Monday, November 23, 2009

Interest on Savings Deposits

RBI proposal for interest rates on savings deposits will come to effect by next year. The key change is that interest will be calculated on daily balances method whereas currently interest rate is paid on the lowest balance between 10th and last day of the month.

Of course this is a good move beneficial to all those who keep balances in savings accounts and whose balances fluctuate a lot such that they may not be able to make term deposits.

But how will the banks absorb the additional cost? The most obvious way will be to reduce the term deposit interest rates. But this will affect all those who are solely dependent on interest income. Most of these category keep only nil or at most the minimum stipulated balance in savings accounts. For them loss of term deposit interest will be far more than the miniscule interest received from savings account balances.

This can be solved in a way which benefits all:

All savings holders should have an option to specify whether they want interest on savings accounts on daily basis or the present minimum balance basis. Banks can have term deposit interest rates as usual but for those opting for savings account interest rates on daily basis will get term deposit rate minus a certain mark down. Others will get both savings and term deposit interest as being done currently.

Thus cross subsidy can be eliminated so that no one is adversely affected: the bankers, the term deposit holders and those who keep most of the balances in savings accounts.

Cigarette warnings

Cigarette packs are now having visual and graphic images of the adverse effects of smoking. But the truth is that most of the cigarette sales take place in 1s and 2s. Such buyers never see the images on the pack as they see only the cigarette sticks.

A better way would be to have these images kept visible in the shops which sell the cigarettes so that everyone sees it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The classiest form of cricket is Test Cricket. But the problem is that it is not always entertaining. But if you compare the best test matches with the best one dayers or 20/20 cricket, the limited over version pales in comparison.

The best contests between batsmen and bowlers take place in Test Cricket. Imagine a test match with a fall of just about 40 wickets spread over five days. There is nothing to match it. Batsmen are tested in Test matches and bowlers get enough space to exhibit their skills.

But the biggest problem facing test cricket is not the five long days as is commonly presumed but five dull days. As long as the days are exciting, five days are no problem. To change dullness to excitement, more results are required. But this shall be ensured such that the essence of Test Cricket is maintained.

Here is the prescription

The team batting first starts with the usual eleven wickets and if they have wickets left at the end of the first day, only one wicket can be carried over to the second day. In other words on the fall of the first wicket on the second day first innings ends.

Let us see an example. Suppose India at the end of their first day ends with a score of 5 for 298. Then India's first innings ends on the fall of the sixth wicket the second day. Thus India has batted upto the seventh batsman.

Now the opponent starts their second innings and they will be all out on the fall of the sixth wicket. Thus it can be called a limited wickets match but the limit to the wickets cannot be known in advance.

Let us now see the effects of this. The batting team will try to preserve their wickets while the bolwling team will be out to get as many wickets as possible on the very first day since they can bat for that many wickets. So it will be a superb contest between bat and ball.

Suppose the first team is all out on the first day. In this case it has no change from the present Test. Imagine a situation when the bowlers get only one wicket of the team batting first on day one. In such case the second team can bat only upto the fall of two wickets.

This system will ensure a thrilling first innings. So what about the second innings ?

Rules shall be such that if the first innings of both teams get completed at the end or before the close of second day, the second innings shall be played for full ten wickets. Or else the second innings shall also be a limited wicket affair. Here the limit on wickets shall be fixed based on days or overs any other valid criteria.

Please give your valuable feedback at

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Safety and passwords

One of my friends is working in a Bank and is using software called Finacle owned by Infosys Technologies. One day he came to the Bank and after one hour had to leave on some emergency. Finacle logs off the user if he is inactive for a 180 seconds period. With this in mind, he did not log out of the system when he went away.

Then next day he learned that lots of transactions had taken place in his log in while he was away.

Currently all passwords are punched in when you log on to a system and till the next log out, no password prompt is there. The situation discussed above could be avoided if the system prompts for password while a user is logged on. If system asks for password say every five minutes, then unauthorised usage can be reduced to a maximum of five minutes.

If in addition to this an alert is sent to the Data centre on the punching in of wrong password, such instances can be avoided. Those smarter will not punch in the password when prompted while in unauthorised usage and for this also an alert should be sent.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Custom newspapers

Printed newspapers around the world are facing the threat of closure due to dwindling ad revenue and free access to online editions to readers.

Publishing needs out of the box thinking to survive these tough times.

Currently newspapers publish different editions from different places with some changes in content. A better way would be to have separate editions of the same newspaper for different age groups.

Thus you can have a Times of India youth edition and another one for a higher age group. Advertisers are likely to respond positively as they can target the ads with more focus.

Currently one can subscribe only fully to a newspaper. Instead of that imagine you can buy only those pages that you want!

If you are a trader in stocks and you want only the stock quotes and company specific news, why buy the whole newspaper with all the editorial and general news and all?

Newspaper vending machines are in vogue in many parts of the world and with the present technology it is not difficult to have a vending machine which displays the pages of the day's newspaper on a screen. Pages skip past one by one and you can have a glance at the pages and not read them. After having a full view, you can punch in the pages you want and pay for only those. The pages you selected is then printed out to you.

Content specific ads are placed in those pages just like in the Net. This can be tried out in developed countries before thinking about complete closure of centuries old newspapers.

An even more aggressive idea will be to place the pages of all the major newspapers on to the vending machine and a reader can select different pages of different newspapers and get an assorted newspaper. For example, consider a family comprising of a husband interested in stocks and sports, his son pursuing civil service exams, daughter mad about the film world and the house wife interested local news. It may be difficult to get the best writing in all these categories from a single newspaper. Thus from the vending machine everyone can be satisfied.

