Friday, 30 December 2016

Bachao! Mumbai's Demolition Gangs are doing “Secret Encounters”

Mumbai, 30th December 2016: Did you know that Mumbai municipal officials can bulldoze and smash entire streets without official paperwork? No show-cause notices, no letters and memos, no demolition register entries, no records whatsoever. It's like normal BMC tod-phod in broad daylight, except there's no paper trail. If you ask under Right To Information, BMC says, “No records exist”.

On the morning of 10th December, 2015, Dinesh Bhosle (Sub Engineer H/West Ward), Vikrant Manyar (Junior Engineer) and Siddharth Kasare (petty works contractor) went to 40th Road, Old Khar West with casual labourers and a hired bulldozer, and smashed up many shop extensions.

Here's a video of the demolition, with local resident Imran Mansuri (red shirt) arguing with BMC officials and a policeman. Constable Sanjay Ware in this photo was identified by Khar Police Station in response to Imran’s RTI application. Following Mansuri's complaint to Deven Bharti, Joint CP (Law and Order), Constable Sanjay Ware, in his statement, was clear and truthful:

Surprisingly, although Mansuri wrote to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta with photographic evidence, BMC still continues to repeat that there are no records, and MC's office maintains a stony silence. Several questions arise: Who paid for the bulldozer rentals and casual labourers? Did a private party pay for this smash-up? Did a local politician or businessman benefit from this unofficial demolition drive? Why the secrecy?

BMC officials: Yes, we were there but there are no records
  1. Sting video shows Junior Engineer Vikrant Manyar admits that he was present at the demolition, but says “no information is available about the demolition”.

  2. Another sting video shows MCGM’s First Appellate Authority Rajeshkumar Yadav (Executive Engineer, H/W Ward,) giving evasive replies. He threatens Imran Mansuri for going after the municipal officials with their photos. 
  3. Other RTI Applications, replies, complaints, etc. can be downloaded from here and here.

Mumbai police acknowledged the demolition on 10th December, 2015 on 40th Road, Old Khar West. But Mumbai's municipal corporation has no record. We all know that BMC routinely ignores thousands of unauthorized structures and building code violations throughout Mumbai, but we didn't know that BMC officials did some private tod-phod business on the side, off the books. Now we know,

Krishnaraj Rao

Saturday, 24 December 2016

FIR filed against K Raheja builder: Horizon Green Borivali has invalid OC and Fake Drainage

Mumbai, 24th December, 2016: Mumbai Police recently filed FIR against K Raheja's Palm Grove Beach Hotels Pvt Ltd. Reason? Violation of Town Planning Act by unauthorized construction of a drainage line in November-December 2015. Many months earlier, Palm Grove misled MCGM into giving Drainage Completion Certificate and  Occupation Certificate (OC) for their new building Horizon Green without drainage. To make up the lacuna, the developer belatedly built a drainage line going uphill. That's right, uphill!

The Deputy Municipal Commissioner's remarked on 5th January, 2016, "Validity of issue of occupation certificate dated on 18.4.2015 is doubtful".  If any flat-owners take possession and come to stay in their flats, they are in for a rude shock. When they start having baths and flushing toilets in sufficient numbers, their sewage will overflow.

See level difference in two blue circles in this drainage plan

Near the building, the drainage is 102.926 metres above mean sea level. Further down the line, the level is 105.862 metres – three metres higher, i.e. up the hill. The explanation given by K Raheja's CEO, M D Chande, is that "adequate slope is available between the last chamber in the building and the manhole on Municipal road to which the line is connected is confirmed by emptying water tanker in the last chamber in the presence of municipal staff." However, Mr Chande steadfastly refuses to back his claims with any figures i.e. metres above sea level, degree of slope, etc. Home buyers should remember that a slope of one foot per ten feet of length is needed for sewage sludge to flow; otherwise silting, stagnation and overflow are bound to happen.

Mr Chande alleges that as their neighbours deliberately blocked the old drainage line, he was forced to build the new uphill drainage.

