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By Kinka Mondal ( In collaboration with Somnath Dasgupta)

The illuminated bright streets, cacophony of clamored crowd mixed with various other sounds, lots of temporary food stalls around the footpaths and tired-yet-excited people in the long queue outside the pandals- precisely describe the typical days of Durga Pujo in West Bengal, especially in Kolkata. Pujo Committees of different local clubs make all the arrangements for a week or so with the help of state administration; this typical and most popular arrangement is termed as – ‘Barowari Pujo” (means, public organization of religious or similar kind of entity). Before the popularity of Barowari Durga Pujo in West Bengal, Durga Pujo was mainly celebrated by affluent Bengali families (like-Raja, Jamidar) referred to as “Bonedi Barir Pujo” and was in extremely limited numbers. Though nowadays, there are hundreds of Barowari Pujo being organized, the charm of “Bonedi Barir Pujo” is still unbeatable.

Photo Courtesy: Google Image

So, today we will centre our discussion on a few such Pujo that have been celebrated for centuries at several aristocrat’s homes in Kolkata. Every Pujo has a tale behind and a few distinctive rituals which are fascinating as they are still being followed by the descendants of the respective families.

Let us dive into the virtual travel through a few Bonedi Bari and their Durga Pujo celebration:

  • SABARNA ROY CHOWDHURY FAMILY:

The great Sabarna Roy Chowdhury house is located mainly in Barisha, Behala. It is the oldest Durga pujo in Kolkata, being organized from the year 1610. The most amazing fact about the Roy Chowdhury family is the British rulers got the right of three villages- Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kalikata from Roy Chowdhury’s and a new city, Kolkata- the City of Joy was shaped up.  Many more historical events are associated with the great Roy Chowdhury family of Kolkata. The Roy Chowdhury family have their own museum, named- “Sabarna Sangrahashala” at Barisha, Kolkata, which is a great place to know more about heritage of Kolkata and Bengal.

Sabarna Roychowdhury Pujo
Photo Courtesy: Google Image

They have a very distinctive pattern for their Durga idol, it is called – Aatchala and maintain specific colour for the idols every year. Though these centuries old pujo has been downsized in terms of spending money than before, still the traditional touch of old Kolkata has kept the charm alive till today.

The Aatchala idol
Photo Courtesy: Google Image
  • SHOBHABAZAR RAJBARI:

Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb (1737-1797), the founder of the great royal house at Shobhabazar, Kolkata (now in North Kolkata) started the Durga Puja in 1757 after the British East India Company defeated Siraj-Ud-Doulla in Palashi Battle as a way of celebrating the victory of the British. Presently, there are two pujo which are being celebrated separately- The Boro Torof (the main pujo that started 248 years ago) and the Chhoto Torof, which is 231 years old. Robert Clive was actively involved in this pujo of Shobhabazar Zamindar Bari. They also have their own tradition and rituals which make them unique and one of the favourite pujo destinations of Kolkata. Maybe due to this devastating pandemic, the entry of outsiders will be barred by the family this year and will only be opened for the family members.

Sobhabazar Rajbari
Photo Courtesy: Google Image
Maa Durga of Sobhabazar Rajbari
Photo Courtesy: Google Image
  • PATHURIAGHATA KHELAT GHOSH BARI:

Khelat Ghosh Bari is also in North Kolkata, specifically in Pathriaghata. Khelat Chandra Ghosh was the grand son of Ramlochan Ghosh, who was a clerk of Warren Hastings. The palace has a 85 ft long corridor with antique fine marble finish; the largest Thakur-Dalan (the three sides open courtyard covered with a roof, where the pujo arrangements are done ); the huge dancing hall (now Khelat Ghosh Hall)- one can surmise from this information how grand the palace actually is!

The Khalet Ghosh Palace
Photo Courtesy: Google Image

Coming to their Durga Pujo celebration, it was started in 1846 by Babu Khelat Chandra Ghosh. They have distinctive “Daak er Saj” (silver decoration of the idol) for the Maa Durga. They offer homemade sweets to Maa Durga- which is one of many rituals the family is still following.

Daak er saj of Maa Durga
Photo Courtesy: Google Image
  • JORASANKO SHIBKRISHNA DAW FAMILY:

The Daws of Jorasanko has been celebrating Durga Pujo since 1859 originally started by patriarch Narasingha Chandra Daw. Although they were the leading manufacturers of gun powder at one point in history, Late Narasingha Daw built a Thakur-dalan within their family home for organizing Durga pujo. For more than 150 years, this “Bonedi Barir” Durga Pujo has been organized every year following the same rituals and traditions as per “Brihannandikeshwar Purana” of Vaishnav faith. As per popular folklore, it is believed that Maa Durga visits the Daw family Puja to adorn herself with ornaments.

Thakur dalan of Daw family
Photo Courtesy: Google Image

For this heritage family, Durga Puja begins in the month of Sravan (the 4th month as per the Bengali Calendar) during Rathayatra with fabrication of the main framework of the idol (Kathamo Pujo). Till date, the idol has always been created by one family from Howrah. The Durga idol is first painted during Pratipod and the women of the family welcome Maa Durga during the same day (Bodhon) by adorning her with gold and precious stones studded ornaments as per rituals. Maa Durga is treated as the daughter of the family and her homecoming is celebrated in traditional yet grand way.

