Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Evil Side of Social Networking

Social Networking is in a way boon to the Professionals to help them connect and share information.  It is a boon to the Youngsters to connect and search to gather information.  It serves as online platform for the families and friends to connect and share. Looking at the various aspects of Social Networking and the vision with which these were created, should be applauded for.  But as they say, Evil always follows the Good.  So is the case of Social Networking where the Evil Prospered more and brought out the uglier side of the human race.  

With the anonymity to hide behind and with the ease of projecting oneself as something others would look to, the so called "predators" have started bringing disrepute to the Social Networking.  There are so many cases that are to be read about often.  The case of Love over Social Networking, the Case of Claiming to do things for Fun, the Case of Suicide for being dumped by the So called Boy Friend or Girl Friend found on Social Networking Site, the case of Financial Duping by friends from Social Networking and so forth.  The cases here have risen to the next level with the involvement of Minors who get depressed or commit suicide or get abused over the Social Networking Sites.

All the malice and all the inappropriateness actually triggers down to one question - "What Level of Protocols are to be developed to ensure that the Malice and bad Intended Activities are controlled on Social Networking?"  Probably the Think Tanks across the world would have to work together to ensure that they find a viable solution while still not hampering the independence and liberty offered by the Internet and Social Networking Sites. The areas that they would need to work towards may involve - 

  1. Schools need to Compulsorily conduct Awareness Sessions for the minors on how to avoid the evils of Social Networking and the things that "Certainly need to be avoided" on the Net.
  2. Parent - Teacher joint task groups should be created to mentor the troubled child who could have crossed that extra mile and got in the shades of the Evils of Social Networking 
  3. Parents to act as counsellors for their Children in the tender teen age where there is high possibility of getting influenced by the peer group and getting to the wrong un
  4. Age verification for the Adults getting in touch with Minors over the Social Network - this can be an option for due diligence and the Social Networking sites may use data other than Credit Cards for the Purpose.  May be a verification server deployed with Government agency be used as an authentic source of information to this effect. Depends how this integration is brought in for various countries / geographies.  But yes without storing the Sensitive Personal Information, they can work toward the Authentication Token based mechanism
  5. Countries to introduce regulations / acts to ensure that the Minors are not provided access to the Cyber Cafe when not accompanied by an Adult Family Member.  Parents and elder / adult siblings must be made aware of and responsible to this effect
There as such can be many steps that can be thought of and debated to arrive at the right mix to reduce the evils and the impacts.  Though, I don't think that it would be easy to eradicate the evils and evil effects of the Social Networking........

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Indian Governments Shameful Stand on War Crimes

Last week, we again witnessed a low resolve and shameful decision from the Government of India (GOI).  The case being referred is of GOI washing its hands to support petition of DR. DN Kalia (Father of Captain Saurabh Kalia) at UN Human Rights Council to bring the perpetrators who killed the Brave son of Soil Captain Kalia and five of his unit members with utter brutality. 

For those who are not familiar with the incident, need to note that in 1999 during the Kargil War, Capt Kalia and his 5 unit members were Brutally Tortured and Killed in captivity of Pakistani Army.  Their bodies were returned 22 days later on June 9, 1999 when the war was at its peak.  For any nation, this would certainly be a case of War Crimes as per the Geneva Convention, but GOI has a different shameful stand here.

Though Dr Kalia moved to SC in 2012 as well as lodged a Petition with UN Human Rights Council, GOI has not taken up the case as they want to settle this amicably with the Rogue Nation in question.  A nation who's PM calls our PM as Dehati Aurat and then acts as a Dehati Aurat himself.

I would suggest that as a nation and as one unit, we all need to stand up to Support Dr. Kalia's cause because it is not just the case of his son, but many such bravehearts who get tortured by the dastards from that rogue nation.  We as a nation need to unite with Dr Kalia just like we united for war against corruption and War against Crime on Women.  

GOI might not be ashamed to take a decision like this and make a mockery of the torture faced by our bravehearts. The case highlighted might be of 6 Bravehearts who are referred as First Kargil heroes, but then there are many other instances too and there can be more that could be repeated in future. It is hence important to back Dr Kalia and get the resolution moved for War Crimes against the Rogue Nations' Army and get the perpetrators to justice....

Please join the raise your voice against Shameful Stand of GOI.....

Friday, September 20, 2013

My New World

After a long time I am feeling like writing something that is slightly personal, that is something about myself and that is about my loved ones.  Yes it does involve a few shades from my past that have been my learning (hard ones) and that have helped me evolve as a person to be more family focused than I would have been then.

When I look back, the dawn of my new world had begun during the Ganesh Festival, on Wednesday September 26, 2012 when I spoke to the lovely lady who became my life partner. The call then and the subsequent dinner that night went well for me, but seems not everything went as good for her.  But, keeping all our negatives aside, we dated a few more days and with the consent of our families we got married to each other two months later.

The twist and the turn helped me get over with the die hard habit of being too vulnerable when helping others and getting abused by those whom I helped.  There had been numerous cases where I helped people around me and they too full advantage of my generosity (that's why used word abused).  There had been people who when needed financial help were helped financially, but they disappeared once their woes were taken care of. There had been people who were given shelter in my abode and they disappeared after their woes had been taken care of. there had been people who were supported morally and they walked all over spreading rumors about me.  But the Sweet, Lovely and Caring Wife helped me get over my own habit that always got me those setbacks financially, morally and emotionally.  She started building the new world for me.

With the slow and steady patience filled approach she help me mend my ways in which I looked at the world and the way I used to set my preferences.  She worked her way to help me change with tenderness, love, care and yeah occasional Anger bursts (LOL)....But, she never left a stone unturned to help me get over my old ways....

Our little journey of life (in last one year) together helped me see a better future than what it would have otherwise been without her.  She has given me the best gift of my life - my daughter who was born just this month. Though a premature one, the little one is too cute and adorable just like her Mom (my wife).  Together they have made my New World more charming and lovable.  

The change in me has also been noted by my parents and they are happy that their son (me) is back to life that is to be lived rather than just dragging across the deserts like a lone traveler.  They have been at their best in my old world and in my new world, they have been the happiest as I see.... The camaraderie between them and my wife is something that I feel jealous about (LOL).... 

The small new world that was initiated by my wife certainly can't be complete without my parents and yes she has been at her best to have given me a well balanced New World where I am supposed to be living and forget the misshapes & setbacks from my past (baring the learning).... loving my New World...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lack of Intel Coordination - Leads to Ignorance and it costs

Ignoring the Intel Information seems to the in thing for Indian Security System.  We have seen that in the past in multiple cases and when we have seen the Intel getting a success, we get to see that another agency ridicules the operations.  So the end of it, the Intel Agency prefers to Pull out of the Future such cases.

Taking the case of recent serial blasts at Bodh Gaya, another instance where the Intel shared was ignored and the result is for us to yet witness another series of blasts with 9 explosions.  As if the Mumbai Train Blasts, the 26/11 in Mumbai, Godhra Carnage, Akshardham incident in Ahmadabad, Parliament Attacks and various other acts of terror were not enough to yet have another case. And this time involving the Holy Shrine and that too from altogether a different sect/religion that promotes peace more actively.  

