Monday, 29 June 2009


Education is a new business in India. All it takes is the name of an achiever and eminent personality at the helm to float a deemed university or business school, promotional marketing and advertising. When i was growing up, i did not see full page ads of any B-school or infact any college.Now, maybe most of the advertisers of the newspapers are those who have set up shops to teach this and that course.
There is no ranking system which can say which university is better based on the staff and infrastructure. There are many private institutes offering novel courses without any kind of accreditation. Every June ,scores of admission notices come out with half baked or total crap posed as information and students lap up.
Why are the consumers of education taking shit dished out by colleges and universities now? Fees have increased 10 fold in many courses and seats have increased yet colleges even the premier ones are dishing out the same story of lack of good staff.
There is a new drama of each college conducting its own entrance tests.Most of these entrance tests are sham.The moneyed and underhand students [and their parents] manage to get admission any ways !
For eg B.ed course in Maharashtra. Rs 650 for CET entrance exam - one gets a form and an information brochure at computer centers which sell these forms. What the information brochure doesn't tell is the computer centre takes Rs 20 to upload the filled form. After CET exam, results are displayed on MKCL website however information brochure of B.Ed fails to inform students that college codes will also be available at the website hence the computer centre [ALC] sells information brochure and college preference form for Rs 50 and Rs 20 to make money.
When one goes through the available colleges under this centralized procedure, there are very few B.Ed colleges in English medium. Majority of the colleges are Marathi medium so one realises there are very few options for only English medium students.
After doing all this one realizes, there ia a separate CET exam conducted by Maharashtra Vina Anudan Adhyapak Mahavidyalay Sansthachalak Association which provides seats in some 100 odd colleges. In short, a brilliant student will have to give atleast 2-3 entrance exams for such courses to keep his options open. For mediocre students, he has to be open to go whereever he gets admission or pay up.
For MBA etc, colleges sell prospectus and forms from 1000 to 1500 and now for other courses like B.Ed ,open category has to shell out 650 + other expenses and then once admitted buy college forms.After long stretched out tamashas,students are then heaped more crap in form of teachers who are sadists,incompetent, unprofessional,egotists who don't want to teach and cover up their inefficiency under the guise of discipline.In India, 90% of teachers are people who don't love to teach !
The only people who are making money are the ones who start these so called colleges and courses with fancy names.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Life on the sidelines!

Cancer hit my family pretty hard exactly 1 year 3 months and 15days ago. I never thought: of all diseases, cancer would hit home . My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer-out of the blue. The year went like a whirlwind -all that i have now is dust in my eyes and ears. For the first 2 months, all of us were dazed.
How can anyone be alert for cancer?
Cancer is part of my life -its always there at the back of my mind. We celebrated when mom got her mammography done last time.She'll have to undergo sonography and x-ray every three months- no guarantees !
We live in hope with unvoiced dread.I've become more cynical,realistic and cold in many ways- I don't know what anyone else can be.
My father suffers from glaucoma,operated in one eye. He has been putting eye drops from last 8 years.He'll have to continue putting drops everyday till he lives.He has diabetes and blood pressure.He's the guy who eats at home ,does not smoke or drink.My mom is a cancer survivor and life is not the same after chemotherapy .Her bones are weakening ,a probable side effect of aromatase inhibitor that she has to take for 5 years.My mom does not drink or smoke ,eats at home, has borne 3 daughters and breastfed them and still she got cancer.Since she's a courageous funky lady who functions on will power- she makes rotis for us and she does most of the things for herself at home.Yet, she's scared of going out alone and crossing the road because she might not be able to run,if required, while crossing the road as traffic in Pune is perilous if not downright crass.
I don't ask anything to God when i pray to him. Don't ask anything to Him for myself.I don't feel like it !And I haven't cried in last one year.Last time i cried was when the fluid sample taken from lump was confirmed cancerous. And that's funny because before my mom got cancer i used to cry when things didn't go my way,in pain or even for a sob story.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Money ,money- my money

I had a frustrating time over the phone with Bajaj Allianz customer care. hence this post. 3 years ago i was sold a ULIP- a bajaj allianz ULIP. And the stock market tanked !
When i bought the policy - it was bought from a friend. I was informed about the charges but nothing about returns and risk and surrender charges.
So now i'm stuck with paying 3 year premium -locked in and the agent who is unreachable through phone or in person -absconding.
Over the period of 3 years this is what i learnt and hopefully still learning:
1. Don't buy a ULIP or mutual funds just because a smooth talking agent promises returns.The returns are NOT gauranteed. In India, even gauranteed returns are NOT guaranteed. So life rule no.1 is applicable here as well,- There are no gaurantees ! .....Yep, don't even trust 'friends' !

2. Read up as much as you can on ULIPs [ it seems in India, 90% of the people are invested in ULIPs and insurance companies are flourishing because people know next to zero about ULIPs].
Its your hard earned money and not the agents'.

3. The agent/financial planner'advisor is going to abscond,disappear, turn a deaf ear etc because that's how business is largely done in India. So be prepared mentally, to keep tab of your investments.

4. Even if the agent doesn't abscond, you still need to periodically keep checking NAVs,make switches in funds in ULIP.You'll need to give more Time to it than your wife/husband/job, i guess.

5. ULIPs have poor returns especially after you include the hefty charges they take from your premium. Yes, buddy, you are probably stuck in a sinking ship just like me.
6.They have a hefty surrender charge even after 3 year lock in period.
7. Its a long long term investment.
8. The customer service of Bajaj allianz is appalling . So i figure, it'll be same with other insurance providers too. So,get very very persistent,assertive and rude if need be to get your work done. That's how it goes in India !
9. Stick to FDs especially if you are stock market,share market or bull /bear challenged !


I finally saw Slumdog Millionaire ..thanks to cablewalla - both ,in English and Hindi.Yeah, i didn't go to watch the movie at the theatre !
And i was disappointed. I didn't like the movie so much.Maybe because i've been to mumbai and travelled in local trains, seen little children begging at traffic signals since i was a child or because i've seen too many slums and shanties perilously hiding behind a posh locality or even a not so posh one !
The first part of the movie was good.Especially the cinematography on the thumping music. I liked Rahman's music and am all too happy for the Oscars the movie got. However, the movie didn't blow my brains out nor did it devastate my heart like other realist,heart wrenching movies. I think Shwaas devastated me better than Slumdog millionaire. Since i'm a cry baby and an emotional sucker, there were few scenes in the movie which made me wail however overall it did not leave me cold. Therefore,I don't think the movie must have affected /impacted people who are generally cold,practical and cut throat in various degrees and yes -realistic !
After seeing the movie, i think Frieda Pinto was as much an aesthetic prop as any Bollywood heroine. She hardly had any scenes- not even enough to showcase her acting.It was out and out Dev Patel's movie and yes the children - the movie belonged to the children who acted so well.
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