Thursday, January 26, 2012


Being a banker, I am several times asked about how and where to invest. And many people ask me about good Mutual Funds also. Though this has not been my main domain in banking, recently on being asked I've done quite a bit of research on it, and come to the conclusion that the Mutual Funds which give you lesser returns generally attract less risk. But to get really good returns, one should keep the money for at least 3 years in it. As of now, due to rising rates of Gold, the Gilt Funds should be a good option for people.

But my own experience says that no matter how lucrative any Mutual Fund or Company share/ stock appear, remember that they are both market driven... If you can track 'em and remember to withdraw them at the right time, then only opt for them. But if you are saving for your future (by saving pennies from your hard earned money), better to put your money in Insurance Policies (they are of several types - from 'Life' to 'Moneyback' to 'Children's Plan' to 'Fixed income' after certain age/ time period, just like a Pension) or Fixed Deposits. Market driven funds are more suitable for people looking for making some quick bucks in addition to what they already have or safely saved.

But best option, where you will lose no money is - Fixed Deposits. Here you can invest fixed amount for a time period or monthly small amounts till whenever you want (these are called Recurring Deposits), where monthly an amount fixed by you, say, Rs 2000/-, Rs 5000/- or more is debited from your account and keeps getting added to the deposit. Or invest into fixed lump sum amounts as and when you have them. You can later utilise it fully or partly, whenever you want. For people who don't want the interest portion (especially Muslims), you can monthly make a donation to charity from your savings accounts which will nullify your interest amount plus additionally cover your Zakat amount. There are several Charity organisations which will be happy to receive your donation. According to me, best charity is for Children's education. Especially, of street children and orphans. Intially, I also was hesitant to invest in Fixed Deposits as there is interest involved in them. When I learnt this way out, I realised I hadn't saved much. Loose money kept in savings accounts, usually gets spent !

For working people of private companies, where you won't be getting a pension after retirement, please opt for Voluntary PF to your existing PF. That's the best way to save. For example, your automatic PF contribution from salary is Rs 1150/- (plus an equal amount from employer), you can ask your HR to additional deduct Rs 3000/- or Rs 5000/- or any other amount from your salary. You will get a lesser salary in hand, but will be happy several years later or when you quit.

Another safe way to invest is in Real Estate. But liquid cash is always better investment than assets, which require to be sold. And in emergencies, you end up getting a worse deal. Also house bought for staying in, cannot be considered as an Investment. You will not sell a good house bought in a good locality with dreams, and in which you are living in, just because market value increases. In such a case, you will only move to a not-so-good locality. And such a step will be required only in dire circumstances. Hope no one goes through such phase in life. But if you invest in an extra house for selling later or earning through rent, then yes, its an asset for you.

But spread your investments in various types. Even Gold is a good option. But remember, if you are buying gold for personal use, do not consider it as investment. You wouldn't want to snatch and sell off a beautiful gold ornament of any woman in your house just because you will fetch good money for it in the market, unless it is done for need. What is purchased for investment, should be treated as such and kept aside for it. And Muslims, please do not forget that hoarding gold attracts Zakat also. So do not forget to give in charity what's due of it.

Happy Safe Investing!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Big Boss Season 5

Till last week I was supporting Amar Upadhyay but disappointed by him this week... but at the end of it all, I feel Siddharth (Sid) has stood the test n emerged little mature n gained gud experience in life. He's shown spine in the right places. So I think we can overlook his past mistakes. Mehek is my second choice. Amar was gud but failed to cash in on it by being undecided n nervous at times and especially so since past week. Not gr8 quality in a man. Akashdeep Saigal (Sky) is a 'typical tapori' but of the lowest degree. A kind of person who can anger the most silent n calm of ppl. Juhi was gud n had nice chances but befriended the wrong ppl n has been quiet wen they're wrong.. so I boil it down to 3 - Sid, Mehek and Amar (considering his silent demeanour n decency). Tomorrow I gotta vote first time in the show to make the final choice. My sis is for Sid n collecting votes for him (esp 'like' the gaddi task n stealing the throne n giving it back to Sky on Tuesday episode).... I further boil it down to Sid n Mehek! Wat dya feel ?

But overall this year, Bigg Boss has been a big disppointed wherein Big boss has allowed flouting of house rules with little interference. People have fought non-stop and stooped to 'rasta kinda language'. Till last year what was considered bad is now good. Violence and bad words were taken seriously by the show organisers, not any longer. Discussing nominations was an offence and contestants were given punishment for it. This year most fights were the results of openly discussing nominations. Last year, Veena Malik was made to apologize for doing a jig on the dining table, but this year I saw a glimpse of Pooja Mishra doing the same, without anyone batting an eyelid! Kamal Khan was evicted over small fights and not taking part in tasks, but Sky has openly refused the tasks and fought endlessly through each episode! Not only that, this year contestants have disrespected Big Boss hosts and even big boss's orders and some even questioned the punishments instead of taking them sportingly as part of the game. After all these people are getting paid by the number of episodes they manage to remain, though they fool the viewers to believe as if money and prize was nothing for them and they value friendships and blah blah....