Mr Chande claims that MCGM's Assistant Engineer - Maintenance gave NOC dated 20th November 2015 for the uphill drainage line without requiring the builder to submit any plans or diagrams

"Why seek NOC from Maintenance department? Why not Building Proposal department?" we asked Mr Chande. His reply was that after giving OC, Building Proposal has no further jurisdiction. So he was forced to approach Maintenance Department. But  MCGM disregarded the Maintenance Department NOC and issued instructions to prosecute Palm Grove Beach Hotels for "unauthorized lying of sewer pipeline and drainage work". Read MCGM's Designated Officer's sanction to prosecute.

DMC's remarks

MCGM's Deputy Municipal Commissioner wrote an office memo in January 2016, titled "Full Occupation Certificate issued... without completing all necessary works in the building". The DMC wrote: "It is reported that Building Proposal Department have given full Occupation Certificate to Building No. 6 on 18.4.2015... It is seen that now developer has started the work of laying drainage line. Designated Officer R/Central Ward had issued stop work notice on 9.12.2015... This clearly shows that before issue of occupation certificate, the drainage work was not completed." See the screenshot below.

The DMC's memo can be read at:

Catching small fish & setting the big ones free

The Assistant Police Inspector's statement prior to FIR mentions the mukadam Ramesh Kishan More, "Manager" Mr Chande and supervisor Virendra Dube. Read the statement:
As always, even while filing an FIR, the authorities catch unimportant minions and let the bosses go free. So, who were the persons named in the FIR? Not the directors of Palm Grove Beach Hotels and not even the project's architect. At first, FIR was registered against Mr Chande and Mr Virendra Dube, a site supervisor working on contract basis. Here's the screenshot.


Later, the FIR was further diluted by removal of Mr Chande's name with white ink, and its replacement with Mr Dube's name, evidently because they represented to MCGM that Mr Chande, CEO, is "not concerned in this matter". So Mr Dube's name is mentioned twice in the same sentence. See the screenshot below:

So the blame for this multi-crore rupee fraud is being pinned only on a site supervisor who has zero discretionary powers and only follows orders. One is reminded of Justice S J Kathawalla's recent reprimand to EOW in a case concerning a builder, "You arrested the smaller guy... and the builder, the big man, you say is wanted... Are you giving him a chance to take anticipatory bail?'' Hope someone drags Palm Grove before Justice Kathawalla!

Krishnaraj Rao

Read K Raheja CEO's detailed rebuttal to this press release.

Also Read: K Raheja's Horizon Green Building in Deep Trouble due to Unauthorized Soak Pit


Modi is that man your mother warned you about

"Mitron, I'm that man your mother warned you about," says Modi to all of us. A ripple of pleasure passes through the crowd, and dozens of people shudder and come in their pants.

Modi's premise is simple: Pain is good. "Is that so hard to believe, you fucking faggots?" he thunders.
His promise is simple. He promises to fuck this nation so hard, it will go numb from pain and blood-loss. "If you think demonetization was painful, you don't know what I'm about to shove up your ass next," he gloats. "Just lie down and keep quiet, it will hurt a lot less that way," he advises.

Modi is confident that India is full of people who say that the more it hurts, the better it is.

You know, the kind of people who say, Hit me baby one more time?

The kind of people who pay someone wearing leather thongs to tie them up, gag them and then whip them till they vomit and black out? Or choke them till they almost die? You know?

That's the kind of people we are. And if we aren't already that sort of people, we will become that way by the time Namo is finished with us.

That's what he's saying here:

K Raheja's REBUTTAL to our Press Release on HORIZON GREEN Drainage Issue

The below email was sent as a rebuttal to our press release.

From: K Raheja Constructions <>
Date: Fri, Dec 23, 2016 at 1:30 PM
Subject: Re: Kind Attn Mr Sandeep G Raheja: Draft Press Release about Horizon Green for your rebuttal
To: Krishnaraj Rao <>
Cc: unique <>, City Office <>, archana desai desai <>, "K.Raheja - Delhi" <>,
Mr. Krishnaraj Rao

Subject:        Building Horizon Green at Borivali.

Reference:    Your emails on 20-12-2016 & 22-12-2016.

At the outset, it may be stated that by and large the statements made in your draft release are far from facts & ground reality.  The rebut para-wise is as follows.

The levels mentioned in your first para of your draft as well as sketch furnished there below are surface levels and have no bearing with the invert levels of the inlet & outlet of drainage line, which govern the drainage flow. 

During my discussion with you I told you that the fact that adequate slope is available between the last chamber in the building and the manhole on Municipal road to which the line is connected is confirmed by emptying water tanker in the last chamber in the presence of municipal staff.

