Thursday, December 4, 2008

"How schools treat parents" series: School 2 - Venkat International Public School

Venkat International Public School is a CBSE school in Rajajinagar, Bangalore - about a kilometer away from National Public School. In the informal survey that my wife and I did, this school ranked somewhere in the middle of the shortlist (in terms of building, number of kids in a class, class room quality, etc.)

My wife and I had, sometime in Oct'08, registered our child's name for the first standard for Academic Year 2008-09.

This morning, my wife received a call from the school with the following instructions:
1. The child needs to be brought to the school on Saturday the 6th December (the day after tomorrow) at 10.00 AM for 'observation' (part of the admission process in most schools - the child is observed while playing and interacting with other kids.)
2. The parents must be ready to pay Rs. 40,000/- in cash immediately (on the same day) to the school. This is a non-refundable 'donation'.
3. The application form will also be issued on the same day, for Rs. 250/-.
4. They have not decided on the monthly fees yet, and will inform the parents of the monthly fees sometime after March'08.

I thought donation was legally prohibited by a supreme court judgement. Apparently the schools in Bangalore do not consider this a major impediment.

In any case, I am taking my daughter here just for the experience of an 'observation'.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Detailed procedure of Sandhyavandanam - 1 of 2


Sandhya Vandanam is a specially devised efficient spiritual ritual for the realization of the Divinity of the Self (Atman). It is a Nitya Karma or an obligatory daily ritual whose object is to bring about self-purification and attunement to Cosmic Reality. It is an all-round complete ritual which incorporates the principles of the Supreme Divinity (Brahman).


Each part of the ritual is meant to give expression externally to an internal mental attitude and spiritual feeling (Bhava). Some necessary changes are introduced in the Mantras and ritual according to the time of the Sandhya-- dawn, noon, or sunset, and according to the Veda (Rg, Yajur, or Sama) to which the votary is affiliated. However, the main purpose as well as most of the Mantras, the procedures, and rituals are all common.

The procedure involve :

1. Achamanam :

Sipping a little water, in the prescribed manner, for self-purification, remembering the Supreme All-pervading Reality.

2. Apo-Marjanam :

Invoking all the waters of the earth which form the cause of the emergence and sustenance of all life, by sprinkling water on oneself, to enable one to be attuned to the cosmic life and reality.

3. Pranayama :

Regulated breathings, as per prescription, for establishing psycho-somatic harmony, using the Gayatri-Mantra.

4. Punar-Achamanam :

Again sipping water with appropriate Mantras for the removal of all sins and obstacles, attuning oneself to the light-giving sun in the morning, to the life-giving waters at noon and to the heat-giving fire in the evening, which are the means of all our life and activity, and as such are termed as the sources of Immortality (Amrta-yoni).

5. Punar-Marjanam :

Again sprinkling water over oneself with the Gayatri and other Mantras praying for welfare here in the world and highest spiritual attainment hereafter.

6. Aghamarsanam :

Repeating the cosmic creation Mantras, feeling oneself as a part of it, to remove the limitations of personality.

7. Suryopasthanam :

Invoking the Sun-God who brings life and light to the world and attuning the mind to the Divine in the Sun and to all the cosmic surroundings.

8. Gayatri-Upasanam :

First the Divine Gayatri is invoked as the source of the Vedas and then the different Worlds and the Supreme Divinity are located in the various limbs of one's body by touching them while uttering the Gayatri-Mantra, along with the Vyahrti (Bhuh, Bhuvah, Svah). This process of locating is known as Anga-Nyasa.

This is followed by the Japa and meditaion of the Gayatri-Mantra for as long as one can do conveniently, fixing, however, a decent minimum number of times for the Japa. For meditation Gayatri is conceived in the form of a luminous Goddess illuminating the Heart and removing all darkness of Ignorance.

9. Visarjanam :

Valediction. Praying to the Goddess to retire, to return again when invoked. Salutations are offered with devotion.

10. Antya-prakaranani :

Ending. Now, concluding the Upasana, protection against all wrongs and evils is sought and salutations are offered to the Sun-God and other Cosmic divinities. Forgiveness is sought for any flaws or lacunae in the uttering of the Mantras and the performance of the rituals and the Supreme Being is remembered to make them complete. The Upasana is concluded with the offering of salutations.

Preparation for the Performance of Sandhya :

Before performing the Sandhya, one should be physically clean, mentally calm and restrained and have a prayerful attitude. One should sit in a clean quiet place on a mat or Deer-skin, in a straight position with legs tucked in (ordinary Padmasana).


1. Achamanam Sipping water sanctified by mantras

Sit in a squatting position, facing east or north. The hands should be between the knees. Bend all the fingers other than the thumb and the small finger slightly so that a hollow is produced in the palm. Take a very small quantity of water in the palm and sip, uttering the following three mantras (one sip for each mantra):-

Achyutaya namah
Anantaya namah
Govindaya namah

Utter Kesava and Narayana touching the right cheek and the left cheek respectively with the thumb of the right hand.
Utter Madhava and Govinda, touching the right eye and the left eye respectively with the ring finger.
Utter Vishno and Madhusudana, touching the right nostril and the left nostril respectively with the index finger.
Utter Trivikrama and Vamana, touching the right ear and the left ear respectively with the small finger.
Utter Sridhara and Hrsikesa, touching the right shoulder and the left shoulder respectively with the middle finger.
Utter Padmanabha and Damodara touching the naval and the head respectively with all the fingers.

Meaning 1:

By these actions the various parts of the body are sanctified and the person is made fit to proceed with the worship.

2. Vighnesvara Dhyanam - Meditation on Lord Vighnesvara

While reciting the following mantra, gently tap the two sides of the forehead with the fists five times with the thought that thereby the nectar (amrta) in the head flows down through all the nerves and invigorates them.

Shuklambaradharam Vishnum

Sasivarnam Chaturbhujam,

Prasannavadanam dhyayeh,


Meaning 2

For the removal of all obstacles I meditate on Lord Vighnesvara who is clad in white, is all-pervading, is white like the moon, sports four arms and is always of serene aspect.

3. Pranayamah

Regulation of breath

Bend the index finger and the middle finger and press the right nostril with the thumb and left nostril with the ring finger and the small finger. First draw in the breath through the left nostril while mentally chanting the following mantra. Then hold the breath within, mentally chanting the same mantra again. Thereafter, let the breath out through the right nostril, again mentally chanting the same mantra. These three actions of inhaling, holding the breath and exhaling, during which the mantra is chanted three times, together make up one Pranayamah.

Om Bhuh, Om Bhuvah, Om Suvah, Om Mahah

Om Janah, Om Tapah, Om Satyam

Om Tat Saviturvarenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi,

Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat

Om apo jyoti raso amritam Brahma

Bhur Bhuvas suvar om

Meaning 3

Om is all the lokas - bhuh, bhuvah, suvah, mahah, janah, tapah, satyam. We meditate on the adorable effulgence of the Lord who creates everything, so that it may energize our consciousness.

Om is water, light, the earth that yields tasty food, the air that sustains life, the all-pervading either and the mind, intellect and the 'I' sense marked by the terms bhuh, bhuvah and suvah.

4. Sankalpah


Place the left palm, turned upward, on the right thigh and place the right palm, turned downward on the left palm. Recite the following mantra :

Mamopatta samasta durita ksaya dvara sri paramesvara prityartham -

- In the morning Pratah sandhyam upasisye

- At noon Madhyahnikam karisye

- In the evening Sayam sandhyam upasisye

Meaning 4

I begin to worship the goddess of sandhya in the morning (at noon/in the evening) in order to merit God's grace which destroys all the sins acquired by me.

5. Marjanam
Purification of the body and mind

Uttering Om keshavaya namah, write Om on water with the finger and touch the spot between the two eyebrows with that finger.

Then, while reciting the first seven of the following nine mantras, sprinkle water on the head with the ring finger. While reciting the eighth mantra, sprinkle water on the feet. Again sprinkle water on the head while reciting the ninth mantra.

Aapo hi stha mayo bhuvah
Ta na urje dadhaatana
Mahe ranaya chaksase
Yo vah sivatamo rasah
Tasya bhajaya teha naha
Usatiriva matarah
Tasma aram gamama vah
Yasya ksayaya jinvatha
Aapo janayatha cha naha

Now take a little water in the palm and rotate the palm around the head with the following mantra:

Om Bhur bhuvah suvah

Meaning 5

It is well-known that you, the deities of water, are the cause of great happiness. Please nourish us with the divine vision which brings glory and loveliness. Please make us worthy of imbibing the auspicious bliss even as a mother feeds her children. We approach you with eagerness for that bliss to distribute which you have taken a form and are shining. Bestow on us the boon of a next life sanctified by knowledge.

6. Prasanam

Sipping water with mantra

Take a little water in the palm and sip, after reciting the following mantra :

(Pratah) Suryascha ma manyuscha manyupatayascha, manyukritebhyah.
Papebhyo raksantam. Yadratrya papamakarsam. Manasa vacha hastabhyam.
Padbhyam udarena sisna. Ratris-tadavalumpatu.
Yatkincha duritam mayi. Idam aham mamamarita yonau.
Surye jyotisi juhomi svaha

Meaning 6

(In the morning) May the sun who stimulates everything, anger which enslaves all and the gods who preside over anger, protect me from the sins committed through anger. May the deity of the night absolve me of the sins committed by me at night with the mind, lips, hands, legs, stomach as also of whatever other sins may linger in me. This "me" devoid of all sins, I offer as sacrifice in the effulgence of the sun who is the source of immortality. May this sacrifice be well done.

