Thursday, 22 December 2016

Notebandi – the cash crash


Did the expert advisors to the government ever try to assess the extent of black money in cash before deciding to take 86 per cent of the money out of circulation? In reality, not even six per cent of the country’s black money is stored in cash, say the financial experts......

The message about demonetization is clear. It has disturbed the Indian economy. But it’s too late for the government to roll it back. Many economists and experts have criticized the move and the implementation. Japanese brokerage Nomura issued a grim report about the impact of demonetization in India. It expects growth to fall to 6 per cent or below, as rural demand from fertilizers to consumer items shrinks sharply. Nomura has an index that tracks lot of numbers to forecast growth. This, index it explained, was down to its lowest levels since it was created.

Some call it a monumental tragedy that is harming farmers, traders, small business and daily wage workers. Many small scale units have shut down or the workers have returned back to their villages. Is demonetization and its ugly fallout the beginning of the end of Modi? Modi is losing friends as anger grows over Indian cash crackdown and constant flip flops by the RBI. Nomura could have added that not only was demonetization unnecessary, its execution has been botched. The Reserve Bank of India, the finance ministry overseeing it has issued no less than 60 notices and circulars that contradict each other since 8/11. These create confusion among banker and citizen equally. Now people, who initially supported believing the good intention of the government, are visibly angry. The general perception is, people might forget the ordeal after a few days, but may not forgive the government who created this mess.

Did the expert advisors to the government ever try to assess the extent of black money in cash before deciding to take 86 per cent of the money out of circulation? In reality, not even six per cent of the country’s black money is stored in cash, say the financial experts. Chidambaram, the former finance minister says - What the government has been claiming as a surgical strike appears to be a surgeon operating on a patient without diagnosing him first.

One of the big impacts is instantly visible on the residential sector which has been experiencing excruciatingly slow growth in recent times. Let us hope the New year will bring some respite and good days to the aam aadmi!

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Picture Post:
Vetobha Temple, Arawali, Maharastra
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Monday, 28 November 2016

Demonetisation – the facts



The move, if it will meet the objectives of curbing corruption, counterfeit currencies and black money as spelt out by Prime Minister, is to be seen in the coming months. Many feel the real impact of demonetization .........

A lot has been said and written about demonetization. This is the third demonetization of higher currency undertaken by the Indian authorities, if we include the one done just before independence in 1946. The move by the government to ban Rs 500 and 1000 notes has been praised and criticized. In elected democracies major economic decisions have a political dimension. No politician would willingly risk growth, commerce and jobs if he did not know there would be political gains at the end of the tunnel. Whether it is a 2% GDP growth loss, a deceleration is unavoidable.

Many say, it’s a brave move by the government; majority agree, the intent is good but the implementation has been adhoc and shoddy. But the fact is, it has crippled the nation. There are long queues in front of banks and a reduction in trade and business. It is bound to impact on the GDP of the country. It is very rare to remove 86 per cent of the currency in one go. The logistics of such an operation is mammoth one. The government has been accused of being reactive to the situation with adhoc decisions. The withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes has created havoc for families with marriages and other ceremonies scheduled, has also hit business and trade. There is a slowdown in the manufacturing industry, small scale units and unorganized sectors have been hit hard. The rural economy too has been crippled.

The benefits if any of demonization, only time will tell. The only short term benefits of it would result in people shifting towards the use of debit cards and digital transactions in the urban areas. In rural areas, illiterate farmers may be exploited as they are only used to cash transactions, and very few number of banks in remote areas are accessible to them. The real estate will definitely be affected by demonetization exercise, as traditionally seen a very high involvement of black money and cash transactions.

Whatever the misgivings about the long term impact on the economy, no one can predict what is likely to unfold. We will have to wait and watch. But one major factor will undoubtedly remain as a legacy of this unprecedented move is the return of the government in our lives in an irritatingly permanent way. The role of the authorities in our lives is bound to go up substantially. The fear being, somebody is watching. 

The move, if it will meet the objectives of curbing corruption, counterfeit currencies and black money as spelt out by Prime Minister, is to be seen in the coming months. Many feel the real impact of demonetization will be felt in about six months time affecting agriculture, small scale industry and the unorganized sector. And also trade, business and commerce in general. It is still too early to accurately gauge the depth of the shakeup this has caused. Demonetisation may whiten the economy, but for now it has blackened the mood!

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Picture Post:

Mahuli Temple, Shiroda, Maharastra
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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

12 Superstitions around the world



- Contributed by Salil Naik


Indians are superstitious and many still believe in a lot of superstitions, be they living in the big metropolitan cities and more so in small towns and villages. It’s not just Indians, but all over the world, people are superstitious and believe in superstitions. These superstitions have been passed on from generations. The new generation with modern education, different outlook and beliefs tend to ignore these superstitions, but many a times they too believe in it.