It may be further pointed out that the drainage completion (DCC) for building No. 6 known as Horizon Green was obtained from Building Proposal Department to connect the drainage line from last chamber of the building under reference to the existing drainage line in the layout & thereafter the full occupation permission for the building No. 6 was obtained (copies of DCC & OCC enclosed). Subsequently it was noticed that the said connection was damaged suspectedly by the occupants of the ‘Raheja Green Co-Op. Housing Ltd.  This was brought to the notice of Dy. Municipal Commissioner, Zone VII, Asstt. Engineer (Maint) R/C Ward and the Senior Inspector Police, Kasturba Police Station by writing letters (photocopies enclosed).  However no action so far taken by any of these authorities.

Being frustrated with the apathy of the public bodies, application for another connection was made in R/C ward office Asstt. Engineer (Maint).  The said permission was obtained and accordingly work was carried out maintaining the slope & levels as mentioned above (copy enclosed). 

Therefore your statements and the information on which they are based viz. “Rude shock because their drainage is connected to the Municipal Sewage that is uphill from the building, so, the drainage cannot work, and that the drainage work was not completed before occupation certificate etc.” are baseless and false.  If you want any further authentic proof you may contact R/C Ward staff of MCGM.
If therefore despite above explanation you choose to publish the draft article, please note that the same will be entirely at your risk, cost and consequences.

Yours sincerely,
(M.D. Chande)

N.B. Above supporting documents are for your information only and not to be parted to any other persons.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

"Cashless" endangers the masses: HDFC Bank leads the way

Mumbai, 22nd December, 2016: Think how dangerous cashless payment can be if you are a typical unwary customer. If you pay in cash, you have the assurance of knowing that nobody can reach into your wallet and take an extra buck. But if you pay online, extra money can be skimmed by your bank without your knowledge. Sanjeev Goel of Belapur, who runs a coaching academy, read his account statement and found that HDFC Bank had repeatedly made deductions that he wasn't informed about, had not permitted, and wasn't notified of by SMS alerts.

Sanjeev was charged Rs. 34.50 for each of the 32 times he paid student's fees of Rs 3000/- to Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Sanjeev immediately got an SMS alert for debit of Rs 3000/- but not for Rs 34.50. TISS denies deducting that amount, so clearly, HDFC deducted it. For what? Authorized by whom?

Geetha Priya, Manager Correspondence (PNO Desk) claimed in an email: "We take this opportunity to reiterate that the surcharge information is available on the TISS web portal. But step-by-step analysis of the portal transaction shows that the information is not available on the TISS portal.

HDFC Bank managers enjoy discretionary power to (a) slap various charges on their customer (b) reverse the charges if confronted and questioned, and (c) "upgrade" or "downgrade" a customer's account by applying criteria that aren't disclosed to customers.
"This is not the only issue with HDFC Bank”, says Sanjeev. HDFC Bank has been guilty of direct fraud. They have levied charges for a 13-month prior transaction in my bank account, of Rs. 276 towards 'BC issuance charges'. When you ask them to downgrade an account from AQB (Average Quarterly Balance) Rs. 40,000 to AQB Rs. 10,000, they say 'don't worry, we will ensure that no AQB charges will be levied, you don't need to downgrade account', and then after 6 months, they levy the AQB charges. They charge for sending SMS for banking related transactions, and this was never informed to us. Our account statement clearly shows 'charges towards sms'."

So, what ails HDFC Bank generally?

1) Marketers doing bankers' jobs. HDFC Bank appears to be run by marketing executives chasing sales targets rather than bankers following regulations. Banking discipline and stewardship of customers' wealth is compromised. Buck-passing and false verbal assurances are normal. Employees frequently say things that they don't want to put in writing.
2) Abuse of discretionary powers, carrot-and-stick approach with customers. HDFC Bank managers enjoy discretionary power to (a) slap various charges on their customer (b) reverse the charges if confronted and questioned, and (c) "upgrade" or "downgrade" a customer's account by applying criteria that aren't disclosed to customers. Generally, banking is governed by strict rules, regulations, formats and criteria… but at HDFC Bank, this isn’t the case.