(Madhyahne) Apah punantu prithivim prithvi puta panatu mam.
Punantu brahmanas patirbrahma-puta punatu mam.
Yaducchistam abhojyam yadva duscaritam mama.
Sarvam punantu mamapo asatam ca pratigraham svaha

Meaning 6

(At noon) May the deity of water sanctify the earth which is its base. May the sanctified earth purify me. May it sanctify the teacher who is the channel for the Veda. May the ever pure Veda purify me. May the deity of water absolve me from sins incurred through consuming food left by others or food unfit to be eaten, through bad contact and through receiving gifts from the wicked. Thus purified I offer myself as sacrifice in the Supreme effulgence.

(Sayankale) Agnischa ma manyuscha manyupatayascha manyukritebhyah.
Papebhyo raksantam. Yadahna papamakarsam. Manasa vacha hastabhyam.
Padbhyam udarena sisna.
Ahastadavalumpatu. Yatkincha duritam mayi.
Idam Aham mamamrita yonau. Satye jyotisi juhomi svaha

Meaning 6

(In the evening) May the Fire who stimulates everything, anger which enslaves all and the gods who preside over anger, protect me from the sins committed through anger. May the deity of the day absolve me of the sins committed by me at day-time with the mind, lips, hands, legs, stomach as also of whatever sins lingering in me. This "me" devoid of sins, I offer as sacrifice in the effulgence of Truth who is the source of immortality. May this sacrifice be well done.

7. Punarmarjanam

Sprinkling water again

Sprinkle water on the head with the following mantra:

Dadhikravnno akarisam. Jisnorasvasya vajinah.
Surabhi no mukhakarat. Prana ayumsi tarisat.
Aapo hista mayo bhuvah……

End with Om Bhurbhuvah suvah

Meaning 7

I make obeisance to the Supreme Person who supports, rules and sustains all the worlds, who is ever victorious and who has taken the form of Hayagriva the repository of all knowledge. May He make our faces and other organs fragrant. May He protect our lives continuously. It is well-known.…knowledge (as in No.5 above)

8. Arghya-pradanam

Offering water

Morning :
Stand facing east. Take plenty of water in both palms and raising the heels a little, pour the water down through the tips of the fingers other than the thumb uttering the following mantra. This is to be done three times.

Om bhurbhuvas suvah. Tat saviturvarenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi. Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

[Meaning - see no. 3 We meditate .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. consciousness]

Noon :
Stand facing north and do the same twice

Evening :
Squat facing west and do the same three times

9. Prayaschittarghyam
Offering of water in atonement for failure to perform the worship at the proper time

Do Pranayamah once, as in No.3. Thereafter offer arghya once, as in No.8. Then uttering Om Bhurbhuvas suvah turn round once and sprinkle a little water around you.

10. Aikyanusandhanam
Meditation on the identity of the individual self and the Supreme Self

Sit down, close the eyes and mentally chant

Asavadityo brahma. Brahmai vaham asmi

Meaning 10
This sun is Brahman. I too am Brahman.
Do achamanam once, as in No.1.

11. Deva-Tarpanam
Offering of water to the devas

Morning: Squat, facing east.
Noon: Squat, facing north.
Evening: Squat, facing north

Pour water through the finger tips of both hands reciting the following mantras :

Adityam tarpayami
Somam tarpayami
Angarakam tarpayami
Budham tarpayami
Brhaspatim tarpayami
Sukram tarpayami
Sanaischaram tarpayami
Rahum tarpayami
Ketum tarpayami
Keshavam tarpayami
Narayanam tarpayami
Madhavam tarpayami
Govindam tarpayami
Vishnum tarpayami
Madhusudanam tarpayami
Trivikramam tarpayami
Vamanam tarpayami
Sridharam tarpayami
Hrsikesam tarpayami
Padmanabham tarpayami
Damodaram tarpayami

Meaning 11
I make my offering to the presiding deities of the nine planets - Aditya, Soma, Angaraka, Budha, Brhaspati, Sukra, Sani (who moves slowly), Rahu, and Ketu; and Narayana with twelve names - Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudana, Trivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Hrsikesa, Padmanabha, Damodara.
Do achamanam once, as in No.1.

An article I came across on Yajurveda Sandhyavandanam

SandhyaVandanam :: Forums @

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 3:40 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
For those interested, sharing what i recd, with u all. Didnt know how to attach so please forgive me for the cut and paste thus making the text long

[color=darkblue]Nithya andNimithya Karmas
Dear All,

By His Grace and as guided by my Guru Brahmasri Ramji
Sathrigal, a note on the importance of Nithyakarmas is
You are humbly requested to download,store it in your
hard disc,read with utmost care and follow. This note
may please be passed on to relatives and friends to
enable them to reap the benefits.
The C.D. may be collected FREE of cost in case of
Sri Gurubhyo Namaha


Rishis after undergoing penance for years have brought into this world for the benefit of human beings Vedas that prescribe ways to lead a purposeful life. Epics show that those who have taken such a path have been successful and have had peace of mind. To lead a life as suggested for each person in accordance with one’s Varna and to follow the set examples is itself Dharma.

A person is born with three liabilities to Dhevas, Rishis and Pithrus and these are known as Runas. Performing Nithya Karmas and Pithrukarmas shall discharge one of these liabilities.

The root of Nithya Karmas i.e. acts to be performed daily is Sandhya Vandhanam with which only the other pujas, homas and Karmas get sanctified. In other words there shall be no effect to other Karmas without the basic that is Sandhyavandhanam.

Besides Sandhyavandhanam, Brahmayaganam i.e. Deva, Rishi Pithru Tharpanam is also to be performed once during daytime, which relieves one of the liabilities mentioned.

Aspects of Sandhya Vandhanam

Three important parts are a) Arghya Pradhanam b) Prnayamam c) Gayathri Japam.
Starting with prayer to Ganapathi, one purifies for acts if any done in the night, forenoon, and the after noon. Argyam is given with Gayathri Manthra and thereafter to Navagrahas and twelve aspects of Vishnu who represents AthiDhevatha of the twelve months. Prnava Japa and Pranayamas, Gayathri Avahanam, Nyasam, Japam and Gayathri Upasthanam follow this. It concludes with Prayers to Surya, Sandhya, Dhigdhevathas, Yama, Hara, Hari besides Sarpa Raksha manthram.

Importance of Sandhyavandhanam

1. Covers prayer to all manifestations of the Brahmam, in the form of Ganessh, Sakthi, Vishnu, Siva and Adhithya.
2. Prayers to Sun God with whose Grace only there is life in the universe.
3. In Vedas it is mentioned that there is perpetual war between Devas and Asuras . The Sun God, Devatha for Gayathri, with Argyapradhanam gets stronger to fight the evil and in turn shower His Grace on the performer. This is a cyclic occurrence as described in the verses beginning with ‘ Sahavai’ that is uttered before Brahmana Bhojanam in a Shradhdha.
4. Remembrance to Rishis who gave us this invaluable treasure.
5. Only those who have been initiated through Brahmopadhesam by a Guru could do Gayathri Japa, the essence of Vedas.
6. Gayathri Japa protects both self and the world.
7. While doing the Japa one needs to meditate. This meditation besides purifying ones soul gives the power of concentration.
8. Pranayams done in the proper way with the prescribed Manthras give the desired effects such as longevity, purification of lungs and heals any breathing problems.
9. Different postures followed during Sandhya Vandhanam such as sitting upright, bending, namaskarams, viewing the Sun are different physical exercises one does even without knowing.

Rules to be followed

1. Sandhya Vandhanam is done thrice a day in the morning, noon and the evening.
2. In the morning and noon one should do this standing while the evening one sitting.
3. Japa and Vandhana are done facing East in the morning and Noon while in the evening it is west you face.
4. Arghyam is given in the evening facing north.
5. Achamaniyam should not be done while standing or facing west or south.
6. It is important to have proper count of japams irrespective of the numbers.
7. This is to be done on all days even on days when one may have Aachoucham (Vridhdhi ot Theettu as known in Tamil). During this time one needs to do Argyam, 3 Pranayamas and 12 Gayathri and end with Gayathri upasthanam.
8. It is important that the rules and Prayoga (procedures) are followed with manthras properly uttered.

Our forefathers were performing till recently Nithya Karmanushtanas that started in Vedic period. It will not be difficult to set aside a few minutes daily amongst busy schedule to perform at least Sandhyavandanam and once it is part of daily routine it becomes much easier.

By such performance one should become an example to the next generation. There may be some that due to circumstances would have forgotten manthras or the rules or Prayoga and may be doing this karma occasionally but incorrectly.

To facilitate such people and also to guide fresh Brahmacharis a C.D. has been brought out by Brahmasri. Ramji Sasthrigal, of Aathma Vidhya Samajam, Nungambakkam son of Mannargudi Raju Sasthrigal.

The MP3 C.D. contains the following also.

Upakarma, Sravanam, AvaniAvittam:

This is being observed on Sravan Purnima (normally coincides with star Avittam) by Yajurvedhis, while Star Sravan at dawn is important for Rigvdhis. Samavedhis observe upakarma on the day when star Hastha is at dawn in Badhrapada sukla paksha.

On this day RECOUPMENT or REFRESHER COURSE OF VEDAS is undertaken.
One has to do Vedha Adhyana (learning) from Sravana Purnima in the year post upanayanam. From this day to Pushya Purnima one does Veda Adyayana and for the rest of the period till Sravan Purnima learns other aspects of Veda such as Vyakarna.