It surely is a gruesome act of terrorism, but then more heinous crime is actually by the State Police Force to have ignored the Intelligence passed on by the IB and others.  Every time when we dwell in the case, we are lead to the failure of basics, Ignorance towards the IB inputs and not heeding to the warning aired.  It is now becoming a trend for one different agencies to just ridicule each other and waste the time and efforts invested by one agency and the end result "Blood Bath".

If that was not something that was already hurting us, there is another case where the investigative agency has gone an extra mile to ridicule the effort from another Intel Agency in a case that is now haunting the entire Security System.  The Intel Agency has voiced the concern highlighting that if this would be the case, they would put a stoppage in cooperation after passing on the information. Ah as if after receiving the information the agencies which are supposed to work, work!!

The whole system for that matter is flawed.  No Coordination, No Cooperation, No Mutual Respect and on top of that Different Operative Environment and Political Bosses.  Yupp, the stuff that hurts the most is the delay in the modernization and centralization of the Domestic Security Operations at the center and the state level.  The Country that leads in the IT Service Space providing services to the Western World, is a case study in its own for not having the Well knit Information Sharing Network.  A Country that can drive the usage of Modern Day technology by its Domestic Security Agencies, but the officers are still using the age old systems to communicate. In the process, even if the Information on probabilistic event may reach them, they care less to even acknowledge and/or read it.  Forget taking an Action on it.  Result, lost momentum and rather than Proactively Blocking the Terrorism, they end up investigating in in reactive mode and then prove that the culprit is the actual culprit.  Situation Gives us the State Guests like Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab, who live on the hard earned money of the tax payers!!!

So what is required?  I did state above Modernization and Centralization.....But then, what are the steps to be taken there?  Not just better armory, it would also require an overhaul of the system as well as the Domestic Security Forces to ensure that the terrorists wouldn't be able to carry out Terror Attacks...Detials in the next Post!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Income Tax Filing Rules in India - For Salaried Individuals

The article referred above is pretty elaborate article form the perspective of helping us in deciding our way forward for filing the Tax returns.  The major change this year is directive from CBDT to all the Tax Payers in India with Income more than INR 500,000 to file Income Tax online.  As already covered in the article on Economic Times, there are many online portals that charge anything between INR 200 to INR 4000 to do so.  However, from the perspective I look at it, it would be better to take help from a CA to prepare your Tax Return and then File it through an online portal.  I for that matter do the same and my favorite site to file my returns is Income Tax India's online Portal.  Once I get the acknowledgement (ITR-V), I then send the same by Speed Post to CPC Banglore. Year on year, I had been doing the same and never faced issues.  It has been an awesome experience with my CA preparing my returns for me and then I myself keying in the information to the Portal using the ITR-II.  Simple & easy, though ITR-II is more comprehensive, but saves a lot time from scrutiny as you provide as much information as you need  to.

This leads to the second change, why ITR-II and Why not ITR-I or Sahaj / Saral?  The reason being, the complexity of income earned - from salaries, from dividends, from house rent, agriculture etc. (ok, not that I have so many sources, mentioned them to align the thoughts that Income from Multiple sources would tend to require ITR-II). Though the overall amount may be negligible and may not impact Income Tax majorly, but then using ITR-II one can declare the same in bit more elaborate manner than what they would do in case of Sahaj or Saral .  Specifically this year when there is a rider from CBDT that anyone who has already availed the exempt of more INR 5000 or more on Income Tax, they would need to file returns using ITR-II. The referred article also provides for this information, but leaves that out with highlighting the ambiguity there.

The topic of exempt as mentioned is quite an ambiguous one as the industry experts themselves are deliberating whether the exemption of HRA, LTA, Conveyance Allowance etc would be counted as contributing to the exempt of INR 5000. But as I read the new directive, I would opine that the exempt here is with reference to the exemption received on heads other than the ones available to the Salaried individuals.  LTA and Conveyance Allowances are specifically availed by the Salaried Individual and hence they are the ones would be in a dilemma "Why use ITR-II".  Income from Business and Partnerships etc anyways require one to use ITR-III.  So the answer lies in the List of Exemptions as available on the website of the Income Tax department or you can download it by clicking here. That should help resolve the ambiguity and the confusion as left out for in the article.
NOTE*** - It would still be better to refer your trusted CA, as I am not a qualified CA, but am just sharing my experience and my own study. Please treat this as a reference that you may use as starting point and not as the final authoritative information.  Please once again, "DO NOT treat this as an Authoritative Information"

Monday, July 1, 2013

Inter-Connect Rivers - Control Damage by Floods & Address Water Shortage

While following news on Floods across Northern and Eastern part of India, I interacted with many people on the various forums.  There have been quite a few comments that were politically driven but then there were quite a few which stood real merit. One such observation by one participant is to inter-connect the rivers across India.  Indeed a good point that stands a merit to be considered, but needs to be critically reviewed for impact on the Ecological Sensitivity and Balance. 

Benefits that would be derived from the Project to Inter-connect rivers can be well listed as - 
  1. Rain Water would not just drain out and can be Harvested in the small and mid-sized damns that would be built to store and divert the water.
  2. Some of the Dams may be designated for Hydel Power Projects, thus generating electricity that can address the electricity shortage problem to some tune
  3. Project on Dams as well as Power generation would help generate jobs across the country
  4. Plantation projects should be considered for ensuring that the deforestation caused by building dams does not bring in ecological dis-balance.   These Plantation farms need to be located at the periphery of the water catchment area of the dams
  5. Human as well as Wild-life being displaced due to these projects need to be rehabilitated to newer areas in a fashion that they do not load the existing habitats and do not unbalance the ecology
  6. Clear rules to be set out for Water distribution from these dams to the original course of the river and the diversion canals as created
  7. Periphery of 5 kms around the catchment area of the dams to be declared as Eco-Sensitive and NO-Development Zone. Human Habitat must be prohibited in those areas
Additional Steps that would be beneficial and need to be taken should be with regards to the Study that needs to be conducted to ascertain the old course and the new course of a river that is was following earlier and is now following. This would help in ensuring that any human habitat on or around the old course is moved out from there.  We have already witnessed that when flooding occurs, rivers do change their course and shift to the older one along with the newer. E.g. Kosi Floods in Bihar couple of years back and the Alaknanda as well as Bhagirathi in Uttarakhand during the recent floods there.

Considerations and the Problem Areas that would need to be addressed during the project would include but not necessarily be limited to - 
  1. Interconnect for the rivers would require Dams to be built to divert the water.  This would lead to the extended coverage of human habitation as well as forests
  2. Displaced Villages would need Rehabilitation and that may cost more load on existing villages or the forests
  3. Interconnects would traverse though various Villages and Forests, another reason why the displacement would be more
  4. Interconnects would change the ecological balance in the Forests as the animals would suddenly find a new development that they would need to adjust.  There had been a case where couple of Elephants lost their lives due to one such development
  5. States owning the Dams withing their territory would regulate the water they release to the interconnect as they would like to ensure that the people of that state would get enough supply before the water is released - More stories of Karnataka - Tamil Nadu sorts
  6. When the upstream states would see heavy rains and the water levels there would rise, they would certainly open the barrage to let the water pass through to the downstream state, that may save them from the flood, but the downstream state would face flood situations as the people there would not be prepared for they may not witness as much rain....Regular Feature between Haryana and Delhi...