3) Skimming of customers' accounts. Is imposing unverifiable charges to lakhs of customers HDFC Bank's recipe for profitability? Only a few alert customers raise objections and have the charges reversed after weeks or months of struggle; the vast majority may not even notice. Is this how the bank earns thousands of crore rupees as "other incomes", "fees", "commissions", etc? HDFC Bank's latest annual report says, "Other Income grew 19.5 per cent over that of the previous year to INR 10,751.7 crore during the year ended March 31, 2016. The largest component of Other Income was fees and commissions, which increased by 17.8 per cent to INR 7,759 crore with the primary drivers being commissions on debit and credit cards, transactional charges, fees on deposit accounts..." To the layman’s ears, this sounds suspiciously like skimming of debit and cards, and deposit accounts.

Our Prime Minister wants the gullible and unschooled masses of India to rely heavily on such banks for day-to-day transactions. Does he fully comprehend how this can play out?

Krishnaraj Rao

Saturday, 17 December 2016

What my Atheism means for believers & religious people

Let me unpack the atheism concept a bit. Theism is belief in a deity, a creator. Such belief is a default position in society, because of how we are all born into Christian, Hindu or Muslim families.. and that's how we end up with Hindu-sounding names like Krishnaraj or Christian-sounding names like Lata Tauro. Based on our names, everybody, including State, assumes that we are followers of Hinduism, Christianity, etc.

However, some of us (like Lata and I, for instance) analyze our childhood indoctrination and conditioning little by little (or all at once) and we conclude that our earlier beliefs were based on mythology rather than reality. We come to the conclusion that our religious faith is totally unsupported by evidence. (Simultaneously, we also process the available information and come to the conclusion that other religions besides ours are also similarly unsupported by any evidence.)
Nor is it just a question of lack of evidence in the existence of a deity. Atheists like us actually find lots of EVIDENCE THAT THERE IS NO DEITY. The existence of any kind of deity defies our logic entirely, and requires huge amount of suspension of disbelief.

A lot of theists are habitually suspending disbelief, rather than actually believing in a deity. Suspension of disbelief is not the same thing as actual belief. Suspension of disbelief means, "I don't believe in god, demons, ghosts, soul, the supernatural, etc. but I am willing to act as if I do, just to go with the flow of society and my family."

Theism and atheism are intellectual, emotional and social positions that we adopt, just like conservatism, liberalism, etc. There is a strong element of conscious choice, and atheists are probably the first to recognize the "conscious" part of it, because they make a conscious shift from their socially-given default position.

The theists -- the people who believe in one deity or another -- tend to feel that their faith -- Hinduism, Islam, etc. -- is the "only right choice", and everybody else is just plain deluded. They tend to be self-righteous because they feel that a higher authority -- namely their god and their scriptures -- validate and sanction the use of force in making people believe and bow before their god. They tend to rely on crowd-support to make their point.

Atheists also naturally feel that their position is the only correct logical position to adopt, but they aren't driven by feelings of self-righteousness. The primary source of their self-assurance is knowing that they could overcome their own social & religious conditioning, and that they can stand apart from the crowd.

Atheists don't necessarily want to convert believers into non-believers. There is no need for you guys to feel threatened by us. We are just stating our position in our own space. If you guys want to keep your beliefs, that is just fine by us, and we can all be friends

Making Bharat-mata-ki-jai Compulsory

I had this conversation with a Hindu friend who wanted every Indian child and adult to compulsorily say, "Bharat Mata Ki Jai". "If they don't say it, then it means they are unpatriotic, and they don't love India. Anybody who doesn't love India should get out and go to Pakistan or wherever," she said. And so we had an argument, which went like this:

I: For Sunni Muslims, bowing before or even imagining any deity other than Allah feels sinful. So the idea of saying "Bharat Mata" makes them very uncomfortable. You know that, right?

She: Since when does an atheist like you sympathize with people's religious feelings? And what is the harm if Hindus, Muslims and everyone else is compelled to express love publicly for our motherland? We must all be patriotic and love and respect India, who is like our mother.

I: Personifying India is a very Hindu thing to do. We tend to personify and worship anything, and it comes naturally to us.

She: So? What is your point?

I: So personifying India doesn't necessarily come naturally to people of other religious faiths, or even to atheists like me. I can shout, "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" if I'm in the right crowd setting and the right mood. Its the same way I can shout "Ganapati Bappa Morya" during Ganpati Puja if I'm being polite and joining in prayers. But the more I think about it, the weirder it feels. So, I would rather not be forced to say it. If you leave it voluntary for people like me, we feel a lot better saying it.

