Sunday, August 07, 2016

Time to break this forced calm

It seems to be something new – have not seen a book written in the form of a website before. I am talking of The Story of A Suicide - BySriram Ayer. What I really liked was the fact that it is so accessible now, though I am strong supporter of paying to read books. The website is compatible with a smartphone as well as a tablet so it can be read on the move!

"The Story of a Suicide" is a gripping novel that tells the stories of Hari, Charu, Sam and Mani, whose lives are interconnected in a web of love, passion, revenge and deceit. I found this book engaging because it is very ‘rea’ and very ‘now’. I love books of the literary genres, the magical real ones, the emotional autobiographical types and the eccentric satirical types, but books such as this one are also the need of the hour and I realize that. It is not easy to be young today. And this books is more of a project than a book in that sense – because it really helps youth deal with being young.

Today's youngsters are expressive, self-absorbed, independent, afraid, hurried, fearless, fame hungry, but surprisingly resilient. In a world that makes unreasonable demands of them, many are disillusioned about their education, relationships, jobs, sexuality, bullying, and abuse. In the backdrop of a powerful story and visuals, this project aims to reach out to young people, by verbalising their struggles through the story, informing the do's and don'ts when they face challenges, and providing a platform to share their experience.

I am very very partial towards animals so I think it is not a surprise that the part that absolutely gripped me was when a petite girl narrated the incident where a tigress was skinned alive and the merciless monsters had the audacity to film the barbarism and upload the video on Youtube. This environmentally conscious girl pleaded with the crowd to narrate the incident in details and my heart broke at the heartlessness of it all.

I have often wondered what made humans take the world as it belongs to them, as if they were meant to be its owners, as if they have some kind of a right over it. There have been so many incidences like the Chennai floods, Uttakhand landslides, Bangalore floods, rising temperatures and this is just in India! Throughout the world, the earthquakes, tsunamis, and so many other disasters have been warning signs waiting to be heeded. Each of these is a sign that something is majorly wrong in the world but it doesn’t seem to ring a bell! 

In his book Animal Liberation, Peter Singer states that the basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires equal consideration. This is an important distinction when talking about animal rights. People often ask if animals should have rights, and quite simply, the answer is “Yes!” Animals surely deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the reforming utilitarian school of moral philosophy, stated that when deciding on a being’s rights, “The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” (source)

While I thank Sriram Ayer for bringing up this pertinent topic in a very subtle manner that does not make the readers go, “Oh another book on activism”, I also want to share this quote that seeme to echo my sentiments quite well.

One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.
--- Martin Luther King, Jr

(Images are from and

Friday, July 29, 2016

It is that time of the year

My friend Rahul is always frantic in the month of July. I have known him for over twelve years but if there is one thing that does not change is how he appears in the month of July. Every year, year after year. I think you know why that is the case. July is the month of filing taxes. 

Rahul knows this. Of course he has to – he has been working for over fourteen years. He knows that each year, at this time, you need to get together various financial forms, records and put your energy into getting this crucial activity closed, but still, every year at the last minute he scampers around with missing documents, details and gets highly stressed. He ends up filing taxes through an expensive Chartered Accountant at the last minute, mostly paying a penalty too since he has crossed the IT department mandated deadline. In fact there was a year when he missed filing his IT returns altogether!

So this time, when I met him in June, I had an idea. I decided to take some time and tell him why he needs to treat filing Tax Returns as a very important activity. I spoke to him about the reasons why it actually helps him to file his taxes, and not just for the larger reasons like government earnings being plowed towards the development of our country, because I felt that sometimes when people see how doing something helps them personally, they take it much more seriously for the rest of their lives. Here are the points I told him:

  1. This is a basic Income Proof that can be used for any reason: ITR is considered a customary income proof not only in India but also globally. Whether you are looking for higher education in the US or a job in Australia, for any such opportunity abroad, ITR is the largely accepted income proof. This is what you would need to furnish at the time of your VISA interviews and other requirements.
  2. Need a loan? This is the fast-track method! Apart from a good credit history (or past repayment track), the fact that you are filing your ITR regularly assures banks of your reliability. Regular records of IT returns filed gives you speedier access to credit and at better terms – maybe not essentially a larger line of credit, but surely a better rate. 
  3. The underlying document? It is your PAN card: Permanent Account Number or PAN issued by the IT authority is not only a prerequisite for filing ITR but now it is mandatory for all financial transactions – starting from opening a bank account, to purchasing mutual funds to even buying real estate for investment. Filing IT returns mandates you to have a PAN number and hence as default you are safe when it comes to financial transactions. 
  4. For obtaining government tenders, registration on panels: did you that the value of business profiles of various corporate agencies, contractors, professional service providers or individuals is dependent on the yearly income tax returns? Contractors need to ensure that IT returns are not only be filed on time , but also in an accurate manner, audited (if required) and signed with necessary documents. In tender approval meetings or for finalizing professional panels, the selection body gives weightage to past IT records, at times tender scrutiny committees validate ITRs for five to seven years to see whether the applicant has done work for that amount earlier. 
  5. Securing LIC/GIC agency: if you were looking at augmenting your income by opening an LIC / GIC agency, go file your IT returns. Insurance corporations, before allotting an agency, check the financial health and habits of the agents. Previous three years’ returns are called for before allotting any agency.
  6. For funding your Startup: Rahul wants to start something on his own in the future. Yeah, yeah, I know this is the new fad! But well, if he wants to do that, or any of you for that matter, ITRs have to be timely and accurate. Many angel or VC investors include income tax returns filed till date in their statistical analysis. From returns they not only want to know your profitability but also your scalability, various cost parameters, and validity of the data produced from the auditor’s report. 
  7. Appointments in Judicial & Class one Jobs: Yes, you heard it right! No client data or record of similar work done previously shall matter to the selection body; it is only the last five to seven years’ income tax returns (in judicial interview, seven years’ ITR records are checked) that show the candidate’s credibility to get these jobs. So, what are you thinking? Tell everybody about this lesser known point. 
  8. Last but not the least, you can claim your Tax refund! Here’s a secret! Filing ITR is not always about paying tax. It can be used as a means to reduce your tax liability! If you are a salaried employee for whom TDS has been cut during the financial year, you can claim refund if the tax outgo has been more than the actual tax payable. So this does not mean that your company can get away with chopping your salary, you need to pay just what you are supposed – the rest of it comes right back to you.

And with many convenient portals and experts helping you with it, it is more of a cakewalk than it ever was! Here's an example of how filing your IT returns has become easy with one such platform called H&R block. Plus, you can see the perils of not filing taxes in this video too :)

So go right ahead and file your IT returns on time and accurately - avoid the tax man knocking at your door! ;) 

 I’m taking the #TaxPledge to file IT returns with the easy Income Tax efiling option from H&R Block at BlogAdda

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Are you ready for Datsun redi-Go?

Recently we wanted to change our car and get something which meets our unending list of criteria while being well within our budget. It needed to be sleek to look at, smooth to drive, value for money and extremely safe for our family. We read a bit, spoke to people and seem to have found a car that meets our criteria. It is the new car from Datsun, a Japanese brand owned by Nissan. After my research into this car, I have discovered one thing for sure! It is that this new car gives you…..

Fun. Freedom. Confidence. The ultimate Urban Cross - Datsun redi-GO - the capability of a crossover with the convenience of a hatchback.

As a first step, I plan to take it out for a spin on the coming Sunday and if you ask me which are the top 3 features that compel me to do this, I will tell you these:

The Japanese technology is up there when it comes to comfort and passenger friendliness. The Datsun redi-GO's air conditioner has been optimized for Indian weather conditions – Its precisely calculated air circulation ensures that the passengers are comfortable inside, irrespective of temperatures surround it. Datsun redi-GO’s 5-speed manual transmission gives the driver a very smooth control, with precise shifting. The seats are higher and this unique makes the cabin airy. The front seats get integrated headrests like the rear seats. The seats are also thin and tall with a good back support which keeps the driver comfortable while driving. Additionally, there is enough headroom and knee-room for two adults in the back though a third person can fit in too (he should be smaller ;) )

The redi-Go offers a driver-side airbag on the top-of-the-line-variant. There is a promise of high maneuverability at low speeds and stability at high speeds, High bolstering support while cornering, H-shaped torsion beam with double pivot arm gives high stability and cornering performance. Sometimes in cars, visibility could be a problem given the bulky design but this car offers a good view of road and surroundings which in turn improves driving confidence and safety.

Last but certainly not the least, the performance of the car is the prime criterion. The car has awesome high ground clearance that will help you drive smoothly. here is a shift indicator that shows the ideal time to shift for maximum efficiency and performance. The Datsun redi-Go has the Intelligent Spark Automated Technology (i-SAT) Engine which automatically adjusts spark timing in response to fuel quality and power requirement of your car without you having to worry about it. Your car comes with a small turning radius, better braking system and great fuel efficiency.

Much like most of the other folks around me, my dream is drive to Leh in Ladakh and savor its breathtaking beauty; and I feel that the perfect opportunity for me to test the Datsun redi-GO would be the hilly and challenging roads from Manali to Spiti to Leh. I am quite confident that it will pass the test with flying colors!  So goodbye to urban driving blues in killing traffic and bad vehicle performance and hello redi-Go!

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Ahem ahem

The International Women's Day 2015 is observed 8 March ever year since the early 1900s to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all across the globe. The theme for this year's women's day is "Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” (

There is nothing new that I can say to describe women that has not been said before. So let me start by quoting one of my favorite quotes:

A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
— Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States.

Women have not had it easy. In this paternalistic world, things have come to them in challenging ways. And even not when the situation is a lot easier than what it was before, they do face tough challenges whether in public life or personal. In their personal lives, they often end up compromising and ‘adjusting’ to what comes their way. But why? I feel that today’s smart and sassy women have every right to demand things from their men. They should ask for promises and actions that they deserve. Do you agree?

Let me list three that I would like to demand from mine!

  1. You swear to love me, cherish me and honor me even though I do not allow you to watch a cricket match, even though it is an IPL or a T20, even though it is between India and Pakistan (Gasp!). Of course the list of such sports include football, tennis and basketball!
  2. You swear to feel (or at least act) extremely understanding and considerate when I blow an entire months’ salary on a bag or a pair of shoes or a new duvet.
  3. You will dutifully, happily and willingly eat everything I cook, even though it is of strange shapes, sizes and smells. You will not ask me what it is, where I found the recipe or what the steps I followed are. You will then obediently praise whatever has been cooked and presented to you, using the best words or phrases and volunteer to be the guinea pig for all my future cooking escapades too.
Now I need to, promptly, find him and make him read this post before the sacred women’s day is over, though I do know that women’s day or not the chances of these kasamas and vaadas to be accepted and implemented are fairly slim :D

But you know like a wonder woman once said:

If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman. — Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister.

 Watch Ranvir make some anti-boriyat kasams here :P

I’m blogging about the kasams I want from my man this Women’s Day with the #SadaSexy activity at BlogAdda!