Maa adorned with Gold and precious stone jewelry
Photo Courtesy: Google Image

I wish I could mention a few more, like- Jaanbazar Rani Rashmoni Barir Pujo, Purna Charan Dhar Pujo, Narashima Dawn Pujo, Madan Mohan Dutta Bari , Baghbazar Hardar bari – amongst the endless list of Bonedi Bari Pujo celebrated in Bengal. The majestic grandeur of the centuries old Pujo not only serves the purpose of prayers, but it is more of celebration of homecoming of the daughter- one can literally feel the festivity in every corner.

Though the families keep their doors open for the visitors but considering the unfavorable consequences due to the present pandemic, they might surely limit the degree of celebration this year. As a responsible citizen, we also must plan our celebration very carefully keeping mind the guidelines set by Government. Signing off with the hope that Maa Durga will lead the way towards eternal joy and happiness.

Have a great and safe Pujo!

Dugga Dugga.

Note: The information used here are solely collected from internet. No interviews were conducted with any of the mentioned family members.

Copyright GetInsight.blog 2020

By Suradip Das

My parents tell me that during my Annaprashan (a Bengali rice-eating ceremony for 6-8 month old child), I had chosen a Pen. Turns out, these apparently stupid rituals are not always meaningless. From my childhood, a new pen and a new notebook have remained my favorite gifts and I would start writing on any topic in a frenzy if I got those two. This is something my grandparents used as bait to get me to write. I always felt a strange comfort and ease in expressing myself while writing. With time, pen and paper was replaced by a computer keyboard and free flowing catharsis got replaced by structured professional manuscripts. I blame this transition for my now almost illegible handwriting from which I decided to spare you all!

The incident that sparked the question

However, today something happened which compelled me to ditch my computer and pick up a pen and write on paper – because I needed to write from my heart. The question that has been troubling me is – Are social media friends REAL ? We are all made to believe that Social Media has connected the world but taken people farther apart. Indeed, we are often so engrossed chatting with Facebook friends that we ignore the existence of our so-called Real life friends.

So, why am I asking this question suddenly when we know that Facebook friends are not REAL ?

Today, one of my Facebook friends and her partner died in a road accident. I found this out when one of our mutual friends shared the news. The cover picture of the news had a selfie of the beautiful couple on one side and their bodies on a stretcher on another side. My first reaction was – ” Oh another fake and disgusting news!” I went to her profile and a window “Remembering XXXX” popped up. It suddenly struck me like a Tsunami. I was shocked and speechless; just could not believe it.

Did I “know” her ? If I remember correctly, we connected in Facebook couple of years back. During these two years, we have NEVER interacted or even said a “Hi” to each other. At most, we would sometimes react in each others’ post. Hence, in the conventional definition of “knowing” a person – she was a total stranger.

Then why do I feel so much shock and pain upon hearing the news of her sudden demise ? As I try to reminisce, I realize that I actually know quite a lot about her just through her Facebook posts. I know she was a jovial person who loved to hang out with friends and loved her boyfriend a lot. I also know their love story started when they met on a flight from Bangalore. I know about where she stood on different social or political issues. I know at least some of her likes, dislikes and values in life. I also know she was a wonderful dancer and recently was interested in “sitting and dancing” – when she would just sit and perform on a song by hand gestures and facial expressions. She was damn good at it! After knowing so much , how can I say she was a total stranger and just another Facebook friend ? I do feel connected and a personal loss!

Cognitive connection with social media contacts

Coming back to the question that has been haunting me following this shocking incident – “Are Facebook Friends REAL ?” On an average, we spend around 2-3 hours per day on social media. I think we underestimate the cognitive connect we develop with our social media contacts. According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, human beings can maintain on an average 150 connections. However, with growing social media use this number is being challenged now! I have over a 1000 friends on Facebook, out of which I barely know a 100 – 200 people personally. However, I feel a range of emotions looking at all of their posts. If these friends were not REAL, then why should I FEEL anything about their activities ? I am sure many of you have such friends in your social media platforms with whom you have never interacted but see their posts everyday and unconsciously get to know quite a lot about them.

Photo Courtesy: Google Image

Another persisting notion about social media friends is that they do not comply with the golden rule of friendship – “A friend in need, is a friend indeed”. If we carefully evaluate this, we will find that this is not entirely true. Friends in social media do help even if you have never interacted with one another. This is easily evident upon the overwhelming support for Blood donations, personally initiated community services, support for businesses through Facebook pages, personal family emergencies etc.

Hence, just like other friends, we feel happy for their success, inspired by their achievements, anger when they have contrasting views and grief for their loss. It is high time that we accept friends in social media are not Chatbots, they are actual people, about whom we will be surprised to find out that we share more common values than we realize.

So Are Facebook Friends REAL ? – While most social media contacts are not friends, we constantly underestimate the number of people we are unconsciously connected to; meaning we have more Friends in Facebook than we appreciate!

This post is written in memory of my Facebook friend. I pray that she Rests in Peace in Heaven with her soulmate! The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

By Kinka Mondal

The festive mood of Bengali community lasts throughout the year. But the biggest one is needless to mention- Durga Pujo! It is not merely worshiping the Durga idols, it is more like a celebration of Homecoming of Daughter for a few days. Just imagine in your own family, your sister is coming home after months post her marriage- you can understand the emotion behind this celebration of homecoming of Durga Maa. The celebration mode starts with that “Pujo-Pujo” feeling -the excitement and joy that a Bengali starts to experience when one fine morning he/she just wakes up after the monotonous monsoon and the view from the window of the deep blue sky with cotton-like clouds floating all over it. Yes! That means that Autumn has arrived, and Durga Pujo is synonymous to autumn here in Bengal. This feeling gets catalyzed by those “Pujo Special’ advertisements everywhere- outdoor billboards or on TV/FM. It is the time Bengali households start to plan to buy new clothes, shoes for their own, as well as, for their near and dear ones. And even office colleagues keep on asking- “How many new clothes have you received so far?’’ and trust me, there is a hidden pride if the number of new clothes you receive is the highest in your respective group.

