Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Redundancy defined!


An example:

It is a word with five letters...
Take away the last four letters of this word...
The pronunciation of the word still remains the same!!!!!

Thats English!

Monday, 26 March 2012


I read Bipasha’s piece on the HT city and liked it.
It is all about being fit and not just thin. Exercising and
Gymming is all about being fit and not thin.Anorexia is not
an answer to ape your favourite stars /models.
 Believe in the philosophy ‘love yourself ’And if you are desirous of living for a good 100 years it is important to invest in your health.
Just as we invest in property ,relationships, and a career one should invest in health too!Otherwise other investments won’t matter.
It all boils down to nothing if one is not healthy. And if at all  for some reason one is subject to illhealth,one must fight tooth and nail because you live only once. Do not indulge in unhealthy food and drink. Make a distinction between ‘Eat to live and live to eat ’make your choice and discipline yourself and enthusiastically work your way to getting    a fit body  which will in turn get you an alert mind and your heart and soul shall be delighted in unison!

Thursday, 22 March 2012


At the 1992 United Nations conference  on Environment and Development an international day to celebrate fresh water was recommended .The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22 1993 as the first World Water Day .From then onwards ,World Water Day annually highlights a specific aspect of fresh water. In addition a number of NGOs promoting clean water and sustainable acquatic habitats have used World Day for Water as an occasion to focus public attention on the critical water issues of our era.
The World Water Day in 2012 is intented to draw the international attention on the relationships between water and food security.
Today there are over 7 billion people to feed on the planet and this number is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. We need water for food production .We must find ways to produce more food using less water,reduce food wastage and losses,and move towards more sustainable diets.
Water is the most important resource for sustaining ecosystems,which provide life-supporting services for people,animals and plants.
Lack of safe water and poor management of of human wastes can spread diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentry, typhoid, hepatitis, polio,trachoma and tapeworms also malaria and filariasis.
Clean water and adequate sanitation are a must  for solving the stated health problems. With the Greenhouse gases (mostly carbon di oxide,methane and ozone) on the increase .Temperatures will increase leading to increase evaporation from the oceans and will speed evaporation from land leading to scarcity of water.
Public participation is crucial for resolving the water crises. Every household must join hands and get into the act of saving water say by turning off taps while brushing teeth , washing utencils ,re-using the water from washing vegetables to water plants , re-using the water discharged from the washing machines for cleaning the washrooms etc.
Kitchen and toilet appliances should be made keeping water conservation in mind. The local water bodies should be protected.
Rain water harvesting(RWH)system should be popularised in the urban areas . Waste water treatment systems should be set up .The ingenious system recycles toilet excrements in a safe manner ,converting faecal matter into manure and passing the liquid through micro filters and reusing it for flushing. Vinod Tare ,a IIT professor has  contributed his bit in this field.
Lets get up and be about doing our bit towards conservation of this juice of hydrogen and oxygen an elixir of life indeed!The need of the hour!


