Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The President of India DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam's Speech in Hyderabad

I could not resist myself from sharing this really imspirational speech by one of the greatest Presidents we have had in recent times. I am sure these words are what we all would like to put together for our India, but this has been said by the best person who has seen the old days and brought the country's Science and technology industry to have been noticed in the world. His relentless efforts in achieving this for the country and passion for the country he has lived is truly wonderful. Go ahead read it.....

* The President of India DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam's Speech in Hyderabad. *

  • Why is the media here so negative?
  • Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements?
  • We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?
  • We are the first in milk production.
  • We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.
  • We are the second largest producer of wheat.
  • We are the second largest producer of rice.

Look at Dr. Sudarshan, he has transferred the tribal village into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters.

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime. Why are we so NEGATIVE? Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign T. Vs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology.

Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance? I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is. She replied: I want to live in a developed India. For her, you and I will have to build this developed India. You must proclaim.

India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation. Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.
Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours.

  • YOU say that our government is inefficient.
  • YOU say that our laws are too old.
  • YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
  • YOU say that the phones don't work, the railways are a joke, the airline is the worst in the world, and mails never reach their destination.
  • YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.
  • YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it? Take a person on his way to Singapore. Give him a name - YOURS. Give him a face - YOURS. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don't throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores.
  • YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are.

You pay $5(approx. Rs. 130) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity...

In Singapore you don't say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn't dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai. YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah. YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, 'see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.

'YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, 'Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so's son.

Take your two bucks and get lost.' YOU wouldn't chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand. Why don't YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo? Why don't YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston??? We are still talking of the same YOU.

YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India?

Once in an interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay, Mr. Tinaikar, had a point to make. 'Rich people's dogs are walked on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,' he said.

'And then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels? In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan. Will the Indian citizen do that here?' He's right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility.

We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick an up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms. But we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.

We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.

This applies even to the staffs who are known not to pass on the service to the public. When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, girl child! and others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse?

'It's the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons' rights to a dowry.' So who's going to change the system?

What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbors, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU.

When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for an Mr.Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.

Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England. When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.

Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one's conscience too.... I am echoing J. F. Kennedy's words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians.....

Let’s do what India needs from us.

Thank you,
DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


This topic is interesting and necessity for me as well, since my son will soon be starting with his schooling. I think it is one area of concern for all the parents with kids and expats specially from India who have come for jobs in singapore and have plans to spend few years here.


Education in Singapore is managed by Ministry of Education (MOE), which directs education policy. The ministry controls the development and administration of public schools which receive government funding but also has an advisory and supervisory role to private schools. For both private and public schools, there are variations in the extent of autonomy in their curriculum, scope of government aid and funding, tuition burden on the students, and admission policy.

Children with disabilities attend special special education (SPED) schools run by Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), which are and partially funded by the Ministry of Education. Education spending usually makes up about 20 percent of the annual national budget, which subsidises public education and government-assisted private education for Singaporean citizens and furnishes the Edusave programme, but the costs are significantly higher for non-citizens.

In Singapore, the English language is the first language learned by half the children by the time they reach preschool age and becomes the primary medium of instruction by the time they reach primary school. English is the language of instruction for most subjects, especially mathematics and the natural sciences, except where other languages are concerned. Certain schools, such as secondary schools under the Special Assistance Plan (SAP) which encourages a richer use of the mother tongue may teach occasionally in English and another language. There are also other schools which have been experimenting with curricula that integrate language subjects with mathematics and the sciences, using both English and a second language.

Details on education system followed in Singapore can be found in detail on websites like :

I would be focusing on more giving information on education for Indian expats who would prefer to have education as per Indian education system in which case even if expats return to India, they can continue with the education, since the syllabus & age criteria would be same as India.

There are quite a few options available for Indian expat children for schooling in Singapore right from Kindergarten level to HSC or 12th standard level. I shall list all these institutes, few things about how long they have been here & what are the facilities, fees & other important facts which any parent would like to know.

Singapore is home for 4 international Indian schools run by very prestigious & well known institutes from India.
1) Global Indian International School formerly – Bharti Vidya Bhavan International School
2) DPS – Delhi Public School
3) Ramkrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten School

I have provided information on the Indian schools separately for each school mentioned above.

Look under Education in Singapore -

  • DPS International School
  • Global Indian International School
  • Ramkrishna Mission Sarada Kindergarten School

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Medical & Healthcare Insurance

Health insurance is a type of insurance whereby the insurer pays the medical costs of the insured if the insured becomes sick due to covered causes, or due to accidents. The insurer may be a private organization or a government agency.

A Health insurance policy is an annually renewable contract between an insurance company and an individual. With health insurance claims, the individual policy-holder pays a deductible plus copayment (for instance, a hospital stay might require the first $1000 of fees to be paid by the policy-holder plus $100 per night stayed in hospital). Usually there is a maximum out-of-pocket payment for any single year, and there can be a lifetime maximum.

Inherent problems with private insurance
Any private insurance system will face two inherent challenges: adverse selection and ex-post moral hazard.

Adverse Selection
Insurance companies use the term "adverse selection" to describe the tendency for only those who will benefit from insurance to buy it. Specifically when talking about health insurance, unhealthy people are more likely to purchase health insurance because they anticipate large medical bills. On the other side, people who consider themselves to be reasonably healthy may decide that medical insurance is an unnecessary expense; if they see the doctor once a year and it costs $250, that's much better than making monthly insurance payments of $400 (example figures).

The fundamental concept of insurance is that it balances costs across a large, random sample of individuals. For instance, an insurance company has a pool of 1000 randomly selected subscribers, each paying $100/month. One of them gets really sick while the others stay healthy, which means that the insurance company can use the money paid by the healthy people to treat the sick person. Adverse selection upsets this balance between healthy and sick subscribers. It will leave an insurance company with primarily sick subscribers and no way to balance out the cost of their medical expenses with a large number of healthy subscribers.
Because of adverse selection, insurance companies use a patient's medical history to screen out persons with pre-existing medical conditions. Before buying health insurance, a person typically fills out a comprehensive medical history form that asks whether the person smokes, how much the person weighs, whether the person has been treated for any of a long list of diseases and so on. In general, those who look like they will be large financial burdens are denied coverage or charged high premiums to compensate. On the other side, applicants can actually get discounts if they do not smoke and are healthy.

Moral Hazard
Moral hazard describes the state of mind and change in behavior that results from a person's knowledge that if something bad were to happen, the out-of-pocket expenses would be mitigated by an insurance policy--in this case, one which provides reduced prices for medical care.

Based on this above fact, medical insurance is something which is of great importance specially for someone traveling overseas specially from India. I say this because India is one of the few countries which has medical expenses very less compared to that in other countries around the world. (for an insurance coverage of INR 25000 needs about INR 500 premium per year which is about S$20. This is only for hospitalisation coverage. Apart from this outpatient charges usually will be from INR 40 onwards depending on the complexity of illness & need for specialist etc). As one can notice this cost is pretty little another reason again based on the principle of insurance as explained above, where it depends on the volume of people going for insurance thus resulting in the insurance premiums being lower.

Singapore Medical Cost:

Medical visit to a doctor without an insurance in Singapore will usually cost one from S$ 20-25 for cases like fever/flu, cold or cough & subsequenly rises to exorbitant level. The consultation charges in Singapore are based on some standard charges/10 minutes or 20 minutes & increases based on time spent. So S$25 will be for consultation between 10-20 minutes. This may also go upto S$ 40. For hospitalisation one would need to pay about S$800-1200/per day based on how big and sophisticated the hospital is & what one is getting admitted for and treatment taken. Treatment cost may be over and above the hospital room charges. So it is a heavy burden for someone without medical insurance.

