Freedom at Midnight from Aadhar!

Aadhar controversy on individual privacy is being explained from common man’s point of view!

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Supreme Court gave a decision that “Right to Privacy is a Fundamental right of an individual”. This is a landmark decision and it is said that it will change many things in India. I am no political pundit nor am I a constitutional experts, I am a common man like most. This has directly affected LGBT community, who  are enthralled that their rights to choose sexual orientation can now be converted into a law! In another case, where there is a ban on beef business in various formats, a Supreme Court justice has said that what one should eat and if someone should drink alcohol are covered under fundamental rights. These cases will now get a different treatment. But in many discussions I have read that Right to Privacy can never be absolute and needs to be checked under proper legal infrastructure.

My take in this blog is going to be about Aadhar card! (Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data.) When Aadhar came into being under Nilekani, ex Infosys honcho, there were the usual Nay Sayers. In a conversation with Journalist Manu Joseph, Nilekeni divided the Aadhar Nay Sayers in four groups.

  • The Privacy gang
  • The rights of the poor gang
  • Oh My God 1984 has arrived gang
  • Luddites (meaning a person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology- this has old reference to British workers in textile industry having fear of losing their jobs due to technology in 19th century)

Privacy gang is those like you and I who are required to give their biometric details to the government and in return get nothing back. They don’t get any dole or any subsidy from Government. They are the most “affected” by what, god knows! This gang does not mind giving their biometrics for passport because it is an essential document for this group. Then when they go to cooler climes of Switzerland, “Oh! What do to do! For Schengen Visa you have to share biometrics!” For US visa, people will even shed all their clothes if forced! After all going to US of A is  life’s necessity! These countries are foreign governments so no harm in sharing the data with them but Indian Govt and Modi! Nah, I can’t share at the cost of loss of Privacy!” These foreign Governments have such fantastic data security, probably software written by Wipro’s and TCS’s of this world, that except Edward Snowden nobody has been able to steal the data from them! Trumpets & bugles please! Data security is definitely a concern but we have been giving data to banks, passport office, and various websites for sometime. What has Aadhar done that it makes people suddenly insecure about! Friends, I will share one example with you which might help you with the beauty of Aadhar number.  55 dealers from MP, Andhra and UP states returned their license to sell fertilizers which Government used to supply to them. Reason? They were supplied fertilizers at two rates, one with subsidy for those below poverty line and one normal rate. They would buy at low rates and sale at normal rates with huge profits. Government now made a rule that they should link the sale to Aadhar card and based on that the rate will be decided. How can Government come in our way of making huge profits? Return the license. I am sure Govt officials were also hand in glove in this chain!

Rights of the Poor gang was worried that if subsidy is linked to Aadhar, some may not get benefit as they may be too illiterate to enroll for Aadhar card. Ok, great! Courts gave a decision that if they don’t have Aadhar they should still get subsidy. So, as the Aadhar system improves more and more of these people will get Aadhar and still get subsidy. What is the problem with this gang? What this gang is worried if systems fall in place, their importance will reduce. Some of them had a gumption to tell Nilekeni that you have never lived in a village, what you know about villagers needs! (Gumption means shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness)

 “Oh My God 1984 has arrived gang” is the trickiest ones. (Wikipedia describes, Nineteen Eighty-Four, often published as 1984, is a dystopian novel published in 1949 by English author George Orwell.[2][3] The novel is set in Airstrip One (formerly known as Great Britain), a province of the Super state Oceania in a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public manipulation.) This group of people probably thinks Government will use Aadhar data to spy on people. Government does it anyway but Privacy judgment will make Government more law abiding! How Aadhar was making this easy I have never understood! These proponents of Orwell theory, I am sure, give their latest status on Facebook, every time they travel. “Sitting in Jet Airways Gold Lounge, travelling to Egypt” or some such thing! This is  my cell number please call after two hours!  Privacy what is that!

Anyway once the human race decided to come out of jungle and live as a society, basic definition of privacy changed forever! I am always wondering what is privacy in days of internet! When filling some form can we say,  I should be allowed not to mention if I am a male or a female or transvestite! What happens to reserved compartments on trains for women? What happens to reservation for women in education? I am a private person I will not give my address, I will not tell my birthdate? Where will this lead to? So there is bound to be limit to privacy. During filling up of any form some information has to be shared, similarly more information may be needed for Income Tax purpose. Don’t forget that there is black money and terrorist angle too! To overcome lacunae in PAN card, (which people are having more than one) Aadhar is a better alternative. More controls, are most welcome but do we need Goebbels! Social media like FB and WhatsApp has already created them!

