• Economy

    Vodafone has won a long running tax dispute against India

    I wish the Government of India gives up its decades of vain pursuit in this issue. The imposition of this tax bill turned the perception of international investors towards India from good to bad overnight. Unfortunately, even after 13 long years, this dark cloud hangs over India & hurting investor sentiments. //Vodafone Group Plc has won an international arbitration in The Hague against the Indian Government in a $2 billion tax dispute// Leaving the legal details & technical validity aside (where I am no expert), the underlying premises on this tax bill was weak: It was a retrospective law passed by Parliament to impose a tax on a transaction that…

  • Movie Review

    Gunjan Saxena (2020)

    In the weeks following the release of Gunjan Saxena (2020), there were reports of the film’s portrayal of the first woman officer in Indian Air Force to be inaccurate and disrespectful. Leaving that aside, I did like the movie a lot, it makes you feel good, which we need in these pandemic days. The film is available on Netflix. The late Sridevi’s daughter Janhvi Kapoor has given a fine performance as the protagonist, IAF pilot Gunjan Saxena. She is aptly supported by Pankaj Tripathi as Anup Saxena, the loving father to Gunjan. The film is based on a true story of a young girl with a dream to fly, who…

  • Economy

    The confusion of zeroes in Bank Account numbers

    Most often, when doing electronic fund transfers (IMPS, UPI, NEFT or RTGS) we get the account numbers or the IFSC code in India wrong when consecutive zeroes come or we mix Zeroes and Letter O (the one that comes after N and before P). In the below example, in their passbook, one of India’s Public Sector Banks “Bank of Baroda”, have called out explicitly a Zero in words. Thoughtful of them. I will go a step further and suggest that in future all account numbers and codes should: avoid the letter O, not have consecutive zeroes, no number or character should appear consecutive for more than twice, and a few…

  • Economy

    The taxpayers’ charter for India

    I had an Income Tax case running for one of my businesses from FY 2006-07 until it ended in FY2016-17. For a decade, the case wound its way through the department (Officer, Commissioner, Appellate, Tribunal and so on), at every level it got awarded in our favour. Luckily, the department didn’t approach the courts (Madras High Court and then the Supreme Court) – had they done that, it would’ve been another decade or two. Having gone through the ordeal and the consultations I had over the years with auditors and tax lawyers, I get to understand Indian Tax Laws are archaic, ambiguous and a magnet for litigations. No officer wants…

  • Flashback,  Lounge

    Humour in Uniforms

    My interactions with the people in the (Indian) Army were during my School Days in NCC (National Cadet Corps) – mainly during the 13 Days Sivaji Trail trek in 1988 that happened around the hills of Pune, and, the annual NCC Camp and a visit many years later to the Officers Academy, at the NDA near St. Thomas Mount, Chennai. In those (limited) interactions, the officers and Jawans came out (obviously) as straight-jacket disciplinarians, or at that age that’s what I had observed. Later when I read “Humour in Uniforms” in Reader’s Digest India, comedy works like Beetle Bailey and watched TV shows like the MAS*H (TV series) I got…

  • Book Review

    Maharani by Ruskin Bond

    Wishing to read a simple novel over an evening, I picked up Maharani by Ruskin Bond, and it was an enjoyable read. At 180 pages, this is a small book with large margins, making it ideal for light reading.  The story is about an old Queen (Maharani) living in Mussoorie of Independent India, told from the view of her friend (Ruskin Bond as himself). The novel is not a biography of the Queen nor an Autobiography of the author too, it travels between the two seamlessly. We feel like we have been invited to the palace a few times for dinner or celebrations and observe what’s happening there. In other times,…

  • Economy

    Mr Mukesh Ambani & JIO Success

    It’s incredible what Mr Mukesh Ambani has been able to achieve with Jio (and Reliance Industries). You may dislike him or his practices, but you have to admire his vision and business acumen to raise well over $30 Billion during a pandemic and world recession.   In my view, this also burst several well-entrenched myths: 1) Indian conglomerates can never scale and can’t compete with China in terms of their capital appetite. 2) TELCO business, especially in a low ARPU country like India with extremely high spectrum cost, doesn’t have any money-making opportunity. This myth is made popular by the incumbents like Vodafone & BSNL. 3) Tech giants like Facebook…

  • Gadgets,  Lounge

    How I lost my laptops and got them back?

    I don’t know what’s with my family and losing stuff in convention centres and airports. A couple of years back (in 2016), while attending a Microsoft Conference in Atlanta, USA I lost my valuable iPad, the next day I found it thanks to the helpful event staff onsite. The next year (in 2017), my son lost his Phone and Kindle reader at the Chennai Domestic Airport, thanks to good samaritans of my city (Chennai) we got back the items the next day. Almost two decades back (around 2001-02) I used to travel between Chennai and Bangalore weekly twice, and, they were mostly same-day return, so you can imagine the trips…