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3G Vs 4G in Maharashtra and MP

Published February 23, 2017 by vishalvkale

TRAI has been publishing results of 4G speeds of various Telecom Service Providers, as reported by various news media {refer Bibliography of the article}; in the most recent update I saw, as well as the one in January, it was noticeable that most providers were providing speeds starting from 5mbps. This is surprising, and does not fully tally with my experience, tabulated in this article for the past 3 months or so. My speed tests have been done on Speedtest.net; I have also downloaded the TRAI App today to crosscheck, and while the results are comparable, there are differences.
 trai main TRAI
4G : The Performance
Before we look at the exact performance as experienced by myself, let us look at some history. The one caveat I place here is that while I have recorded the speeds since Nov-2016, I have not kept a record prior to this. I have used 3G in large parts of Maharashtra where I work, and Indore city my home town. I clearly recall I used to get 3G speeds between 3mbps – 5.5mbps, though the speeds in excess of 4mbps for 3G was only in Mumbai. Let us keep this in the back of our minds as we look at the current performance of 3G and 4G. Reason – read the article from 2014 linked below, wherein I have pasted a test result of 3 year ago, showing a speed of 3.22mbps download. I further recall speeds of 4mbps as well on 3G. 

As can be seen from the chart above, there is a wild variation in speeds; also, please note that I used 3G till 1st January, and switched over to 4G on 2nd January. {Never mind the network brand; let that  be}. The overall 3G speeds I got during this entire period till 1st January was 2.36mbps download and 1.62mbps {all in Maharashtra} upload with a latency of 218.4. {Refer chart below}. After the switch to 4G on my visit to Indore, the experienced speed was 6mbps download and 4.98 mbps upload. In Maharashtra, I got speeds of 4.94mbps and 3.01mbps on average – which was a significant improvement over the 3G speeds I was experiencing.


Legend Explained : 3G —-> 
Total simple average of 3G Speeds
4G —-> Total simple average of 4G speeds Maharshtra + MP; 
4G-M —-> Total simple average of 4G speeds only in Maharashtra

But take a look at Latency : Latency is another element that contributes to network speed. The term latency refers to any of several kinds of delays typically incurred in processing of network data. A so-called low latency network connection is one that experiences small delay times, while a high latency connection suffers from long delays. {From Lifewire}. Latency numbers that we are getting – refer chart above –are upwards of 150 milliseconds on both 3G and 4G networks, as can be seen. The entire data is tabulated in excel for reader reference.

This data was collected over several months, on several networks –  I use two handsets, one a true 4G, one a LTE Band 1, 3, 7, 8 and 20 handset. This was observed on various locations – home, market, office, travel, various cities, and at various times as can be seen from the complete data set enclosed at the end of the article. I used three networks – 3G on two providers, and 4G on two providers; as well as broadband on 1 provider. In toto, I used 4 service providers while collating this data.

The Analysis
There is a significant improvement with the advent of 4G networks in my experience – the numbers are silent proof of that. However, the user experience is what matters; sadly, this cannot be quantified so easily. The actual  user experience, to be completely blunt, is that I could not notice a significant usage improvement in site loading or other internet usage, as compared to 3G. To understand this deeper, we will need to understand my internet usage.

I used the internet for video streaming quite extensively; I used email, games, net surfing various sites like news sites, google searching, recipe and cooking sites, LinkedIn, Blogging sites, telecom sites etc. I also downloaded videos, and my total data usage was in excess of 10-15GB per month in each of the three months. 

I could not notice any clear advantage that I achieved, for the most part. In Video Streaming, I noticed no difference whatosoever, as in other usages, including all. The only advantage I noticed was in Video Downloading, and that too wasn’t blinding fast; there was a difference, an improvement, but it was very small. But it was there.

And therein lies the key; 4G and 3G are products; Companies & an industry depends on them. If the customer isn’t feeling the difference, you have a major potential problem on your hands. As things currently stand, no one in the industry at levels that matters is paying any attention to this. The key lies in the data – high latency speeds, wild variation in actual speed experienced by the customer, and actual speeds around 5-6mbps average – which is only slightly higher than what 3G used to deliver before the advent of 4G networks in India, at least in the bigger cities. 


You sell a product or a service – your core focus should not be the fund flow, regardless of the health of your balance sheet. The corporate world abounds with case studies of companies that succeeded by focussing on the customer experience {I present one such case study next month – Google; stay connected with my blog}. This is what is required – focus not on activations / Churn / recharges, but on specifically the customer experience; given that the delivered result is not upto the mark. In the next article, we shall go deeper into this, examining specific usage examples  and deeper industry issues, identify specific usage patterns and issues at customer level, and chart a way forward. Let this suffice for now. 

There is no easy answer – the service industry isn’t in exactly a great shape. Idea has a debt of 49K Cr, and has an ARPU of Rs. 157; Airtel has a debt of about 97K Crore, with an ARPU around 188, just to name two examples. Jio has already notched up 2,01,000 Cr Debt. Usage isnt taking off; the demograhic & income profile of the nation, demographic distribution are major issues, lower prices in the past 6 months notwithstanding. 


The reasons for this situation are diverse – but these service providers need to understand that unless they improve the service quality to the customers, there is a near-certainty of rising Churn, as customers will try out newer options, and switch providers, much like I did. I ask the same question that I did 3 years ago – where is the market? {Internet and Digital Media – Big Hurdles} Show me the market! 

And if Jio manages to give 10mbps+ speeds  regularly, this could spell big trouble for the incumbents. As we saw in the Jio Business Model Analysis, it doesnt have a choice but to succeed. That is why, at least in the major pockets, the service providers need to look at their core product offering; they cannot afford laxity on this part… Starting day before yesterday! 

References and Bibliography
10)    Bharti Airtel Q3 net dips 54% on Jio woes

Data used for the analysis : 

Will Demand and Credit respond in the next Fiscal?