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Luddites is the group which is very uncomfortable with new technology. As they are uncomfortable, they don’t believe in new technology. If you don’t believe in something how can you trust it! For such groups honestly there is no solutions.

No technology or a system is 100% perfect. These improve over a period. After using the systems for some time, may be some better additional viewpoints will come up. Systems are bound to improve but again data hacking is always a possibility. So called hacking incident that has been in discussion currently was an event, an illegal act by a bank officer. It was not hacking. Aadhar already has big base and I am sure once people understand the importance of the same, more will come forward and enroll. There is a big trust deficit with large organizations. Jio is selling their SIM cards against Aadhar card. Many Nay Sayers must be wondering, will their privacy be breached? Similarly many social organizations have axe to grind against Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. This foundation has achieved things in a few years that social organizations could not achieve in decades!

Aadhar system is a modern technology, take advantage of the same instead of thrashing it, embrace it! Bina Aadhar mat raho! Aadhar means support, “Don’t live without support”! 

 

 

 

 

Stay ahead by staying grounded!

This is look at various things that we need to do to achieve success in life!

My friend Dada wrote to me an e mail where he said that he has become a regular reader of my blogs but he is not my fan! I wrote back to him saying Dada, I would rather have critics than have fans. In real life this is what is necessary to keep us grounded. This is essential because ones longevity in what one is doing depends fully on how grounded you are. I am not a big writer but I write blogs as I love to write; I realized this love a few years back. For me it has almost become a body function. My friends keep on coaxing me that I should release a book of my blogs but I don’t think I have reached that stage. I am happy that my friends like Dada and some unknown people read my blogs, and some like Dada have become regular readers. I am neither writing for fame nor do I consider myself an intellectual. I write about what comes to mind from whichever situation I may be in. Now I have set my goal to be a more frequent writer of better and better blogs (as per my thinking) so that I end up having more critics! 

Staying grounded is not as easy as it looks. There are numerous examples of sports persons, movie stars, singers who have gone through the grunt; some have managed beautifully but some have miserably failed. There have been examples of child prodigies who could or could not reach the expectations as they became adults. Classic example is of Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Both were childhood prodigies, very close friends, Vinod supposedly slightly better than Sachin and this was seen when they entered the Indian team. Sachin remained totally grounded, but Vinod could not manage to remain grounded. After initial burst of centuries and double centuries Vinod’s career tapered off and he had to retire in year 2000! Sachin selected his date of retirement and retired in style on his home ground Wankhede in 2013. Sachin now is a billionaire and Vinod, I heard that he struggled to pay monthly fees for his flat! I am not saying that success can be measured in terms of money you make! Sadly I can’t imagine what must be going through Vinod’s mind!

What decides the so called remaining grounded? Is it family background? Is it friends that you have during initial phase! Or is it what company you have during your initial stardom phase? Sachin came from a middle class background, in Vinod’s case he came from even below lower middle class background. Both of them naturally did not have flashy lifestyle. In both the cases, they had the same Guru in their growth phase, whose critique  during this phase must have been their Gospel! Did they have more critics or more fans? What critics do in your life is to pinpoint your failures and mistakes. Some will do it out of jealousy and some out of keenness to help you. Being grounded is to understand the difference between a well-wisher and those who are creating adulation. Harsh critic is better than a total fan. It’s how you handle criticism decides success and failure. Who does not have failure? Who does not make a mistakes? I feel that successful person is one who keeps on making new mistakes every time! You stop making mistakes when you stop doing things! You make a mistake and learn; with every mistake you can climb one step up the ladder to success. Life as we all know is learning school and those who stop the learning process are embracing the recipe of failure!