The Autumn in Bengal (Photo Courtesy: Google Image)

As I am writing today about the “Mahalaya”, (honestly my mind is overwhelmed with the thought of Pujo) let us focus on this special auspicious day in this article today. Mahalaya, as you can see in this title, it is the curtain raiser of Durga Puja. On this day, several important events take place every year and I am trying to shed light on those integral parts of Mahalaya here.

The mythology behind Mahalaya:

It is basically the 16th lunar day period of the Hindu calendar. It is believed that Maa Durga starts off her journey from Kailash to earth with her children- Kartik, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati on this day.

On the other hand, it is also the day, when Hindus (here, Bengalis) pay homage to their ancestors by devoting foods, fruits along with chanting mantras in River Ganges. You can find thousands of Bengalis following this tradition throughout the banks of Ganga River.Though it is an emotionally heavy ritual to perform, it seems like, the homecoming of Maa Durga to some extent helps to alleviate the emotional heaviness.

” Tarpan” (Photo Courtesy: Google Image)

The “Mohishasur Mardini” show on Radio:

Ask a ‘Probashi Bengali’ (ones who live outside the Bengal) , what does he/she miss the most on this day, you will get to hear – on Akashbani Radio, the broadcasting of Mahishasur Mardini in that well-modulated voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra“Aswiner Sharodo Prate, beje utheche alok monjir”(The light-trinkets have marked the autumnal dawn escorting the impending arrival of the Mother) at sharp 4a.m. followed by the beautiful track “ Bajlo tomar alor benu, Matlo re bhubon” ( The universe is up in ecstasies with the flute of your aura). In every corner of Bengal, you will get to hear this recorded broadcast every year. With this one and half hour program, we can tell that Pujo is officially knocking the door now!

Shri Birendra Krishna Bhadra (IPhoto Courtesy: Google Image)

The Devi Durga Show on Doordarshan:

Now with all the family members, Bengalis sit in front of the TV, tune in to Doordarshan Channel to watch the special show by Kolkata Doordarshan on Devi Durga. This program beautifully represents the mythological aspects of Maa Durga and how she becomes “Mohishasur Mardini” by exterminate the evil powers, thus saving the immortal and mortal province. Though, nowadays, every other Bengali channel telecast such conceptual show with leading actresses every year, but no one can beat the “Devi Durga’ show by prominent dancer Sanjukta Banerjee as Durga on Doordarshan channel.

A glimpse of the show you can watch here:

Video Courtesy: YouTube

The Pujo Special TV Advertisements:

It is a thumb rule for brands that they should have the ability to connect with their target audience emotionally. If you watch Bengali TV channels this time, you will get to see innovative heart-warming special Durga Pujo edition advertisements. Be it brands like- Thumbs Up, or Shalimar oil, or Restaurants like- Oh Calcutta, every organisation plans differently to grab attention of Bengal by trying to connect with their Durga Pujo sentiments.

The advertisement is evergreen and very close to our hearts.( Video Courtesy: YouTube)
The latest Oh! Calcutta advertisement won our hearts as it is much relatable with the Bengali youths living outside Bengal (Video Courtesy: YouTube)

A morning stroll to Kumartuli:

Kumartuli, in North Kolkata is the place where the Durga idols are made from scratch. On this day of Mahalaya, one can find the youth community of Bengal are assembling to this place to experience live – the “Chakkhu-Daan” (The eyes of Maa Durga painted by the artists).

Photo Courtesy: Deep Mondal

Pujobarshiki Magazines and Pujo Special song release:

One Bengali trait that no one can deny is their bibliophilic nature. Every year, in the month of august different publishing houses launch Pujo themed Magazines, known as – Pujobarshiki. To name a few- Suktara, Kishore Bharati, Anandamela for children and teenagers and for adults, Desh, Potrika, Anandolok etc.

Photo Courtesy: Google Image

Also, there was a golden era of Bengali music, (reminisced by generation X), when every year during this time new music would be launched by artists like- Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and who not.  Those songs are extremely popular even till today. Though, in present time, this tradition has ebbed, because of the increase in pirated music availability.

Video Courtesy: YouTube

For a Bengali, it is always difficult to wrap up the story when it is about anything related to Durga Pujo.This year Mahalaya is on 17th of September, a month prior to the main festival days of Durga Pujo- a rare event as per my knowledge.Though the crisis is yet to fade away from this earth, still there is hope that Maa Durga will save the earth this time as well, like she has always, as Mahamaya. As I am signing off, I bet, you are also feeling excited for the homecoming of Maa Durga!

I would like to encourage my readers to add any special events (If any) in the comment section to let the world know more about our greatest festival.

Special thanks to Upasana Bandyopadhyay

©GetInsight.blog 2020

By Kinka Mondal

Global warming, today, is not a mere word, we are precisely living with it and dealing with all its consequences. According to NASA, Global Warming can be interpreted as the long-term heating of the Earth’s climate system since the pre-industrial period (1850-1900) due to obvious reason of uncontrollable human activities. It is no more limited in the pages of text books of schools, one can easily find this topic is being discussed even in a drawing- room discussion- may be before making a purchase of “eco-friendly” refrigerator or CFC free air-conditioner to deal with the extreme temperature. The well-informed humans are even ready to pay a few pence extra to contribute towards the “green” products. Green Products are broadly classified as the products which are not so harmful for the environment as compared to other conventional products available in the market.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

Apart from the common people’s point of view, the big corporate houses all over the world are also into producing “environment friendly” product lines because of some internal and external factors.