Armed with the confidence that the T.T.C. generated in me ,the other day I agreed to take the Delhi Metro ,merrily took the token.. descended on the escalator...  it seemed there were teeming millions at the station and I turned to return when my teenaged son firmly held my hand and well there was no turning back …a noisy train with a draft  of wind came in jam packed with people like a tin of sardines I refused to get in ,we let the train go the next came in ,in 3 minutes and boy! was it better?!just as bad but before I could resist he yelled it’s the rush hour and pushed me in unceremoniously ..my various phobia’s  at their height my protests were inaudible even to my ears  drowned in the mass of people, in which it seemed I was securely fitted… that’s population explosion they talk about in India I thought to myself.
After a few stations sitting on a seat I got thinking of my several trips on the subway in Toronto. Generally my brother drove us Downtown .  The first time my sister took me along to familiarize me with the route. Happy in  her company, we settled down comfortably on our seats ,animatedly talking our heads off,  I barely noticed much .
I remember the first time I ventured out alone –I was given a heartfelt sendoff by my Mum and my brother came out with his camera and clicked a few pictures with my bag pack that held some homemade food for Dad and my Tiffin for the day, with a smile pasted on my face and butterflies in my stomach (which the camera didn’t capture) .It felt like kindergarten days!
Bravely I set out…. boarded  the low floor bus for $3 from Keeler and got down at the Scarborough Town Centre …so far so good. The train came in ,when I entered I was assailed by the aromatic smells of hot chocolate and coffee .I saw quite a few sipping from their private mugs or the paper glasses of Tim Horton’s, Star Bucks ,McDonald’s advertising their wares! Even as we all got out the other set of  people  walked in  as if to refill  the train .Along with my co- parrengers I went  down  2 flight of stairs on an escalator it seemed  into the earth where I hurried  into a waiting train which ferries people back and forth  from Kennedy to Kipling .All of us settled down in our seats , most of the gentry munching their  breakfast ,sipping coffee ,catching up on the morning news  buried in the newspapers … it looked like an extended cozy living room .
Got down at Young/Bloor on an escalator climbed up 2 flight of stairs that opened into a glitzy mall! Walked in its spotlessly clean corridors lined up with stores displaying their swanky wares , and came  out in the open at  the Marriot just across the  Grace Hospital. Made a  call  home for safe arrival and took their ‘pat on the back’ like words. A triumphant sentiment surrounded me as I walked to meet my Dad who was waiting for me after his physiotherapy.
Confident that I could travel ,it became a regular feature and I also took my mother along .It is on these innumerable trips that I was an onlooker to so many events  of which I’d like to share a few. There  never is a dull moment i.e. if you like the hubbub of the hustle /bustle jostle of the crowd…
A couple of siblings were there all over the place trying to balance themselves when the train started and stopped and would go into peals of laughter if either of them could not…stealing our hearts!  
I cannot forget my embarrassment when a Canadian citizen back from Guyana enquired whether the train was going to Young .Proudly I explained at length the details on the  T.T.C.map on the doorway of the bogie until she chimed out that most of her life she had been staying Downtown and it was only a couple of years she had moved to Markham . Her query was by way of a confirmation of what she already knew! Just before alighting at Woodbine station she asked off handedly as to where were we going Mum answered Victoria… and since the doors had already swung open we let the slip be ….until a very concerned young man questioningly asked Mum,. Victoria Park?!Mum grinned and told him it was just a slip of the tongue . (Victoria Park is close to where we boarded the train at Kennedy!)
A young lady had enough time for a makeover .Her deft fingers extracting  innumerable tubes and brushes from her Marry Popppin’s like bag  ,  working on her face  .While she was at it we were all waiting with baited breath to see the transition. She sure bedazzled everyone and reminded me of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ad in a glamorous magazine.
A lissome, beautiful, tall Chinese couple couldn’t get off each other’s arms if I was not polite enough not to avert my eyes I am sure I would not have missed a romantic scene on the T.V. soap .
A frame that could be incorporated in a Hollywood/Bollywood is that of a couple who walked in with the lady animatedly voicing some discontent .,until her man caught the lapel of her coat and jerked the unsuspecting lady  towards him and kissed her squarely on her lips only to have a huge  smile on oh so beautiful a face  and was stunned her into dissolving  her   animosity  into a shy laughter…her furtive glance  saw an  appreciative sparkle in the  audience .I almost heard a thunderous applause!
Visualize a walkie talkie Doll ! well a walkie talkie doll like girl made a grand entrance waving her hand  with a loud Good Morning! to no one in particular  rosy cheeks dimpled chin and all she had us all gazing at her  lovingly to see more of her vivacious self… what grace! what style  –Many of us made place for her to sit. She did not oblige anyone .She sat quietly next to her mother with a stroller  that held her sibling .That was all we had of her theatrical entrance!
A bunch  of young boys boarded the train and for the next half and hour they were giggling reminiscing their school days together laughing uproariously about who was suspended for what, the intolerable teacher the great lovable teachers ,the parental punishments, the painful stopping of their pocket money …now in college pursuing higher studies … They regaled us ,we had our memories entwined in their reminiscing and when they alighted the compartment suddenly felt very quiet , could almost hear the crickets chirp!
Once  at the starting point at Kennedy  saw a tramp asleep even before the train started . He continued to do so through out the journey . No one sat next to him. Oblivious of the revulsion he was causing with his torn jeans and the stink he  blissfully snored above the noise of the train! I guess Kipling was his destination!
One day a thought just floated in my head that I had such baseless fears about the subway , and to my mind I was laughing at the fuss I had created in the household… thoroughly enjoying my ride I heard  the announcement of the next station Greenwood Station  made by a well modulated female  voice …and suddenly I felt the train slowing down .  I willed it to reach Greenwood …that was not to be . It JUST STOPPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!in the middle of nowhere. I could see the black walls and a terrible claustrophobia set in . I   broke out in cold sweat. My Mum had not come with me that day and I felt I would choke. I looked at my fellow travelers all of them oblivious of my condition I was in. None seemed to find anything amiss and they continued to do what they were at ..the kids were  jabbering, the old gentleman was immersed in his newspaper, a glamorous young woman had her nose in a glamorous magazine, the girl seated next to me had her earphones securely in her ears  swaying gently to the music perhaps…I wanted to call home but the niggling fear of what if the signal didn’t work ?..that would trigger more panic !With a herculean effort I calmed my jangled nerves and while my mind overworked with a zillion negative thoughts and  was adding another zillion there was this slight movement ! My whole being was suffused with a golden relief I breathed easy …those five minutes gave me a taste of time standing still!
In one of our trips looking out at the vibrant colours of the fall Mum went into the recess of her mind and extracted a lovely poem she had learnt in grade five….
October gave a party
The leaves by hundreds came
The chestnuts, Oaks and Maples
And leaves of every name
The sunshine spread a carpet
And everything was grand
Miss weather lead the dancing
Professor wind the band!
With the poem we admired the canvas that God had so meticulously painted for us to enjoy and enjoy we did on many of our trips witnessing the change of colors in the trees  and one fine day to our wonder we saw the Junipers the Pine trees which had been hidden in the thick foliage of the Maple Oak, Birch ,looking resplendent , dressed in green, in contrast to the now  nude Maple, Chestnut ,Birch .From then on we saw the skeletons of the trees . It was fascinating. It seemed that each one had been drawn with a pencil with a steady hand .The trunk and stems drawn so artistically! Each tree uniquely made . After a snow fall they were beautifully dressed in white. Soon after a couple of days we saw them don a green hue .So Beautiful! You see  moss had covered them after the snow had  melted.
On another day Mum pointing out to the birds came up with another of her poems she had learnt in the yesteryears …
Goodbye goodbye to summer
For summer is nearly done
The garden smiling faintly
Cool breeze is in the sun
The thrushes now are silent
The swallows flown away
But robins here in coat of brown
And scarlet breast not gay!
Our train once stopped near a well maintained lawn on it ,there  were a couple of neat shadows of the silhouettes of the leafless trees with a couple of birds . Picture perfect it was !Wish I had captured it on my camera.
Together we would admire the beautiful  maple leaf carpet getting thicker and leaves on the trees getting rarer .The carpet on the ground  slowly changing into different shades of brown with every passing day ,the leaves in no way looked pestilence stricken as Shelly had seen them in his Ode To The West Wind.
Every time my brother drove us down the Don Valley Parkway he’d invariably remark  that ,‘Algonquin Park’s beauty if not excelled is at least equaled here’.I saw the detailed colourful canvas every time the subway train emerged from the tunnel over the bridge on the Don Valley. I would get up from my seat and gaze out of the window taking in the birds eye view of the visual delight (amazingly each time I would spot something new! ) and share my pleasure with my Mum’s knowing smile!!!!!