She: It is necessary to force people like you to show patriotism for the good of the nation.

I: What is good of "the nation"? You mean "good of the nation's people", right? I mean, what is a nation if not the collective of all its citizens, right?

She: No, India is something above and beyond its people. Our nation is greater than all its people put together. Small-minded people and intellectual posers like you will not understand this truth.

I: Are you saying this about all nations? Like, is Pakistan greater than all its people? Is Nepal greater than all its people? Is every nation great?

She: No, India is the greatest nation on earth. Every nation is not great. No other nation except India is great.

I: You mean to say that Russia, China and USA are not great nations?

She: Not in the way that India is great. India is like a goddess. Only India is Bharat Mata. Other countries are only pieces of land and collections of people living on them.

I: So, are you saying that Indians are the greatest people living on earth?

She: Not all Indians. People like you are not great at all. Pseudo intellectuals and leftists and sickulars like you are a burden on India. You bring shame to India.

I: So who are the great Indians who make India the greatest nation on earth?

She: People like Shivaji and Rana Pratap who lay down their lives willingly for our motherland. People like our army jawans who live and die for Bharat Mata, because of whom people like you are able to experience freedom. People who are true patriots. People like you are like dirt under their feet.

I: What percentage of people are patriots like you? And what percentage are pseudo-intellectual leftists like me?

She: I don't know percentages, but all sensible people are patriots like me. Only pseudo intellectuals, congis, leftists, muslim sympathizers and JNU types are like you. Because of all the people like you, India is being prevented from becoming great again. And that is why traitors like you must be made to bow down before Bharat Mata or expelled from India.

I: Can you compel someone to love and respect Bharat Mata, against their will?

She: It is the duty of every Indian to love and respect India as if she is their own mother. Why should anybody have to be compelled? They should love with their own free will! They should have gratitude for this country, which is giving them so much freedom of speech! Even Muslims are living in India with more freedom than in Pakistan, Iran, etc. People like you would have been killed for saying things like you do, if you were in Pakistan! Why are you taking your freedom for granted? Be grateful for your freedom, and say "Bharat Mata Ki Jai!"

I: But, if it is uncomfortable for me to say "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" and you force me to say it, where is the question of my freedom? Isn't India becoming like Pakistan, with their blasphemy laws and all?

She: Traitors like you understand only the language of force that is spoken in Pakistan. You deserve to have Shariat law imposed on you. You don't understand the true meaning of freedom of speech, you only understand the language of the whip and the boots. You are abusing your freedom of speech and taking undue advantage of the goodness of Indian government. If bitter medicine is necessary, the true patriots of India will force you to drink it! If patriotism is like bitter medicine for you, it is because there is something wrong with your way of thinking. You should love Bharat Mata. Everybody should love Bharat Mata like their own mother. What is wrong if we tell you to love Bharat Mata? Are you ashamed of loving your own mother? Say "Bharat Mata Ki Jai". Say it now! Say it loudly, and repeat it again and again, until you are comfortable saying it.


And that's how this argument went. I know a lot of people will feel very happy and satisfied that this lady "won the argument" and I lost. "She shut you up good and proper" is how the popular sentiment is likely to flow.

And yet, I am sharing the gist of this conversation here, because I feel that it gives us food for thought.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Hanuman & Spiderman -- Imaginary Superheroes

Hanuman, like Spiderman, is an imaginary superhero. The people who imagined and wrote the Hanuman stories -- as part of a larger story called Ramayana -- are ancient people, revered as sages. They lived in India many millennia ago.

The sages wrote these imaginary stories for the ethical upliftment and entertainment of the illiterate masses, and filled these stories with morals. Through such stories, many generations of sages improved the quality of life of many, many generations of Indians, and helped to regulate society. Through such stories, they propagated rules for proper living, and also gave people something to believe in.

But that does not change the fact that Hanuman is an imaginary superhero. He did not exist at any point of human history, and he does not exist today. Hanuman -- and the whole pantheon of superheroes, demigods, gods, demons and super-villains -- are imaginary.

Time to stop being senti about our dhoti-wearing gods and grow up. Ancient does not automatically mean true. Hindu belief does not automatically mean true.