Published February 21, 2017 by vishalvkale

As per the Macro-Economic Framework Statement, {Budget Documents} : Indications are that global economic growth is gradually picking up. This  augers well for Indian exports which are highly responsive to the dynamics of global economic activity. On the other hand, the increasing global prices of oil and other key commodities may exercise an upward pressure on the value of imports. Domestic demand is expected to get a boost from accommodative monetary policy and the unleashing of domestic trade and consumption as the economy gets remonetised to the required levels.
THE MACRO ECONOMIC SCENARIO
The performance of the industrial sectors based on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) comprising mining, manufacturing and electricity reveals a modest growth of 0.4 per cent during April-November 2016-17 as compared to 3.8 per cent during the same period of 2015-16. As per the sectoral classification, the production of manufacturing sector declined by 0.3 per cent during April-November 2016-17. The electricity and mining sectors registered growth rates of 5.0 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively during April-November 2016-17. It is noteworthy that the manufacturing sector declined
Inflation does not seem problematic as of now; while the Banking Sector is showing some signs of stress due to rising NPAs; Agricultural Credit seems to be on the target taken; As per the First Advanced Estimates released by the Central Statistics Office, the economy is estimated to grow at 7.1 per cent in 2016-17, as compared to the growth of 7.6 per cent achieved in 2015-16. The growth in agriculture, industry and services is estimated at 4.1 per cent, 5.2 per cent and 8.8 per cent in 2016-17 as opposed to 1.2 per cent, 7.4 per cent and 8.9 per cent respectively in 2015-16. Growth rate of industry sector declined in 2016-17 in part due to moderation of growth in manufacturing sector. It is noteworthy  Manufacturing, as seen above, is lackluster.
Finally, our external debt seems reasonably healthy with a predominance of long-term debt; and FER is great at 360 Billion USD, giving over 12 months of Import cover. Exports remain a significant challenge riding on global concerns primarily; From the above points, it can be seen that the major challenge is boosting confidence and investments in manufacturing. The growth in fixed investment at constant prices declined from 3.9 per cent in 2015-16 to (-) 0.2 per cent in 2016-17
DEMAND SCENARIO
The expectations of an improvement in demand and consumption internally is based on a successful remonetisation, and budgetary steps in Agriculture, Transport, Telecom, increased Agricultural Credit as well as a focus on the Poor and the Farmers. Added to this is the budgetary focus on rural housing, which is a known and well-studied demand impetus, as can be seen from Turkey Singapore examples. From this, it is clear that there is a decided positive impetus towards consumption recovery.
However, we need to understand the macro-economic scenario given above for a realistic assessment; the fact is that industrial credit has been relatively flat or has seen slow growth for a few months now. Economic growth is dependent on Credit Offtake, which was initially slow in the runup to demonetization. There were structural issues as well, in that a large percentage of the exposure in PSBs was to large corporates. Now this is clearly both a problem and an opportunity, as the increased focus on SMEs means that the banks have space to increase credit to this sector.
ggggg11
{Source of image : Point 3 in Bibliography
From the above, we can see that there is a positive impetus to growth. The remonetisation has happened as assumed in the Budget; housing, SME and Agriculture take primacy in policy for the current fiscal. The Indian Economy is also largely a SME-Agricutural Economy. But we need to keep in mind the connectivity of SME to corporates {vendors, mfgs, spares etc}, the time lag required for growth to kick in, the fact of the leverage of banks {PSBs} to corporates, {A November Livemint report states the problem arises from slower revenue & higher interest}

Source of Graph – created by self from Data; as per this, India is the 2nd lowest in a list of 18 emerging market countries mentioned in the IMF report. Key countries reproduced above.
Furthermore, you have to add to this the reality of GST kicking in from Mid-Q2 or Q3 17-28. What the impact of GST will be is currently open to conjecture in my opinion; we can only wait. From the above pluses and minuses, I can reach a conclusion that while there is stimulus to growth & the conditions are right, demand side improvement may take a little time to come about. Slower Credit, Debt issues, IIP and Manufacturing all indicate a revenue-side challenge. While the steps taken are certain to bring about an improvement, will this come about in Q1-Q2 17-18, or is delayed remains to be seen. Let us all be positive; we also now have excellent liquidity and  lower cost of funds  due to Demonetisation. If credit growth responds, then we might just see a stunning turnaround…
References and Bibliography :

The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta and Leadership – 1

Published February 20, 2017 by vishalvkale

This is a realisation that came to me hard when I was doing my habitual morning reading of The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta; my thoughts on my learnings of two verses are tabulated below. 

BE PRACTICAL, MY FRIEND – DON’T CHANGE THE WORLD
Don’t try to change the world… Change Yourself…
The headline of this article says it all; this is the most common rejoinder people get when they try to set an example, with one single refrain – aap duniya nahi badal sakte; be practical, this is the way it is, and many other variations along this theme. Hidden in this lovely gem of a statement, this remarkably ignorant statement is a litany of problems, all of which hover around one single tragic theme in our society today. Some critics of this habit call it apathy, some selfishness, some a lack of confidence while some others blame it on the prevalent atmosphere. 
CHANGE AGENTS
There are two aspects or parameters to this, in my humble view; the first is ideological, and thoroughly idealistic in both its intent and its wording. Simply put – if everyone thinks along these lines, then, ladies and gentlemen, the simple reality is that nothing will ever change in any aspect of human endeavour, be it society or be it science. Change is a constant, and it is the change agents who bring about that change. By discouraging the change agents, you can only delay the change, with all its attendant effects good as well as bad– not cancel the change
In any field of human endeavour, it has been the change agents who have brought about defining change, despite the fact that they were all, without exception, ridiculed and even called fools, to put it bluntly.  There is no change agent I am aware of who did not have to struggle to get the change in place. Even top scientists & famous leaders had to struggle, read their biographies. The choice is between selfish faceless mediocrity, and selfless service! And it is also a fact that only a small number of people from these change agents actually succeed – but isn’t the norm in any field, where success percentage is actually always a small fraction?
But the fact is that, as any biography will readily confirm, the successful change agents build on a series of previous change efforts put in my innumerable nameless and faceless people. That is why it is absolutely essential to continue to swim against the tide in a defined moral and/or scientific direction – you may not succeed, but you and countless others might {will?) become the cause of someone who does manage to succeed. This is true for any field of activity – Science, Trade, Society – any human activity. It takes uncommon courage to go against the tide – and my advise to those who do so is that you are special, a person of raw courage and guts. Never ever give up!
LEADERS
The others aspect is the one of leadership. Now we define leaders as business leaders, political leaders  etc – I am not referring to these. I am referring to any leader, which  includes the above and many more – society leaders, opinion leaders, role-models, teachers, etc. Anyone who leads or influences even one person is a leader. It is a known philosophical as well as scientifically established reality that people try to follow and emulate those whom they see as leaders. I refer you to this verse from our Holy Book, The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta, Chapter 3 Verses 20 & 21 :
कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादय: |
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि || 20||
यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जन: |
यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते || 21||
By performing their prescribed duties, King Janak and others attained perfection. You should also perform your work to set an example for the good of the world. Whatever actions great persons perform, common people follow. Whatever standards they set, all the world pursues. Leaders of society thus have a moral responsibility to set lofty examples for inspiring the rest of the population by their words, deeds, and character. When noble leaders are in the forefront, the rest of society naturally gets uplifted in morality, selflessness, and spiritual strength.
I have given in the links below 4-6 commentaries; please go through them. They all talk of the same interpretation, and the role of leaders in forming societal values and norms. And this what the holiest of our Sanaatan Dharmi books tell us, written thousands of years ago. My personal definition of the word leader in the societal context is thought leaders, intellectuals, journalists, writers, filmmakers and actors, political leaders, social leaders etc.
Do we demand these qualities of our leaders – any leader? Do we judge them on such or similar parameters – or do we judge them by their status in terms of power, achievements and wealth? Arent we, as a society, placing a premium on the means of achievement attainment rather than the methods and values? What message are we sending society, what role models are creating? In the modern world, we set store by money earned, goods acquired, power attained – not on the values portrayed…
The least we can do is stop ridiculing the tough hard fighters who are trying to bring about change for the good; no one is asking or forcing you to emulate them. Change, true lasting change, cannot be enforced; it has to be embibed. It is a chain, wherein you add people one-by-one; it is inherently slow in the initial phases until it acquires critical mass.
Even our Scriptures, as also science, says the same; leaders have to show an uncommonly high standard of moral behaviour in any and all aspects. The least we can and should do is not discourage people who have the strength of character to be upright in these trying times. And the most we can do – choose leaders basis moral values, which,  as things stand today, is frankly a tough call…  
Agreed with the world – be practical, my friend. Dont change the world, but then, no one is trying to change the world. But you can and should set a moral behavioural example for the world. Now that is doable, isnt it? 