Veda adhyana that has been thus temporarily suspended (known as Uthsarjana) for six months, get restarted on the day of Upakarma.
It may therefore be noted Vedaramba or restart of Veda learning is the most important aspect of Upakarma.

Aspects of Upakarma.

1. Samithadhanam by Brahmacharis.
2. Kamokarshith Japa. This is done as prayaschitha for not performing Uthsarjana.
3. Brahmayagnam after Madhyaniham.
4. Mahasangalpam for getting rid sins performed during the year knowingly and unknowingly followed by Snanam / Prokshna Snanam for cleansing the body.
5. Yagnopavitha Dharanam – Changing the sacred thread.
6. Kandarishi Tharpanam- to thank all those Rishis and Devas who have given us Manthras for our welfare.
7. Puja for Vedavysa, Varuna and Homa for the Rishis and Devas.( This is normally done at the congregation by the Prohoit or priest.
8. Vedharambam or restart of Vedaadhyayana.
9. Gayathri Japam on the following day of Sravan Purnima. Followers of different Vedas perform this on this day.

Important rules to be followed.

1. Yagnopavitham is a sacred thread and due relevance should be given.
2. This should remain on the body always and preserved properly and kept clean.
3. It shall be changed as and when necessary say when gets broken or after an aachoucham, or before start of any important Karmas.
4. The Brahmamudichu or the knot should be resting on the top of the shoulder.
5. Since it is Sacred no external objects should be tied to this.
6. Yagnopavitham protects a person who respects its sanctity and observes nithya karmanushnaas i.e. daily rituals.

Sidhdhi Vinayaka Puja:
Alsoknown as Vinayaka Chathurthi is observed on Sukla Chathurthi in the month of Badhrapadha (August / September) as per English Calender.

Normally idol made of clay is worshiped and visarjan takes place on Anantha Chadhurdasi after 10 days. This custom is followed in Maharashtra while in south it is on the following day after Punar Puja.

Varalakshmi Vratham:

Families for the welfare of the husbands on the Friday preceeding Sravan Purnima observe this traditionally. Elders or Guru initiates the lady to the vratha in the year of marriage. If for any reason this is missed initiation takes place in the year when it falls in the Tamil month Avani.

Saraswathi (Dhurga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi) Puja:

This is observed to invoke the Goddess for proper education for the children and Gyna for elders. This falls on the Mahanavami day of Shardha Navarathri Festival.
In east Dhurga Puja is observed during Sharadha Navrathri, Lakshmi Puja on the Purnima following Vijaya Dhasami and Saraswathi Puja on Vasanth Panchami day.


More popularly known as Pongal in Tamilnad falls on the day when the Sun changes its path towards North or known as Uththarayana. Sun which gives life to all living creatures in the universe is worshipped at the auspicious time of the change as per the calendar.

Sathyanarayana Puja:

This is being observed in many households on Purnima evenings. It is more popular in Andhra and Karnanatka who conduct the Puja as a part of any important ceremony such as marriage.

Besides Sathyanarayana or Sathyavrathar prayers are offered at the start to Ganapathy, Brahma,Vishnu, Rudhran and Gowri (Pancha Lokapalas), Navagrahas, Ashtadikpalas
(Indhra, Agni,Yama, Nirurithi, Varuna,Vayu, Kubera or Soma and Easanan).

Recital of five stories after the main Puja is another feature and concludes with Palashruthi. It is compulsory for the visitors to accept the offerings.

The C.D. containing the above Nithya and Naimithya Karmas has been made for everyone to reap the benefits by performing regularly and correctly and can be had from:

Sri.Ramji Sasthrigal, New No.18 (old No 37), New Tank Street, Nungambakkam (Tel.28253664)

K.Balasubramanian, 6, (Old No 8/1), Avenue Road, Nungambakkam (Tel. 52137939)

Sri. K.Ramji, PACRIM Software Systems, 7 (Old No.16), Avenue Road, Nungambakkam (Tel. 28211181/ 28223147)

Jai Sriram[/color]

Har Har Mahadev

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Should I Invest in Index Funds or Managed Mutual Funds?

This is a great article written by G.E.Miller on how Index Funds are better for the average investor. I'm reproducing this article completely with all links and credits, to ensure credit is given where it belongs. The purpose of having this article on this website is only to 'spread the light' - share my learning with everyone.
- Kaustav

Should I Invest in Index Funds or Managed Mutual Funds?
By G.E. Miller • Mar 21st, 2008 • Category: Index Funds, Mutual Funds, Workplace Finance

Let’s take a look at index funds and compare them to actively managed mutual funds. It’s important to understand the distinction between the two, because you may have the option of both within your employer sponsored retirement plan. In order to truly understand index funds, you need to first take a step backwards and discuss what they are ‘cloning’ - stock market indices.

What is a stock market index?

Stock market indices measure the composite value of a group of stocks. Indices can be chosen through a set of rules or hand selected by committees. One of the more popular indixes is the S&P 500, which is a committee selected group of 500 large cap (market value) stocks, mostly domestic, that are meant to resemble the market as a whole. Another example of a market index is the Russell 2000, which includes 2000 small cap stocks. You’ll also find indexes that measure different sectors of stocks such as international, health care, real estate, REIT’s, and just about any other way you can group stocks.

What is an Index Fund?

Index funds are a type of mutual fund that attempts to mimic the performance of a stock market index. Like a mutual fund, index fund share values are based on the net asset value of all of the stocks they have invested in. Rather than its holdings being regularly bought and sold through managed trades, index funds periodically change investments based on a set of rules or infrequent committee selected changes. A lot of them take the human decision element out completely.

The first index fund was created in 1975 by Vanguard founder John Bogle. Some believe that Bogle’s philosophy was based on the book A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel, which argued that one cannot consistently outperform the market averages. To this date, Bogle (now retired from Vanguard) and Vanguard remain strong advocates for investing in index funds, and Vanguard is now the second largest mutual fund company in the world.

Why Index Funds?

Proponents of index funds point towards data that shows that they consistently outperform their actively managed mutual fund peers due to the following reasons:
  • Usually they have lower management fees (because they aren’t actively managed).
  • They trade much less, so turnover ratio is lower. As a result capital gains taxes can be lower.
Comparing index funds to mutual funds often times will make them look favorable. There are mutual fund managers out there whose goal is to meet the market indexes, not consistently outperform them. Because they’re actively managed, their fees are higher and their turnover ratios are higher. Also, in general, there are some horrible mutual fund managers out there. It makes sense to check their histories before you purchase any of their shares.

A Real Life Comparison

My opinion is that you should take advantage of what is offered to you. Vanguard is my employer’s 401K plan administrator and within my plan I have the option of both index and mutual funds. Let’s take a real life look at an index fund versus a comparable mutual fund within my 401K plan.

Index fund - Vanguard Total International Stock Index (VGTSX): expense ratio = 0.27%, no manager, has outperformed the MSCI EAFE international stock index in four out of the last five years.

Actively managed mutual fund - Artisan International (ARTIX): expense ratio = 1.21%, manager is Mark Yockey who started with the fund in 1995 (good longevity). ARTIX has only outperformed the MSCI EAFE international stock index in two out of the last five years.

The Results: Over the last five years, VGTSX has outperformed ARTIX with a total return of 146% to 100% (with almost 1% lower management fees). This is a significant difference. In this case, being presented with these two funds for international exposure, I would opt for the index fund (VGTSX) every time. However, if I was doing the same comparison within a personal IRA and had other actively managed options to choose from, I would do my research and look to see if I could find an alternate actively managed fund with a lower expense ratio, low turnover, a seasoned manager, and better returns than ARTIX and VGTSX. One needs to look no further than DODFX, which returned 189% over the same period of time, with a team of 9 managers and only a 0.66% expense ratio.

You’ll find a number of investors who invest solely in index funds because they buy into the Bogle rhetoric that index funds are superior in every way in the long run. In many cases, they are. However, there are always exceptions and you should do your homework.

If you have the option of choosing between the two, take a look at the results of the mutual fund managers available to you. This post takes a look at some of the things you should look for in a mutual fund. When presented with limited options, I have opted for index funds. When presented with unlimited options, I never have.

This is a great article written by G.E.Miller on
how Index Funds are better for the average investor. I'm reproducing
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given where it belongs. The purpose of having this article on this
website is only to 'spread the light' - share my learning with everyone.
- Kaustav

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Should you invest in Index Funds?

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how Index Funds are better for the average investor. I'm reproducing
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given where it belongs. The purpose of having this article on this
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- Kaustav

Index funds have provided investors with a return that is directly linked to individual markets while charging minimal amounts for expenses. Despite their benefits, not everyone seems to know exactly what index funds are and how they compare to the many other funds offered by different companies.

Active and Passive Management

Before we get into the details of index funds, it's important to understand the two different styles of mutual-fund management: passive and active.

Most mutual funds fit under the active-management category. Active management involves the art of stock picking and market timing. This means the fund manager will put his/her skills to the test trying to pick securities that will perform better than the market. Because actively managed funds require more hands-on research and because they experience higher volumes of trading, their expenses are higher.

Passively managed funds, on the other hand, do not attempt to beat the market. A passive strategy instead seeks to match the risk and return of the stock market or segment of it. You can think of passive management as the buy-and-hold approach to money management.

What Is an Index Fund?