Monday, 12 March 2012

Union Budget of India

Budget is an annual financial statement of the government.It gives out the details of the Total Receipts and Total Expenditure for a year.
In India the budget of the government at the centre is known as the Union Budget.
It is presented in the last working day of  the month of February. This year it has been postponed to 16th March because of Assembly elections in five states of the Indian Union.

There are two basic parts of the budget.
1.Revenue Budget.
2.Capital  Budget.

Revenue Budget shows revenue receipts( such as Taxes.Fees,Fines)of the government and the  expenditures met from these revenues (such as Salaries to its administrative officials ,defence personnel )
Capital Budget shows capital receipts (such as recovery of loans ,borrowing Disinvestment etc.) and Capital expenditure (such as repayment of loans and development expenditure.)

The Budget contains data relating to the following years .
1.Actual Accounts for the year 2011-2012
2.Revised estimates for the year 2012-2013
3.Budget estimates for the year 2013-2014.
This year’s budget is the first Budget of the 12th Five –Year Plan .

The common man waits for it to determine if and how will it dent his  pocket .This would include both the direct tax proposals that could reduce his take home as well as indirect tax that will impact the goods and services he consumes!
The macro issues to watch for by the corporate world are as follows
1.     Assumptions for growth and inflation.
2.     Total Borrowings
3.    Fiscal deficit and key assumptions underlying this
4.     Cuts in subsidies.
5.     Investment-creating measures like investment tax credits or lower borrowing costs for infrastructure.
6.     Sector –specific measures in power,financial services,renewable energy etc.
7.     Genuine Privatisation ,with strategic sales or higher levels of disinvestment of public assets
8.     F.D.I.-boosting measures.

In the Sunday Hindustan Times the exercise of making the Budget interested me .It is an exercise in deftly juggling political pressures,conflicting demands ,the economy’s priorities with utmost secrecy!

Each year this is how it all begins
1. In September: a voluminous budget circular is sent out to all ministries,departments and autonomous bodies. Each department replies with detailed estimates of the funds they will need for the following year –for everything …for special projects to routine expenses and wages.These reams of accounts are distilled to form the first broad contours of next year’s budget.

2. In November: Finance Ministry officials begin consultations with stakeholders-a)industry associations,b)chambers of commerce,c)farmers associations,d)employees unions- in North Block on Raisina Hill the seat of power of the Finance Ministry.Each group plead for tax breaks ,fiscal incentives and government subsidies.

3. In January: The focus shifts to the big picture .Final meetings are held with the stakeholders,this time chaired by the finance minister himself.Programmes are dovetailed to mirror leanings of ruling coalition,marrying ideology with economics!