So to sum it all, the Interconnect River Project would need a very careful and elaborate study and planning.  including - 
  1. Villagers who would be impacted would need to be Consulted as well as Compensated.  Buy in from the Villagers would be very critical otherwise we would witness more oppositions as faced in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.  
  2. The states involved would need to ensure that they do not end up in conflicts over water and the water sharing formula as coined at the start of the Project are honored
  3. Upstream states when releasing excess water to control flood need to communicate it to the downstream states so that the damage assessment is well taken care of by the down stream states and the damages are contained with timely mitigation steps
  4. Last but not the least, the Involved officials would need to ensure that they RESPOND to the MET Department Notes and Warnings to ensure timely response and communication within the administrative wings. This will help reduce the overall damage that may be caused.
Update: ET Article link added below - 
Though the Dam is pegged to be lasting only for 61 years, the last slide of the Presentation on ET highlights some of the benefits as being derived as mentioned in the article above

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Uttarakhand Floods & Tourist Management - Few Suggestions

The Uttarakhand Floods opened up a pandora's box when it comes to the mismanagement by local civic bodies and the State Government. It highlights the lack of preparedness to deal with the disaster.  The entire set of reports and the focus was on the rescue operations for the tourists and in the overall case, the residents of the area seems to have been neglected by the media.  Now that the rescue operations have almost completed, the focus seems to be shifting towards the locals with 744+ villages reported to be cut off from the rest of the world.  But here, does someone has the number of villages that have been Washed off completely?  The tales as being aired or reported are all from the rescue and tourists, but none had been talking about the rehabilitation until last couple of days and there is NO focus on the Washed of villages where almost entire population has been missing and feared dead!!!!

Anyhow, that is something to be addressed by the Government Machinery and for the media to bring the facts to us.  What my aim from this article is to get few of the Suggestions that would help ensure that the mismanagement that was highlighted by this tragedy is addressed and that there is more control in the tourism and on the number of people visiting the Char Dhams at any given point in time.  Another aspect that I would suggest to be corrected would be around industrialization in Uttarakhand.

Starting with the regularization of Char Dham Visitors and the other tourists, I feel following steps need to be implemented with immediate effect (though many would avert their own decisions for 2 to 3 years as that is the time that would require to rebuild the Infrastructure connecting these locations) - 
  1. An Authority must be appointed at the Center Level to oversee the overall flow towards the Char Dham locations
  2. All the Visitors to the Char Dham locations must be required to register with the central Authority and get tokens
  3. All the service providers including Tour Operators, Horse Suppliers, Taxi Operators and others must be registered with the central authority and they must report the Tourists and Char Dham "Yatris" to the central Authority.
  4. Central Authority needs to then divide the Registered Applicants in batches and define the time frames for each batch to visit the Shrines in stipulated time frame. 
  5. Check posts may be established to monitor the movement of the Pilgrims and once the previous Batch has returned, the next batch should be permitted to proceed. This would ensure that there is no rush in the locals to host the pilgrims and that the areas do not see the same set of Rapid unorganized development again. This would help sanitize the Eco-Sensitive Zone from Mushroom growth of infrastructure
  6. Locals and the Local Civic Bodies must be sensitized to not rush to re-build everything again and caution must be taken to ensure that whatever is built is built to sustain the future hazards
Many may voice against the points mentioned above, but then they need to note that Registration and Approval is a must for Amarnath Yatra and there adequate measures are taken to ensure the safety and security of the pilgrims.  If the measures are successful there, why can't they be replicated for Char Dham?

Coming to the point of Industrialization, the Government needs to learn that the Geography of Uttarakhand is not such that it could be considered safe heaven for Industries (from Geographic Stand point).  The state government needs to learn from the catastrophe and needs to ensure that they do not invite heavy industrialization as that would impact the nature adversely due to deforestation "Major Cause of Soil Erosion and silt formation".  Also, with deforestation the upper crust would become weak to hold the heavy rocks and boulders that would then result in Land-slide and in many cases may destroy the underlying infrastructure.  Additionally, Industrialization would lead to population moving closure to the Industrial Area and then another round of Habitat getting developed at whatever piece of land is available, thus again another impact on nature's course and another invitation for disaster that we have already witnessed now.

The strength of Uttarakhand would lie in the Tourism Industry and if they focus there with development around Tourism facilities they would do better.  It would be good for them to ensure that the tourists reaching Uttarakhand are registered to provide them with the required information, provide them with the contact points to connect to in case of distress situation, educate them about the weather forecast in the region and where to head in disastrous situation and foremost train the teams at various levels to ensure safety and security of the tourists.  It would also be good for the Uttarakhand Government to apply checks and balances to ensure that evacuation drills get more focus to safeguard the locals rather than trying to rescue and rehabilitate.  

Proactive Approach might seem to be expensive, but proves to be Cost & more importantly Life Saving 

Man Made Disaster- Result of Greedy Civils and Napping Government - Wake Up Time

Uttarakhand Rain Disaster as I have already written is the Man Made Disaster caused by the Greed of the Civilians and the Lack of Proactive Approach by the Government Machinery. Sounds harsh and if someone thinks that I am criticizing the government too much, then please read on the following bullets - 

  • To develop the tourism industry (Greed for Money) the Government didn't check the development in and around the Alaknanda in Kedar Valley.  Too much of Development in that area including the Water Catchment was an invite to such destruction!! 
  • The reports from the various authorities that had clearly marked the development area where the government should have let development happen (around the Kedar Helipad) was ignored and the development covered the River Banks, the disaster was invited!!
  • Approximately or as reported 400 odd sthey mall or medium sized dams either under construction or fully constructed on Alaknanda, Bhaghirathi and Mandakini were washed out completely and the water accumulated by these dams rushed with the already overflowing river water.  Another invitation to the disaster by not following the warnings and still going ahead with building the dams. The dams as is were not meeting the seismic requirements either, they would have cause another catastrophe if not rains, earthquake would have hit!!
  • Another big time invitation to calamity is the Tehri Dam that survived this time, but is not constructed to last higher intensity Earthquakes, common in that region due to the collision of the tectonic plates.  Also the Dam is tipped to age only 61 years, so say in another few years owing to the earthquakes and incessant rains it could make way for yet another disaster that would impact even Haridwar and Dehradoon!! Invitation is already despatched!!
  • MET department had sent a Warning Notes to the State Government Officials as well as the Indian Meteorological Department at Center, but the warning notes were clearly found to be "IGNORED" with the officials making a statement as "these are regular notes and the intensity of the rains were not mentioned" (Ref: Put off yatra, evacuate pilgrims, Met said, but govt sat on warning) My question here is - What do they mean by intensity of rains? Do they want MET department to go ahead and forecast the amount of rain? When the MET departments "Warning Note" read it clearly to keep the tourists off the Char Dham area and to evacuate the locals, then what else is required? Inactive and Napping Government Functionary invited the Disaster!!  As is acting on Intel received from other departments seems to be hurting the ego of Officials, we have seen the intel failure in other cases including the Mumbai Attack, Parliament Attack, Godhra Carnage etc. 
Ain't it Tragic that the Civil Administrative Bodies and the Current as well as Previous State Governments have done nothing to control the pace and width of the Development.  Additionally they SLEPT on the Warning Note by MET.  If they would have acted in time, the overall impact would have been contained to majorly the damaged infrastructure and not the extensive loss of human life.  If the Government machinery would have acted Proactively, the cost of evacuation would have been far less than the rescue operations....But would they learn?  Nopes they would not!!! 

