Grammar confusion of non-English speaking students

October 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Use of ‘Have had’, ‘Had had’ and ‘Has had’ (through examples)

Vineet, the 8-year-old lad, had gone to a birthday party next door. He returned home around 9pm, just when his parents were having dinner. His mother Sasmita called out, “Vineet, come to the table for food.”

True to Vineet’s usual ways, he ignored the call. His mom waited for a while and called out again, rather commandingly, “Vineet, come here fast. You can’t go to bed hungry.”

Vineet replied, “No, mummy, I have had enough –the pizza, the cake and the Halwa. I don’t need anything more.”


It means Vineet has ensured his stomach is full when he gets delicious food.


Why ‘I have had’, and not “I had’ or ‘I have’? …

Vinnet, the glutton, has returned just miniutes back from the party where he had (ate) food to his heart’s content. To say, “I had enough ….” will not be very appropriate, because the eating took place just miniutes back. This apart, he wants to convey the impression that he has just finished eating and can not eat more. Hence the verb ‘have’ is more appropriate than ‘had’. Thus, “I have had enough.” is the most logical way of saying, “I have eaten enough.”

Going by the same logic, use of ‘I had had enough,” is not quite appropriate here.


Another example …

Around 5 pm, Vineet returned from school and slumped on the bean bag, and switched on the TV. His mummy screamed, “Vineet, switch off the TV, and go down to play with Arya. You need exercise.”


Vineet replied, “Mummy, I had had enough of it in the school. We had a football match around 10 am today, and I had to run all over the field in the hot sun.”

Here, the football playing exercise took place hours before he reached home. Perhaps, he still feels drained out and is no mood to exert himself more. In such a circumstance, saying, “I had had enough exercise in the school.” looks logical.



One more example ..

Milonee and her parents checked into a five star hotel. At midnight, when they are deep asleep, a rat ran across Milonee’s face. She screamed in horror. Her parents soon discovered the nocturnal trespasser nibbling at the small piece of Nan left over from the dinner. They called in the housekeeper and demanded to be shifted to a different room. The request was readily accepted and the luggage shifted promptly. Just miniutes into their sleep, they heard the ferocious, noisy duel between to cats. Their battle cries scared Milonee’s parents. Beset with disgust and anger, they decided to check out. The apologetic manager came in begging them to stay back. He offered a suite in the same price as the room they had occupied. But, the rat-cat encounter had scared the family to the core. Milonne’s mother blurted out, “We had had enough of your hospitality. It is time to tell you good bye for good.”




Communication skill building for non-English students

October 30, 2012 at 9:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Communication skill building —

Step by step guide for students whose mother tongue is not English

1. Get your grammar right. No great job. Refresh your High School level grammar in respect of
a. Tense of verbs
b. Active –Passive voice
c. Direct –Indirect
d. Use of comma, hyphen and inverted comma. OAut of these ‘comma’ is the most important.
e. Use of ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’
f. Use of prepositions such as about, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at, before, behind, below, beside, between, beyond, but, by, despite, down, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, like, near, of, off, on, onto, out, outside, over, past, since, through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, until, up, upon, with, within, without.
g. Use of conjunction such as … and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet”.
h. Learn to join and split sentences.

2. Listen to Conversational English exercises in U-Tube

2. Read newspapers, dramas, novels and or inspirational books

3. Write short paragraphs like
a. Why you like your parents
b. Whom you admire and why
c. Why we need or don’t need politicians
d. Why humans can not live without fighting wars
e. Why is technology important
f. Why are antibiotics good or bad
g. Why is nuclear power good or bad
h. The good and bad side of advertising
i. The good and bad side of IT as a career
j. The need for rainwater harvesting
k. Any other such topic

4. Read aloud and speak before a mirror

5. Read and speak before a group of known and unknown people separately and ask them to comment on your articulation, pronunciation and delivery.

6. Build up a vocabulary bank of 1000 words and phrasal verbs

7. Write dummy mails and ask your mentor / boss to correct them.


Right word in the right place — Lesson for and from Indian politicians

October 27, 2012 at 7:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Word power building exercise using Indian political scene

Sway as verb,   Tirade,   Novice,   Adversary,   Clandestine,   Signatories, Retaliate,   Berate,   Engulfed,   Asset,   Strangulate,   Veer,   Tactics,   Languid, Charisma,   Chagrin
Fill in the blanks in the following paragraphs by choosing appropriate words from the above list.