An index fund is passive management in action: it is a mutual fund that attempts to mimic the performance of a particular index. For instance, a fund that tracks the S&P 500 index would own the same stocks as those within the S&P 500. It's as simple as that! These funds believe that tracking the market's performance will produce a better result compared to the other funds.

Remember, when people talk of "the market" they are most often referring to either the Dow Jones Industrial Average or the S&P 500. There are, however, numerous other indexes that track the market such as the Nasdaq Composite, Wilshire Total Market Index, Russell 2000 and more. (For more on this subject, see this Index Tutorial.)

What Benefits Are They Providing?

There are two main reasons why somebody chooses to invest in an index fund.

The first reason is related to an investing theory known as the efficient market hypothesis. This theory states that all markets are efficient, and that it is impossible for investors to gain above normal returns because all relevant information that may affect a stock's price is already incorporated within its price. Thus, index fund managers and their investors believe that if you can't beat the market, you might as well join it.

The second reason to choose an index fund is the low expense ratios. Typically, the range for these funds is around 0.2-0.5%, which is much lower than the 1.3-2.5% often seen for actively managed funds. But the cost savings don't stop there. Index funds don't have the sales charges known as loads, which many mutual funds have.

In bull markets when returns are high these ratios are not as noticeable for investors; however, when bear markets come around, the higher expense ratios become more conspicuous as they are directly deducted from meager returns. For example, if the return on a mutual fund is 10% and the expense ratio is 3%, then the real return to the investor is only 7%.

What Are You Missing Out On?

One of the major arguments of active managers is that, by investing in an index fund, investors are giving up before they have even started. These managers believe that the market has already defeated investors who are buying into these types of funds. As index fund will always earn a return identical to that of the market it's tracking, index investors will not be able to participate if any anomalies occur. For instance, during the tech boom of the late '90s, when new technologies companies reached record highs, index funds were unable to match the record amounts of some actively-managed funds.

What Are the Results?

Generally, when you look at mutual fund performance over the long run, you can see a trend of actively-managed funds underperforming the S&P 500 index. A common statistic is that the S&P 500 outperforms 80% of mutual funds. While this stat is true in some years, it's not always the case.

A better comparison is provided by Burton Malkiel, the man who popularized efficient market theory in his book "A Random Walk Down Wall Street". The 1999 edition of his book begins by comparing $10,000 investment in the S&P 500 index fund to the same amount in the average actively-managed mutual fund. From the start of 1969 through to June 30, 1998, the index investor was ahead by almost $140,000: her original $10,000 increased 31-times to $311,000, while the active-fund investor ended up with only $171,950.

Are Index Funds Better?

It's true that over the short term some mutual funds will outperform the market by significant amounts. But picking the good funds out of the thousands (literally) that exist is almost as difficult as picking stocks yourself! Whether or not you believe in efficient markets, the costs in most mutual funds make it very difficult to outperform an index fund over the long term.

by Investopedia Staff believes that individuals can excel at managing their financial affairs. As such, they strive to provide free educational content and tools to empower individual investors, including more than 1,200 original and objective articles and tutorials on a wide variety of financial topics.


This is a great article from on
how Index Funds are better for the average investor. I'm reproducing
this article completely with all links and credits, to ensure credit is
given where it belongs. The purpose of having this article on this
website is only to 'spread the light' - share my learning with everyone.
- Kaustav

4 reasons why you should buy while FIIs sell, if you are in India

This is a great article from Sandeep Shanbhag on
the investment approach to adopt in India in the current market scenario. I'm reproducing
this article completely with all links and credits, to ensure credit is
given where it belongs. The purpose of reproducing this article on this
blog is only to 'spread the light' and share my learning with everyone.
- Kaustav


4 reasons why you should buy while FIIs sell
Sandeep Shanbhag

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LET’S assume that you have invested in both, the US and the Indian stock markets. Now, it turns out, while your Indian investments are doing exceedingly well, the US portfolio suffers acute losses.

What is the most obvious thing you would do?

You would book profits in India, in order to make up for the US loss. Right?

This, in a nutshell, is the current scene today. The only difference is that the investors are foreign institutional investors (FIIs). These are institutions that operate mutual funds, hedge fund and portfolio management services abroad and invest the fund money in other countries. FIIs by definition, have world wide investments. So, not only India but other Asian markets are also facing a sell off.

What happens when FIIs sell?

FIIs have a huge exposure to the Indian market. Due to this, their buy and sell actions have a considerable impact on the market.

Recently, FIIs have been on a selling spree. This is one of the reasons for the markets to register steep falls. If FIIs are selling, should you buy?

The US is in turmoil but there is nothing wrong with us. The following factors just reaffirm this:

1. Toxic securities (such as MBS and CDOs) are conspicuously absent in our market, thereby preventing us from catching the infection.

Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) are securities which are backed by a pool of mortgages that are paid by home loan takers in the US. So, if a home owner defaults on his repayment, the MBS holder suffers. Read all about these instruments and how they caused the big collapse.

2. As far as domestic operations of banks are concerned, RBI has been extremely strict by continually increasing the risk weights to real estate and housing loans, thereby discouraging banks to get ahead of themselves, in a bid to increase business.

3. Unlike the West which has a negative savings rate, our domestic savings rate is more than 35 per cent, that means, on an average, Indians save 35 per cent of their income. So, even if there is a protracted slowdown, we would still have considerable demand for products and services, which in turn will help the economy to achieve good growth.

4. Amongst all emerging economies, our export to GDP ratio is the lowest. This means that even if our exports went down, our growth won't be significantly impacted. Therefore, even a full blown US recession will shave only around 40 to 60 basis points off our GDP growth rate. So, we will still have the capacity to chug along at an 8 per cent plus rate.

India - a safe haven

The fundamentals of our economy make our market nothing short of a safe haven during such turmoil. So, I don’t care if the market falls to 9,000 or even lower. Once this storm blows over, things will be back to normal.

In the meanwhile, your fortune as an investor would depend on how you react, or rather, don’t react, to the situation.

The great fall of the market isn’t going to suddenly reverse the quality of the companies listed. If anything, I am looking forward to picking up some cheap but quality stuff.

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Disclaimer: The contents of the article or are for information purpose only and are in no way meant to be advisory in nature. The author does not claim responsibility for actions taken by readers on the basis of the Article. Please consult your financial advisor for your personal money management.



This is a great article from Sandeep Shanbhag on
the investment approach to adopt in India in the current market scenario. I'm reproducing
this article completely with all links and credits, to ensure credit is
given where it belongs. The purpose of reproducing this article on this
blog is only to 'spread the light' and share my learning with everyone.
- Kaustav

Why America needs an economic strategy- Features-The Economic Times

This is a great article from Michael Porter on
America's urgent need for a cohesive national economic strategy. I'm reproducing
this article completely with all links and credits, to ensure credit is
given where it belongs. The purpose of reproducing this article on this
blog is only to 'spread the light' and share my learning with everyone.
- Kaustav


Why America needs an economic strategy

By: Michael E. Porter

31 Oct, 2008, 1900 hrs IST, BusinessWeek

With the US election just days away, it has never been more important to consider what the next President must do to keep America competitive. In this time of crisis, Washington has focused on the immediate and the short term. Lost are the more basic questions we really need to worry about: What is the fundamental competitive position of the U.S. in the global economy? And what must we do to remain strong when other nations are making rapid progress?

The stark truth is that the U.S. has no long-term economic strategy—no coherent set of policies to ensure competitiveness over the long haul. Strategy embodies clear priorities, based on understanding the strengths we need to preserve and the weaknesses that threaten our prosperity the most. Strategy addresses what to do, but also what not to do. In dealing with a crisis, experience teaches us that steps to address the immediate problem must support a long-term strategy. Yet it is far from clear that we are taking the steps most important to America's long-term economic prosperity.

America's political system, especially as it has evolved in recent times, almost guarantees an absence of strategic thinking at the federal level. Government leaders react to current events piecemeal, rather than developing a strategy that unfolds over years. Congress and the Executive Branch are organized around discrete policy areas, not around the overall goal of improving competitiveness. Neither candidate has put forward anything close to a strategy; rather, each has presented a set of disconnected policy proposals with political appeal. Both parties contribute to the problem by approaching the economy with long-held ideologies and policy positions, many of which no longer fit with today's reality.

Now is the moment when the U.S. needs to break this cycle. The American economy has performed remarkably well, but our continued competitiveness has become fragile. Over the last two decades the U.S. has accounted for an incredible one-third of world economic growth. As the financial crisis hit, the rest of the American economy remained quite competitive, with many companies performing strongly in international markets. U.S. productivity growth has continued to be faster than in most other advanced economies, and exports have been the growth driver in the overall economy.


Yet our success has come with deep insecurities for many Americans, even before the crisis. The emergence of China and India as global players has sparked deep fears for U.S. jobs and wages, despite unemployment rates that have been low by historical standards. While the U.S. economy has been a stronger net job creator than most advanced countries, the high level of job churn (restructuring destroys about 30 million jobs per year) makes many Americans fear for their future, their pensions, and their health care. While the standard of living has risen over the last several decades for all income groups, especially when properly adjusted for family size, and while the U.S. remains the land where lower-income citizens have the best chance of moving up the economic ladder, inequality has risen. This has caused many Americans to question globalization.

To reconcile these conflicting perspectives, it's necessary to assess where America really stands. The U.S. has prospered because it has enjoyed a set of unique competitive strengths. First, the U.S. has an unparalleled environment for entrepreneurship and starting new companies.