 Let us understand the external factors first: the governing bodies of any given country usually set some guidelines to be followed by the organizations while producing. There are certain standards (Eco-standards), marks and labeling determined to standardize the eco-friendly products by the government. Also, consumers are nowadays, more interested to purchase eco-friendly products.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

Now coming to the internal and most important factors to understand the motivation behind the organisation’s eagerness to offer green product lines: for the sake of competitive advantage many companies are trying to implement this  in their product lines, for example- The Body Shop had launched wide range of cosmetic products, claiming that the cosmetics are made up of Eco-friendly natural ingredients, which certainly provided them a huge advantage over their competitors in the marketplace with conventional product offerings.

The next factor which is most justifiable is – corporate social responsibility. Every organisation follows a mandate in terms of serving several societal causes. With time, the widespread effects of global warming and the collective eagerness to save the world from its consequences have shifted the paradigm of the activities under this category from only labor related or philanthropic works to being focused on energy and environmental designs. So, investors have been also very altruistic to invest their assets into such causes.

Now we would consider a few consequences and try to correlate those with Global Warming- and would try to analyze how businesses have tried to exploit this scenario.

 The first concern is “Green Myopia”. In this situation, organization often forgets to emphasize on “consumer benefits” to focus more on “green benefits’ of their products. This over-emphasis leads to a situation where consumers fail to understand the benefits they would get from those products and it ends up failing miserably. This topic, here, is important to understand that organisations many a time try to overuse a real life crisis in terms of getting more profitable business but most of the time, because of the ambiguity in their long term goals, faces major failures.

Now, another point is when the organisations start to exploit this cause for increasing their profit margin by false claims. To explain this, it is important to understand that in most of the cases ‘Eco-friendly’ products are quite expensive than that of the conventional products, because-

1. It requires workforce intensive production methods.

2. Small level of manufacturing.

3. Time consuming.

4. High certification costs.

These reasonings are quite valid when the Eco-friendly products charge extra. But most of the big corporate houses do not skip a chance to increase their revenue, even if it is by claiming something which is not true. Here comes the term “Green Washing” -organisations claim that their products are to be Eco-friendly but, it is nowhere different than that of conventional products. For example- the American multinational oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil claimed they are reducing greenhouse gas emission, whereas, they were only doing the opposite. LG also used the same trick by labeling “Eco-friendly” tags on the refrigerators whereas, their claims were vague.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

It has been observed that many organisations’ aim was to serve the environment and look for sustainability. But their inappropriate harsh planning had led to unprecedented out-turn. In some cases, following conservative ways in a polished way makes a lot of differences.

To prevent the further damage of the mother earth from the effects of global warming, a holistic approach should be taken and followed strictly. The sensitive issues like this must be taken care of in a way without harming the ecological balances.

Though there are many stringent protocols that have been decided and implemented by the governments worldwide, some misuses are unavoidable if we consider the discussion here. There are many other ways to investigate corporate malpractices in relation to Global Warming. I have tried to restrict my opinion on some of the marketing strategies in this article.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

To conclude, I further would mention that we can not ignore the global warming and the outcomes of it. There is no point to deny the adverse consequences of it. But I affirm with the fact that globally for the financial gains many a times organisations have more polluted this issue. The ambiguity in this matter is nothing but the result of misleading approaches by corporate for their personal and professional gains.

©GetInsight.blog 2020

Suggested further Reads:

1.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254339098_Avoiding_Green_Marketing_Myopia_Ways_to_Improve_Consumer_Appeal_for_Environmentally_Preferable_Products

2.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316965265_Green_Marketing

3. https://www.hbs.edu/environment/Documents/Climate_Change_2017.pdf

By Akash Banerjee

The year 2020 has affected all our lives one way or the other. We are not able to travel freely as we would like to. And we all know with travel comes pictures, videos, expenditures and status updates. Most of us travel to come out of the hectic schedule and relax for few days. But what if someone tells you that the more you travel the more you become a registered cog in surveillance wheel.

2018 saw people downloading filter apps like like Faceapp for their photos that garnered a rating boost beyond 4.5 in palystore. Why? Because we wanted to know how would we look when we are old? What went wrong was people not reading the 100 pages of terms and condition (that we always tend to neglect whenever we install any app). Only in late 2018, securities companies found a “problem” and realized that the app was storing their photos in their cloud. When asked about it, Faceapp stated that they delete it within 48 hours. Some iOS security research team also found that the app was storing the entire camera roll even after being denied permission and no one can charge them because of a technicality in their Terms and Condition. Although FACEAPP was pulled down away for a while, it returned after claims that they have rectified their permissions surfaced. People again became oblivious.

Photo Courtesy: Google Image

In the 1960s the CIA had a task in hand, they were unaware of how to track potential threats, the answer to which would revolutionize modern security and alarmingly our privacy. They handed the task to Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe, known as the father of FACIAL RECOGNITION. The age of digital surveillance had just begun. He used mugshots of criminals, and manually measured the anatomy of their faces like eyes, hairline, mouth and nose. They could just enter some of these features and the database would come up with the best match. Although most of his work is still classified, but what has now been underlined is that facial recognition requires data; and where better to get that other than social media.

