Friday, February 27, 2009

Ever erring Autos in Hyderabad

Ever erring autos in Hyderabad

Auto rickshaw drivers are a law unto themselves in the tri cities of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Cyberabad. There are innumerable ways in which they misbehave and inconvenienced passengers stand mute spectators..

,  1 hour ago   Views:29   Comments:0


AUTO RICKSHAW drivers are a law unto themselves in the tri cities of Hyderabad, Secunderabad and Cyberabad. There are innumerable ways in which they misbehave and inconvenience passengers stand mute spectators. Some problems associated with them are:

  • They refuse to ply short distances
  • They operate with faulty meters
  • They misbehave and are rude to passengers for no reason at all.

  • They demand exorbitant fare unmindful of distance, time or locality.
Citizens are forced to depend upon autos for various reasons. It is cheaper than taxi. Travel by bus involves a lot of inconvenience like: Having to walk long distances from and to bus stops; overcrowded buses; long waits for buses to arrive; non-availability of direct buses forcing one to hop from one route to another. Buses are also not useful for senior citizens, sick people and others who need to reach a railway station or district bus stands with lot of luggage.

The city traffic police personnel are not of much use. At times when I am frustrated in getting an auto, say from Paradise Circle to Lakshmi Nagar in Secunderabad (about 2.5 km). I just force myself upon a traffic constable and request him (pleading that I am a pitiable senior citizen) to fetch/stop an auto for me. Usually he finds an auto for me within ten minutes! How about other places where there is no one to help you? There is a local Traffic Police Helpline (1073) that is not popular. RTA Helpline 1074 is somewhat used by public.

I have a few suggestions to correct the situation. Traffic Police must be taught/trained to be very strict with auto drivers. This is possible. Only the will to correct the situation is required. I always sympathise with traffic police who have to manage traffic while suffering pollution, noise, erratic traffic, heat and dust. Their salaries must be increased to reasonably good levels so that some dignity could be associated with their work. This might deter them from succumbing to petty bribes which in turn makes them lax and inefficient. The department may enlist paid part time volunteers at crowded corners, empowering such volunteers to take disciplinary action – fines, seizure of vehicles, license etc. The AP Police website enumerates some 15 types of complaints and whom to contact for each complaint. No, auto rickshaw complaints are not listed! This website is otherwise highly useful to the common man and I strongly recommend all Hyderabadis to visit the same.

The government may license seven seater autos in city area also. Currently, they are allowed only in outskirts of the city. In Chennai, they are allowed in city areas as well. Hyderabad should copy Chennai. These are very affordable and ply between important points in city. As there is good competition, the operators are courteous and obliging. Unless severe competition is brought up auto drivers will remain unchanged. Presently, the local train services are not used only because the stations are not at a reachable distance by bus service. Seven seater autos can try to operate from all important Metro Railway stations.

Sometimes when autos do not get passengers and have to wait for long hours in expectation to fill all seats. So they waste the time of other passengers who were sitting inside the auto. Instead of criticising them, we should think of helping these drivers too instead of just blaming all the time.

I have a suggestion to improve this situation. In every locality there could be some places where autos congregate though such places are not strictly auto stands. Nearby such auto stands there could be a Pan Shop or something similar. The Pan Shop owner can do a service to auto drivers and residents of nearby colonies acting as a bridge. All that he needs to do is to announce that, the moment he gets a request from a customer on his cell phone he will alert some auto fellow or the other. He will give the name and house number of the customer to the auto. The auto driver could reach the customer and pick him up. A small additional fee for this service can be shared between the Pan shop owner and the auto driver. A simple message announcing his mobile number for this service is all that is required.

Do you know of any Indian city where auto drivers are reasonable and if yes, how is it that such city folks are so blessed?


Dr P Vyasamoorthy,
30 Gruhalakshmi Colony, Secunderabad 500015
Ph 27846631 /  9490804278

I blog at:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Have you heard of 1000 % hike in property tax?

Here is an article that I ahve published in the Citizen Journalist Website: Merinews.

You may leave your comments, in addition to this group here, in the website as well.
URL is given at the end.

Have you heard of 1000 % hike in property tax?

Unheard levels of property tax revision in Secunderabad Cantonment is causing worry among property owners. While agreeing with SCB's contention that development projects justify steep increase, alternate ways of funding such projects are suggested.