Second, U.S. entrepreneurship has been fed by a science, technology, and innovation machine that remains by far the best in the world. While other countries increase their spending on research and development, the U.S. remains uniquely good at coaxing innovation out of its research and translating those innovations into commercial products. In 2007, American inventors registered about 80,000 patents in the U.S. patent system, where virtually all important technologies developed in any nation are patented. That's more than the rest of the world combined.

Third, the U.S. has the world's best institutions for higher learning, and they are getting stronger. They equip students with highly advanced skills and act as magnets for global talent, while playing a critical role in innovation and spinning off new businesses.

Fourth, America has been the country with the strongest commitment to competition and free markets. This belief has driven the remarkable level of restructuring, renewal, and productivity growth in the U.S.

Fifth, the task of forming economic policy and putting it into practice is highly decentralized across states and regions. There really is not a single U.S. economy, but a collection of specialized regional economies—think of the entertainment complex in Hollywood or life sciences in Boston. Each region has its own industry clusters, with specialized skills and assets. Each state and region takes responsibility for competitiveness and addresses its own problems rather than waiting for the central government. This decentralization is arguably America's greatest hidden competitive strength.

Sixth, the U.S. has benefited historically from the deepest and most efficient capital markets of any nation, especially for risk capital. Only in America can young people raise millions, lose it all, and return to start another company.

Finally, the U.S. continues to enjoy remarkable dynamism and resilience. Our willingness to restructure, take our losses, and move on will allow the U.S. to weather the current crisis better than most countries.

Yet what has driven America's success is starting to erode. A series of policy failures has offset and even nullified its strengths just as other nations are becoming more competitive. The problem is not so much that other nations are threatening the U.S. but that the U.S. lacks a coherent strategy for addressing its own challenges.

An inadequate rate of reinvestment in science and technology is hampering America's feeder system for entrepreneurship. Research and development as a share of GDP has actually declined, while it has risen in many other countries. Federal policymakers recognize this problem but have failed to act.

America's belief in competition is waning. A creeping relaxation of antitrust enforcement has allowed mergers to dominate markets. Ironically, these mergers are often justified by "free market" rhetoric. The U.S. is seeing more intervention in competition, with protectionism and favoritism on the rise. Few Americans know that the U.S. ranks only 20th among countries in openness to capital flows, 21st on low trade barriers, and 35th on absence of distortions from taxes and subsidies, according to the 2008 Global Competitiveness Report. We are fast becoming the kind of distorted economy we have long criticized.

Lack of regulatory oversight and capital requirements, in the name of liberalization and well-meaning efforts to extend credit to lower-income citizens, has undermined our financial markets. America underregulates in some areas while it overregulates in others.

U.S. colleges and universities are precious assets, but we have no serious plan to improve access to them by our citizens. America now ranks 12th in tertiary (college or higher) educational attainment for 25- to 34-year-olds. We have made no progress in this vital area over the past 30 years, unlike almost every other country. This is an ominous trend in an economy that must have the skills to justify its high wages. Instead of mounting a serious program to provide access to higher education, like the G.I. Bill and National Science Foundation programs of earlier years, Congress grandstands over the rate of endowment spending in our best universities.

The federal government has also failed to recognize and support the decentralization and regional specialization that drive our economy. Washington still acts as if the federal level is where the action is. Beltway bureaucrats spend many billions of dollars on top-down, highly fragmented federal economic development programs. Yet these programs are not designed to support regional clusters, nor do they send money where it will have the greatest impact in each region. For example, distressed urban communities, where poverty in America is concentrated, are starved of the infrastructure spending needed for job development. Again, no strategic thinking.

At a time when insecurity and job turnover are higher than ever, the U.S. also has abdicated its responsibility to provide a credible transitional safety net for Americans. It is no wonder Americans are becoming more populist, more protectionist, and more tolerant of harmful intervention in the economy. The job training system is ineffective and receives less and less funding each year. Pension security is eroding, and the most obvious step required to strengthen Social Security—slowly adjusting upward the retirement age—has not been taken. Improving access to affordable health insurance is a major worry for all Americans. Washington could take basic steps such as equalizing the tax deductibility of individually purchased insurance to assist those not covered by their employers. Yet the government has failed to do so.


Federal polices have hobbled America's entrepreneurial strength by needlessly driving up the cost and complexity of doing business, especially for smaller companies. Cumbersome regulation of employment, the environment, and product liability needs to give way to better approaches involving less cost and litigation, yet special interests block reform. The U.S. has become a high-tax country not only in terms of rates but also administrative hassle. Infrastructure bottlenecks, due to neglect and poorly directed spending, are driving up costs in an economy increasingly dependent on logistics. The U.S. is energy-inefficient, but public policies fail to promote energy conservation. Health-care costs are too high, but there is no serious effort to provide more integrated and efficient care.

Collectively, these unnecessary costs of doing business, coupled with skill gaps, are becoming significant enough to drive investments out of the country, including investments by American companies. Instead of addressing the real reasons for offshore investment, the parties spar over closing tax "loopholes," even though U.S. corporate rates are among the highest in the world. Where is the strategic thinking?

Trade and foreign investment are fundamental to the success of the U.S. economy, but America has lost its focus and credibility in shaping the international trading system. Our economy today depends on advanced services and selling intellectual property—our ideas, our software, our media. Yet rampant intellectual property theft and high barriers to competition in services tilt the world trading system against a knowledge-based economy.

With no strategy, the U.S. has failed to work effectively with other advanced countries to address these issues and has failed to assist poorer countries so they feel more confident about opening markets and internal reform. The U.S. has abdicated its strategic role in developing Latin America, our most natural trading partner. We have failed to engage meaningfully in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia to help countries improve the lot of their citizens. Our foreign aid is still tied to the purchase of U.S. goods and services, rather than the actual needs of countries. Congress fails to pass trade agreements with countries highly committed to our economic principles, such as Colombia.

A final strategic failure is in many ways the most disconcerting. All Americans know that the public education system is a serious weakness. Fewer may realize that citizens retiring today are better educated than the young people entering the workforce. In the global economy, just being an American is no longer enough to guarantee a good job at a good wage. Without world-class education and skills, Americans must compete with workers in other countries for jobs that could be moved anywhere. Unless we significantly improve the performance of our public schools, there is no scenario in which many Americans will escape continued pressure on their standard of living. And legal and illegal immigration of low-skilled workers cannot help but make the problem worse for less-skilled Americans.

The problem is not money—America spends a great deal on public education, just as we do on health care. The real problem is the structure of our education system. The states, for example, need to consolidate some of the 14,000 local school districts whose existence almost guarantees inefficiency and inequality of education across communities. Instead, government leaders haggle over incremental changes.


We need a strategy supported by the majority to secure America's economic future. Yet Americans hear the same old divisive arguments. Republicans keep repeating simplistic free-market thinking, even though the absence of all regulation makes no sense. Self-reliance is preached as if no transitional safety net is needed. Some Republicans even argue passionately that the country should have no strategy because that would be "industrial policy." Yet the real issue is not picking industry winners and losers but improving the business environment for all American companies, something we cannot do without identifying our top priorities. Overall, Republicans seem to think business can thrive without healthy social conditions.

Democrats, meanwhile, keep talking as if they want to penalize investment and economic success. They defend unions obstructing change in areas like education, cling to cumbersome regulatory approaches, and resist ways to get litigation costs for business in line with other countries. Democrats equivocate on trade in an irreversibly global economy. They seem to think social progress can be achieved only at the expense of business.

To make America competitive, we have to get beyond this thinking. Political leaders, business leaders, and civil society must begin a respectful, fact-based dialogue about our challenges. We need to focus on competitive reality, not defending past policies.

A strategy would address each of the areas I have discussed. If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit the U.S. is not making real progress on any of them today. Efforts under way by both parties are largely canceling each other out. A strategy would direct our spending to priority investments that also put money into the economy, such as educational assistance and logistical infrastructure, rather than tax rebates. With a strategy, we would stop counterproductive and expensive practices such as farm subsidies and spending earmarks.

Is such strategic thinking possible, given America's political system? It happens in other countries—Denmark and South Korea are just two where I have participated in serious efforts by national leaders, both public and private, to come together and chart a long-term plan. This almost never occurs in the U.S., except around single issues.

We will need some new structures to govern strategically. I served on the last public-private President's Commission on Industrial Competitiveness—in 1983! This time we need one that is less politically motivated. Congress would benefit from a bipartisan joint planning group to coordinate an overall set of priorities. More up or down votes on comprehensive legislative programs are needed to allow a shift to a coherent set of policies and away from lots of separate bills.

The new Administration will have an historic opportunity to adopt a strategic approach to the U.S.'s economic future, something that would bring the parties together. America is at its best when it recognizes problems and accepts collective responsibility for dealing with them. All Americans should hope that the next President and Congress rise to the challenge.

Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard Business School, is a leading authority on competitive strategy and the competitiveness of nations and regions. Professor Porter's work is recognized in governments, corporations, nonprofits, and academic circles around the world.

Copyright 2000-2008 by The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.
Provided by BusinessWeek


This is a great article from Michael Porter on
America's urgent need for a cohesive national economic strategy. I'm reproducing
this article completely with all links and credits, to ensure credit is
given where it belongs. The purpose of reproducing this article on this
blog is only to 'spread the light' and share my learning with everyone.
- Kaustav

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Art of Manifestation

The Art of Manifestation
By John Gaydon

There are times in life when we wish to create something. Perhaps it is a new relationship, car, house, or a special holiday. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a formula which works. A systematic way to create in life that which we desire. This is not only possible, but I have used this formula many times and it works really well. Take the manifestation of our current place of residence.