It is advisable to go in for medical insurance. There are 2 types of insurance that one can get covered for:
1) Managed Healthcare System :
This insurance covers the outpatient charges and is accompanied by minimal copayment per visit. Outpatient is the occassional doctor's visit for consultation. There are companies like NTUC Coop which can provide a suitable insurance based on the need of the individual. The copayment is usually S$5 per visit. Insurance premium is for 1 year and the premium is to be paid in lump sum. The premiums vary from S$ 240 & S$ 350 for men and women between age group 31-40 years respectively for the lowest value plan. The additional component that these plans cover are that they cover against hospitalisation as well based on rates for hospital rooms, treatment etc. The premiums are higher for intermediate plan & highest for the best plan which covers the hospitlisation charges for a higher amount. In this case hospital room rates could be around S$ 1500 & it is covered by this plan. Copayment in hospitalisation is 10% of the hospital bill which works out pretty low compared to the actual bill. This plan also takes care of the 30 dreaded diseases recognised by the Singapore medical council. It is advisable to go in for Intermediate MHS plan for anyone coming down to singapore.

2) Medishield
This is an insurance coverage for someone who does not need outpatient coverage but is looking at getting coverage for hospitalisation. In this situation the insurance company will charge a premium which will be around S$ 100 where there is again a co-payment involved which will again be around 10%. There is also an option where the co-payment can also be escaped by premium another premium on top of this which will cover the complete hospitalisation charges. This premium is around S$ 100. I would advise people to go in for this insurance coverage specially for kids below age 10 years and for adults above 30 or 40 years based on health conditions.

For both the above cases, person is given a medical card upon approval, which can be presented during the admission for treatment. For MHS person has to select a clinic suitable for him, based on personal choice and convenience from the list of approved clinics falling under the insuring company. The insured has to visit the same clinic during illness & if recommended by this clinic then the insured may go for a specialist again falling under the approved list of clinics.

For more information or quotation for medical insurance, one can always visit this website or get in touch with Mr. Jeyabalan (93366357) who has been my insurance agent since a few years now & I can guarantee his services.

Some common complaints about private health insurance include:
  • Insurance companies do not announce their health insurance premiums more than a year in advance. This means that, if one becomes ill, he or she may find that their premiums have greatly increased (however, in many states these types of rate increases are prohibited).
  • If insurance companies try to charge different people different amounts based on their own personal health, people may feel they are unfairly treated.
  • When a claim is made, particularly for a sizable amount, insureds may feel as though the insurance company is using paperwork and bureaucracy to attempt to avoid payment of the claim or, at a minimum, greatly delay it.
  • Health insurance is often only widely available at a reasonable cost through an employer-sponsored group plan.
  • In the United States, there are tax advantages to Employer-provided health insurance, whereas individuals must pay tax on income used to fund their own health insurance, although there are a minority of pre-tax health plans currently extant.
  • Experimental treatments are generally not covered.
  • This practice is especially criticized by those who have already tried, and not benefited from, all "standard" medical treatments for their condition.
  • The Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) type of health insurance plan has been criticized for excessive cost-cutting policies in its attempt to offer lower premiums to consumers.
  • As the health care recipient is not directly involved in payment of health care services and products, they are less likely to scrutinize or negotiate the costs of the health care received. The health care company has popular and unpopular ways of controlling this market force.
  • Some health care providers end up with different sets of rates for the same procedure. One for people with insurance and another for those without.
  • Unlike most publicly funded health insurance, many private insurance plans do not provide coverage of dental health care, or only offer such coverage with additional premiums and very low dollar-amount coverages.
  • Insurance Companies can influence the type or amount of treatment that the insured receives by setting limits on the number of visits, types of treatment, etc., it will cover.
Some portion of this article has been taken from

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Working in Singapore

This article should be good for prospective candidates looking at moving to singapore for Job opportunity. This is purely based on my personal experience and someone needing more detailed or specific information can always look up the information on the internet.

1.How much does one have to pay for a rental house in Singapore ? And how much to buy a house...say a 2 BHK one?

Ans: A family of 3-4 people will preferably need to go for atleast a 2 bedroom HDB (Housing Development Board) if available or will have to go in for a 3 bedroom unit. In singapore a 2bedroom apartment is also referred to as 4 room apartment(2 bedroom+1 Kitchen+1 Hall) & similarly 5 room in case of 3 bedroom unit. Due to rising real estate markets in Singapore and globally, the rentals have gone up. The rates vary with the distance of the area from the central business district(CBD) area that is the main area where most offices are located in the city.
2 Bedroom - Rentals : SGD 900 - SGD 1500 (higher being places closer to MRT(Stations for trains/close to CBD.
3 Bedroom - Rentals : SGD 1000-SGD 1600
For someone who wants to stay in condominiums, the rates would be from SGD1500+ for 2 bedroom again based on locations and rates go higher depending on similar criteria as for HDB.

Buying House in Singapore: One can buy house in Singapore only if the person is a Singapore PR or a citizen. Usually a 2bedroom house price will start from SGD 200,000.

2.Which are the good/decent residential areas(not very highly priced, though)
Ans:Most of Indian expats have usually preferred to stay close to their office areas. Based on this criteria, the reasonably decent & not so highly priced residential areas will be as follows:
In the order of preference based on rates :

East Area: Aljunied, Paya Lebah, Eunos, Kembangan & Tampines, Simei & Pasir Ris, Bedok
West Area: Bukit Batok, Bukit Gombak, Chua Chu kang, Boon lay, Lake Side, Clementi, Queenstown, Jurong East
North Area: Ang Mo Kio, Yio chu Kang, Khatib, Toa Payoh, Bishan, Bradell, Yishun
South Area: Red Hill, Tiong Bahru, Outram Park
Central Area(closer to Little india where one gets all indian stuff): Seng kang, Punggol, Kovan, Farrer Park, Serangoon,

3.How much does spend on an average on commuting ? How much would one spend if one were to buy a car there?

Ans:Public transport is excellent in Singapore and most comfortable and cheap mode of transport.

Train: Frequency: peak hours: 2 minutes & off Peak Hours: 5 -12 minutes. Usually one will spend between 60 cents to S$2 for one way journey.

Buses: Frequency: peak hours: 5-7 minutes & off Peak Hours: 7 -12 minutes and usually bus routes will cover some distances faster than train journeys and be more convenient. Usually one will spend between 60 cents to S$2 for one way journey.

Taxis: For emergencies or when traveling members exceed 2 pax then this is the most convenient & fastest mode unless one gets caught in traffic which too is possible only during peak hours or Friday evenings or public holidays. The fare starts at S$ 2.50 for regular taxis and starts at S$2.70 or 2.80 for premium taxis. With some special premium taxis charging flat rates. like S$ 35 for airport.

Personally I would discourage anyone to buy a car, since one would buy the car for twice the price of the same car in India or any other major economies. This is due to COE which is the tax levied by govt. to curtail the increase in the number of cars in singapore and avoid too much traffic congestion and pollution. One would also have costs like ERP for entering into CBD which is again for same reason as earlier & one cannot forget the parking charges. The cheapest car would cost around S$ 35,000 which will be a car like Maruti Suzuki or a little better.

4.How much does one spend on entertainment there?

This is very subjective although I shall try to give the general cost related to entertainment.


Eating out for 2 persons in an Indian restaurant: S$25 atleast.

A can of coke: $1.00

Big Mac: $3.00

Cigarettes (20): $5.80

Bottle of wine: At least $60 for something decent, more if you order one at a restaurant

Loaf of bread: $1.50

Starbucks drink: $4.00

Pint of Haagen Daz ice cream: $10.30

Movie ticket: $7 onwards

One hour at an internet cafe: $2+


Mobile phone: $300-400 + about $30 a month for subscription

Home computer: $700+

Laptop: $1500

DVD player: $100

Music CD: $10

HiFi set: $350

Plasma TV : $800 onwards depending on make

5.Normally how much goes off in tax deduction, what is the computation?

