Making Indian cities safer for women

The molestation incidents in #Bengaluru are reminiscent of the incidents of ‘Taharrush’ in Europe which have been attributed to immigrants from non European countries. This is a very sad state of affairs when women in India can’t go out on the streets to celebrate New Year’s Eve without fear of being molested. What’s sadder is that on such occasions the focus invariably shifts to insensitive remarks made by politicians. This incident should rather make the authorities wonder how something like this can be prevented. If a large number of people have to be controlled by force, we will not have a safe society in our lifetime. Consider that if just 5% of car drivers in Mumbai decide to disobey the traffic laws tomorrow morning, there would be chaos. Cars would pile up on highways and there would be massive casualties. Consider what happened in Kashmir last year. Large mobs of people attacked the police station and destroyed it. The cops had to run away. There are never going to be enough cops to prevent crime. People have to be responsible for their own behavior. Crime needs to be prevented by changing society. This isn’t just about ‘changing the mindsets’ of people. The problem is much larger.

UPDATE: The Times of India has since published a report claiming that this incident was blown out of proportion.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Earlier this week, when I paid my bill at a restaurant, the guy taking it chuckled saying ‘That’s like half my salary!’. I realized that is probably true. And this guy is among the gainfully employed ones who will probably be far more comfortable financially in a couple of years time given his efficiency and drive. Look at the ones who have nothing going for them. No education, family background and zero employment opportunities. Many of them migrate halfway across the country to work as labor in a city where they can only afford a vada pav for breakfast and a little room in an overcrowded slum. They see people spending more on shoes than they have saved over months. They live in sub-human conditions, have no access to healthcare or basic sanitation facilities. For most politicians they are little more than a vote bank to be used and discarded. There is growing discontentment among these have-nots in our society which needs to be addressed. These people come from a society that is deeply patriarchal. Recognizing women and their equality with men is probably slightly higher on their list than their concern for the environment, global warming and saving tigers. They see urban women many of whom are far removed in their appearance from the women in their families. To go from an environment where women are not allowed to interact with men outside their family to a city where couples cuddle and kiss in the open and women step out in shorts is apparently a huge culture shock. They know the odds are very long of being able to befriend or even make an acquaintance with urban women. As a fallout of this distance, these people have as much empathy with you as you have with them, which is probably close to zero. This leads them to objectify women far more than the average person. That they are wrong in the way they perceive and treat women is unquestionable. The troubling reality is that you and I can do little to change this. It’s our government, which has to step in. They must encourage industrialization and generate employment in India’s hinterland so everyone can stay in villages with their families, while the villages develop into towns and eventually cities. Right now in metros like Mumbai, we’re living in an insulated space, away from the harsh realities of India outside our air conditioned cars and Uber cabs. How long can we do this though? We need a massive overhaul of the system with a crackdown on red tape and corruption to encourage industrialization across the country. Education and healthcare facilities also require an expansion to ensure a better quality of life. It’s about time people stopped batting for their pet causes and demanded a more equitable India.

It’s high time our government got its act together in sex education

For a country with such a massive population and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV on the rise, it’s high time our government got its act together in sex education. The Human Resource Development ministry forced an expert panel to shorten its recommendations on sex education to just one sentence, to avoid use of words ‘sex’ and sexual’ in the document. Our sex education program is in trouble and this moralizing could cause irreversible long term damage to our society. The HRD ministry should find out how other countries with cultures that are relatively conservative impart sex education and replicate that here, with some customization.

As it stands now, a lot of schools and even colleges keep boys and girls segregated, even dictating what they may wear or not. Doing that for twelve years and then suddenly imparting sex education to the teens is hardly a way to tackle this. The end result is that we are turning out socially awkward and inept teens. The worst case scenario is that a lack of interaction mystifies the opposite gender leading to stalking and sexual assaults. Some believe Bollywood can influence change and many films are projected as ‘progressive’ but a lot of mainstream films focus more on sexual liberation and promiscuity rather than sexual responsibility. These days many female characters in Bollywood films wear their promiscuity on their sleeve with pride in an effort to ‘break the stereotype’ when in reality, having had multiple partners for anyone should be a reason for neither pride nor shame. Sexual responsibility needs to be focussed upon in sex education programs including consent, one’s own and that of others. This can only be effective if it is done in a holistic manner. Right now there is a strong rhetoric of consent but without a lot else the effectiveness of this rhetoric will be limited. There needs to be a demystification of the genders and society must enable them to interact without the burden of morality.

