Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Sachin Tendulkar's Ferrari Duty-Waiver is NOT a Tax-burden on the Common Man

I had long given up my habit of prolonging conversations & issuing rebuttals over contentious issues, but this one literally makes me wring my neck to do it.

On the momentous day Sachin scored 200, a friend of mine sent out an email to about 15 of his friends (including me) celebrating the record.

Let me state, for the record, that I am a great fan of Sachin and think he is one of the greatest batsmen/cricketers/Indians to have walked the face of the earth. Only that. Period. I am NOT this Sachin-maniac who blows the Sachin-trumpet at the drop of a hat. I have, around the time Sachin's form slumped, belonged to the group that wanted to see him out. I get pissed every time someone starts the "Sachin is the greatest EVER" refrain. I hate pitching Sachin against Lara or Dravid (Though I love Sachin Vs Ponting, and will unequivocally shout SACHHINN from rooftops, just because Ponting stinks as a sportsman. Even here, talent-wise, I will say that I still do wonder that if Ponting plays as many matches as Sachin, there's a good chance that he will better him {obviously hoping+praying this does NOT happen}).
Now that it has been established that I am NOT this nonsensical, illogical, reasonless, bigoted Sachin-fanatic, I will proceed.

So amongst all the celebratory messages, comes this email from one friend -
"Yup. just that he doesn't pay taxes for his ferrari car... we pay taxes for his ferrari car.. and theres a separate section of bharat petroleum that makes the fuel for his car... pointless & worthless spending by the stupid govt."

followed up by

"it was the govt that waived the taxes... fyi:120% is imported car taxes... my point is... when govt is willing to waive this.. think of ppl like kutraleeswaran who has talent but govt doesnt give a heed to him.. i wish you dont support govt in this issue.
And it was sachin who asked to waive the duty,,, useless fellow..."

I've heard this refrain many times before in my life and probably even (very very minutely) agreed once. But that was way before. Certainly not when I could apply some (at least partially "informed") thought to this funda about us paying taxes for Sachin's car.
Here's hoping this post settles the issue once and for all.
  • Of all the times in the world, this is NOT the time the Ferrari-tax issue is brought up.
    It's like reminding everyone about how Venkatraman Ramakrishnan stole an eraser from a classmate in 3rd standard on the day he got the Nobel prize.
    Alternately, if you are a person who thinks this issue must be brought up every time Sachin performs a feat, to "taint" his reputation, then read on.

  • The very notion of import duty exists to discourage Indian residents from buying goods from outside the country (importing) so local economy is benefited, i.e. the assumption that if the person did not import the car, he would buy it inside the country, thereby boosting the economy (in whatever infra-small measure possible), besides adding to the country's income via taxes is relevant. In Sachin's case, he did NOT buy the car. Though I dont claim to have read Sachin's mind then, I honestly believe he did not have any idea of buying the Ferrari Modena in India (if it was indeed available for sale in our country). Hence, in any case, there was (mostly) no income in the taking for the GoI.

  • That a company like Ferrari, with almost no affiliation to cricket, recognized Sachin's feat (of equalling Bradman's 29 Test centuries) is, by itself, an award worthy of recognition.

  • The notion that the Indian citizen pays for the Rs. 1.13 crore that was waived is false. Utterly. This 1.13 crore was additional income for the GoI, NOT a loss that was/had to be compensated by increased taxes. In any case, I find it highly amusing+unlikely that Jaswant Singh, while tabling the 2003 Budget in Lok Sabha, would've said this - "Owing to a loss of Rs. 1.13 Crores on the duty waived for Sachin Tendulkar's car, I have hereby decided to increase the tax by 0.5% for all income brackets."
    THIS is when you'd have been paying money from your pocket for Sachin's Ferrari. And this is NOT the case.