LINKS:
The Eternal Duties of a Human Beings – Geeta 3/21
Geeta as it is 3-21  
Holy Bhagvad Geeta 3-20/21 

Its Valentines Day Again!

Published February 13, 2017 by vishalvkale


The Big Day is here again, at least if we are to believe some segments of our population. This day is one shining example of Marketing & of Western Culture and its pull in our society. There are some who may hold that this Big Day is only a marketing tool; then there are those who may hold that this is the perfect example of the pull of the West… maybe, just maybe, both sides are right! What is this Big Day I am talking, or rather, to read the minds of those who avidly follow it – as they will say to this post of mine, jabbering about?  Well, it so happens that I am Jabbering On About VALENTINE’S DAY

THE HISTORY
Just what is this day? What does it signify? And on earth do I have to set aside this day as an expression of love? What makes it so special? Let us look at it, and try and understand. As per website History.com, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day in the 5th Century!  To quote infoplease website, The holiday’s roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day. And wiki states : It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus. In fact, the entire wiki article is a series of events associated with Christianity

When did this become as big as it has in India? I certainly don’t remember it being as big an affair in my school days in the 80s! Wiki helps here : Following the economic liberalisation in the early 1990s, a new middle class emerged who could afford access to foreign TV channels and card shops. Valentine’s Day became popular among this middle class, but not much in the lower economics classes. So, I did a little bit more searching in my hunt for an answer, and found these two rather hard-hitting articles

Lately all of us must have come across those pop-up windows on our screens with roses and hearts drawn all over and a message informing about various ways – deals, to be precise— to express your love on Valentine’s Day. Was the scenario same 10 years back? No it wasn’t. At that time, only teenagers would secretly greet their beloved with a rose, probably stolen from the neighbours’ garden. – . Advertising Age, Feb 12th, 2016. This article details a lot more, but that is not our current concern; either is the size of the market, which, by an article I spotted on retail.franchiseindia.com, is around 22,000 Cr by some estimates – Article dated Feb 12th 2015.

CULTURE
A couple of questions here : Why are we celebrating this at all? I am fine  with setting days for events – if a day can help and be an aid to expressing love, I certainly don’t see it as an issue. But where is the relevance to Indian Culture here? This is far too clearly a purely imported concept, even without the religious background stated above. And if we do want to have a marketing gimmick-based celebration of love, where is the need to go for imported examples? Cant we find real Indian examples of love from our ancient past, and from any number of religions based here?

Why this surprising chase of a western concept with zero relevance to our culture? This has zero basis in fact, or seasons, or our culture, or even our modern history {let alone pre-modern or medieval or ancient history, I am talking of just 15-20 years here!}; this has zero connect with anything, except The West, and Marketing – pure and simple. I stated above I am not against marketing; but why do we Indians need to chase alien culture, when our own culture is full of days and dates that can be excellent substitutes for a celebration of love? Why are we chasing a chimera?

I see everyone and his uncle celebrating an essentially alien festival, alien to our culture at least; wishing etc – now why on earth do you need a day that commemorates something with zero Indian relevance is beyond me! What is sadder still is the fact that some people would not recognize our festivals if they jumped up in front of them, yet go ape over this Valentine’s day! You want to show your love on a day that has no religious connect? Then be informed that Valentine’s day is a Christian Festival. You want to show your love on a day, and you require a day for that – may I suggest your anniversary? Your love’s Birthday? Or any number of other occasions? Why go ape over this non-event?

MARKETING
To marketers, my hearty congratulations on building a completely useless day into something substantial in India; this should be a real live case study in all Management Schools in India. Well done, well done indeed! Now my question to you, all of you : explain to me, a corporate guy like you, why this same cant have been done as successfully for an Indian themed day? We have innumerable days for your choice, religious as well as otherwise! And yet, you forget all of that and chase after a Western day? Is that the best you can do? I have seen your quality in this case study, as well as other awesome case studies that are models of marketing; you have the skills; how about using those skills to good effect and create hype around an Indian Day?

You create a {shudder!} 22,000 Crore market around a totally alien concept; I am pretty sure you can do the same for others as well. Other examples abound : Friendship Day, remember? Unlike other critics, I don’t blame marketers – you cannot create a need, a want; you can only identify and tap into latent demand. If marketers could create demand, well, I need not say anymore than that! Life would be different to all of us.

BUT, and this is a BIG but, if you can identify and tap latent demand for something so alien, so frivolous as this, I am pretty sure you can do the same for other events as well. It is just a question of finding the right trends, and building on them. How about doing something Indian for a change – like the excellent one around Akshay Tritiya? Unless you {we?} as a profession regard Valentine’s Day as Indian, which is frankly a ridiculous idea, given I have no recollection of celebrations on this scale in my childhood – despite this being a Christian Festival, and I being educated in a CONVENT! QED…

References : 

ze: 21.3333px; text-align: justify;”>This is a realisation that came to me hard when I was doing my habitual morning reading of The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta; my thoughts on my learnings of two verses are tabulated below. 


BE PRACTICAL, MY FRIEND – DON’T CHANGE THE WORLD
Don’t try to change the world… Change Yourself…
The headline of this article says it all; this is the most common rejoinder people get when they try to set an example, with one single refrain – aap duniya nahi badal sakte; be practical, this is the way it is, and many other variations along this theme. Hidden in this lovely gem of a statement, this remarkably ignorant statement is a litany of problems, all of which hover around one single tragic theme in our society today. Some critics of this habit call it apathy, some selfishness, some a lack of confidence while some others blame it on the prevalent atmosphere. 
CHANGE AGENTS
There are two aspects or parameters to this, in my humble view; the first is ideological, and thoroughly idealistic in both its intent and its wording. Simply put – if everyone thinks along these lines, then, ladies and gentlemen, the simple reality is that nothing will ever change in any aspect of human endeavour, be it society or be it science. Change is a constant, and it is the change agents who bring about that change. By discouraging the change agents, you can only delay the change, with all its attendant effects good as well as bad– not cancel the change
In any field of human endeavour, it has been the change agents who have brought about defining change, despite the fact that they were all, without exception, ridiculed and even called fools, to put it bluntly.  There is no change agent I am aware of who did not have to struggle to get the change in place. Even top scientists & famous leaders had to struggle, read their biographies. The choice is between selfish faceless mediocrity, and selfless service! And it is also a fact that only a small number of people from these change agents actually succeed – but isn’t the norm in any field, where success percentage is actually always a small fraction?
But the fact is that, as any biography will readily confirm, the successful change agents build on a series of previous change efforts put in my innumerable nameless and faceless people. That is why it is absolutely essential to continue to swim against the tide in a defined moral and/or scientific direction – you may not succeed, but you and countless others might {will?) become the cause of someone who does manage to succeed. This is true for any field of activity – Science, Trade, Society – any human activity. It takes uncommon courage to go against the tide – and my advise to those who do so is that you are special, a person of raw courage and guts. Never ever give up!
LEADERS
The others aspect is the one of leadership. Now we define leaders as business leaders, political leaders  etc – I am not referring to these. I am referring to any leader, which  includes the above and many more – society leaders, opinion leaders, role-models, teachers, etc. Anyone who leads or influences even one person is a leader. It is a known philosophical as well as scientifically established reality that people try to follow and emulate those whom they see as leaders. I refer you to this verse from our Holy Book, The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta, Chapter 3 Verses 20 & 21 :
कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादय: |
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि || 20||
यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जन: |
यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते || 21||
By performing their prescribed duties, King Janak and others attained perfection. You should also perform your work to set an example for the good of the world. Whatever actions great persons perform, common people follow. Whatever standards they set, all the world pursues. Leaders of society thus have a moral responsibility to set lofty examples for inspiring the rest of the population by their words, deeds, and character. When noble leaders are in the forefront, the rest of society naturally gets uplifted in morality, selflessness, and spiritual strength.
I have given in the links below 4-6 commentaries; please go through them. They all talk of the same interpretation, and the role of leaders in forming societal values and norms. And this what the holiest of our Sanaatan Dharmi books tell us, written thousands of years ago. My personal definition of the word leader in the societal context is thought leaders, intellectuals, journalists, writers, filmmakers and actors, political leaders, social leaders etc.
Do we demand these qualities of our leaders – any leader? Do we judge them on such or similar parameters – or do we judge them by their status in terms of power, achievements and wealth? Arent we, as a society, placing a premium on the means of achievement attainment rather than the methods and values? What message are we sending society, what role models are creating? In the modern world, we set store by money earned, goods acquired, power attained – not on the values portrayed…
The least we can do is stop ridiculing the tough hard fighters who are trying to bring about change for the good; no one is asking or forcing you to emulate them. Change, true lasting change, cannot be enforced; it has to be embibed. It is a chain, wherein you add people one-by-one; it is inherently slow in the initial phases until it acquires critical mass.
Even our Scriptures, as also science, says the same; leaders have to show an uncommonly high standard of moral behaviour in any and all aspects. The least we can and should do is not discourage people who have the strength of character to be upright in these trying times. And the most we can do – choose leaders basis moral values, which,  as things stand today, is frankly a tough call…  
Agreed with the world – be practical, my friend. Dont change the world, but then, no one is trying to change the world. But you can and should set a moral behavioural example for the world. Now that is doable, isnt it? 


