Month: September 2012

Why this kolaveri?

We all have faced kolaveri moments in our lives due to certain people. Moments when we feel a rage building inside ourselves. Moments which leave us scrambling to hide our faces. Moments when we feel there is no use trying to explain things to them. Moments when we just pity them.

Well, this blog aims to share some of  my kolaveri moments. Though these kolaveri moments were experienced with different people, for simplicity’s sake, I am describing these moments keeping in mind a fictional Auntyji, her husband Uncleji and their three children: Bade Bhaiyya, Chinku and Little Tina. While most of these kolaveri moments are true, some are cooked up for the sake of continuity of these conversations.

Me: Auntyji, please take these sweets. I am happy to inform that I have got admission into NIT Trichy where I will be pursuing engineering.

Auntyji: Thats nice Beta. But why are you going to Tiroochi?  I hear only about students coming to Chennai to study engineering from all over India.

Me: *head slam* But Auntyji, NIT is among the top institutes……(stops me)

Auntyji: Its ok beta, you should study what you want. Besides, whatever happens is for one’s good. So, dont get disheartened if u didnt get admission here. Oh, did I tell you about Chinku? He is in his final year at the prestigious Champulal college. Nearby only. Comes home daily. Studies well, only 3 arrears but now all clear.

Me: *bang**bang**bang* Oh, thats nice aunty.

Auntyji: Yes, we are very lucky. He can come home daily and enjoy. I feel sorry for you dear, you have to go to Tiroochi. Very hot climate. And hostel life would be tough, adjusting with local tamilians and all. But anyway you will come out tougher.

Me: (Oh for goddamn sake,atleast pronounce it correctly. Its Trichy not Tiroochi) Thank you aunty.

Little Tina comes running in.

LT: V bhaiya, you are going to live separately and study? How come? Bade Bhaiya and Chinku all studied in home only at Champulal college. Why dont you join there V Bhaiya?

Auntyji interrupts

Auntyji(whispering): Ssshh Tina, don’t be so rude. Now wish him all the best.

LT: Sorry V Bhaiya. All the best. Hey, what will you be studying in Tiroochi Bhaiya? Hey firstly where is Tiroochi Bhaiya?
Brings out a globe and asks me to locate it.

Me: *blank* Engineering. TRICHY is close from here.

LT: Yaaaay, engineering.Is it computers? My brothers who always do geeky stuff with computers. Will u teach me computer after engineering bhaiya?

Me: No no Tina. I will be studying Instrumentation engineering.

LT: Oh wow. It about making musical instruments isnt it? I love music bhaiya. I am also going to become instrument engineer like you. And I am not very intelligent like my brothers to work on computers.

Auntyji: See Tina, now you can ask bhaiya to make violin for your music class. You wanted new violin no?

Me: (Why did I even come here?)

Part 2:

Auntyji: Hello, V beta. So thin and dark you have become. You must be suffering there. Here have some peda. Whats that beta?

Me: Its my android phone aunty.

Auntyji: Nice…but I don’t understand beta, this android and iphone and all. What is the difference between them and Nokia- DoubleX DoubleY. Both are used to call and send message and even my phone has camera also and snake game too.

Me: *bang* These phones are different in sense that they have different operating systems blah, apps blah, customizability blah…

Auntyji: I don’t understand these engineering terms beta….Anyway leave it.

A few days later when I am trying to unravel a tight shoe lace knot when uncleji stops by and removes the knot in a jiffy.

Uncleji: What is this V? U are engineering student and u don’t know how to tie shoe laces.

Next time, when I fumble in trying to screw a loose nut of my table fan, uncleji stops by and does it in a jiffy.

Uncleji: You and all an engineering student.

Me: (Yeah right, I study Digital Signal Processing and Control systems. How in the world is studying engineering related to these situations)* smiles like a dork* Thank u uncleji.

The End

P.S- Kindly pardon the pathetic use of the English Language in some places. It has been done to represent the situation realistically.

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Why fuel prices must rise

As another fuel price hike looms large, it is expected that it would elicit a backlash from many; for every hike in the past has been met with public protests and scornful remarks about the governments that had implemented the hike. In some cases, the government has rolled back the fuel prices immediately after a hike to avoid its collapse.

While the hike can put a stress on the pockets of many, we must understand why fuel price hikes are necessary and how it can be helpful in the long run.

Fuels being the basic energy sources have to be made available to everyone for the nation to develop and the majority of our requirements are met from expensive imported oil. The government of India subsidizes these fuel prices i.e it pays a certain amount of the real price on our behalf so that the millions of poor people can afford to buy fuel for their energy needs. So, the amount spent on fuel subsidies depend on the global oil prices, the exchange rate and the energy demands of the people.  An increase in fuel prices means a reduction in the subsidies offered by the Government.

But why cut the subsidies?

India now suffers a budget deficit of $40 billion which is around 6% of the GDP (for the last year). It means that the net revenue of the Government collected through taxes and government enterprises is lower than the net amount spent by it by $40 billion. To finance this debt, the Government borrows from other countries or sells government bonds to investors, with an interest. To counter this widening budget deficit, the government can either reduce spending or cut subsidies or increase taxes. Reducing spending on areas like infrastructure and healthcare would be disastrous since a growing nation needs better facilities to develop and satisfy its requirements.  Taxes have been marginally increased in the previous budget but its not enough to close the burgeoning deficit. Therefore the only way to enforce budget discipline is to reduce the subsidies on fuel in line with the global crude prices.

Is the budget deficit really important to the economy?

One might wonder how countries continue to prosper in spite of having a budget deficit. For example, India had continued to develop at around 8% in the last few years in spite of having a budget deficit, albeit a smaller one compared to this year and the US which has always been in deficit zone for many is the strongest economy still.  Well, small budget deficits are acceptable due to necessary spending on developmental areas like infrastructure, education, welfare schemes and healthcare. The government can take care of interest repayments so long as the economy is in a healthy state. However, large budget deficits like the current one can affect the economy. To finance large debts, the government has to borrow more and hence repay with more interests.  So, the future budgets of the government would concentrate on repaying the creditors and less on public spending. As public spending falls, invariably development will slow down.

But how did the budget deficit increase?

The budget deficit can increase either due to increased government spending or reduced revenue. In India’s case, the rising crude oil prices, the weakening rupee and the growing energy demand ensures that India has to spend more on fuel subsidies to make fuel available at the same rate to the public.  So, the budget gap widens.  Another significant reason is the weakening industrial sector due to reduced demand from foreign countries thanks to the global economic crisis.

While we may feel the pinch of higher fuel prices, we must realize that this is a sacrifice we have to make to ensure healthy budget deficits and the savings earned from cutting subsidies can be converted to higher public spending in the future. Investing more in developmental areas is always beneficial in the long run than subsiding services because public spending can bring more employment and ensure a steady income for the millions of poor people while subsidizing fuel doesn’t guarantee employment for the poor. This brings an analogous situation to my mind wherein if a teacher would lower his evaluation standards so everyone can get good grades without actually learning the subject much or set high standards which may lead to reduced overall performance but which can make sure that students are more knowledgeable about the subject and improved performance over a period.

On a concluding note, I would like to say that these decisions are being taken by the most educated Indian PM, a Harvard graduated FM, a LSE alumnus who is the economic advisor to the PM and an IIT/IIM/MIT educated advisor to the FM. (I am not taking any political sides but I believe that highly educated people with loads of experience get it right more often than not).