Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Persistent Pigeons of Mumbai

It is more than a minor battle. It is a major war. How does one scare away the pigeons from one's balconies, flower-beds or the windows of one's apartment? The pigeons are birds who prefer to live in buildings rather than on trees. Unlike crows or other birds, they build nests for breeding in whatever safe places are available in houses, large residential blocks and industrial buildings. They breed four to six times a year. Once the eggs are laid ( two each time), you can forget evicting them for two full months i.e. till the eggs are hatched, the babies grow up and get wings to fly out on their own. If you fail to use the small time gap offered to you between one cycle and another, you will have to wait for another two months. Unless, of course, you are the type who is capable of evicting mercilessly the parent-pigeons and the baby pigeons by any means. I am not that type. So, I utilized the time gap by watching the birds every day and the moment, the young ones started flying, I just waited for two days to ensure that they can really fly and then had the balconies covered with a nylon pigeon net. The net is really good, costs about Rs.1200 for 10'x7' and the labour for fixing it another Rs.1000 or so. But before laying the net, there was this enormous task of cleaning the place dotted with the accumulated droppings of the pigeons. It is said that the wet droppings are not harmful, but dried droppings, which create polluted dust while being swept, could cause respiratory problems for the human beings. Therefore, it is advisable to wash the place first with phenol-mixed water before removing the droppings. Now, where have those pigeons gone? They are going to apartments in higher floors and one day they will be evicted from there too. Already, some residents of the higher floors are consulting me on the nylon net. By the way, pigeons avoid ground floor apartments. The higher the apartment is, the safer for them it is, they seem to think. If you think that the pigeons can be scared away by shouts or threatening them with a stick etc. , you are mistaken. Pigeons are very persistent. They are a highly intelligent species. I have read that it is one of the only six species who can pass the ' mirror' test i.e. they can recognize their appearance in a mirror. I am told that they can recognize all the 26 alphabets of the English language. No jokes. Give a google search command and satisfy yourself. Tests have established this fact in U.K. Of course, the Indian Pigeons might fail this test; they should be taught Devanagari or South Indian scripts.The point is that they remember their homes and so in spite of your driving them away every time they appear in your balcony, they will return sooner than you think. This 'homing' talent of the pigeons has been very well utilized by the human beings since centuries. Sending messages through pigeons to places several hundred kilometers away was a common thing in the past. In the first world war, pigeons were used by army units to convey messages regarding troop movements and survivors to the high command and vice-versa. I have read that a particular American carrier pigeon named Cher Ami was decorated with the French Award 'Croix de Guerre ' for its heroic service of saving 200 men through timely delivery of 12 messages during World War I. Not only that, after its death, its name was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame. If you disbelieve me, press the Google button again. Some more interesting facts about Pigeons. They live for about 10 years. They originated from northern Africa, particularly Egypt. Since there were no trees there, they lived on the rocks. So, subconsciously they perhaps fear trees and prefer solid structures to live and breed in. All religions are sympathetic to pigeons. The Sikh religion connects the pigeons with reincarnation. Guru Gobind Singh's pictures show him with a pigeon. The other Indian community which feeds pigeons regularly, in my opinion, is the Gujarati community. Pigeons are monogamous. The male pigeons woo the females through puffing up their neck feather, bowing and running around in circles at the same spot. The moment you watch this drama unfolding and thereafter their locking their beaks together in an ecstatic dance, beware and rush to buy the nylon net for your balcony. Otherwise, you must wait for two more months till the logical culmination of one complete breeding cycle. Do not complain later that I did not warn you.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Modi , the fire in the BJP's belly

