Private India is portrayed to have a rock solid investigation team with "state of the art "  investigation aids and unlimited brilliance.

The  thematic series of murders when being investigated makes you suspect almost all the characters that are introduced and the suspense is maintained throughout the end.

With such a story line, did the book keep me interested?  my answer is no. Because, the theme of the murders is not so strongly explained and is also diluted with another sub plot of "terrorism".

Adding too many twists, too many suspects and trying to link a lot of events and personalities unsuccessfully makes the book a bit of a "Drag".

The authors also keep highlighting the "sad past"  of the investigators, which do not draw a connect to the storyline till the end . ( or atleast, I couldnt figure out the connect of their background and the storyline. Possibly, they are connected to the sequel or the prequel?).

Some excerpts from the book which I found was interesting-

Having located The Nine Durga Avatars of Hinduisim , they sat down at an illuminated desk.

The mother goddess - Durga- has three basic forms and each of these has three manifestations thus resulting in a total of nine avatars. Each night of nine day festival of  Navratri is dedicated to one of the nine avatars.

....and found the chapter that described the first avatar of Durga. She was known by the name Shailputri.

......"The name Kushmanda is derived from two seperate sanskrit words"..Kushma which means warmth and anda which refers to the cosmic egg. So kushmanda is considered to be the creator of egg- shaped universe."

"The name Chandra ghanta is a combination of two words- chandra and ghantha. ..The night of the murder as per the almanac was a half-moon night. The half-moon is also a symbolic representation of  a bell.
....The Eighth avatar was mahagauri, depcited with a fair complexion and holding a drum.Finally, the ninth incarnation - known as Sidhdhidatri- was shown with four arms holding a discus, a mace, a conch , and a lotus"

If you want to find out more about the avatars and the murders that are depicted in the book, you may pick up a copy of  the book. But don't blame me for any disappointments as I hope I have forewarned you enough  of what to expect from the book.

Verdict :- "Two" many cooks , spoil the book.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

EMI on debit cards, Don't fall into this trap!

The following article talks about  EMI option on your debit card for purchasing a TV.
1. You can use your Debit card to purchase a TV.
2. For this, You need to have an FD with the bank which  pays you around 9%
2. You can  borrow from the bank up-to 90% of the FD for the TV purchase - paying an interest of around 13%

Your money is with the bank for which you earn 9% and bank lends it back to you for 4% more. why should someone avail this facility at all. To make the bank rich???

If at all you are desperate to get the TV, break your FD and go buy that "damn" TV.

If you want to buy a LED TV in the next two months, you could save for it, flash your credit card or use the zero-interest option. But if the TV is a Samsung one and your banker is ICICI Bank, you could also use your debit card and pay through equated monthly instalments (EMIs). At 13 per cent a year, the interest rate on reducing balance is substantially lower than a credit card's 36-45 per cent a year, as well as 15-25 per cent for personal loans.

However, you should have a fixed deposit with the bank and only 90 per cent of the deposit amount will be lent to you for a purchase (to buy an LED TV worth Rs 50,000, you should have a fixed deposit of Rs 55,556). Also, currently, the facility is only for Samsung products.

Since the fixed deposit will earn interest at nine per cent for 390 days, the effective rate of interest on EMIs is five per cent annualised (13-8 per cent). You will continue to earn interest on the fixed deposit. Also, as interest is on reducing balance, the net outgo will be less every month, says Suresh Sadagopan, founder Ladder7 Financial Advisors. full article

Personal finance blogs- new finds this week

I discovered  a few  good personal finance blogs and posts , which I though should share through a post.

The good thing is that if some one is keen to learn about saving/investing , then the world of personal finance blogs has information in plenty. Of course, there can be information overload if you don't use your discretion as a reader.

Happy reading!

Value investor professor :- This post is a short auto-biography by professor. I happened to get the link to this page when I was browsing through another site.

A few other finds:-  Stable investor , Blog for personal finance calculators - Freefincal and another comprehensive site on personal finance.

Heights of poor service #Kun hyundai adyar car service

We all longed for privatization when government was running all the businesses a couple of decades ago. While privatization bought about a relief and seemingly increase in quality of service, the ultimate truth seems to be different for me. Either it be banking,telecom or any other service, until things go wrong with theservices, it is a great going. But when things are not ok and you complain, the response to grievances from the so called big business houses seem to be pathetic.Here's one such example

I had given my car for service to Kun Hyundai at Adyar sometime last year. When the car was returned to me after service at my residence, the floor of the car was so unclean and I immediately complained. They apologized, asked to me send the car for cleaning and then I had to sacrifice using my car for a day for their mistake.

