Sunday, March 1, 2015

Budget 2015.

Budget 2015.
There were great expectations from the budget for supporters it has been a great budget, for opponents it is not a so good budget. Many economist and industry captains have liked the budget. Dr. Bhalla thinks it is the best budget since 1991.
My take is that there are many good things in this budget the results of many things will be visible in the years to come. I hope GST is rolled out next year as planned. It has got delayed inordinately already. I am happy with the road map for Corporate Tax for the next 4 years. Lowering rates and doing away with numerous exemptions is a move that was discussed for long but was not put into practice. Hopefully this will happen now.
Individual tax rates are unchanged but additional investment of Rs.50k for contribution to pension funds has been provided. This is going to benefit only people in the higher income bracket. I do not think people with income of Rs.10 lakhs will benefit if they are already investing Rs.1.5 lakhs and enjoying tax benefit for home loan interest. Most in this income range will also have many other obligations as children education which is quite expensive for most. I doubt if they will have spare cash for another Rs.5k for this investment. People having income of more than Rs.10 lakhs will take this benefit surely and will save tax.
Same could be the case with the enhanced deduction offered for health insurance. I wonder how many in lower income group take benefit of Rs.15k available now. Additional Rs.10k offered now will also benefit those in higher income slab.
I therefore think that tax free income of Rs.4.44 lakhs is not for people in lower income slabs. Most working people will surely get benefit of doubling of transport allowance.
I would prefer the government exempting all people earning up to Rs.5 lakhs from Income tax completely. Those above this level can be taxed from Rs.3 lakhs onwards. May be the FM can try this next year.
I see no reason to bury DTC. I was hoping it will be implemented by the FM. I hope next year he will take a re-look and move to EET and at the same time lower taxes the same way he has done with Corporate Tax this year.
I don’t know if we need to invest money in more IITs & IIMs before stabilizing the new ones that have come up in the last few years. Just opening more of these many put more pressure on quality.
I hope the scheme of gold monetization will become successful. Though, the past experience is not encouraging at all. Indians do not like paper gold is a fact.
More investments in infrastructure are welcome. Hopefully the money will be utilized and will help kick start the economy. But one must realise that these projects take a long time planning and the starting of actual execution. May be the majority of the money allotted will be used for ongoing projects and there completion at the earliest.
I am baffled with the need for MUDRA. I think this could have been done through the existing banking system itself. Banks have ample funds to lend as of now.
The tax free infrastructure bonds seem to have made a comeback. Why was it discontinued this year is not explained. However this measure will be used by people in high income bracket and not many in lower income bracket even though they generate better returns than a Bank FD.
Since more funds are getting devolved on states from this year, there has to be a mechanism in place to make sure states use these funds for creating infrastructure and on socially important areas like education, housing, health etc. The Central government should also now persuade state governments to lower taxes on petroleum products that are very high in many states. This will give relief to many and may reduce the cost of public transport as well.
Over the years I have realized that a budget is intent. It is the plan for the next financial year. It may be better to look at the outcome budget one year from now. That is the time when we will know how good the budget has been. So it is better to wait for one year for comprehensive comments on Budget.
Let us hope the FM succeeds in what he wishes to do, because if he does we as a country will benefit. All the very best Mr. Jaitley and the government!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

SEBI’s two Acts!

