The True meaning of “Gotra” in Hindu Tradition and how it got mixed up

19 Sep

You can understand when the village Khap Panchayat invokes the concept of Gotra during marriage. But when highly educated, modern, urban relatives start talking of how they will not have their children married to prospective grooms or brides from the same Gotra it gets me angry and worried.  This Blog is dedicated to all these people.

Firstly lets understand whats the meaning of the word “Gotra”

The word Gotra is formed from the two Sanskrit words Gau (meaning Cow) and Trahi (meaning Shed). Note that the English word Cow is a derived word of the Sanskrit word Gau with the same meaning Gau. So Gotra means Cowshed. In Atharva Ved, it is referred to a clan

 The traditionalists and the Khap interpret this as family lineage.

They claim that according to the brahminical theory, the Brahmins are the direct descendants of seven or eight sages who are believed to be the mind-born sons of Brahma. They are Gautama, Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra, Jamadagni, Vashista, Kashyapa and Atri. To this list, Agasthya is also sometimes added. These eight sages are called gotrakarins from whom all the 49 gotras (especially of the Brahmins) have evolved. For instance, from Atri sprang the Atreya and Gavisthiras gotras

I dont agree – let me disprove this with simple Mathematics

  • Total Population of India  = 1.2 B
  • Total Population of Brahmins in India = 120 M ( assuming 10% – the actual figure is lesser)
  • On an average if we distribute this across the 6 Main Gotra thats 20M Brahmins / Gotra.
  • So Bhardwaj Gotra should have 20 M people – 10 M men and 10 M women.
  • If Sage Bhardwaj is our patrimonial starting point in the lineage lets do a backward calculation using the an annual population growth rate of 1 % , the formulae is simple , 10 M = 1 ( 1 + 1/100)^ n. That would solve for n = 1620.
  • In other words if Sage Bhardwaj lived 1620 years back i.e. in 394 AD then at a 1.2% annual population growth the size of the Bhardwaj male clan would be 10M today.

But hindu Mythology says that Sage Bhardwaja one of the 7 original Rishis who lived many 1000 years back. If we date the Mahabharata to 2000 BC ( as many historians do ) , then Sage Bhardwaj would have lived around 1900 BC since he was the father of Dronacharya. Some say that the Mahabarata and the origin of the sages date back to the time of Adi Yogi which could even be 10,000  BC.

So clearly Sage Bhardwaja did not live in 394 AD, because if history documents Buddha and Mahavira from 500 BC then Sage Bhardwaja would have found reference in our History books. Like always the dots in hindu mythology never add up.

Let me share a possible view of what could have been a strong case for the creation of Gotra’s and this logic comes from the meaning of the word ” Cowshed”

Lets assume the year was 2500 BC. Man was a nomad. He had just learnt to domesticate animals. The Cow was the source of livelihood & food it was central to the economy of India in 2500 BC. Like normal tribes these wandering nomads used to cover vast distances with their families and cows always on the lookout for greener pastures.

Man being man there would invariably be a fight amongst the group wrt ownership of their cows. In a storm or a melee the cows would get mixed and cause tremendous anxiety and ill will.

The possible solution for this was to identify 7 wise men and distribute the total population – men and cows amongst these 7 wise men. Tired of travelling they would have decided to settle down. Each Wise man set up his farm / village / cowshed in an area and that group / Clan came to be known by the Rishis name. Since they lived in a cowshed – they were called Gotra. Each clan probably followed a concept of collective responsibility and  shared the resources they had in their clan. The Cows were now common property and the Wise man / Rishi was the head of this Clan.

Since each Clan shared and lived together they became an extended family and marriage was probably not advised within the clan as the population of Cows could not go up. I am sure dowry existed in those days. So marriage always happened between two clans living maybe a few 100 Km away from each other.

Does that sound logical ? If so then the issue of each person being a descendant of the great Rishi does not arise. Clearly this concept has been advanced at a much later date – maybe by the likes of Max Mueller and Western Historians who were always on the lookout to create concepts that could divide and fraction the society.

And I just hope that the educated  people of today stop thinking like the Khap and take a more balanced view to getting their children married.

Buying a new Flat in Bangalore ? 8 Points to Check Out

12 Sep

Real estate in Bangalore has given excellent returns since 2000. And with Acche Din promised the near future looks bright. If you buy at pre launch from a good builder at a good location, chances are that you can see  75 – 100% appreciation in 4 – 5 years. However given the lack of regulation and rules the journey can be frustrating and challenging at times. Here are some pointers that you need to be aware of.

Let me start with a real life case. I booked a flight in Nov 2010 with a premium builder ( top 3 in Bangalore). It was a good location – on the main road, a metro station was supposed to open 100m away and a large Mall was also planned adjacent to the complex. The rate at Rs 3100/sft (pre launch) was great and with a staggered payment over  30 months and possession in Oct 2013 – it sounded like a great deal.

elevation

I am yet to get possession but I still think its a great deal – my investment has appreciated almost 100% , the flats are now selling at ~ Rs 6000/-sft and I am sure that in the next few years this will become 8 – 9000/-sft. But not everyone who bought at a later date are singing happy tunes. Lets look at some of the challenges of buyers in large complexes with 2000 – 3000 flats.