  • If you purposely want to spoil the party as you don't think Sachin's 200 is a big deal (since it came in the batsman's paradise that Gwalior is, apart from the small size of the stadium), here's what - even I am a trifle disappointed with the 200. Ideally for me, the 200 should've come against one of the foll. teams -
    • England with an attack of Ian Botham, Fred Trueman & Douglas Jardine.
    • A West Indies attack of Joel Garner, Walsh, Ambrose & Malcolm Marshall.
    • Australia with Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Damien Fleming, Jason Gillespie.
in one of these grounds -
    • Lord's
    • WACA, Perth
    • Sabina Park/Kensington Oval
    • Kanpur
Unfortunately, since none of this can happen and also seeing that on more batsman-friendly AND smaller grounds than Gwalior, apart from weaker attacks, no one has actually scored 200 in an (Men's) ODI, I think this can be called a record, dear-skeptical-dude.
  • Legally speaking, the waiver isn't eligible for a "gift", only for an award. Basically, Ferrari gifted awarded Sachin the car because he BROKE A RECORD, and not because -
    • He got married.
    • He got a kid.
    • He bought a new house.
From a very twisted perspective, the award is still a gift, but it qualifies more as an award than a gift. In any case, the government itself introduced a modification to the act and "the amended section Section 25 gave the Government sweeping powers to allow customs duty exemptions on a case-to-case basis".
  • Ultimately, and I deliberately say this last because I hope the other points were an exercise in Logic & Rational Thinking for you - Ferrari PAID the entire Duty after seeing the sad situation prevailing in the nation (going by both Sachin's Wiki Page and this other article).

I rest my case.

[Footnote: I am extremely happy that there are folks that care to think about national well-being (often, somewhat like those folks that complain about the eternally-poor service in Airlines in India). I could easily have slipped in 'When there are politicians that swindle crores of money from the Government, why can't Sachin deservedly & fairly get a 1.13 crore award from the GoI?' as logic, but refrained since it is, again, another of your eternal complaints. My only plea to you - do not lose this national-welfare streak in you, try to also accommodate some rational thought and genuinely-informed-opinion-formation along with it.]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

PSBB Teachers 18 - Charumathi Ma'm

[Start of Series]

(Part 17 

History - '95-'98
Mrs. Charumathi was a well-read lady who taught us History during 6-7-8. History during 6th-8th, coming to think of it, is an extremely tricky proposition - as much as I can remember, the subject was quite boring and that's the time when the boyishness in kids (back during my time, at least) comes of age and rebellion/naughtiness is no longer restricted to only the pranksters of the class. So it was no surprise that our class used to pester the poor old lady (en masse) to no small extent. She must've been quite old then itself. For most part of PSBB, I was this Powder Subramani-type guy, so I was, as always, very well-behaved in her not-entirely-engrossing class as well, but gradually, though I was never the mischief-maker or part of the mischief-group myself, I started enjoying their antics simply because it was fun. Chief among them were V.Arun (who went on to represent India in International swimming competitions), Alagappan, Joel (now a Navy officer :D) and Sushil (now more-or-less a Doctor :D).
Some time around 2000 or later, I remember reading her obituary in The Hindu. I hope she RIP.

(Part 19 here)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

PSBB Teachers 17 - Tara Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 16 

Science/Physics - '95-'96 or '93-'94 
Mrs. Tara Sridhar - Tara mam was a fair'ish teacher (a bit on the shorter side, though not short) who taught us either Physics or Science either in 4-5 or 6-7 period. Some distinct things I remember about her are her curly hair, bright red lip-stick and her immaculate English speech - her pronounciation, though by no means accented, was close to some of the best English I'd heard back then and to top it, she had this wonderfully deep feminine voice.

