Loans: Portal for Students Seeking Loans
The government has a launched a website, for students seeking educational loans, and five banks, including State Bank of India (SBI), IDBI Bank and Bank of India (BoI), have integrated their system with the portal.
“Vidya Lakshmi was launched on the occasion of Independence Day… for the benefit of students seeking educational loans,” a finance ministry release said. The portal has been developed and maintained by NSDL e-Governance Infrastructure Limited (NSDL e-Gov) under the guidance of department of financial services in the finance ministry, department of higher education, ministry of human resource development and Indian Banks Association (IBA).


Are Chocolates Legal Tender?
This is with regard to “Facility for exchange of notes and coins for public” (Moneylife, Issue dated 20 August 2015). I wish to voice a problem retail shoppers have been facing in getting back small change from shops while making purchases. Most shops, some even in eminent malls, insist on exact change, and are reluctant to return the change, especially if the note tendered by the buyer happens to be large denomination.
Moreover, some shops have taken to the practice of giving chocolates in place of small change. For instance, instead of Rs2, they hand over two chocolates. They refuse to entertain arguments and adopt a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. Since when have chocolates become legal tender in India? I hope the authorities will take some steps to stop this practice.
BV Krishnan, by email
Please see humorous take of Nana Patekar protesting against toffees given in place of small change in a supermarket:

Black Money Eyewash

Sucheta Dalal’s piece “Double Standards over Black Money” in Moneylife (Issue dated 20 August 2015) was interesting. Indian governments have, over the years, given many chances to those who have black money, to convert it into white. In 1982, when S Venkitaraman was Union finance sec-retary, he introduced 10-year bonds with face value of Rs10,000 with a maturity amount of Rs12,000 at the end of 10 years. They were bearer-bonds. Those who had lots of black money bought them in big lots. Black money raids by income-tax department used to be an eyewash. The moment any of these big shots got the news of raids, they would change their cash into these bonds overnight. These bonds existed till 1992.
After these bonds were withdrawn by the government, Indira Vikas Patras (IVPs) were bought in large volumes by holders of black money. In 1999, the IVP, which was also in the nature of a bearer certificate, was withdrawn. PM Narendra Modi boasts that his Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana has brought in Rs20,700 crore into banks. With no KYC (know your customer) and no strict identification process in the opening of Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts, how can we be sure that huge amounts of black money have not been deposited through these accounts?
Till 31 March 2014, if you were a shareholder of a cooperative bank, no TDS (tax deducted at source) was applicable on any amount of interest that you got on your deposits with the bank. This facility was grossly misused by black money holders. Therefore, from 1 April 2014, this was discon-tinued.
On page 26 (of the same issue), Raj Pradhan has given all the paperwork that is needed to buy a used car. I remember that one of my friends bought a used car owned by a public limited company (PLC). Since the car was owned by a PLC, he did not suspect that it could be a stolen car. Unfortu-nately, he was wrong. Within a month of buying the car, he was summoned by the court, since that car was involved in an accident, although there was no accidental death. 
Shirish S Shanbhag, by email  

Admiration for Dr Hegde! 

Eighty per cent of the reasons I buy Moneylife is because Prof Dr BM Hegde writes the health pag-es and 20% for rest of the content in the magazine. I just want to say, Prof Hegde is brilliant and we love him.
Please let me know if you have any books of Prof Hegde. I would love to buy all of them.
Manish Mishra, by email  

Will Our Country be Self-Sufficient?

This is with regard to “Has Modi, the Emperor, Really Lost His Shine?” by Sucheta Dalal. After rub-bing shoulders with the political class in Delhi, I have come to understand that the bureaucracy has a strong stranglehold on governance and any attempt to bypass them, say, through Nagpur or oth-er extra-constitutional powers, will only complicate matters.
The recent crackdown on OROP (one rank, one pension) protesters had a bigger agenda of some vested interests which, if investigated, may reveal unpleasant facts, but that will never be. North India functions in a totally different way which many are not aware of. So, where do we go from here?
I feel that post-2017, India will have to face much social unrest, unless attempts are made to bridge political and social gaps. Rhetoric is short-lived. NRIs (non-resident Indians) have a different take from the resident citizens. Our problems are peculiar and need to be handled with caution. I had predicted that some recent tax laws will be the reason for flight of capital. I have heard some say-ing they want to migrate to the Caribbean and Australia. We are not scripting a long-term economic wonder without correcting some archaic laws, and only want to flog those who deliver. 
Take a walk near Okhla (Delhi) vegetable mandi! The road outside is almost white with carbide used for early ripening of fruits—enough to ripen and roast human beings who live in the vicinity or go to shop without any checks. 
But we hound Nestlé as if there is a bigger agenda. Some companies may be in the wrong; but such selective targetting is sending a message to multinationals to pack up and go and allow some baba-jis to sell their packaged leaves, woods, mud, stems and unholy concoctions, from the protected confines of religious places like Haridwar and so on. 
Even after 67 years, there is so much to achieve in governance, and we try to sell ourselves to the outside world, waiting for another East India Company-type of situation to arise. Will we ever be self-sufficient, or only live on crutches?
Tapan Sur, online comment