1. Density of Population 

This complex spread across 15 acres will have about 3000 flats. On an average 4 people / flat i.e. 12,000 people in 14 acres.

1 Sq Km = 247 Acres. So 14 Acres = 0.05 Sq Km. With 12,000 people in 0.05 Sq Km that would make it one of the most densest complexes in the country or the world. I did not do this math when I bought my flat. Initially the builder had promised large flats , later there were more 2 BHK and the no of floors went from 18 – 20 – 25 floors adding more flats and people.

Be mentally prepared for this – what you see in your prelaunch brochure is indicative and not the final.

2. Scale of Investment 

The first flat was sold for Rs 3000/- sft , the last one at Rs 6000/-sft . lets take the median price as Rs 4500/- sft. Flat sizes vary from 1200 – 2500 sft , again lets take the average size of a flat as ~ 1500 sft . Across 3000 flats the total super built up area sold is 4.5 million Sft. At Rs 4500/- sft the revenue earned by the builder is Rs 20250 Mn – 2025 Crores (337.5 Mn Dollars)

Thats a colossal investment – something that would make ET headlines – and we see at least 3 – 4 such projects getting launched in Bangalore every year. A company running this investment needs to have accountability/checks and balances /some Government control thru a regulator – sadly most of this doesn’t exist.

Even a vegetable trader make a 20% margin in Business – chances ares that the real estate majors make 3o – 40% margin , thats a 750 Crore profiit from a project of this size. Now you know why builders and politicians are best buddies.

3. Advance Payment 

This builder like many others had a Pre EMI scheme and collected the money  100% advance from many  gullible buyers. Others got a 10% discount for paying upfront. All this is great if the project is completed in the committed time. However in most cases the project delays are from 1 – 3 years. (Bangalore is better – in Delhi the delays can be 5 years +) How leading Banks like HDFC /Axis, SBI  entertain a scheme like this is baffling – but they do. The builder normally struggles to get a loan from a financial institution – by this scheme he conveniently funded himself 2000 Crores at a very low cost of funds . As the project gets delayed he has the seed money to fund other projects. So what if there is a delay here – the buyers have no choice.  I was lucky to be in Phase – 1 and my project is delayed by 15 – 18 months. But think of the people who bought in Phase 2 and 24 months after paying 100% money are yet to see the excavation work start. Not a happy feeling.

Learning – Never pay a Builder 100% advance, always pay as per structural progress, avoid the Pre EMI scheme which looks so attractive.

4. Structural Modifications 

Be prepared to see modifications. The brochure always says indicative drawings. What changes most commonly are two things

a) Roof height comes down to accommodate more floors ( from 11 – 12 feet ceiling height 10 years back they are down to 9 feet these days)

b) What are shown as stand alone buildings get merged. A stand alone multi-storeyed building needs two staircases from a fire escape ruling. By communing multiple building in one long wall like structure you can eliminate 1 staircase / building and save sft to build more flats. yes its cramped and results in less sunlight but who cares . The blocks are not connected internally and the only fire escape solutions is from the roof of one block to the other.

5. Contract & Undivided Share of Land 

The contracts are always one sided. You just have to sign on the dotted line. Most contracts do not even mention the undivided share of the land that is due to you. This is because the developer doesn’t know on day 1 how many flats will be built, what will be their size. In large projects the building comes in phases and the design and size of the flats vary basis demand and market conditions.

So what happens is that at the time of registration you get land based on the Plinth area of the building. The total Plinth area of all the buildings is normally not even 50% of the total complex area. Who owns the balance land ? The Builder doesn’t – since he is a developer. The land is always owned by a 3rd party. What if the land owner at a later date comes and stake claim ? Difficult to find answers to such simple logical questions.

The contract mentions a nominal delay penalty  (3 – 5 Rs / sft / Month) – thats less than Rs 7500/- for a 2500 sft flat. Even that is not paid on the 1st month of delay – but the builder says he will pay in final settlement. At the same time the contract does have a clause on cost escalation which the builder can invoke anytime.

6. Club House and Common amenities 

As the building develops the size and facilities of common amenities continue to shrink. rarely will you get the promised glamorous club house at the time of possession ( delayed possession) – the Club House will happen slowly as other phases construction starts. So in a 14 acre project – when you get your Phase – 1 flat , there is construction work and noise all around you for the next 5 years.

3000 Flats , 12,000 residents – have to make do with 1 swimming pool , 1 tennis court and 1 TT table. Thats what you have even in a 200 flat apartment complex. Get ready to reserve your play slot 1 week in advance.

7. Maintenance 

Most builders maintain the complex for the 1st 3 years. Post that they hand over to the community. I shudder to think how it will be to form a  management Committee in a  complex of 12,000 Indians. We struggle to get one going in a complex of 124 flats. How will one treasurer collect the monthly maintenance ? What if people don’t pay ? Are there large established 3rd party companies that can maintain complex of this with SLA’s.