Ans: Please check my blog under Country Guide - Individual Income Tax - Salaried Employee

6.If one goes on a spouse visa, can the spouse take up a job legally there?
Ans: Spouse is given a dependant Visa when he or she travels with the person on employment pass. This directly does not allow the spouse to work & is considered illegal. Spouse would need a letter of consent from the MOM(Ministry of Manpower) for working with an company in Singapore or the company in Singapore will need to apply for an employment pass for the spouse. Advantage in getting job is good for spouses from IT industry. Other professiona like Sales, Doctors, Teachers, etc are usually hard to find a job.

Plus points of working & staying in Singapore

Singapore is the most safe country in the world. It is the most well connected country within and to other parts of the world. One of the cleanest and least polluted countries. There are four official languages - English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil - and one unofficial language, Singlish, Singapore's very own version of spoken English. All festivals related to the Chinese, Muslim and Hindu community are celebrated with great pomp and pleasure & this has lead to a very unique and binding culture in Singapore. Working environment is very professional and very competitive and demanding. Most of the major global companies are present in Singapore, making it a major business hub. Tax structure is simple and very less compared to major countries. Maximum tax payable is 15% on your income. Indians can find all types of food, clothing and necessary and luxury items in Singapore due to the growing population of Indians here. Singapore is very disciplined & law abiding country and mistakes could cost one dearly monetarily or even prison time. One is advised to read and be careful about these regulations and restrictions for ones own good.


Weather is very humid almost about 95-99% which makes one sweat a lot. Although most places are Air conditioned - Offices, Trains, Buses, Taxis & shopping complexes. One can have problems adjusting to the climate. Vegetarians specially who cannot consume even eggs might find it difficult to adjust although there are lot of vegetarian joints like Saravana Bhavan, Ananda Bhavan, Komala Vilas etc. Some culture shock is inevitable, so knowing what makes Singapore society tick can't hurt.

I would welcome any specific queries & would appreciate if you could leave your comments or suggestions. Please do share this with someone in need of this kind of information around you.

All the best.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Seed

One of my colleagues shared this lovely story which talks about lot of things & I couldn't resist myself from sharing this.

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose asuccessor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his directors or his children, he decided to do something different.
He called all the young executives in his company together. He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I havedecided to choose one of you. "The young executives were shocked, but the bosscontinued. "I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED! I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO"
One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.
Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by--still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil. He so wanted the seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the young executives of the companybroughttheir plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick at his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room.
When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful--in all shapes and sizes.Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him! When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted hisyoungexecutives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!"
All of a sudden, the CEOspotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the financial director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!" When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to hisseed. Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down - except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive"! "His name is Jim"! Jim couldn't believe it. "He couldn't even grow his seed. How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.
Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room aseed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead and it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seedfor the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it.Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive!"

If you plant Transperancy, you will reap trust
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective
If you plant hard work, you will reap success
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.

Individual Income Tax - Salaried Employee

Tax is the most important aspect of one's salary package for any individual who is moving to another country for Job. I thought of sharing this information for providing help to someone who is coming for the first time into Singapore and for someone who is on employment pass. I hope this will be helpful to get a clear idea of the tax structure followed in Singapore. Although all this information is available on the official website of the IRAS (Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore), I just wanted to give a salient and consolidated information as a snapshot. One can also visit the website : for details of taxation for various other categories like corporate tax, GST related information, Property tax, Stamp duty, etc.Tax laws are pretty simple for an individual working in Singapore. The tax is based on primarily two criteria : Resident & Non-resident
Resident : Someone who is completing 183 days of stay in Singapore from the day he starts working in Singapore on an employment pass, in a calender year (Jan - Dec), comes under the status of Resident Singapore. There is a computation table available for such individuals meeting this criteria. The excel sheet is available on the IRAS website and it can be downloaded. ( Non-Resident : Person who does not complete 183 days within one calendar year from the day he starts working in singapore on an employment pass will be considered as a Non-Resident Singapore. The tax rate for such an individual will be flat 15% for the income earned in that calendar year. For eg. Person has earned about 21000 during his stay which is below 183 days will be liable for a tax amount of S$ 3150 for this calendar year.
But the good news is that if the same person continues to stay in Singapore for consecutive 3 years he can get this tax paid refunded upon request to IRAS in which case the tax is recalculated based on the table of calculation for a resident Singapore. For Eg. A person comes into Singapore after June 2006 anytime, he will be considered non-resident for tax computation and he will pay flat 15% on his income for 2006. Then he stays till jan 2008 when he will be eligible for refund which will be calculated based on what is mentioned in the first few lines of this paragraph. Apart from the tax calculation table there are certain rebates available for individuals. Some of them are :

Dependent : Spouse - S$ 2000

Child - S$ 2000

Earned income relief: S$ 1000 which is applicable for all working individuals below 55 years age while working in Singapore.

For eg. for an income earned of S$ 40,000 the taxable income for the individual will be S4 35000 ( 40,000-2000-2000-1000)

There are other reliefs available like: (

Relief for delivery & hospitalisation expenses for 4th child
Parents/handicapped parents relief
Grandparent caregiver relief
Handicapped brothers or sisters relief
Provident fund/life insurance relief
Course fees relief
Relief for foreign maid levy
NSmen (self/wife/parent) relief
Relief for CPF cash top-up

The tax filing is usually expected to be submitted by end of April or sometimes extended till May. The tax department will publish these dates on their websites and other media. The tax assessment will be sent to the individuals or company where the individual is working starting from June or July onwards and will be completed by October unless there are certain discrepancies.

There is facility for filing tax online as well & it is very convenient to get this done. The tax payment can be made by using Nets(cash-direct debit), credit cards & GIRO arrangement as well.

Once again, one can always check the Tax policies on the website mentioned above if one needs to check some more details regarding any other issues. Pay your tax on time and be a good citizen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Business Networking

I was browsing through my emails last year and came across this email from a friend of mine, who introduced me to OpenBC. I was new to this concept of networking websites. I didn't know how to go about getting connected to people on this network. Then I dared to start looking at this seriously since I saw a few high profile names being shown on the start page joining the network.
I started posting some job postings which I get from my friends who were looking for people in IT and other industries. This is when I started getting messages from people from various parts of the world. I started replying to them and getting to know something about them and their professions and businesses.
During one of the instances, i got connected to a person working with one of the well known ERP company who had their office in the same building as ours. In the following days during our lunch hours, we suddenly bumped into each other and said hello to each other in person. Its funny how one could meet someone just next door through this channel.

Another instance is when I got in touch with this gentleman, Borislav Moyanov who hails from Sofia, Bulgaria. Borislav had responded to one of the job postings on openBC now Xing( and we started interacting a little. When we had connected both of us had no clue that we could meet each other in person ever.

Just a month back Borislav mentioned to me that he would be in Singapore on a tourist visit and would be keen to meet with me. I too was eager to see Borislav in person since I had just seen his photo on the web page. Anyway, finally Borislav arrived in singapore on 16th July 2007 and called me in the morning to announce his arrival and looking at a possibility of meeting with him. I was free in the evening and so we decided to meet with him at City Hall.

It was about 6:20 pm when I arrived at city hall passenger service and was waiting for Borislav & trying to search for him amongst the crowd gathered at the MRT after office hours. Another 5 minutes and I saw Borislav and finally we both were meeting in person !!

We spent the next 1.5 hours getting to know each other and our experiences. we found lot of interests were similar and we had a lot of things and experiences to share with going ahead in future. We talked about our companies we worked with and what is it that we could bring together to the table and probably work on some project together soon. We really enjoyed the evening & we just talked about the great experience of getting connected on Internet in this way and then finally meeting in person.