Sachin Tendulkar was getting out caught behind in slips or to wicket keeper, regularly at one phase in his career. He discussed his technique with many experts, practiced and practiced hard. By this time he was already playing cricket at highest level for about 12 years.  He decided to test the result of his hard work against the then best team, Australia. He settled down in one inning, and went on to score 240 odd runs in that inning, that too in Australia. What was so special about it! He did not play a single shot on the off side which was getting him out. Mind you he is a batsman with natural off side game. But it was simply discipline that allowed him to achieve this. Once this gave him the confidence, from next match he started playing all his strokes! Learning from mistakes, discipline, and steely determination! 

That takes us back to original discussion, Critic or Fan! I have discussed example of people starting almost at the same point of origin, going steady for initial phase. Curves started to change their slope and one finally fell apart. Focus, ability to learn from mistakes, being in company of right people decides the trajectory. There have been other factors like ability to overcome pain due to injury which Sachin had around 2007; he overcame this barrier with tremendous hard work, exercise and pain. Never during this phase, probably career threatening phase, did he flinch from his focus and finally of achieving whatever goals he must have reset himself. Mind you his initial goal, when he was a kid, was to play for India which he reached a bit too early in his life but after that he reset his goals to achieve more! Is it at this point Kambli failed to understand that he needs to raise the bar? He needed to reset his goals.

Don’t we all make such errors? Don’t we all sit on our laurels a bit too early? Honestly when I started writing this blog I was not sure which direction I was going. I was not sure what conclusion I would draw. But I am finally concluding that remaining grounded, hoping to have more critics than fans and not sitting on laurels are three most important things not necessarily in the same order. What will be your order of importance?

 

 

Innocence or Naivety

Is it Social Media behavior issue? Or Naivety or …

In the last decade WhatsApp and Facebook changed the method of human communication in an unprecedented way! Especially, WhatsApp has changed things so much, that people are just not giving a thought before communicating through this medium. But last few months, at least the groups in which I am a member, are observing reducing volume of messages that are exchanged. Most of my groups have senior citizens but I have checked up with a few young folks and I am getting a similar feedback. Major % of messages are so called “forwards”. These come from internet, You Tube, movies and some are creations of individuals about various subjects. These are generally well written, I won’t say that these are well researched. People write articles in such a way that many people assume that they are absolutely genuine! Why people create such unsubstantiated stories is a matter separate discussion. The people who generally fall for such articles are Naïve or Innocent. 

My nephew Ashwin is an Air Force pilot, currently flying with Suryakiran Squadron. Suryakiran squadron has a set of expert pilots who fly the Airplanes in formations which are breath taking. Last December we saw their show during NDA passing out parade. Was it thrilling! We are all proud of Ashwin and his team members. When Ashwin was a child, once we were discussing something over dinner on an ambiguous   subject. He said, “Pramod Kaka this must be true because I have read it in newspaper.” I told him that tomorrow I will print in a newspaper that Ashwin is an idiot. Does it mean that it is true? Then he understood what I was saying. Of course his argument was due to innocence of age.

Advent of internet, WhatsApp and Facebook has created a situation where different types of so called forwards are being shared. I am in a couple of groups where all are engineers and supposedly logical thinking people. Forwards are on different subjects and some are about religious things. I can understand naivety displayed by people about religious forwards, as people react very differently to things involving religion. (Naivety means lack of experience, wisdom, or judgement or unsophistication) But there are some forwards which are about things that involve engineering, business, and technology.

The other day there was a forward about Bajaj Auto Quadricycle. It is a four wheeled vehicle but not a car as declared by the company. The person had shared some photos and said that it is going to be priced at Rs.60000/. I deal with Bajaj Auto very regularly; so I wrote to my friend that what you have written is untrue. The price will be in region of Rs. 2, 00,000/ and launching date is unknown as there is a court case going on in Supreme Court. Immediately he sent a YouTube video on the same subject. I asked him, “what was the point in repeating the same wrong information when I had said that the information shared by me was given to me by someone senior from Bajaj.” My friend said that such videos are there on You Tube and company should clarify their stand on such videos! I had no answer to this! Naivety or Innocence? Or ….

 WhatsApp Image 2017-08-23 at 07.07.08

This caricature is classic case which represents what happens on WhatsApp. Bewakoof is an Urdu word, it means “foolish/stupid/dolt/idiot” in English, while in Hindi it’s called as “moorkh/मूर्ख, ullu/उल्लू. The word Webqoof has been perfectly scripted out the word Bewakoof! This is how  some people, who can be normally called intelligent, behave on WhatsApp! It is the same what  Ashwin had said when he was a child!

