Hormones & friendship

Should you trust a guy who lied to you just to get into your pants? My friend, who has had more than a fair share of bad relationships, thinks “YES!” Her logic, a little convoluted but sane, is below:

Invariably any new acquaintance starts with a degree of amount of flirting. Most men lie, cheat or deceive just to get into women’s pants. The lies could be harmless like boasting of your success, power, wealth or something more malicious, but it will always be there. Some guys play the short con by saying that they love you or want to marry you at first glance; some play the long con by befriending you before nudging you to sleep with some, but the con are always there. If you are lucky, some guys who start with a con but end up with having genuine feelings for you. In short to any virile guy, any attractive woman is a game that he is biologically programmed to try to win by bedding her.

The real question is what happens after. Some zip-up and leave and should be forgotten, but the ones who stay back are trustworthy. Since they don’t have a reason to lie anymore, and the girl has nothing more to offer only genuine exchange happens after a night in the sack. Hence a girl should ignore whatever lies a guy has said when you first met him and focus only on the future.

However it does not mean that you would repeat the same mistake by having a second night of revelry. After a age it is easier to burn bridges then to create new ones. There is no reason to discard a potentially healthy budding platonic relationship because of a bad kick-start. Hence probably my friend’s advice is for guys who want to move on and should not be generalized.

Leave encashment

Yearend is time for some important planning decisions and one of them is leave encashment. Some employers put a cap on number of leaves an employee can carry forward to the next year. Any excess would either be forfeited or encashed. Most employees opt for encashment for some additional going around money during the year end festivities, some choose for a year end incentive instead. What should you choose?
1. Most leave encashment gives you “Basic pay” or a fraction of the total CTC when they compute the cash-consideration/adjustment for the foregone leaves.
2. Secondly, if you take 5 days off, you get 2 weekends (4 days free). Otherwise also one works for 250 days in a year (after adjusting for weekends, vacations, downtime and leaves etc.). So there is a 40% extra to be gained by taking time off.
3. Also remember that every year of service leads to promotions & increments. So there is a possibility of gains (although small in value) to postpone the leave encashment for an actual rainy day.
4. I am scared of a one way conversion. If you take extra leaves or unpaid time-off, then your bonus/perks/incentives are also proportionately revised. But u don’t get paid extra (in the same proportion) for not taking vacations.
5. Some companies have a policy of “donating leaves” for a cause or to a colleague. Check the tax treatment for the same. If the donation is not to a tax exempt entity, then the tax burden has to be paid by the employee.
To me someone encashing the leaves is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Of all the funds to tap into, your leave balance should probably be the last. Even those companies that don’t have a leave encashment policy necessarily have to adjust the accrued leave balance on the last day. While it is lucrative to get a fat settlement cheque, but remember:
1. Try to negotiate it against the notice period duration, if feasible. Most likely you are switching for higher pay. This means that the value of your time off is far less that what its worth in the next company.
2. Take time off, any new job/assignment comes with a steep learning curve and the quest to prove oneself. This means that family and social obligations are bound to suffer in the first 100 days of the new job. Use the time off to
A healthy life needs a balance between the work and home and vacations are a good tool to restore the balance. Why would anybody skim on that? The work has existed long before you joined it and will continue to exist. However for your family, you are irreplaceable.

Statesman vs politicians

Today’s politicians, like cockroaches, have antennas. They send out feelers to gauge the public opinion and often apologetically take a U-turn to go with the wind and maximize their presence. They are so much worried about getting re-elected that they refuse to take a stance. The question like “What is best for my country?” never crosses their mind as, like rodents, they are busy filling their bellies. What every country needs are leaders who have principals. They need to have a vision, a philosophy and a dream of utopia. They might change the details of their policies over the course of time but have a strong moral compass and sense of direction.

Politics has been reduced from a personal calling to a profession. With the scions being made the head of parties without any formal democratic process, some claim it is more like a dynasty or a family business. Everybody is so much concerned about lining their own pockets and getting re-elected that nothing good gets done. The job of opposition is not to oppose, but to keep those in power in check. Parliament is not a place where the loudest voice gets heard.

In short a politician is a weasel who works for his/her own person gain & glory. They are more governed by the short term popularity ratings & punch lines than the betterment of the people they represent. A statesman is a leader who is so much dedicated to achieve their vision that they don’t mind the long & painful path that is needed to achieve the same. Their popularity & respect cuts across party lines and they are remembered long after they are gone.

The founders of India were not politicians but statesmen. They had a vision and were not scared of a few thorns that came along in the way. No wonder some of the intuitions in the country were founded post-independence are have provided strong bedrock. Our fundamental rights, the notion of India itself, integration/assimilation of different cultures and democracy are few of them. Somewhere along the lines we stopped electing leaders and chose to vote along religion/communal lines. Populist schemes and hand-outs win more votes than development.