8. How to protest 

Its almost impossible for the buyers to get together and stage a strong protest. For starters nobody knows his neighbour. Even if you get a Yahoo Group started – there is a lot of noise but little action. Leadership is a rare quality in India. Everyone is scared of getting over aggressive – the builder can always hold back your registration or penalise you with the worst parking lot.  Filing a case or going to the consumer court to protest is not an option – unless you are a very high profile buyer with strong connections (One Bangalore West) – so you just pray and wait. CREDAI , State Government , Builder Regulator , Agencies giving FAA ratings , Banks – all are not a partner to help you – they are all agencies just in name.

But inspire of all this people still flock to buy flats. With the top 3 builders you know that even if you get 80% of what was promised with a  2 year delay – you are still on a hot property with decent appreciation and a good community. So you are OK to look the other side and forget the pain and agony.

My only suggestion is – maybe we should be careful of the mega projects and look for complexes in the 250 – 500 flats range. Less complexity, faster completion, easier to maintain.

What drives Success ? Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

4 Sep

A friend yesterday asked me a simple Question  – “What are the skills needed for a teenager today to be successful in life?”  –  My first response was quick and simple – aligning success to the Corporate world  – Be a specialist , Make your presence felt – Build your BRAND – Communicate right , Adapt , Be ready to learn and unlearn and integrate technology as part of your day to day life . Last but  not  the least learn to be a tactical diplomatic conformist – dissent is no longer the voice of progress.  But then as  I thought thru this for 24 hrs and started peeling the onion a totally different set of perspectives started to emerge.

The first question I asked myself  – How do you define Success ? The easiest answer is the materialistic answer – Being successful in todays world is Being Rich, Famous and powerful. A good job , managing a large team , a big house , International Holidays , No Debts, Large saving in the bank  and a good education . Maybe a powerful job like a politician. (Remember this is defining Success not Happiness)

Success

Thats the path which we normally take –  most parents in India would say that if you get to an Harvard – MIT – IIT – IIM….  chances are that you are on the right track and all set for a successful career and hence a successful life.

If you do a Google search on “Traits of successful people ” – its easy to find lists that include the following attributes as the key to Success – Resilience, Honesty, Time Management, Courage , Passion , Vision , Adaptability , Creating Value, Drive , Ambition  ….. etc

When everyone knows this Track and everyone wants to be successful – The Question I ask is why do only some people have these qualities and why is it that only a very few % less than 1% make it to the hallowed portals of Ivy League Colleges and then hop onto the so called Successful league.

WhyNotMe1

To answer this question – let me reference a recent dinner meeting I had with Ishani – a colleague from Durgapur –  the small town where we grew up. We lived in ABL – a model township. The officers quarters had about 100 Flats/Bungalows. Ishani was an encyclopaedia and knew details of almost every boy & girl who had passed out of ABL from 1975 to 1990. Across these 15 years about 100 Kids would have completed their class 10 . It was amazing to observe that almost 90% of them could be termed as very successful. More than 50% were in good jobs outside of India and the remaining doing very well in the country.

How could a small township generate such stupendous success demographics? What were the Ingredients? How could this work not just for one year but for 15 years at a stretch ? Could the answer for what makes you Successful lie here ?

And its not just ABL the above phenomena can be attributed to BARC Colony in Chembur, an IIT Campus where the kids of the staff do so well , and large colony like TISCO / TELCO etc.

Key Ingredients from these ecosystems ( Like ABL Township) that could be the defining Criteria for Success  

I was able to quickly identify 4 key Ingredients that could possible be the defining criteria on how the Kids from here had a great start

  • All parents were highly educated – Engineers and top notch professionals from good colleges and schools  – GREAT GENES
  • The two schools in town St Xaviers and Mount Carmel – ICSE were best in Class – Good faculty, good environment , Good Syllabus – GOOD SCHOOL
  • Township life was perfect to develop the all rounder – Sports , Plays , Public Speaking – there was always an opportunity to get the sporty or creative juices out – EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
  • Being a small group people interactions was high, bonding was high, it felt like an extended family – GOOD COMMUNITY

The formative years are so critical and getting an excellent grounding from birth to Age 16 with a  good school and a good community , backed with the right Genes made all the difference for this group of Kids . Of course you needed to work hard – but the community and peer pressure and school ensured that part happened.

But is that all – Basis this I developed a very simple model to define the key elements of success

Success copy.001

At the root of everything is Destiny – why were these 100 Kids born in that community, getting all the favourable Tailwinds to succeed. Why did the balance 10% not take off ? Why were there some cases of  two children born in the same family – One taking off to a very successful career and the other falling back down the way ? Why did some have a slow start but accelerate later ? Why were some doing so well – suddenly fall back ? I would argue that at the root of everything is DESTINY. We may all say that we are self made men – but then the seed with which we are born has a significant part to play on which tree we grow up to be .

Destiny – Genes – Community – School are the Basics that gets you started with a great foundation. Then you build your competencies and skills thru college and work. And here the hard work, perseverance pays off as you polish your skills and get better with age.

And then you have another block called the  Personality Trait on which you may not have much control. This may be linked to you as an Individual. The personality trait some Psychologists argue stays with you from birth to death – you can works towards modifying them … a little but the personality is YOU and cannot be modified totally. Like Destiny you may have little control over them. You may at best know your Personality Trait and operate in an environment conducive to that.