4. Quarantine in Valentine’s Month: February:  Interestingly  top finance ministry officials ,printing technicians,stenographers and officials from N.I.C.(national informatics centre)all go under protection of CRPF which keeps the North Block out of bounds for everyone. For a week they are totally cut off from the outside world ,including their families.Only the finance minister can enter or exit the quarantined basement area  where these officials work and live.Only a handful who know the budget live outside the North Block …the finance minister,finance secretary,revenue secretary,expenditure secretary,additional secretary (budget)chief economic adviser and chiefs of two boards –Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Central Board of Excise and Customs.
A team of Intelligence Bureau officials,headed by a joint secretary maintain a round –the –clock monitoring of people’s movements and phone call,including the five selected stenographers.The computers of these stenos are delinked from the NIC server to rule out the possibility of cyber theft.
A powerful mobile phone jammer is also installed inside the North Block to block calls .Sometimes the Intelligence Bureau chief himself makes a surprise visit to the printing press area in the  basement of the North Block all this in view of minimising  the chances of leakage of information.
In case of emergency however,the families of these officials can leave a message on a number given to them , but cannot  directly speak to them.

5. The F.M’s speech is the most guarded document .It is usually handed over to the printers at midnight two days before the budget.

6. Initially ,the Budget was printed at Rashtrapati Bhavan .But after it was leaked in 1950 ,the printing shifted to a press at Minto Road .Since 1980 ,it is printed  at North Block ‘s basement.
That sure was interesting wasn’t it?

Today  a front page  box  caught my eye in The Economic Times .
1.What the common man wants?
a)relief from price rise.
b)more avenues for jobs
c)more tax saving options
d)higher income-tax exemption limit.

2.Industry’s long wish list consist of..
a)keep excise and service rate unchanged.
b)increase depreciation on plant and machinery.
c)scrap surcharge and cess on corporate tax
d)re-introduce investment allowance
e)remove minimum alternative tax on SEZs( special economic zones)

3.Even in the back drop that investments have come to a stand still and govt. finances in a mess…the populist temptation  could be…
a)diesel ,LPG,fertilisers untouched
b)higher allocation for food subsidy
c)push for food security bill ,health care legislation.

4.Economists and markets favour a Reforms Push in the following ways
a)a clear fiscal consolidation(decreasing expenditure and maximising revenue)road map
b)cut subsidies on diesel,LPG,fertilisers
c)increase excise duty and service tax rate .
d)to hasten project clearances .
e)resolve  fuel supply problems projects ,end mining bans .
f)attempt to reach consensus on reforms with the state Chief Ministers.

Big Week Ahead
14th March –Railway Budget
15th March- Economic and Monetary Policy.
16th March  Union Budget
Follow them for your General knowledge!!!!!

Saturday, 10 March 2012


 Today when I told my Dad that I had attended  a workshop in the British Council Library on Stress Management by Meena Gupta he asked me to put it on my blog hence here I go….
Heal yourself.Take care of your stress. De stress yourself with the following 
1.Music Sing ,or just play an instrument click your fingers or clap or keep time with a spoon or a plate and a spoon perhaps …you will feel good !
2.Art.Let out the child in you draw anything it wants too .Don’t think of perfection just colour ,paint or draw for the fun of it .And you will smile 
3. Creative Visualisation.As in visualizing yourself in a pleasing surrounding e.g.a lovely garden,sea beach,valley ,riverside,and relax .Whenever in stress administer a dose of  creative visualisation and you will certainly feel lighter.
4.Break out of your negative mind set . A huge elephant was tied by an ordinary rope . The Mahout was questioned about the strength of the rope to which he answered that the same rope had been used when it was a baby and he saw no reason in changing it as the elephant was of the belief he could not break off . He was tied to a belief  an analogy used to explain to us to get out of our negative mind set!
5.Take  the cause of the stress by its horns ,see it in the eye …do not ignore it answers will come to you on their own accord! You will see the root of the stress …honest self analysis will help you and stress will automatically leave you!
5.Please don’t see yourself through the eyes of others. You could be provoked into bitterness by blaming others for your misfortune,anger,tears and fears.Do not for heaven’s sake give the remote control of your life into the hands of others especially your ill wishers !
6.Also don’t waste time keeping an eye on others . Do a favour to yourself by keeping an eye on yourself .Be cool! Remember lose your cool lose an argument !
 7.Give your self ‘My Time’every day Make it a daily habit the greatest stress buster is a little meditation  that helps increase concentration and mental wellbeing .Meditation through creative visualization will free you from any psychosomatic disease (a research paper disclosed that two years of stressful life can lead to cancer!)Addiction of any kind too is stress related
8..Toss your stress in the Bin …Bin your stress...Que Serra Serra …and be Happy!