Another reason for this year's Big Boss being unwatchable was that almost all contestants are from the Ad or TV industry and mostly know each other and their backgrounds, so they have not much to get to know each other. They keep fighting with each other referring to things they know about each other. Previous episodes had people from all walks of life and this creates curiosity among the contestants themselves, often discussing and talking about themselves and sharing their life's experiences. Earlier there were people of all backgrounds and ages and we had all types. This year mostly all are same types. And since there wasn't much 'masala' in the episodes, bitchy fights were all that caught a few attention, so the organisers just kept quiet, I guess! I've watched very few episodes this year. But my conclusion is that 'Sky is the most disgusting person I've seen'. Even the Dolly Bindra and Raja Chaudhary types fight to their worst and then other times okay to deal with. But with Sky, you can rightfully say that 'the sky is the limit'. ;-)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

A New Year ?

Yet another year arrives! And every year we have more and more things to debate on to prove we are one-up than others! Just like new inventions, we have newer debates.... religious, political n general. When a 'New Year' (this too has is now debatable) comes, we look back on the year that was.... the best and the worst that the year brought. And we look forward to what the coming year has to give. We make resolutions (keep some and break some !) and plans and wish all will be the best in the coming year.

So many things are linked with the new English year (there is a reason for calling it English) this time. Since some past few years, many 'doomsday predictors' have been saying that the world with end in 2012 (a movie was made to cash in on it!). And some predict that there will be wars to bring the world to an end in 2012. I'd seen headlines on a Marathi newspaper a few months back, stating that the mini rebellions in middle east and elsewhere are equal to earlier wars as the definition of wars have changed over the period of time. Maybe it's right in way. But linking it to the world coming to an end in 2012, is not agreeable by me. For me, I still believe, like the Quran states, that the knowledge of Last Day lies with the Almighty alone.

This year we had some religious leaders questioning us on what are we wishing each other for? This ain't our New Year. Yes, I agree. Islamic New Year is the first of Muharram month (though sadly only a handful wished good things for me on that day!), 'Gudi Padwa' is the Marathi New Year, Diwali marks the new year of the Gujaratis and some other Hindus, 'Onam' is Keralite new year, 'Pongal' is Tamilian new year, while for Parsis its 'Pateti'.... the list goes on... So what is the Calender we are following? The English (or Christian) one. We accept and follow the English calender for uniformity in the world. A lot of things, including our age is calculated on the basis of the English calender else lunar months being smaller, we would be a few years more older !!! So if we do that, we should accept that a new calender year has changed instead of getting all flared up and branding people who wish others. The best and diplomatic way to wish is 'Happy New English Year' to your non-Christian friends. This has been a growing trend this year. I got a few sms to that effect this time from Hindu friends as well. This is definately a better move than boycotting wishing each other altogether!

I do not accept any other religion beliefs or become a non-Muslim if I wish anyone on Christmas or Diwali or New Year. I am just respecting their sentiments and being part of their happiness as I am part of a society. And I know that we cannot live as islands by ourselves. We are part of a whole world and our actions should make others look upto us and make others say - ''Who is this examplary person and which community is he/ she part of? I respect him/ her and his religion for that." A maulana said something against Santa Claus recently, though many Christians as well as those who are well-read very well know that Santa Claus has no religious significance in Christianity. It was added later for children and has many legends or history behind how his existence become part of Christmas. The people who point fingers at others in the name of religion, often trying to prove they are right themselves, are violating many religious laws themselves (and some of them do not know the actual history of things). They make posters, put their own pictures on it, the local buses have their huge pictures when their rallies are to happen (Islam is against picturesque representations!). We follow what suits us and discard what doesn't. Aren't we making a mockery of religion just to prove we are right and others are wrong?

Let us live and let live, set us spread love and happiness and cheer and joy. And yes, not to forget spreading knowledge, which is a gift of God. Because sharing knowledge is an act of charity (sadqa). And then watch how may emulate and adore you for it. But at the same time, let not little knowledge make us arrogant and proud as Pride and Arrogance are hated by the Almighty. And little knowledge, we all know, is a dangerous thing!

May 2012 bring a changed and tolerant person in us all. And may Allah bless us with knowledge and guide us all on the way to Righteousness (Siraatul Mustaqeem). Ameen!