What needs to be done with immediate effect?  Seems to be a pretty good question and would be debated by the Political Parties and the various corridors for long, but nothing concrete would come out. Why, because they would be more busy in luring their vote banks (e.g Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi - Both Played politics on the disaster Ref: #whereispappu and 15K Gujarati pilgrims rescued? Tales of survivors magnify the absurd claim). 

However, the things that need to be done to ensure that the disaster of similar nature do not strike again are - 
  1. Control the Rapid Development in the Uttarakhand by ensuring the Eco Sensitive Zones do not see any concrete Jungle.  All the Tourist Rest Stops, Motels, Hotels need to be built in safe and secure locations and must be meeting the Seismic requirements too
  2. Cordon off the Kedar Valley for any permanent Construction for now and for ever.  The River Alaknanda though flows from the other side of the temple, decades ago its main course was not that and this time, it came back to its old course.  We should have learned that from the Bihar Floods few years back when River Kosi had changed its course to original one from what it had acquired over the period of time.  The point here is, leave the River Banks Clear of any permanent structure and banned for human habitat.
  3. Develop a Disaster Management System for the State that would ensure that the teams are ready to move proactively to undertake evacuation operations and when required reactively to undertake rescue operations.
  4. Train the Government officials for ensuring that they react to the MET warnings and ensure that proactive steps are taken to save human life
  5. Seek Volunteers from the Citizen Bodies to ensure that they are trained to coorperate and lead the fellow citizens during the situation of disaster. These volunteers should also be trained in the evacuation as well as rescue operations.  These volunteers can then ensure that they educate the youth in their neighbor. This would help mass reach of the Disaster Management Program and when the actual Disaster would strike, people would be more ready as well as more equipped to cope with them.  They would certainly listen to the authorities and evacuate in time.
The above are few basic steps to be taken for Disaster Avoidance and Preparedness.  Infact not just Uttarakhand, but other states also are supposed to take these steps to ensure that they can proactively take steps to reduce the collateral damage.  

Another thing that I would suggest to the Uttarakhand Government is to change the erring Officials and also step down from the Office by handing over the reins of rehabilitation to the Central Government. The State Government has majorly failed even in launching the rescue operations.  Without the Army, ITBP, IAF and Marcos, the rescue operations would not have been as much success as they are said to be.  The reason I am suggesting them to step down is, they had been making tall claims about rescue and trying to gain political mileage, they would do the same for rehabilitation steps too.  Better that the Center Manages the Rehabilitation with help of Border Roads, Army and other Para Military Organizations rather than Private Parties.  This way we would see quality outcome and less politics. And yeah the Work would also happen in defined timelines withing identified Cost.
As I am writing this, the news of Floods in Assam are already pouring in, but many would say, that is an annual ritual and the people there are used to the floods. But then the Assam Government also need proactive steps to evacuate people living in the Danger Zones....And save the Human Life..

Update: Article on TOI referring MET Note to Chief Secretary and others referred 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Narendra Modi lands in Uttarakhand, flies out with 15,000 Gujaratis - Will Haunt in Elections 2014

On June 23 we all heard about of read the news that highlighted Narendra Modi lands in Uttarakhand, flies out with 15,000 Gujaratis. Though I had reserved my comments then, a friend shared that news with me on email and that opened up a long email discussion that is reproduced for the readers as below - 

My reply to that mail was - "The story highlights his Rambo act but again the act was only for "Gujaratis". I applaud his efforts, but they have not been to the level of a Politician who would target PM position in next election. This news right now may be doing rounds to earn him laurels, but in 2014 election it would hurt him the most.

It is like short term Marketing gimmick to me. Please recall the Pepsi's slogan "Nothing Official About it" and that surrogate marketing was targeted at gaining mileage against Coke, but had harmed Pepsi by instigating consumers to lookout for the official Sponsor "Coke" and the sales of Coke had gone up sharply... 

So, with the news headline "Narendra Modi lands in Uttarakhand, flies out with 15,000 Gujaratis "it is certainly be praise in Gujarat, but people would then start thinking "Why didn't he save others" when there were more..." 

I got an interesting reply from my friend - Somehow I have a slightly different opinion here. I see this as a great step. As far as rescuing only Gujaratis is concerned, as a state CM he is first responsible for them, which he proved. No other state did such major thing for their state people. So, given a change to head the country, he will do similar for the countrymen, which the existing government has failed majorly.

Also, another way to look at it is that by rescuing few thousand people, he has reduced the load of Uttarakhand government. In a way, it’s a contribution in itself.

Secondly, he has also given some offers to rebuilt the temple etc.

So, I don’t think what he did was wrong. He is doing for whom he is responsible for.

The above is also the viewpoint from all the Modi Supporters, but then is it so? But now what you have to do is to flip the coin and look at the other side of the aspect. Because there is other side too. Below points are based on your points in the order they are mentioned above - 

  1. No other CM - Rajasthan as well as Punjab CM were in Uttarakhand. But why did Media not write a news about them? Incidentally they have a passing reference in the article as NAMO also discussed with X & Y. Isn't this a news that media is cashing on because NAMO is PM candidate? 
  2. He did for Gujarat for which he is responsible for. Agree, bur disagree. A Politician and a PM candidate is responsible for the entire nation and not just a region or a sect. 
  3. No other state did it - Gujarat has that sort of money to drive it. It is a rich state. Other states from where pilgrims mostly were stranded are - UP, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar, MP etc. And well let me state that except Punjab, other states are not that well to do and interestingly only Rajasthan has Congress government. 
  4. If he did for Gujarat when he is CM for that state, he would do it for the country given a chance. Wrong notion, because he rescued, eh sorry, because he got 15000 Gujaratis transported from Uttarakhand. But weren't these the ones who were already rescued by the Army? Weren't these the one who were already at places from where they could easily be transported? Or do you want to actually believe that there were only 15000 Gujaratis in the whole load of tourists in Uttarakhand? 
  5. By rescuing 15000 he reduced the load. Eh yeah let's find out how much??? Not even 5%. Do the simple calculation 15000 out of total number of tourists and Localites stranded. And what about the time that was wasted during his aerial survey. 4 hrs of rescue work was impacted. 
  6. He has offered some help to rebuild the temple. Please, am surprised at the height of biased opinion. Please also check the news that Gujarat offered only 2 crore as the aide for these victims. Center offered 1000 crores, UP 25 crores, MP 5 crores, Bihar 5 crores and incidentally Shattrughna Sinha alone 50 lakhs. So wouldn't you see that Gujarat offered 2 crores only!!! 
So looking at the above points "from a critic" and NOT as pro congress, you should re-analyse the whole case. By doing what NAMO did, he indeed created an image, but this would haunt him. 

Positive side of looking at it - at least he did something and was not celebrating #whereispappu with his set of jokers in some distant land. 