Why is Narendra Modi feared? The answer is not difficult to find if we first ask the counter-question. Who fears him? The vested interests. The politicians of different parties. The ' secular' lobby who wants to keep the minorities illiterate and poor by treating them as a vote-bank. Those journalists , both from the print and the electronic media, who sell their souls to politicians , power brokers and corrupt businessmen for the sake of a few foreign trips, liquor bottles ,routine gifts and a rare nomination to Rajya Sabha or some Govt. body. The NGO-s who have profited from making poverty a business idea. The corrupt officers of the Government departments. it is not the Aam Admi who fears him. Otherwise why should every survey of public opinion put him on top of the list of preferred Prime Ministerial candidates? The vested interests do not want to see some one in a powerful position, who can not be bought. They looked for and failed to find any price tag on him. The man has no wife or kids. He has no interest in amassing property for himself or for any one else related to him.His mother lives in a small apartment with his brother. His brother uses public transport. None of his relatives has become rich , exploiting his or her closeness to the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He refuses to wear a scull cap just to please a certain section of the people. He does not grant special interviews to high profile media stars, giving them a huge break in their career. So, all the men( or women) in black ( or with black heart) have no option but to hate him; this man threatens their very survival in a way no politician has ever done before. Nehru was totally out of touch with ground realities. He was an European in Indian skin. His wooly non-alignment and disproportionate interest in international politics consumed most of his time in office. Shastri was a grass-roots leader, but remained as PM for too short a period to make a difference. Indira Gandhi could be pampered through sycophancy and servility to the Family and crumbs of privilege fetched from her. Rajiv Gandhi could be softened through Doon School connections and support on controversial issues like Bofors . V.P.Singh was on a hopeless trip to find a mention in the history books for cleansing the society of caste system; he had no time to notice the looters as long as they did not oppose Mandal. Narasimha Rao was an old world politician and had use for courtiers as long as they loathed the Gandhi family. Gowda was a sleeping farmer,any one whose waking hours are short could not be a threat. Gujral thought most of the time about making peace with Pakistan where his birthplace is located; he was hardly aware of what was happening in India. Vajpayee as PM was a goody-goody type, wanting to take every one along with him. Being a poet, he could not be stern even with the bad but powerful elements of society. Man Mohan Singh carries out the Family's orders; so why not court the Family instead of him? Now comes a man from the land of Mahatma Gandhi and says' Better behave or else....' , showing the stick. You can not bribe him. You can not frighten him. You can not blackmail him. He is both honest and efficient. He has no feet of clay. No scams. Is not afraid of criticism.What choice do the vested interests have other than fearing him and expressing their fear through hate articles and hate comments? Pity them ! Every time a Burkha Dutt or a Vir Sanghvi or a Manish Tiwari or a Jairam Ramesh or a Diggy Raja or a Renuka Choudhary badmouths him, a couple of hundred thousand voters join the Modi bandwagon afresh. Chug Chug gaadi Modi ki, Pakad gayi ab tej Gati, Socho mat kahin beech me aane ki, Pahunchayegi bure logon ko avashya kshati !

Monday, October 14, 2013

Check Income Tax e-filing website regularly !

Many of you might be visiting the income tax e-filing website only at the time of filing the annual returns. People who file their returns manually never visit this site in all probability. Even those who file their returns online might be doing so through their chartered accountants / income tax consultants. Those assessees might never be visiting this website for any reason. But it is necessary for all the assessees to visit this site periodically. Why must one do so? Read below. Because there might be outstanding tax demand under section 143-1a for some previous assessment year. Hard copy might not have reached you due to reasons such as the Postman finding your door closed and returning the notice to the sender i.e. IT department, your present address being different from what you gave in your PAN application years ago or even what has been given in your latest return etc. If the demand raised in 143-1a notice is not acceptable to you, you can file a rectification application under section 154 to the department within 5 years. But if you have never got the 143-1a notice in hand, how could you do that? The amended website lets you check several other things. The refund/demand status, ITR-V receipt status, return processing status, rectification status, 26AS statement , your jurisdictional assessing officer etc. One can change one's postal address, e-mail address etc. too through this website. There are a few things one can check without logging in but by just mentioning your PAN number when asked for. But several other requests call for a propler log in with your PAN number , the password and date of birth. For this, you can use the same password which one uses at the time of e-filing. But if you still file your returns manually, then you should register yourself with a password so that one can use the website for many needs.