There also needs to be an effort, through sex education to demolish the perception of sex as a zero sum game where the man gains something and the woman loses something. This is a very wrong, unfair and warped perception of something so beautiful. This will also hopefully gradually do away with the guilt and shame that many people, especially women and seniors, associate with sex. It is perfectly fine to experience sexual desire whatever your age or gender. It’s one of the signs you’re still young and alive! It will make for better, more fulfilling lives when this happens. Even our laws of consent go against this, as of now.

Another aspect of guilt is that somehow in our society people in their sixties or older feel embarrassed to own their sexual desires. All these teenagers, if they eat their broccoli and carrots and are lucky will be sixty someday. This cycle of feeling guilty about sex as you grow older needs to stop. I see this propagated in Bollywood today. When I watched the remake of ‘Shaukeen’, I couldn’t help comparing it to the original which was a wonderful comedy about three loveable old men. I was disappointed that the remake had turned it into a comedy about three sleaze-bags. As a filmmaker myself, I realize that Basu Chatterji being the sensitive filmmaker he is would approach his film without being harsh in his judgement about three old men looking for a fling while someone else might see it as wrong and slot them as ‘dirty old men’ looking to get laid, doing whatever it takes, ruining the premise entirely. This also needs to change and sex education to teenagers can sow the seeds of change. Finally, some believe that with porn on the internet easily available, sex education is redundant. This is absurd because porn websites won’t address the important issues of safe sex, consent and social interaction. For what it is worth, porn has always been easily available. The mediums have changed, from magazines to video tapes and DVDs to the internet. We need teenagers to get educated about sex, just not the way they are being currently.

GST is injurious to our health

The government is gearing up to pass Goods and Services Tax (#GST) next month. This will reduce compliance for large companies and help in movement of goods across state borders. This has the largest companies of our country excited but it won’t work in favor of small entrepreneurs. It is going to increase their compliance burden and drive them to deal in cash. It is also going to increase inflation and put pressure on the middle class and the lower class. Taxation has to be progressive. Direct tax is progressive which is why you pay more tax and at a higher rate when you make more money. Indirect tax inherently is not progressive. When you buy a packet of biscuits for Rs.10 you pay the same tax, whether you are a blue collared worker or a billionaire. This makes indirect taxes regressive because they burden everyone equally irrespective of their economic status. The only way the government is countering this is by taking the opportunity to tax luxury goods. The day is not far when microwave ovens and iPhones will also be classified as luxury goods and taxed at a higher rate. What has made it worse is the way in which GST has been framed. The theory put forth was that multiple taxes create a compliance burden and lead to a high rate of tax. A single tax to replace all would solve this. All the taxes including taxes on tobacco, alcohol and fuel were added together and averaged to arrive at a benchmark average tax. Then the GST rate was discussed. After GST had caught everyone’s imagination, the three most important sources of revenue, tobacco, alcohol and fuel were excluded from GST. However the GST benchmark rate continued to remain the same and was now artificially higher than the earlier effective rate. Additionally, while there was an assurance that no additional taxes would be introduced, there is already talk of a ‘sin cess’ which will apply to among other things even aerated water! There are four rates of GST proposed 6%, 12%, 18% and 26%! The rates for GST which were earlier to be part of the act may now be out of it, which will make it easier to raise the rates. We will soon have a peak income tax rate of 33.6% and a peak GST rate of 26%! To reiterate what I said earlier, GST is injurious to our health!