Every country has its traditions and stories. Among them are superstitions, which influence culture more than you think. Some are good practices, such as not opening an umbrella indoors, or like in India its considered bad to cut nails after sunset, while others make little sense, like spitting when a black cat crosses your path or crossing your fingers while walking past or under a ladder or like in India its inauspicious if a cat crosses your path.  Although people claim to be less superstitious these days, the rituals haven’t completely gone away.


Here are 12 of the more bizarre ones from all over the world that are still prevalent.

Brazilians do not leave bags on the floor -
Leaving your bag on the floor is considered very bad luck in Brazil. It is believed that if you let your bag or wallet hit the ground, you will lose money.


The French step on poop -
In France, it is believed that stepping on dog poop with your left foot will bring you luck, while stepping on poop with your right foot will bring misfortune. Perhaps, this is why it is not a widely practiced custom for the French to pick up after their dogs.


Koreans never sleep with fans in a closed room -
In South Korea, locals believe that sleeping in a closed room with a fan running will kill you. This phenomenon is called Fan Death and has even lead to electric fans being made with shut-off timers.




Egyptians fear and revere scissors -
In Egypt, it’s considered bad luck to open and close scissors without cutting something. It is even worse luck if you leave them open. Conversely, they do believe scissors bring some good as there is also a popular belief that scissors kept under a pillow can cure a person of nightmares.


Rwandan women avoid goat meat -
In Rwanda, there is a widespread belief that eating goats’ meat causes you to grow a beard and women are traditionally discouraged.


Vermont homes have slanted windows -
You’ll find that many farmhouses built in the 19th century in New England and specifically Vermont, have slanted windows. It was commonly believed that witches would not be able to fly on their brooms into your home if the window was built at an angle.


Chinese avoid the number 4 -
In China, the number 4 is widely feared due to its similar pronunciation of the word for death. This number and numbers in combination with it (14, 24, 34 etc.) are considered so unlucky they are not used in addresses, phone numbers and building floors.



Vietnamese students skip bananas -
In Vietnam students hoping to excel at school avoid eating bananas. In Vietnamese, the words for "slip" and "fail" are similar and because bananas are associated with slipperiness and students look for other healthy snacks.


The Japanese hide their stomachs during thunderstorms -
Japanese children are told to cover or hide their stomachs during thunderstorms. It is believed that if you do not take care of this, the god of thunder, Raijin, will come after you and try to eat your belly button.


Touch red in Greece
The Greek equivalent of jinx is called piase kokkino which means "touch red". Whenever two people say the same thing at the same time, they need to say piase kokkino and touch something red.


The Turkish worry about nightfall -
In Turkey, there are several activities avoided at night because of superstition. Gum is not chewed as it is believed you are actually chewing the flesh of the dead. Whistling is also avoided because it might call the devil. Nails are not cut as it might shorten your life, and sweeping is avoided because it is believed to cause poverty.


The Swedes jump over manholes -
In Sweden, you might encounter pedestrians wary of walking over manholes. The country’s manhole covers are marked with either “K”, representing fresh water and love or “A” representing sewage and broken love. Some Swedes believe that your romantic fortune is determined by which manhole covers you step over.








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A make-up trick that all girls must know!

When you apply makeup, you usually apply powder last. Reversing your makeup routine is what is being suggested. However for a more long lasting finish especially if the climate is humid, you should apply in first. Moisturise your skin, apply powder, then setting spray and later a primer – now your base is ready for makeup. In this case, you don’t even need bake the makeup.


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Velankani Church, Tamil Nadu, India.
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Friday, 14 October 2016

A dynamic profession

An insight into journalism, a dynamic profession with a good scope and openings in print and electronic media; and now with new avenues online, in the field of mass communication. People with a flair for writing can opt for this interesting career.

People generally feel that journalism is only all about writing. Yes it is. But it is much more, about reading, observing and most importantly, the ability to express one’s thoughts on varied subjects and topics.

Journalism is a dynamic profession and a challenging career. Journalism is for people who are ready to observe, listen and explore various opportunities without the constraints of gender, cultural upbringing, and are ready to do things out of the box to collect their story.

The main aim of journalism is to collect information and present it to the world. Journalism also includes investigating, analysing and reporting. It is also reporting local as well as world events, trends, current affairs. But today most of them just report without verifying the authenticity and other details of the story. In the seventies, such inaccurate writing, to attack someone or celebrities or promote somebody or celebrities was known as yellow journalism. And this phrase was very commonly used then.

It is rightly said – Pen is mightier than the sword. Many young people are attracted to journalism. They are keen to take it up as a career and wish to excel and make a name for themselves. Everyday there are several events happening across the world – political, cultural, religious, crime and natural disaster. We come to know about these events and incidents sitting at home through newspapers, television or online through the internet. This is possible through communication, providing information to a large number of people at the same time. And this is done by journalists around the world.

To be a good journalist, one has to be have a command over language, confidence in oneself, enthusiasm, patience, perseverance and a natural ability to differentiate between fact and fiction, while putting the story together, adhering to deadlines, must be a team man, open and sensitive to different views, lifestyles, in-depth knowledge about various fields such as politics, culture, tradition, social and current affairs. Journalists also help in shaping public opinion about a person or a subject, so they should be honest and stick to the facts.

Today, there is plenty of scope and openings for journalists. As you know media is divided into print and electronic media. Everything in print comes under print media, which includes newspapers, magazines, journals, tabloids and books. Electronic media covers radio, television, cable, TV channels and with internet, you get instant news on mobiles, tablets and computers.

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Picture Post:
Penha Da Franca across Mandovi, Goa, India.
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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Guide: Dos and don'ts for residents and visitors in the UAE



- Contributed by Rita Rao, UAE (Text reproduced from Gulf News)

Dubai, with Burj Khalifa in the background
Any time you plan to visit UAE, remember to follow the etiquette and the rules and laws of the country. This will help make your trip pleasant and a happy one. It also applies to people who take up a job there or professionals who visit there on projects or professional assignments. Just follow the rules and respect their customs and traditions, and enjoy your long or brief stay. It will be a safe and happy stay in UAE.

UAE is a modern tourist-friendly country but there are certain etiquette rules and laws to follow. Public etiquette rules and other laws in the UAE are to be followed strictly to avoid fines, prison or permanent deportation.

UAE is a country that welcomes a large number of visitors from around the world. All the Emirates welcome tourists of various nationalities and cultures.
However, being a Muslim country, there are certain factors to take into consideration in terms of dress code and behaviour.
Note: This is a general informative guide and it would be best to ask in advance about etiquette tips based on places you visit or stay at in the UAE.


Abu Dhabi 
Dress code
- Residents and visitors should dress modestly, particularly in conservative areas and public places.
- Swimwear is acceptable at private beaches or around private swimming pools, but visitors should cover up elsewhere. 
- Cross-dressing is frowned upon and can lead to detainment by the authorities.
- Shorts and T-shirts are suitable attire in many places, although when visiting mosques, religious sites or older parts of the city, both men and women may feel more comfortable wearing loose-fitting clothes that cover shoulders, arms and legs.
- Women will usually be required to wear a headscarf when entering mosques.

Sharjah
Invitations and interactions
- If you are invited to a majlis, remove your shoes at the entrance.
- Males and females may sometimes be escorted to different sections.
- If you are sharing a meal with your host, accept food and refreshment before moving on to matters of business.
- It is important to stand up for new guests and older or higher-ranking people, and men are expected to stand when a woman enters the room.
- When greeting a member of the opposite sex who is Muslim, it is important not to offer to shake hands unless they extend their hand first – both men and women (more commonly women) may prefer not to shake hands with the opposite sex due to religious reasons.
- It is customary to accept food and drink with your right hand; this is also the hand you should eat with.
- Avoid showing the soles of your feet, or pointing your foot at anyone. If you are sitting in front of an important guest, it is considered rude to cross your legs.
- If you are hosting Muslim guests, do not offer them alcoholic beverages or pork.

UAE Flag
Gestures
- Do not beckon or point with your finger
- If you need to use a hand gesture, use the whole hand. 
- Any obscene hand gestures in public may land you in prison.
In public
- Being drunk and disorderly in public is unacceptable, and may result in a fine or worse. Drunk driving is met with zero tolerance in the UAE.
- Photography should be done with care and be sure to ask first before snapping a photo of a national or a resident of the UAE, especially if the subject is a woman. 
- Drinking in public is strictly prohibited and so is having alcohol or other illegal substances in possession at any time.
- Public displays of affection should be minimal – holding hands is acceptable but kissing and hugging in public is not.
- Noise disruptions, bad language, making obscene gestures and showing disrespect in any way to Dubai’s religion or its leaders are all forbidden and may land you in legal trouble.

Ajman
Others
- Fund-raising for charity and promotion of charity or humanitarian organizations can only be done through legally approved channels after taking the requisite permissions.
- During Ramadan, non-fasting residents or visitors are expected to follow certain etiquette rules.
- The following are also considered illegal: use or possession of drugs, cohabitation, sex outside of marriage, having a baby out of wedlock, adultery and homosexuality. 










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Scientists say they have found a way to extract colour from black
Researchers claim they have found a way  of extracting vivid colours from patterns typically seen as black. Surfaces appear black because their nanoscale structures that reflect light are completely disordered, causing all light to be absorbed. With a technique to control the way light passes through the disordered surface, they reproduced a Chinese watercolour painting with high colour accuracy.



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Picture Post:
Chettinad Palace, Chennai, India.
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