Citizens' Issues
Telecom ministry: Wrong claims, bad maths
At the end of a year since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office, the telecommunications ministry sent out a series of tweets, putting forward its achievements. Here are three problems we found with the claims.
 
We emailed our findings to the ministry last week, requesting comment. There was no response.
 
1. Tele-density: 4.2 percent growth fastest ever. Compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of national tele-density for four-year period between 2008 and 2012 is 31.6 percent.
 
Claim: National tele-density increased fastest (4.3 percent) over 11 months to reach 79.9 percent. Subscriber base in rural areas rose 4.5 percent over the past 11 months to reach 48.9 percent.
 
Check revealed: Between 2008 and 2012, overall tele-density increased from 26.2 percent to 78.7 percent. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for this four-year period is 31.6 percent, according to tele-density data from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The average year-on-year increase in percentage-points terms, for the same duration 2008-2013, is 13 percent. Therefore, terming a 4.2 percent increase during 2014-15 (or a CAGR of 5.6 percent) as "fastest" is factually incorrect.
 
Similarly, rural tele-density grew at a year-on-year rate of around 7.5 percent between 2008 and 2012 in average percentage-points terms. The CAGR of rural tele-density for the four years is 42.7 percent. During 2014-15, rural tele-density grew in percentage-points terms by 4.4 percent (or a CAGR of 10 percent).
 
2. "Unprecedented" growth in broadband subscribers: Yes, but by private companies
 
Claim: An "unprecedented" 52 percent growth in broadband subscribers in 10 months.
 
Check revealed: The increase in broadband subscribers between 2014 and 2015 is around 63 percent (and not 52 percent). The increase is primarily driven by more than 80 percent growth in wireless broadband. The increase in wireline broadband subscribers is 4.4 percent.
 
The wireline broadband subscription of state-owned BSNL declined during 2014-15 whereas MTNL added only 10,000 broadband connections during the same time period.
 
Wireless broadband subscription increased during 2014-15 primarily because of more than 90 percent growth in the subscription base of private players like Bharti, Idea and Vodafone put together. State-owned BSNL registered around 30 percent growth in wireless broadband.
 
3. Increase in subscribers of both BSNL & MTNL: No, subscribers declined
 
Claim: BSNL and MTNL added 4.7 million and 0.2 million subscribers respectively during 2014-15.
 
Check revealed: In both landline and wireless categories, BSNL's subscription base declined by more than two million and 17 million during 2014-15, according to TRAI data.
 
During the same period, MTNL registered a moderate increase of subscription base; around 0.02 million in landline and 0.14 million in wireless category. The claim is factually incorrect.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

It is naive of the ministry to pat itself on the back for results which on fact checking turn out to be inaccurate. In the past, such claims went unchallenged but this will not fly any more. With all the modern data crunching available to it and the people who scrutinize it, the telecommunications ministry should be more accurate in its claims and avoid egg on its face.

How To Write & Register a Will
A will is a simple document, to be written in simple language. Avoid legalese, explains advocate Bapoo Malcolm
 
In an interactive session at Moneylife Foundation, advocate Bapoo Malcolm explained, to a full house, the practical aspects of making a will and the importance of registering it. 
Mr Malcolm explained the implications of registration, the possible disputes that can arise out of bad drafting, and the importance of selecting witnesses and executors. His talk was peppered with anecdotes and cases that he had come across or handled personally. 
 
Mr Malcolm started with a quick overview of the basics of a will including the meaning of legal terms such as testators, codicils, executors, probate, administrator and how succession and inheritance differs based on religion and personal law. 
 
He touched upon different types of wills, such as joint wills, contingent wills, etc, but said he was personally against needless complications. Each person must make a simple and separate will that is clear and concise, leaving no room for misinterpretation. “A will would be interpreted according to the word of the law, which may not assign the same meaning as you intended.” 
 
He said: “A will can be made by any person who is not a minor and who is of sound mind. You need two witnesses, preferably independent of each other. The will must list all the immovable and movable properties you own and who you wish to bequeath them to, after your death. However, remember, you can only bequeath what belongs to you and what is self-earned; otherwise, the distribution is governed by various Succession Acts.”
 
There was an animated discussion and many questions on probate and whether it could be avoided as also the importance of registration and the advantage, if any, of gifting assets in one’s lifetime rather than bequeathing them through a will. As always, in such cases, the best option depends on the specific circumstances of each person. Registration of wills emerged as a grey area for several reasons. Banks and registrars for financial assets usually do not demand a probate in case there is a registered will. But what happens if a person wants to change a will. While some lawyers say that every change or codicil also needs to be registered, Mr Malcolm said there is plenty of case law which says that a newer will need not be registered when the earlier one is revoked. 
 
Mr Malcolm said, “The government wants to encourage people to make wills, so they have tried to keep the process as simple as possible.”

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Safe & Smart Money Advice for Students
Moneylife Foundation conducted a financial literacy seminar for 250 students of Vaze College in Mulund, Mumbai
 
There is little in college education that can prepare you for the intricacies and realities of managing your money. Before college students go out to get a job and earn their first salary, it is important for them to have a good understanding of what it takes to protect their money and invest smartly in a manner that would allow them to build long-term wealth.
 

Moneylife Foundation conducted a special programme for students—“Be Safe and Smart with Your Money” in partnership with Vaze College, Mumbai, for over 250 students. The first session by Sucheta Dalal was on how to avoid costly financial mistakes, while Debashis Basu explained to the students how regular saving, started early in life, can help build long-term wealth through the power of compounding. 
 
Ms Dalal took the audience through the ways in which confidence-tricksters use social media to cheat people and how social media and email have become the happy hunting ground for a variety of fraudsters. She explained some of the most common scams that cheat people of billions of dollars, worldwide. These include lottery scams, job scams, the Nigerian scams, advance-fee scams—all of which have infinite permutations and variations. She then explained chain money schemes or pyramid schemes and how they lure people with the promise of quick high returns to build an unsustainable pyramid. 
 
In the second session, Mr Basu explained how the principle of compounding allows regular savings to translate into large corpus. He stressed the importance of starting early; the time lost initially cannot be made up by saving more later. Mr Basu also said that it is important to save in a few, safe financial products that will offer high, inflation-beating returns over the long term. 
 

Mr Basu said that those who can ‘delay gratification’ or spending, by saving more in the earlier years, are not only wealthier, but also do better in life. He explained this by narrating the ‘Marshmallow experiment’ on four-year-olds. A bunch of kids was given a marshmallow each and asked not to eat it for 15 minutes. The one-third, who successfully controlled temptation, were tracked over the decades and were found to have done much better in life than the rest. 
 
Where does one invest? Mr Basu explained the need to keep it simple. While not going into details of various investment products available, he gave a few suggestions. As college students have time on their side, he advised them to invest in equity mutual funds and stocks with an investment horizon of 15 years or more. 

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