(Part 18 here)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Predicting the Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya Song-(Sequence + Context)

After a long time, I've been quite addicted to the sound-track of a film much before its release, as well as being quite enthu about the film's release. I also realized that all of VTV's songs are romance-based, and each one is as different from the other. Difficult to imagine (at least for me) composing music for 7-8 songs with more-or-less the same theme. So then, I set about trying to predict the sequence in which the songs will appear in the movie. Yes, vettiness aap course. :D My basic premise is of course that Karthik (Simbu) is an aspiring film director while Jessie (Trisha) is a Mallu Christian. I've also obviously taken into account the lyrics of all songs as well.

(PS: There's exactly one spoiler at the end of this article which I just came across. That's the "Update" part.)

  • The story is set in/around Chennai. 
  • Trisha is something like an office-goer, going by the sarees she wears, and just the look she has. 
  • Kerala locales obviously come somewhere in the song visuals. Hard to miss Kerala for songs, you know, especially when you have an important Mallu connection. ;-)
I'm not really going to take into account any extraordinary situations or consider any twists in the tale (but definitely do hope Gautham has one or two), and so, it is highly likely my order/prediction is wrong on more than one account, but that's what I'm hoping happens. :-) Even if there isn't really any major surprise package in the movie (wrt either story or twists), I'd still be content with a usual love story if Gautham has handled it anything like Minnale (or Alaipayuthey :D), considering the chemistry that Trisha & Simbu promise.

(Songs in Order of my guess except the last one)

1. Aaromale - I find it very hard to imagine how this song can actually be picturized with or without any dance. It is quite possible this song is one of those bits-and-pieces songs which appear occasionally as something like BGM, but a sincere hope/wish - that Aaromale be the song when Karthik first sees Jessie. Aaromale has this kind of heady feel about it - and the way the songs starts off and grows on you, it instantly conveys the feel of something momentous, yet, painstakingly grows from the beginning. The guitar opening itself is quite heavy, but despite this, the song really picks up pace. Kind of metaphorical, IMHO, with love stories. Opening is quite heavy and despite this, it grows more. Aaromale is that kind of song, for me. As for picturization, I hope this song was set in Kerala. :)

2. Kannukkul Kannai - Contact has been made. Probably not in the sense of talking or knowing each other, but at least enough contact for Jessie to know that Karthik is behind her.

3. Omana Penne/Hosanna - Both songs, going by the visuals, have a high chance of being Karthik-dreaming-of-Jessie songs. However, it's also likely they (at least one) might be a kind of duet - which, Hosanna is more likely to be...say something depicting - she also loves him, but hasn't accepted. Or something like that. Omana Penne, most likely, is the dream/imagination song.

4. Anbil Avan - This is probably the first proper duet between the two. The songs also shows Jessie accepting her love for Karthik (assuming it's Karthik & Jessie in the song :D).
Also, the New York City pictures of Simbu & Trisha imply that there's bound to be a song where those pics come up. Of all the songs, this song seems to be best suited to the context and kind of pictures

5. Mannippaaya - Love has happened. Then some kind of pirivu. Song seems to fit the something-like-a-fight_then_reconciliation scenario perfectly. (On second thoughts, though a bit far-fetched, the female part might possibly indicate realization-of-love from Jessie's side, the first time she realizes & agrees to Karthik's love. But yes, this is definitely far-fetched).

X. Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya - This, I'm almost sure, is the bit-song which recurs from time to time,  especially when Karthik is pining for Jessie. Konjam sadness it has also. So...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I watched Alaipayuthey after many many years over the weekend and was simply blown swept away & taken in, well and truly. I don't know why I am so intensely affected by this movie especially now, after so many years, when I, despite liking the movie a lot when it was released & also not missing it every time it was shown on TV, was never crazy about it. But I guess it's got something to do with my falling flat for Minnale a few weeks ago, again another movie I just "liked" before, but was nowhere in awe of it as I am now, after this most recent viewing. It probably also has something to do with Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya's release, a movie I'm looking forward to for many reasons - foremost of them being Trisha's ravishing looks followed by Simbu's remarkably different (& refreshing, if I might add) screen-presence, their exciting chemistry, Gautam Menon (obviously) and to top it, a wonderful sound-track by Rahman. It's also probably a (good?) sign that I'm rediscovering the romantic streak I once had, now at 25, which is rather nice in a sense, since I've been fretting about growing "older" ever since I turned 25 in November. That I can feel pattaam-poochi's parandhufy in my stomach & relate to the romantic overtures of a Chennai youngster like me (though much better-looking obviously :P) without my now-customary romance-associated cynicism & nakkal, is heartening for me. I am actually tempted to add my singularity as another probable reason for going sa-sa ri-ri ga-ga, but I don't think it is as relevant as the others, considering the fact that barring an amazing-yet-immature 5-6 months back in the beginning of last decade, I've been pretty much single all my life.