Here’s why Chinese goods are cheaper

I’ve been seeing a ton of memes on my timeline appealing to people not to buy China made crackers and lanterns. The sole reason why goods sourced from China are cheaper is because it costs them less to produce their goods. So they can sell them for less. This raises the question, why are Indian goods more expensive to produce as compared to Chinese? It’s because the government doesn’t do its job. It’s because we are at a disadvantage in terms of all four factors of production: land, labor, capital and enterprise. When you leave your office in a city like Mumbai, it is torture to get to work. Depending on your social status, you could be stuck in a second class Churchgate local or in a luxury sedan on the way to your corner office at BKC. Traffic snarls are an equalizer due to the poor infrastructure. This wastes time that could be spent productively. You also guzzle more fuel which adds to the production cost of whatever you produce directly or indirectly, whether as an entrepreneur or labor. Taxes in our country are ridiculously high. Millions of people are waiting excitedly for Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be introduced but GST will only add to inflation. Many small businesses may not be able to claim set off because anything to do with the Indian government is fraught with red tape, if history is anything to go by. Also, while the initial rate may be 18%, it may be revised upward anytime. Service tax was 5% in 2003. It’s now 15%. That should tell you something. You can’t trust the Indian government when it says this will be the sole tax, either. A different government will just shrug off any assurances given by this one. Inflation is high and if you believe the 6% figure that the government claims please inbox me. I have a bridge I want to sell you. Corruption and red tape also increase production costs. If a builder has to give bribes to get permissions for his project, he will factor in this in the selling price. Anyone who invests in a commercial premises built by the builder will ask for rent based on his investment. A company that takes it on rent will factor in the rent in its products. Now whether they are producing apparel or furniture or running a poultry farm, their products will be expensive because the builder had to bribe someone. Businesses continue to need permissions and licenses from various government bodies. All this red tape adds to corruption and increases inflation. It also leads to inefficiency. Loans are hard to get for small entrepreneurs while big businesses get their billions easily. Businesses and individuals have to waste a lot of time that would be better spent on productive activities. Ask any student how long it takes to sign up for a course on the Mumbai University website or to look up results. Ask tax payers how tedious it is to register for tax, get an importer exporter code or incorporate a company. Why are our government websites so slow, unreliable and vulnerable to being hacked? Why should the productive time of millions of people be wasted because the government can’t ensure dependable technology solutions? So, stop whipping yourself. Chinese products are always going to be cheaper till the government gets its act together. It’s not you. It’s them!

Why GST is trouble

Australia has a GST (Goods and services tax) rate of 10%, France has 19.6%, Canada has 5%, Germany has 19%, Japan has 5%, Singapore has 7%. India’s rate of GST is set to be the highest with a figure of 26% being bandied about lately. Why do we need to pay 26%? Till recently, the Congress party was insistent that #GST rate be 18% and that the cap on it should be in the Constitution amendment bill. Now they have softened their stance, doing a major disservice to the citizens. Senior congress leader #JairamRamesh has said that “If the cap in the constitution amendment bill is unacceptable, then the government can explore the option of keeping it in the GST bill… If the government wants, a creative use of the English language can solve the impasse.” This ‘creative use’ is going to come back to haunt the middle class as the government can go on raising the GST rate at will. Fixing the rate in the legislation would have made the system extremely rigid as the Constitution would have to be amended with a two-thirds majority if the rates needed to be changed in the future. Keeping it in the GST bill instead shows that the government has every plan of raising it higher from the 26% they will start with.

GST has long been projected as the panacea for a lot of the troubles that India Inc faces. It has been described as the tax to replace all the indirect taxes and one that will help free movement of goods across state borders. The reality is that GST may only add to the mess instead of solving anything. In its current proposed form, GST would have a dual structure comprising a central component levied and collected by the centre and a state component administered by the states. The central component would comprise central excise duty, service tax and additional customs duties. The state component will include value-added tax, entertainment tax, luxury tax, lottery taxes and electricity duty. Central sales tax (CST) will be phased out entirely. Entry tax or octroi would be subsumed from the start.

Like in the case of VAT and Service tax, currently, the supplier will be able to off-set the levy through a tax credit mechanism. This means, if someone buys oranges, sugar and cans and sells canned orange juice, they can set off the GST they have paid on the purchase of oranges, sugar and cans against the GST collected on the sale of the orange juice cans. This works in theory even now with VAT and service tax. The reality is that a lot of small businesses find complying with the current system very inconvenient. So they either fail to claim the input credit and eat the cost or they do not pay the tax at all. This is why, while mega sized companies are keen on GST, it will work against the interest of small business who will continue to find the system cumbersome. This has also resulted in over 1 million service tax assessees not paying their taxes and being classified as defaulters.