I did the biggest mistake of the year in the beginning of this year. I gave my car for service to the same folks again. When my car came back, the mats were filled with mud ( as though, it was delivered straight from a beach trip). When I complained, usual apology and the trip of the car to their workshop followed ( at the cost of my petrol and myself using an alternate mode of transport for another day). 

When the car was delivered back to me, the interiors were dirtier than earlier. I was annoyed, asked them to refund my money and wrote a strong mail to every email address of Hyundai ( including the Korean expat CMD). After 30 minutes of my mail, the service manager was at my doorstep. He was full of regret ( "acting", as I realised later), offered to clean my car and also promised that in one month , He will get my car serviced for free. He did all this to take a signature on a feedback form stating that I was satisfied with the service.

When a basic cleaning which is part of the service is not done properly, how can I trust the list of other activities that they claim in the bill to have been complete ( example, Engine oil change, etc)

Six months have gone by, time for car service again.! I didn't hear back from the service manager later. The promise was just to get off with my complaint at that point of time.:-)

Long live the service of such great organizations. 

I write this post to let the world be aware of the wonderful service that I received and to encourage people to complain whenever they are cheated.!

Philosophy of 70% #Money #WhentoRetire #HowMuchMoneyisNeeded

The day we pass away, our money will still be in the bank.
When we are alive, we feel we don't have enough money to spend.

When we are gone, there is still a lot of money not spent”.
A Chinese tycoon passed away.
He left for his widow $1.9 billion in the bank.
The widow remarried her young Chauffeur.
The Chauffeur said,
"All the while I thought I was working for my boss.
Now only I realize that my boss was all the time working for me!"
The Moral?

It is more important to live longer than to have more wealth.
• Strive to have a strong and healthy body.
• In a ‘high end’ hand phone, 70% of the functions are useless.
• In an expensive car, 70% of the speed is not needed.
• In a luxurious villa, 70% of the space remains un-occupied or un-utilized.
• In a whole wardrobe of clothes, 70% of them are seldom worn.
• Out of whole life’s earnings, 70% stays behind for other people to use.
70% of talent is not utilized
So, How to make full use of our 30%.?
• Go for medical checkup even when you feel fit.
• Drink more water even if you’re not thirsty.
• ‘Let go’ your ego, whenever you can.
• ‘Give in’ even if you are ‘right’.
• Be humble even if you are very powerful.
• Be contented even if you are not rich.

Entrepreneurship ideas from Google India MD #Entrepreneurship #E-commerce #CloudComputing # Opportunities

Found this video when I was doing some search on you tube. The video is almost three years old but I think it is is still relevant to watch. You can hear Rajan Anand talk about the exponential way in which the web is growing and the B2C/ B2B opportunities it is throwing at potential entrepreneurs. 

If you are a person who is looking forward to start a business based on web/ cloud/ social networking, this is a must watch video!

Waiting for E-series financial closure pay out? #e-series #e-gold

Further to the news on financial closure of e-series, I have been waiting for payment from NSEL. It has'nt happened till today. When browsing for information found some relevant information from NSEL site.

Payout to Unit Holders: 
Payment instructions shall be made to the Bank for payout to Unit holders on the same day 
on which the payment is received as per schedule of receipt of funds from the winning 
Payment shall be made to the unit holders on the basis of their holding in the proportion of 
the amount of metal sold to the total quantity of metal available for Financial Closure. 
For instance for e-Gold say: 
a) If the total of all ‘free balances’ on the ‘Record Date’ is 400000 units. Hence the 
quantity of gold available for financial closure is 400 Kgs. 
b) On the first day of bidding 250 Kgs is allocated to winning bidders. 
c) The total fund received by the Exchange towards this allocation of 250 Kg is Rs. 72.5 
d) In the above scenario, towards every 1 unit of e-Gold held, unit holders shall be 
eligible to receive Rs. 1812.50 [(725000000/250000)*(250/400)] on T+2 day of the 
first day of bidding. 
Such payout instruction shall be made to the bank only if the total payout amount against a 
particular e-Series Commodity is more than Rs. 90 crores or if all metal towards one 
particular e-Series commodity has been completely allocated and payment received against 
the same. If the total payout amount is less than Rs. 90 crores, payout shall be made when 
total payout against a particular e-Series commodity exceeds Rs. 90 crores. 

