Two changes in our long-term list
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