This is with regard to “Finance ministry withdraws its controversial diktat to levy processing fees on payment of credit card dues by cheque or cash” by Sucheta Dalal. Excellent work, Ms Dalal, Mr Basu and all at Moneylife.
Congrats to the Moneylife team for getting consumers the right they deserve. Certainly Reserve Bank of India (RBI) does not know what it is doing. Just recently, RBI insisted on a new format (CTS-2010) for cheques. So we would have had banks sitting with an inventory of pre-printed chequebooks and customers who would have paid for them but cannot use them because of the heavy charges.
The review of Anuj Dhar’s book on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was brilliant, indeed. It is chilling to think that the political machinations to curb freedom of speech and expression were as rampant in pre-independence days as they are now. It is also intriguing that the Congress as well as the BJP governments maintained a stoic silence on the matter. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose made a significant contribution to India’s freedom movement, though he may not have toed the lines of Nehru and Gandhi. The book leads to a strong suspicion that news of Netaji’s death was politically motivated.
But the question that continues to intrigue and perplex us is: If Netaji was, indeed, Bhagwanji, what made him shy away from public glare? Why did he prefer to die unsung? Did he ever attempt to make any contact with his family during his days of obscurity? No one knows. I doubt if the truth will ever come out in the open as the government tries to push matters under the carpet.
Mr Balakrishnan’s article about his travails with L&T–Arun Excello project was a real eye-opener. The statements made by him (‘never trust a builder, it is better to buy a small home in a good area than buy a palace in a desert, go for a ready-to-occupy flat even if it is a second investment’) need to be engraved in gold. L&T–Arun Excello was in trouble; there were reports of dues that remained unpaid to their contractors two years ago. The de-merger of this joint venture raises a prominent question: Does L&T have no accountability at all to a purchaser who invested money in the property relying on their brand equity? Maybe they do not have any, as per the current legal framework in India. But, as Mr Balakrishnan so succinctly puts it, caveat emptor rings true especially in the real-estate sector where rules of corporate governance and code of conduct, transparency in accounts and cash dealings are, at best, confined to the dustbin.
One of my colleagues invested in a real estate project in Chennai in 1997; he is yet to get possession of his flat. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to investment in real estate. I also have a suggestion: if anyone is buying a second home as an investment, he should opt for a bank loan for a small portion of the capital. As an additional safety measure, he should also engage the services of a professional legal consultant. These safeguards might mitigate the risks, to some extent.
G Venkatesh, by email
The central processing cell (CPC) of the Income Tax Department issues orders/notices, based on the information available in its database. Unfortunately, CPC does not entertain any clarification or explanation directly but insists that the assessee approach the concerned ITO for the purpose. Unless the ITO is able to modify or correct the database on the basis of the explanation/clarification given, in a time-bound manner, the database will continue to carry the anomaly. The purpose of computerisation to benefit the common man is, thus, defeated. As it is, the ITOs complain of heavy workload, and to expect that they will be able to process the clarification/explanation and modify/correct the database speedily is not realistic. It is when a person is made to suffer for no fault of his that a feeling of being harassed arises. One starts to wonder whether being honest is worth it. Not a single government department will admit that it has made a mistake in data-entry and it is the person concerned who will have to run around to get the corrections done.
When the PAN card was introduced, it was said that the card will serve as ID proof for all purposes. Thereafter, SEBI introduced MAPIN as ID proof for all capital market activities. Not to be left behind, mutual funds (MFs) introduced MIN for investment in MFs. Voter’s card, ration card (more for address proof than for any other purpose) have not lagged behind. Now, it is Aadhaar, but it does not end there. There is National Population Register as well. Such a lot of data has been collected, and whether any new ID proofs will be imposed is not known. Who takes the responsibility for the waste of time and money? Or do we take solace in the thought that these activities have provided employment to many and contributed to the development of the economy (at whose cost?).
Venu Menon, by email