Before concluding, I would like to state that the point as mentioned above have had been later reflected in the Editorial of "Saamna - The Shivsena Mouthpiece" by none other than Udhav Thackery. This can be accessed at - "Shiv Sena hits out at Modi for rescuing 'only Gujaratis' from Uttarakhand"

I know there would be a lot of lashing on this article and many would disagree with the viewpoint as expressed above, but then those who are political observers and are following the development clearly would tend to agree with the above points. Clearly a time to do some damage control here..... 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If Ragpicker can Donate - Why can't You?

I had thought that I would write on the Gujarat Chief Minister's act, but that has taken a back seat as the story that I just read set a precedence of community service. Please read for yourself - 

The story highlights the way those street children came out of all the odds and went ahead to donate Rs. 20000 to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. A really heart felt story of the brave decision. These 10 odd thousand street children have created a network where they donate Rs 5 per day so that anyone in need may get that to use. No greed, no expectations and not a second thought to hit their corpus. Khudos to them. 

And to my surprise one of the reader commented "Ragpickers reach out to flood victims or for their personal benefits to get valuable things of Pilgrimist from the debris of ruins???????????" how insane of that person to have commented like that without reading the article. On one side those street children are saving and donating for a good cause and that insane person is just opening his mouth like that. 

On the other side I read comments from readers who have not themselves done anything and they comment for politicians, corporate houses and other organizations. Why do they forget that they can for themselves start the charity at home, but then they wouldn't..... 

Yeah some of the reader there is thinking what have I done to raise this point, then I have a clear update for such case that I have already donate online directly to PM National Relief Fund . If this makes sense to you, then please take a step forward and Donate...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Uttarakhand Floods and Aerial Survey Images

Though I don't write much on the political scenario of the Country and do not write posts supporting or criticizing any specific political organization.  This time I was compelled with the way the facts were strewed by the various political outfits to create controversies around the aerial survey of Uttarakhand's flood impacted regions by PM Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.  my angst is not against the news being publicized and PM as well as Sonia Gandhi being criticized.  My angst is against the way political parties, organizations and politicians are using a news to create controversy against the specific aerial survey.

All right, it is well understood that they made an aerial survey and impacted the relief operations, but that doesn't mean you use any means to defame them and use the Devastation case to raise public angst against them.  They might be wrong in doing what they did, but using distorted facts is not the way to gain public support.  The Media and the Social platforms is where this all started.  Specifically on the Facebook where a morphed picture is making rounds to present the distorted fact about things.  the pic on the right is being shared on FB referring to Dr Subramanian Swany's official Page

The pic on the Left is the pic that is also making rounds on FB and is the Hindi version of the pic shared above.  How interesting it is that the people are using these pics to create a controversy that is not required at this moment and is not required specifically to gain political mileage.

When I looked at these pictures that apparently showed up on my wall and rather than believing in them upfront, I conducted my own research to arrive at the picture on right that I compiled from the sources mentioned below them.  I was astonished at the creativity of the various set of people and specifically at the media. It was pretty interesting to note the Color of the Saree that Sonia Gandhi is wearing in all the three pictures in which she is shown as making the aerial survey.

Now isn't is a specific case of falsification of facts and trying to represent something that is incorrect.  Its time to behave responsible on Social Media as well as by the Media and not create sensational news to benefit someone specific. We have larger picture to look at and support the victims of the Natural Calamity...lets not waste time around criticizing one or other person, rather its time to get together and serve the nation by supporting the cause....Its time to support the relief fund rather than circulating such strewed images.... 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rain Havoc in Northern India - Natural or Man Made

The recent incessant rains and the cloud burst resulted in a havoc in the northern India. Hundreds or say thousands of lost their life, thousands are stranded and property worth millions have been lost in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.  But is it only the cloud burst and incessant rains that can be held responsible for this?  Though most of the readers would say Yes and flag the entire happening to the Natural Calamity.  I differ though as I carry a different opinion.

The devastation in these two states was in waiting. Why? Please look at the following facts - 
  1. Government in the two states never were prepared to tackle such calamities
  2. Eco Sensitive zones were breached and the Ruling Political Parties were responsible for that
  3. Construction near or around the banks of rivers like Ganga and Alaknanda left little space and the catchment areas of the river were found to be shrinking.  This is somewhere similar to the way Mumbai has seen Govt bucking under the pressure and reclaiming the marsh land to let them build residential and commercial complexes.  Lessons were not learned from Mumbai which sees flooding every season in specifically such areas that have been reclaimed!!!!
  4. The NDRF, supposedly well equipped to run rescue operations is not at all equipped with its own fleet or there is little or no coordination with the fleet management organization...Huge gap in the communication and cooperation between the two organizations....As if we didn't take any lessons from 26/11 where 12 hrs worth efforts were stretched for more than 3 days resulting in loss of many lives
  5. Lack of adequate provisions at both state and national levels to be ready in time to run the rescue operations
  6. The inhabitants who lived in and around those areas are equally responsible to have not taken precautionary steps to evacuate in time and waiting till the last moment
The above stated points mainly are the ones that turned the natural disaster in one of the worst to have hit northern India resulting in loss of life as well as infrastructure. 

I have heard many horror stories from various quarters and news channels including one from my closest family. They were on their trip to Kedarnath shrine and due to rains and landslide were stuck on their way.  There was no sight of Govt. help, whatever damage control was done was done by a group of youngsters who patched the roads to have paved way for vehicular traffic.  They put themselves at risk to help others.  The family somehow managed to reach Rudra Prayag and was awake all night for the River Alaknanda flowing besides their hotel was at full swing and the sound scared them more than the red alert warning sounded by local administrative body.  The youngest kid in that family narrated to me what he saw and mentioned the way he witnessed the houses, hotels and humans as were swept by the water.  Though the way a 7 or 8 year old kid would narrate might sound sweet to some, but it might on the contrary have devastating impact on the young mind in long run....

So, looking at the state of affairs and the small narration from the family that suffered as they were stranded without Food "without administrative aide", one can just look at the inept administrative teams and wonder how could they be so inept.  People seem to claim that the NDRF has highly trained resources, but then even they were stuck in Haridwar for major part waiting to be airlifted to run the rescue operations.....

My point is why can't govt and administration have adequate steps taken well in advance? Why can't one heed to the Met department's forecast? Why can't we build effective communication and cooperation strategies? Why can't NDRF be fully equipped to run operations single handedly?  Why should we wait till last minute for Disaster to happen? Why can't we run a mock drill before the season starts and have the required resources tested and take away learning from these test to solidify our mechanism?

If we would wait for the disaster to happen, they would certainly be more devastating as we would not actually be prepared to face them.  We might have best of the teams and best of the devices to carry out after disaster operations, but the success is to be able to contain the impact and not let disaster make a clean sweep!!!!!!
June 22, 2013 - Added the Pic as found similarities between my article and the Graphics
Pic Courtesy - Sunil Singh, I downloaded the pic from Facebook where it was shared.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fluctuating Indian Stock Market and Banking Scrips

With the recent fluctuation in the market and the high volatility associated due to global market trends has given rise to quite a few speculations. Various factors including the improvement in US Economy, prolonged Euro Zone Crisis and the most recent FIIs pulling out of Bonds market with the remarks of US Fed chief to slow down the Bond Purchase in US and  slow down the stimulus to the US Economy, all played important roles in the volatility associated with the Stock Market in India.  Domestically also, slowdown in the Domestic Industrial Output again pulled down the Stock Market.  The other factors that seems to be impacting are the fall in the Gold prices and the talk of the Country going under Mild Recession.  All these factors as if were not good enough that now we have an issue of Depreciating Re against major currencies of the world like Dollar, Pound and Euro. This is pegged to touch the highs of 63/dollar and that would mean increased Import Bills and Increased Fuel Prices.  What does that mean - Impending Inflation.  So how is market supposed to behave?