Recently there was one forward. It started with a tag line, “This is created by XYZ from ABC Engineering College!” Then there were ¾ lines depicting pictures of  pencil batteries. The forward said, “Please forward this to at least three persons and you will see that your cell phone battery will be fully charged”! This was forwarded by a friend of  mine, Electrical Engineer by training. When I saw this forward, I wrote to him, “Come on friend an Electrical Engineer like you cannot forward such things!” He replied, “What is the harm in trying?” He was honest enough to inform that nothing happened when he forwarded to three guys. The beauty was he kept on arguing that he did it for fun instead of saying that he was stupid to try this!

This brings us back to the original question. Why do people behave in such a way? Does their logical mind go into cold storage? Do they have a brain freeze? Or they have nothing else to do, so to kill time they will try anything! But then what happens to life-long training of logical thinking? I am really at wits end to understand why people behave this way! 

Forward this blog to 100 people and see a magic! Your brain will starting work normally, the way you are supposed to think,  logically, based on common sense! Let me know! Oh, I got converted with the bandwagon!

 

 

 

 

Apprehensions? What is that?

Throw away apprehensions, your inhibitions and embrace the goodness of life! Help the world to drive away dark clouds in life, every bit adds! 
 

The other day instead of going for a walk, I took my camera with a new wide angle lens for tryouts. Left home around 5.30 and went to the bridge on the river, near my home. This trip was under guidance from my friend Vijay Ghate. I take his help on anything related to photography and he suggested that it will be a good idea to go out and take 40/50 photos, trying out variations. Slowly I got the feel of things and decided to come home.

On the way back home I saw three gentlemen, all retired much more than a decade earlier. They were chatting away. They were standing outside an old people’s home by the name Matoshri Vrudhhashram. I saw one more person coming out, he spoke a sentence with them and went inside again. So I assumed that all these friends lived in the home. As I was nearing them and saw that they were observing me, a guy with white hair wearing a T shirt, track pant and a Chappal. I was in photography mode and not in morning walk mode. I had Camera hanging round the neck! 

As I came near them, I asked them in Marathi, “How are you?” The initial apprehensions on their face gave way to a smile. I have generally observed that people speak to me initially in Hindi as they assume that I am a non-Maharashtrian. One of them asked me “Are you from that school?”  I jokingly said, “Now I do not think anyone will take me in any school at this age!” Then I realized they thought that I was from film institute. Then I briefly explained to them my reason for the sojourn with camera. One thing led to another.

We ended up chatting with each other for about 15 minutes. One thing I realized was their keenness to talk to me. I realized that they wanted to share their stories with me, an unknown stranger. One of them had worked in Bombay Suburban Electric office at Parel, Mumbai; another had worked as electrician in a factory. Third person had his career in Govt job. I had common things with first two of them and we could take the conversation further, very easily. Words were just pouring out of them. They wanted company, they were together but maybe they were lonely, away from “home”, the real home.  Was this how you become when you live in an old people’s home? I could see keenness in their eyes but also some sadness. If I had not smiled at them, I don’t think they would not have spoken to me. It is this apprehension that comes in the way in interaction between people. I did not do anything out of the way but I felt nice to see smile on their faces. One of them had worked at Cummins on maintenance side. He took a few names during his time whom I knew. When I told him that I am a Metallurgist by training, he was thrilled to share his experiences about heat treatment furnaces! Was he happy! Mumbai person wanted to know where I lived in Mumbai. They wanted to know where I did my engineering. We could have chatted on and on but I had somethings lined up at home; I wished them a good day and moved on. The story does not end here!

While I started walking ahead I felt that a gentleman, again not known to me, out for his morning walk, was walking parallel to me. I gave him a smile and said good morning. Then I told him that I was just chatting with these folks as I thought humoring them in the morning was a good idea. We walked about fifty steps together and when my lane came, we stopped, I introduced me to him, and we kept exchanging pleasantries and bit of information with each other. He was a registrar in a large education institute. We were talking about the institute. I saw one more gentleman, unknown to both of us, was slowing down. I said good morning to him; and lo he also joined our tid bits. He worked in a consulting company. We all chatted. He was also curious about what I was chatting with the retirees! Without mentioning any details we chatted for another ten minutes and parted ways.