There were two prominent political leaders in the area. One was a old veteran with nearly three decades of service behind him. His age made him somewhat complacent and even ——- . He rarely visited the villages and towns under him. Instead, he wanted aggrieved people to come to him with their grievances. He commanded a lot of respect, no doubt, but he was slowly losing his old charm and ——–.

Challenging his influence in the area and in the party was a young man, a political ——–, so to say. But he bubbled with energy. He was quite hands-on in his approach. He visited the farmers, the cobblers, the grocers, the teachers, the money-lenders and the small borrowers and just anyone who came his way. He lent his ears to their sorrows, sufferings, and to their hopes and dreams. With his limited political clout, he did whatever he could to redress the people’s grievances. No wonder, people in the area began to ——- towards him. He became the ‘people’s leader’.

The inevitable happened soon. The old leader and the young aspiring leader fell apart. The old leader treated the young one as an ——–. The bitterness grew fast. The old leader started to —- his young challenger as someone who was incapable and inexperienced, selfish, money-minded and treacherous.
But, nothing worked. People continued to be —- towards the young leader. The old man’s mind was ——– with fury against the young contender. On some occasions, the old, embittered leader burst out to a ———- against the younger one.

The senior leader finally decided to ———. He started a signature campaign against the younger leader alleging that he was extorting money from the people for doing them small favours. But getting enough ——– for the petition was an uphill task for him. People simply turned their faces away when approached to sign in the foul petition. It filled the mind of the senior leader with ———. Clearly his —— were not working. Rumour mongering, character-assassination, and all such operations to malign the young contender only boomeranged. ——–back-room deals with local elders done to undermine the younger opponent could do nothing to limit the soaring popularity of the young rising star.

The old man was out of tune with the changing times. His fingers were no longer on the pulse of the people. He had become aloof and somewhat snobbish. He had forgotten the basic rule of politics that proximity to the people is a politician’s greatest ——–.

The elections approached. The party bosses gave the ticket to the young leader, sidestepping the claims of the old veteran. It was a big humiliation. No party ticket, thinning support base and defeat at the hands of a novice. It was too much for the veteran of many elections. Feeling ———- and choked, he retired from politics.


SOFI report on hunger and malnutrition worldwide – India focus

October 26, 2012 at 7:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Fighting world hunger, step by step

For a person with a conscience, nothing should cause more revulsion than the fact that about one out of eight human beings in this planet are severely mal-nourished. Hunger pangs, the most unbearable and degrading form of deprivation, blights 12.5% of the human race. Why and how this scourge continues to defy all attempts to banish it remains a baffling question.
All religions implore their followers to give food to the hungry generously, give alms, not waste food and feed beggars and vagrants. In crisis situations, people voluntarily run community kitchens and distribute food packets. Such religious and altruistic instincts apart, food production and nutritional knowledge have registered a quantum leap in the last five decades. Now, food can be stored, moved and distributed with considerable ease, thanks to well-managed efforts by international organizations like World Food Programme (WFP), the Red Cross, Oxfam, and a multitude of NGOs scattered all over the world. There are satellites to relay information on droughts, floods, famines, pest attacks. Electronic media faithfully cover other man-made factors like internal conflicts, greed-driven hoarding and price-manipulation by cartels etc.

State of Food Insecurity (SOFI) is a United Nations initiative. It has just published its report about the deplorable condition of some 12.5% of the world’s population whose mind and body remain stunted for life due to want of food in right quality and quantity. This statistics is indeed very upsetting.
However, the SOFI report has some silver lining in the dark cloud of hunger. It points out that malnutrition levels have fallen in the last two decades. If this downward trend continues, meeting the Millennium Development Goals of a 50% reduction in malnutrition levels by 2015 should be achievable. This is a piece of good news indeed.