The 5 Common Personality Traits 

  • Openness refers to traits such as how inclined someone is to conform to societal or cultural norms, how concretely or abstractly they think about things, and how open or resistant someone is to change. A person who is a creative thinker and always looking for ways to do things better would likely score high on measures of openness
  • Conscientiousness has to do with a person’s degree of organization, level of discipline, and how prone he or she is to taking risks. The college student who never misses a class and has a 4.0 GPA would probably prove to have a high degree of conscientiousness as measured on a personality assessment
  • Extraversion is a personality characteristic that describes things like how social a person is, or how warm and loving they tend to be. Extraverts are people who would typically prefer to go out to a party with lots of friends as opposed to stay in and watch a movie with one or two friends
  • Agreeableness takes into account how kind, dependable, and cooperative a person is. People who score high on scales of agreeableness are typically more interested in doing things for the common good as opposed to fulfilling their own self-interests
  • Neuroticism is a personality characteristic that describes how nervous or anxious a person tends to be, as well as, the degree of self-confidence and self-contentment he or she possess. Individuals who score high on levels of neuroticism will often be preoccupied with the ‘what ifs’ of life. They tend be worrisome and preoccupied with things that might not be within their control

And last but not the last – you may have everything going in your favour but Lady Luck may be missing. And without her – its difficult to find the magic called Success. With all your competencies, attitude, skills , personality Traits you still need to be at the right place at the right time to encash your cheque. If your Personality has A Positive attitude and some risk taking abilities that beckons Lady Luck faster – but most of the time its a wave that sweeps a generation to success. We had the baby boomers in the US and we in India were a lucky generation – thanks to the economy boom and 7% + GDP Growth rate since the 1990’s. We have hardly seen war or unrest. And with a high energy PM promising Acche Din – lets just hope that lady luck continues to smile on us for ten more years and see us thru our productive phase of this life.

So what are the levers that you have ?  Destiny, Genes & Luck are out of your control. You really can’t choose what community and school you will study in – thats your parents call. Yes you can work hard and get into a good college and develop the right set of Competencies all across your career to succeed. And knowing your personality traits strengths and weakness – work on some visible areas of weakness.

So is this the one formulae for Success ? Of course not. You will always have the Ramanajuam’s and Dr Abdul Kalam growing up to global brilliance after studying under a lamp post in a small village with no school or infrastructure. But these are exceptions and not the norm.

The huge advantage that some kids get – will go a long way in helping them get ahead in the race. But how they capitalise on it remains to be seen. Sadly most of them don’t see the advantage they have and let complacency seep in. Is that laziness or Destiny – I don’t know !

Good Monthly Pension Scheme for Retired People

28 Aug

Government of India in the Union Budget 2014-2015, announced the revival of Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana. Excerpts from budget speech by Honrable Finance Minister are, “NDA Government during its last term in office had introduced the Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana (VPBY) as a pension scheme for senior citizens. Under the scheme a total number of 3.16 lakh annuitants are being benefited and corpus amounts to Rs.6,095 Crore. I propose to revive the scheme for a limited period from 15th August 2014 to 14th August 2015 for the benefit of citizens aged 60 years and above“. LIC of India has been given the sole privilege to operate this scheme.

https://www.licindia.in/VARISHTHA_PENSION_BIMA_YOJANA_benefits.html

Highlights of the scheme 

1. Valid for people above the Age of 60

2. Maximum Monthly Pension is Rs 5,000 against a 1 time premium of Rs 6,66,665.

3. Post life of Policy Holder the principal will be transferred to nominee.

4. After 15 Years Policy can be surrendered – redemption same as purchase price

5. No redemption possible before 15 years (Exception for critical Illness)

6. After 3 years – Loan can be availed unto 75% of policy value

7. Monthly Pension is Taxable

8. Limited to One pension / Family

9. Scheme is open for a limited time of 1 year , closes Aug 2015

10. How is scheme better than FD ?

a) FD Interest rates for Sr citizens is 9.5% for greater than 1 year tenure.

b) However bank Interest rates may fluctuate during life based on interest cycle – in case of this policy this interest rate is fixed during the entire life of policy holder 

c) FD Liquidity is better than LIC

d) LIC Scheme is subject to Service Tax

e) Interest from both schemes are Taxable – if  person is in Taxable limit

Aihole, Badami, Pattadakal – In 48 Hrs

20 Aug

Not many people know that Karnataka has two UNESCO world heritage sites. Hampi & Pattadakal – both located in North Karnataka. We had visited Hampi a few years back and have since long been wanting to visit the heritage sites of Badami, Aihole & Pattadakal – which we finally did recently.

Our History books are filled with content of N India from the Indus Valley Civilisations, Buddhism , Jainism, Mauryas, Guptas, Harsha and then the Turks, Mongols, Rajputs, Marathas  and Mughals and finally the British. Very little is mentioned of S Indian history. Karnataka alone is home to 5 great dynasties that ruled from as early as 450 AD. The Chalukyas (Head quartered in Badami – Then Vatapi), Rashtrakutas, Vijaynagaram Empire, Hoysalas and The Wodeyars/ Tipu.  Outside of Karnataka you have the Pallavas, Cholas, Cheras, Pandya’s , Kakatiyas and some more.