Friends, what I described just now will appear to be a very small event and in life’s cycle it will not even be a blip. But I felt that there is deep meaning involved in those 20/30 minutes. A few people not known to each other, just came together to chat, exchange pleasantries. This to me is most important thing in the world. In our day to day lives, we live next to each other but because of apprehensions we don’t know each other at all! Ok every day you may not get time, you may be busy. But whenever you get a bit of time, why not spend the same in spreading the camaraderie, spreading pleasantness. We know we cannot change lives in that short span of time but we can always create a silver lining to the dark clouds! I hope I did that, to those three gentlemen living in Matoshri! There is nothing more precious in life than a smile on someone’s face! So throw away apprehensions, your inhibitions and embrace the goodness of life! Help the world to drive away dark clouds in life, every bit adds! 

 

100 Hundred शंभर सौ!

Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 
धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you!

As I have reached  blog number 100, I am excited, apprehensive, and reflective. Many emotions come to mind, one definite one is surprise! I started writing in 2011, and expected that my stint as a person who can write, will be short lived as happens with most of things in our life. Now in 2017 I am reaching the milestone of 100 blogs.

100th-post-image

We start some activity with a great enthusiasm, we think that we are going to do this thing for ever and before you come to know, you have simply stopped doing it, not because you don’t want to do it but that is how life takes you around.  Since last three years my blog writing frequency has increased. All of us see something happening in our lives, a small episode in our day to day life, or a normal interaction with people. Afterwards, thoughts keep on meandering in mind about that event and inner thought process starts automatically. This chain of thoughts stops only when I write something.

It is said that humans age and wine matures!  But those close to me, say that I have aged but my writing has matured!  I feel that maturity in anything is a matter doing something regularly, or some event takes place which makes you more reflective in turn matures you. This is the difference in how I looked in 2011 and how I look now. I don’t know if by blogs written then and now look equally different! 

 

DSC_4298WhatsApp Image 2017-08-12 at 11.56.55

I had never planned to be a blogger but it appears that after my Cancer treatment in 2013/14 my frequency of writing increased and I became a reasonably regular writer (though my professional work comes in the way even today!) My thoughts are more about human interactions, human reactions, human thinking and human nature. The event that induces me to write a blog could be taking my grand-daughter for small walk to a Mandir when she was two years old, or watching a lady suddenly going in a trance, reading about new tech products like Electric car being suddenly pushed hard by all.  My thinking in most cases looks into human aspect of the situation. Very few of my blogs are like an “article” which I recently wrote about GST implementation in India. Another subject that has kicked in a lot of thought processes in my mind are electric cars and non-conventional energy generation systems.

Events that stimulate my blog writing are of two types, divergent or convergent. Now let me explain. Some ideas are such that, in the beginning they look big, they look promising; but as I start writing, a very narrow thought or a conclusion comes out of it. These are convergent ideas for me. In case of divergent ideas, process is exactly reverse; I start with something very small but end with some idea which is universal and/or very big! 

Writing on different subjects needs a lot of study and has become much easier because of Internet. There is no dearth of information if one is willing to dig. When I started writing, it never touched my mind if anyone will ever read what I write. I would share my blogs with family and a few friends. Then I started understanding the techniques of sharing with others. A reasonable number people not known to me are followers of my blogs now. Later on I realized, that I can publish the blogs simultaneously on Facebook, Linked in and so on. I am also a member of a few groups on WhatsApp. I share my blog on these groups too! Out of curiosity I check the statistics that are available on WordPress site and I come to know how my blog has been “found”! It is found from search engines (Tagging helps!) on FB and so on. I also get to know the geographical locations where the blogs are “seen”. The main areas are naturally English speaking ones like US, Canada, Australia besides India but sometimes these are accessed even from Scandinavia or Eastern Europe countries! English speaking people from these places are doing this. Another information that I want to share is that in the whole year of 2014, I published 28 blogs and these were viewed by about 1000 people; till my last blog I have published 28 blogs in 2017 but the viewership is 3500! This does not mean that my blogs have suddenly become popular but I have improved the distribution! I have also observed that a couple of my friends from Facebook, share my blog with others. People give their comments on the blog itself or they send separate email to send comments. There are friends who prefer to call and discuss. My blog writing, comments, discussions also show that I am doing what I have been preaching! I have been saying, all the time in different blogs, please do something that will keep you reasonably busy during the course of the day, other than exercising, watching TV and time on Facebook/WhatsApp! I am also lucky that I love what I am doing.