LINKS:
The Eternal Duties of a Human Beings – Geeta 3/21
Geeta as it is 3-21  
Holy Bhagvad Geeta 3-20/21 

Book Review – Ashok : The Lion of Maurya

Published February 12, 2017 by vishalvkale

ASHOK – THE LION OF MAURYA
by Ashok K Banker

Only a select few persona from history have as wide and as huge an impact on Modern India, and Indians in general, than Devanampiya Piyadassi, from the Maurya dynasty. This is one name that actually does reverberate across the length and breadth of the land; this name invites immediate recognition, and sense of pride, a sense of awe, and a sense of deep respect. He does this by the virtue of his deeds which encompass the achievements of a fearsome warrior king, a development focused good monarch, and a deeply spiritual peace-loving ruler of the land.
People may not know his by his full name, but will immediately recognize his better known name : Ashok! Not much is known about the real Ashok; that said, there are extensive surviving literary records, most of them in the manuscripts Ashokaavadaan, Mahaavamsa and Paalivamsa, which as per my readings {Given here – Book Review: Ashok The Great} , are the principal literary sources of his life. {There are others, like the Divyavadan for example} I make this point to underscore that there are massive gaps in the life of Ashok; there are many small contradictions, & a lack of continuity. And the creation a fiction book series based on the life of Devanampiya Piyadassi Ashok  is a laudable effort.
THE BOOK
The current book, the first in the series, is titled Ashok – The Lion of Maurya {For the life of me I cannot fathom why Indians insist on the trailing “A” when penning proper names in English! To be precise, the actual book is Ashoka – The Lion of Maurya; the trailing A is fine in Maurya due to the following vowel sound!}. Lets be crystal clear here : this is a work of fiction. It comes under historical fiction, and cannot be treated as anything else, as I point out in detail in the review section. This book is based on the early years of his life as a young prince, and traces the internal challenges he faced when young.
THE REVIEW
First, history. Now it is thought that Ashok, in some manuscripts from ancient India, was known as ChandAshok {cruel Ashok} in his early days, before rising to what he became eventually. This is however debated by some historians. Second, his Biological Mother Dharma {Shubhadraangi} has also been debated, though is generally accepted as his mother. Third, his accession to the throne is under discussion, as the accepted version of fratricide and killing may not be right. That discussion is beyond the scope of this review; please read the compilation in the link in the second para above.
Not much is known of his early phase. The sources are the Ashokaavadaan which is a 2nd Century text; the other two are Buddhist texts. There is a clear contradiction in many points – Kaling War, The Coronation etc where the numerous historical, literary and archeological records do not suffice. While his greatness is not in question – the contents of all the sources put together pretty much put that beyond reasonable doubt; the fact remains that there isn’t enough detail present to put together a life story. When reading this series, it is my opinion that readers should keep this uppermost in their minds. We are reading a fictional telling of the story of Ashok the Great.
Thus, I will make no attempt to compare history with this book; there is much we need to learn. The book itself – it is an excellent one, well written, with a very fast pace, action oriented. It tells the story of a prince, who loves his family, and is a devoted and loyal prince to the Emperor {this much seems true as per my readings}, as well as a brother with deep caring for his elder brother Sushim; which is borne out by the inscriptions on the edicts.
It is the story of royal intrigue, internal politics, murder and plotting; this part has been very skillfully put together in a flawless narrative that makes for absorbing reading. It tells the story of a family fighting internal squabbles, as well as external enemies; you get entrapped into the story, the pages pull you in as the plot twists and turns every few pages with a rapidity that is awesome. The story has been crafted really well, and the whole package works quite well. It gives the reader an enthralling fascinating read!
I have placed emphasis on the history and its  gaps  for a reason – we are talking of a legend, one of the finest Indians from Ancient India, a leader & a king whose symbols are the chosen symbols of the Modern Indian State. Given that background, it needs to be stated that the historical record has some gaps,  which the author himself underscores; as also the fact that this is historical fiction. The book is true to the major aspects of history; that is true. Especially, the bonding between the Sushim and Ashok as well as the pressures have been developed really well, which is appreciable.
The series should be interesting to see how this particular and vital relationship is developed, and which road the story now takes from hereon; I am waiting eagerly to see the author’s interpretation. But the start is very promising; Ashok comes across as the one I have read about – not the one in the legends; as does Sushim. You can already see snippets of the more famous Ashok begin to shine through. This  is an approach that is logical, consistent with one side of the argument as I have read it; my references are in the linked Book Review of the book Ashok The Great, which is a compilation of a couple of dozen books by historians on the famous King Ashok the Great. All in all, an excellent effort which has a very promising start to it. Worth a read, definitely so. 