,  1 hour ago   Views:34   Comments:0

SECUNDERABAD CANTONMENT Board, deemed equivalent to a municipality, is revising Property Tax (for residential and commercial properties) after a long gap of 20 years. Property Tax Revisions are to be carried out at regular intervals of three years. Why they were inactive all along is a mystery. In the case of residential properties, the tax increase proposed now ranges from 200 per cent to 800 per cent. A few persons I know, have got 1000 per cent revision too.

You can see that whole proposal is biased, unimaginable (unheard of you may say), unjustified, unaffordable and too harsh on the citizens. Even the elected members of the cantonment board - including the Vice President Pratap- are against a hike of this magnitude.

On being asked about the steep raise in taxes, Chief Executive Officer of SCB came forward with a number of arguments in his favour. The first one is that SCB has not revised taxes since 1988. The statement that tax has not been revised for a number of years is not true. I know of several people who have had their property tax revised regularly once in three years, even during this decade. And these persons have not made any additions/alterations to attract revision either. Large scale revision across the entire cantonment may not have happened for a long time.

If they had revised the taxes regularly, the increases would have been gradual (earlier the raise used to be 20 per cent to 30 per cent). This would have been normal revision and no one would grudge paying the same. Now, after 20 years, many property owners have become senior citizens and after retirement are living with meager pensions or interest on savings. With no regular income at their disposal, how does one expect compliance of tax revision of the order of several hundred per cent?

CEO also has been saying that they need Rs 100 crores for taking up developmental works like underground drainage, sewage treatment plants, road widening etc. Unless the taxes are hiked, no development work can take place.

SCB plans to fund the bulk of this amount from property tax collections. This is simply not done. A small proportion of developmental costs may be passed on to property owners but not the entire burden. Most municipalities get funds for developmental projects from government grants like JNNURM, raising bonds, seeking loans etc.

SCB should pursue getting funds from JNNURM. It may also be interesting to note that SCB has been showing surplus funds during the past successive years, current accruals amounting to Rs 80 crore. How about using a part of it?

SCB says that they are following the customs, practices and norms of GHMC. Yes, only wherever it is convenient for them. In GHMC property tax rules, concessions are available for self-occupied properties, houses having eco-friendly measures like rain water harvesting, trees, solar heating or for houses built many years ago (old buildings) etc. There is no such provision in SCB tax structure. GHMC proposed revision of property taxes (50 per cent raise) in 2007, and after a lot of furore, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh simply cancelled the whole move.

GHMC is supposed to be the role model for SCB. GHMC has generated crores of rupees by letting people get away initially with illegal constructions for several years and then come up with a system of heavy fines (penalty) through the so called building regularisation schemes. SCB also plans to follow this way. They can generate lot funds because violations are aplenty. Of course this method is just a one-off measure of getting some money.

There have not been any large scale developmental activities or infrastructure improvement in the cantonment area for several years. For instance, in the area where I live (Gruhalaksmi Colony) many houses could not be let out for the simple reason that there was acute water shortage. Only a few offices came forward to rent out some houses as their water requirements are small.

Another area that should be SCB's immediate concern is collecting tax arrears. Huge amounts are pending from government/defense establishments and of course defaulting individuals and commercial establishments. Fortunately, in the case of honest tax payers, online payment counters that have come up a few months ago have eased the problem of running after tax collectors. Since tax collectors' work has been reduced, they must now work towards collecting long term dues.


Having said all the above, one redeeming feature in the whole tax revision exercise is SCB's attempt to reduce anomalies and to standardise taxes based on the principle of equity. There are 6,756 plots in the SCB area, for which owners are paying only Re 1 to Rs 50 property tax per year to the board. There are another 2,200 properties, for which the tax is less than Rs 100 per annum and another 2,000 properties for which the tax being paid is less than Rs 200 per annum. In order to tackle this menace left unchecked over several decades, SCB has come up with a concept of zones and sub zones, type of construction. This is good and everyone appreciates the move.

After taking into account all the factors and facts mentioned above SCB should come out with a revised proposal that is reasonable, justifiable and affordable. Will citizens just grin and pay it up without protest? I am sure there is enough wisdom in SCB authorities not to kill the goose that lays, if not golden eggs, just eggs that you need for survival.


Dr P Vyasamoorthy,
30 Gruhalakshmi Colony, Secunderabad 500015
Ph 27846631 /  9490804278

I blog at:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Google offers SMS Channels

Google offers SMS channels

SMS channels from Google combine the benefits of mobile phones and the web. It's an easy way of creating a group of mobile phone users who may exchange text messages regularly among themselves, much like discussion groups..
CJ: Vyasamoorthy ,  33 minutes ago   Views:17   Comments:0

GOOGLE HAS been offering SMS channels since October 2008 on an experimental basis. This is available exclusively to Indian mobile users only. This is an easy way of creating a group of mobile phone users who may exchange text messages regularly among themselves, much like discussion groups. A message sent to a channel (identified by a unique name) is broadcast over cell phone to all the members. This is a free service combining web and mobile technologies.