Eleven years ago, Linda and I were married. We had a wonderful wedding at Sublime Point Lookout in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia. There was torrential rain all day and the just before sunset the sun burst forth creating a powerful energy. There were spirits at work that day, and everything went like clockwork. The staff at our reception place commented that they had never seen an event run so smoothly. Everything was provided, including a cottage with a Hot Tub for our wedding night.

This was a high point in our lives. We were feeling energized and able to accomplish anything. We went to Thailand for a Honeymoon and an absolutely fabulous time trekking through the jungle and relaxing on fabulous beaches. Many miracles had occurred to supply the finances for these events including halving of the air fare the week we were to book tickets!

With all our finances invested in the honeymoon and reception, I awoke the Tuesday after our return, sat bolt upright in our bed and announced, “It is time we purchased a house!” I was certain the time was right! It was a strong intuitive feeling. Linda and I at that stage had been renting. We were guided to each property we lived in. It is amazing when you follow your intuition, how you are led to exactly what you are looking for! It is a matter of following the formula you are about to have explained. Anyway, why spoil a good story with facts.

It was really great to have a thought about a house. Once we were clear we had to have a plan. So we visited a display home centre where they advertised new homes for $1,000 deposit. I had that much credit left on my card. All things are possible, even though prospects looked bleak.

We were told to forget about it. “You can’t do anything until you have saved at least $10,000”, was the agent’s reply. Anyone who knows me understands that the word no is meaningless. It is just someone’s opinion. You see, there are no limits to what can happen in life. I expect miracles every day – and they happen. A house was a bit of a stretch. It is a BIG miracle. We decided that this was not the right place and kept asking everyone we met if they knew of any houses for sale.

Eventually we arrived at Kariong on the NSW Central Coast. I had never heard the name. I didn’t know where it was. I cannot remember how I even found out about it. Perhaps Spirit spoke to me or I received the information through a synchronicity (co-incidence to non believers).

We arrived at the Real Estate office and were told there were two homes available. We went to visit the sites and sat on the concrete slabs of each home. When we sat in our current lounge room we both received messages. It felt like our place! So we told the agent we would take it. We knew for certain that this was to be our new home and we were not concerned with details such as how to pay for it.

We were told to find $13,000 in 12 weeks including over Christmas and the bank would lend us the rest. That seemed like a fair deal. It was a huge stretch for us in terms of finances. I have never saved that sort of money in my life. We knew the house was for us, so we went to work. Miracle after miracle happened and we made it with a week to spare. As if to test us, half way through the agent suggested someone else wanted our house and we could have more time to get another one in a less advantaged position. We told her that it was our house or nothing. We had decided.

There are many similar occasions where we have manifested what we wanted. This includes cars, holidays, and household items. It is a fun process, and if you follow the formula, it works. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1. Inspiration.
Every idea begins with an intuitive hunch. We know we need certain things at certain times in our lives. There is an inner voice which tells us. We encounter omens or coincidences which point to it. Conversations trigger ideas through synchronicity. There are times when you know you want something.

Step 2. Visualize.
Be clear on what it is you wish to create in your life. The more specific, the better. We teach making lists as a way to clarify what you want. When I was single, I used to make lists of qualities I wanted in a partner and usually someone would turn up in two weeks! I did this 5 or 6 times until I got the list right. The world is a reflection of our mind. We attract into our lives a reflection of the thoughts we project. If you really want anything, you can have it. Creating a crystal clear vision is an important step.
Detail is vitally important in this. Collect pictures, draw a plan or diagram, write a list of exactly what you want. Take some time. Don’t compromise, remember, you get what you ask for! Visualization is about solidifying ideas into a solid and concrete physical object. Once you write enough details and focus on them daily, the vision will come. You start to see images of what you desire. As you scan magazines and books, real estate catalogues and display home villages, you start to see your new home. What does the vista look like? What amenities do you want nearby? Do you want to be close to transport? Would you like a bustling inner city apartment or a country retreat?

Step 3. Action.
Don’t neglect the visualization process. By spending time getting clear on what you desire, you will recognize it when it turns up! That will provide you with certainty that you have found what you are looking for and give you the courage to complete the plan to manifestation. Next brainstorm what you can do towards manifesting your goal. In our case we visited display homes, found out about finance, researched different areas. We asked everyone we knew if they were aware of properties for sale. We didn’t think about failure, or not being able to afford it. We concentrated our efforts to produce results. For a few weeks we followed our hunches. Many of these leads amounted to nothing.

Step 4. Pull back.
After you have done your homework visualized what you want and taken necessary action, the next step is to withdraw. Be crystal clear on your outcome; daily visualize what you desire, but release the need to have it. When we project neediness, we block manifestation. When we don’t care, miracles happen. Be confident. Release any negative thoughts. Affirm that what you desire is on the way with everyone you meet. Brush off any thoughts or comments that you can’t achieve what you wish. When we were saving for our house, we would sit in the car before we visited the agent and repeat “We do not need this house” until we really felt it didn’t matter whether we got it or not. This cleared us to negotiate without need. Be rock solid in your belief in the face of a void. Spirit is testing you to see if you really intend to manifest your desire.

Step 5. Be patient.
By now you have put in place all that is necessary to make your dreams come true. Completely let go and it is a matter of time. I often write a series of goals at the beginning of the year. It is amazing how many of these happen, even though I forget about them. At the end of the year, I get out my list and find most have occurred. Once you send out the necessary crystal clear vision, and get out of the way, it will happen. We live in an infinite universe of absolute abundance. It is only our limiting beliefs which restrict our experience.

Step 6. Ask.
Once you find what you are looking for, ask what you have to do to get it. It may require money, help from a friend, education or other resources. Make a plan which is realistic and do what you have to. You see, when I decide in my mind to achieve a goal, it is a done deal. It is not a question of if, but how. You may have to sell something to release finances. You may have to borrow money. You may have to move. Perhaps you need to visit another country to get what you want. Perhaps you need to get educated, attend a seminar, and join an organization. Whatever it is you need to do, carry it out. Once you have it in your sights, make it happen. 100% commitment leads to results.

Step 7. Celebrate.
Anchor in your belief in your own power to manifest by celebrating your success. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to find exactly what you want in life. Have a glass of champagne. Go out for dinner. Splash out. It is important to honor your victories. Again, this step is often overlooked.
We have used these simple steps to create abundance in our lives. This is a lot of fun. Whenever life gets serious, stop and look at the flowers. Go to the movies, visit the countryside, do whatever it takes to shift your mood. Angels tread lightly. You are an angel. Lighten up, have fun with life, and watch your desires come to pass with ever increasing rapidity. Make it so!

To your success.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Firefox too slow to load? Consumes too much memory? How to reduce FF3 load time and memory consumption

Here are some great tweaks that I found on the internet to dramatically reduce FF3 load time and control that nagging sudden 'revving' of firefox, when out of nowhere it starts hogging RAM.

Here's the terrible situation that I was in, before implementing these tweaks:
1. A disappointed former fan of Firefox - I was promised heaven, but could never see it unfold beyond a point.
2. Would avoid using firefox and use opera instead, wherever possible. The slow load time and frequent hanging of FF3 were frustrating!
3. Would only use firefox when I absolutely needed to - like on bank websites (I'm paranoid about security), or google sites (Opera is by far the best browser I've experienced, but is an 'unsupported browser' on google), to access my blog (I love Scribefire), or to read the news once a day (I love Live Bookmarks).

Honestly, all the browser juggling was getting a little frustrating. So I launched on a web search to find out what I could do about bringing the Fox back under the leash. And after a little searching, here are a few great config tweaks I found, which greatly brought down the load time as well as eliminated FF3's frequent 'revving' problem.

The sources are also mentioned above the quoted portions.

Taken from -

Sometimes I just feel that Firefox is such a memory hog. Once I start to open up a few extra tabs, it starts to slow down my whole system. Fortunately, you can do something about it. Here are simple tips and tricks to reduce firefox memory and cache consumption.

Tip 1: Reduce session history

browser.sessionhistory.max_entries determines the maximum number of pages in the browser’s session history, i.e. the
maximum number of URLs you can traverse purely through the Back/Forward buttons. The Default value is 50. We usually won’t surf more than 5 of the websites we previously surfed before, and there is really no need to store more than that in the session which can clog up memory as they grow.
1. Open Firefox
2. Type about:config in the Firefox address bar
3. Press CTRL-F and search for browser.sessionhistory.max_entries
4. Double click on the value 50 (or whatever value is there currently) and change it to something lower such as 5.
5. Restart Firefox.

For Firefox 1.5 and above, you can also look at another configuration variable browser. sessionhistory. max_total_viewers

which also determines the maximum number of content viewers to cache for “bfcache” (fast back/forward navigation). Default value is -1 (calculate based on available memory).

Set it to 0 so that no pages will be stored in memory.
set it to a number such as 5 to store only 5 pages in memory.
more info here

Tip 2: Reduce memory usage when minimize

1. Start up Firefox
2. Type in about:config in the address bar and hit Enter
3. Right click and choose New > Boolean
4. Type config.trim_on_minimize in the pop-up box and hit Enter
5. Select True and hit Enter.
6. Restart Firefox

Tip 3: Fixed cache capacity OR Disable Cache Totally

Every time new page is loaded, Firefox will cache the page so it doesn’t need to load again to be redisplayed. By default, this setting is set to -1 for browser.cache.memory.capacity and to a number you specified in Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> Network / Cache for browser.cache.disk.capacity

To fix your cache to a certain value:

*browser.cache.memory.enable and browser.cache.disk.enable needs to be True for this to work

1. Start up Firefox
2. Type about:config in the address bar and hit Enter
3. Search for browser.cache.memory.capacity and set a number in KB to use for the memory cache (ie. 1024KB = 1MB).
4. Search for browser.cache.disk.capacity and set a number in KB to use for the disk cache (ie. 1024KB = 1MB).