My main criteria for publishing is that I myself should find the blog “readable”. My definition of “readable” is a bit stringent. If a person starts reading my blog then he should finish reading the blog in one go! Many of you have told me that my blogs are readable!

What next? Well in cricketing terms, I am taking fresh guard, will adjust my pads and will check my bat!  Next hundred should be possible in two years time. Frequency of my writing improved from 2014 and it took me about 3 1/2 years to reach 100. 2011 to 2013 were real baby steps! I think my blog theme will always be human relations and relationships! But it appears that I will pepper you folks in between on Solar Energy and Electric cars too!

Till then .. so long ! Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 

धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you! 

 

 

 

Plan Senior Citizenship

Golden phase in our life of senior citizenship, is phase to enjoy, to be in peace with everything, to give back to society any which way possible.

Our group of friends from Engineering College meets for breakfast, every first Sunday of the month. The camaraderie and the joy during the meet is seen to be believed. Why do we meet? How did we start meeting? I presume this urge of meeting school and college friends must have been there all the time. But till a generation before ours, there were hardly any means to locate long lost friends. Internet, WhatsApp and FB are the vehicles that have made this possible.

As a group of friends in the age group of late sixties, we try to discuss different topics during these meets. Topics range from “How to manage major Illnesses” to Yoga, Vipashchana and what have you. There was once a discussion on cashless society last December when we had demonetization exercise going on. This time it was about us, the Senior Citizens! The other option was GST but everybody opted for the first one. My friend Prem has a way with words. He said let us not call ourselves old, we are senior citizens! This tweaking of the word had so much positivity,  that it set the ball rolling in the right direction. It culminated in my writing this blog, for which I wanted the title “Plan Old Age” but I changed it  to “Plan Senior Citizenship”!

The caricature below is the attitude we should have, especially at this age. In younger age people,  tendency is to think that they are infallible. They think that nothing is ever going to happen to them.

 Snoopy

The quality of life in the our Golden Period will be dependent of how we handle different things in life. There will be many scenarios in current situation, as they are in any other situation. Health of an individual can be broadly explained as

·       Those who may need physical assistance

·       Those who may need support due to brain related illnesses like Alzheimer, Dementia and so on

·       Those who are senior but do no need regular assistance or support 

The personal situations also will have a lot of variation e. g. 

·       Those who are living with the spouse    

·       Those who may have lost the spouse

·       Those whose children are nearby

·       Those whose children are far away 

With so many combinations, it is natural that each person’s status will be different and will need specific solution. We can however make a general attempt regarding what could be done to make life easier, relatively manageable and happy. I am not writing about bucket list! The key is to keep our health and wealth,  in good condition, in case of health both physical and mental, and in case of wealth it means management of funds that we have at the time of retirement. In spite of our best efforts things may not work out the way we want.

Speak Up

This is a very important aspect that humans usually avoid. Our body keeps on sending signals all the time. We assume that if something goes wrong in any system, it will auto correct, we should not rush things. Wait for a few days. At our age please don’t do it; if you find any variation, get it checked from the doctor! Don’t become paranoid but be careful. Acidity can be acidity but it can be preamble to heart attack too! With age, body’s chances of fighting out and  recovery are diminished, so not speaking  up may result in something irreversible.

It is necessary to speak up about things other than health too! This will enable us to resolve things rather than bottling them up.

Act early

Act early is next to Speak up. If you speak up about whatever issue you may have and act quickly, there are obvious advantages. We have been taking action on everything all our life but in older age we may think in terms of delaying action, sometimes because of not understanding the gravity of the situation! Maybe our reaction time has increased!

Make new friends and keep the old

This should be true all your life but during your working phase of life, you do not get time to increase your friends circle. But in old age there is definitely  a lot time available. So use it fruitfully and make new friends. Keeping links with old friends is an obvious thing but sometimes we forget importance of this. With old friends we can share anything and everything. Try to become an extrovert if you are not. When you go out, it could be a good idea to talk briefly with new people. When you go to a restaurant or get into planes, trains, buses say hi to person sitting next to you. Believe me you, in most cases people open out!