Petroleum products, tobacco and alcohol will not be covered by GST and this is not surprising. Alcohol and tobacco have long been heavily taxed by opportunistic governments, well aware of the inelastic demand for them. Demand for petroleum products is also relatively inelastic and the sales are massive. The overall taxation on these is well above 26% and the government wouldn’t want to lose revenue by bringing them under GST, at least for now.

Additionally, even if we assume that GST will replace all existing indirect taxes, there is no reason to believe that the government will keep its word. There is absolutely nothing to prevent the government from imposing a new indirect tax. Right now there’s a free for all, with the Kerala government announcing fat tax on pizza, burger and other junk food last week and Haryana proposing a new indirect tax to fund protection of cows. The centre has introduced a cess for #SwachhBharat. We already pay primary and secondary education cess. A cess for for relief of Bangladesh refugee that is imposed on bus tickets has been in force since 1971. What is to prevent the government from introducing a new indirect tax? This makes all the spreadsheet calculations that you see on the internet, only speculative and fantasy. Also, since there is a state component and central component, the state component of the tax may end up becoming a bargaining tool for political parties in coalition politics, at the cost of the citizen.

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Director : Fausto Brizzi.
Producer : Erik Paoletti.
Release : December 15, 2016
Country :
Language : Italiano.
Runtime : 94 min.
Genre : Comedy.

Movie ‘Poveri ma Ricchi’ was released in December 15, 2016 in genre Comedy. Fausto Brizzi was directed this movie and starring by Christian De Sica. This movie tell story about The “Tucci” are a poor Italian family living in a small village in Lazio. Father, mother, a conceited daughter and a genius son, forced to pretend being stupid to keep up with the family. One day something unexpected happens: the family wins one hundred million Euros. Excited, they decide to keep the winning a secret, but as soon as a single word slips out from the mouth of the householder, they only have one choice to avoid being persecuted by friends and acquaintances: run away. They leave at night, heading to Milan. They will realize as soon as they arrive that today’s rich people behaves very differently from the past, and being rich has become a real bother… this discovery will make things way different from what Tuccis’ expected.

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The Jungle Book Movie Review

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Just watched ‘The Jungle Book’ today. It’s a lovely film. Neel Sethi is fabulous! Great animation and VFX though I’m not sure tigers and bears can climb that high!! It brought back memories of reading ‘The Jungle Book’ during my vacations when I was a little kid. It was a large sized comic with beautiful illustrations printed on thick chrome yellow colored paper. I remember a sequence in ‘The Jungle Book’ comic when Baloo, having participated valiantly in the battle against Sher Khan, is apparently dead. Both Bagheera and Mowgli are grief stricken. Bagheera recalls what a great friend Baloo was to both of them and consoles a heartbroken Mowgli. As Mowgli tears up, suddenly Baloo awakens laughing and they realize he was playing a prank. Bagheera and Mowgli are relieved and thrilled and then the three of them ride off into the sunset. This is a very touching sequence that would have made for a fantastic closing scene. It moved me when I read the comic, as a little kid. I’m quite disappointed that for some reason they chose not to include it in the film. It would have elevated the film further. It’s a nice film for the family nevertheless, unless you want to sneak in your kids to watch ‘Love Games’, which would be hard to explain to a kid anyway, ‘This uncle is going with that aunty and that aunty is..’..never mind!

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Director : D.J. Caruso.
Writer : Chad St. John, F. Scott Frazier.
Producer : Neal H. Moritz, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Joe Roth, Samantha Vincent, Vin Diesel.
Release : January 13, 2017
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Paramount Pictures, Original Film, Revolution Studios, One Race Films.
Language : English.
Runtime : 107 min.
Genre : Action, Adventure, Crime, Thriller.

Movie ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ was released in January 13, 2017 in genre Action. D.J. Caruso was directed this movie and starring by Vin Diesel. This movie tell story about Extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage comes out of self-imposed exile, thought to be long dead, and is set on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.

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Why Net Neutrality is Important to Prevent Monopolies and Protect Freedom of Expression

The Internet has long been a level playing field for entrepreneurs, companies and individuals who want their voice to be heard. This may all change very soon if TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) has its way. As per a proposal on its website, TRAI is in favor of Telecom Companies being able to charge for OTT (Over the Top) applications. This is going to destroy innovation as new startups will find it difficult to pay these fees.