Photo Courtesy: Google Image

Most of us at some point of time have used dating apps like Tinder, Bumble, Okcupid etc. What we do not realise is how much they know about us just because we didn’t have the patience to read the terms and conditions. It was in 2019 that some people in France started asking the right question to Tinder “How do you match us?”. The answer that Tinder divulged was both amazing and creepy. They had all your data right from
when you most used the app to who is rating you, which they use to develop them ATTRACTIVENESS INDEX. They even stored your conversations and recognised you from other social media platforms by lo and behold, facial recognition all because we clicked few selfies! They even know when we were most happy and when we were most vulnerable. Although Tinder claims to have replaced that system by a new algorithm, even if broken down it doesn’t look much different.

Soon people started to realise even Facebook and Google used this algorithm to build their database to provide in their language a “Better User Experience”. But the question is “Who else has access?” and “Are we okay with this?” Turns out most of us don’t even care about the second part. Imagine you walked around a person and started reporting what that person was doing at every instant, creepy right! But now imagine that follower are your apps and the person being followed are your selfies that you uploaded. That’s right it seems that all your data is talking behind your back, making a social profile about you.

This is the paradox of privacy which we have accepted unknowingly. Our privacy has already been taken away just because we took part in something that technology and our peers have guided us to do. Selfies have made us datapoints in a vast database which is being used constantly to study you and maybe in the near future judge your ability to do a work. Maybe in the days to come, with some legal reform we might have access to what they have on us but until then it is just a matter of speculation and also a certainty that we are under constant surveillance.

By Sougata Mitra

Money never sleeps. In capable hands, it grows and creates wealth that could last generations. However, if left idle, it shrinks due to a phenomenon called inflation which eats into the purchasing power of money every day, making us pay more and more for fuel, food and the finer things in life. While shopping smart could absorb the impact of price escalation for a few items, the expenses are often non-negotiable when it comes to the Big 3 of modern day living – housing, healthcare and higher education. Savings of a lifetime have often fallen short of the tall bills raised in some instances.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

Thankfully there is good news for savers. Especially, for those who are willing to take risks. The restless Goddess of wealth never sits still and if put to work, she has been known to reward the risk-takers. There is however a catch and that is where the factor of volatility comes in – which essentially means that if you are sailing on the high seas, you must be prepared to face stormy weather. Take the recent outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, for example. Doomsayers have been predicting some kind of a holocaust since the morbid days of March but the fact remains that the reality is not that scary. Already some parts of the world have emerged from this ordeal very creditably and more are likely to follow suit. Time and again, the resilience of the human race has reasserted itself through many challenges and this is only the latest in a very long list.

Image courtesy: Google Image

Similarly, economic cycles go through periods of boom and bust. Companies grow staggeringly in certain phases and perform poorly in some others. Governments change policies, regulations and tax structures.   However, if there is one constant theme that recurs is that even in such an environment of uncertainty, opportunities are always available.

Image Courtesy: economicshelp.org

The Information Technology industry in India established its global footprint thanks to a problem called Y2K, which today very few people remember.  Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) saw spectacular growth in a period when banks were swamped with bad loans. Pharmaceutical companies made medicines affordable and reached out to overseas markets, earlier dominated only by giant Multinationals.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

In all of these, there was an entrepreneur who was willing to take risks. Behind him/her, stood millions of investors who bought into the vision and brought their hard earned money on the table. By doing so, they let their investments work as hard as they did in their respective fields and possibly smarter. After all, businesses are considered to be better users of capital than average households and those with strong brands, robust corporate governance and competent management teams rewarded their investors handsomely, over the years.

Mutual Funds enable you to do just that.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

The basic difference being there are professional managers who take investment decisions on behalf of the investors whose individual contributions are pooled together in a much larger corpus, which result in significant economies of scale. The costs of research and fund manager’s fees are thus set off against the total funds and turn out to be actually quite reasonable. Fund managers also take a dispassionate view of the investments held in a portfolio. In other words, they are less likely to be swayed by the twin emotions of greed and fear which play on the investors’ minds, often leading to costly mistakes.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

Besides, they reduce the risks in a portfolio by way of diversification. In doing this, they follow the golden rule of NOT putting all your eggs in one basket. This remains the single most compelling reason of investing through a Mutual Fund. The universe of stocks tracked by a Fund management team is much bigger than what an individual investor can aspire for and sometimes value lurks in companies which might have slipped under the radar of the keenest of observers.

Categorization of Mutual Fund Companies: Mutual Funds invest as per the categorization of companies specified by the regulator, SEBI. Often these are classified based on their market capitalization also known as market cap which is derived by multiplying the price of share with the number of shares outstanding. There are 3 broader categories of companies viz. large-cap, mid-cap and small-cap. Mutual Funds construct their portfolios by holding such stocks in various proportions based on their investment mandate. 

Large-caps: For someone just dipping their toes in the unpredictable waters of the stock markets, large cap companies are an obvious starting point. These are companies that command market leadership and are expected to grow their turnover and profits consistently across business cycles. The demand for the shares of these companies makes them extremely liquid, which means buyers are available at any point in time and thus the prices of these shares tend to fluctuate less compared to the broader markets. These companies lend stability to a portfolio.

Mid-caps: However, for those willing to take risks, greater headroom for growth could be found in the far more volatile midcaps. These companies have the potential to become the leaders in their field and being hungry for growth, they explore segments and products, possibly overlooked by the larger players. Shareholders have reaped considerable gains simply by staying invested in such companies, seeing the value of their holdings multiply over long periods of time.