Make a rule to talk to at least one new person whenever you go out. You may have apprehensions, you may sometimes be rebuffed by someone who is a strong introvert. But don’t lose heart, people generally want to talk. Talk a bit to your grocer or the chemist. But make sure you don’t get popular as a big bore!

Be wise financially

When you retire, what you are left with, is all that is you are left with. Try and get advice on financial matters and tell your advisor that you want to be conservative. Don’t take actions based on sudden events that are out of control. Your actions should be well thought of.

Don’t be emotional about finances. Your assets are going to go to your children but make sure that they are in your name till you and your spouse, both are on the terra firma! Occasionally a child may need some funds from your kitty. Take a very measured decision considering your long term requirement and if you feel that you may be hand to mouth, be a little unemotional and deny the loan. Look at this as Catch 22 situation (meaning of Catch 22 situation is a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions). If you give the loan, your child may be happy but you may not be!

There will be some couples who do not have children. They need to discuss the matters in more details because their path for disposition of assets, after them, could be different. Nominate someone much younger than you, to execute your will! 

Don’t get tricked into card frauds attempted by tricksters asking for card details. Don’t get seduced by someone offering high interest rates way above bank rates! 

 Think out of box

Reverse mortgage is an avenue not much used in India. It is reverse of taking a housing loan from a bank. You mortgage your house to a bank (many nationalized banks are doing it) and against this you can get monthly, quarterly money from bank same as EMI’s you pay to the bank. By doing this you are opening up the value of your home  during your life time and you get to stay in the same home till you both die. I will not go into tenure and closure details but they are very fairly handled by banks. Only persons who may not be happy in this arrangement is your kids!  One very important point, since what you are getting is loan from the bank it is tax free!

Important threshold for doing reverse mortgage is the age, at which reverse mortgage should be done. Since we do not know our last day on the earth, one could think of 15 year period but when to start this is going to be a very tricky decision. 68 or 70,  what age is the right age we don’t know! 

Appoint a Proxy

This is a very natural thing to do and will make life smoother for you, in case of your falling sick and not being in a position to handle paper work, deciding line of treatment etc.

Make a Will

WILL is the most powerful document that can be used to pass on your assets to your next generation and it over rides everything else. Again, ensure that the “WILL”, will pass on assets “after both of you pass”! Keep emotions in check! Making WILL, will give you comfort that you have organized things well so that next generation does not have avoidable headaches!

Consider moving

Consider moving from a bungalow to an Apartment. Managing things in independent homes beyond a certain age is not easy. So downsize to a home where many services will be handled by common facility providers.

Live Well

This need not be said but our abilities to eat and drink get compromised with age. Limitations on physical activities also crop up. Hence we should not keep on eating things, we were eating in our younger age. Eat healthy food.

Same is true for exercise. By not doing appropriate exercise suitable to our age, we may damage muscles, bones or whatever.

Keep Connect with younger generation

This connect is absolutely essential to remain young mentally. You may also have a disconnect with technology! You may have disconnect with new thinking! All these things will make you feel lost.

And  last but not the least, never utter the sentence, “In our times ….”! 

Golden phase in our life as a senior citizen, is phase to enjoy, to be in peace with everything, to give back to society any which way possible. Make new friends, learn new things and rest assured that these are the things which you can do at any speed you want, the age is not going to come in the way! 

 

 

GST pluses and minuses

This is not a blog  in the usual sense! But I thought GST is very important  subject in India and it touches our life everyday. In my software business, we have handled GST related changes for our customers hence I know a bit about the subject. So I thought why not write about GST in simplest possible language without using accounting buzzwords.

This is not a blog  in the usual sense! But I thought GST is very important  subject in India and it touches our life everyday. In my software business, we have handled GST related changes for our customers hence I know a bit about the subject. So I thought why not write about GST in simplest possible language without using accounting buzzwords.

It’s more than a month after introduction of GST in India. There has always been a question why GST? Modern world has switched over to Goods & Services Tax (GST) over a period of last 15 years or so. I felt that there is a need to explain GST in the format that will make it easy to understand the simplicity as well as complexity of the system.

Why GST?