In order to use this one has to register as a user by sending a 'REGISTER' request to 9870807070. Subsequently you need to confirm acceptance of terms and conditions too. Registration may be done via website too. The user identifies his mobile via a verification code received on his mobile.  Thereafter a user may subscribe to a channel by its name by sending: ON <channel name> to 9870807070.

Messages for circulation among members may be generated and sent in a number of ways.

   * As an SMS from cell phone
   * As an SMS via website
   * Text pulled from your blog
   * Text pulled from your website through RSS
   * Text pulled via filtered Google news items
   * Text obtained through RSS from Google groups

One can find out the channels that are available from a directory. You can create you own channel very easily too. After creating the channel you invite subscribers either from mobile or from website. Complete details are available at:

Possibilities of putting SMS channels are endless. Let me give just one example. I am a member of a web based group where number of messages is 35-40 per day.

Using an Incoming messages Filter I can redirect only such messages that are of my interest to a blog owned by me. From the blog I can pull out titles (subject lines) of a few messages ending in my blog daily and send it over an SMS channel to my mobile. Thereby I get to know if something interesting is there among hundreds of messages pouring into my email Inbox. This setup needs to be done just once in the beginning. I don't need to be frustrated by large number of Email messages in which I am not interested.

As this is still in beta stage there are delays in SMS deliveries. Initial teething problems include difficulties in getting registered (getting verification code), messages not arriving on your phone, absence of ways to check its proper functioning etc. The owner's identity is kept confidential. The owner can not find out who his subscribers are. In case the channel is private then access is limited to only to those that are invited by the owner. Let us hope these teething troubles will be ironed out soon.
Dr P Vyasamoorthy,
30 Gruhalakshmi Colony, Secunderabad 500015
Ph 27846631 /  9490804278

I blog at:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

FD for hospitalisation: An alternative to Health Insurance of Senior Citizens


The term nuclear families has undergone a sea change and acquired a new meaning for senior citizens. With children well settled either in various parts of India or abroad, the lonely couple are left to fend for themselves and hence have truly become like a Hydrogen atom, with one proton and an electron around it!

Self respect prevents them from living with their children. They are financially secure and are confident of leading their own lives tolerably. But their feeling of well being has many hurdles. One is threat to their physical security. Another is the bugbear of hospitalization.

The seniors do realize the importance of health and are probably now a days more conscious than ever. But it is not hospitalization per-se which they fear but the process associated with admission and long procedures for discharge. In spite of all the adverse comments we pass and opinions we hold, under the present circumstances Corporate hospitals are the most well equipped and well staffed to take care of emergencies. The senior wives of older generation, while competently and lovingly managed the households and brought up a new generation of highly educated children, neglected their own acquisition of financial knowledge. One may not have ready cash in case of an emergency. The delay in obtaining cash from a bank or an ATM it self might be a cause of mental torture for the near and dear.

Even if one has Mediclaim insurance, with the hospital contacting TPA , TPA checking admissibility etc the waiting time is an additional mental torture for the near and dear who are anxious for the treatment to start forthwith.

Following is suggested to the Banks as a remedy for the above problem. Banks are anyway issuing fixed deposits. A special deposit with the same interest rates with automatic annual renewal can be issued but in the form of a card, say like a debit card. Let us call it as Hospitalization Debit Card (HDC) Specialty of HDC is that it is just like cash but can only be used in Network hospitals specifically for hospitalization. Presentation of this HDC at the hospital assures the hospital that the Bank concerned will make good up to the amount mentioned on the card.

For example, let us say a Rs. 10,000-00 HDC is bought. The customer can take it to the bank for premature encashment whenever he wants. Or if the customer or his kin are admitted in the hospital, the hospital can accept HDC in lieu of cash, tend to the patient immediately and can present it to the bank later and realize the full Rs. 10,000/-. If the expenses are say Rs. 5,000/- the account is squared off by the hospital and on discharge patient get back Rs. 5,000/-. As long as HDC is not presented to the bank it continues to earn interest which is regularly deposited into the customer's account. The existing choices for the present FDs can be made applicable to this HDC also. There should be compulsory automatic renewal facility. This facility if extended can be useful for all customers of the bank irrespective of age. If one has Mediclaim, one can do the claim reimbursement later on at ease.