Here is an update from our  2 day trip recently to this amazing place. Thankfully its not one of those busy tourist circuits and we could admire the beauty of 1500 year old architecture in relative peace and calm with no major queues and crowds.

The Chalukya empire ruled from Aihole, Badamai and Pattadakal and you can see an architectural marvel in Red sandstone. The beginning of temple architecture in India may well have started from here. Aihole was  the 1st capital of the Chalukyas who ruled almost 3/4 of India under the famous Pulakesin – II. The empire had its golden era from around 500 AD to 750 AD. The temples and structures we see in Aihole , Badami and Pattadakal would be amongst the oldest structure (in good shape) in India.

IMG_3514

 

The initial set of temples were constructed in Aihole, the 1st capital – 125 of them , most have been excavated and are in decent shape. The structures are simple with limited sculptures and architectural beauty. Aihole is about 30 Km from Badami and a 45 – 60 min drive along reasonable good village tarred roads with lovely green fields on both sides. Most of the temples in Aihole are dedicated to Vishnu – but later the Chalukya’s became Shaivites and in Badami and Pattadakal we see mainly Shiva Temples.

According to mythology Aihole is the place where Parashurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas. Aihole has historical significance and is called as cradle of Hindu rock architecture.

IMG_3409

Aihole also has some rock cut caves – but these are basic and the outstanding ones with elaborate sculpture work is seen at Badami

IMG_3416

From Aihole we travelled to Pattadakal – a 20 min drive on the way back to Badami. Pattadakal  is the UNESCO world heritage site. This has some amazing temples in a large compound. You can see temples of different designs – Nagara style (Like the one you see in Lingaraja Temple Bhubaneswar) , Pallava Style (Like the Shore temple), Traditional S indian, N Indian and the Chalukya style . Of the 3 sites – Pattadakal has the most evolved design and architecture and its interesting to see the development in Temple design from Aihole – Badami – Pattadakal in less than 300 years. The temple site is located on the banks of the Malaprabha river – one of the few rivers in India that flows from South to North. You can easily cover Aihole & Pattadakal in 5 hrs (Aihole has multiple sites to visit and Pattadakal one main complex)

IMG_3443

 

IMG_3427

Badami was the new capital post Aihole. Its earlier name was Vatapi. Its called Badami because of the red colour of the sand stone used in construction – which looks very much like that of Almonds (Badam).

There are 4 important things to see in Badami –  Rock Cut Caves, The Bhootnath Temple and the massive lake adjacent to it, The fort and the Museum.  All 4 are very close to each other.

The Rock Cut caves – are amazing. Its created by scooping out rocks from the gut of the mountain and then finishing them aesthetically with intricate sculpture. There are 4 sets of caves – some dedicated to Vishnu, others to Shiva and the last one to the Jain Guru’s

IMG_3465

You climb 250 steps to see all the 4 sets of caves and the view from the top is beautiful. You can get a wonderful panoramic view of the lake and the Bhootnath temple below. The temple is peaceful and serene – and without a priest and the crowd you can sense the divinity in the old ruins.

IMG_3464

The fort is again a climb up a hill – not very step but has about 500 steps ( 25 min climb) – not much of the fort left – a few cannons perched on the walls , a few sentry posts and a temple on the top of the hill. Its a nice trek and the kids loved the climb. Lots of monkeys enroute – so look out for them . Right below the fort is the Lake , the Bhootnath Temple and a small but very well maintained museum – which has one of the oldest statue of Lajja Gauri the ancient fertility goddess.

Some more useful Information

Badami can be reached from Bangalore by Train – The Gol Gumbaz Express from Mysore to Sholapur leaves Bangalore at 6.40 PM and reaches Badami at 7.00 AM. Its a slow train with multiple stops (thats why it does 590 Kms in 12 hrs). The train has 1st AC , 2nd AC , 3 Tier AC. Pack your dinner from home – there is no pantry car. The return journey starts at Badami at 7.30 PM and reaches Bangalore at 8 AM. (there are other trains also)

There are very few decent hotels in Badami (and none in Aihole / Pattadakal) – we stayed at The Heritage – a 5 min 2Km drive from the station. Two other hotels that looked decent are Krishna Heritage and the Badami Court. All hotels have rooms at 3 – 4 K/ Night. The Heritage took good care of us – rooms were nice, service was good and they had organised an Innova to pick us up, stay with us for two days and then drop us back at Badami station. Food @ Heritage was homely and simple (Only Veg) the other two hotels serve Non Veg.  Rooms are neat, clean efficient and Basic (AC , Hot water , TV , comfortable beds, balcony) – food is cheap – a good healthy nourishing S Indian Thali is only Rs 90/- and an A La Carte meal for 3 will not exceed Rs 500/-

IMG_3477

Not much of shopping/markets in Badami – its a 1 street town. Mainly agrarian – and we drove with lovely fields on both sides growing Jowar, Bajra, Cotton, Sunflowers, paddy, Maize. Its  black soil and very fertile.

IMG_3516

Telephone connectivity is good – 3G works all thru the town, even in Aihole & Pattadakal.

The largest city in the vicinity is Hubli – which is about 100 Km before Badami. Hubli is Karnataka’s 2nd largest city (Yes – bigger than Mangalore & Mysore). Further ahead from Badami is Bijapur ( ~ 100 Km) and its a 2 hr drive. This place again has a lot to see including the famous Gol Gumbaz – its Sultanate territory. Hampi is not far away – though Hospet is a different train route. So if you have more time – you can easily do a 5 – 6 day trip to Hampi, Badami & Bijapur.

You are in the heart of Deccan – summers can be very hot. Even mid Aug it was 30 Degrees +. Best time to travel is in Winter – Oct to Feb. Thats when the foreigners come here in hordes and with the limited room supply you need to book in advance.

Overall a great trip – amazing architecture, lots of History, not crowded, neat and clean, easy on the pocket and convenient connection to Bangalore. The person at heritage Hotel who helped put this together for me was Mahantesh –  those interested you can connect to him on +91 93 53 023006 (email – info@theheritage.co.in)

So when you get your next long weekend plan a trip to Badami – I am sure you will enjoy as much as we did.

POPFLATION – Sky High Inflation due to Population, Lifestyle & Migration

29 Jul

A few events in the last few weeks triggered me to write this Blog.

1. I have stopped buying vegetables and Grocery since my dad came to stay with us 18 months back. Last week I happened to step out to buy veggies on a Sat. I packed my two bags with the usual items for a week and gave the vendor Rs 300 ( 18 months back the cost for this would have been about 275 – 280 Rs) – he started at me and said the total cost was Rs 550 – thats almost a 100% increase in 18 months.

2. After the Veggies I went to buy Rice. I clearly recollect buying good quality Sona Masuri rice for Rs 36/- Kg 18 months back. Thats now Rs 56/- . Thats a 75% increase.

3. This Sun I visited my aunt after her Cataract operation. I enquired about the cost – Rs 78,000 for two eyes. In 1980 my Grandmother had got it done for Rs 2000, in 2005 my dad got it done for Rs 25,000 and 5 years back my mother had her Cataract done for Rs 50,000. Inflation for Cataract operation is more than 25% YoY.

4. 3 Years back we had agreed on withdrawing a certain amount of  cash every month for Maid salary , Misc expenses etc. Last six months I have observed that by the 15th we are running out of cash and withdrawing again. We went back to the drawing board and found that our monthly expenses have more than doubled in the last 3 years.

Don’t believe the Government when they say that Inflation is 8%. Its not. The only items that have got cheaper in the last 25 years have been PC’s ( In 1992 a PC AT, 1MB,  40 MB with a B&W Monitor was 40K , Today you can get a dual core High End Laptop 50X more powerful for the same price)

Why is this happening – its more than the UPA Government messing up for the last 10 Years. Lets look at some data.

Guess the human population in 1800? Just 1Bn. From AD 1 to AD 1800 it rose slowly and steadily from 100M to 1 Bn – in 1800 years. By 1930 – in the next 130 years it doubled to 2Bn, and in 30 years from there it became 3Bn – since then we have been adding a Bn people on earth every 10 – 12 years. Thats colossal and scary.  The question to be answered is what triggered this growth from the mid 1800’s ?

J_curve_graph

One trend I spotted was the plethora of inventions that happened between 1850 & 1900. Those 50 years specifically and the 19th Century could well go down in History as the era with the most revolutionary inventions. The Steam Engine , Electricity , Pasteurisation, Telephone , Plastic , Safety Match , Dynamite, Motor Vechile (For the full list see Annexure 1 at the end of the blog). These inventions got the Industrial Revolution started , quality of life improved , diseases were eradicated , food shortages became history and mankind has since then never looked back as humanity moved from survival – necessity – comfort – luxury. Finally the hand combat wars were over as we moved to Smart Wars that could decimate cities, but by and large civilian population was safe from the marauding enemies.

We see this trend even in India. In 1850 our population was less than 250M , during Independence we were almost 330M and 50 years later we are still growing at 1.2 B threatening to overtake China in the next 20 years.

 

popgrow

More people , more needs, more food – its a simple demand supply equation. As countries progress and per Capita income grows your nutrition basket has a higher mix of Vegetable & Proteins. Mother Earth had the resources to serve a 1B people , she is struggling to cater to the bulging needs of 7.2Bn people and may well collapse when we reach 10Bn .  We see this in India – food production has started going down or is flat. The green revolution delivered non linear growth in the 60’s & 70’s but has peaked out. GM Crops may be the only solution – but the side effects are being hotly debated. Add to this farmers see more value in growing vegetables , exotic fruits which deliver better returns than on crops like Rice and Wheat

production-price1_032313032840

Add to this the trend of City Migration. Poverty, dependance on Rains and lack of basic amenities is moving people from the Villages to the Cities in hordes. We already see that the Urban Population is 30% ( thats up from the < 10% in 1960) – as the Cities explode Inflation rises. Land prices have shot thru the roof  and the cost of maintaining a family with decent lifestyle in NCR , Mumbai or Bangalore is at par with the developed western world.