Market are expected to ride a choppy and turbulent wave of highs and lows due to the above mentioned reasons. Since RBI is not intervening at present to control the Depreciating Re we need to look at investing in market only from a long term perspective.  Specifically those looking at the Banking Sector need to be really cautious.  The Banking Scrips are already in negative to some extent and with the further depreciation in Re I would expect the Scrips to lose the Shine further.  Reason being the impact they will have on their Business and Profit Margins. Unless RBI revises the Repo Rate and CRR, Banks would not perform as they are expected by the investors and certainly that would bring down the confidence vested in them resulting in Sell, and Sell mostly by the Institutional Investors. This would result in the downward price trend of the Banking Scrips.

Some Safe Bets in this could be the Banks with Low NPAs like HDFC, BOI, IDBI or similar ones in the rank. However, please do not read this as my recommendation or even suggestion to invest in them.  I am simply talking on the probabilistic terms that these Could be safer scrips than the others.  But again, the selection of Banking Scrips to invest in needs to be done with utmost care and with a mid or long term perspective and with a target hold of minimum 1 year.  I would not suggest a Short term hold on the Banking Scrips and also not at all if you would be afraid of the high volatility that may be associated with the Share market and the Banking
Note- Had to update as Rupee Symbol was not showing up
Update - Re has already touched 60/dollar at the time i revised this article

Indian Education System - Needs to be Overhauled

Indian Education System, a much talked about education system that generates probably one of the largest set of Graduates in various disciplines in various streams is a flawed education system.  Yes the system that generates Engineers, Doctors, Business Management Professional is indeed a flawed one.  A recent article by Ramendra Singh on Times of India highlights that India Lacks Research Based Education System.

"The highlight of the article is the Non-research based Education as imparted by the Indian Institutes and Colleges. It states - "The absence of research-based education in the country has put Indian education way behind other universities across the world, senior associate dean of Yale School of Management, USA, Anjani Jain told TOI."
Article by Ramendra Singh 
  • Citing the example of universities in USA, he said, "The US was also not much known in the field of education in early 20th century. But they concentrated on the research work in 1930-40. The result is there for all to see. That country now has some of the leading universities of the world."
Article by Ramendra Singh 
While reading the article, I recalled many debates that I had been party to on this perspective have always ended with a note "Indian Education System Produces Babus and Clerks".  The various opinions that I received from various quarters include - 
  • Our Education System is still carrying the legacy of the British Raj. They developed an education system that they wanted to produce clerks and babus. The current Education System is no good to produce quality
  • Our Education System is designed to clear exams and get marks.  Higher the percentage higher is the recognition.  Cram up the books and you are done.  Write the Bookish answers that teachers want to read in the language they like and you are done
  • Engineers that we produce do not have practical outlook to work and they have to be trained for at least 12 to 18 months before they can give productive output.
  • Doctors that we produce are so lethargic that they forget their instruments inside the Human body when operating the patient
  • Every occupation that we see is so highly maligned with the set of expensive donation schools that they end up spending their fortune to get educated and when they finally come in the job market their expectations are too high as compared to the prevailing Job market. Yeah somewhere when these people get in the government job, they try to cover up for their cost of education and for their children - and we end up dealing with corrupt officials
So, coming to the square one - the education system that is prevailing in our country is - 
  • Old & Stale
  • Expensive
  • Inefficient and Ineffective
Though we produce large bunch of Job aspirants, but they are least effective.  That means we need to Overhaul our Education System.  As pointed out in the Article sited, the Indian Colleges, Universities and Professional Institutes need to drive their efforts on Research Based Education.  They need to support more and more initiatives by the students and need to promote such efforts.  However, I feel it is important and critical that research based education is rooted in the education system to tap the young mind that would help them develop better. Efforts need to driven from the elementary level itself when the traces of curiosities are observed in the kids.  Rather than suppressing their queries, they need to be instigated with leading answers and pointers that would make them do some of research on their own.With the ever increasing penetration of Internet and new age technology, this would certainly aide the quizzing minds and help them do more of research.

Education Institutes for that matter need to encourage students to do some "Assignments" on various topics that may range from History to Botany and make them develop papers that they would require to present to the School / College authorities.  The topics should be published and students be suggested to pick their own  topics on which they would like to work and develop their papers.  Mentors should be appointed for the topics and the mentors should guide students with periodic review of their work.  This certainly would lead to  the case where some student, if not all would lead their ambitions and will try to live their ambition in newer research, they would develop ideas and the only thing that would need to be done then would be to nourish their ideas and help them carry out their research.

Though the above para highlights some of the initiatives that need to be taken, there certainly is a need to do more than as highlighted above.  If you as the reader have thoughts around this, I would invite you to write them as comments as who knows our efforts may lead to a better scenario on this side.
Special Thanks to Ramendra Singh to have instigated me to work on this Post through his Thought Provoking Story.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Axis Bank - Fraud

The twist and turns around the Banking industry are not coming to an end. Now the Hot news is from India - the latest in Banking industry is the fraud with the 37 odd Axis Bank Customers from Mumbai including 13 cops.  The incident never came in the news until it was identified that 13 from the various ranks in Mumbai Police have been impacted.  

Few questions that come to me and that need to be answered - 

  1. Without an insider's help how can skimming device be installed at the ATM?
  2. Were the ATM location camera's not being monitored for any suspicious activity?
  3. Where was the Security Guard and didn't he observe any suspicious activity?
  4. What were Bank Officials doing at the time these transactions were being made in Greece, didn't they look at their reports for any suspicious activity?
  5. Why Banks issue "International Debit Cards" to their customers by default??
Interesting point here is the identification of a skimming device that was used for cloning the cards and that raised the questions that I have listed above.  It is imperative that there would have been an insider job in this case as without an insider's help it would be highly tough work to carry out suspicious activity without being noticed.

There is another question - Is Bank going to refund all its customers or just the cops?? as the news came to light highlighting the cops more than the other impacted customers of the Bank.

Before closing - Media is calling it has Hack...well call it Fraud!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Why not Indian Indian??

I have often read the excellence of the Second or Third generation immigrant Indians abroad.  At various forums the question then arises Why is it American or British or Canadian preceding the word Indian when the praise is being showered? Why is it not the "Indian" for whom we here these words of praise.  The question is really not for the readers, but it certainly is hitting at the Education System and the Mad Race for the Marks / Percentages being forced on the young generation.

The reason why it is Indian American or Indian British or Indian Canadian rather than Indian Indian - In India the talent is suppressed under the weight of expectations to study and get better marks.  Away the kids are encouraged in their research, marks are not the only criteria, innovation and entrepreneurial capabilities are supported.  In India, if someone would want to do such a work, they would be ridiculed by close circle and would be called "Jerk or Maniac".