Movie Review – Fugay

Published February 10, 2017 by vishalvkale

Not many movies make it to my blog; which is themed around India as a whole – from Indian Books to Culture to History to Economics & Trade. Thus, I perforce limit myself to only the movies which impress me the most; and in this, Fugay score big time! In 10 years of writing, and 5 of blogging, I have reviewed only around 10 movies, maybe 12 – and Fugay is one of them. This movie is, in my opinion – one of the best I have ever watched in its genre; I can think of only two other movies that are either better, or comparable : Golmal, and Angur. Period.
Image result for fugay movie

THE PLOT
The movie is a mix of a comedy and a horror movie : 99% comedy, 1% horror. The source of the horror is that the plot can actually happen in real life; no jokes. At any rate, something quite similar. Do photographs appear in newspapers? Yes, they do – am aware of two instances in family & friends. {None were embarrassing, thank God!} Do things get blown out of proportion, do people overreact in marriages? Of course they do! Are you kidding me? Do embarrassing snaps get circulated? You don’t really want an answer to that in the modern multimedia age, do you? And so on and so forth. If you stretch it just a little bit, it is entirely plausible that the mix-up in the movie can happen! 😀
This is a story of two nutcases – I mean that – two people who are bonkers, dedicated bonkers. Close friends for two decades plus; the proverbial Chuddi Baddis. One decides to get married, and to a rather, shall we say, possessive lady {understatement of the century}. To cut a short story  shorter, the two pals decide to  go to Goa  for a bachelor party. One problem. Just one tiny teensy weensy problem, known across the planet by the term “fiance”. These nutcases don’t tell the only person who should have known the whole story – the fiance. And boss, trust me, you don’t pull such stunts if you are sane.
The lady takes it upon herself {of course, what else? Kamaal karte ho yaar!} to check for herself. And the proof that the man – any man, you n me included – is fundamentally a lunatic – the lady has been told the location, and not the whole story! {This – not to tell half- or quarter- or 1/8ths or 1/16thss of the truth to your wife –  is a lesson you learn after marriage, so madness excusable!!!!!} And so, she walks in to meet the apple of her eye, the love of her life, in, shall we say, less that ideal circumstances. Nopes – no lady involved, and no guy either. Just a genuine misunderstanding! It takes the much chastened pals the rest of the movie to untangle it all!
THE REVIEW
If you want to laugh for 2 hours and 5 minutes without a break, watch this movie. And yes, attend to any and all calls of nature before you walk in to the theatre; people are going to be far too busy laughing their heads off to fill you in; and you might just miss some class puns and jokes! In all my life, I have never seen a movie –not after Golmal and Angur – which had me laughing throughout, and not one minute involving any slapstick comedy, hamming, overacting, cheap and vulgar jokes etc. Just genuine situational stuff, superbly woven together. That is why this gets 5 stars out of 5; good, clean, decent, genuine comedy! 
Which brings me to the script – the script is nice, taut and fast moving. So far as I could tell, there wasn’t a minute wasted. No meandering, dithereing, no side-tracks, nothing. Just a tight fastpaced script that gallops along at a lovely steady pace, keeping you enthralled. The entire team has stuck to ; one theme, and one theme alone. The comic scenes are created using the situation, and one of the prevalent socio-cultural themes intertwined together, which create a genuine laughter riot. You will also note that I make no comparison with any Hindi Movie {I wont even mention the name}; there is zero commonality. This story is completely different and unique!
The performances are all round excellent; my initial thought was how will the script manage the two – Subodh and Swapnil, balance them in screen time, performances, roles etc. Kudos –this has been superbly managed; and both have, true to their style, skills and reputation, pulled off unforgettable performances. Prarthana impresses again, in a relatively small but vital role. Without her role, Aditya would have married Jaai within the first 25 minutes of the script and no movie would have been scripted!  Special mention for a heart-stealing performance by the thespian Mohan Joshi!
The best part is the music – not too much, only two or three songs, and both very, very hummable with lovely tunes and lyrics both. My favourite is Kaahi Kale Tula Kaahi Kale Malaa, a nice and soft number. The absence of needless songs makes this script even more taut, keeps the narrative nice, fast and taut; and the puns flowing, keeping you in splits. If you recall, this is exactly what both Golmal and Angur did. Now you can add one more to this august list : Fugay, easily one of the best movies I have watched! 
In conclusion, I must add a word for the Marathi genre; it is now far ahead of Hindi in terms of freshness, lack of vulgarity, newness of scripts, lovely soft music, and great finished products! To me, Swapnil, Subodh, Prarthana, Sai, Jitendra, Upendra, Mohan, Mahesh M, Ankush, Mukta are far bigger pulls now than the Hindi stars; the credit for that must go to everyone in the Marathi Cinema Trade – Keep it up, people!

Book Review – Tanzeem by Mukul Deva

Published February 9, 2017 by vishalvkale

The one I missed… this is a book I read more than a couple of years ago, and forgot to review it then. As luck would have it, I dug deep into my pitaaraa two days ago, and thought of re-reading this one to check up on how exactly Iqbal ended up. The immediate stimulus was a twitter conversation with the Author himself. And so it was that I found that this excellent book was spared my attention in the list of books reviewed, which is a real pity; I would rate this as being among the Author’s very best. If any of you haven’t already read it – do so; you will not regret it.
THE PLOT
Image result for tanzeem mukul devaThis is the 4th book of the Lashkar series; and this one is all about Iqbal from start to finish. A shattered Iqbal comes out of Blowback with hatred and revenge the only two alternating emotions in his heart; a heart burning with one desire, and one desire alone. And a mind filled with alternating thoughts of Tanaz, and the man / men who were ultimately responsible for her condition… the combination of the mind and the heart propels Iqbal towards his goal, his purpose, and gives him resolve. And his resolve, his goal? The destruction of the entire people behind the most sordid Saga of his life.
Alongside this overpowering emotional state, is the realization that his personal enemies are also his national enemies; the patriot in him does not lose sight of this reality. He is keenly aware that something big is being planned by the Pakistanis and the terror machine; only this time – he wants to go after them alone. The current book is that story – the story of his infiltration into the vicious terror machine. The entire book is built around this one theme…
THE REVIEW
As is usual for a Mukul Deva book, this is, once again, a hurtling, breakneck speed and incredibly fast-paced story, written in his signature style. And, again as usual, this story is also completely unique in every respect; different from Lashkar, or Salim Must Die, or even Blowback in this very series itself; to say nothing of the other fiction titles of this author. And as a tribute to his skills, let me add that despite this complete difference in the books of the series, the books represent and make one complete fully connected story; the story of Iqbal. For that is what the Lashkar series is all about – the story of one man, one incredible man – Iqbal.
There are two or three things that need to be highlighted in this story. The first aspect is the shocking attention to the scenes of brutality,  including torture – the attention to detail as well as the way they are woven into the story so as to make them not just integral to the story, but also central to carrying the story forward. The second aspect is the graphic descriptions and narrative style that is used to  both capture your attention and build up speed and tension. The beauty is that the story doesn’t lose out on the pace due to the graphic details included.
The third, and as per me, the most critical aspect of this book is the history lesson that it tried to create for the reader. The entire 44 page section dealing with the Ameer’s flashback tells a history lesson that achieves two objectives : firstly, it creates a complete character sketch in the readers’ minds of the principle antagonist,  taking you deep into his psyche and behaviour. Secondly, It uses contemporary history which is certain to capture the attention of the target audience, which is largely Indian; and gives what I regard as a history lesson {almost – let us not lose sight that this is a work of fiction. That said, I took the trouble of cross-checking some 6-8 facts in this section – turned out completely accurate in every respect} in the background to the Af-Pak regions’ headlong rush into disaster.
It also makes for a slightly emotional read for us Indians, as this “aid” to Pakistan was diverted towards fighting India. You could feel a tinge of stunned shock at the clear US stupidity of acceding to Zia’s demand for what tantamounted to unrestrained control of the aid package. Anyone with even a small tiny iota of intelligence should have known that this would be diverted to fighting India! But let us move on… I hope now at least the great USA realizes is folly, its stupid and naïve support of Pakistan through – aah –  aid! This does not make for an easy read for a Western reader; the USA has been, quite literally, taken apart for its role in Af-Pak, as has Russia and its role. This is not a novel that projects either in a positive light; by and large. Even in the climax, it forcefully underscores the USA’s shortcomings, as it is the Indian forces who are in complete control of the operation.
To summarise, this book once again rates an easy 5 stars out of 5. And, as you turn the last page, you realize with more than a tinge of regret that this is the last time you are reading of Iqbal, and of Force 22. I still believe there is a scope of a couple more based on Iqbal; and I am certain that the author can build a new series around Force 22, making them a series as avidly followed as Lashkar was, and the current Ravinder Singh Gill series is. There is tremendous potential for these two story ideas; I hope Mr Deva is reading these words… 