Sulking in Silence?

This is with regard to “Has Modi, the Emperor Really Lost His Shine?” by Sucheta Dalal. I am glad to see pointed criticism from Moneylife as it is an institution without a political axe to grind.
Politics is the art of compromise, where one must engage with one’s enemies to promote policies that will benefit all, even if they have not voted for the ruling party. It looks like Narendra Modi is a technocrat, rather than a politician. He wants to dictate, rather than persuade. He is unable to sub-sume his ego to frame policies that will benefit the common man. If Mr Modi entered this mad-house for the noble goal of helping the Indians who have been left out of economic prosperity, then surely he must try hard to play the political game. He should not be sulking in silence.
Meenal Mamdani 

Raise Money Illegally and Keep Out of Jail?

This is with regard to “Turning to Dross” by Sucheta Dalal. It is amazing that neither the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) nor the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) can do anything about this. Our free-for-all regulations make it easy for anyone to print forms and collect money. 
The accused (typically, after they raise a few thousand crore of rupees) will hire the best lawyers and keep out of jail. The legal process will ensure that the case lives beyond the culprit.
R Balakrishnan

Is Rooting the Device Good?

This is with regard to “Controlling Your Mobile” by Yogesh Sapkale. Rooting the device is good, but its effect lasts only for three-six months and, thereafter, it starts malfunctioning: slow execution of app commands, frequent ‘hanging’ like Windows, etc. Even resetting the device to factory status does not work because the device should be un-rooted, so that the minimum speed functioning is restored at the factory status. So, virtually every device rooted needs to be un-rooted after a few months.
Saravanan Ramamoorthy  
Yogesh Sapkale replies:
Rooting is done to explore more features of the OS (operating system), besides gaining control over the device. Rooting remains up to the time you un-root. There is no question of effects lasting for limited period. What you mean, perhaps, is that the device becomes slow after some time. But it has more to do with installing several applications or using more features. It is applicable to every OS, depending upon the hardware and software installations.  


Value Funds

What happens when you use Moneylife’s stock-picking expertise to analyse the portfolio of equity mutual fund schemes? You get to pick schemes with a high weightage to top-quality stocks. In our Cover Story, we have done exactly that—ranked equity schemes by the quality of the stocks in their portfolio. Moneylife’s value investing formula—which uses a mix of valuation and return on capital employed—is the formula we use to pick stocks in our Stockletters. We have used this formula to rank top 15 equity schemes which, based on their current portfolio, could outperform in the future. This study resulted in an interesting ranking because many of the star schemes are not among the top; while many schemes that have lagged in performance in the past, find a place here. Which schemes made it to the top 15? Turn to page 28 to find out.

Betting on India’s consumption story? Please do; but don’t get sucked into it. As R Balakrishnan’s advises, instead of spending money on some not-needed product, it may be better to buy shares of a company whose products everyone is buying. There is no dearth of companies looking to lure investors with Ponzi deposit schemes. Sucheta, in Crosshairs, comments on the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s action against Royal Twinkle Star Club and PACL. PACL has been given three months to comply with SEBI’s order to refund a mammoth Rs20,000 crore to investors. Will investors get their money back?
The Modi government is hell-bent on ‘funding the unfunded’ but is financing the only issue small businesses face? They suffer due to petty corruption and red-tape. Sucheta, in her Different Strokes column, questions whether the government’s optimistic plans will work, if issues at the ground level are not addressed.
On 5th September, Amitabh Kant, one of the most dynamic bureaucrats in India, will speak at a Moneylife Foundation event on “How Citizens Can Participate in the Make in India Effort”. Join us at this interactive session. Register online by visiting -


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