Not sure if any  other genuine e-gold/silver/platinum retail investor  has got back some yet??. If yes, Please do drop a comment :-)

Update:- Got a credit from NSEL for a small amount on 22/5 which is a fraction of my investment. "Something is better than nothing" :-)

Justice delayed is justice denied #e-gold #e-silver #e-platinum. #nsel eseries  financial closure status (payout/payment status)

Few interesting blog posts- Simple investment plan & Over estimating future income!

When flipping through my regular reads, I came across these interesting blog posts which I thought should be shared.

1. The short, sweet investment plan for life. Looks simple, but I believe can be effective. The best things in life need not be complex always!.

2. What happens if you overestimate your future income?. EMI committed based on overestimated future income can ruin your life.

Happy reading.

Call from HXFC Life Insurance

Caller: Hello sir

Me: Hello

Caller: Calling  from HXFC life insurance we have a very good plan for you which yields 12% return , Premium need to be paid for 7 years and you will get maturity at end of 10 years.

Me: What will be the sum assured and what is the amount that I will get after 10 years? How is the IRR ( rate of return) 12% calculated, where do you invest this money to get 12%?

Caller: Sir,I will hand it over to my boss.!!!

Team Lead: Hello sir, this Name of the plan is # bla bla bla, 7 year , 10 year, 15 year option #bla bla bla .. (No correlation to the question asked by me).

Me: Hold On. Can you please answer my question
What will be the sum assured and what is the amount that I will get after 10 years? How is the IRR ( rate of return) 12% calculated, where do you invest this money to get 12%?

Team Lead: Sir, this is a very good plan. We invest in government projects like road, metro, etc and that's why we get 12%.

Me: Through what instrument do you invest??

Team Lead : Sir, we will give you in writing that you will give 12% return assured. We don't invest in equity and we will give you a BOND ( Don't know what a BOND means???)

Me: What is the amount that I will get after 10 years , if I invest XXXX for 7 years?

Team Lead: This plan is.....

Me: What is the amount that I will get after 10 years , if I invest XXXX for 7 years?

Team Lead: Roughly YYYY

Me: That amounts to only 5-6% return which I can get from my SB account. You said it was 12%??

Team Lead: Sir, you wont get return anywhere . FD has TDS and they wont pay you more than 7%

Me; What??? You said the policy offers 12% return and the maturity amount stated doesn't justify that? Are you getting my question.

Team Lead: Sir, no bank gives you this type of return!!!

I hang up.

My humble request to all Insurance companies: Please get any product rolling into market..But please have the people that sell your product trained on IRR and comprehending customers question.( But may be you are doing this with a purpose- if some one gets all the right facts - No one may opt for your products)

+91 9894509065 caller number 14 may 11.32am( ask the right questions before you invest)

NSEL eseries financial closure begins! ( Hope it materializes)

NSEL commences financial closure of e-series contracts , Hopefully there is some light at the end of the tunnel for e-series investors.

How it is supposed to work

NSEL said the proceeds from sale of metal will be credited to the respective unit holders holding free balance. 

The payment instructions will be made to banks for payout to unit holders on the same day on which the payment is received as per schedule of receipt of funds from the winning bidders, it said. 

Payment will be made to the unit holders on the basis of their holding in the proportion of the amount of metal sold to the total quantity of metal available for Financial Clos .. 

e-gold e-silver e-copper e-zinc when will I get my money back 

Real estate - insider story

My uncle works for one of the real estate companies in Chennai. The company has a strong political connection and so Public Sector Banks were the primary source of funding for this company. 

As sales slowly started drying up , the company borrowed a second round to pay interest for the loan initially taken. (You should not ask how these loans were taken:-) )

While this situation continued, interest rates rose and sales almost came close to zero.In normal circumstance you would have expected the builder to reduce prices. Now they have gone in for  another round of financing from a private financier with double the amount of property as collateral.

Just imagine the margin of this builder, if they are able to pay "Sooooo muchhh" interest and still sell their properties for a profit.