While my awe of Minnale was probably 75% Maddy, 5% Reema, 10% each Harris & Gautham, Alaipayuthey was more Shalini and simply the relatability of the amazing romance between the two. It also helped that I've grown up around trains all my life (thanks to my mom working in S.Rlys) and the fact that the Chennai electric train is one of the most identifiable & middle-classly-enchanting hang-outs for the Chennai youngster. But the primary factor, I think, was Shalini, who was simply outstanding as Shakti. Before I forget him, let me credit the genius of Mani Ratnam for the way he scripted the roles & brought out the best from everyone for their resp. roles, most notably, of course, Maddy & Shalini. Shalini's role is probably now my favourite female character, just pipping Jo's Maya & Laila's Ramya. And what do I say about her expressions... truly floored only. :D The best thing about her was that she is not this stunning or drop-dead-gorgeous girl, but a decent-looking girl, who, with a touch of simple-yet-elegant middle-class make-up (I simply loved the eye-liner when she speaks to Maddy in her college) and some terrific emotions & dialogues, with the right amount of reticence, interest & impishness, sent my heart into a spin. And that one scene where the girls search for Karthik from inside the train, and finally see him standing in that God-level-stud pose on the opposite platform, leaning on his friend's shoulders, coolers, et al, and the girls shout, and Shalini coyly smiles, and Rahman's "Sakhiyeee..." precisely starts, My God, that one scene is enough for me to live out any "romance" for the rest of my life. Not to mention the half-smile which she gives when Maddy calls her and waves bye after she cutely "admonishes" him in her college. And the way she looks at Maddy while singing Alaipayuthey Kanna song, sheer brilliance (of Shalini, Mani, Sreeram, Rahman). And then the first time Karthik calls her up, she responds "Aduppula Rasam vechirkken, amma vera ippo dhan vandhaanga, semester practicals irukku... irundhalum nee solradha porumaiya kekkaren," hayyo mudiyala ennaala. :) :)

Maddy was good without being great (which Shalini was). The thing with Maddy was - he has oodles of Iyengar khalai on him, and that "punnagai" which pretty much did most of what he was required to perform. Which is exactly where Shalini scores. Watching her act made me feel bad about such a brilliant talent being cut short abruptly, but then, the nice thing's that I will always remember Shalini as "Shakti", and not any other better/nonsensical role, which is bound to have come her way, had she continued acting.

Ok, not that the movie didn't have one or two flaws though - the 2nd half was quite melodramatic, especially the ending, but I wonder how else it could've been. For a second, you wonder if Mani intended to go somewhere else after the 1st half, seeing the drop in brilliance-level towards the end, but it's ok. Also, the September Madham song & Sophiya Haque's gyrations were quite unnecessary - for this "bit" alone, Mani disappointingly comes across as a director who feels the need to have one titillating song in his movie.

