Showing posts from 2010

Status of Income Tax Refund

There is a very useful service started by Income tax department to find out status of your Income tax refund. But useful of such an important service is marred by bad data in the Income tax database. For example see following screen-shot from the website.

Notice the text in bigger red circle. First column says "cheque has not been sent" and next column says "refund cheque is encashed".
Also, notice that refund is sent on 10-8-2006 for the Assessment Year 2007-08 i.e., Financial year ended on 31-3-2007. So, our Income tax department is so efficient and forward looking that they are able to send the refund on 10-8-2006 before year has ended on 31-3-2007!! I like this efficiency.

It clearly shows that Income tax database is in a mess. And such mess can be easily traced back to the people who enter data in to the system. So, it's a garbage in garbage out.

Recently (24-6-2010) there was a press release by Income tax that said:
“The Income Tax Department has taken t…

Understanding IT Software Business Model in view of tax confusion

ISODA's writ petition demanding removal of Service tax on Packaged Software got dismissed by the Madras high court on 24th August 2010. The order said that government has right to levy Service tax on IT Software and is well within the rights conferred to it by the Indian Constitution. It further confirmed that software is 'goods' but transaction involving transfer of right to use - between ISODA member (software reseller) and End user could be 'sale' or 'service' depending upon what is written in the End User License Agreement  (EULA) from the software developer / copyright owner.

Tax experts concurred that interpretation of order could pose serious difficulty to the business operations of the software resellers - as would be difficult to read EULA of each Packaged Software license and determine whether the transaction is a 'sale' or 'service' or combination of the two. Doing so would be subject to the interpretation of a legal agreement - w…

Tryst with Medical Fraternity

My mother aged 72 years had a fall because a young child crossed her way while playing. She sat down on the ground and could not get up. She was brought home by some helpful people.

Upon simple visual examination we did not find any visible signs of a fracture like swelling or unbearable pain. Of course, she found it difficult to move right leg and had pain it was moved. So, a young physiotherapist was called in. She examined her and said that possibly there is no fracture and few sessions would do good to her. She started with some mild treatment on first day. But next day my mother sensed more pain compared to the previous day. So, we stopped her treatment - fearing that exercise may aggravate the pain and some experienced person should be called in.

Our friendly neighbour suggested a local bone-setter (hadd-vaidya) whose 3 generations have been curing ailments related to bones and setting bones. One young man arrived quickly and applied some oil and with a wooden massage aid and d…

Sleeping dog guarding Ghatkopar Post Office

Two weeks back I visited Ghatkopar West Post office in the morning early hours for some work. And I noticed an interesting sight of a sleeping dog on the first floor of the post office.

I'm sure dog's service (if any) are free of charge.

Always Green traffic light

Currently a new Metro line is being constructed between Ghatkopar and Andheri. Due to this new development - at a main junction of Ghatkopar Station Road and LBS Road - near Sarvoday Hospital Junction - the traffic signal has become almost non-functional. This is because road going towards Ghatkopar Stations on west side is completely closed.

On this junction - the traffic signal has been in such a state of neglect that it has developed green cover completely. See the picture below. Please note that traffic lights still function i.e, they turn Red to Amber to Green and vice versa but one can hardly notice. Enjoy 'Always Green Traffic Signal' of Mumbai.

How to detect tempering of a Milk Pouch

Second time in last 1 year, my wife suspected that milk supplied to us was not same as regular milk. It is easy for us to find out because we regularly remove cream from the milk and make ghee (butter). In fact, such home made ghee meets our ghee requirement and we never purchase ghee from outside. So, the reduction in quantity of cream is a direct indication of mixing of water in the milk.

Whenever she complained it our supplier, he merely said that I'm not aware - I'm just purchasing it from abc (whom we know for many years). We did not bother to cross check with abc because we don't have his contact number and he is living little far away from our place.

But one of our neighbour suggested that we purchase it from another supplier. And this is what we learnt. Here is a picture of Milk Pouch that is intact i.e., unopened before delivery to us.

Here is a picture of opened and sealed Milk Pouch. (Note: Click on the Picture to expand the view.)
So, little visual inspection is…

Saw movie - Pipli [Live]

We had gone with great expectation but returned empty hearted. What a shame,  Amir Khan has brought to himself.

We are seeing this drama played by hollow politicians and media every day. What's novel about it? Tell me what was it about? About farmers and their life? No, it was about how irresponsible politicians and media are. We know it very well perhaps better than Amir has depicted in his film.

What a botch up of a potentially powerful subject of farmers. With little ingenuity and good research it has potential to make a Oscar winner. Amir Khan did not hit the bull's eye. In fact, he missed it by a kilometre.

Possibly he wanted to make a low budget film with good ROI. Best of luck in his new money making business.

