Friday, February 29, 2008

Budget Gab

In what could be P.C’ last for the next few years, he’s kept his Gab on the whole positive, sans the Rs.60, 000 Cr. Drubbing he’s given to his PSU Banks.

My favorites:

1. Hell with other tax chops – my favorite is the Rs. 50 Crore grant for the Tiger Reserve force :) Yayy... these beauties deserve more.

2. Although I detest to imagining what our roads might look like, the excise duty cut on the Motor segment is welcome. Apart from a little boost to domestic consumption, I think it will give a good fillip to our export competitiveness.

3. We can breathe easy for the first Rs.1.5 Lacs… Ummm.. four thousand bucks..

4. Women power re-enforced with a cool tax break for the first Rs. 1.85 L

5. Removal of dividend distribution taxation b/w subsidiary and holding cos.

What he could have done:

1. Ease the FBT mess for companies by exemption a little more services

2. That he’s increased Short Term capital gains to 15%, he very well could have increased the 80-C investment options to Rs.150,000

3. Rs.44 Crores ain’t enough to attract talent to our defense forces. He ought to have increased marketing for recruitment on this sphere. I hope the next pay commission does more for the defense forces.

4. While a lot of investments been promised for Agriculture he should have encouraged lending for Modernization of Agri. India’s agri productivity has been diminishing over the years and apart from power and fertilizer subsidies, more needs to be done on the mechanization front. I am on purpose not commenting on the whopping Rs.60, 000 farmer write off’s due to want of enough facts on the social .

5. Excise on Tobacco’s and liquor ought to have been increased

Lost his mind:

1. Excuse me for sounding blasphemous but Rs.1,000 for modernization of Madarsa’s ? I remember my colleague Chinmayee quoting a bureaucrat from Assam making this demand and I laughed it off. If only I knew what was coming.

2. Infrastructure’s been feeding a huge part of our 9 % growth rates. Nothing for them? The IT and ITeS is in a large way responsible for where we are today. No reference to any breaks for them? While P.C’s been very benevolent with Auto and FMCG this lack of apathy … especially for Infra beats me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lost and Found

My Mom always harps on the fact that I need to learn to read and write Bengali. While I enjoy reading translated version of Bengali literature and while ‘my heart goes mmmmmm’ listening to Tagore, my disciplined laziness ensured that I got no where beyond comprehending a few Bengali letter’s that resembled their Devanagari cousins. Besides, as a bong far tucked far south of the vindhiyas with no plans whatsoever to pursuing anything in the east, I never really pushed myself to get literate in my mother tongue. Over a period of time, the need and my yearning to do so also diminished…

…… until I was lost!

Cut to Dhaka, national book fare for Bengali literature where the only lingua franca in a radius of over half of kilometer was Bangla. I was dutifully toeing my Bengali colleagues who were in search of Bengali classics until an enthusiastic rush of crowd from one particular stall saw me part. Underestimating the efforts needed to trace them I continued my leisurely strolls looking at colorfully decorated book shelves and kids with bright face paintings. I did so for close to half an hour eventually discovering that there was no way I could end up finding my local contact without risking a phone call. I was carrying only my Indian SIM and was in no mood to shell out INR 50 / min to share my co-ordinates. .

(20 Minutes later) I was still doing the rounds and my hopes of finding them without having to speak to them was diminishing. But 50 bucks a call… no way. I remembered reading on how friendly Bangladeshi’s all over the country were and thought this was a perfect opportunity to ‘test’ the national testimonial. I began looking for a guy who’d let me use his phone! It wasn’t a very expensive proposition considering that local call rate are less than 1 taka (INR 0.63 paise).

1st call: So I approach this guy and he readily obliges to let me use his phone. My colleague says ‘look for the Mukto Bahini stall’. I could vaguely figure out how Mukto would spell in Bengali so armed with this confidence I set out to do the rounds again. But 15 mins hence, their fancy fonts ensured that it wasn’t the easiest of things for a novice to read.

2nd Call: I approach another guy (I’d mentally decided that this would be the last time I’m taking a mobile favor and next time it would be my own Aircel for sure). He readily offers me his phone and this time my colleague sensing my utter inability to locate him asked me the stall number I was close to. A few seconds later and after a lot of strain I figured out it was # 318. I figured Hindi and Bangla share similar #’s but the stylized and
fancy fonts and ensured that it was’nt the easiest of things for me to do.

In perspective, while the entire incident was no big deal it left me guffawed on how vulnerable I was in not taking to native tongue seriously. So will I take to learning Bangla seriously now? Will let you know :)