Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
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With higher urban income and prosperity, false beliefs and superstitions are big draws

As the quality of our lives improve along with higher disposable income, we spend more and more money on false beliefs and superstitions

Even as the average income of urban Indians are increasing, we are flocking more and more to the so-called spiritual advisors, gurus, self styled clairvoyants, gemologists and astrologers. A whole lot of newer professions are now flourishing to help mankind overcome stress. Tarot cards, crystal healing, tai-chi, yoga, sahaja meditation, rudrakshas, gems, healing gurus, self-styled siddhas, are proliferating. Yoga also has fawned lot of new techniques like Power Yoga, Mind Matter Yoga, Spiritual Yoga, etc. Then we have other forms of meditation techniques like Kritta Yoga, Brahm Vidya, Extensive Yoga, Intensive healing, self healing, etc. The Art of Living (AOL) volunteers have really succeeded in creating a robust business model by selling such programs and then claiming that all such contributions received as fees are diverted to social causes by the AOL foundation.

Vastu and Feng Shui, like the rudraksha therapy, have successfully milked people’s miseries to empty their wallets by giving all sorts of vague recommendations. It is amusing that these people make money without the need for any accountability and without the need to deliver any results. It is a well-known fact that one astrologer’s opinion never matches with another’s. Similarly, one Vastu expert’s prescription will never match with that of another expert.

The latest to join this bandwagon is the so-called suppliers of Rudrakshas. Exorbitantly priced rudrakshas, whose genuineness is suspect, are sold to gullible people who believe that this is a one-stop solution to their problems. Rudrakshas are also being sold like garments along Linking Road in Bandra, Mumbai. One rudraksha supplier in Wadala, Mumbai, also has “Ek Ka Do” offer; meaning, if you buy one rudraksha, you will get two free gifts. Those who salivate under the name of free gifts will be dejected to know that these gifts comprise candles, mud lamps, incense sticks and all the roadside stuff that are generally available for a song. I am ashamed to admit that I too fell prey to such marketing gimmicks and ended up blowing around Rs25,000 in purchasing such rudrakshas and crystals.

Then we have the so-called crystal shops which wax eloquent about energy healing and sell Chinese items as “lucky charms” that ward off evil. A few years back, a so-called lucky tree was sold in some malls as a lucky charm. As if the myriad forms of healing therapies in India were not enough, soon we had Chinese imports in the form of Feng Shui products like Laughing Buddha, Wish Cow, Dragon, Lizard, Tortoise, etc.

One of my uncles, who went through a terrible patch in his life after taking voluntary retirement from ACC, kept on moving from one astrologer to another. Each one fleeced him. One astrologer in Malad asked him to do a special pooja for Rs8,000 when he was under severe financial duress and also assured him that he would live for 100 years. Sadly, my uncle passed away barely within six months after performing the pooja.

Iodised salt had resulted in the plummeting sales of rock salt. So, the crystal therapists were contacted and soon enough recommendations were made aplenty to use bowls of rock salt as negative energy absorbers. This is nothing new actually but the age-old Indian tradition and nani-ma’s chuska of warding off evil using salt. A bottle of ayurvedic oil (Sandhi Suddha) is sold for Rs3,000 using an assortment of ex-actors and out-of-job character artistes on television.

Not Just Trinkets

The latest businesses to gain from the average Indian’s increasing affluence are the medical profession where (for instance) every delivery is made into a Caesarian section to grow the business. The pharmaceutical industry is too happy to supply drugs for newer forms of illnesses even before anyone contracts it. The unholy nexus between the pharmaceutical industry and medical profession thrives in the modern world as eminent professor BM Hegde reminds us time and again.

The latest to join this bandwagon are play schools. Hefty fees are charged all in the name of “preparing your child” for school. Disturbingly, new-age parents are leaving their two-month old child in play schools (and mind you these are not crèches). If you look at Bangalore, every independent homeowner has successfully transformed his garage into an activity ground for the play school students. All of them deserve a standing ovation for the most innovative names that they come up when it comes to naming their play schools.

I know of one such play school near our area, which uses the AOL brand name to attract students and charges them exorbitant fees. The teachers in this school are paid a pittance in relation to the hours they put in. On top of it, they are also expected to be ayahs and nursemaids to the tiny tots. It looks plausible that in the future, some of the new-age mothers will directly drive down to a play school from the maternity ward in a hospital.

It is worthwhile to think calmly about the reason for the mushrooming of such professions. The truth is that people’s emotions, fears and hopes are being capitalized as a wonderful business opportunity. If we all did what our forefathers did (simple living, modest expectations, balanced diet, safe investments, etc) then we really do not need to spend money on this. One man’s pain becomes another man’s gain.