The Chief Belief Officer says "Within infinite myths lies eternal truth.."

Very nicely depicting the way occidental and oriental people think and behave.

Leh Ladakh Tour

End of April, my son pointed out an advertisement in a local news paper saying visit Leh Ladakh for 4 nights / 5 days at Rs.22,000/- per person including Air Fare; and get family discount of Rs.2,000/-. Offer looked fabulous.

I thought there must a catch. Any way, I visited Make My Trip website and filled in a web inquiry form. Next day I got a call from Ahmedabad and lady on the other end said - seats are limited. I asked for available dates and checked on date in the first week of May. Paid advance booking amount of Rs.3,000/- per person through credit card using IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Of course, I got few nervous moments because my usual Credit Card could not be used - since it was expiring by April and new card could not be used because it would become active only in May! So, I tried 2 other cards and both would not go beyond the credit card number. Lady on the other end volunteered to enter the credit card number but again system would not accept valid up to date or C…

How can IT dept collect TDS when they can't give credit for the same to us?

Today we received Intimation u/s 143(1) for my wife from Income tax department for the year ended on 31-3-2008. Major source of her Income is salary and interest from deposits.

To our horror we noticed that although we had paid full tax (Advance tax, TDS deductions and Self Assessment tax) - she was served notice for payment for Income tax along with interest!!!

The delivery staff told me - "Do not worry, sir. There have been some doubts about TDS claims and as a precautionary measure department has not given credit of TDS. Ask your CA (Chartered Accountant) and show all original TDS certificates and you will get the correct order."

Upon simple inspection of the Assessment Order we noticed that except for the Returned Income figure none of the figures on the Assessment Order matched with the filed Return.  Upon a short telephonic discussion with CA, we were advised to approach the Income Tax department directly - as there are too many such cases and they are unable to cope u…

Cost of outsourced work

For last few years outsourcing work is routinely adopted by companies to reduce costs. Now a days we see various non-core activities like after sales service, salary payments, marketing activities, claim processing, event management, house-keeping, physical security of premises and so on - are routinely handled by outside agencies. While cost reduction may be true in short run - there is a cost that a company pays for outsourcing its activities.

For example, look at the quality of service provided by outsourced agencies for After Sales Service. Is there any credible proof that outsourced agencies can offer to its customers that their customer's are served well and are happy with their service? I doubt.

Take this instance of a leading software product vendor who routinely outsources its Dealer Incentive scheme management to third parties.  Yesterday we learnt about a dealer scheme from this vendor's newsletter and clicked on the link to register for the same. And we got a Googl…

Un-used and expired Sodexo Gift Vouchers have no value?

Sodexo is a french company allowed to issue pre-paid Gift Vouchers in India. There is a guideline given by Reserve Bank of India giving directions for their operations. It's published in April 2009 under "Issuance and Operation of Pre-paid Payment Instruments in India (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2009".

We had got this Sodexho Gift Vouchers in 2006 from one of the Vendor as an Incentive. We thought we had used it all. But recently - while clearing cupboard - my wife found unused Gift coupons worth Rs.2,600/-. They had expiry date of 31-12-2006.

When I approached Sodexo they said nothing can be done about them as everything has been accounted for so far and accounts are closed.

When I read the RBI directions- it says following:

Issuance and Operation of Pre-paid Payment Instruments in India (Reserve Bank) Directions, 2009

April 27, 2009

9. Validity
9.1 All pre-paid payment instruments issued in the country shall have a minimum validity period of six months from the date of…

Excessive electricity bills paid for 10 years due to a defective electric meter

We were suspecting our electric bills to be high - so after several complaints starting from Feb 2009 - meter was taken for testing in Aug 2009 and found to be defective. Meter was found running even when mains supply was switched off. Reliance gave us 20% refund for 5 months starting from Feb 2009 based on Meter test report - which had tested meter for 10%, 20% and 100% load at Unity and 0.5 lag Power Factor. Average Percentage Error of this 6 readings was 20%.

We went to Grievance Forum - they gave order for 20% refund for additional 3 months - as per MERC regulation. But, our current (new) meter reading shows reduction in consumption of units by 61% compared to old meter. This is in spite of the fact that consumption pattern has remained unchanged - before and after the meter change.

So, we're thinking of approaching Ombudsman for the same. But problem is that of MERC regulation - which states following (relevent provisions are reproduced below):


More on "Ubuntu on Desktop" experiment

After reasonable success with the usage of Ubuntu 9.10 on my desktop - for about 2 weeks, I gathered courage to replace PCQuest Linux 2005 with Ubuntu 9.10 on one more PC.