In the food and nutrition atlas of the world, Asia and Latin America seem to be doing rather well, where as the African continent seems to be lagging behind. Some of the sub-Saharan countries are reeling from many natural and man-made factors which deprive their population of the minimum supply of food.
In Asia, South Asian (India and Pakistan, in particular) countries have poor score cards. The number of malnourished people in South Asia has increased from 32.7 to 35%. On the other hanhe south-east Asian countries are doing admirably well registering a 50% decline in their mal-nourishment levels.
India has a huge, reasonably efficient Public Distribution System (PDS) to reach cheap food to its middle class, lower middle class and poor population. But, India wastes huge amounts of wheat, rice, vegetables and fruits due to poor storage. The government’s wheat and rice storage facilities are pathetic. Rigid bureaucratic thinking stops the government from giving away the excess what and rice free to the poorest of the poor. The food, after rotting, is dumped.

This is one of the many manifestations of the overall governance failure when it comes to combating malnutrition. India’s burgeoning budget deficit has its roots elsewhere – in corruption, under-utilization of capacity, leaking revenue collection system etc. etc. But, some conservative thinkers in government have used the budget deficit to curtail government spending on food security. This myopic policy leaves millions hungry and weak – a big liability for the future of the nation.

The Bengal Famine of 1943 killed thousands and thousands of people like rats in the streets of Calcutta. Many studies have been made to unravel the underlying reasons for such a human disaster. Almost all are unanimous on the following findings.

a. There was no dearth of food in the neighbouring provinces. But the food could not be moved in time for the needy and hungry people of Bengal.

b. The buying power of people had fallen so sharply that they could not buy the small quantity of food that was available.

c. There was a huge failure in the government’s information gathering system. It prevented the news of the looming crisis from reaching the ears of the top echelons of the government.

d. Low investment in agriculture that led to lower farm output and higher vulnerability to crop failures.


The SOFI report has some findings that bear disturbing resemblance to the above factors. The SOFI report makes it clear that fast economic growth does not automatically make adequate food (both in quality and quantity) available on the table for all sections of the population.

The SOFI report recommends higher investment in agriculture where the majority of the poor live. It also highlights need for adoption of gender-sensitive policies. SOFI report says that the issues of education, sanitation, hygiene are as important as nutrition, food and healthcare.

The SOFI report says that the economic crisis that swept through the world in 2007-08 adversely affected food availability to the poor. The spike in commodity prices increased the price of food imports. Consequently, many families were forced to buy less and eat less. It pushed up the malnutrition levels, reversing the downward trend of earlier years.

Time and again, many food experts and economists have advocated that small landholdings where the poor cultivate multiple crops mainly for their own needs is perhaps a better bulwark against mass starvation than the corporate-driven, technology-based farming in much larger plots of land. This line of thought needs to be revisited. Technology and corporate philosophy do not win always.


Iran sanctions – How long the West can continue it?

October 25, 2012 at 3:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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E.U. Sanctions on Iran .. Don’t press the brakes too hard

For its suspected Uranium enrichment (bomb grade) efforts and the missile programme, Iran has incurred the wrath of the United States and the European Union countries. President Ahmadinezad has utilized every opportunity to heap a tirade of abuse against the western nations and Israel. This needlessly irritates Iran’s adversaries which now include even its Arab neighbours.

America has clamped sanctions on Iran from 1987. Progressively, it has been made more and more strict. Now a wide range of trade and banking contacts with Iran have come under American sanctions. The EU group of countries, which traditionally adopted a comparatively softer attitude with Iran, now appear to be losing their patience as well. They have tried all diplomatic means to make Iran to come clean on its clandestine enrichment programme and put a stop to it permanently. All these have been rebuffed by Iran with one set assertion – Iran retains its right to enrich Uranium for peaceful purposes as allowed under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of which it is a signatory. The diplomatic parleys have, no doubt, reached a dead end.

For Israel and, possibly, Iran’s Arab neighbours, the clock is ticking away. The experts of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have expressed concerns about a possible Iranian secret Uranium enrichment facility which is racing ahead to give the country enough bomb-grade enriched Uranium to assemble one or two bombs. The IAEA says it has already happened or is going to happen in months. In either case, it is a cause for great concern to Israel and the Arab countries in the region. Speculations are rife that Israel is planning, possibly with American covert or overt assistance, to launch a punitive air strike on Iran to destroy its enrichment and bomb-making facilities. This will no doubt, result in Iranian retaliation. The whole region will be engulfed in flames.