4 years ago

The play-schools are a total scam. I know a lot of people with IMPECCABLE academic/professional records - they did not go to any play-school to "get prepared". So now why do we need these mother-in-law/bahu nexus masquerading as Pre-school franchises.

The (proper/bigger) schools are also part of the problem about mushrooming of these pre-schools - they wont admit kids without the "pre-school" training [whatever the ^&%^& that means].


Guptan Veemboor

In Reply to burntByReliance 4 years ago

Yes bBR, I too feel all these pre-school business is just business only. Some seventy odd years ago when I went for the first time to school, we were put in First standard or some who were given home tuition in higher classes. Till the child is five years old he or she played. Maximum the father or mother may teach them to count up to 100. When my children's time came I had to put them in some LKG-UKG schools before getting them admitted to First standard as the primary school expected some basic knowledge for the children coming to first standard. Simple arithmetic or ability to write some three or four letter words. Now as a grand father I see my grand children at the age of 2 plus going to these pre-schools and God only knows what. In our childhood it was village with vast areas for us to roam and play with children of our age. Now in the city life it is all apartment blocks to which our life is confined. So children when sent to some play school the get some opportunity to be out of the confines of the flat and see some others of their age and play. And it relieves the working moms and society moms some relief from the botheration of child care. Three hours they get time for doing many other things. So they also welcome this baby sitting affair called pre-school or play school business. And now there are summer camps too. In a city is good as the children have no way to pass time other than watching TV. It is the modern crowded city life style what is behind this play school business.

Guptan Veemboor

4 years ago

Before I forget let me tell this. Here in Bangalore where I am staying also there is a play school which is recognized by AOL. I don't think it has any trained staff. It is run by mother-in-law /daughter-in-law combination.
People go for all these Babas and Ammas and such as there is much more mental tensions than what we had some fifty or seventy years ago. Then there was not this much consumerism and people wanted simple things and their desires were also limited. A job in school in your locality and a house was a very happy life. A cycle itself is considered as luxury. To trek for or five miles is no problem. Now people will hail an auto for going a kilometer. They have money to spend and they want to spend. Without money there is money. But with money also there is worry. That is what the average man or woman experience. Previously in villages the carpenter will select the proper spot for the house and start building. There was no such thing in towns and cities where the size of the plots were not sufficient to go according to the 'vastu'. One cannot say that many calamities have happened due to that. Now even one build a house here on a plot size of 30'x40' or less people try to follow vastu. In fact as per the real vastu of our forefathers there is place in the site where the house is to be build. It is not only a question of positioning the rooms. What these people are doing is just a spurious version like the 'himalayan rudraksha' being sold in Bombay foot paths. All these selfstyled gurus and ammas are bogus. They are simply milking the gullible public. A small percentage of their income will go for some charity as just for advertisement. The main part goes to the organizers. Satya Saibabas private room was like a cave in an Arabian Nights stories. Even after this is exposure people still have great reverence to someone who was a street juggler earlier. Why a real ascetic should live in such a luxurious rooms? Same case with all. I have yet to see someone who is leading a peaceful life after a course of AOL. Whosoever I have seen are having the same worries and problems as before . It is not like the weight reduction pictures of 'before' and 'after'.
Mr.G.Venkitesh has written a very nice article. I hope those who have read this will think twice before attending the discourse of some self styled babas and ammas who show simple but only God will know what sort of life they lead in private.
PS. Practically all the CMs of Karnataka have changed the doors and windows of their office rooms and position of their furniture. But none of them could rule the state with peace of mind. They had to fight friends and foes at the same time.


4 years ago

Very apt article in today's time.

As you rightly suggested we all should live a very simple life and keep your needs to the minimum.

My father lived the life you mentioned-simple, modest, balanced and safe. Today, I too follow my father's footsteps and I advise my children too to do the same since it is necessary that they do not get swayed by the advts., peer pressure, etc. I always educate them to 'spend on need not greed' and 'fulfill your needs not wants'. I frequently try and educate them about the difference between a need and a want. e.g. buying shoes is a need but insisting on a Reebok, Nike, etc. is a want. Or buying a car is a need but falling for an over expensive or a flashy car just because people see you in that car is 'greed'. In my house every member is conscious about switching off of lights when not needed because it is a waste. My children go for a movie but on a holiday in the morning show because the rates are quite low compared to regular shows. You will be surprised to know that inspite of having ACs in all rooms they are used by all of us most judiciously. Even in this hottest summer we (that includes my children and that voluntarily) hardly use it. Eating out is very less in a year since we try and keep it only for occassions such as birthdays and anniversaries. Similarly other areas in life too I try and teach them value of money so together we can break the belief that wealth gets destroyed in three generations.

I would like to quote Warren Buffet here: "If you buy things you do not need, soon you have to sell things you need" and I try and follow this.