To Disable the cache Totally

Set both browser.cache.memory.capacity and browser.cache.disk.capacity to 0.
Alternatively, you can also set browser.cache.disk.enable and browser.cache.memory.enable to False.

Tip 4: Use less extension and themes

This is really a no brainer. Uninstall all firefox extensions and themes that you don’t use as they can cause Firefox to use more RAM. If you think that you might still need the extension in future but not using it currently, at least there’s an option to Disable it. Use only extensions that you usually use to cut down memory usage.

Always upgrade your extensions and themes to the latest version as they may fix the some problems leading to memory leaks. Firefox makes this quit easy as it now does the checking for you, all you need is to do is tick some checkboxes and your plugins and themes wil be updated.

Tip 5: Check Firefox Memory Usage

Type about:cache?device=memory in the address bar and hit Enter. Firefox will display your current number of entries, maximum storage size, storage in use and inactive storage.

Taken from-

13) Limit RAM usage. If Firefox takes up too much

memory on your computer, you can limit the amount of RAM it is allowed to us. Again, go to about:config, filter “browser.cache” and select “browser.cache.disk.capacity”. It’s set to 50000, but you can lower it, depending on how much memory you have. Try 15000 if you have between 512MB and 1GB ram.

14) Reduce RAM usage further for when Firefox is minimized.

This setting will move Firefox to your hard drive when you minimize it, taking up much less memory. And there is no noticeable difference in speed when you restore Firefox, so it’s definitely worth a go. Again, go to about:config, right-click anywhere and select New-> Boolean. Name it “config.trim_on_minimize” and set it to TRUE. You have to restart Firefox for these settings to take effect.

Another tip - this one from me:

Stop using the Bookmarks Toolbar! If you are an avid RSS fan and have more than 6-7 feeds on your Bookmarks Toolbar, FF3 seems to consume 30-40 KB of RAM each time it updates the feeds.

Instead, I use an FF plug-in called 'Brief', which is an RSS reader that seamlessly integrates with Firefox. Once you have Brief installed, go to 'Bookmarks -> Organise Bookmarks' and create a new folder under your bookmarks menu. Give it any name you want. Then move all your live bookmark feeds into this new folder. You can then go to the settings option of Brief, and select this new folder as the source for its RSS feeds. And that's it. Thereafter, clicking on the Brief button brings up a separate, elegant tab on which your RSS feeds can be read in a variety of ways. And importantly, you can set Brief to update your RSS feeds according to a frequency that does not disturb your other work. I've set mine to update feeds once every 4 hours.

There you have it. After implementing these tweaks, my FF3 is ready for action on start inside 150 seconds, and has not hung since.

Happy browsing!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Google deleted my blog, email, photos, orkut profile - and my entire identity on the net!

On the 7th of September 2008, a personal disaster happened. My Google Account of four years was deleted. No reasons. No explanations. Just - gone.

I had logged in from the office to check my calendar in the morning. When I logged in again in the evening, there seemed to be a problem with the password.

After half-an-hour of increasing desperation, the screen showed a horrible message: my email ID of four years,, my orkut account, blog, calendar, igoogle page and all contents thereof had been oblivion'ed.

I dutifully logged into google's support website and lodged a complaint. It's been five days, and I am yet to hear a peep from them. Of course, you can't expect much from a 'beta' service that's really 'free'. It's entirely my fault that I did not have backups of my contacts and blog entries ... and my fault again, that I expected google to respond - or be atleast concerned that their systems could possibly have some major flaw.

No doubt a couple of you who read this will wonder what I'm cribbing about. After all, as stated by a reader in the blog of another unfortunate soul who went through the same thing I did - a few accounts that go missing in a million don't really matter. Unless, of course, its your account that got deleted.

I doubt if I'm going to get my old gmail ID back again - or my old Orkut profile, or my old blog. The addresses all seem to be still blocked.

But google (if you are listening): you've just lost a faithful evangelist.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hubris at school: how can arrogant schools teach our children humility?

Its August!And for a parent with school-age children in India, this is when the trauma begins.

I have a five-year old studying in UKG at the Kensri School, Hebbal. My wife and I aren't very happy with the school's poor infrastructure and limited receptiveness to feedback, and are looking for a good school in North Bangalore for the next academic year.

Our requirements in a school are fairly basic:
- within 8 kms radius of Malleswaram
- good infrastructure
- good teachers
- parent-friendly school management
- reasonable fees
- preferably CBSE syllabus (though we aren't too rigid on this parameter)

And we've been unable to find one school that fits even these basic requirements!

I visited a school called National Academy For Learning (NAFL) today. The experience was insulting, to say the least.

My objective of visiting this school today was two-fold: to find out where exactly the school is located (that would save us a lot of time during our next formal visit), and to get a brochure of the school if possible. What follows below is a narration of my first moments of truth with the
school as a parent.

To start with, I tried to reach the school for over three days on phone and through email. My emails and phone calls both went unanswered - which is actually reflective of my experience with other schools in Bangalore too. Our schools in general don't seem to have an attitude of customer-friendliness.

So today my wife and I set out with our kids, to actually see this place for ourselves.

On the way I tried the school number again and this time there was a response - a somewhat authoritarian voice said in a hurry, that today was the sports day, and that it was "really not a good day for you to come, as there will be nobody to speak to you". She refused to give me her name, and only said - "this is the administrator here."

We finally located the school after nearly an hour of driving around (no website, no directions or road map online). My wife and kids stayed in the car while I walked into the school, which was surrounded by a high-walled compound and no clear identification boards outside.

Walking in, I identified the nearest human being - the person sitting by the gate - and asked him where the office is. His response: "What do you want?"

I told him that I needed the school's brochure. He looked around and called in another employee. This guy walked up and rather pompously asked me the same question - what did I want? I repeated my intentions. His answer? "We don't give brochures out just like that."

So what did I have to do to get a brochure, I asked him. "Come in October when everyone else comes, and take the brochure," he curtly replied. I asked him whom I should meet when I came back. The Principal, the gentleman condescended to reply. And he promptly interrupted our discussion to turn around, and ask a passing student how she was doing. I patiently waited for him to grace me with his attention again. He turned his back to me for a few minutes, apparently
looking out over the grounds and waiting for me to go away. Suddenly he seemed to notice that I was still standing there. So he turned around and asked - quite curtly - "Yes?"

"And the principal's name is?" said I. His reply was not only rude and discourteous, but quite surprising: "I can't tell you the name of the principal."

I asked him why not. He said that the principal has asked him not to reveal the name to anyone.

I left the building in a daze, feeling rather insulted. What possible reason could there be for a school to treat a parent like this? This school charges parents Rs. 95,000/- a year according to the administrator I spoke with this morning, which quite a large sum by any standards in India. And here I am, ready to shell out this kind of money, all because I want my child to get a good education. And what I get for my efforts, is a display of pure arrogance.

Having visited so many schools here, this kind of behaviour is the norm rather than the exception. Getting a child into a school in India is quite difficult. Once the child gets in, she is expected to spend the rest of her schooling life in the same school. That means that in reputed schools, there are hardly any vacancies in each class, and every vacancy is hard-fought for, with no transparency in the process of selecting a child to fill in a vacancy.

But what's really appalling, is a very fundamental issue. How would an institution that operates from a platform of arrogance, be able to instil values like kindness, humility, acceptance and understanding in its children?

I've decided that NAFL is not the right school for my child. After all, if they can't train their own employees to be helpful to their customers, how can we expect them to pass on those values to our children?

Edit - December 4, 2008

Well, its time to add to this post. My wife and I did manage to finally meet with the Principal of the school. The lady was extremely gracious and patient with all our queries, and spent close to half an hour with us. And the office had an 'open door' - which perhaps indicated her approach to her work.

My very pleasant meeting with the Principal has changed my stand on not admitting my daughter to this school. But the bitter taste of the first experience with the school is something not easily forgotten.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How do you go about buying property in Bangalore?

{This post is aimed at Newbies in the field of property purchasing in Bangalore. I'm documenting this, so that others don't have to re-invent the wheel. This post will be continuously updated, as necessary.}

First question is whether you want the plot in Bangalore North, South, East or West. Obviously there is no correct or wrong answer for this question - it depends on where you're currently living, because the site will need weekly-monthly visits to watch out for encroachments, and looking after (removing grass, weeds, garbage etc.) once you purchase it. Also, at the budget of Rs. 1000/- per sft, lot of property is available inside a 18-25 km radius from Vidhana Soudha, so you have quite a lot of choice.

Next, check out with your bank on loan eligibility amount (if this is a constraint). This is a major limitation on many people's purchasing ability.

Next, you need to decide which reputed developer to go with in the area you have selected. There is plenty of property available at great locations, but owned by greedy-unscrupulous developers. Moreover at first glance everyone appears honest and transparent. You need to be very careful to only invest money after thoroughly checking the developer's antecedents through friends. You can search for negative feedback on on-line forums, though. You need to keep in mind that your relationship with the developer is only beginning when you buy the site. He will need to maintain your layout and site, and provide the promised civic amenities such as park, club house, swimming pool, compound wall, tarred roads (of promised width) etc. which could easily take 2 years or more from the date you purchase, as all that will only be done when people start building houses in that layout and an association of residents is formed.

