31 Mar 2005

VAT is the news ?

No liquor here, it’s all about taxation !

The proposal to initiate the VAT regime from 1st April has thrown the entire business and trading community (all intermediaries, as also consumers like me) in confusion (and panic)
<< Watch-out for the annoying pop-ups on the Times Of India links >>

i understand, VAT will rationalize the existing Sales Taxes structure, stop double-taxation and widen the tax net, thereby reducing tax-evasion and containing the parallel “black” economy. Transactions worth crores of Rupees done on "kachchaa" receipts now threaten to become history.

But then we Indians are renowned for our ingenuinity. My vyapari friends and their financial consultants (with all due respects to this tribe of true professionals !) will soon invent an elegant route to beat the system (if you can't beat 'em, join 'em - is not for them !). So, my white-collared fellow countrymen, toil hard, earn more and pay your taxes... chug along in our Maruti while our friendly neighbourhood business tycoon flashes by in his shiny new Chevrolet (the year-end addition to the company assets) !

Introduction of the VAT regime has been stalled for more than 10 years, by various interest-groups and powers-that-be. Even now, the BJP-ruled State governments (the BJP is now the Opposition in the Parliament) have decided not to implement the VAT regime from 1st April.

29 Mar 2005

the holi weekend

Travelled to Mumbai Friday evening to spend the Holi weekend with friends.
Though the beginning of the H-day was tentative, inhibitions were dunked by Saurabh taking to painting faces silver-green. i had the good sense to change into Holi gear early-on (read... faded clothes and a liberal application of aloe-vera cream !). No pictorial records here for posterity...

A glycerine-soap bath - post lubrication with tequila and Heineken - left me squeaky clean. The colours have become either too good or too adulterated - not a streak of red at the end of the day !

Returned to Pune Sunday late evening to well-earned sleep. Thanks Ashis / Pooja / Abhijit / Debjani for hosting the good times !

Got acquainted with Prasad Shukla on the way back to Pune. Prasad is a scientist (a polymer encapsulation specialist ...sustained releaser !), knows a thousand kanji and is an Indian classical music fan! Combinations for an interesting friendship here!!

On an entirely different note, continuing observations on the Terri Schiavo case, here’s an some reading from David Shuster. Who's David Shuster anyway ?

25 Mar 2005

Canaries and Coal Mines

Canary Islands - calls for a musical holiday ? Or a trip under Her Majesty's meadows to hear her song birds ?

Minor Song - The Miners' Song

(like) the canary
in a coalmine,
trudging on the thin line...

taking you down
the strawberry fields,
for ever...

(even) though
the lunatic
is still not in my head...

this song
in A Minor
i presume it's time to call
the police...

24 Mar 2005

Nature and Messier Objects

Interesting report in Nature - Surprise Finding Shows That Plants Rewrite Genetic Code. Opens up the floodgates of imagination and throws up immense possibilities!

An online version of Nature is available at
news@nature.com. Try the Columns and Blogs. Plenty of interesting reading in the stem cells page.

i was an avid skywatcher. An activity which, unfortunately, i can't indulge in anymore. i still do continue to watch the night sky whenever i travel - away from the city lights and pollution. i used to be fascinated by Messier's List and i had viewed more than 30 of the Objects. The venerable Google
helped me. Some nice plates in the Messier CCD Gallery

Learnt about the Annual Messier Marathon - to spot as many Messier Objects as possible, in one night. Read
reports on the Marathon and checkout Swapneel Kore and Girish Vaze’s observation reports in the 2003 Messier Marathon and the Sky Watchers Association of Pune’s report in 2005.

21 Mar 2005

Roadsigns, India

Just returned from a short trip to Alibag and Kihim - popular weekend coastal hangouts for the local populace. We had a great time, not because of the locale but because everyone was in the mood to enjoy... My advice, both are not worth the visit. The Marina beach in Chennai is pristine when compared to these two !

i am a self-confessed signboard reader - keeping myself amused reading signboards while travelling. They are informative, educative and often, downright hilarious (yes, you have guessed correctly, i do not drive, prefer the comfort of the navigator's seat!).

A puncture-repair shop professing "cold and hote remolding" (the cold-retreading process, i presume?). The village modi-dukaan proclaiming itself "Hanuman Super Market. Or the more bold "Night Spot Reshma - Bar and Permitroom", complete with the drawing of a dancing Bedwin girl between Night and Spot - probably the right watering-hole to get lubricated with turgocharged Vorion 50,000 or something more potent. All the intellectual (and other...) stimulation that you needed!

The big hit on this trip was the Public Works Department roadsigns that read in Marathi "gatirowdhak yetey aahey" (speedbreaker is here) complete with a slanted arrow indicating that the sign stands faithfully next to the axle-breaker on the road. No early warnings here, choose between reading the roadsign and a slipped disc!

Of course, the spead-breaker is not white-painted! Why should it be, can't you read the sign ??? (We are all so very logical, further confirms my faith in the success of all software development outsourced to India !)

A new day...

A new day brings new consciousness and new conflicts - re-enactments from times immemorial. The questions of life and death, the cycle of life... driven today by wealth, emotions, greed and power.

The US Congress met for an emergency session on a Sunday, yesterday, to hurry through a legislation (which was immediately signed into a law by President Bush...) to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7254897/?GT1=6305 (wonder how much of the Taxpayers' money was spent for this special session and what it could have achieved in the developing world !). Yes, the very same Pres. Bush who has led the US gloriously into Afganisthan and Iraq, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol#Position_of_the_United_States ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol ) and has reduced development funding to poor nations. Remember the US governmental aid to tsunami victims ?

i' not a America-basher, nor am i against "Right to Life" - but then euthanasia is a major ethical (and legal!) debate - so is abortion and stem-cell research and cloning. It is not easy to choose sides and unequivocally declare a winner. But is definitely good for the ballot, for viewership ratings and for the attorneys...
Even the respected scientific journal Nature does not offer a lot of hope http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050321/full/050321-5.html

By the way, here is another piece of news which you may have missed, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7190457/ - probably because it did not hog primetime (because it happens all the time ?!). I leave you with your "pro-life" choice on this one...

19 Mar 2005

Where it all began...

The Phoenix drew the circle of life, rising from the ashes...

The resurgence of life after death...Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara - as the learned Dr. Lewis Thomas wrote in The Medusa and the Snail http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140243194/002-6475952-7314469 or,
in the flight of the Bennu bird that Herodotus talked of http://www.egyptianmyths.net/phoenix.htm