Let us see the impact of this.

Advertising will be more focussed as said above. And what will happen to the newspaper content? Presently how many newspapers know which page and which section of theirs is most read and most ignored?

With this pre printed newspapers will be substituted with live printing of newspapers. Printing will be shifted to the vending machines. Financial aspect of this will require a more detailed study.

This idea may be worth trying out.

Friday, March 20, 2009

a greener fuel subsidy

World over, fuel prices are a sensitive issue and almost in every country trasportation fuel is subsidised. But it has its own problems like sharing the subsidy burden, depletion of a fossil fuel, air pollution, etc.

Revamping the system of subsidies can do a lot to solve most of the problems. The following idea may be worth trying.

Instead of giving subsidy to all consumers, subsidised fuel should be restricted to operators of public transport and carriers of freight. All private vehicles should be charged rates related to the ruling crude oil rates converted to local currencies. Thus those who are using private vehicles will have to pay more or they may choose public transport to have cheaper rates.

The subsidy provided should be such that running the vehicles is more profitable than selling the fuel in the black market. To ensure this all vehicles may be charged the same price and those eligible reimbursed the subsidy subsequently based on distance travelled. The distance should be calculated scientifically based on parameters like route plied by the vehicle, fuel used, frequency of journey, etc.

Such a system will ensure lesser subsidy burden for oil companies, more efficient and cheaper public transport and lower inflation rates due to reduced freight rates. Moreover as more people use public transport, air pollution and traffic congestion will reduce considerably. Oil is a non renewable energy resource getting depleted fast and unless we consume it more responsibly, diesel and petrol vehicles will be soon off the roads.

Re writing rules of Cricket

Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainities and has always been a first to innovate and improvise. The greatest proof of this is additions to versions of cricket right from one day matches, day night cricket and to the latest blockbuster, 20/20.

Any innovation which makes it even more uncertain is always welcome.

May I suggest a couple of ideas.

What about removing overs per bowler restriction in one day and 20/20 matches? Its effect will be two pronged. Teams can accomodate more batsmen and you can have the likes Muralitharan or Brett Lee going for the throat of batsmen in full swing for 20 or more overs in a match.

Another idea is to compensate the bowling team according to the mode of dismissal of the batsmen. The most convincing modes of dismissal of batsmen are bowled, leg before wicket and caught by wicket keeper/slip fielders. So for each such dismissal, bowling teams can be given bonus runs. And dismissal of top order batsmen can be given more weightage to avoid over compensating bowlers for wickets in the slog overs of tail enders. This can be experimented for test matches also. Thus you can have the team batting second start with a score more than zero. Also imagine a batsman is dismissed clean bowled in the last innings of the match; automatically the target increases by the bonus runs the bowling team earns. So an idea worth trying.

These changes can help make the game more uncertain, more bowler friendly and above all more exciting to watch.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Power corrupts.
The moment so called communists and socialists get to power, their whole colour changes.
They are the ones deeper in corruption when in power compared to free market advocates and capitalists.

But there are a lot of organisations like Greenpeace which are crusaders for their ideology.

So how to get the ideology work through without corruption ?
Presently all democratic legislatures have ruling party and opposition party. To this I am adding one more, ie. independents.

These are parties like Greenpeace etc. who declare upfront that they will neither form a Government nor will they support them. But they contest the election and if they succeed what do they do?

They vote on all bills presented purely based on its merits and compatibilty with their ideology.
Thus we have a 20/30/40 man Greenpeace team in Parliaments voting for and against conservation and destruction.

This is just a thread which needs a lot of fine tuning to make it work.

To the list of Greenpeace we may add Art of Living foundation, Maoist revolutionaries, Marxists, Trade Unionists, etc. So imagine the change it can bring about.

Nowadays voters have to choose between devil or deep sea and nothing good. So this can be a real move forward.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A lot of paper is wasted in a lot of places as only one side is printed.

One way to avoid this is to keep all one side printed papers upside down and keep it with a dedicated printer.

All those printouts which are not to be filed and used for later should be printed to this printer.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A common sight at traffic lights are screaming ambulances struggling among a multitude of vehicles.

Why not have clearly demarcated tracks at all traffic lights through which an ambulance can move forward in case that path is stopped for traffic with red light?

This means in a four way junction, a certain space is marked as track on each of the four roads and just as an ambulance arrives those vehicles on that track move over to some other space(which also may be shown with arrows) clearing the way for the ambulance

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big cars with a seating capacity of 6/8/10/12 people and only driver is there or in some cases another companion is also there.

They take up a lot of space on city roads leading to congestion.

After all traffic congestion is a problem of too many vehicles for a limited stretch of road.

Why not demarcate city areas into full seating zone where only cars full to the capacity only are allowed? Or else you may charge a penalty for any car seen in full seating zone without full capacity.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kerala is a small state of India with a population of around 4 crores and spanning about 600 km in length and a quarter of that in width.

Road accident deaths in the state for the yaer 2008 is around 3450.

Yes, it is around 10 persons per day. I dont know the exact figures for terrorist deaths but I think it will be much less.

And most of these accidents are the result of speeding private buses racing each other so that they are the first to grab the passengers.

How can lateral thinking help?

One idea for decongeting the roads is to have moveable road dividers so that in morning when uptown traffic is high dividers are moved to have more space for uptown traffic and viceversa