"Property prices keep going up " is the mantra that is held to sell property to the middle class. So, these companies don't want to bring down the prices at any cost.

Moral 1:- Builders will never want the price to come down.

One of my friends had bought a flat from this company 3 years ago for 75 Lakhs. He wanted to dispose this of for 92 Lakhs. But after trying out for 6 months, he has come down to an asking value of 80 Lakhs ( of course a big loss- considering the interest paid). Still no takers. 
The builder is still maintaining the prices of unsold flats in the apartment to market value. My friend is not able to sell his flat , the builder has many unsold flats. But my friend has not been able to hold to his selling price for long.

Moral 2:- Selling real estate may not be that easy for an individual as you may imagine.( Brokers, Builder, Bankers manage the game)

real estate burst in inida, OMR real estate prices bubble burst, property prices down in chennai, big bubble waiting to burst.when will real estate prices come down in India chennai. real estate prices correction after 2014 elections.

Did you know ?- Facts on PPF

1) Interest rate for PPF is now pegged against the long term ( 10 year) government securities yield. ( which is 8.8% as on 30 Mar 2014). So, going forward the yield on PPF will vary with the G-sec rate . The days of fixed returns is gone.

2) Interest on PPF is calculated based on the lowest balance in your account between 5th and last day of the month. Interest is compounded annually and is credited at the end of the year. But the interest calculation is done based on the monthly balance rule stated above.( so ensure you deposit your money before 5th of every month in your PPF).

PPF- Public Provident Fund account.

Mutual funds - difference in dividend declaration- Regular and Direct plans

Of late, may mutual fund have declared dividends. If you have been wondering that your scheme ( direct) was treated differently from the other for dividend declaration, here's the reason.

No dividends in yourdirect plan?
Don't worry on this count, as thereare valid reasons regarding realisedgains; look at other factors, too

Investors of the HDFC Prudence Fund direct plan received a
dividend of ~1.25 a unit in March. But investors in the regular
plan of the same fund received a dividend of ~3 a unit. Similarly,
in the ICICI Prudential Tax Plan, the direct plan declared a dividend
of 1.5 per cent a unit, while the regular plan declared a dividend
of two per cent a unit.
HDFC Mid-cap Opportunities Fund declared a dividend of
~1.75 for the regular plan in February but did not declare any
dividend for the direct plan. Similarly, in January, ICICI
Prudential Discovery declared a dividend of ~2.14 for the regular
plan but none in the direct plan.
Data from Value Research says this is not a trend across
mutual funds and schemes. It is specific to some schemes. The
reason why some direct MF plans did not declare dividends or
declared less was because of a Securities and Exchange Board
of India rule that dividends can only be paid from realised
gains, says Dhirendra Kumar of Value Research.
For instance, if the net asset value increases from ~10 to ~13,
the gain is ~3. Earlier, funds used to pay a dividend out of these
gains. Sebi has now said the dividend can be paid only out of
the profits the fund makes, by selling shares and booking profits.
So, if the fund makes a profit of ~1, it can pay dividends only
out of that ~1.
Credits :- Full article on link - 

Know your #PSU banks- how responsible are they with your deposit money ( #FD)

"According to a August 26 (2013) finance ministry note, the NPAs of public sector banks (PSBs) have gone up by 4.39 per cent with the total amount clocking over `1,76,000 crore. The amount is equal to the total budget of health, education and rural development of the country put together. The government owns majority stakes in PSBs and it is responsible for the money deposited in their accounts. If we add the NPAs of the nationalised banks, including the SBI group, the total figure is a whopping `3,50,000 crore, which could easily finance India’s military and internal security expenditure." ( Did you know this???)

The finance ministry has pointed out four major reasons - current macro economic situation, increased interest rates, lower economic growth and aggressive lending by banks - responsible for increase in NPAs. Among the measures to recover money from defaulters, the ministry has advised PSBs to appoint nodal officers for recovery at each zonal office and Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT). The banks were directed to conduct special drives for recovery of toxic assets and to constitute a board-level committee for monitoring of recovery process. “The government has instructed public sector banks that write-offs should not be more than recovery,” the ministry said.

"Banking" on an engineering degree.

When I was driving out of Chennai towards a temple town suburb ( early monday morning), there were huge traffic blockades. Most of the vehicles occupying the road were the buses transporting students to private engineering colleges.