Borislav had an even wonderful experience while he was on this tour. He had plans for getting to Nepal while on his way to Singapore and India. He found someone on Xing who was from Nepal and he offered to get arrangements made for Borislav for traveling from Delhi to Kathmandu. Borislav was apprehensive about this plan but then he thought of taking this chance and to his surprise things really went smooth. When he was in Delhi, a person from travel agency arrived at his hotel in Delhi and handed over the tickets for Kathmandu and back to Delhi for Borislav with bookings for his hotel as well during his 4 day stay in Kathmandu. The person whom Borislav could finally meet when he went to Kathmandu, was very interesting person and owned a few businesses & was very courteous to give a nice tour of Nepal to Borislav.

Indeed, these experiences are just a drop in the ocean for the way things are moving in the business world. According to experts, business networking functions best when individuals offer to help others to find connections, rather than "cold-calling" on prospects themselves. Business networking can take place outside of traditional business environments. For example, public places such as airports, restaurants, and movie line-ups provide opportunities to make new business contacts if an individual has good social skills.

As business is increasingly carried on across the globe, there has become a strong need for business networking to take place on a more virtual level. There are a myriad of social networking tools which have been created to fulfill these needs. Together with software which provides access to on-line meetings and instant messaging, people are able to both access and increase their networks of business professionals without traveling.
Social networking is a good way to find people to add to your own business network. People that can benefit from your knowledge and provide you with theirs.

So go on and start networking there are lot of opportunities around you, it is just about finding the right one. As someone has rightly put it " Small opportunities lead to building greater enterprises". Do leave your comments and if you are interested to join any of the networks, do let me know.

7 great investment tips for 2007

1st Resolution: I shall be careful about investing in NFOs

Most of the new funds being launched are just the old wine in a new bottle. And when we invest in these NFOs we pay more - for the new bottle - not for the wine. If instead we invest the same money in an existing fund, we would get more wine. And that is what we should pay for - wine, not the bottle.
So let us resolve that we will not invest in an NFO, unless it has a different wine to offer which will add to our collection.
Moreover, most of the new funds are close-ended ones. This means that we miss out on one of the best risk mitigating measures i.e. Systematic Investment Planning (see resolution 3 below). So close-ended equity NFOs are preferably a no-no.

2nd Resolution: I shall always remember that NAV and share price are different

When we want to buy shares, we look at the share price. That's OK.
When we want to buy MFs, we look at the NAV. That's NOT OK.
The difference is that while share capital i.e. the no. of shares are fixed, unit capital i.e. no. of units change every day depending on purchases/sales.
Therefore, whether we buy Fund A at NAV of Rs.10 or Fund B at NAV of Rs 50 we are buying the units at the book value of scheme as on that date. Hence, the returns from both the funds will be the same (assuming of course that both have same shares in the portfolio), irrespective of the NAV.
But when we compare Share A at Rs 10 and Share B at Rs 50 (and both are in the same business and have the same EPS say Rs 5), then Share B is expensive than Share A - we are paying more price for the same earnings the company expects to earn in the future.

3rd Resolution: I shall NOT TIME the markets

No one, I repeat, no one has made money consistently by timing the markets. One may be lucky a few times to get the timing right, but then that's gambling not investing.
When do you generally buy things? Usually during some sale or discount offer! And if there is no such offer, you still ask for a discount! Then, why do the opposite with equity? At around 20 times PE the market is definitely not cheap.
Sure the long term India story looks goods and consequently one can expect good returns from equity. But at these levels the markets can be very volatile. And even a small fall in growth rate - note the growth rate has fallen not the growth itself - can cause the market to crash.
Should you wait for the correction? No, because correction is a possibility not a certainty. What if India growth story continues and the markets don't fall significantly? You would have then missed the bus.
Therefore at these market levels, it is prudent to invest small amounts regularly. This will reduce the volatility risk and also help you to benefit from the India growth story.

4th Resolution: I shall NOT look at the DIVIDENDS

Just as share price and NAV are different, so are the dividends from equity share and those from a MF.
In a mutual fund, all growth is reflected in the NAV. And when it declares a dividend, it is merely distributing a part of this growth i.e.
pre-dividend NAV minus dividend = post-dividend NAV.
So, in totality nothing changes. Dividend is not something extra.
Shares are different. Dividend is paid by the company out of the profits, whereas share price has technically nothing to do with the company or its' performance. It is mainly an interplay between the buyers and the sellers. So the share price may or may not change with dividend distribution.

5th Resolution: I shall invest according to MY NEEDS

As a financial advisor, I keep getting one query from hundreds of investors across the country - "Which are the best funds?"
I would like to ask these people one thing � do you ask your doctor which are the best medicines? No, you don't. You know the consequences of taking the wrong medicine � not only does your disease remain and worsen, but you could also develop other complications.
The same thing is true for your investments too. Every fund has a specific purpose and it meets a specific need; just as every medicine is useful only for a particular disease. So by investing in the wrong funds i.e. funds, which do not match your needs or risk appetite, you are likely to lose money.
What is a good fund for your friend or your neighbour, may not be good for you too.
So first choose the 'type' of funds, which suit you the most, allocate your assets across different asset-classes and then choose the best funds from that particular type.

6th Resolution: I shall BALANCE my portfolio

Portfolios that concentrate on only a few investments are likely to give wrong results. A predominantly equity portfolio will be too volatile. A predominantly debt portfolio will not provide adequate returns. A well-balanced portfolio will both be stable and also give good returns.
The issue here is to find the right balance. This depends on your needs and risk appetite. Depending on your financial profile, you must invest preferably in equity to debt ratio between 20:80 to 80:20.
That's one part. The other part is timely rebalancing. Since equity & debt will grow at different rates, with time your initial balance will get distorted. You should restore the balance every 6 months-1 year, depending on how far the balance has got distorted.

7th Resolution: I shall REMEMBER & IMPLEMENT the above resolutions

We have the tendency to forget all the good lessons. Therefore, more often than not we end up making the wrong investments.
It is wrong to believe that investing in equity means high chances of losing money. Most people lose money in equity because they don't follow the above rules.
Make sure that you read the above resolutions before every investment. Try to stay away from these pitfalls. Follow the above rules for 2007 and see the difference for yourself.
Here's wishing you all a very happy and 'profitable' 2007.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

6 reasons to thank your clients

A simple (and most overlooked) way to keep your clients coming back to you for more business is to be courteous and say thank you. There are plenty of opportunities to be courteous to your clients if you keep your eyes and ears open. Irrespective of whether you are an entrepreneur or work in the corporate sector, here are six instances when thanking your clients is a must.

Clients show interest in your product/services

The market for all products and services is competitive and your client has multiple sellers queuing up outside his door. If your client agrees to meet you to discuss the possibilities of an association thank him. Send him a simple thank you e-mail or note, stating your appreciation of his time and your willingness to work with them.

Clients buy your product/services

This may sound obvious but many salespeople do not thank their clients after the order has been placed. When was the last time that the local retailer thanked you for visiting his store? It is your responsibility to make your customers feel good about choosing you over the competition. This will ensure that your clients keep coming back to you for more.

Clients give you a reference

A lot of businesses bank on references. Make it a point to go out of your way to thank somebody who gives you a reference. I passed on a lot of references to my insurance agent but not once did he thank me for it. I stopped sending potential clients to him after a while.

Clients give you feedback

Most of us don't think of thanking our customers for complaining. Rather than trying to justify or playing the blame game, thank the customer for taking the time to provide feedback and point out the shortcoming. Work intensively towards improving that aspect of your product/service and go back to the customer with the new offering. One of my friends experiences this, he says "Shortly after launching our website, a client encountered a problem and received an incorrect product brochure for an order he had placed. I thanked him because he helped me correct a problem I didn't know even existed."