SEBI’s two Acts!
In last two days SEBI has done two things, one good though unnecessarily delayed and other sheer stupidity!
SEBI has decided to close the regional stock exchanges. This was inevitable since long. Why they existed till now is the real question. Once we had moved to dematerialization of shares and on line trading these exchanges became redundant. Many companies listed on these exchanges are obviously not those in whose shares any substantial trading takes place. These are mostly companies that probably do not deserve to be listed in the first place.
In India everyone wants everything. So we in the first place allowed as many as 21 exchanges! Older exchanges like Kolkata had little turnover same was the case with Delhi and Chennai. Gujarath I think had three exchanges just as they have three cricket associations and their Ranji teams!
I have heard and read some people say that this move will inconvenience to retail investors. The question is why these investors are invested in these companies? Viable companies will have to move to BSE platform if they wish to be listed.
The second thing the SEBI has floated is that in an IPO to protect the so called retail investors companies will be asked to issue Optionally Convertible Debentures. This is a stupid move. It says that if at the time of conversion if the market price of the shares is below the conversion price then investors can refuse the conversion and the company should redeem these! Which company will have the cash flow to refund this money? Companies normally use IPO route to raise money that they are likely to invest or spend and not to keep it aside till the date of conversion.
The earlier stupidity of Green Shoe Option is still in force voluntarily. Even that needs to be scrapped. I remember asking the need of this provision to Mr Damodaran who was then the Chairman of SEBI; and his answer was I was not there when it was brought in. To my question as to what stops him from scrapping it he had nothing to say like a true bureaucrat.
Retail investors tend to apply for IPOs when the market is in bull phase. The intention is not to become investors but to sale on listing and hopefully make a profit. Do we need such investors at all? And if they want to do this they must undertake the risk of not only, not making a profit but to make a loss for their wrong judgement. This happened on a large scale during the now infamous and what was the biggest IPO in January 2008, Reliance Power ltd.
The mandatory grading of IPO is also another useless thing and needs to be scrapped. It does not help retail investors as it does not comment of the issue price at all. We have seen many issues who were graded below investment grade getting over subscribed and companies like Reliance Power that got highest grading but investors lost money.
Hope SEBI wakes up and does what it needs to do and not do things that it has no business to do! I know this is asking for too much!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

घुसळखांब, ताक आणि लोणी!

घुसळखांब, ताक आणि लोणी!
लोणी न आवडणारे फार नसावेत. काहींना ताक घुसळून आलेल ताज ताज आवडत; तर काहींना कुणाच्या टाळू वरच आणि काहींना मिळेल त्या स्वरुपात, आज कालच्या मुलांना फक्त बटर आणि ते ही अमूल बिमलचच फक्त आवडत असावं! एकंदरीत लोणी न आवडणारा विरळाच.
मला खर खर लोणी आवडत. ताज असेल तर मस्तच! माझ्या लहानपणी घरी खूप माणसे असल्याने दूध, तुपाची रेलेचेल असायची. आई लोण्याच ताक करायची तो एक समारंभच असायचा जणू! दही खूप असल्याने हे ताक व्ह्यायच घुसळखांबावर! बर्‍याच जणांना हे प्रकरण माहीत ही नसेल. यात एका खांबावर दोन लोखंडी गोल असत आणि ताकाची रवी प्रचंड मोठी असे, त्या रवीला डोर गुंडाळून हे ताक करालागे. यात श्रम ही खूप. मी हे पाहत बसे कारण त्या लोण्याची हाव. लोणी आल की आईच्या मागे लोणी दे म्हणून. पण तिची शिस्त भारी. सगळं लोणी काढायची आधी दुसर्‍या भांड्यात कढवायला आणि मग रवीला चिकटलेल लोणी भरवायची! पण सारखं वाटायचं त्या भांड्यात हात घालून मोठा गोळा मटकवावा, पण हिम्मत नव्हती!
अनेक दिवस मला आपल्याला कधी दही लावता येणार नाही याची खात्री होती. पण मग लावलं एकदा धीर करून आणि झाल की दही! फार आनंद वाटला काही तरी जबरदस्त केल्याचा. आनंद कसा कुठे ही लपलेला असतो याची परत एकदा प्रचिती आली! आपणच तो हरवतो आणि कुठेतरीच शोधत बसतो! मग साईच दही ही लावायला लागलो आणि मग त्याच ताक करून लोणी ही काढायला लागलो. शास्त्रज्ञांना जेवढा आनंद होत मोठे मोठे शोध लावून त्याहून ही जास्तआनंद झाला मग! आणि हे सगळं गेल्या वर्षा दोन वर्षात! मग कढवायला ही शिकलो न जाळता!
पण अजून ही आलेले लोणी खात नाही मी. सगळं लोणी काढल्यावर हाताला, बोटांना राहिलेलं मात्र चटतो मजेत. आईचा धाक अजून आहे! आता म्हलेल कोणी ह्या वयात हे अस चाटण शोभत का? पण जे लहानपणी आवडत होत, ते मोठ झाल्यावर तेवढाच आनंद देत असेल तर का नाही करू? उगीचच वयाचा बाऊ करून आनंदाला पारख होण हा तद्दन मूर्खपणा नाही का?
पहिल्यांदा सगळं केल तेव्हा आईंनी पहिलं असेल, असेल तिथून आणि तिला कौतुक वाटलं असेल नक्की, हा ही तर आणखी एक आनंद!
तेव्हा दही लावाव, ताक घुसळून लोणी करा आणि खाव ते मजेत. त्या साठी कृष्ण असण्याची गरज नाही. कदाचित ह्यांनी तुमचं तो स्ट्रेस का काय तो ही नाहीसा होईल काही वेळ!

