Citizens' Issues
Passport Seva mobile app now on Windows, Apple phones

mPassport Seva mobile apps that provides a variety of services such as status tracking, locating a passport office and other general information is now available for Windows phones and Apple iPhones

Encouraged by the public response to its Passport Seva mobile app for Android phones, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has now launched the application for Windows and Apple iOS platforms. Earlier in March, the MEA had released Android version of the app, which provides passport-related information on smart phones.


This is an extended service of the Passport Seva Project, executed in the public-private-partnership mode with IT services major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).


In a release, TCS said mPassport Seva provides a variety of services such as status tracking, locating a passport office and other general information.


The application provides information on the various steps involved in obtaining a passport-related service and related phone numbers in case of queries or concerns, it added.


Users will also be able to search for a Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or District Passport Cell (DPC) in a district where a passport application can be submitted. This can also be searched based on a PIN code. For certain States and districts, users can search for police stations as well.


Citizens residing overseas, who apply for a passport service in Indian Missions/Posts abroad, can also utilise this facility for searching addresses and other relevant information.


The fee calculator feature of the app enables users to find out the applicable fee based on the service and mode of submission.


Users can track the status of their passport applications by providing the file number and date of birth. In case the passport has been dispatched, delivery status can also be tracked.


Inflation may spring a positive surprise: Private banks, better bets, says Nomura

Nomura says it prefer private banks as a play on a likely positive surprise in inflation and as a hedge against a potential temporary growth uptick

As rate-cyclical, private banks stand to benefit from any reassessment by the market regarding the probability of further monetary tightening, which itself will depend on incoming data. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that inflation will remain elevated, thereby forcing India to high-rate equilibrium. We consider private banks to be a good hedge against a potential temporary uptick in growth in the near-term, driven largely by consumption demand, says Nomura in a research note. 


Nomura said in its view, there is a reasonable chance that inflation might surprise positively in coming quarters. Food inflation, led by food grains and vegetables, is the common driver of both wholesale and retail inflation. It is primarily responsible for the currently high inflationary expectations in India. We think food inflation is close to its peak at current levels. Food grain prices are driven by price floors set by the government and the rate of growth of minimum support prices is lower this year for almost all crops, it added.

"This might well not necessarily translate into immediate rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), but any reprieve on inflation data will be positive for rate-cyclicals, especially for private banks that are not burdened with onerous asset quality issues as their public sector counterparts are," the report said.


However, Nomura said it remain cautious on domestic growth cyclical, which are geared to the industrial cycle (driven by capex) rather than to the agricultural cycle. It said, "Relative performance of banks has borne a reasonable correlation with growth—proxied by industrial production—up until 2012, when a global risk-on rally on the back of Fed’s QE3 and ECB’s OMT (outright monetary transactions) caused an across-the-board rally in risk assets even as domestic growth conditions remained weak".


Educated persons found lacking financial literacy, often!

Here are five key constituents of financial literacy which investors needs to equip with, in order to become financial literate

Financial literacy is the key to the empowerment of investors and helps in developing a healthy financial system. It has been often seen that in absence of financial literacy, many investors often get cheated. This applies to even otherwise educated persons, who are found lacking in financial literacy. So what is financial literacy and what are the key constituents of financial literacy. The President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy in US defines personal financial literacy as "the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being." This definition gives a clear cut understanding of financial literacy and emphasises the fact that certain types of knowledge and skills are required to become financial literate. While the definition has been used in the context of US, in the context of India, the situation can be different, although the basic tenets of financial literacy remain the same. 

What are the key requirements to be financially literate? How can an individual acquire skills and knowledge to make him financial literate? Here are five key constituents of financial literacy which investors  need to equip with, in order to become financial literate:

Understanding compounding and discounting

Every investor needs to understand how his investment generates return. In order to understand this, it is important that every investor understands how compounding works. Compounding gives an accumulated value of an investment considering reinvestment periodically. While it is possible for some investors to understand compounding as we read this during school days, discounting is very difficult to understand. Discounting helps in identifying present value of investments which is the key to compare returns like compounding. These days excel functions are available to understand compounding and discounting which every investor needs to familiarize himself with.


Understanding difference between savings and investments

Savings in itself is not enough and investors need to convert savings into investments. Savings are a part of money which an investor has to keep to meet short-term requirements. Savings are liquid funds which are maintained in order to meet some immediate returns while investments have long term horizon. Investments are driven by wealth-building objectives. It is important that investors invest their money in those investments which not only generate long term returns but also help them beat inflation. Inflation adjusted returns (often called as real returns) should be the driver of every investment objective.


Understanding risk and return of investments

Before making investments, an investor should understand the risk and return of investments. This is one of the most important components of financial literacy. Investments like equity carry high risk and have potential to generate high returns. However, it is important to note that taking high risk does not result into high returns essentially. Since risky investments carry potential of capital erosion, investors should understand risk element before making investments. If any entity is ready to offer an investor a very high return, then that investment should be avoided. Anybody offering an extremely high rate of return is generally desperate to borrow. Also, it is important to understand that projected returns in an investment are not the real return.


Understanding financial products

There are various financial products on offer in financial markets. While it is difficult to understand all these financial products, it is critical to understand plain vanilla financial products available in the financial market. Understanding financial products equips an investor to take informed decisions. The key objective of having this understanding is to select products which suit the requirements of investors. One of the key things that financial literacy equips an investor with is that one should never venture into those financial products in which an investor does not invest.


Understanding protectors of financial system

As part of financial literacy, one must understand as to who are the protectors of financial system.. These institutions are often called as regulators. While regulators may not help solve all financial woes of an investor, they are definitely the first step in solving financial grievances.


While there are various other aspects of financial literacy, it is important to equip oneself with bare minimum skills and knowledge necessary to become financially literate. Many investors end up losing their hard-earned wealth in the absence of financial literacy, so it is better that one equips oneself with financial literacy.

(Vivek Sharma has worked for 17 years in the stock market, debt market and banking. He is a post graduate in Economics and MBA in Finance. He writes on personal finance and economics and is invited as an expert on personal finance shows.)


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