Small-caps: At the extreme end of the risk-return continuum lie the small cap companies. These are the hidden gems of the markets, waiting to be discovered by the sharp eyed stock-picker. The petrochemical powerhouse of today, which has ventured into telecom and retail was one such company 40 years back, as was the largest private sector bank of the country, 20 years ago.  A word of caution, though – for every such success story there are legions of others which have struggled to survive and have winded up abruptly, leaving behind a trail of destroyed shareholder wealth and shaken investor confidence.

Therefore, unless one is ready to get into the nitty-gritty of studying balance sheets and cash flow statements, Mutual Funds offer a low cost solution for investing in the stock markets through professional fund managers and dedicated research teams. Nevertheless, the risks remain and no amount of diversification can remove them entirely. Stock markets are extremely volatile in the short term and even the rewards – as and when they unfold – happen in a non-linear fashion. It is only after years of investing that the value is unlocked and those who do not have the patience end up with below par returns.   

Image Courtesy: Google Image

Fortunately, there is one way to mitigate the risks and that is through the route of Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs). You could start by investing as low as Rs. 500 per month in a scheme of your choice and it is this discipline which enables you to accumulate more Mutual Fund units when the markets are down. As the years go by, the markets recover and the value of the portfolio goes up significantly. This works best for meeting life goal expenses like paying for higher education and retirement planning. 

Image Courtesy: Google Image

In conclusion – with interest rates nosediving, there is a strong case for looking at other ways of earning higher returns. Stock markets are indeed an option but for the beginner, it makes sense to let an expert handle the process and Mutual Funds are ideally placed to do that job.

The author is a Mutual Funds Distributor and can be reached at sougata.mitra@gmail.com or 9830772622

Copyright 2020, GetInsight.blog

Disclaimer: The present article is a guest column. Views expressed are personal.

By Anish Dutta Roy

Let’s face it ladies and gentlemen, if you know a Bengali or a “Bong”, which is now the current word to represent Bengalis all over the world you must definitely know what “adda” or socializing is! It’s a way of life for people who live in a small but beautiful place called West Bengal or as our people love to call it Bangla! (By the way, in native language, “Bangla” also means cheap liquor! So please don’t confuse the two 😉 )

Photo Source: Google Image

As far as you can go back in time you will find Bengalis have a culture of meeting up at small roadside tea shops and talk about anything and everything. It can be about how Edison invented the lightbulb to that beautiful goal scored by Messi in the last match. If you come to Kolkata you will see that there are tea stalls almost in every corner of a street and along with tea comes the famous “chai pe charcha” or “discussion over tea” by Bengalis. A Bong comes to a tea stall and spends hours and hours of his time discussing over issues such as political, social, geographical, sports, movies, history and what not!

Photo source: Google Image

Well you get the point!

And you know what the best part is? It is a common phenomenon among all age groups! College students love to catch up with their friends in a tea shop of their convenience and talk about their day over tea and cigarettes. This is the age where a Bengali learns about socializing with his fellow peers, seniors and very senior people. And that is probably one of the reasons why you will always find help in Bengal! There is always some group of people in the nearest tea stall who is definitely willing to help you. A Bengali in a way is actually never alone. He has been taught from the very early years of his life to socialize with people, have an open mind and talk about things, whatever is there on his or her mind. I mean, if you try this you will see that its actually cheaper than paying your shrink.

Speaking of shrinks let me talk to you about one such experience my friend had. He went to a shrink to speak about his social anxiety issues. He always had problems socializing with people from the very early years as a child and now he needed help. Guess what he was advised? “ADDA” (Yes! you ‘heard’ it right!) .He was told to go out there, meet the first person he can find in his locality and strike up a conversation. Now the question comes, ‘How’? The answer is, ask the other person “How are you?” and here you go! Yes,that’s how easy it is!

Photo Source: Google Image

There are people who have trouble communicating with others. Psychologists are of the opinion that if you can socialise at a tea stall or anywhere for that matter you can get rid of that demon in your head that tells you that you are not good enough to talk to people! I mean come on! Its just talking to people! You see a person, you reach out to them and you say something. Something meaningful!

Whoa! The last few lines were really creepy! But you know just think about it. What if my friend, like others had actually learnt the art of socializing in his early years. And what a great way of making friends too! I personally have made more friends through tea shops than I have ever made through other channels in my entire life!

Photo Source: Google Image

This culture of ours have seen a lot of change. In the past 100 years the locations for “adda” have changed a lot. Previously it was inexpensive. All you needed were your friends, family, neighbours or anybody you can think of, find a place such as your local tea shop, the iconic Lake or Coffee House and at the expense of Rs.10-20/- you could have had discussion from Rome to Tokyo! But as time passed, there has been recent out-pours of Western culture in Bengal and expensive Cafes have come up where activities are usually limited to business deals and breakups! There has been a shift of the younger crowd to these cafes but since it is not pocket friendly at all it becomes difficult for these kids to visit these joints on a regular basis.

The famous Indian Coffee House (Photo Source: Google Image)
Modern “Adda” places over the cup of tea/ coffee (Photo Source: Google Image)

If you look back in time you will see eminent Bengali personalities have been known to socialize in their youth or even when not so young. In such conversations ideas were born, ideas of revolution, of independence, of virtue and self-righteousness. Leaders were born in such conversations. You don’t need the internet or television to educate you about the current situations of the world, the heated political debates all over the country, historic facts and even football. You can have it all over some good company and maybe a cup of tea or coffee for that matter.

Photo Source: Google Image

Since time immemorial we Bengalis have stood by our love for inexpensive ways of socializing and it has brought more good than harm. I personally believe that a brief session of “adda” can really give me hope, hope that I don’t have to live my life from deadline to deadline, hope that one day there will be a cure for Corona virus and even cancer, hope that my favourite football team will win this year’s world cup and more of hope for I am a Bengali and that I will smile again the next day for no matter what, “adda” is here to stay.

Photo Source: Google Image

Amra Bangali. Amader rondhrey rondhrey adda”,it means,“We are Bengali. Socializing runs in our veins”– something my father dropped on me back when I was in college.

Post pandemic, don’t miss a chance to have a great “Adda” session!

Copyright 2020, GetInsight.blog

What is the first place that strikes your mind when people ask you about beaches? I am sure most of your answers will be Goa. Very few of you may have heard of Goakrna- A small temple town in Karnataka.

Gokarna is a small holy place with excellent beaches, flea markets, beautiful shacks, yoga centers, and many more things, to just relax and enjoy without indulging much into itinerary and your pocket. People living in Bengaluru (approx 485 km), Hyderbad (approx 645 km) and Pune (567km) looking to rejuvenate their mind and body together can reach Gokarna by taking a bus or car(if you are willing for a long drive)

Enroute to Gokarna

One can indulge in a plethora of activities while in Gokarna. There are four main beaches Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half Moon Beach, and Paradise Beach to visit. You can stay near the Main beach if you wish to stay in the town. The four beaches are on the outskirts of Gokarna and you can trek from Paradise to Half Moon to Om to Kudle beach; and the best part is you don’t need to be an expert in trekking. Just put on your shorts, comfy trekking shoes, and a water bottle to keep you hydrated. If you are tired, try the shacks near Kudle and Half Moon beach!

The Main beach

If you just want to relax without indulging yourself in trekking activities hire an autorickshaw (which is quite affordable) or rent scooties if you are staying in the main town. Once you reach Om beach or Kudle beach you can take a boat ride to reach Paradise Beach or Half Moon Beach. Take it during the sunset to lose yourself in the magnificent view with the sun dropping below the horizon and waves rocking your boat.

Om Beach Boat Ride
Loose yourself in the vastness of the sea | Photo Credit: Saikat Choudhuri

As the name suggests, Half Moon Beach is of perfectly half-moon shape with few shacks and a perfect place for stargazing.

Paradise Beach is secluded without any touch of human civilization; sit and just gaze into the sea and relax. Forget all your stress and city hustle bustles.

Half Moon Beach

Kudle and Om Beach are for relishing your taste buds. Namaste Cafe is a famous eaterie located on Om Beach with a wait time of almost one hour. You won’t get any alcoholic beverages except beer with some limited choice. The food is a little bit on the costlier side with so so taste. The only good thing is its strategic location that opens up to an amazing view. If you want to just relax without thinking much about your pocket, order a bottle of beer, some french fries, and a Tuna dish.

View from Namste cafe
Relax, chit-chat and Enjoy

Chez Christophe located in Gokarna Main Beach is a must-try French cafe. Search the restaurant in Google map that will bring you in front of a paddy field, but don’t worry you need to cross the field and backyard of a house to reach the cafe and all that effort is worth it. The cafe has a beautiful hippie-like ambience with comfortable seatings filled with pillows and cushions. Will recommend visiting for dinner or snacks and enjoy the live performances; dance and sing with other tourists, performers, etc. The entire ambience will make you feel as if you are in any county side cafe of France. The cafe menu has a variety of French culinary options. You get complimentary homemade loaves of bread. Pair it up with the White Sauce Pasta or Lasagna. Caramel Custard is a must-try. And the best part is you get hard drinks here 🙂

Cafe Entrance

If you love the idea of being a hippie go to any local shop and buy kurtas, shirts, harem pants or skirts with Om or Shiva printed in almost all of them, and pair them up with colorful chappals. You will also get handmade trinkets and jewelry! And don’t forget the souvenirs for your friends from Gokarna. Gokarna market is one of the finest and cheapest ( you should know how to bargain 😉 ) flea market that will tempt you to shop till you drop.

Soak yourself in the Hippie vibe
Shop at flea market

Your trip to Gokarna without trekking is incomplete. And sadly this time we couldn’t do that. Hence, I look forward to going there once again and feel the adrenaline rush while trekking through Paradise and OM beach.

We stayed in Poornima Beach Resort, Main Beach. All the rooms were beach facing with a unique view.

Poornima Beach Resort | Photo Credit: Souravmoy Gorai
View from the balcony | Photo Credit: Souravmoy Gorai

Gokarna’s natural beauty with its tranquility and serenity will win over your heart. Witness an amazing sunset, enjoy the sound of wave, gaze the clear blue water, and stroll around the beaches. What more can you ask for a pocket-friendly weekend gateway!

The Gokarna Beaches

©GetInsight.blog 2020

By Shubham Mukherjee

Since the end of last year when a certain Chinese resident decided to enjoy a delicacy made out of a bat, the only numbers that has been going up worldwide is the number of Covid patients. As of now India stands with a patient count of over 5.5 lakhs and worldwide over 1cr. This pandemic has not only shot up a human mortality but has also created a massive economic crisis which is being compared to the Great Depression of 1930.

Rise of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs): If we focus on the situation of our country, an estimated 8 million people are impacted in a way that their daily livelihood, shelter and largely their future is at stake. The failure of Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSME) has led to the rise of Non Performing Asset (NPA) and Non Performing Loans (NPL) which has de-stabilized the banking sector Many small. medium, large companies face a solvency risk.