What is going to be be much worse if TRAI has its way is that ISPs will have the discretion to prioritize a select bunch of apps and websites over others. You may be a regular buyer at Flipkart and Amazon and compare deals between them to get the best but if all other book selling websites started loading at a snails pace in your browser, how long will it be before Flipkart and Amazon are tempted to take advantage of this monopolistic situation by rigging prices? You may express your opinion on your website or on an internet forum but if that is outside the select list of websites that load fast, how hard will it be to shut you out and make sure your opinions are never read?

While this is an attempt by the Indian government to thwart net neutrality, internationally, net neutrality has been upheld and enforced by USA. US broadband service providers cannot, by law, strike deals with content firms, known as paid prioritisation, for smoother delivery of traffic to consumers. They also cannot block or speed up connections for a fee. All ‘interconnection deals’  where content companies pay broadband providers to connect to their networks, are regulated.

While here in India, in another development, Airtel has launched Airtel Zero, which offers access to a select few applications for free. Any other application will require a paid internet plan.  Companies including Google and Facebook which have long taken the high road have no qualms about being part of Airtel Zero while continuing to make the right noises when it comes to net neutrality. More than 150 startups have shown interest to be part of ‘Airtel Zero’.

This isn’t something new. Some telecom service providers have been offering Google, Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp at reduced prices or free, for a while now. Ironically, Google has long had the motto ‘Don’t be Evil’ and there have
often been questions about whether the motto still applies.

The TRAI proposal has accelerated the protests.

For a large percentage of internet users in India, the internet comprises of Google, Facebook and Whatsapp. Once a ‘free zone’ for internet access has been established by taking money from companies that want inclusion, it will be near impossbile for competitors to come up thus strangling competition and ultimately giving the consumer a raw deal. Overregulation, licensing and monpolization is what has led to almost all Indian banks having profit margins of over 70%. Restricting the choices of the consumer artificially is never a good idea.

The TRAI, in its proposal where it seeks to benefit from OTT services, justifies this, offering various arguments, all of which have been demolished by various writers across websites. TRAI claims that the companies have invested heavily in infrastructure to provide internet services to us. While that may be true, it is also true that a major chunk of their investment is in licensing ‘air waves’ that belong to the country. The government has taken tens of thousands of crores for these. Despite huge investments, they have turned this into an immensely profitable business.

The reality is that telecom businesses in India are cash cows for the owners!

Sample this:

Vodafone India reported an earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization (EBIDTA) of Rs 13,399 crores in FY14.

Bharati Airtel reported an EBIDTA of Rs.15,608.70 crores in FY14.

So, these companies have turned their businesses in India into huge cash cows.
One of the reasons these companies are so profitable is because they have stopped investing in innovation and providing better services to the consumer.

..and the concept of ‘Broadband internet’ in India is laughable!

‘Broadband’ internet acess in India is defined at 512 kbps as notified by TRAI.

It used be even worse. I remember having a 2.4 kbps connection when internet was launched in India. This went up to 14.4 kbps soon after. In the United States, ‘Broadband internet’ is defined by FCC as internet over the speed of 25 MBPS.

USA’s ‘broadband internet’ is 50 times faster than our broadband internet! Otherwise it’s not considered ‘broadband’ at all. The cost of accessing the internet is prohibitively high in India already.

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In Mumbai, you pay MTNL Rs.1599 for a 10 MBPS line.

A 1 GBPS internet line is literally a hundred times faster than a 10 MBPS line! (1 GB = 1024 MB).

This is literally a 100 times what people in Hong Kong pay because you are getting one-hundredth the speed at the same price! The fastest Fiber-to-the-home line that MTNL offers is 100 mbps, 1/10th of the speed of the Hong Kong connection mentioned that this costs Rs.6999 or more than 5 times as much! Other companies including Airtel, Reliance, Vodafone, Idea, Tata etc also have prices similar to MTNL.

The consumers are getting a raw deal already from internet service providers in India. Now they want to make money from over the top services such as applications.