It is really ridiculous the way things work in India.  I remember a case where one of my known once developed an FM transceiver that could work in the periphery of 500 meters and could have been used to good effect for communication in the hostel, but he was ridiculed a lot by the rest of the hostel guys and college crowd. Why, because he was a Management stream student and developing such a device was not supposed to be in his study area.  He would have junked it right there, but we helped him by adopting it for our Biking trips where we fit it in our bikes and helmets to be able to communicate while going on Bike tours...yeah - low cost communication device that used to run on bike Battery...but where did that innovation go?? down the drain...

Another case where one of my colleague developed codes to lock screens permanently for interactive logins if someone tried to impersonate you.  This could have been hailed better had it taken up by some security company. But again the guy was ridiculed by his team members and the office staff for doing that, why because he was supposed to be a network administrator and not a programmer to do so.

These are just two of the many cases that I have witnessed in my span of life I spent in India till date.  Yeah - Interesting point I thought I should mention - Two of my papers that were ridiculed in India by a leading industry body were selected for presentation abroad in annual conference of a leading Non Profit Organization that has an ISO standard to its credit.  Funny, ain't it :))

Well now that's where we Indians are - excel abroad, but ridiculed in our own homeland...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

$45 Million Heist with Prepaid Card Duplication

I had been following the entire development on the big heist that was cracked by the US law enforcement.  The news in itself as lead to an interesting assessment for me on the way the Data Theft and duplication was carried out at mass scale.  I read various articles written across multiple news sites and went through even the comments that were made by various set of readers.  Some were pretty interesting and others were made out of hate for India and Indian service Providers as there were two card processors from India whose systems were breached.  The world as it sees may see it as a lapse of security measure implemented by the two payment processors from India, but then why shouldn't they look at the lapse of overall Risk Management System at the Banks as well as the Card network System in general??

There were articles and comments that pointed on the Core Banking Software in use, but then both the writer of the article as well as the comments need to understand that Core Banking Application has nothing to do with the Payment Cards that were compromised in this case. Before we point out the responsibility at the Core Banking Application or System or the People at the three types of organizations involved, we need to actually understand the modus operandi of the Gang Spread Across 27 Countries and specific Target being made at two Banks in Middle East.  Making a general Comment otherwise would simply be because you hate someone or because you have no knowledge either of the Baking System or the Pre-paid Card System for that purpose...Also, those trying to relate the software to this heist must first understand the it doesn't have any relation to the pre-paid cards, that is a different system that interacts with CORE BANKING Application....

One interesting point that I noted in the entire set of developments is the Lack of Controls around the Payment Cards that were compromised.  Why is it that the Banks when deploy enough controls on the Debit and Credit cards, they miss to deploy controls around the pre-paid cards that are mostly used as "Travel Currency Cards" or "Gift Cards" in most cases?  I am still perturbed as to how and why the Banks let the Payment Processors manage the Data on their local database without enforcing right set of controls required? Some additional questions that crept up to my mind - 
  1. Didn't the Payment Processor deploy layered security to ensure that the Database is in the most secured zone?
  2. Weren't Host base IDS/IPS systems deployed?
  3. Weren't transaction monitoring and logging systems deployed to create alert for fraudulent withdrawals?
  4. Weren't alerting system put in place for changes in database?
  5. Why would Visa and MasterCard let huge withdrawals go through multiple ATMs and that too from the same cards? Why were the patterns not monitored at their end?
  6. Why didn't the Banks whose ATMs were used ever sounded an alarm in the Banking Community about the huge transactions? Were they enjoying withdrawals from their ATMs and raising bills to the target Banks??
There are many such questions that need to be answered and probably we might never get an answer to these questions...for we would just read the development and arrests...What happens at the Banks, what happens at Visa and MasterCard and other organizations involved would never come to light...but, then its our Money and we must know if it is safeguarded...

Related Post - $45 Million Heist with Prepaid Card Duplication: Lessons Learned

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Senior Citizens: Respect Them

News that disheartened me today - Give us death over abuse at our son’s hand: Gujarat couple.  It is really sad to hear that children resort to such things against their parents.  I used to give example of the honor and traditional joint family culture in India, but such news only brings us shame.  When I read such news, I feel that the western culture (read: as in US) is better where the parents show their kids the door and tell them to find their own livelihood. The children too move out of the house and struggle their way in the society to make their life and livelihood.  The good result, Parents though feel alone at old age, but they don't have to go through the torturous life like this where the son beats them up or the daughter-in-law threatens to sue them for section 498A (Anti-Dowry Provision).

The reason to my feelings going negative in this case is - this news would become stale over a period of time and the young India would move on.  No one would even think on these terms and no NGO would come forward to help these or many other similar parents who are tortured by their own children.  What mistake they did? Just that they invested all their savings to make a life for their Son, bought a house to ensure that he gets proper shelter in the city they live and now they are dependent on him? 

I challenge the youth in India to step up to the Cause of Supporting the Senior Citizens, take an hour a day to or two in a week to help setup Senior Citizen support Cell. I would also love to see just or at least one NGO that would help run this support cells and similar other initiatives across the Country.

I know there are those who voice similar to what I opine and one such input that I got from the online forum is from a fellow reader Brian who beautifully worded the comment - 

"You are absolutely right, senior citizen and parents should be respected and should support them at all times. We should realize because of them we, the youth of India have come so far and our current position. We are standing on the ground which was created by our ancestors. We should be thank full to them at all times This 3 G world have change the life style and mindset of man kind in 2 ways,, one is prosperity, development in science and technology and rendered this life so convenient/ Beat by beat we are neglecting the forum of our culture, the foot step of our ancestors which involves love, care and high moral values, love respect towards the society. The other is because of this result everyone is trying to live a luxury life, don't want to work hard and live life with those moral values. W;e have become so selfish and greedy and the desire to have more and more..and to get this life style some people don't care about their parents who have been their back bone ever since they were young... They deserve to learn a good lessons of life. They should be punished."

But how many such voices would stand out from the crowd of billions who would support this cause is to be seen. How many candle light vigils be conducted not just in Ahmadabad or Gujarat, but across India in support of this couple and many more across India.  This one movement is required to ensure safety and rightful position of our Senior Citizens, our Parents and Our Loved ones across the country.

Please note - This is only one case that came to light because the Parents filed a request to be dead, however, there are multiple cases across country that even don't go reported and god knows how many of them result in "Suicides or even Murders"

Indian Passport: Tips Before you Visit PSK

After completing my previous article "Indian Passport: Prized Possession for Indians", I thought about the issues that are met by the aspirants at the Passport Seva Kendra. Recalling various Horror Stories from the various articles and personal discussions with those who suffered, I decided to write down few tips and tricks that would help you to get through the Passport Requests at the first appointment (though these may not work always as Babus might also read these tips and find ways to circumvent :P). So the minimum that I can do is to at least help you with the Checklist that would serve as the vital trick :)...
  1. Do cross verify the list of documents that are identified as Proof of Address. From the list available at the location, please ensure that you are carrying at least - 
    1. Aadhar Card - if you have one
    2. Ration Card - Must
    3. Voter ID Card - Must
    4. Telephone and Electricity Bill along with Rent Agreement Copy (if you are on rented accommodation)
  2. Proof of Date of Birth 
    1. School Leaving Certificate as well as the Marksheet / Certificate for Standard 10th - Must
    2. Birth Certificate - if you have it, please take it with you
  3. Documents required for Non-ECR Category
    1. Matriculation (Standard 10) Marksheet - Must
    2. Birth Certificate or SLC - For people above age of 50 
    3. Income Tax Payers - Proof of assessment of income tax and actual payment of income tax for last one year - Must
    4. Educational Qualification - Diploma / Degree Certificate as applicable in your case - Must
Though an exhaustive list is available at the GOI's official website - Passport Seva Consular, Passport & Visa Division, the ones listed above are most basic and mandatory to obtain the passport.  For other areas as change in address, adding spouse name etc the additional documents required are - 
  1. Marriage Certificate - For Spouse name add
  2. Spouse's Passport - For Spouse name add and / or address change
  3. Rental agreement or Property Certificate for the new address
  4. Letter from Employer - Though Not accepted in most of the cases., but sometimes may still serve
For Spouse name add it is always suggested to carry - 
  1. Marriage album - 10 or 15 Photographs, though they don't ask normally, but you never know if your case is being treated as different than normal
  2. Marriage Invitation cards - couple copies do the required help if they ask 