Luckily in our family we do not believe in superstitions so nobody can fool us and extract money on that front.

I have written all this with the hope that it spreads and more people live simple lives and are able to preserve whatever wealth created.

Values in life is more valuable than money(in)life.

Hikes diesel, kerosene, cooking gas prices, says Chief Economic Advisor

Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu said, “you cannot beyond a point, shelter the population from the global phenomena—which is increase in oil price”

New Delhi: Cautioning the Indian government against a roll-back of hike in petrol prices, Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu on Friday pitched for increasing prices of diesel, kerosene and cooking gas, reports PTI.

In an interview to Karan Thapar’s television programme “Devil’s Advocate” on CNN-IBN, Mr Basu said increasing the prices of these three items should be done in line with the trend of global prices.

“Professionally in people’s interest, the answer is yes (diesel price deregulation). In fact for diesel, all the three items which you are talking about the under recoveries are now huge which means the government is subsidising to keep the price down,” he said.

When asked about the possibility of government rolling back petrol price hike in the view of widespread protests, he said: “Things can happen, but I hope it won't happen.” 

More importantly, he added, the failure of the government to contain fiscal deficit to 5.1% of the GDP (gross domestic product) would have adverse implications on inflation.

“There will be a damage, if we make moves where there is risk that we will breach our fiscal deficit target... which means in the long run (there will be) higher prices in general”, he added.

The oil marketing companies (OMCs) on Wednesday increased the price of petrol by over Rs7.50 per litre in view of rising prices in the international market and falling value of the rupee.

On raising prices of other petroleum goods like diesel, kerosene and cooking gas, Mr Basu said, “you cannot beyond a point, shelter the population from the global phenomena—which is increase in oil price”.

Although the government has taken an in-principle decision to free diesel prices, it has not been able to implement it fearing political implications.



A Kumar

4 years ago

It is interesting to note that the Chief Economic Advisor is asking to increase diesel, Kerosine and etc. etc. prices. Is he telling someone in particular?

The Govt. seems to be singing a differnt tune- reduce taxes, VAT, Sales Levies etc.etc. and lo and behold- the prices will come down. It appears they have another economic advisor, apart from the Chief.
It seems to be lost on the Govt that reducing taxes does not reduce subsidies- it is shufffling pockets. If you continue to give fuel cheaper, there is no incentive for anyone to save fuel or improve efficiencies.

Insider trading, serious offences out of SEBI’s consent norms


“Certain defaults including insider trading, front-running, failure to make an open offer, redress investor grievances and respond to the summons issued by SEBI, are excluded from the consent process,” the market regulator said on Friday

Mumbai: Taking a tough stand on insider trading and other serious offences, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) no Friday decided to exclude these violations from the consent order, a window available for settling disputes on payment of a fee, reports PTI.

The modified guidelines, issued by SEBI, also said that this window will only apply for offences committed two years prior to submission of application to SEBI for a consent order.

“Certain defaults including insider trading, front-running, failure to make an open offer, redress investor grievances and respond to the summons issued by SEBI, are excluded from the consent process,” SEBI said.

Besides, serious fraudulent and unfair trade practices, which have caused substantial losses to the investors, will also be kept out of the consent order.

“The new guidelines will give more clarity and transparency to consent order mechanism,” SMC Global Securities research head Jagannadham Thunuguntla said.

SEBI introduced consent settlement system in April 2007 with a view to cut down on its costs, time and efforts in taking up the enforcement actions. So far, the regulator has passed more than 1,000 consent orders.

According to the new guidelines, if an applicant has obtained more than two consent orders, he will not be eligible to file consent application for three years from the date of the last order.

As per the new guidelines, consent application would not be entertained before the completion of an investigation or inspection, SEBI said.

Besides, for pending proceedings, consent application would be considered only if filed after 60 days from the date of the service of the show cause notice, it added.

“All consent applications shall be accompanied with a non-refundable processing fee of Rs 5,000 per applicant...” SEBI said.

It further said that the High Powered Advisory Committee (HPAC) on consent orders will have the power to enhance or reduce the settlement amount according to the merit of the case or refuse to consider the case under the consent process.

It may also issue directives like disgorgement of ill-gotten profits, among others.

Prior to the new guidelines, SEBI could impose a penalty higher between Rs25 crore and an amount equivalent to three times the profit allegedly made by the suspected entity through insider trading or other manipulative activity.

The HPAC would consist of a chairman who shall be a retired judge of a high court and three other external experts, as may be decided by the board from time to time.

SEBI further said that in case of rejection of the consent application, no subsequent application with respect to the same default would be considered.

“The consent application shall be disposed of expeditiously, preferably within a period of six months from the date of registration of the consent application,” SEBI said.



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