*** MOVED ***

NOTE: I have merged the contents of this blog with my web-site. I will not be updating this blog any more.


A Non-Cellular Organism

Granta is a quarterly high-quality literary magazine that attempts to showcase some of the best "new writing" in English. It has had a decent record in recognising some of the best young novelists before they became famous. It recently published a celebratory 100th issue with contributions from the likes of Martin Amis, Doris Lessing, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, etc. Naturally, I had to have it.

I noticed that Granta 100 was available from Indiaplaza at a good discount, even when the shipping charges were included. In fact, Indiaplaza (formerly Fabmall) seems to be offering a good discount on a lot of books and other items these days. For example, if you buy the entire collection of Asterix comics, you get the entire collection of Tintin comics for free. So I decided to order my copy of Granta 100 from Indiaplaza.

That is when I ran into an unexpected hurdle - the new order form on Indiaplaza requires a mobile phone number and I do not have a mobile phone. The form would not accept a land-line number and even checks for numbers that do not "look like" a mobile phone number. When I complained to their customer service about this issue, they told me that their "delivery partner" requires this information in case they need to contact me. When I then asked them why their delivery partner shies from calling people on their land-line numbers, they relented and themselves suggested that I use a dummy mobile phone number like "98000 00000" to get past the stubborn order form. It worked and I was able to place the order. The item was delivered after a day without further ado.

This is not an isolated incident. I keep running into situations where the other party makes it mandatory for me to divulge my mobile phone number, even though I don't have one and even though they should be able to provide the service without knowing it. For example, HDFC Bank requires it in their form for enabling third-party transfers (in order to notify you of such a transfer when it happens) and Standard Chartered would not allow you to carry out certain transactions on-line without an additional code that they send to your mobile phone (ostensibly for extra security). In each of these cases, the vendor would be able to provide an additional benefit when it has the number for your mobile phone but that does not mean that it should make it mandatory for you to divulge this information.

Even if I did have a mobile phone, I wouldn't want to give its number to all and sundry, especially when they are known to happily hand it over to telemarketers without any respect for their own customers' privacy. Since mobile number portability is still not available in India, it is not a good idea to bind more and more services with your mobile phone should you wish to change your mobile phone service provider in the future.

I do not carry a mobile phone because of its invasive nature. I sometimes get annoyed by people who carry mobile phones for reasons given in this article. I have land-line phones in both my office as well as my home - when I am not in either of these places, I am most likely unable to or unwilling to have a telephonic conversation (for example, while I am driving or while I am watching a film). I do recognise the utility and convenience of having a mobile phone and some day I might also get one, but I do not have one at the moment and I detest it when people make it unnecessarily mandatory for providing a service.


Stop Taxing the Interest from a Savings Account

It is utterly unfair for the Indian government to impose an income tax on the interest earned by an individual on a savings account. The government merely adds insult to an injury caused by low rates of interest, lower effective yields and high inflation.