Source: Google Image

To revive the economy from this state an immediate injection is needed from the Government to the tune of Rs.6 lakh crore or 3 percent of the GDP. Unless this substantive economic push is injected the downward spiral will be difficult to get out from.

The Downfall in GDP Rate: According to a research done by FICCI on a certain group of companies, 70 percent of them are experiencing a de-growth in sales. 61 percent have postponed their expansion plans up to 6 months to over a year. 60 percent have postponed their fundraising plans for the same duration. According to World Bank, the GDP of India for financial year 2020-21 to be around 1.5 to 2.8 percent. This is because of the weak domestic consumption, which will cause a delay in the flow of investment which will further deter the growth. According to Goldman Sachs, the GDP of India for financial year 2020-21 to be around 1.6 percent, At the onset of the virus they had estimated this figure to be around 5.8 percent but as the situation kept changing they brought it down at first to 3.3 percent and finally to the pre-stated figure of 1.6 percent which is a drop of 420 basis point from their initial estimate.

Source: Google Image

According to the same report, the global GDP will take a minimum hit of 3 percent. USA will take a hit of 6.2 percent and the Euro Zone will take a hit of about 9 percent.

We have all seen the hoopla that has been created over the Chinese Trade ban and the need to go ‘ATMANIRBHAR’ by our country’s supremo. China is the world’s largest exporter with 13 percent and the second largest importer with 11 percent. India imports from China about 45 percent of its electronic goods, 33 percent of its machinery and tools, 40 percent of its organic chemicals, 25 percent of its fertilizers and 70 percent of its active pharmaceutical ingredients. So imposing a ban on Chinese imports will further weaken our own economy hence the need for ‘ATMANIRBHAR’. China is also India’s third largest export partner where we export organic chemicals, plastics, fish products, cotton, and ores among many other things.

Source: Google Image

Effect On Other Industries: As the situation stands, according to Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), GDP to remain below 5 percent for 2021. The chemical industry is down by 20 percent, shipping is down by an estimated 75 to 80 percent, auto industry by more than 10 percent and other impacted sectors include pharma, textiles, solar power, electronics, IT industry and most importantly tourism and aviation.

Source: Google Image

The Course of action can be taken now by the Government to get back in the shape :

-We need to increase the liquidity in the market with an injection of about 10 lakh crore in fiscal year 2021 to bring the GDP above 5 percent.

-The State and the Central Government needs to jointly aid the 60 million informal contractual and 135 million informal workers. The same can be achieved by putting to good use programs, like- Aadhar, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for identifying and dispersing funds.

Concession can be provided to home buyers and various tax rebates can be given to maintain the liquidity.

-The Government needs to look at ways to unlock the job market and banks need to restructure their debts. A Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) kind of setup can be implemented for specific sectors like travel, logistics, auto, textiles and metals to name a few.

Though we might not yet be successful in finding a permanent cure for Covid19 and are working with medications that battle the symptoms. In the same manner we will have to look into short term steps to stabilize the economy while trying to formulate the long term cure.

Copyright 2020, GetInsight.blog

Disclaimer: The present article is a guest column. Views expressed are personal.

By ScatterbrainJPG

Football or soccer- arguably the most popular sport in the world today. The quadrennial tournament for this game galvanizes the world. It is perhaps one of those rare happy occasions when the entire world comes together as one, and in rooting for their respective favorites actually celebrate this beautiful game.

Image courtesy: Google Image

Needless to say, I too am as smitten with this game as anyone else. It was therefore with a lot of happy amazement that I read about the evolution of this game in Desmond Morris’ delightful travelogue “The Naked Eye: Travels in search of the Human Species”. Sharing some wonderful trivia of the beautiful game from the same.
In Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England a thousand year old tradition of a game is enacted even today. In its original, medieval form, the game ran as follows. The entire village, and sometimes the surrounding villages too, could participate in this game. It was an eight hour affair, and extremely violent free-for-all. To get an idea of the level of violence permitted in the game, one only has to take a look at the rule book. It simply says, murder or manslaughter is prohibited, implying that all other forms of violence was fine. This immensely competitive fixture, called Shrovetide football, sometimes got so violent that the Derbyshire police had to be called in to put a stop to the game, giving rise to the use of the word Derby to describe a high stakes game today.

Image Courtesy: Google Image

The earlier versions of the game, as it evolved, were played mostly by the nobility, who played on horseback and hands were amply used. However, with its popularity increasing, the commoners started playing the same. As they could not afford the horses, they played the game ON foot, and hence the name football. At some point in this time, the practice started of using the foot to kick the ball rather than restrict the game to hands only. And here we come to an interesting turn of events.
Two schools of thought rose on the version of the game, one felt that the game should be played using hands, while the other proposed feet only. Arguments frequently broke out between the schools. In this melee the game was exported to Britain’s colonies in America, the feet variant to USA and the hand variant to Canada. Then there was a match organised between a visiting Canadian university and Harvard and it reached some sort of impasse since there was no agreement as to which form should be played. It was then decided to play the first half by the rule where handling was allowed and the second half where feet alone was to be allowed. The Americans found the earlier form more satisfying and hence they stuck to that in the form that we know today as American football.

There are six kinds of “football” in the world today, Soccer, American, Canadian, Rugby, Australian Rules and Gaelic, all seemingly owing its origin to that event in Ashbourne, Derbyshire a thousand years ago.

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