No discussion about Alaipayuthey would be complete without a mention of one of the most perfect songs in Tamil cinema. A spontaneous reaction entails falling flat for Maddy & Shalini, but on second thoughts, I guess it's quite possible the genius of AR Rahman+PC Sreeram+Mani Ratnam+Hariharan would've made the song just as stunningly exotic with any couple in it. That Maddy & Shalini are quite good-looking & had some incredible chemistry just enhanced the awesomeness of the song by a couple of notches.
For whatever reasons may qualify/disqualify Alaipayuthey as a classic, the movie surely is a classic for the singular reason of how endearingly (post-1990) urban middle-class romance has been portrayed.
And for this reason, it will always continue to make waves in the heart of any even half-romantic middle-class Chennaite. :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

PSBB Teachers 16 - Prema Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 15 here)

Maths - '95-'96
Mrs. Prema Ramaswamy - Prema Mam was this small, fair, petite lady who reminded me a lot of my grandmother who brought me up. She was more the age of a perimma for me, I guess, but there was an unmistakable similarity. She was yet another of my Maths teachers who I enjoyed learning from. Her "and" was very distinct - it sounded like aaand (like the "aa" in "aam" or "aadmi") and her speech had this cute drawl to it.
Another wonderful teacher. :)

(Part 17 here)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Kahani Chaar Khan'on Ki

Aamir Khan: The original chocolate-boy of Bollywood & the best-looking Khan (at least back when all Khans were young & good-looking without make-up). Decent-enough actor, somehow shot into "brilliant" actor status thanks to his knack of choosing cheesy scripts. Now, the consummate marketer, he'd give IIM-MBA's a run for their money.
Note: Sarfarosh & RDB don't automatically imply he is patriotic (he might be the most patriotic of all the Khans but that's not much to go by, is it? ;)

Saif Ali Khan: Easily the least successful of all the Khans, he has exactly one good movie to his credit (where he didn't make an ass of himself, which is why I excluded Dil Chahta Hai). His only other notable Bollywood-success is hooking up with a 100-times more successful Kareena Kapoor.
Most Notable guest appearance: "The Buck Stops Here", starring Shirtless Khan.

Salman Khan: No shi(r)t. Aishwarya Rai. Drunk-driving. Katrina Kaif. Period.

Shah Rukh Khan: Easily the best actor among the Khans, sadly stopped acting in good movies after 2000. Currently trying very hard to emulate Aamir Khan in marketing, but falls flat. Where Aamir slickly markets his movies with/without controversy, this guy just Kkkk...Khan't do it without making noise.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's a Guy Thing

How guys treat/interact with/behave with other guys with respect to girls (gyaan accumulated over my 25 years of existence)...
  • Guys simply love other guys who make asses of themselves in (common) presence of good-looking girls.
  • If a guy introduces you to a good-looking girl, at least one of them is committed (more likely the girl).
  • If a guy invites you to a gathering of good-looking girls, he is either a fool or thinks you're one.
  • If neither is true & he still invites you, then he is your best friend for life and the best man at your wedding.
  • If there are 2 girls you're teased with, guys amplify the teasing-with-the-lesser-good-looking-girl so the better-looking one's available.
(might be continued...)

Monday, February 1, 2010

PSBB Teachers 15 - Meena [Jain?] Mam & Rama Devi Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 14 here)

Hindi - '95-'98
Meena mam was a slim youngish teacher who looked very South Indian (Tamilian, in fact), but never totally convinced me if she was one, especially because of the Tamil she spoke with the occasional peon - it wasn't Seth'ish, but it hadn't the colloquial "spashtam" that we would associate with native Tamil speakers. A nice lady and a wonderful teacher (for some reason, PSBB seems to have had this great set of esp. Hindi-language teachers). I also remember she took a break for a year when she had just given birth to a baby.
This one year was covered by Rama Devi mam, quite an old woman, who was quite puny. I think Meena mam was more liked by the class than Rama Devi mam, but she was also a fair teacher, nevertheless. I also remember that I got 98 in the Vth cycle test or something, which I remember her paaraattifying me or something, with a smiling face (not sure why I especially remember this "smiling face" thing, not sure if she was a generally serious-faced teacher or anything). :-)

(Part 16 here)