Clients settle the payments

As I was writing this article, I received an online thank you card from a web site designer to whom we have outsourced our web maintenance work. She thanked me for the timeliness of our payments. This made me feel good inspite of the fact that I was the buyer in this case. If this web designer uses the same strategy with all her clients, I am certain she will rarely run into payment problems.

When clients demonstrate loyalty

Never take a long-term client for granted. These are the people who help you stay afloat in business and it's important that you invest in building strong relationships with them. Send them regular updates, thank you notes and other useful information. Drop in on a surprise visit occasionally and don't discuss business. Let your clients know that you value them beyond the money they invest in your products/services.

How to say thank you

There are multiple ways to do it. These include sending a handwritten note, an occasional gift, an e-card or a thank you card. Even an inexpensive card with some genuine handwritten comments can make you stand out from the crowd and make your client remember you. The time you will invest will pay you back manifold.

Remember: Without clients, there would be no business. So, get client-savvy and invest in building a strong relationship with them.

How face-to-face communication helps at work

Today, most of your clients, colleagues and stakeholders are just a phone call or email away -- technology has made communication that simple. However, while tools like telephones and computers score high on convenience and speed, they lack the warmth and emotion that face-to-face communication provides.

There are some occasions where you must revive the by-now forgotten art of face-to-face communication.

Appreciating colleagues

In the words of Helen Keller, 'We are all walking with a signboard on our forehead which reads -- 'Appreciate me'.' It seems we have replaced the pat on the back with 'Thank you' and 'Good job' emails. But there is nothing that motivates someone more than seeing their boss walk up to them and appreciate them in front of everyone.

Go to your colleague's cubicle and congratulate them on the great report they sent or the presentation they made recently. I remember one of my ex-bosses who used to call us team members to his cabin just to say 'thanks' and pat our backs. The team immediately took a liking to him as most people expect a warning or feedback when the boss invites them to their cabin.
"It's difficult to build rapport over an email; I would feel much better if my boss appreciates me in person," says Ashok Krishnan, a CA with Nestle.

Criticising or providing feedback

When you provide feedback over an email or a phone call, the receiver may have a completely different perception about its relevance. This effect is amplified when you are not communicating face-to-face. The reader or listener may think you are cold and indifferent and that's why you avoided meeting them in person to discuss the issue. A face-to-face meeting gives you the opportunity to put your point across, while being sensitive and diplomatic at the same time. I have noticed that colleagues often use emails to avoid confronting the real issue. If someone fails to meet their target, I would prefer they tell me in person than offer an explanation over email.

Assigning new responsibility

There is a great risk of the message getting diluted when a responsibility gets delegated through email or a phone call. Don't be surprised if your team does not show a sense of ownership or complete tasks on time if you are not communicating face-to-face. Nonverbal communication, such as tone of voice, facial gestures and eye contact help individuals understand the importance of a task and the need to complete it on time. We rely on conference calls, video conferencing and online meetings but, from my experience, there's nothing more impactful than meeting the team in person.

Damage control with clients

If you haven't provided the product or service the client expected, you are putting your relationship with the client at stake. An apology mail would not suffice in a sensitive issue like this. Go to the client's office, if possible, without them having to call you for an explanation, and reassure them that the confidence they demonstrated when they gave you business was not misplaced. Your client would be pleasantly surprised that you took the time to come and meet them, especially when things went wrong.

I used to interact on almost a daily basis with a client over emails without ever figuring out whether the person was male or female. When a report I was supposed to send got delayed, I made a rude comment about a female colleague which offended the client who happened to be a lady herself.

Resolving conflicts

Workplace conflicts are common in most organisations. The lack of interpersonal communication only worsens the situation. It's important to remember that 55 per cent of meaning in an interaction comes from facial and body language and 38 per cent comes from vocal inflection. Only seven per cent of an interaction's meaning is derived from the words themselves. So, trying to resolve a conflict over email or a phone call is often a bad idea.

A colleague complained about another colleague and copied the senior management on the mail. I was surprised to see that mail translating into a flood of mails providing and seeking explanation. The person who sent the original mail was just one floor above the person who was at the receiving end. one of senior manager had to sit down with both of them in person to resolve the conflict.

Your communication style says a lot about you as a professional. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 'You are always under examination by people around you, awarding or denying you very high prizes when you least think of it.'

So leave the comfort of your cubicle and build trustworthy relationships by communicating face to face.

5 rules of effective biz phone etiquette

Do you feel awkward telephoning a new work contact for the first time? Developing effective phone skills to be able to call to confirm an appointment or ask for an interview slot or anything else is essential for career success. But since we live in an age of information overload, there is no predicting how the person on the other end will react. He may be hostile, choose to hang up, may ask you to call later or may be quite accommodating.

Time is at a premium and people are stressed out. Given all this, nobody wants to attend to that unexpected call during a busy day. But with a little planning and preparation you can make a good impression over the phone even and achieve the objective of the phone call. Heed these tips.

1. Choose a good time

Put off making business calls when you're too distracted or tired to give it your all. You have exactly one opportunity to make a great first impression and you will not make it if you are not prepared. You need to be full of positive energy about what you are doing/ asking otherwise your voice will sound dull with no power to persuade or move the listener into action. Smile when you talk to people on the phone it will show up in your voice.
Remember: enthusiasm is infectious. Think you are calling a friend. Let your voice be natural, calm, relaxed and easy-going. Try not to keep the other person on hold for a long time. If possible avoid it altogether. If you are making the call, you should have all the information readily available and not keep someone on hold. If you can't help her right away, tell her you'll call back then do so.

2. Opening the call

Eliminate any disturbing background noise if possible. Open the call with a standard professional greeting depending on the time of the day. Mention your first name, organisation, and purpose of the call clearly and be as direct as possible. Don't beat around the bush; it can be very irritating. It's a good idea to rehearse saying the person's name several times BEFORE the phone call. This will help with any pronunciation problems and also personalise the call. Remember to get his/her title right. Ask if this is a good time for you to be calling when you reach someone. If not, ask when you can reach them again. You will be surprised how many people you can actually get to talk to if you call first thing in the morning. Do not keep repeating their name during the conversation but stick to the rule of saying the listener's name three times during an 8 to 10 minute conversation. Leave brief, clear messages on answering systems, giving your name, reason for the call and contact information. Don't forget to leave your phone number, even if the person has it, so she doesn't have to look it up.

3. Display genuine interest

Allow the other party plenty of time to speak, and use prompt words such as "I see" and "Really" (in a sincere tone, of course). This shows them that you are truly interested in what they have to say. And let's face it, who wouldn't rather speak about themselves than listen to another person? Avoid acting rushed, even if you are. If you're so stressed that you can't handle the call well, let voice mail come on and pick it up until you've collected yourself.

4. A variety of response options

If the person you have called needs to get back to you with information, give him/her a variety of options e-mail, fax, voice-mail etc. The objective is to make it easy for them to get back to you.

5. Follow upMake sure you call back whenever you promised you would.

But don't be persistent to the point of sounding desperate. But timely follow ups will show that you are sincere and committed to the taskLearning good telephone etiquette is extremely important and those who master it stand a better chance of succeeding. So go out there and sizzle up your phone calls.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Four things I won't do with my money

The best -- and sometimes the worst -- thing about Time is that it passes! That is why New Year will always be so special; it is a tribute to the year gone by and an embrace to the year to come! And, like all the years that have passed, I'm sure 2006 saw you grapple with your share of financial trials and tribulations -- you made some errors, savoured some victories and swore never to make certain mistakes again. Unfortunately, if one is not careful, bad financial judgments can flourish with every year.
If you think it is time to bury them this year, make these resolutions NOW!