What about those seniors who neglected to take Mediclaim policy when younger and for those seniors who are refused insurance by insurance companies on one ground or other? The above concept if extended can be made useful in these cases also. And so called hassles of critical illness and excluded treatments like dental etc can be avoided.

The insurance companies have increased the premia steeply. For a sum insured of Rs. 2 lakhs each for husband and wife we pay more than Rs. 20,000/- as premium. This amount is non recoverable unless you are hit by an illness.

A senior who is financially tolerably comfortable has to put in his savings somewhere. What better venue than an FD ? And why not put Rs. 4,00,000/- in this new instrument namely HDC?. Instead of losing Rs. 20,000/- per annum towards unrecoverable premium, one will gain Rs. 40,000/- as interest for every claim free year. Say, if the bank has Rs. 1,00,000/- HD cards for sale and if one buys four of them, they can be used judiciously as per need. No hassles at the time of admission in hospital, you earn interest if you don't fall ill, the bank gains in the form of mopping up of savings and the best of all good for the corporate image of bank that implements this idea that it is considerate towards seniors.

As presently there is income tax exemption of Rs. 25,000/- on Mediclaim premia. GOI can extend the same facility on the interest earned on money invested in HDCs since they are for the specific purpose of hospitalization.

--- ooooooo ----
B.Sc(Engg), F.I.E(Ind), F.I.V., F.I.I.S.A.,
Chartered Engineer, Technical Writer,
Valuer, Insurance surveyor, (fire, Marine, Engg)
"Karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana"
"your right is to action only, and not to the fruits thereof"

Monday, February 9, 2009

A different type of Elder Abuse

A different  type of Elder Abuse

Every June, when World Elder Abuse Day is observed, we hear a number of stories in the media about elderly people being abused. One gets to read parents being driven out of the house by children, nursing home staff ill treating older persons suffering from dementia, children and relatives grabbing some oldies' property and so on. This social malaise has become so noticeable that the Government of India has enacted "Parents and Senior citizens Maintenance and protection Act" in 2007. This has been implemented in 17 states and five union territories. The law makes it obligatory on the part of children and others to take care of senior citizens financially and to provide shelter and food. Failure to do so may invite a month's imprisonment.

However I am going to talk about a slightly different type of Elder Abuse. This is abuse of sons, daughters, SIL / DIL and other younger members of a family by senior citizens. Yes, this too keeps happening time and again. I shall narrate just one such case.

Srilatha (name changed) from a middle class family got married to a relatively rich bridegroom. The MIL  did not approve of the alliance from the beginning. The MIL's  ill treating the DIL started from Day one. The MIL was extremely clever and resorted to bad treatment of DIL only when they were alone and nothing could ever be noticed as happening at all. She posed a totally innocent picture to the son and others.  Added to this she would add fuel to the fire by showering complaints against the DIL.  The Son (husband of Srilatha) also had the old timer's views that a DIL should listen to MIL. For him, wife was only after mother in order or priorities. He would never believe whatever the wife complained and simply brushed aside all such complaints and insisted that she obey his mother.  

This went on for decades. MIL lost her husband who was a doting and highly protective husband.  Eventually she became a senior citizen and tuned into a cruel menacing type. Losing her husband she felt lonely and started abusing her son too. As Srilatha's husband retired he had more time to spend at home and started observing things happening at close quarters. He came to realize how his mother in reality a different, bad and intolerable. He once saw with his own eyes her spitting into Rasam before DIL ( last one to eat) was just about to take her lunch. She did so to make her DIL  go hungry without food for some back answering. He too became the target of her tantrums. Like the wife, the husband (son) also could not discuss with others about their problems because of the fear:  "What would others say?"

The MIL, as a senior citizen, became bed ridden due to a number of illnesses. All problems heightened, including incontinence. Mil would not co-operate with anyone. She will always be complaining that nobody is caring for her. She would eye everyone with suspicion. She would concoct stories of abuse and tell every visitor. We should remember that care givers themselves are at this point of time senior citizens.

The old lady had another son. Both sons used to keep the oldie alternately for a few months each. The younger son too knew that his mother was a bad woman but he was bound by duty to take care of her. Both the sons never grudged caring for her in terms of: food, medicines, money, physical care etc . But they did not have any love / affection either.

Once all the members of the family had to go for a wedding. They locked all the rooms (lots of cash & jewelry was kept in those rooms brought by other guests) and left this old woman in a front room with a servant to care for her. Though she was quite capable of using the toilet attached to that room (she had help at hand too) she refused to use the toilet and made a mess of the whole passage by shitting and urinating everywhere. This was her way of taking revenge for locking her out of her own normal bedroom!  Wedding lunch was packed and sent to her in time by a special messenger. She did not touch it. That was when the house was full of guests!