Budget 17 – Main Analysis of Proposals

Published February 5, 2017 by vishalvkale

So far, I have looked at what could have been in terms of the budget; and the overall Macro-Economic Scenario and the Budget assumptions, and asked myself three questions : namely, in short. Will the budget give a boost to investment, demand and boost agriculture? But, before we move to looking at answering these questions, let me first of all appreciate and point out the most significant changes made from this year onwards :
1.    Merging Railway and Union Budgets
2.    Plan and Non Plan heads done away with, replaced by Capital and Revenue heads
3.    Moving forward of the date of budget presentation and unveiling
4.    This has gone unnoticed : rationalization of schemes, and focus on the key schemes
I would also like to point out that, at least in those articles I read, there was not a sufficient presentation of the viewpoints of both sides, that is, for and against these changes given above. A detailed study of the accompanying budget documents brings out the Government’s viewpoint fully; my article is not meant to analyse these moves – except the 4th. This has been clearly stated in the Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement, pg 18 pt 10 and pg 26 pt 56; and in the Budget Speech Point 18; this rationalization, first begun last year, is being carried forward this year. In my opinion, this deserves a deeper study. That said, off the cuff it can be seen that a more directed and rationalized scheme structure will aid their implementation. This is a truly laudable effort that has been started, and needs to be highlighted. Granted that key will be the selection of schemes but that someone is thinking along a defined implementation ease is laudable.
THE BUDGET
This year, the budget in the first part focuses on Farmers, Rural Population, Youth, The Poor, Infra, Financial Sector, Digital Economy, Public Service and Prudent Fiscal Management.
1.    Farmers: In my analysis of June 2015 {https://reflectionsvvk.blogspot.in/2015/06/farmer-distress-in-india. html}, I had identified the major ills of this sector – please visit link.
a.     PLUSES :  Increase in Ag Credit to 10 Lakh Crore,  up from 9 Lakh Crore : Pg 9 Pt 22; interest waiver 60 days; PACS Computerisation in 3 yrs Pg 9 Pt 23; Focus on Soil Health Pt 25; Long term and Micro Irrigation Funds Pts 26 & 27; Dairy Fund is a good start, though needs more focus Pg 10 Pt 31
b.    COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER : Farmer Realised Price improvement requires a far more focused approach, and tackling Mandis and their power, which has not been done. A start has been made, let us see how this is carried forward {Pts 28-29}. On Insurance, a reduction in provision from RE 16-17 is, in my opinion, hasty a good monsoon notwithstanding – Pt 24
c.     MISSES : The factor of rationalization of Fertilizer Subsidy, and link it to NPK ratio has been totally passed over;  as are the other inputs like seeds etc.
2.    Rural Sector :
a.    MNREGA : {Pg 11 Pts 34-36}  Restrained yet again; kept at nearly the same level as RE 16-17!
b.    For the rest, from Pts 38-45 on Pgs 11-12, the budget speech Rural roads, skill development, electrification, and most critically clean drinking water to 2800 arsenic and fluoride affected habitations. These are all good intentions, and, when implemented will decidedly have a positive impact. But it needs to be noted that the impact will be in the Medium to Long Term!
3.    YouthPgs 12-14 Pts 46-58  : Theonly creditable and far-reaching point I found in this section dealt with focusing on secondary education for 3479 backward blocks; question is the implementation. Do we have requisite funds? And the direction? Still, good that someone has thought of this. For the rest, while the intentions are good – skilling initiatives, online courses – how practical are these? Online courses certainly aren’t the solution; and skill initiatives in both Farming and Rural sector – well, let me just say they cant replace a proper education! Yes, the Incredible India Campaign 2 is a good thought – let us see its implementation
4.    The Poor : Pg 14-16,  Pt 59-70 : Increased allocation by nearly 28,000 Crore for women and children, but this is in comparison with BE, not RE. Another great point – affordable housing, which I analyse separately as it features in several sectors. Action plans for major diseases is also appreciable, as is mention of tertiary health care and specialized doctors, and drug pricing. Excellent!  But the best is the reforms contemplated in labour laws …
5.    INFRASTRUCTURE : The Big One, Pg 16-20, Pts 71- 94 :
a.     This includes the Railway budget, which is pretty standard, though with a welcome focus on clean trains &  solar stations. The part I like the best was the end-to-end solution for some commodities in partnership with logistics players.
b.    While 2.41 Lakh Crore has been allocated as a whole to Rails + Roads + Shipping, I could not find any comparison with RE 16-17 in the budget documents. Allocation for Transport is higher than RE quite significantly, almost 15%, up from 1.07 Lakh Cr to the current 1.24 Lakh Cr.
c.     For Telecom, while allocation is increased, {up 2200 Cr for IT & Telecom}, the plan for the OFC will, when complete, bring rich dividends.
d.    Our effort to develop IT, Telecom and Electronics as a competitive advantage on a national scale continues, with focus again. That said, it is high time we as a nation started thinking of growing up the value chain – from assembly lines to original equipment, own brands and innovation in technology.
6.    FINANCIAL SECTOR : Pg 20-22, Pts 95-110 :
a.    Banking Reforms given a near-total miss
b.    Again, the focus is on elex platforms for commodities – this is good, clearly so. But it requires ground-level reforms, which are still awaited!
c.     Special mention for the Stand Up India scheme in point 110 – a laudable scheme, please see references section of this article for details
d.    Another good thought here is the resolution mechanism for financial firms & the dispute resolution mechanism for infra contracts
7.    DIGITAL ECONOMY : Pgs 22-24, Pts 111-120 : This is the weakest section of the budget; I could not relate to it. While the points are all good, with great intentions, the on-ground reality in terms of connectivity, options and cost has a long way to go. Already, there is indication of a fall in online transactions post remonetisation. Neither is there anything specific in this section…
8.    PUBLIC SERVICE : Pg 24-25 Pts 121-130 : There is nothing specific here; these are all laudable words, but once again, like above, I could not relate. What is this section doing in a budget is beyond my understanding is all I can say here.
9.    PRUDENT FISCAL MANAGEMENT : Pg 25-27, Pts 131-138 : The best part of this section is the increase in capital expenditure by 25.4%, and the increase in capital expenditure to 14.43% of total expenditure. It needs to be noted that this percentage is the highest ever in the past 10 years at least; it was 13.89% in RE 16-17, 14.13% in 15-16, and 13.08% in 10-11.  A standing ovation for managing the CE  @ nearly 14% for two years running, and planning for it for a 3rd straight year! Further, as things are shaping up, we could actually see the Govt Debt at sub-60% of GDP in the next few years!
PART-B – Tax Proposals
For this, before we proceed, The FM’s budget speech pt 140, Pg 28 needs to be highlighted for all of us to read. Of 4.2 Cr organized sector employees, 1.74 Cr file returns. For informal sector, the numbers are 5.6 Cr and 1.81 Cr. Out of the 13.94 lakh companies registered in India upto 31st March, 2014, 5.97 lakh companies have filed their returns for Assessment Year 2016-17. Of the 5.97 lakh companies which have filed their returns for Assessment Year 2016-17 so far, as many as 2.76 lakh companies have shown losses or zero income. 2.85 lakh companies have shown profit before tax of less than ` 1 crore. 28,667 companies have shown profit between ` 1 crore to ` 10 crore, and only 7781 companies have profit before tax of more than ` 10 crores. These are shocking numbers, and full marks for highlighting!