It is a P-IV 2.4 Ghz, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB harddisk, Intel 845GSVR motherboard and DVD writer. The installation would start fine but would freeze after 3-4 minutes of disk activity. It won't even reach hard-disk partitioning stage. After many attempts, installation worked in Safe Mode. But, after that no matter I did, I just could not make it work in better resolution than 640x480. Installed latest updates worth about 110 MB. No luck. Installed earlier Intel 2.4 graphics drivers. No luck. Tried even manually configuring 'Monitor' section of xorg.conf file. No luck. Gave up after lot of trial and error.

Took out Ubuntu 8.10 Desktop CD from the cup board and put it in the DVD drive. It installed without any problem with full resolution. But, it would just freeze after entering user name password. Found solution…

Magnetic north pole is shifting eastwards 40 miles a year

Today I read a news in Mumbai Samachar (Gujarati daily) saying Mangetic North Pole is rapidly advancing eastwards - towards Russia - at about 40 miles (68 kms) a year. Interesting!

Then I came across a 24 Dec 2009 daily news in National Geographic, which is the source of this news item. The article says following:

A rapidly shifting magnetic pole means that magnetic-field maps need to be updated more often to allow compass users to make the crucial adjustment from magnetic north to true North.

Wandering Pole

Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid metal. This creates a "dynamo" that drives our magnetic field.

(Get more facts about Earth's insides.)

Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north.

It's predicted that magnetic north and south poles will be reversed, …

Defective product replacement experience within warranty period

Generally speaking, in India, customer is at a receiving end while asking for replacement for a defective product within warranty period. I shall narrate my experience, one bad and other slightly good.

It's a experience most people in India would agree and say it's not new - it's common. Any way, draw your own conclusions.

We had purchased Creative's EP-630 Ear-phone from a dealer in Lamington Road at about Rs.850/-. After few months, it became defective. When we contacted dealer, he said warranty is only for 2 months. I pointed out to him that on Creative's web site, it's written as 1 year. He said we don't get replacement from the distributor. I contacted distributor - Cyberroam. They said warranty is for 6 months from the date of manufacture. When I saw the date on the box, 6 month had just got over. I pointed out to them that Creative's warranty is for 1 year from date of purchase but they refused to acknowledge same saying it's only for 6 month…

Started New Year with Ubuntu (what is that?)

In past, I tried to switch over my desktop to Linux number of times. I tried SLED 10 (Suse Linux Desktop 10), Fedora 8, PCQuest Linux 2005 and finally Ubuntu 9.10.

But, before gathering courage to try out Ubuntu, it was my tryst with Nitix 5.0, which gave me courage and confidence. About 1 year back; I was seriously looking for replacement for Novell NetWare 4.2; which has been going on non-stop for last 10 years; and earlier versions of NetWare (2.2 and 3.2) for previous 8 year or so. Actually, it will go on for another 25 years, if the server on which it is running won't fail. Even, the server (HP E-45, PII 300 Mhz, 64 MB RAM, 4 GB SCSI hard disk) is running for last 11 years with only component failed being 4 GB Tape Drive. I suppose it would run for another 5 years or so. But our accounting software (Work Horse) has outlived it's useful life. So, last year we switched over to Tally ERP 9.2 (finally).

At that time, we signed up with Nitix as their reseller by purchasing Not…

Saw '3 Idiots' movie

Last week saw '3 Idiots'. Theater was packed. Very entertaining. Too good. Re-lived many moments of my stay at IIT Bombay. Movie has some really good messages like 'we go to college for learning and not for grades'. 'Enjoy your work, money will be incidental then.' etc.

People just love the movie. If I were to give title to this movie, I would say, "Ajab Dil Ki Gajab Kahani'. It was all about 'heart' ruling over 'head'. Through and Through it was same thing.

But, wait, people don't do this in their real life. In real life, it's almost always head ruling the heart. Isn't it? Then why people love this movie? Because here they see what should be. Vicariously they feel relieved for their inability to allow 'heart' over their 'head'. They feel nice and feel money well spent because it relieves them of the guilt.

In fact, I almost agreed with one critic who said "it's a time-pass". In other words, fee…

Idea to conserve water discharged from Flush Tanks

This year there has been a threat of water scarcity looming over the city of Mumbai. Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) is seriously looking at ways and means of conserving water. Given below is my idea which could save tons of water, if implemented.

Recent flush tanks are coming with 2 knobs - one for half discharge and other for full discharge. But, even half discharge knob releases substantial volume of water. I learn from few minutes of Internet search that at least 10 to 15 liter of water is discharged with each press of the knob.

Yesterday I got a simple but good idea to reduce volume of discharge from Flush Tanks. Implementation is easy and would easily conserve about 2 liters of water per discharge.

You will require:
1. A plastic bag which can hold say 1 or 2 liter of water. Ordinary Milk bag or small size plastic carry bag would do.

2. String (Plastic, preferably) 6 to 8 inch long

Take a plastic bag. Fill it with water. Tie it up with the string at the top. …