Now, news have been received that EU has further tightened its sanctions on Iran. As per this, nearly 30 different types of Iranian assets held in European soil will come under sanctions. These include the National Iranian Oil Company, National Iranian Tanker Company and the Naftiran Intertrade Company. The Iranian Central Bank and other Iranian banks now operate with very little or nil freedom in Europe. The European satellite Eutelsat has stopped carrying signals from 19 different Iranian channels. One solitary exception to such sanctions is the Shah Denz oil project in Azerbaizan, where, along with Iranian participation of 10% through Naftiran, there are BP and Norway’s Statoil as investors.

All these sanctions have virtually strangulated Iran. It can not export its oil and can not import vitally important goods ranging from life-saving medicines to passenger aircraft and its spares. A major portion of this inflicted pain is borne by ordinary Iranians, and not by the Iranian government establishment.

This raises one important question. Was causing human suffering in Iran the intended objective of the sanctions? Or, were the sanctions aimed to bring the government leaders to the negotiating table with a flexible mind? The second is the obvious objective, but the sanctions are not succeeding in this regard.

The Russians, not long ago, had veered to the view that Iran needed stronger international pressure to abandon its nuclear dreams. But, now, the Russians say the sanctions have run their course, and should be loosened to allow the Iranians some face-saving ground to resume negotiations in right earnest. The Americans and the EU are unwilling to budge. The stalemate continues, bringing the dark clouds of Israel-Iran war nearer to the region.

When examined dispassionately, one can see that aggressive pressure tactics of the western nations have led to disastrous consequences in Asia, almost in all instances. From Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan, western belligerence has spawned virulent anti-west feelings with all sorts of undesirable repercussions for world peace. Going by this lesson of history, the EU and America would, perhaps do well to rethink their Iran sanctions strategy.


Kingfisher Airlines counts its days – Can Dr. Singh explain?

October 23, 2012 at 3:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Kingfisher airlines irreversible downward hurtle…

There is no denying the fact that Kingfisher Airlines, which once promised ‘good times’ to its passengers, is passing through very ‘hard times. Many aviation analysts say, it is all but dead.

It has a staggering accumulated loss of Rs. 8000 crores and an accumulated debt of Rs. 7000 crores. Its employees have not been paid salaries for close to six months. They are an angry and disgruntled lot. Driven to unbearable financial hardship, one of the staff member’s wife recently committed suicide. It is reasonable to assume that the majority of the 4000 employees of this beleaguered airlines presently experiencing dire financial trauma are not in a peaceful state of mind to their job inside an aircraft.

Exacerbating the ordeal of Kaingfisher are the agencies like the AAI, public sector oil companies and banks. In such a situation, a massive injection of cash to the tune of nearly 600 million dollars can revive the company. Obviously, it is too tall an order for Mr. Vijay Mallaya, the promoter-founder of Kingfisher.
The permission for FDI in retail came too late for Kingfisher. The airline so deeply in the red that prospective investors are shying away from investing in the airline. The flying license of the airline has been suspended. Kingfisher can not be in deeper trouble.

Now, there is an important question here. When Kingfisher finally shuts down, the banks and the public sector oil companies, who had supplied fuel on credit, will lose huge sums of money. This is Indian taxpayers’ cash. Who is answerable for the loss?

Air India’s condition is similar or worse. It is flying because Dr. Manmohan Singh’s government keeps pumping money to it from time to time.
With a non-functioning parliament, and the ruling party and the opposition both trying to fend off Arvind Kejriwal’s daily onslaughts, there is no time for the government to take a considered view of the matter and initiate remedial actions. India has some private airlines that are making profit and even expanding their fleet and operations. When healthy alternatives are available, why not give Kingfisher and Air India a quick burial to purge the aviation sector of inefficient companies? At least, it will signal to the managements and some belligerent employee unions that parasitical tendencies have run their course. A commercial enterprise must not look to use public money for its survival.

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has been given too long a rope. He holds the key to the nation’s treasury. He is accountable for the huge waste of public money, especially because this hemorrhage has been occurring before the time he assumed responsibility as the prime minister. He has done little to stanch the waste. All the excuse of ‘coalition dharma’ and ‘my-silence-speaks-thousand-words’ is unacceptable. He has been clever enough to avoid being pilloried by the press and the public by cocooning himself in the confines of his office. This strategy, reminiscent of the old Soviet days will not work. The day of reckoning might come earlier than 2012. As the sign show, he may lead the Congress Party to a steeper downhill path than Kingfisher’s.


Hyderabad Bio-diversity conference — Daunting task ahead

October 22, 2012 at 1:42 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ravage Nature at your own peril

A global conference of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad was held recently. India, as the host country played important role in its deliberations.

It became crystal clear that accelerated exploitation of a country’s natural capital, meaning its minerals, water bodies, land, forests, flora and fauna and oceans results in incalculable and irreversible damage to the economy of the country, although the short term gains might be quite impressive. During the conference, many studies from different locations in the world were presented. These un-biased data were collected by eminent scientists and nature-lovers. Almost all the collected data underscored the fact that high-speed efforts to exploit resources result in huge and permanent loss to the country which conducts such exploitation. Plant and animal diversity is lost, water sources get polluted, climate gets altered, human health is adversely impacted and the delicate balance between the different elements of the eco-system is thrown off-balance. Reversing them to their original state is impossible.


The latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species puts 20,219 of the 65,518 species listed, as being on the brink of extinction. In the backdrop of this threat, the Conference of the Parties to the CBD has agreed to double the biodiversity fund allocation for developing countries. This is a welcome step, although the previous level of funds allocated was a modest.

As the president of the Conference, India has to bring eco-system conservation to the top of its development agenda. India’s size and its rich bio-diversity reserve should weigh in the minds of its leaders to do so. India has allocated $50 million for building technical and human capacity to attain biodiversity conservation goals in the country. This initiative of India was well-appreciated by the delegates of the participating countries.

However, India’s resolve will be measured by the promptness with which it strengthens and implements national laws on environment protection, forests, wildlife, marine life, tribal life wetlands, air quality and urban regeneration. Sadly, in India, some key laws like the Environment (Protection) Act do not appear to have much teeth. State governments have paid lip service to the enforcement of these laws.

The findings of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity studies were the most important contribution this conference made for the participating countries. They brought in to sharp focus how Nature can be so critically important to the livelihood of millions. In India, 47 per cent of the ‘GDP of the Poor’ is derived from ecosystem services. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh did well to acknowledge this contribution of natural capital to the economy of the less affluent. This input is quite substantial in the computation of the country’s aggregate GDP. The ‘Cities and Biodiversity Outlook’ study also offers important insights to the urban landscape of the country.

In a case study conducted in the IT city Bangalore, the collected data regarding the value of biodiversity to slum livelihoods, in the form of food and herbal medicines makes very interesting reading. Surprisingly, local body governments were found to be unaware about the importance of sustainable development. These are the deficiencies which need to be addressed in the time ahead. The CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its Aichi Targets for 2020 necessitate speedy action to curtail and limit losses drastically. It falls on India to demonstrate through action in the coming two years that it is quite committed to the cause.


Charles Dickens Hard Times Part 2 —Understanding it

October 19, 2012 at 2:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Part 2 ….

Where is Coketown .. It is a fictional town in northern England bustling with factories. Hard Times is set in this imaginary, bustling industrial town. It is a dusty, dirty and gloomy place with ubiquitous chimneys billowing smoke endlessly. The over-bearing Thomas Gradgring lives here with his wife and five children.

The book’s structure .. Hard Times has three parts. Book I is entitled “Sowing”, Book II is entitled “Reaping”, and the third, Book 3 is “Garnering.”

The opening paragraph .. It reads …

“NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

This paragraph sets the tone of the novel. It underpins the author’s views of life and society during those times.

Mr. Gradgind owns the school. Mr. M’Choakumchild teaches there.
Mr, Gradgind is a dour, monotonous man who has little space in his heart for emotions, fancies, fantasies and sentiments. He is a staunch votary of the theory that a young mind should not vitiated by these ‘deviant’ aberrations of mind. For him, knowledge must yield tangible, concrete benefits to the learner, so that he makes use of it in making visible and economic contribution to society.

A young mind should, therefore, learn mathematics, science, geography, engineering and all that is needed to make him a ‘useful’ member of the society.

This ‘myopic’ view of life and education blighted Mr. Gradginds internal vision. This is why, he comes into a class being taken by M’Choakumchild to tell him to strictly stick to ‘facts’, and eliminate all other information from his pedagogy.

What are ‘facts’ and what all other things are useless (as per Mr. Grandging)

If you are a young man and have your lover by your side, and both of you look at the full moon in the sky, your mind will fly into the world of romance. You may sing a song likening your lady love to the moon.
But, if you are an astronomer working in an observatory, you will instinctively try to measure the moon’s diameter, asses its surface soil, look for craters, and do similar scientific studies. Romantic thoughts will not enter your mind. At the end of your study, you will emerge with certain figures, data and statistics.
Mr. Gradginnd wanted his students to learn the astronomer’s facts, not the lover’s sensuous poem.

A river, similarly, will be very differently observed by a nature-lover poet, a geologist, a pollution scientist and a soil conservation engineer.
The poet’s narration may be an exquisite poem of great literary value, but for Gradgind, the poem is a unnecessary exercise, a waste of time for a young learner. For Mr. Gradgind, the scientific studies of the river are of real value to the learner, although the study may have facts and diagrams.

If a normal man is shown the fully naked body of a man or a woman, he will recoil in horror. Such sight will be unpleasant and distasteful. But for a medical student in the Physiology class, observing a naked body is of great educational value, because it gives him so many useful facts, essential for becoming a doctor.

Mr. Gradgind wanted his students to learn the facts.

The story starts ..

Mr. Gradgind comes into a class in his school. He asks the teacher Mr. M’Choakumchild to lay the highest stress on hard ‘facts’ in his lessons, cutting out anything else pertaining to emotions, sentiments and factions. He asks a girl student by the name Cecilia Juppe (Sissy) to define a horse. Cecilia is the daughter of man who works as a horse stuntman in a visiting circus. Mr. Gridgand initially addresses as girl number twenty before she gave her name. Mr. Gradgrind’s griping manners rattle Cecilia somewhat, but she is too mild and respectful to show any resentment. She fails to define the horse. Mr. Gridgandmoves on to a boy named Bitzer. This boy gives the definition that is scientifically precise and bristles with ‘facts’, almost akin to that of an animal physiologist. It draws an immense sigh of satisfaction from Mr. Gridgangd.

Girl number 20, Cecilia’s has to face one more ‘Facts versus Fancy’ test in the hands of Mr. Gradgind. He asks if she would carpet her husband’s room with carpets having floral designs. Cecilia says ‘Yes’, only to meet another disapproval from him. By now Gradgind is convinced that the girl has a distorted mind, unfit for the times.

Lousia and the young Tom are two of Mr. Gradgind’s five children. These two curious kids have gone to the circus owned by one Mr. Slearly where Sissy’s father works. They peep into the circus to steal a glance of the show inside. To their bad luck, their father Mr. Gradgind spots them there. He is appalled to see Lousia and the young Tom’s interest in such a frivolous thing as a circus. He disapproves of their interest in the circus. He feels the kids are straying.

Mr. Gradgrind has great regard for the intellectuals of his time, particularly in the fields of economy and sociology. He has named his three younger children: Adam Smith, (after the famous economist who propounded the laissez-faire policy), Malthus (after Rev. Thomas Malthus, who wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population, warning of the dangers of future overpopulation) and Jane.

Mr. Josiah Bonderby, a successful banker and mill owner of Coketown, drops in to the Gradging home. This self-made man had a very dreadful start in his life. His mother had deserted him soon after delivery, leaving the baby Bounderby to the care of his alcoholic grandmother. Bounderby’s struggle for survival started from his cradle. But, he moved on, undaunted, confronting the challenges of life. Now, he owns a bank and a factory. He is affluent and quite confident of himself. Whenever possible, he boastfully narrates his struggle and success in life and wants other disadvantaged youngsters to emulate him. Stories of his childhood ordeal sound so depressing to Mrs. Gradgind that she, at times, becomes numb and unconscious.

In Bounderby, Mr. Gradgingdfinds, not only a good boss, but also a likable friend, philosopher and guide. On matters relating to disadvantaged sections of the society and upbringing of children, there is some strange convergence of views between the two friends. They, both, assert that one should try to stand on one’s own without looking to others for help. The duo treats the poor and the laggards with certain degree of contempt.

The visit of the young Tom and his sister Lousia to the circus had disturbs Gradgind. He counts on his friend Bounderby for advice.
After some deliberation, the two friends conclude that the corrupting influence of Sissy, the horse stuntman’s daughter, was what had enticed the two youngsters to the circus. They decide to call on Cecilia’s father. They both feel Cecilia did not deserve to be in the school, lest she corrupts others. It is an utter show of arrogance, but the two gentlemen do not feel bad about it in any way.

They decide to proceed to the public-house where Cecilia stayed to talk to her father and ask him to move his daughter out of the school. But, to their utter bewilderment, they discover that the father had left the house permanently leaving the daughter Cecilia to fend for herself.

It emerged that the man’s body was decaying under the pressure of doing the stunts daily. He did not want to see himself withering away in the circus job. To avoid humiliation before his daughter, he had left. It was an escapist move, clearly, from a father who deserts his young daughter.

Gradgind and Bonderby ponder the fate of Cecilia (Sissy). Gradgind is certain that the girl’s misfortune is because of her fascination with the ‘unreal’ world. She is vainly ignorant of the fact that horse racing and all the acrobatics of the circus have no practical value for a young mind. The toxic effect of such fascination must be removed, the duo concludes.

After a short discussion among themselves, Gradgind makes an offer. Either Cecilia stays with the circus troupe and discontinues her studies at the school, or moves to his house where should be permitted to continue her school-going. But there is a condition; she has to severe all her links with the circus if she stays with the Gradgind household.

Cecilia was confused and sad. After some prodding from Slearly, she chooses to move to Gradgind’s household bidding good bye to the circus party.

—————————To be continued—————————

Shome Committe report — Its flip side

October 18, 2012 at 8:00 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Shome panel report on GAAR –Some questions remain …

Some background facts …

In February, 2007 Vodafone, Netherlands entered into an agreement with Hutchison Telecommunications International Limited, Cayman Islands (‘HTIL’), for buying 67% equity and interests in the Indian telecom business of Hutchison Essar Ltd. The total value of the transaction was $ 11.206 billion. Hutchison was then based in Hongkong.

Thus, in this case, the seller was in Hong Kong, the buyer in Netherlands and the sold assets were located in India. The Income Tax authorities imposed a tax of Rs.11,200 crore on Vodafone, Netherlands on its payment to Hutchison.

It was a huge amount and Vodafone refused to make the payment arguing that it was not liable to pay any tax on a transaction made outside India. The case went to Bombay High Court and finally to the Supreme Court of India. Vodafone won the case, thus nullifying the Indian government’s (through Income Tax department) demand for the Rs.11,200 crore demand. It was a huge set back for the Indian demand.

Pranab Mukherjee, the then Finance Minister incorporated a clause in the last Finance Budget Bill imposing tax on all Vodafone-Hutchison type transactions retrospectively. When this retrospective application is applied, it will make the Indian tax demand valid again. Similarly, many other foreign-Indian company deals will come under the tax demand net.

Such retrospective amendment of law alarmed Vodafone and many other foreign investors. They felt the greedy Indian government does not heed its own Supreme Court and imposes tax on foreign investors unfairly. This negative perception spread like wild fire all over the world, and most likely investors began to hesitate to invest in India. As a result India’s attraction as a good place for investment too k a beating. FDI inflows went down sharply.

To correct this anomaly and give an expert advice to the government, Dr. Manmohan Singh, holding the finance department charge, set up the Shome committee. It was asked to frame guidelines for the General Anti-Avoidances Rules (GAAR). The Some Committee was additionally asked to frame tax guidelines for overseas companies having their assets in India.
The draft copy of the report has just been submitted to the government.


The impact of the Shome Committee recommendations …

In the draft report the Shome Committee has made recommendations, which if accepted, will considerably weaken the case for the tax demand of Rs. 11,200 crores from Vodafone.

The Shome Committee has suggested that retrospective amendment of tax laws are coercive in nature. Prima facie, they look immoral and bad in the eyes of a fair tax regimen. Therefore, the Committee feels that they have to be resorted to in the rarest of rare cases. They should not be indiscreetly used to boost the government’s tax collection. These conditions for retrospective application need to be

a. to correct anomalies in the statute,

b. to matters that are clarificatory in nature such as technical/procedural defects that vitiate the substantive law and,

c. to protect the tax base from abusive tax planning schemes whose main purpose is to avoid tax.

Quite intriguingly, the Shome Committee has recommended that in disputed cases such as Vodafone, penalties and interest levied that routinely on tax defaulters should be waived. Such extraordinary leniency to tax defaulters defies logic. The common taxpayer is never shown such leniency.

One unintended and undesirable benefit from the Shome Committee has gone to the Participatory Note users who enter the stock market with their faces masked. It has long been suspected that corrupt politicians and dodgy business tycoons use their black money to manipulate the Indian stock market through the Participatory Note (P-note) route.

For years, the SEBI has cried foul of this system of P-notes, and some MPs have raised their voice against it in the parliament from time to time. The government hesitates to curb the P-notes for fear of scaring away potential Foreign Institutional Investors (FII). The Shome Committe report paves the way for such unsavoury investors to come in and operate with impunity. This is the sad part.



India returns to current account surplus, but serious challenges remain

October 17, 2012 at 9:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Something to cheer about, but the dark clouds still loom

In last two months, India has been buffeted by a series of bad economic news such as the downgrade by rating agencies, falling GDP growth, depreciating rupee, fast reducing FDI inflows, and the ballooning fiscal deficit.

In the backdrop of all these ominous signs, the fact that the current account deficit (CAD) has turned positive in April – June 2012 should bring some relief to our economic planners.

This means India’s total receipts of foreign exchange through exports and FDI is more than it what it spent in paying for imports and other such expenses. The current account position has turned positive in place of the usual negative India has got used to see quarter after quarter in recent times. Is it a freak performance or is it something we are likely to see from here onward?

The outgo of foreign exchange came down because the imports came down. Falling imports generally points to falling economic activity. This is not a good sign for the country, because exports have also fallen sharply mostly due to weak external demand. The demand for Indian goods and services abroad came down mostly due to sluggish economic environment in the United States and Europe.

Software exports, a strong prop of India’s export earnings, is likely to remain sluggish as IT spend of large companies overseas will either be cut or reduced. Depressed economic conditions abroad have reduced demand for India’s other exportable items.

In numerical terms, the CAD as a percentage of GDP has come down to 3.6% from 4.5%. Analysts predict that the year 2012-13 will end with a CAD of 3.5% or even less. This happy trend will result subject mainly to the following three conditions.

1. The main among them is the growth of the GDP. It must go above 6.5%.

2. The second important condition is the international price of oil. It should hover around the present level of 100 USD per barrel and should not shoot up alarmingly.

3. The third important factor is the steps the European central banks and the American Federal Reserve Board (FED) take to boost their economies. If they stick to their declared plans, India’s export to Europe and America should continue to rise again.

But, we must not lose sight of the fact that India’s growth has slid dangerously in the last year or so. Possibly, it has gone below 5% now. Boostiong it to a level higher than 6.5% needs gigantic, all-round effort.

This apart, the likely lowering of interest rate by the FED will increase money supply worldwide. Easy money will lead to higher inflation. India’s inflation is already high. It may worsen further. This will increase the country’s fiscal deficit. Higher fiscal deficit will result in all sorts of unsavoury complications.
Recently the government has announced easing of external borrowing conditions to enable companies to borrow from abroad. This was done to increase FDI inflows. Such desperate methods are quick-fix solutions. They are fraught in the long run. This is because India’s foreign exchange reserves are continuously declining and short-term external debts are rising steeply.

So, it is obvious that challenging times are ahead. Wrong short-term fixes, though tempting, must be eschewed.


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