20120929_SRC858

The formed food minister in charge for 10 years did not help – he piled up food in FCI to rot rather than let it go in the free market.

food-for-thought_050713055803

And if the Modi Sarkar ushers in Acche Din and the economy starts growing at 8 – 10% , thats going to give a further fillip to Inflation and cost rise. I shudder to think what will be the cost of undergoing a Cataract operation 30 years from now when I am 75 years old – it could be well over Rs 10 Lacs  – thats 20 Lacs for me and my wife. I don’t think I even thought about this and included this in my savings basket. Add a hearing Aid at 10 Lacs + ( Its already 1 Lac). The Bhindi and Beans thats touch 100+ Rs a Kg now could well be in excess of Rs 1000/- a Kg .  These are the necessities you need for survival.

So whats the Solution ?

Will my flat that appreciated 5 times in the last ten years give me value 30 years from now – or will it be a dead investment ? Will the Stock Market investments scale with these expense – or should we start buying large land banks in Tier 3 Cities and pray that they will keep up in cost with Inflation ?

Maybe we eat more Eggs – Roti and Egg Bhurji can be a meal for Less than Rs 30/- for a family of 4 . But Rice , Dal , Curry , Curd can be expensive . So follow the advice of the ad and eat more eggs. Thats one commodity where the pice though increasing seems reasonable ( Current price for 1 Egg is Rs 4/-)

121312_36

Don’t worry about investing in your daughter’s MBBS & MD education. A 1 Cr Donation  to a good medical college can be earned back in 1 week ( If 20 years from now Cataract Operations continue their inflation and touch 10 Lacs / person). Now you need to laud the vision of Chidambaram and Son Karti for setting up Vasan eye care – that business probably delivers better ROE than Infosys and Wipro.

Mamta & Mulayam and Kejriwal should stop complaining about the  train hike and focus their attention on bigger things – like why Beans went from Rs 50 to Rs 120/- in 3 months or why the annual rate of inflation for a Cataract operation is 25% – I wish they would , but I know they won’t !

I don’t know the answer – all I know is that my retirement plans at age 45 stand cancelled. But I am really worried and you should be too. The inventions of 1850 – 1900 era and the world development trajectory have really screwed us badly!  Maybe capitalism wasn’t so good after all. Maybe Karl Marx should arise. We had a great run from 1992 till now but as the middle ages hit us and we look upon the second half of our life (Which is not going to be as productive as the last 25 ) a sense of deep concern sets in.  Lets hope it all works out well.

Annexure – 1 : List of inventions that happened between 1850 & 1900 

1862
• Dr. Richard Gatling patents the machine gun.
• Alexander Parkes invents the first man-made plastic

1866
• Alfred Nobel invents dynamite.
• J. Osterhoudt patents the tin can with a key opener.
• Englishmen Robert Whitehead invents a torpedo.

1867
• Christopher Scholes invents the first practical and modern
typewriter.

1868
• Robert Mushet invents tungsten steel.
• J P Knight invents traffic lights.
1872
• J.S. Risdon patents the metal windmill.
• A.M. Ward issues the first mail-order catalog.

1873
• Joseph Glidden invents barbed wire.

1876
• Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone.

1880
• The British Perforated Paper Company invents a form of
toilet paper.

• In 1881 Alexander Graham Bell invents the first crude
metal detector and David Houston patents the roll film
for cameras.
45

1884
• Lewis Edson Waterman invents the first practical fountain
pen.
• Charles Parson patents the steam turbine.

1885
• Harim Maxim invents the machine gun.
• Karl Benz invents the first practical automobile to be
powered by an internal-combustion engine.
• Gottlieb Daimler invents the first gas-engined motorcycle.

1886
• Josephine Cochrane invents the dishwasher.
• Gottlieb Daimler builds the world’s first
four-wheeled motor vehicle.
• John Pemberton invents Coca Cola.
1887

• German, Heinrich Hertz invents radar.
• Emile Berliner invents the gramophone.
• F.E. Muller and Adolph Fick invent the first wearable
contact lenses.

1888
• Marvin Stone patents the spiral winding process to
manufacture the first paper drinking straws.
• John Boyd Dunlop patents a commercially successful
pneumatic tire.
• Nikola Tesla invents the AC motor and transformer.

1891
• Jesse W. Reno invents the escalator.

1892
• Rudolf Diesel invents the diesel-fueled internal
combustion engine.
• Sir James Dewar invents the Dewar flask or vacuum flask.

1893
• American, W.L. Judson invents the zipper.

1899
• J.S. Thurman patents the motor-driven vacuum cleaner.

“Anandam” at Ananda

20 Jul

The word ‘Ānanda’ means ‘bliss’ in Pali, Sanskrit as well as other Indian languages. And BLISS is the best word to describe what I experienced during my 3 day stay at the Ananda Spa & Resort in the Himalayas. I have heard so much of this place that its been in my “To Do”  list for a while. And finally I told myself – “Don’t Think – ACT” and made an impulse decision to come for 3 nights. 9W 824 is a one hop flight from Bangalore to Dehradun Via Delhi (leaves at 07.50AM) and reaches Dehradun at 11.45. From the Jolly Grant airport Via Rishikesh its a 45 min drive to Ananda and I was in the hotel by  1.15 in time for a princely welcome and a stately lunch.