Telecom companies have been known to be using Voice over Internet Protocal (VoIP) technology to route phone calls and bill consumers at regular prices. They have also been charging extremely high prices for text messages. All of this is hurting the telecom companies now because there are apps like Whatsapp and Skype which will let you call for free and send messages for free. So they can’t profiteer as much as they would like to. This is a result of innovation. It’s what led to the decline of the Blackberry Messenger (BBM) after Whatsapp emerged as a free alternative.

Dividing the internet into parts, some of which are more equal than others is a dangerous trend and must be stopped. The internet in India has emerged as a strong voice of people influencing government policies, shaping opinions, toppling governments and bringing parties to power. It must remain the equalizer it is. The government shouldn’t be in a position to dictate which websites can be accessed by people at large and which can’t.

The Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi has been giving speeches about supporting small business, innovation and technology. This latest development is at odds with all these claims and declarations. If we have to have companies of the size of Facebook, Twitter and Google emerging from India, we must offer a level playing field to new startups and entrepreneurs. TRAI’s apparent stance against net neutrality will curtail competition and threaten the freedom of speech of the common man and needs to be protested against, vigorously.

The Great Indian Banking Con – Banks to Hike Service Charges upto 60% from Today

ICICI bank to charge Rs.5 per 1000 from customers depositing cash.

From April 1, 2015, banking in India is going to be more expensive than ever as you are charged money to withdraw and deposit your own money. Despite indications to the contrary, the government continues to look the other way as banks exploit customers. From next week private banks are going to hike up their charges by upto 60%.

If you read this blog, you know that I sent a letter to the Honorable Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi in May last year, when he took charge of the top chair. The letter put forth over 30 suggestions on how to prevent Indian banks from profiteering at the cost of customers, suggestions on making India entrepreneur friendly, introduce tax reform and capital market reform.

So I was delighted when the PMO turned my letter into a petition and then I received a reply from RBI, a second reply from RBI and a reply from SEBI. What was even more encouraging was when some of my suggestions were implemented while some others came close to being implemented. In November 2014, the RBI asked banks to lower their bank charges for customers not maintaining a minimum balance.  It said ‘charges should be directly proportionate to the extent of shortfall observed’. This means if you are Rs.100 short of the minimum balance, you can’t be charged Rs.300 as bank charges.

In February this year the RBI announced that credit card companies would be asked to bring down interest rates in line with other financial products with similar risk. I had asked for this. Then the government announced that it is considering making credit card usage mandatory for bills in five star hotels where the amount exceeds Rs.5000. This too is something I had suggested.

However, this latest development is a shocker. Private banks have been allowed to hike up their charges by upto 60%. From April 1, 2015.

Banks including ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank are going to increase charges and penalties from April 1, 2015.

I quote from the news report (The formatting of text is mine) published in Business Standard newspaper:

ICICI Bank, India’s largest private lender, will charge Rs 100 more for non-maintenance of average monthly balance in metros and Rs 50 more in semi-urban areas. The bank will also charge cash deposits by customers or customer representatives at branches not in the city where the account is opened. While it will levy Rs 5 for every Rs 1,000 deposited at counters, deposits in machines will be free for the first transaction every month; Rs 5 for every Rs 1,000 will be charged from the second transaction.

From April 1, HDFC Bank will charge Rs 75 for every 25-page chequebook beyond the first. It will charge Rs 150-600 for non-maintenance of minimum average monthly balance for urban customers (minimum average monthly balance Rs 10,000) and Rs 150-300 for semi-urban customers (minimum average monthly balance Rs 5,000).

Axis Bank has increased service charge for the ‘Prime Plus’ account segment from Rs 250 a month for non-maintenance of minimum balance to Rs 5 for every Rs 100 shortfall compared to the average monthly balance requirement or Rs 350, whichever is lower.

Kotak Mahindra Bank has raised the charges for non-maintenance of average monthly balance in ‘Edge’ savings accounts. If the average balance is less than the required amount but more than half of it, a charge of Rs 300 will be imposed (earlier Rs 250). If the average balance is less than half the required amount, the bank will charge Rs 400 (against Rs 350 earlier).

This flies right in the face of the claims of inclusive banking. I remember speaking with some of my friends from Bihar and North East India who spoke about having to pay bribes to withdraw their own money from their bank accounts. Now it almost seems like these amounts are being made official and banks are being given a free reign to exploit customers to the hilt.