Also, dealing with developers directly usually means the demand for part-payment in black money (hard cash, no receipt). One possible way out is to only buy re-sale sites from people who have already bought it from a developer. Some of them would be willing to settle for an all-white deal, which is necessary if you want maximum bank loan.

An interesting phenomenon you may come across, is that resale plots are often available for lesser price than the developer's quoted rate. This is because these people would have bought the property during launch period when the rates were lower, or through negotiation.

Third, please read up as much as possible on the following terms: Gramthana site, revenue site, DC conversion, AC conversion, Gram Panchayath, BMRDA, BIAPPA, BBMP, BDA approval and differences between them, BDA NOC (two types), Survey Number (of the land you have identified), Plan Sanction, Registration, Khata, Tax Paid Certificate, Encumbrance Certificate, Betterment Charges, BBMP Master Plan 2015 (specifically Green Belt, Green Zone, Yellow Zone, Blue Zone etc. and clauses related to land zoning), BDA Acquisition notification, BMRDA acquisition notification, SEZ notification, de-notification (many more terms could be added to this list). Unless you know the true meaning and limitations of these terms very well, you are liable to be cheated by unscrupulous elements in the market. You could check out various blogs, forums, official government websites for this info, or better still, contact your family lawyer.

Next, shortlist a few properties from reputed developers based on the 3 L's of real estate: Location, Location, Location! Some broad parameters of shortlisting could be Bangalore N.E.W.S, plot is East Facing, North Facing, South or West Facing (not preferred by many buyers), nearby development, possibility of development in next 2-4 years, the other investors in the project (these could be your neighbours in the future).

Next, study the market and identify the relative merits-demerits of the various properties you have shortlisted. Some parameters are ease-availability of local transport, hospital, temple, good schools, drinking water supply and drainage from BWSSB, Water table depth (so you don't have to drill a very deep bore well), groceries, lifestyle locations, nature of neighbourhood (posh, upper middle class, middle class, lower), slums nearby, near railway track, too close to religious institution, parks, approach road condition, etc. Please make sure that apart from searching the net, you speak to dependable locals in the area for this information.

Then do final shortlisting.

Then take your mom,dad,wife,husband and show them the 3-5 properties you have finally shortlisted, and answer their numerous questions about the property. Please don't be surprised if they consider many points which had been earlier ignored, at this stage. Get them to rank the properties in order of their preference.

Based on all this, rank the property in your order of preference.

Then bargain with developers in order of preference, on money, check-cash split (black-white), payment duration, etc.

Then get the documents from the developer and have them legally verified by your lawyer - not developers or bank lawyer.

Then take a few days of peaceful meditation on the decision, till you are satisfied that you have done everything possible from your end.

Finally settle the financials, register the plot, build compound wall, and sit on your nest egg.

Other experts, please feel free to modify, add, delete to above if required

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Will Real Estate go up or down? A contrarian, positive outlook on the market conditions...

We've been hearing mainly bad news about how Real Estate prices are going to crash and the going will get tougher. Reproduced below is a post from BDASites, an MSN forum. Is this is a signal of a shift in India's economic fortunes? Is there some light at the end of the tunnel?

These macro factors (which have extremely negative in the previous quarters) have seen positive shifts (coincidentally in the last fortnight, give or take a few days). Whether they will have a bearing or not on market dynamics, depends if they'll sustain and needs to be seen over time.

1. The Nuclear pay-off

The 123 deal isn't just about global security and energy security for India. The word in economic circles is that it is also about financial security for major corporations in the nuclear tech/supplies space (and, in turn for the beleaguered US economy). Markets expect FIIs to react positively to this development going forward.

2. The political pay-off

UPA stays. Left is out, SP is in. The exit of Left leaves UPA with room to initiate long deferred finance/insurance/pension reforms and FDI in retail. Markets clearly see this a positive and it explains the rally post-vote (the biggest in some time).

3. Oil slide

From the peak of $147 per barrel, oil has shed $24 to tumble below $123 a barrel. That'll ease fuel led inflationary pressures. Experts suggest we may be nearing the end of the oil bubble. Oil at $100 a barrel isn't too far-fetched. Even if it stabilizes at these price levels, we could see inflation/interest rates stabilize.

4. Food looks good

We have had record production of food grains - 230 million tons. That'll ease food led inflation and consequently EMIs won't further eat into household budgets.

5. Good IT earnings

Contrary to expectations against the backdrop of a likely US recession, results of IT biggies have been fairly good (though guidance going forward is conservative).

The inclusion to this list (as posted in message 23):

6. House OKs US housing market rescue

After months of deliberation, an unprecedented rescue package has been voted in that could have a positive bearing on the battered housing market 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Ahmedabad Blasts

70 minutes.
17 blasts.
30 dead.
150 injured.
1 billion shocked, disgusted, and angry.
A bunch of crackpots that call themselves 'Indian Mujahideen' and think that placing bombs in public places will make Hindus and Muslims shed their prejudices.

And the 542 - 'Those 542' - continue to play merry-go-round.

The press, the airmchair critics, the intellectual masturbators and the socialites petulantly weep on TV: "When will this country get the leaders it deserves?"

I think it already has.

Buying land in Bangalore - what to keep in mind

What I've learned about buying land in Bangalore:

DC converted and Gram Panchayat Approved are two different things. And BDA NOC is again totally different.

To buy any land, the following steps are necessary:
1. Conversion of land from 'Agricultural' (farmland) status to 'residential'. This has to be done by the farmer himself before you
conclude your deal and get the property registered. Non-farmers are not allowed to purchase agricultural land in Karnataka.
Definition of farmer: (1) You or your family need to possess agricultural land in India already, and must have been continuously owning agricultural land since 1974. (2) Your income from non-agricultural sources for the past 5 years should not have exceeded Rs. 2 lakhs per annum.

2. The plan of the layout on such land needs to be approved by the relevant town planning authority. There are 6-7 such authorities, and you have
to find out which authority has jurisdiction over the survey number of the property that you want to buy. The authorities are Corporation/BCC
(areas in interior Bangalore), BDA (areas inside city limits, except corporation areas), BMRDA (areas upto 40-50 km around the city, except
BDA areas), BIAPPA (areas near airport), Lake Development Authority or LDA (areas close to designated lakes), and respective village
Panchayats (for areas far away from the city - basically those areas where BMRDA jurisdiction has not yet become applicable)
(There is also an authority called DTCP - Department of Town and Country Planning - but I'm not clear what is the jurisdiction of this department.)

3. 'No Objection Certificate' or 'NOC' from BDA. 
BDA gives two types of NOC. The first is, that so far they have not tried to acquire the land with that particular survey number. The second is,
that they do not have any objection to the coming up of a residential layout on that land in future. Both these NOCs are important and

4. A few other approvals - I will keep updating this post as I get more information on this.

In brief: DC Converted means the conversion of land from 'agricultural' (i.e. land that can only be used for farming according to the government, and hence assessed for tax accordingly) to 'residential' (a different status, which means that tax assessment will be done differently for this land, and it is no longer used to derive 'revenue' for the state from agriculture. The government authorises the owner to stop cultivating this land and build something on it if he wants). DC stands for District Commissioner, the officer who has the authority to approve such conversions.
DC converted sites are usually eligible for bank loans. Moreover, nowadays DC conversion requires that the layout plan has been approved by a town planning authority, like BDA, BMRDA, BIAPPA etc to ensure that proper space has been allocated for roads, parks and other amenities as per government rules. Without their approval, DC does not give the conversion order. 

Also, nowadays the DC conversion has been put on hold indefinitely due to an order of the last government.

'Gram Panchayath Approved' means that the layout that has been formed on this land, has been approved by the local 'Gram Panchayat' in whose
jurisdiction the land lies.

As mentioned above, DC conversion requires that the layout / building plan (in case of building) has been approved by a proper town planning authority like BMRDA, BDA or BIAPPA. Whether Gram Panchayat has the authority to approve the layout plan, has to be checked with your lawyer. However once BBMP, BMRDA or BIAPPA has jurisdiction over the specific layout, as per my knowledge Gram Panchayat is no longer the competent authority to approve the layout.

One type of BDA NOC is given by the BDA as of a particular date, and states that the BDA has not issued land acquisition notice for that land as of that date. i.e. as of that date, the BDA has not tried to acquire that land. This is just a safety precaution to prevent the seller from
defrauding the buyer by selling him a land at a high price, which the BDA has already issued acquisition notice for at a low price. It does
not guarantee, that the BDA will not acquire that land in the future. The other type of BDA NOC is that they do not object to a residential
layout coming up in that land. This is a safety precaution and makes your case stronger in case of future move by BDA to acquire your land. Any time you buy a non-BDA site, you are running the risk of acquisition by the BDA in future, and there is basically no guarantee. But usually, if
you build a house on that site and start living there, the BDA may on compassionate grounds decide not to acquire your site as and when it
plans a layout in your area. 

Trust this helps atleast some of us 'look before we leap' into the Realty whirlpool.

(Caveat: I am not a legal expert - what is given above is my understanding based on months of searching for a good site in Bangalore. If there are other experts and I have gotten something wrong here, please feel free to correct. I would also keep updating / correcting this page as and when I get more).