I guess this is more or less the maximum inputs I can gather at this point for you and suggest you to closely verify all your documents as and when you are going to the PSK.  

And well, these would work best only when you secure the appointment through online site...I don't have a trick to secure that :(....For that All I can say is "Best of Luck"

Health Sector Reforms

Indian Healthcare system is something that actually needs a overhaul.  The recent news that the GOI is focusing of revamping the Healthcare system in Maoist area and my question is Why only Specific Areas in the country?

Reading the article made me wonder and to me it seemed like Government is pretty narrow minded when it comes to Health Sector.  Few measures that GOI needs to take to revamp the Healthcare Sector with immediate effect are - 
  1. Revamp the Medical Supply system that is highly corrupted with people from grass root till top are involved in charging commission from the suppliers.  Those who don't are either killed or suspended or are kept under severe work pressure with top brass not letting them voice their points.  
  2. Scrutinize the Medical Supply orders for the Government / Civil Hospitals and conduct regular independent Audits supervised by CAG like body to ensure that the prices are not escalated / inflated to charge commission from the pharmacies listed.
  3. Regular Audits must be conducted at the Civil Hospitals for the maintenance of updated inventory and available medicines along with check of expired inventory that is duly disposed off.
  4. Making Rural / Sub-urban postings mandatory for all the medical graduates and serving at that level for at least 2 years before they could go for their Post Graduation.  
  5. A compulsorily 2 year posting at Civil Hospitals must be mandated for all the Post Graduates before they move out to private sector or to have their own clinics and practice.  
  6. Tax rebates may be considered for the Corporate Houses supplying medical equipment / supplies to the Civil Hospitals.  
  7. Tax free income may be ensured for the first year of Rural Posting for all the Medical Graduates and Post Graduates to encourage them to do so.  Further rebates may be considered to encourage their continued rural service.
  8. GOI may also consider seeking Private Organizations and NGOs help to conduct medical camps in the rural areas and address the growing need for medical support there
These are just a few points that come to my mind where Government can take initiatives to revamp the current Medical Infrastructure across the Country.  It is high time that the Health Ministry as well as GOI thought on these small steps to revolutionize the Health Services across the Country...
Related Posts -
  1. Healthcare System and Associated Malpractices
  2. Healthcare System and Associated Malpractices-I

Indian Passport: Prized Possession for Indians

Obtaining Passport in India has become an uphill task for the citizens who wish to travel abroad. It is pretty much a paramount task to first get an appointment through the online portal and then ensure that the paper work is complete or say is more than that is prescribed on the Govt's Passport Seva Site 

A really very nice and thought provoking article was published on Times of India -
No passage from India: Perhaps it's time we changed the names of our passports to 'stop-ports'

But I felt it lacked some points that need to be added to highlight the atrocities of babudom in this space of Passport Issuance.  A few of them are -

  1. At the major PSKs, there is always a lack of trained resources. Though the initial stage is outsourced to TCS for checking files and papers, but then either they do not have the resources to handle the influx or they do not well trained to understand the case
  2. As per the Mandatory Supporting papers required, either one of the Address Proof or Identity proof is required, but then height of babudom that they find ways to seek more supporting papers though the set submitted meets the requirements. e.g. - It for proof of residence Ration Card copy is attached they would still seek "Voter ID", even though you are carrying your old passport with yourself and that serves the purpose for many requirements, they would still seek "Identity Proof" as if the old passport issued from the same authority is not valid even though you have used it to travel international
  3. The Forms that are suddenly required to be filled up are either not available at the PSK or the staff that handles the counter is missing or the Form in itself is priced double than it is available at the shop outside the PSKs
  4. Appointment booking slots open after 6 PM (for online appointment booking) but then within another 5 minutes, either you are still struggling or never get that appointment you want, because someone has overbooked the slots (may be the babus have their clouts to ensure that enough appointments are not booked).
  5. To top it all, once you have completed all the formalities, the Babus to be approving your final stage of personal interview pose questions that are like - 
    1. "Can I see the Marriage Certificate?" 
    2. "Can I see the Marriage Invitation Card?" 
    3. "Can I see the declaration by the priest who performed the Marriage?"  
          Some really absurd questions to be honest.

I mean, the way I understand this is - You would be lucky if you got all your papers cleared and passport issued at the first time you get an appointment.  This is the level of harassment that the Babudom has ensured for Passport Issuance....I can make that statement as I know of around 15 or 20 such cases where the folks had to make at least 2 rounds to the PSK before getting their Passports...And if it is Tatkaal, you have had it for good.....more stuff awaits you at the PSKs

Friday, May 10, 2013

Chinese Incursion - My Viewpoint

The entire Border with China has always been under dispute with them. Be it Laddakh or Aurnachal.  Interesting point to note here is the Case of Aksai Chin that had been a long standing bone of contention between India and China.  Along with that the state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Aksai Chin for that matter is critical for China with direct access to Pakistan by Land whereas their interest in Arunachal has always been a mystery for me......

The Current incident that is dubbed as localized doesn't seem to me as localized, but must be part of the larger game plan that Chinese would be brewing.  It is critical that Mr. Khurshid should have taken care of this in his talks and as treated this as a matter of Prime importance rather than dubbing this as a localized event/incident.

It was highly disappointing to read that Mr. Khurshid Didn’t ask why incursions took place: (Times of India report) in this discussions with his Chinese counterpart.  This raises numerous questions to us as the country of 1.25 billion+. We would like to know from GOI if - 
  1. National interest is of any importance to them?
  2. Was this discussion avoided as the Chinese Counterpart showed the carrot of 500 million?
  3. Was it that Mr. Khurshid didn't want to track back at his own statement where he pointed this out as "Localized Incident" in his earlier statement and then again making similar comment again?
  4. Shouldn't GOI look at the larger aspect of the Border dispute ranging from Aksai Chin to Arunachal with China?
  5. Why is GOI getting under pressure from China on revised bilateral treaty on Border?
  6. Why is GOI not taking the Border dispute with China as the Prime point to discuss? Please note that control over Aksai Chin would provide a strategic benefit to China and for them it would be easier access to Pakistan from that route.  That would mean Pakistan would be benefited at the same time and the trade between China and Pakistan (of nuclear as well as arms deal) would flourish more....this certainly would bring in more alarming situation for India and its Sovereignty