Saturday, February 21, 2015


प्रेम आणि तुझ्या वर मी कधी केल?
आणि तसा हा आरोप तू माझ्यावर
कशास करावास?
आणि केल समजा मी प्रेम तुझ्यावर,
अस तुला वाटलं;
आठवत का तुला ते मी कधी तरी
शब्दात व्यक्त केलेलं?
आणि आता तुझा हा आरोप की
माझ्या वाण्यातून ते व्यक्त झाल!
आणि मग तुझ वागणं कस होत
ह्याचा ही परामर्श घे तू आणि
मी काय त्यातून अर्थ काढावा
आणि काय तुझ्या वर आरोप
करावा हे ही तूच मला सांगावं!


Corporate espionage will Chanakya & Machiavelli be laughing?

Corporate espionage will Chanakya & Machiavelli be laughing?
Espionage of all kinds was recommended by these two. Corporate strategists probably call this Environment scanning. Getting information about competitors is highly recommended. Now government in India is probably slotted as a competitor because it has its own companies in the field and is thought may be rightly, get preferred treatment in any case thus a level playing field is not available to other private sector companies.
It is good that the government has caught some people in the act. Hopefully the full story will be revealed in coming weeks. Hopefully the culprits will be punished. Hopefully the system will learn lessons and improve. Now this sort of thing must be happening for years I am sure. The lure of easy money for most in our society is an established fact. Government employees’ salaries have been hiked by 5th and 6th Pay commissions and the 7th is on the way. It was very naively thought that if they are paid handsomely their greed will reduce if not vanish. That they will put in better quality of work. I think this has just not happened. Corruption has probably increased.
It is difficult to digest that sensitive documents just lie around on tables of Babus and not put away safely at the end of the day! The kind of documents that have been stolen is not yet known. Those who were careless in this will they be sacked immediately? Security or something that goes by that name must be a joke if people can switch off CCTVs and nobody noticed it or the fact that fake documents were accepted for entry routinely.
Media blatantly claims on prime time daily claims that they have documents in their hand. Are all those obtained by using RIT? Impossible! Since when did government departments became so efficient? CAG report copies were available to media even before the report was tabled in parliament. At that time nobody including those in government did not raise alarm or took any action. Sucheta Dalal tweeted that in her career as journalist for 30 long years she has seen documents marked “Top Secret” being made available to journalists!
My more serious concern is if this is happening across ministries and there is no reason to believe that it has happened only in a couple of ministries, how easy it must be for our enemies and also our friends to know the so called secrets of the state. Have such documents been used against us in international for a to arm-twist us, to force us to give concession on trade front?
Many times opposition parties have also claimed on the floor of the house that they are in possession of some sensitive documents. That seems to have gone unnoticed or has even got applauded.
More transparency in the functioning of the government may be one answer to this problem. Better security is another. Too much of secrecy is not required but governments are willing to classify anything and everything as Secret. For example most part of the budget need not be secret at all! Why proposed budget proposals cannot be discussed publically before finalizing?
But I can’t help visualizing Chanakya and Machiavelli laughing together in heaven!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Rarest of Rare Politician R. R. Patil