1. I won't cheat

The czars of investment belonged to one school of thought: A business/ operation without character is not worth looking into! Let's individualise that; remember, your financial integrity is what sets you apart. Which brings us to the question: How do you define integrity?
That's not too difficult actually -- be honest to yourself and to others. If you have been suppressing your sale of Infosys' shares to evade capital gains, padding your expense account, misappropriating personal financial information to avail of consumer finance, cutting checks against accounts where there are insufficient funds, running huge credit card bills and absconding... then get up and smell the coffee! Your financial reputation, which is an offshoot of your integrity, is a snapshot of your entire spending history, skeletons et al. Any negative mark on honesty and integrity could make the financial community ostracise you. And, trust me, that's one big community!

2. I will not borrow against my home unnecessarily

Want to cash in on your home? Sure, you may get a great deal but think again. Do you really want to use the roof over your head to pay back the loan you raised on your plastic?
Home equity loans are straightforward. The bank will take your home as collateral and give you credit (a loan) on its value. If you fail to pay back the loan, they have every right to take possession of your home. Don't be tempted by the promise of extra cash or lower monthly payments! It's just not worth it to put your ownership or your equity in your home at risk because of your lack of financial discipline. Explore borrowing from other loan lines that do not use your home as collateral. You can try a personal loan or even a loan against shares. And, yes, please cut up those credit cards along with a daily chant of Resolution No 3.

3. I will not buy now and pay later!

Have you lived the entire year from one paycheck to the next? Are you making minimum payments on your credit card and carry forwarding the rest? These are bad signs.
You can start by going easy on your credit card/s everytime you venture outdoors.
Remember, you are paying for items (which in all probability you don't need) with rupees (which will only exist in the future). And that too at an exorbitant price! The longer you take to pay off your debt, the more outrageous interest and finance charges you accumulate.
This is not a good idea from any angle. Heed conventional wisdom and DON'T give in to temptation. I know it's excruciatingly difficult, but nothing (and I mean nothing) eats into your disposable income more than ridiculous credit card impulse buying!
You really want something? Fine, walk away, save up hard cash and then buy!
Instant gratification through your credit card is only going to hurtle you down the slippery slope of burgeoning debt.

4. I won't make silly, ill-researched investments

Your train mate just told you of this great investment opportunity that offers phenomenal returns! Before you part with your cash, ask yourself what are the chances of you ever getting your money back. Remember, there are no free lunches in the world of finance and returns.
Junk bonds (high risk, high returns) are often issued by new and/ or untested ventures. In short, companies that are wobbling on a shaky financial footing. They promise a great rate of interest with one hand but dish out tremendous risk with the other.
The high return is tempting, but it comes with the deadly probability of being left with nothing but financial trash! If you have the money and are willing to take the risk, go for it. If not, choose safer options like fixed deposits and post office schemes. If you still want to invest in the stock market, do it via an equity mutual fund. Whatever you do, don't get carried away by the possibility of quick returns.

The last word...
You don't have to make these resolutions. You can choose to ignore them out completely.
Do remember, though, that in the world of money, order seldom emerges from chaos! It would be a good idea to consider these relatively painless promises and schedule a date with Wealth in 2007!

Address by Azim Premji at the 2004 convocation of IIMC


I have found that people who succeed most in their careers are those who can constantly transform themselves. Transformation is not so much a process, as a deep seated desire to change ourselves and our environment. Based on my own experience, I would like ! to share with you my thoughts on how to make continuous transformation possible. I hope you find them useful.

First, you have got to have a dream. Dreams are very powerful internal motivators. Great achievements are created twice - first in the mind and then in a concrete form. The most exhilarating part of being young is the ability to dream. As one grows, one may realize that not all of them are achievable. But never turn cynical. Aging is not adding on years. It is parting with one's dreams. Use your experience to reshape your dreams and adapt them to changing reality but do not stop dreaming. I cannot think of a single transformation or achievement, individual or social that did not begin with a dream. Dreams not only help us in seeing things before they happen, but they also give us the passion and energy to make them happen.

Second, stay on course even if you stumble. When everything seems to go wrong, you can either give up or you can let misfortune transform you into something stronger. The difference between great achievement and mediocrity is not extraordinary talent or intelligence, but perseverance.

In fact, dreams and perseverance make a winning combination. In 1972, a chartered plane, carrying a Rugby team crashed in the Andes. After a week long futile search, the rescue team gave up thinking that all of them must be dead. The passengers after waiting for many days to be rescued, decided to help themselves since nobody else was going to do it.

Two of them volunteered to cross the mountains on foot to reach the green valleys of Chile and bring back help. It was a walk of more than 50 miles. But they did it and came back to rescue their fellow passengers who managed to survive in the mountain 70 days after the crash.
The core of heroism lies in the ability to walk that extra mile. As long as you can do that, you will never be defeated.

Third, do not be afraid to admit your ignorance. While it is important to project what we are good at, we must be equally candid about areas we do not know enough about. The seeds of learning were sown by the great philosopher Socrates who said "All I know is that I don't know." Today, knowledge is multiplying at such a rapid rate that it is impossible for anyone to know everything. But if we can develop an index system by which we at least know with whom or where the knowledge is available, we have achieved quite a bit! And there will still be areas which we will be unable to tap. The important thing is not to hide behind a false front. People will respect us for our honesty, if not our wisdom.

Fourth, think about what you will take on next rather than about what you may be letting go. Too many people are so enamoured by the legacy of success in their current roles that they are afraid to look further. Thiscan lead to inertia. If we linger too long on past success, we will miss out on the opportunities that lie ahead of us. We must learn to look at change as an exciting adventure rather than a disruption. New avenues for learning always lie just beyond the shade of our comfort zone.

Fifth, contribute in every situation. The only way to keep learning is by contributing. You do not have to be the leader every time. When a formation of birds flies over long distances, each bird takes its turn in leading. This ensures that no bird gets too tired and yet the formation keeps moving at a certain pace. Every person is important. It doesn't matter whether you play the violin, the flute or the drums; you are still part of the orchestra. Leadership is not about exercising power as much as it is about contributing. This will happen when we realize that leadership is not a privilege but a responsibility.

Sixth, pursue excellence in whatev! er you do. Excellence cannot be forced through a process nor guaranteed by a certificate. It comes from an all consuming passion to do one's best. It needs an eye for the smallest of details. When differences become small, it is the small things that make the difference. Excellence is a habit not an act.

Seventh, while you must take your careers seriously, do not take yourself too seriously. You have to laugh and find humour everyday. This will help you to keep issues in their perspective. Being cheerful is an attitude. Not only will it help you to reduce your own stress, but a positive attitude is contagious. It can do a lot to elevate the moods of people around you and recharge you to take one more shot at the problems facing you.

Eighth, we must know what we are really good at. Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, we must focus on areas where our talents truly lie. A talent can be defined as that skill which we not only enjoy learning but which we can also learn rapidly. We need to work at honing our talent and smoothening the rough edges. But exceptional performance usually comes from doing what comes naturally to us.

Ninth:- Always welcome feedback even if it comes in the guise of criticism. I remember the story of a boy who dreamt of becoming an artist but was frustrated because whenever he showed his painting, the teacher would look at it with a frown and find some fault with it. The student improved on his work continuously and he thought he would one day hear a word of appreciation from his teacher. But it never happened.

Finally, in disgust, he bought a painting from an accomplished artist, touched it up with fresh paint and showed it to his teacher. To his amazement, the teacher smiled and said, "now this is really good work.

Congratulations." Feeling guilty, the student confessed that it was not really his painting. The teacher looked at him silently and then said, "Till now, I thought you wanted to paint a great picture. But I realize now that you do not want any more corrections, which means that the last
painting you did was the best you will ever do.

Remember you have set these limits to your own talent, not me." Criticism may actually be an ex-pression of faith in us rather than a put down." We must learn to take it constructively because it will show us what more we can learn.