The best part about this section is the treatment to the MSME, which starts by highlighting that 2.85 Lakh companies making profit of less than 1 Cr pay tax @ 30.26%, while the 298 companies making profit of more than 500 Cr pay @ 25.90% {effective rate}. The section then goes on to give a series of measures including reducing income tax to 25% for companies with turnovers upto 50 Cr.
The next good point is the attempt at transparency in electoral funding; while this has been panned by some – at least this is a start. The declaration of Rs. 2000 per person is actually a reduction from the current level of Rs. 20,000. That said, there is some logic in the criticism as well – as stated on BS, Page 10, article “FM Acts Tough on Political Funding” dated 2ndFeb that as long as there is no limit on the number of such transactions,  the impact might just be meaningless!
On personal taxes, I am not in agreement; this could have been done next year, or even in 2019; that would have freed 15500 Cr for other avenues – my personal favourite would be defense.  This is frankly a move I do not support, though it benefits me personally.
HOUSING
This deserves a special mention, since my initial call on it was wrong by a degree of just about 100%! I was initially surprised, a thought that we need other measures to stimulate demand other than housing. Then, I researched the economics behind the housing aspects, going first to a book by Bimal Jalan, and then further studying the examples of Singapore, Turkey and some other places with respect to housing. The research establishes the ability of affordable housing to stimulate demand both up-stream and down-stream, a factor noted in at least two previous examples. And this budget not only focuses on housing, it also focuses on rural housing. The copies of the sources I studied are attached with this article
CONCLUSION
We started with questions – will it stimulate investment, demand and agriculture? The focus on MSME – which are 40% plus contributors to GDP, is a definite plus, as is the focus on housing, which I have supported with empirical evidence from 2-3 nations. Then you have the increased allocations for Transport, Telecom, increased Agricultural Credit as well as a focus on the Poor and the Farmers. Add to this the fact that the Agricultural plus Unorganised sectors contribute well over 70% to the economy, and we can arrive at a conclusion that there is a definite stimulus to investments as well as demand
But, at the same time, there are misses that we have to account for, some of which I have alluded to above. Fact of the matter is that we are still not focusing on Health Education and Defense as much as we should; this needs to be done. However, given the current macroeconomic challenges that we analysed earlier, this budget does a pretty decent job. That said, my initial views stand vindicated – a bland and safe budget which could have done far more, given that general elections are still 2 plus year away. The biggest challenge is that the measures will take time to stimulate, and in the meantime we have the slowdown and the macroeconomic factors to contend with.
The reason is that the basic assumption that the economy will get better from Q1 2017-18 after a slowing Q3-Q4 of the current fiscal is an assumption. Then you also have the basic challenges mentioned in Pt 6 on Pg 4 of the Budget Speech. Thus, the basic criticism of some people also stands – that the revenue side challenges might remain, and that the fiscal target  undertaken might prove to be a challenge if the assumptions do not pan out as planned. I sincerely hope, for all our sakes, that it does work out, that the stimulus given will be enough… that remains to be seen.


REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY

1)  SQUATTERS NO MORE: SINGAPORE SOCIAL HOUSING   

2) An Analysis of the Relationship between Housing and Economic Development

3) Union Budget 2017 is a total miss on banking reforms, economy will pay a price for it

4) Budget 2017 opinion round-up: Scathing criticism and praise for Arun Jaitley

5) Farmer Distress in India – {Self Article}

6) Stand Up India Scheme

7) Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana

8) Budget 2017: Can lower cash limit make political funding transparent? Critics divided INDIA Updated: Feb 02, 2017 00:55 IST

9) FM acts tough on political funding

Movie Review : Baghtos Kay… Mujra Kar!

Published February 4, 2017 by vishalvkale

Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar

I normally review very few select movies which to me are best-in-class and elite; only those that I either find superlative {as one of my friends was noting on fb today}, or those with some kind of social message. The movie being reviewed today, Baghtos Kaay… Muzraa Kar, is one of the latter category;  a  Marathi movie. What makes this movie so different is this is a movie with a message, and is also simultaneously fun to watch; with two other factors also thrown in, which I shall get to by and by.

Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar
THE PLOT
The plot is simple – a sarpanch of a village of Malvans, the villagers whom The Chhatrapati recruited and turned into his army, laments the state of the forts of the great Maratha Kiing, Chhatrapati Shivaji; even as the great legend continues to hold sway over entire Maharashtra, and I daresay large parts of India as well. Most Indians will readily concede his greatness. Despite this, his forts lie in ruin or at least not as well cared for as they should be. The movie revolves around his dream of turning the local fort into a well cared for spot that attracts visitors, and how his attempts take him into politics, and focuses around his attempts to win support for his endeavour.  
THE REVIEW
The movie is a great watch, and is a very enjoyable movie with a nice script, reasonably well crafted. It is a simple movie, in the sense there is no extravagance or over the top stuff. It has lovely genuinely comic moments which make for a very enjoyable watch,  and help overcome the drag. The start, most of the middle and the climax will win your heart and tug at your emotions; the middle part will make you laugh a lot, genuinely funny stuff, situational comedy. The problem is that the script meanders just a little for 10-15 minutes in the middle part; that could have been avoided. Normally, this would have been enough for me not to review it, had it not had major saving factors acting in its favour.
Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar 
{Jitendra Joshi}

And these are, firstly, the performance of Jitendra Joshi. Man, what a performance! He blew me away with his superb performance. I have seen him earlier in Duniaadaari and the classic film Sumbaraan, but this time he has matured as an actor, and has almost single-handedly carried the movie on his shoulders. The way he simply blends into the character, the way his face and eyes show the expressions, was incredible. It was a display of top notch conviction, and it made my day.
Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar

The music is nothing to write home about, except the song Tu Aan Punhaa Re Ti Talwaar, a very hummable and fast paced theme song, which kind of grows on you. One wishes the other songs were as good. As I said earlier, the script could have been tighter, making for a much more compact product. Nonetheless, what is there is way more than enough; given that an Economics + History + Social blogger like me is reviewing the movie. This movie joins a list which I consider elite – Raees, Pink, Coffee Aani Barach Kaahi, Shivaay, Katyaar Kaalzat Ghusli, Lokmanya Ek Yugpurush, PK
Image result for baghtos kay mujra kar 