Rarest of Rare Politician R. R. Patil
It is very rare to find such a simple politician in any party these days. In days when from Grampanchayat to Corporation level we see member amass wealth in just one term Aba in spite of his long journey from ZP to Assembly and having held important portfolios for 15 long years died as a common man with no wealth to show except the out pouring of genuine grief of his followers,
Aba was a product of Karmaveer Bhaurao Patil’s Rayat Shikshan Sanstha and did his higher education through Earn and learn model. He is a tribute to Bhaurao Patil’s efforts in the field of education for the poor.
Vasatdada Patil who came from similar background spotted the caliber of Aba very early and gave him ticket for assembly. Sharad Pawar always on the lookout for talent that emerges from grass roots took him under his wings and stood by him making him President of NCP, then a minister and then Home Minister and Dy. C.M. Vasantdada and Sharad Pawar deserve due credit for backing him.
His initiative for cleanliness produced good results in rural Maharashtra under Sant Gadage Maharaj Grameen Swachhata Abhiyan. Aba did not get credit on national level for his initiative. This is where media fails us by not projecting good work done by politicians. Today “Swachhata” is being marketed, very smartly involving stars and socially important people. Aba did not do that ever.
Aba’s initiative in settling disputes locally also was a good move. Again he did not get due credit for this.
Aba was the man along with Bhujbal and Jayant Patil who were in the fore front of opposition during the Yuti government. Aba came into his element during this time. When most Congressmen were struggling to be in opposition for the first ever time in their life, Aba took to his new role effortlessly. A great speaker with a sense of humor and his habit of studying the subject before speaking on it endeared him to the public as well as press. Aba gave great deal of head ache to Manohar Joshi and Munde during this time.
Aba suffered national humiliation thanks to the electronic media during Mumbai attack. His comments made in his poor Hindi were blown out of proportion. Aba rightly had to take the blame for the laxity of Mumbai police in dealing with the terrorist attack as he was the Home Minister. Aba had to resign but Pawar reinstated him as soon as he could do it.
Aba was rare politician who had no involvement in any co-operative factory or in any educational empire. I am amused to see many politicians and Ex-Ministers talking about his simplicity. None of them is anywhere near him where austerity is concerned.
People like him give hope to Indian democracy. We need more like him in public life. We also need to know who are like him not after they are gone but when they are doing good work.
Maharashtra has lost three important politicians in Vilasrao, Munde and now Aba but only Aba qualifies to be called Rarest of Rare!
Maharashtra needs to be grateful for this humble man who did not get intoxicated by power and did not create wealth for himself and his family. We will all miss him especially as he was going to be on the opposition benches for next five years, a place where he made a name for himself the last time he was there.
With gratitude, Rest in Peace Aba!  Hope many youngsters will find inspiration in your story in coming years!

Why we Indians lack Killer’s instinct.

Why we Indians lack Killer’s instinct.
So India beat Pakistan for the sixth time in World Cup, having never lost to them ever. The extreme reaction to this victory in the streets, with tweets from President, PM and Ex-President congratulating the team and the general euphoria would have made the uninitiated think that India had won some World Championship! I have heard many Indians say over the years that as long as we beat Pakistan but don’t then win the World Cup it is just fine! I find this strange. Is it not better to lose a match on way to the ultimate glory of winning the World Cup? What is scary is that the majority of the people seem to think this way. I am quite sure that the most people in Pakistan would behave the same way. After all we share so much that is common to us! The fact that India has not beaten South Africa ever in a World Cup match it is 3-0 in their favor does not bother us at all. As a matter of fact many would say it is no great deal. After yesterday’s victory we should actually be discussing how we will beat them next Sunday, instead we are walloping in false sense of achievement. Dhoni is right when he says some day India may lose to Pakistan in a World Cup match! But till then we will be fine. The day that happens the same crowd will stone the houses of the cricketers for having betrayed the nation and its pride! This happened in 1974, (After white wash against England) 2003 when we lost to Australia in a league match and again after the disaster of 2007 world cup.
This behavior obviously has its roots in history, sociology and psychology of the people. It is strange that our people otherwise lap up Pakistani musicians heartily. Gulam Ali, Mehadi Hassan, Abida Begum, Nusarat Fatej Ali and others have enjoyed huge popularity and their live shows were always houseful. Imran Khan enjoyed humongous popularity here during his hey days and Indian women were swooning over him quite unabashedly. Bollywood stars and many Indian cricketers I am sure including Sachin the God for many are very popular in Pakistan.
We as a nation have to overcome this stupid paranoia about Pakistan. We are a much better country and society than they are for years now. It is in our interest that they too become a good democracy and we have good relations with them. Many of our problems will be solved if this were to happen. But our hatred for Pakistan in general so high many want the government to engage in a war with them and finish them once for all! Of course all those who say this will not be fighting the war.
This attitude of being satisfied with something far less that the ultimate goal is our undoing because we then are satisfied with substandard stuff rather than go for the best. This attitude is reflected in many fields and must be one of the reasons why we lag behind the world in many areas.
Let us get things right if want to be a world power in future. Rhetoric and stupid emotions like this have kept us backward in many ways. If we cannot get over all this even now we will continue to struggle.
Hope the young generation understands this go for the ultimate glory every time. The lack of Killer’s instinct has hurt us!