The boom of the last decade and the massive recruitment by India's biggest body shoppers ( oops! people call them IT companies) had ensured a steady inflow of "customers" to these private engineering campuses.

 A retired senior banker was travelling with me in the car.He had just returned after a week of interviewing for a PSU bank recruiting clerks.He told me that at least 60-70% of the candidates interviewed by him over the last week were engineering graduates. 

While this was initially shocking for him, he got accustomed to the idea over the period of  selection week.He narrated tales of candidates who couldn't clearly explain about their choice of engineering education. Many had gone through the degree for their parents sake and most of them had even borrowed heavily to enroll for the "coveted" engineering degree.The person also narrated tales of people working for IT companies who were willing to join the bank as clerks.

The salary paid for bank clerk's  ( which is not huge by today's living standards) was a big draw for the candidates who had applied for the job.

The banker said that while he had nothing against engineers becoming clerks, he said that they could have been wiser with their educational choices instead of falling in line with the crowd.

This career jam seemed much more severe than the hurdles that the sub-standard engineering colleges create on the road!

# PPF account, the must have for every investor

Public provident fund is one of the best investment tools that provides safety, compounding and tax benefits in one package. This should be the first investment that one gets into immediately after turning 18. The account is meant for a period of 15 years but can be extended by 5 years @ tenure expiry.

The safety of government assurance and the compounding effect will definitely take care of your retirement needs. You can invest up to 12 installments a year and up to 1 lakh in this account every year. You should try to invest the maximum amount possible in PPF account every year.

The following articles provide a great insight into " why investing in PPF is a must?"

PPF account can be opened at SBI bank branches or at your nearest post office. Selected ICICI bank brnaches also provide PPF account facility.

If you are looking for comparing PPF with EPF and NPS, here's another  write-up.

The Hunt for Kohinoor by Manreet sodhi- Book review

This book was sent for review from West Land. This book is second in the series and the first one that I am reading.

The story genre is that of a thriller. It starts with Mehrunisa's nightmares about her father being beheaded. The plot is centred around the tension that prevails between India and it's neighbour. How Mehrunisa helps the country avert a big terror attack forms part of the rest of the story.

Mehrunisa , one day gets a call from the investigating agencies . She eventually finds that her father ( whom everyone believed was dead long ago) is still alive and she has to take on the mission of  saving the nation.

She gets on to a chase that pits her against hardened terrorist groups, that tests her mettle against the secrets of the past. The story travels across the borders of nation.The novel provides a good insight into the functioning of the intelligence agencies and  the terrorist outfits as well. Climax is dealt with from narratives  from Afpak border, Bhakranangal dam (India) and Adezai ( Pakistan).

Overall storyline of the book is good. However, I didn't find the story to be a page turner (a bit of drag at times). General  narrative, theme chosen  is good and takes you across different locales across the borders.

Can be a good read for ardent fans of "terror" plots.

Apple set to relaunch #iphone in India - should you go grab it?

One of the personal finance  bloggers reported that his post on analysis of iphone offer with a service provider got the maximum hits this year. Apple is now trying to woo Indian buyers with "Subsidized" old model phones and "attractive" EMI offers for other models. One other website reports that Indian youth take "pride" in flaunting a smart phone. Of late, buying a tablet or smart phone on EMI has become a way of life.

Coming to the point, I have nothing against Apple or any other smart phone seller. But buying a smart phone on EMI  ( Easy Monthly Instalment) doesn't sound like a great option to me from a personal finance perspective. 

First , assess the "need" for the smart phone. Check whether you can "afford" it ( For me , buying a phone which is worth more than your month's salary is a financial 'mistake').  If it is only an emotional need to own this smart phone, then you should definitely not fall to trap on such offers.If you decide to buy after this evaluation, look for a genuine offer and pay for your phone upfront .

Whenever you buy something on a loan or EMI, you are consuming future income upfront. More so on an item like a smart phone. Be prudent and avoid EMI traps!

By doing this, you will not only help yourselves but save some valuable foreign exchange for the nation too.

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Simple Indian Food - Feel @home ( Best veg food blog )

" A Ship is safe when it is in Harbour, but the ship was not built for that"


These are just opinions/ ideas exchanged. No one can claim us responsible for any investment failures /losses based on the ideas expressed here.

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