Finally:- Always play to win. Winning is not about making the other person loses. It is about stretching yourself to your own limits. Once so stretched, you will realize the true extent of your potential.

Ultimately, transformation is about reaching and utilizing not only your own potential but also those of others who work with you.

4 Simple Things You Can Do to Boost Emotional Energy

Feeling drained? Surprisingly, it might be your spirit -- and not your body -- that needs a jolt. "Just as physical energy comes from diet, exercise and rest, emotional energy comes from the ways you take care of yourself emotionally -- living in a way that makes you feel inspired, hopeful, self-confident, playful, loving and in touch with what you care about most," says Mira Kirshenbaum, author of The Emotional Energy Factor: The Secrets High-Energy People Use to Beat Emotional Fatigue. Letting others walk all over you or failing to do things that make you happy zaps your emotional energy -- and can leave you feeling unmotivated and even physically tired. To avoid such weariness, here are Kirshenbaum's four tips for boosting your emotional energy:

1. Stop living to please other people. In other words, marry the charming social worker whom you love instead of the rich doctor mom is pushing on you. Move to Europe if it will make you happy, even if your girlfriends are making you feel guilty about putting distance between you. Say no when someone asks you to do something you really don't want to do. Be who you want to be, do what you want to do and the rewards will be plentiful, says Kirshenbaum. "When you live your life for other people, you put out the effort, but they get the benefit," she adds. "This creates an energy drain, just the way it would if you did the work on a job and someone else got the paycheck." You'll free up energy you didn't even know you had once you quit worrying about what mom, your friends and other family members think about your decisions.

2. Bring positive people into your world. You need to surround yourself with people who care about and support you even in your darkest hours. Avoid those who nag, complain or involve you in their problems, says Kirshenbaum. Toxic people, who put you down to lift their own spirits, suck the life right out of you. Spending more time with those who make you feel good about yourself or inspire you in some way will revive you. Maybe it's time to start ignoring your so-called friend who leaves messages on your machine only when she needs help with something.

3. Always have something big and new on your agenda. Plan that next vacation or start writing that novel you have in your head. Looking forward to milestones and events stimulates people. It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and that increases your desire to work toward your goals. "You gain energy from the hopes you have for your future? making your present feel more manageable, and that, too, frees up emotional energy," says Kirshenbaum. Actually putting the wheels in motion (for example, calling the travel agent, writing the outline for the book) will also make you feel better -- and excited to keep it up.

4. Never live in the past. Quit dwelling on what might have happened with that old boyfriend if you had just stayed together, why you quit one job in favor of another, what would have been if you made different decisions. Instead, focus on the here and now and what you need to do to move forward. Do you want to go back to school? Find a husband? Change careers? Be more adventurous? Put the spark back in your romance? "You are in charge of the meaning in your life," Kirshenbaum writes in her book. Although you can't predict everything that will happen to you, you can make a flexible plan to accomplish your goals. Things like your career path, relationships in which you'd like to invest and how you would like to spend your free time are all under your control.

You can decide your own destiny, an important task that will be much easier now that you have more energy.

Monday, July 9, 2007


Singapore Flag

The colours of the Singapore flag represent red for brotherhood and equality; white for purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the rise. The five stars stand for Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Singapore Weather

Like most of Southeast Asia, Singapore is generally hot and humid. It's warm and humid year round, with the temperature almost never dropping below 20°C (68°F), even at night, and usually climbing to 30°C (86°F) during the day. Recent times, it even reached till 35°C.

Humidity is high, mounting over a 75% mark. November and December is the rainy season. June-August is considered to be the best time to visit, but even then it rains often. Don't let the climate stop you from going, however. Most buildings are air-conditioned (to the point that you may want to take a sweater), and pains have been taken to make everything as comfortable as can be, all things considered. When it does rain, it's generally only for a short period.
For those who enjoy the sun and the beach, Singapore is an ideal place for beach lovers, as you get the hot hot sun throughout the year. So when you're in Singapore, just bring along your cooling apparels and hats.

Singapore Geography

Singapore's strategic location at the southern tip of the Malaysian peninsula has ensured its importance, which is greater than its size might seem to justify. Singapore consists of the island of Singapore and some 63 islets within its territorial waters. The main island is about 26 mi/42 km from west to east and 14 mi/23 km from north to south. It's a mostly undulating country with low hills (the highest, 540-ft/166-m Bukit Timah Hill, is to the northwest of the city).
Singapore's Central Business District actually spreads across both the central and southern parts of the island (you'll know when you're there - it boasts striking high-rise structures). You can get a good visual orientation to the city as you cross the Benjamin Sheares Bridge on the East Coast Parkway, which links the airport to the city center. The Singapore cityscape looks magnificent, particularly at night when buildings are brilliantly lit. Offshore, there appears to be another city all lit up because of the many ships anchored there - Singapore is one of the busiest seaports in the world.

Many of the city's attractions are clustered closely together. Orchard Road, the shoppers' haven, is located in the northern part of the city center. Chinatown, where you'll find Boat Quay, is just to the southeast of Orchard Road, while Little India is northeast. Sentosa Island, with its many amusements, is directly to the southwest of the city center. These frequently visited neighborhoods, as well as more suburban areas, remain a bustling hive of pedestrian activity well into the evening.

Singapore MRT-LRT Map

One can get a clear idea about the MRT & LRT map of Singapore, by visiting the following link.

Singapore Facts & Figures

Land and Climate
Total land area: 699.0 sq km. Comprising one main island and a number of islets scattered off its north-east and south.
Climate: Singapore is an equatorial country with relatively uniform temperature, high humidity and abundant rainfall.
Average daily temperature 25.1 - 31 degree Celsius
Annual rainfall: 2,136 mm with increased rainfall from Nov to Jan

People: Singapore's people are largely descendants of immigrants from the Malay Peninsula, China and the Indian sub-continent.

Total Populate (2006) 4,483,900
Resident Population (2006) 3,608,500
Resident Population growth 1.8%
Population Density (2005) 6,208 per sq km
Population by race Chinese (76%); Malays (13.7%); Indians (8.4%); Others (1.8%)
Population by age Below 15 (20.1%); 15-64 (71.9%); 65 and over (8%)

Official Languages: English (language of administration, Chinese (Mandarin), Malay (National language) & Tamil
Main Religions: Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Taoism, Hindusim


Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government based on the Westminster model. The organs of state comprise.

The Executive: Head of State and Cabinet Head of State: President S R Nathan, elected on 1 Sep 1999 (The President is elected for a fixed term of 6 years.)

Cabinet: Led by the Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong (since 12 Aug 2004)

Parliament: Parliament is elected by general election every five years. The first sitting of Parliament was held on 8 Dec 1965. The first general election for Parliament was held on 13 Apr 1968. There are 23 registered political parties.

The current Parliament, elected on 3 Nov 2001 has 82 People's Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament (MPs), 2 Opposition MPs and 1 Non-Constituency MP. In addition there are 7 nominated MPs.

The Judiciary: The Supreme Court and the Subordinate CourtsThe Judiciary is one of the three constitutional pillars of government along with the Legislature and the Executive. As an Organ of State, the Judiciary's function is to independently administer justice. The Judiciary is safeguarded by the Constitution.