The same goes for other superheroes, such as Jesus "Resurrection-Man" Christ and Prophet "God's-Spokesman" Mohammed. Even if there was some historical human being behind these imaginary superheroes, the fact remains that these hugely exaggerated characters -- and their superpowers -- are pure figments of our imagination.

Grow up, people.

Time to outgrow Amar Chitra Katha Comics

We grew up reading books of history and Amar Chitra Katha comics that convinced us that wise people called sages could gain superhuman powers by sitting down in a forest or ashram, meditating, practicing austerities and doing penance.

Even educated people in India believe in these things as if they are historical fact, and not just mythology. As impressionable comic-reading kids who suddenly sprouted breasts and moustaches, we never had the occasion to question such childhood beliefs before entering the grown-up world.
Grow up, people.Think. If a person sits in a forest or a hill for months or years "meditating", the only things he will get are: (1) severe malnutrition, liver and kidney failure (2) permanent wasting away of the muscles of his legs and hips (3) horrible bedsores on his bony bums (4) insect bites and parasites. It doesn't matter whether you are a "sage" or an "asura", the same rules of biology apply to all of us.

Time to outgrow the Amar Chitra Katha stories, folks.

Because our unquestioning belief in mythological bullshit enables right-wing politicians to foist Ramjanambhoomis, Ram-sethus and beef-bans on us, and exploit us for votes.

Stop Stealing Respect from the Living, to Give Respect to the Dead

Every time someone tries to force you to respect an inanimate object, a dead person or an ideology, they indirectly steal your self-respect from you. By making you "respect" the dead and the non-living, they make you respect yourself and other alive people less. This is theft and pilferage of respect -- a scarce and precious currency in our social lives. I object to such theft.

"You are insulting the national flag and my national anthem," they say. They are habitually wrong, or they are lying, because remember, the national flag has no feelings; it experiences neither pride nor humiliation. The national flag is an idea, a concept, and it is not an alive thing -- unlike you and me. You and I are alive, we deserve respect. Our thoughts and feelings deserve respect and due consideration. Don't institutionalize theft of the respect of the living, in the name of compulsory patriotism and nationalism. If you try, we will call it what it is: Theft. You may be the Prime Minister, you may be a Supreme Court judge, you may be the high-priest of a temple built in the combined name of martyrs such as Shahid Bhagat Singh and the martyrs of Kargil. But if you steal respect from the living and try to endow it on the dead, you are stealing. It may be institutionalized theft, but it is still theft.

Those who are dead -- be they Ambedkar, Nehru, Gandhi, Thackeray or Shivaji -- are irrevocably dead. While they were alive, they may have commanded great respect. But they are now dead; they are a bunch of ashes, and dust, and memories. They cannot experience insult or praise. Their cronies or "supporters" can experience insult or praise by proxy, vicariously, but that is not the same thing.

The least among us who are alive are greater than the greatest among those who are dead. Because no matter how insignificant you and I may be, we are the PRESENT. And no matter how great the great people may have been, they are the PAST. The present is greater than the past -- no matter how glorious that past is claimed to have been. The present is virile and fertile; from the loins of the present will spring the future. The past is impotent and incapable of breeding anything.

Temples and memorials and political parties based on past "great leaders" are intended to institutionalize the exploitation of people who are alive, for the benefit of the high priests of these "great leaders" or "great ideologies". Those who are dead must be cremated and forgotten. That which is imaginary must be relegated to fairyland.

Respect those who are alive and speak for themselves in their own authentic voices; as for mimics of the voices of the dead, there is indeed a place for them also, but never forget that they are mimics. A mimic should never be confused with the real personality.

"By questioning my prophet / my religion / my political leader, you are insulting them," they say. No, I am not. You are free to profess your religion or your political faith, and to try to win converts to your cause. And I am free to profess my religionlessness and my skepticism, and to try to win converts to my cause. You believe what a particular book says, what a particular guru says, what a particular leader says, and you keep trying to spread those beliefs. I may question those very beliefs which are being thrust upon me. It's not personal; don't make it personal.

We don't have to necessarily agree on everything. You are free to state your own beliefs as I am free to dissect those beliefs. You are free to dissect my beliefs or my attitude. Keep it intellectual, keep it clean, don't make it personal, and we can still be cordial.