Finally she died at 85 plus much to the relief of everyone. I know of a few more cases but would like to tell them at a different time.  What is your opinion of this type of "Reverse Elder Abuse"? Society always expects the son / daughter to care for elders, never bothering about real problems. Should Old Age be respected even in such cases?



Dr P Vyasamoorthy, 30, Gruhalakshmi Colony,
Secunderabad 500015. Ph: LL: 040-27846631 Cell: 9490804278 I blog at:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

PPF Rate must be hiked

PPF Interest Rate should be hiked

Dr P Vyasamoorthy


Public Provident Fund has been a favorite long term investment opportunity for a long time.

There are several advantages like flexibility in the sum being invested in a year, loans and withdrawals and security. Except that there is five year "lock in" period other aspects like: nomination, change from one branch to another, extension beyond 15 years in blocks of five years are all very attractive. Tax benefits under Section 88 and the interest income earned being exempted fully from taxation are the most attractive features. The principal and interest earned are exempt from wealth tax too.


However the government started this scheme with an attractive annual interest rate of 12%. Then they have slowly reduced it and it is just 8% since 2002. At present there are a good number of Fixed Deposit Schemes both in Private as well as in public sector banks that offer 11% to 12% interest in the case of senior citizens. There is no reason why the government can not increase the interest rates for PPF. Hard earned income over several years, saved in PPF after making a lot of sacrifices, would have grown to sizable sums at the end of 15 or more years. When senior citizens need money most and there are no avenues to earn, whatever savings they have made should get reasonable returns.


Another aspect that the maximum sum eligible to be deposited in a year is pegged at Rs 70000/-.  This figure needs to be raised to One Lakh.


Similarly Post Office Term Deposits yield meager Interest Rates of 7.5% only. Bonus given at the end of the term has been removed. Agents are denied any commission. This is no way to promote savings or help citizens. Senior citizens who value security are interested in Post Office Term deposits in spite of operations problems like poor service and long queues. However they shun postal deposit schemes as the yield is incommensurate with the times.


The government must be urged strongly to hike the interest rates in the next financial year.







Monday, February 2, 2009

What did your father teach you?

What did your father teach you?

Recently I asked a group of senior citizens who are a part of a Yahoo Group called sss-global this question: What did your father (mother) teach you? Here is a compilation of what some senior citizens learnt from their parents.  

1. Pay your respects to your elders; you never know whose blessings may work.

2. Never fill your plate with food you can not finish. Take little and go for a second serve if required. You never know when you may have to go hungry like many other fellow human beings. Respect the food you eat and the food will respect you.

3. Live within your earnings. Never be in debts.

4. Talk less than you know. Keep others guessing what (how much) you really know.

5. Don't be foolhardy.

6. If you get know the weakness of a friend, never expose that you know even if you think he knows. Always allow him to save his face.

7. Pray to the divine power to die peacefully without being burden to either the son/daughter/son--in-law/daughter-in-law.

8. Do whatever possible help to any person who seeks you in person.

Never say 'i cannot or i don't' if you can.

9. Try and keep your words (promises)

10. If you wish to give anything to any body do it at once .delay may cause a change of mind

11. Above all never forget any help you u got and be grateful ever to them.

12. Be business like in speech - short and crisp, do not be unnecessarily lengthy.

13. Always keep the sword in its scabbard. (Meaning:  keep all things in their appropriate place after use).

14. Procrastination is the thief of time. Do everything well in time. Do not put off.

15. Do not criticize or speak ill of any Holy man / god man. God in His wisdom sends different messengers to cater to different people. If you don't like any one - just keep away.

16. Just pocket the insults from the seniors / bosses. Nothing is achieved by retorting. They will realize their error in time.

17. If a beggar wants food, do not give money - take him to a hotel / eatery and get him food.

18. [You] cannot find God apart from humanity

19. To love from inclination is to love as a man; to love against inclination is to love as a saint.

20. Hatred injures the hater not the hated.

21. You feel vitality in you when you have truth in you.


Do you think the present day Senior Citizens have such experience and wisdom to pass on to their wards?  If the answer is yes, how about youngsters' ability to benefit by the same?



Dr P Vyasamoorthy, 30, Gruhalakshmi Colony,
Secunderabad 500015. Ph: LL: 040-27846631 Cell: 9490804278 I blog at: