One plus one invites to gift

one plus one invites

I have 3 one plus one invites to share. If you need it (before the time runs out) then email me or leave your contact details in the comment section. It is a Good phone at deep discount prices, it will be a shame if these were allowed to lapse

Details, specs and product reviews at amazon. All I ask in return visit at least once a week

Clever Hydration tricks

Don’t be surprised if you never feel thirsty. It take more than a few decades to unlearn thousands of years of evolution. Unlike us, our ancestors did not have a canteen, water bottle or tap at their disposal. They had to walk for miles to fetch their water,wait for safe time of the day and  fend off predators who are waiting to pounce on you both from land and from the water. Also there is no way to ascertain if the water is pure. No wonder our survival instincts have trained us to not feel thirsty for a long period.

The first vessels/containers we designed were to store and carry water/fluids and not food. The first engineering structures we designed were not homes or pyramids but a simple water storage tanks. We soon realized that not all water is safe/portable and we build aqueducts and canals to transport clean water from far off springs & streams. Beer, wine and alcohol were brewed by our ancestors not because they wanted to indulge in drunken revelry every night but because fermentation was the only water purification technology known to them. Till middle of 20th century cholera was a pestilence, an epidemic that laid waste the large cities even advanced ones like  London and Paris. Today almost everyone has portable water at their disposal. Yet the sun stroke and kidney/liver problems due to inadequate dehydration is long way from being solved.

kitchen timer

  1. Kitchen timer: In 2006 I had written an article highlighting that the human beings invented to concept of time (esp. hours) with the sole purpose of ensuring that the workers drink water every 60 min and don’t die of heat stroke while working at the pyramids. Why can’t we bring the humble kitchen timer to work and practice this time proven technique. Work place is one where we spend most of our active time and usually we are so engrossed that we get dehydrated easily. Why not set a 60 min alarm at your desk. What is most interesting is that it will be so annoying that in a week’s time you will kick out the habit of parching oneself.

dehydration charts urinals

2. Urine color charts: I saw this in one of the washroom of one of the fulfillment centers of Amazon. It basically is a color printout that reminds people that their kidneys have to work harder to compensate your laziness.

3. Create occasions & fix regular timings. Most people eat their mails, take tea/coffee breaks at regular intervals. They don’t need their body or a clock to tell them that its time. I am sure you could water-train yourself for the same. Also try to create frequent occasions (like break time, going to loo, meeting someone etc.) where you out of habit also consume copious amounts of fluids.

Many of the problems of kidney, arthritis, gout, headaches, weakness and even digestion are linked with inadequate water intake. It is simply because we don’t feel thirsty as often as we should and even when we do feel thirsty, we don’t drink as much water as we should. Let us all knock off our medical bills by drinking a glass of water. Some of the best things in life are free and so is this water.

Junk Technology

Have you noticed that there are so many technology features that put you in double whammy. Firstly you had to pay a premium to have this unproved, untested feature with dubious claims of efficiency/coolness. Secondly they make you spend more and increase the ownership cost of your assets. Essentially they turn out to be a marketing channels that does not serve your interests.

car diagnostics

It is easy to add sensors and technology into anything but does this do any good? Our phones and gadgets are over-loaded with features that we have never used. When will technology stop being a tick in a check-box of a comparison sheet and start playing a vital role. To me a useful technology is one that boosts productivity and reduces wastage. Am I asking too much?

Car ownership: Lifestyle is downward sticky

I had broached the topic four years ago when I was doing insurance planning. Today I wanted to share a personal example of seeing it in action.

5 years ago my wife felt a two wheeler is a complete solution to all her transportation needs. I believed a rental taxi is all I need. Esp. since I used a company provided cab for office commute, making the cost of insurance, servicing, depreciation & cost of capital alone would exceed the cost of a rental every weekend. In sort we were very happy with our transportation choice.

4 years ago after my marriage we immediately bought a car. That time it was more of a utility asset (rather than a luxury purchase). We bought one of the most affordable models and our selection criteria were width & acceleration. A light weight Suzuki Alto k-10 with a 1000cc 55bhp was ideal for zipping through the crowded lanes of Bangalore. However after driving 45,000km it became more of a member of a family rather than a means of transport.

Two years ago, when my daughter was born, we bought a second car. Since I worked in a distant part of the town; I needed a second set of wheels for my wife. My purpose was simple; working women with kids needed a dedicated car to manage both work and home. We settled for a sedan because my wife (now used to the comfort of a personal car) wanted larger leg room. Buying a nano/reva was unthinkable even though it might be more practical.

Currently she is planning to take a temporary break in employment to be a full time homemaker. Since I live in a posh locality with a playschool, hospital, shopping mall & all amenities in the walking distance, I suggested that we should be selling off the redundant car. This would also make economic sense because cars (even when they are not being used) depreciate rapidly and the insurance/servicing bills are considerable. So selling it off would align our expenses to the diminished earning capacity.

She was able to comprehend the rationale for the same and agreed that the car will be driven for hardly once a fortnight, but the very thought was appalling to her. Her car had become a symbol of independence, prestige and comfort at her disposal. Although I fully support my wife in her transition to be a full time home-maker, all I can think right now is: Our family’s financial goals remain the same, we don’t want to scale back on our lifestyle, the child has increased our obligations manifolds and yet our earning capacity has halved. Is the transition going to as smooth as we had anticipated?

Regressive Taxes in India

All democratic countries have a tax structure that increases the tax rate with increase in income. This achieves a double whammy higher taxable income and higher % share of taxes.

The noble aim of these progressive taxes being:

  1. Cross subsidizing the poor with taxes from the rich.
  2. Creating a healthy socio-economic mobility in through merit, diligence and luck anybody can scale up the social ladder.
  3. The society benefits from people who earning/spending is a reflection of the superior human capital, enterprising nature and hard work. Living off the inheritance (solely) is not productive for the society.

In US there has been so many voices saying that the rich are not taxed enough. Surprisingly when I take their arguments in Indian context, I feel that rich Indians are not taxed at all. Here is why:

  1. Estate tax & inheritance tax. Without any of these 2 taxes, it is relatively inexpensive to transfer wealth and promote a culture of people born with silver spoons
  2. Capital gains tax is surprisingly lower than regular income tax. Not surprisingly it is only the rich that have capital to gain on.
  3. Most people often don’t end up paying the capital gains tax because if you re-invest in property the government will forgive it. No idea what is the rationale for this ruling
  4. Dividend income in India is tax free! WHY should you and I sweat and give 1/3 of our earnings as taxes while the rich can earn tax free.
  5. The industries have access to so many government subsidies, SEZ, tax holidays and sops but I have never heard a middle class getting a letter saying “Your work is important and I understand that you are finding it difficult to make your ends meet. Hence I honor you with a 5 year Income Tax holiday.”
  6. Unlike the west India collects more spending based taxes than income tax. The problem with this is that the poor spend a larger portion of their paycheck on consumption than rich. Hence effectively VAT, sales tax, exercise tax, octroi are taxes on poor.
  7. Government of India subsidizes higher education (IIT/IIM) for rich kids that will go abroad, air travel (Air India) for rich.
  8. Rather than investing to improve the reach of clean water, electricity, railways and primary education we subsidize them. This in effect means that rich who have access to these amenities to begin with continue to enjoy it at the expense of the poor.

I have always been intrigued by the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. Essentially it says:  “Individuals who earn and then pay taxes on what they earn, corporations earn, spend what they want to spend, and pay taxes on what’s left.” This compounded by knowledge of tax legislatures and effective use of tax havens, subsidies and incentives ensures that over time Rich grows richer.

Election Funding

8 Years ago, I had written a post about how election funding is the root cause of systematic corruption in India and how it is impacting the decisions taken by elected officials and making them think short term & undertake populist measures only.

Today several political parties are pointing finger at how AAP is funding its election campaign. How foreigners (NRIs) and bogus entities are funding Arvind Kejrival to become a vehicle of imperialism etc. I don’t know if there are any merits to the case, but what I do know that Aam Admi Party has taken the bold first step towards transparent political funding. Every penny is accounted for and every source is disclosed.

Elections is a billion dollar industry and we have no idea how it is being funded, who is backing which candidate and for which nefarious reasons. I don’t remember the last time a national party disclosed the list of its prime donors. I might donate a candidate 1,000/- for ideological reason, some might even donate 100,000/- INR (USD 2,000/-) but nobody will donate a million without getting any deal in return.

Most advanced nations have enforced limits on how much an individual/group can donate and have set up transparent processes to disclose who is donating whom. Some countries reimburse the candidates for the election expenses. Whatever be the process it is high time we install some checks and balances to ensure that funding is the only reason why few good men don’t opt for Politics. BTW only in India politics is considered as a career stream.

Muslims in India

10 years ago Sachar committee published some starkling facts about conditions of Muslim in India. through a detailed district/region by region analysis they found that Muslims were worse off than SC, ST and other marginalized communities.

It is unlikely that the current regime will be setting up a second committee to analyze if the situation has bettered or deteriorated. Are we closer or farther away from our goal of communal harmony and holistic socio-economic development? Hence I was loudly thinking:

1. Are there more avenues for socio-economic development? Is the economic disparity lessen over the past decade?

2. Are the goals of healthcare, access to public welfare programs really reaching the masses?

3. Are the minorities still being cornered and forced to live in enclaves/ghettos? Are more Muslims than Hindus dying in communal violence even today?

4. Is the problem of access to credit, technical education and entrepreneurship being solved?

5. Are they still discriminated against in industry, public employment schemes?

6. Is the next generation being equipped to be proud of being part of India?

Providing sufficient avenues for pursuit of happiness or economic development has been the cornerstone for any diverse multi-cultural society to achieve harmony. Khalisthan movement was solved by strategic affirmative action to achieve economic development of the region. North Western India today is the most prosperous and peaceful region in the country. India has the largest Muslim population in the world and continuing to ignore them is just a ticking time-bomb. For the country to really progress, people from all walks of the society should prosper with it.