Employment (2005)

Labour force: 2,367,300
Employed persons: 2,266,700
Unemployment rate: 3.4%

Central Provident Fund: A social security savings scheme in which all employees and their employers contribute a percentage of their salary. Employees below 55 years contribute 20% while employers contribute 13%. Employees 55 years and above contribute at lower rates. In addition to providing security for old age, this fund can also be used for healthcare, home ownership and asset enhancement.There are 3.05 million CPF members and their CPF balance stood at $119.79 billion (as at December 2005)

Wage policies: The National Wages Council made up of representatives from the government, employers groups & trade unions advises the government on wage policies, and issues guidelines in line with long term economic objectives. There are 70 registered employees' trade unions and 3 employer unions and one federation of employee trade union, National Trade Union Congress (NTUC). NTUC works closely with the government and business sector to look after workers' interest.*includes public housing**including Foreign Affairs, Trade & Industry. $625 million set aside for R&D activities

Public Holidays 2007

New Year's Day Monday*1 January 2007
Chinese New Year Sunday**18 February 2007Monday19 February 2007
Good Friday Friday 6 April 2007
Labour Day Tuesday 1 May 2007
Vesak Day Thursday 31 May 2007
National Day Thursday 9 August 2007
Hari Raya Puasa Saturday 13 October 2007
Deepavali Thursday8 November 2007
Hari Raya Haji Thursday20 December 2007
Christmas Day Tuesday 25 December 2007

* The following Tuesday, 2 Jan 2007, will be a public holiday in view of the Hari Raya Haji on 31 Dec 2006 falling on a Sunday.** The following Tuesday, 20 February 2007, will be a public holiday.MOM had earlier announced that the date for Deepavali will be checked against the Indian Almanacs. The Hindu Endowments Board has since confirmed the date for Deepavali as 8th November 2007.

Catch of the DAY - Fishing at Pasir Ris

Saturday July 7th 2007
Time: SGT 17:07 pm
Location: Pasir Ris Town Park - Lake Side

We were at the ticket Counter, buying tickets for the Hee Hee Pond to start with our long pending mission of Fishing.
For those who are new to Singapore or haven't heard about this place. You have to get to Pasir Ris MRT & walk towards White Sands Mall and take a walk towards the Pasir Ris Town Park which is a park with small lake and grounds with green grass with place for Children's park & lot of ground for youngsters to play a game of football.
Usually at the weekends it is not difficult to miss this area of the Park, because you would be greeted with a huge number of Fishing enthusiasts trying their hand at this Fishing area. Well the organisers/owners of this lake have made a very marketable place with place for experienced ones who can catch Fish standing anywhere along the lake & for the budding amateurs like us, they have small sections of about 15 feet by 15 feet along one of the shores. There are about 5-6 such sections, which is called as the Hee Hee Pond. One end of this section there is the ticketing counter where you can buy tickets for fishing at this Hee Hee Pond as well as for other sections in this lake which is meant for experts or freelancers. Fishing Packages: The cheapest package consists Fishing time of 1 hour which includes Fishing Rod provided near the Hee Hee Pond & the bait which are pieces of dead Prawns(live prawns are also available). We also saw a few pieces of Gold Fish & other small fish which were also on sale for getting better catch. The hooks used to attach the bait are also available within this pack. This package would cost you S$ 21 and is good for starters since you would want to know the game first before going for the big one. We, myself, my wife & kid and our friends a couple went in for this package, this being our first time. We had once spent about 30-40 minutes watching the experts showing their tricks. This had given us a hope to get into this new hobby/game :) and we were eager to try a hand at this sport.

It was 5:10 pm and we went to collect the fishing rod and the hook and bait & started off. You can see I am getting the bait onto the hook in the picture. During this time, there were a couple of experienced people trying to get a good catch. Usually there is a decent audience as well for watching people do this & it is sheer fun. Ok, so we were now at one of the ponds & we dropped the bait into the water & I was holding the fishing rod, trying to guess what would happen next. Frankly speaking I was not sure if we would even get a catch or some fish would even come close to our bait. Anyway, my 22 months old son likes Fish and calls it " ish " and I thought of nothing good as a nice gift to him than catch a nice fish.

About 10 minutes later since we started I felt a slight nudge to the rod, and I could feel the pulse in my palms in excitement. I was not sure what it was so I moved the rod & then felt nothing. Maybe the Fish were smart to know it was an amateur trying to catch them & slipped out easlily. I tried checking out if the bait was still there & noticed that it was not, so it was what I thought. I went back to this blue box full of baits & got another bait hooked & dropped the line into the water. Meanwhile there was excitement in the camp where one of the experts seemed to have got a Big fish hooked onto the line. he was maneuvering the rod to the movement of the fish so that he could make sure the hook is engaged into the mouth of the fish & then he could not lose it in the midst of the struggle. Uncle, whom we called him was busy doing his routine and it was almost about 5:35 pm or so by when I had changed the bait & hook as well 2 times. The fish were strong while in water & could give a good fight.

I had dropped the line low into the pond at the deep end & we all were waiting for a fish to get the bait. I felt a tug to the rod & could sence that one fish was on the hook. I waited for a while with bated breath & then slowly started pulling the rod vertically upwards to try and see if the fish was engaged and felt the tension in the rod. Then I let go the slack again and was watching the movements of the fish. meanwhile my friend was standing next to me giving instructions on what to do next. He was asking me to hold on the rod firmly. I had sweat on my brow & was clenching hard at the fishing rod and moving slowly along with the movement of the fish. Everyone in our camp was active now looking at the developments happening & another friend carrying the camera started taking snaps of the scene. I was holding onto the rod with both hands now and eager to see what I had caught.

From the earlier experience when we had been watching the others catch fish, we had seen, that once the fish is onto the bait move with it until you are able to gradually pull the fish to the surface where you can see it struggle to get free from the fishing line. Once you notice that the fish is almost given up you then slowly start pulling it towards the shore and with a tug get it on the ground. I had earlier seen some of the guys getting the fish near the shore and then one of their colleagues or they themselves taking the fish out of the pond using their bare hands.

So I recollecting the same stuff, started playing with the fish on the end of my fishing rod and hoping to not let this one go. Instructions were continously being bombarded from my friend & it was getting my blood pump faster & my excitement was at a new level. People around us also started gathering a little and looking at what was going on at our end. Meanwhile continuing with the maneuvering & not making sudden movements I stayed on with the catch. Then after about 2-3 minutes I had been successful to get the fish at the water surface & we were excited to see a big enough catch. Behind me I could hear, my friend asking someone from our group to grab hold of the fish and be ready for it. neelum wanted to come for my help but she was taking care of my son & it was difficult to keep him safe away from the pond, so she asked my friend to look after him. So my friend was moving towards my son to hold him. Amidst this chaos, I could not hear a positive "Yes" from anyone & I then decided to take things in my hands & go in for the catch myself and pull it on the shore.

Finally the fish was almost 12-15 inches from the shore and on the surface and looked a little helpless to fightback & so I decided to make my move and I started moving backwards & pulling the rod towards the fish along with the catch. 6 inches..... 3 inches.... and HOOOORRRAYYYY!!! I had done it. The fish was still at the hooks end, which held it properly & I had got the catch of the day.. It was a foot long fish with its body covered with black scales. You can see the fish in the photo showing all of us gathered around with an excited look on my son's face. The day was really lucky for me and all of us to get something this big in the first attempt..

Aadi my son was very excited after looking at the fish & was not afraid to touch the fish and experience the smoothness and jelly like feeling of the fish. He was uttering the words "Ish" again and again & was asking me to go for some more fish again. But this was the Catch of the day for us.. since we were not as lucky after this catch and we were short of time as well of our 1 hour fishing time. But this was sheer fun & we decided to regularly go for fishing in the near future.

There is a place at the far end of the lake where there is a small outlet to have your Fish caught scaled, cleaned & cut to your choice. The charges are S$1.20 for 1 Kg. When we weighed our fish, I was thrilled to know it was a hefty 1.5Kg & we were surely going to have a treat when we were going to cook our catch...

I would surely recommend this place for amateurs and new comers in singapore to have a lovely experience at this place. You can have a picnic here, with lot of food places around here & also have good time trying a hand at fishing. You can come in as group unless you are fine at being alone for few hours. Although putting the fishing rod into one place & waiting for the fish looks easy, it is a game of patience, luck & fun... so get your self scheduled for one of the weekends to this place.. and do drop me your comments.