Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A ban on spitting pan in public places - who enforces it?

It was a beautiful and pleasant evening. I had taken my daughter to a nearby park. The park wasn't very busy, but had decent number of people. There were all kinds of people ... of different age groups and economical background. There were people sitting on benches talking to each other, people walking around the park to burn calories, and little kids playing on the play structures. My daughter enjoyed playing in the park ... on the sliding board, merry-go round, and swings. She climbed over all the play structures.

(Also read: Vandalur Zoo - Infrastructure is world class but people's behavior is local class)

We had spent quite some time in the park and were about to leave. Two teenage boys entered the park and sat on an empty bench. The guys looked somewhat rough and were talking in 'Chennai Tamil'. They were chewing pan, and constantly spitting near the bench they were sitting on. I was noticing this for a while. I was tempted to go to them and ask them not to spit in the park. The teenagers looked rough and hence, I was contemplating whether to do that or not. Finally, I developed some courage and decided to advise them. I went to them and asked "If you don't mistake me, can I tell you something?". They gave a puzzled look not sure about what was I going to tell. "I have been noticing that you were spitting in the park. I'm not sure if you are doing that intentionally or unintentionally. There are so many kids playing in the  park with the sand. In the best interest of the kids, can you please not spit in the park?" I was surprised on seeing their reaction. "Sir ! We didn't do it intentionally. We'll not do it from now on. Thanks for pointing this out".

The second instance happened in CBE (during my visit to Infoquest 2010). We were waiting in CBE bus stand for our bus to Chennai. There were long rows of chairs for the passengers to wait/relax. I saw a family of 6 people, occupying the row in front of us. The head of the family was a gigantic man, chewing pan. He was constantly arguing with his family members and irritating them. I didn't pay much attention to their conversation. However, the gigantic man got my attention when he spit pan over the tiled floor. He did it a couple of times and wasn't sensible to the menace he was causing. I took the courage to talk to him. I told "Sir ! If you don't mistake me, can I ask you not to spit here on the floor?". He immediately said "Sorry Sir ! I won't do it". He stopped doing that, after that.

Also read: Skywalks in Train Stations - What are they for?

Irrespective of where you go, it is very common to see people spitting pan on the streets/roads. It is very common to see that in shopping malls, cinema theaters, walkways and even in temples. People do not realize the health hazards of spitting on the streets. The educated folks do not even make an attempt to correct them. They just mind their own business and go on. Of course, "Not everyone is alike" and you may even run into people who may cause physical harm to you. I believe that "If told politely, and if you don't touch their egos, you'll get a proper response". You shouldn't try to prove that you are 'more socially responsible' than the other person. Your objective should be to just educate them. Today, smoking & spitting are prohibited in all public places. However, it should be enforced and followed religiously.

Also read: If I don't care, who'll care

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Loan application process in India - very simple

The last decade in India has brought a remarkable transformation in our society and people's spending pattern. A drive on the Indian roads will tell you that the number of ATM machines/Banks have increased many folds. The ATMs/Banks want you to withdraw cash or get loans and SPEND. From a 'savings' based society, India is trying to morph into a 'spending' society.

It is hard to find people in the salaried class, without a house loan or a car loan to pay. You are sure to run into representatives of Banks trying to sell Credit Cards or Loans... especially in places like shopping malls. You'll get a call from these 'hunters', right after you open your bank account or when you get a new mobile connection.. You'll even get marketing calls/text messages on your mobile about Credit Card offers or Loan offers. These offers are at times very tempting that you find it hard to resist.

Recently, I applied for a car loan in HDFC. The process is very simple. You can apply for a car loan through their web interface. All you need to do is just provide your personal details and select the loan amount you want. I got a call from the Service Rep, in just 5 minutes after pressing the "Submit" button for loan application. You don't even have to go to the bank. They'll send reps to your house to collect all the necessary documents.

Unlike in US, where loans are issued based on the credit history of a person, Indian banks go through a manual verification procedure. I think banks outsource the verification process to a 3rd party. They'll send Reps to your home, work place etc., to verify your records. This process is at times, very unpleasant/awkward. They make sure that all the information you had furnished is accurate. I was quite surprised by the time they took to process the loan application. In just 2 days, the loan application got approved.

The loan application procedure is more or less similar for other banks, too. I heard that government owned banks take a longer time to process the loan application. On the other hand, government owned banks provide you a better interest rate when compared to privately owned banks. You can even bargain/negotiate interest rates with banks. For example, I was able to negotiate the rates to bring it down by 2%. If you are a long-time customer of a bank, you get some special treatment on the interest rates.

When you apply for loans, it is better to check with 2 or 3 banks and pick the best offer. Since the whole process gets completed in a few days, it is worth the try.