Before GST there was a plethora of taxes by different names, different authorities, different rates, different procedures, and different forms, making things extremely complex. What GST has done is that it has helped the system to go away from all these taxes. All these various taxes have been merged into two taxes one is under Central Govt (CGST) and other by State Govt (SGST). Central Govt portion takes care of previous excise tax and State Govt portion takes care VAT and Service tax.

Definition of GST

It is very simple. GST is a tax which is based on Supply and it is destination based. This means that whatever you supply Products or Services, there will be only one type of tax, GST! The beauty of this system is that there is same tax percentage for a supply all over India.

CGST/SGST & IGST

When a supply is a made within the state there are two elements of tax, CGST and SGST. If supply is made outside state then there is only one tax element, IGST. If tax percentage is defined at 18% for an item, then IGST is 18% for interstate transaction and intra state tax is 50% of 18%, each for two elements i.e. 9% CGST and 9% SGST.

Why so many tax percentages in GST?

India is a very complex heterogeneous country. Diversity of Income is quite extreme in India. Hence to take care of such issues tax % have been defined from 0% to 28%. This is a compromise that was needed to achieve the social goals as well as fiscal goals of the Govt. World over, taxes have been from 6% to 20 plus % depending on the particular countries requirements. But majority of the countries in the world are as big only as some of our states are or even smaller than them, with reasonably homogeneous population. If we take 28% GST, which is supposed to be on luxury items, in case of cars the prices of most cars did come down post GST. There are some cases where post GST, prices went up and they came down in others.

Input tax credit

At every stage, the seller can take Input Tax Credit of tax charged to him at the buying stage thereby taking care of double taxation. This means that seller charges the tax based on his profit margin and not on the complete price.

Immediate benefit of GST to Govt

Govt is all the time looking to increase the tax base in the country. With GST implementation, a large number of new entities have opted to register under GST, thereby helping in reduction of transactions in parallel economy or so called Black economy. There is an interesting rule. An entity buys something from another entity, which is not registered under GST and does not charge GST for the transaction. The onus of paying GST in this case is on the buyer. The buyer has to raise a self-Invoice for the amount equal to purchase value and charge GST as % defined in the system. He then pays that tax to the Govt. System of “Purchi” will have tough time in future.

Ease of use

For traders who make a large number of sell transactions every day, there is a system that allows them to be under Composition Scheme. They are required to pay GST to Govt every quarter, at a fixed % based on their turnover.

Why people Love to Hate GST?

First and foremost, the reason is ignorance! Second most important aspect is the transactions will come above board requiring the entity to pay correct amount of Income Tax! Hiding Income can become tough over a period because the transactions, and returns of different entities are now going to be entangled with each other.

GST Returns filing

This is another reason for hating the GST. Except for those who have opted for composition scheme, returns need to be filed on a monthly basis. In previous tax system returns were allowed on a quarterly basis. In GST returns, more information is required to be shared with Govt, every month. For example, when returns for July are filed, one has to fill up gross turnover value of that entity between 1st April and 31st July and so on. This will put the limitations of “playing around with figures” at the end of the year! You hate GST, of course many will hate GST!

Entanglement with each other

By a certain date of every month, sales details are to be shared with Govt and these are more detailed than was previously done. This includes names and GSTIN number of customers! This is to be uploaded to Govt site. In next couple of days after this is done, your customers will have visibility of these Invoices and are required to “approve” your Invoice, online. There is dispute resolution mechanism; in case of dispute, two months are allowed to resolve the dispute. There is one more entanglement. To claim set off the customer must “approve” your Invoice. Your customer will finally avail Input Tax Credit during payment of GST, only when you have shared the proof of actual payment of your liability of GST amount on the site! Now, now you hate GST more, you will hate Govt more. But what Govt is trying to do is to bring more discipline in the society and more compliance. The effect of this is even trickier. Everybody’s compliance rating, adhering to discipline will be made available in public domain. This will lead to getting lower business in case compliance rating is down! This is because the lack of compliance indicates indiscipline and financial burden to your customer. You cannot avail tax credit if your vendor has not paid taxes. What do you do in such cases, go to a better compliant vendor! Simple?

I have tried to explain the gist of GST in non-technical way and have tried not to use accounting jargon! Its early days for GST and we will see improvements over a period. This GST system will probably create world’s largest data under one roof and will be a challenge to data analysis experts too! Happy GSTing!