As long as you don't try to make your freedom more sacrosanct than my freedom, we can be friends.

Don't let bullshit get past your bullshit filters. Question everything.

Right-wing politicians are constantly trying to make you feel it is your duty to be "proud" of being Indian. They keep trying to make you part of an unthinking herd. And that is only the tip of the bullshit-iceberg. 90% of the bullshit iceberg is below the intellectual water-level, where you can't see it.

It is our highest duty -- our calling -- to resist being herded. It is crucial to be mindful of hidden messages -- efforts by politicians or religious gurus to curtail our freedom of speech, thought and action.

If you feel under pressure to blindly hero-worship Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, or Narendra Modi, or Prophet Mohammed, or Guru Granth Sahib, or our army jawans, or any other icon, beware! If you feel under social pressure to unthinkingly "accept the values that these great people/ great books represent", beware!

If someone wants you to believe that there was a golden era -- a Rama-Rajya or a pre-British or pre-Mughal time when India was a Sone-Ki-Chidiya, beware! If someone wants you to believe that ancient Jain gurus or modern gurus like Sri Sri Ravishankar and Jaggi Vasdev know what YOUR life is about, beware! Remember, the present moment is all you have, and your capacity to think for yourself is all you have. Don't let anybody take that away from you with false promises or false wisdom.

A lot of people out there are trying to manipulate your thoughts through your unexamined belief-systems -- the dearly-held assumptions in your mind that you feel uncomfortable to examine.

When you read a newspaper or hear a news story on television, look for the hidden assumptions. These are the parts that the journalists don't want you to question. And these are precisely the parts that you must question, in your own enlightened self-interest.

We are being continually manipulated in the name of religion, nationalism, leadership and ideology. We are swimming in a sea full of undercurrents of deliberate propaganda disguised as information. We are bombarded with mind-numbing nuggets of nonsense meant to clog and overwhelm the bullshit-filters of our minds.

Don't let bullshit get past your bullshit filters. Stay alert. Question everything. This is not optional; it's a necessary life-skill.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Delayed Ekta Parksville: Builder offers full refund plus 9% interest but...

Mumbai, 9th December 2016: Vineet Malik, a flat-buyer in Ekta Parksville aggrieved by the interminable delay in project completion and occupation certificate, received a pleasant surprise a few days ago. Ekta Parksville Homes Pvt Ltd sent him a letter that agreed to cancel the deal and refund the entire amount paid by him – Rs 25.24 lakhs – and additionally, interest of 9%. The total amount that Ekta World offered to pay is Rs 34.57 lakhs. 

This letter was received in the wake of patient exchange of correspondence and meetings by Vineet Malik with CMD Ashok Mohanani, plus mainstream media and social media coverage (especially our blog) and also my and Sulaiman Bhimani's meeting and negotiation with the builder's men on Vineet Malik's behalf.

Ekta World's letter dated 3rd December 2016 proposed interest payment of Rs 9.32 lakhs to Vineet Malik. 

At first, this seemed like an extremely generous offer, and any aggrieved buyer should be thrilled by this success! But let us examine the issue a bit more closely. After a delay of more than three years (and counting) in delivering the agreed flat in the Virar project, Ekta World is, "as a goodwill gesture" agreeing to pay back the paid amount plus 9% interest. This rate of interest is no more than what he would have had to pay for a project loan. 

On the other hand, what is the penalty and interest that the buyer would have to pay Ekta World if he had slipped up in paying up his installments on time? Read this excerpt from the one-sided Registered Agreement.

The agreement states Ekta World can terminate the contract after giving the helpless buyer only seven days notice, if he slipped up in paying even one installment! Not only that, he would further forfeit 20% of the total consideration i.e. Rs 5.2 lakhs. Read this excerpt from the agreement.

Further, in case the builder chose not to terminate the contract unilaterally, the interest payable by the buyer for the delayed payment would be 24%. Read this excerpt.

So, 24% interest from buyer, 9% interest from builder. Does that sound fair? Vineet Malik doesn't think so.

Therefore, this feisty investor is turning down Ekta World's generous offer of interest of Rs 9.32 lakhs for five years. He will continue fighting for his just and equitable dues i.e. 24% interest on the refunded amount.

Issued in Public Interest by
Krishnaraj Rao