What makes this movie stand out is the other factors involved; first was the performance of Jitendra Joshi. Second aspect is the social message – it is fine that we make statues of those we value; but what about actually caring for them and their true heritage? I made this point in two or three previous posts; we call people our heroes, but ignore their heritage. In the case of Chhatrapati Shivaji, I can safely say that by and large, his heritage is also intact; people do value him. But if we value him so much, how hard can it be to ensure upkeep as well as visits to his locations?
The third aspect that makes this movie special is simply this : for the first time I have seen a movie that openly declares of the English, when the lead actors visit London as part of their plan : whatever they have is built from stolen money, stolen from us… or words to that effect! This is bound to be heard and seen by the audience who sees this; and will impress at least some of the viewers. This is a message that sorely needs to be told, and I personally loved it. As it is, I am in the middle of a by now 8-year hunt for the true and full detailed story behind our Colonial History, and this made connect with my heart big-time! Well said, Team Bhaghtos Kaay!
The fourth take-away is the extent of the contemporary feeling for, and relevance of Chhattrapati Shivaji in Modern India, or at least Maharashtra. This was a pleasure to experience; the response from the audience, the clapping, the whistling, the applause had to be experienced. And, for the first time, I too joined in, with applause in two or three places. It happened spontaneously, and I just went along with the atmosphere, discovering for myself how deep the connect of Chhatrapati Shivaji is with me… I had read and reviewed a book on The Chhatrapati, but this was something else, something deeper, a lovely, deep connect and feeling of pride and warmth! Great movie, people! 

Budget 17 : Macro Economic Scenario & Prospect Assumptions

Published February 2, 2017 by vishalvkale

This budget comes at a critical juncture; in fact, I daresay the scenario confronting the Indian Economy is at a stage that is far more worrisome than in most other years’ budgets. This isn’t just due to demonetization; the scenario on the global front with declining exports, rising protectionism is one significant challenge; the internal scenario in terms of numbers also does not inspire confidence. Thus, the major challenge in front of the Government is to rekindle Growth; and any analysis of the Government will be on this parameter as far as I am concerned.
THE MACRO ECONOMIC SCENARIO
The performance of the industrial sectors based on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) comprising mining, manufacturing and electricity reveals a modest growth of 0.4 per cent during April-November 2016-17 as compared to 3.8 per cent during the same period of 2015-16. As per the sectoral classification, the production of manufacturing sector declined by 0.3 per cent during April-November 2016-17. The electricity and mining sectors registered growth rates of 5.0 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively during April-November 2016-17. It needs to be noted that the manufacturing sector declined and the mining sector registered a low growth; whereas core sectors did well
Inflation does not seem problematic as of now; while the Banking Sector is showing some signs of stress due to rising NPAs; Agricultural Credit seems to be on the target taken; As per the First Advanced Estimates released by the Central Statistics Office, the economy is estimated to grow at 7.1 per cent in 2016-17, as compared to the growth of 7.6 per cent achieved in 2015-16. The growth in agriculture, industry and services is estimated at 4.1 per cent, 5.2 per cent and 8.8 per cent in 2016-17 as opposed to 1.2 per cent, 7.4 per cent and 8.9 per cent respectively in 2015-16. Growth rate of industry sector declined in 2016-17 mainly on account of contraction in mining & quarrying and moderation of growth in manufacturing sector. It is noteworthy that Agriculture has rebounded from two low growth years; but Manufacturing, as seen above, is lackluster. Services is yet again driving Growth…
Finally, there is an external scenario that needs to be kept in the backdrop. Our external debt seems reasonably healthy with a predominance of long-term debt; and FER is great at 360 Billion USD, giving over 12 months of Import cover, which is creditable. Exports remain a significant challenge riding on global concerns primarily; From the above points culled from the macro economic factors, it can be seen that the major challenge is boosting confidence and investments in manufacturing. The growth in fixed investment at constant prices declined from 3.9 per cent in 2015-16 to (-) 0.2 per cent in 2016-17
ASSUMPTIONS IN THE BUDGET
For this, let me give a straight quote from the Macro-Economic Framework Statement, present in the Budget Documents : The prospects for Indian economy for the year 2017-18 need to be assessed in the light of emerging global and domestic developments. Indications are that global economic growth is gradually picking up. This augers well for Indian exports which are highly responsive to the dynamics of global economic activity. On the other hand, the increasing global prices of oil and other key commodities may exercise an upward pressure on the value of imports. Uncertainty on account of significant external political developments, global interest rate behaviour and capital flows pose potential downsides. Domestic demand is expected to get a boost from accommodative monetary policy and the unleashing of domestic trade and consumption as the economy gets remonetised to the required levels.
QUESTIONS THAT SHOULD BE ASKED
Thus, when we are analyzing the budget, the key questions can only be along these lines:  
·       will it encourage investment and growth in the manufacturing sector?
·       Will it encourage and enable demand and consumption growth?
·       Will it enable and sustain further improvement in Agriculture?
 If the answer to these questions comes as a yes, then the budget is a great budget. That is the litmus test; the annual budget exercise must deal with the macro economic scenario confronting a nation; that is why I have presented this macro economic statement for whosoever reads my blog.
ANALYSIS – LONGER TERM, BASIC INDICES
There are other, longer terms issues and challenges; particularly, as stated in my previous article on this – Defense, Education and Health. The second and the third have unfortunately been perpetual challenges for us, regardless of the political party in power. We just do not concentrate on Education and Health; it is frankly beyond my understanding as to how a nation can become developed without due focus on the basic indices of Human Development. I understand there are resource challenges – but surely we can prioritise properly, and find ways to spend more on these?
The continuing slide in Defense Expenditure as a percentage of GDP, again independent of political party in power, is frankly befuddling. On the one side, we all click like on social media on army posts, idolize the armed forces-  as indeed we should; while on the other side, we just don’t care when government after government does not do enough. This has even led an Army Chief to once declare “We will fight with what we have” or words to that effect in 1999. Now we are lucky such a scenario is highly improbable today; but shouldn’t we, as a people, empower the government, enable them to spend more on defense? This isn’t a Government failure – it has a series of challenges, and needs to prioritise. I understand and respect that prioritization; it is trying to do its best under extremely difficult circumstances and finite resources. But that is precisely why we need to tell the Government – go ahead and spend more on the people who protect us!
CONCLUSION
Thus, as we prepare to go deeper into the budget analysis, we can see the overall scenario confronting the Government; it has many challenges and finite resources. Rather than criticize, or indeed praise, let us be logical, grant the difficulties, accept the good points, and try and develop a dialogue around how it can be improved.  I see the reverse happening – people are either crying foul and say bad budget; or jump in joy and praise the budget to high heaven. Now I respectfully submit – no one is that good on this planet. Any budget is going to have good as well as not-so-good points in an economy as diverse as ours. Bhakti is no solution; we have to develop a dialogue
And a dialogue is exactly what I don’t see taking place in India today; it  is too polarized a scenario. Cant you say the Government erred when it made a mistake? Cant you conversely praise the Government all you want to when it did good? If the assumption is no Government can a mistake, then I can only register my surprise at the naïveté on display, or the blind followership on display. I too like this Government – it has done many a great job – administrative reform, GST etc to name but a few… Before I move onto the core budget, I would like to underline, once again – are we concentrating on the basic parameters of Development – Namely Education & Health – as a nation, as a people?


Macro Economic Details From : Macro-Economic Framework Statement