871444_213_z

The majestic hotel is housed in the property that was the Palace of the Garhwal King and is located at Narendra Nagar. Its named after Ma Ananda Mayi a Sadhvi who was the spiritual guru of the Maharaja. Its spread across 100 acres, of which 25 Acres is developed as the Resort and Spa. The main Palace does not have any rooms (Barring 1 regal suite) and the rooms are located 500m away from the reception/palace. Ananda has 78 rooms , 5 Suites and 3 Villas.

While there is a lot to talk about Ananda there are 3 things that stand out

1. Verdant greenery, pristine and manicured

2. Excellent service – very well trained professionals

3. Great Spa – with wide variety of excellent treatments

The fresh verdant greenery is soothing and calming to the eyes. As you enter the hotel and drive to your room you see these well maintained gardens . The gardens even have peacocks and the entire area is filled with a wide variety of chirping birds.

IMG_3139

The rooms are nice and comfortable. They all come with a  balcony, a nice walk in closet and all the latest amenities that you will find any 5 Star Luxury hotel. The Wi Fi is super fast and Phone signals are strong. You can even pack light because they give you sets of Pyjama/Kurta your size and encourage you to wear that in the property. They have 24 by 7 room service and a TV / VCR.  The view from the rooms is lovely – its either a garden view or a Valley View. The valley view in the morning is heavenly. And if you asks  kid to draw heaven this is what she will draw – Green hills with multiple layers of clouds and a blue sky.

The Villas are luxurious – and thats where Oprah stays when she comes to visit Ananda in her private jet. Many a former Prime Minister, dignitary and famous people have visited Ananda. (http://shanti.shawfirecreative.com/oprah-winfrey-returns-to-ananda)

IMG_3145

The Spa and the restaurant are very close to the Hotel rooms. The Spa has about 25 Treatment rooms and a wide variety of Treatments – Ayurveda, International Experiences, Healing With Hot Stone, Tibetan, Hydrotherapy – you name it they have it. The Spa is spacious , spotlessly clean and classy. All that it takes from ambience and experience to make it amongst the best in the world. Costs vary from Rs 4500 for a 55 min session to 8500/- for a 90 min session. But get your appointments at check in – they are almost always packed out. Adjoining the Spa is a large heated swimming pool and a decent Gym.

The restaurant serves a wide range of dishes from indian to international cuisine. You can have “Mung Dal Chila” for breakfast, Pasta and Thai Green curry for lunch and Curd Rice for dinner. You name the dish they have it. But what you must try is the special Garhwali food. This is made to order and comes with its own set of starters, soup, main course and desserts. The kababs are fabulous and the main course consisting of Jakhiya Aloo, Pahadi Kadi, Jakhiya Paneer, Gahat Ki Dal, Jakhiya Rice, Mandwe Ki Roti was a wonderful dinner. (And if you are wondering what is Jakhiya – its a smaller version of Mustard that grows here). The service in the restaurant is outstanding – and thats a common theme across all of Ananda, superlative service at every step.

IMG_3148

One good thing that adds to the peace and tranquility of the place is that they do not allow kids below the Age of 14. This place is perfect for couples or to come solo. There are many activities – they have Yoga classes for beginners and intermediates in the morning, a 9 Hole Golf course, Vedanta classes, Cooking Classes etc. Outside the resort you can go for the Ganga Aarti at Rishikesh or White Water Rafting at Shivpuri (During Non Monsoon Season). Peak season is Oct – Feb when the foreigners come in hordes, many of them staying for weeks and months.

IMG_3179

In July with the Monsoon it was perfect for me. Occupancy was a low 30% , it was raining 50% of the time – that added to the charm. At the pavilion in the midst of nature at 5.30 Am when you sit down to do your meditation listening to the pitter patter of rain and chirping of birds – it indeed feels like waves of peace are blowing over you. The “Kavad” season made Rishikesh so crowded that we were asked to stay away. The Ganga was in spate in Monsoon so white water rafting was closed. It starts again in Sep. But all this was good as it allowed me to spend all my time in the resort and soak in the nature, peace and tranquility.

I did take a few hrs and visit the famous ” Vashisht Caves”. This is located 45 Km from Ananda – 1 hr drive. Located on the banks of the Ganges this is the cave where the Brahma Rishi – Sage Vashisht is supposed to have meditated. Since then from Shankara to Sir M – many spiritually evolved people have come here to meditate. The place is empty and nice and the caves have strong vibrations which you can sense when you sit there for even a few minutes. Fortunately its not crowded.

IMG_3189

As I sat by the Ganges – flowing relentlessly you realise the power of Nature and the thought that this river has been flowing for millions of years leaves you with a sense of awe and humility. The river feels alive and it can teach you so many lessons. The summary of what it says is  – “Keep moving and don’t look back, for men may come and men may go but life goes on for ever

IMG_3244

 So will I come back to Ananda. Most people do – and I definitely want to come back with my wife soon. Maybe in a  different season. I am looking forward to that day. Ananda beckons. 

IMG_3170

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45 other followers