Looking at how the Congress government was completely washed away in the last parliamentary elections, I don’t have an iota of doubt that the roots and foundations of democracy are very strong in India. It is impossible to rig the polls. Then why is it that India does not have a leader worth following? Euripides had once said, people get the government they deserve. “Andho meigh kana raja” (one eyed man will lead the army of blind)

Unfortunately I don’t see the political environment improving anytime soon. The opposition has made it impossible to get any legislative work done. BJP was a nuisance when Congress was in power and now Congress is paying back in the same coin. The only loser is India :(

Approval process for US acquisitions

In 2011 AVIC Chinese SOE (State owned entity) that manufacturers fighter aircrafts for Chinese government bought Cirrus, which manufactures aircraft components for US Defense forces. However in 2013, Polaris Financial Technology Ltd. an Indian IT was asked to reverse its acquisition of 85.3 percent stake in IdenTrust. The approvals might look arbitrary but often it is not always so.
This case-study uses a 3 prong approach to demystifying the approvals. Firstly we have consulted five reputed consultants. Secondly we researched precedents and thirdly we reviewed the entire public information document available on the topic.
US are under increasing pressure to protect its technology leadership and acquisitions expose them to the threat of espionage and proliferation of cutting edge technology and products. Acquisitions in Financial sector, Telecom and IT are scrutinized for their potential threat to data privacy and exposure to sensitive databases. Investments in Ports and mining need to be vetted for customs and border security risks.
Organizations prefer to integrate the two companies swiftly in order to maximize the synergy and cross-pollination of best practices and technology. This is often not aligned with US interests to protect and manage its risk. Several structures have been proposed as mitigation measures.
A successful Acquisition is one that manages its stake-holders well. Many acquisitions are shrouded under confidentiality and under-estimate the importance of a well-defined clear communication strategy. There is too much emphasis on the other share-holders that the promoters often tend to ignore the reaction of Public, Senate, various federal and state agencies.

To read more download this old whitepaper that I had written.
CIFUS demystified for Indian IT companies

Sovereign Gold Bond| Should you invest?

Let me put it this way:
1. The RBI has fixed the gold price to be 2,668.4/- per gm. while MCX gold price currently is 2,567/- per gram. That is a 3.7% premium (or loss to the investors) Essentially you lose 1.5 years of interest on a 8 year instrument (without taking tax into account) This is taking into account the price rise of gold due to Paris bombing. Otherwise the premium that one had to pay was even more.
2. Tax treatment is misleading
a. They say that TDS will not be deducted but that does not mean that this instrument is tax free.
b. Interest & any capital gains that you make at the end of 8 years will be taxed.
c. I am highlighting this because the SBI’s gold deposit scheme takes care of all your taxes (both capital & interest income)
3. 5 year lock in and 8 years maturity
a. Gold & bank accounts are considered as liquid money that can help one in emergencies. Unfortunately entering into a 5 year lock-in will take the liquidity away. However some of this drawback will be mitigated by the facility of loans (75%) and its listing in the index.
4. Convenience of digital format is an odd reason.
a. One of the reasons why people invest in gold is because it has a high value to weight ratio. (1CR or 10million INR has a weight of 12kgs while 1cr of gold weighs less than 4kgs). If you take the density of gold vs paper into account, the amount of locker space it occupies for storage is miniscule. So unless u have like a ton of gold, converting into demat form will not help you much in saving weight. But then remember the limit of investment is 500gm.
5. If you don’t want the tax authorities to know your net worth (for legitimate or privacy) then this is a wrong instrument.
6. If you are a minority and believe that RSS & Modi is going to incite a series of communal violence to ensure mass exodus then you are better off with something that you can touch/feel/carry. Remember all you get is a certificate (digital/paper) which might not be of much value if you become an asylum seeker.

Gold has been a cherished investment instrument for many in India. Reasons:
1. Black Money: Unlike cash, it occupies less space, is not inflammable, not prone to termites and appreciates in value.
2. Indian rupee is a joke and will continue to depreciate further. So you are better off with something tangible. In fact all the appreciation that one has seen in Gold is primarily because of weakness of Indian rupee and not because of purchasing power of gold going up.
3. Gold prices is dictated by the war/recession/terrorism and uncertainty in general. Hence as IS is gaining momentum & China going into recession gold will become dearer.
4. It is still probably the only form of wealth that is liquid and yet hard to trace by authorities.

All being said 2.75% on something that otherwise not earn anything is not a bad deal. Even after adjusting for tax & loss at the time of purchase, you should be better off with bonds rather than physical paper.

Diwali Vs. Singles Day

Is India relevant in today’s world economy?
Yesterday 11/11 Chinese Singles Day (a make-name shopping festival invented by Alibaba) coincided with Diwali. Both countries had a huge retail sales & domestic consumption. Yet the Western media had articles after articles on Chinese Singles Day. Diwali festival was barely mentioned anywhere.

Isn’t it strange the only time the name India is mentioned in any international publications it is linked to
1. Religious Intolerance or RSS or Modi
2. Poverty or corruption or Congress
3. Draconian policies of bureaucrats or how investor un-friendly India is

It is time India should hire some good PR scientist to steer the conversation to modernization or better still advance so much that everyone has no choice to notice us.

Cinema Capital Venture Fund: Rejoinder to SEBI Complaint

Based on the responses received from the Fund managersCCVF Response, I have composed the SEBi Rejoinder. The reason for me marking this on my personal blog is to reach out to the fellow investors who have seen their investments getting eroded from INR 10L to INR70k over the period of seven years.
Please help me reach out to other investors of this fund.