Two nations, separated at birth

Two nations, separated at birth

It is not only Aatish Taseer’s father, (“Why my father hated India", Mint, 21 July) Indians (read Hindus) and Pakistanis (read Muslims) have been in the grip of hatred for long. They were two nations and so they have remained till today. Because of proximity for long, one culture might have “contaminated" the other on the fringes, but that can hardly cause “existential confusion" for Pakistan. European countries with far deeper affinity among them live happily and separately in their own territories without any such symptoms. There is no reason why Pakistan cannot do that: It is independent, has its own territory. Its army apart, a far greater menace looms large for it in the form of those who would not let it modernize. It is modernity that Pakistanis pine for. The so-called cultural separation from India hardly matters.

—M. Bhowmik

Your editorial “NPS needs a big push", Mint, 22 July, assumes that we live in a rational world. We do not.

For if we did, there would be no need for alarm clocks that jump from the side table and run so that we wake up and hunt them down, hopefully after which we will go for exercise. The National Pension System (NPS) illustrates a similar point.

While the NPS may well be the best product ever, it simply does not exist for the retail investor. I recently gave a talk to the retiring senior managers of a nationalized bank, they were from all over the country and mostly from city branches, but hardly any of them knew that there was such a thing called a debt fund, and none knew what the NPS is.

Just like moving from an arbitrary 2.25% in mutual funds to zero was clearly wrong, unveiling a product that gives you market related returns after you retire— long-term benefits, but short-term pain—with no tax benefits today, no incentive for anyone to sell it, high initial entry cost and to top it all off advertisements that looked like a tender notice was clearly suicidal for the NPS. 

What it needed is a big advertising push, tax breaks if possible, an easy application process and, of course, some incentive for the person who sells it to explain to his customer why he should buy it. Else it will remain the best product that spectacularly failed, at least till we all become enlightened investors.

—S. Shankar

The judicial quashing of land acquisition in Greater Noida area is unfortunate. Due to the fault of authorities in Noida and the builders of residential properties, individual investors who have spent hard-earned money to buy a home are suffering. This case is one more example of how the nexus between builders and respective state governments flourishes and leads to investors being duped regularly. Though in this particular case, some builders have been honest and are either refunding the money to investors or allocate flats to them in other projects, what about other builders behaving in a “business as usual manner"? We can just imagine the plight of poor investors as the amounts involved in these projects are as huge as Rs1,000 crore.

If there is any lesson here for individual investors who want to buy a home (and some peace) it is this: If land is available at rates cheaper than what prevails in the market, we need to keep our eyes and ears open and do thorough investigation and research before putting hard-earned money into it.

It is high time the Union government reformed the real estate sector without any delay and made it compulsory for builders to show clear title deeds and necessary legal documents before attracting investors in their projects. Otherwise such incidents will keep on recurring with regularity and investors will keep on losing money.

—Bal Govind

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