Stop Unreal Expectations

(Published in The Daily Guardian August 3, 2020)

We all expect things in life. Whether from other people, from ourselves or from situations. It is normal to have hopes and expectations. However, giving too much importance to unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided to have a peaceful and happy life. There is a popular definition of expectations. It goes like this. “Expectations are premeditated resentments.” When we have expectations, it is like we are pre planning the future resentments that are bound to occur. But whether it is expectations from others, from yourself or expectations others have from you or whether it is expectations from life and situations in general, the good news is you can learn to minimise them. Not having unrealistic expectations is a great way to grow spiritually and we will discover why.

We all have experienced it. You expect your loved one to say or do something that pleases you. It doesn’t happen and you feel dejected and disappointed! It starts from childhood. Kids expect parents to spend time with them. But parents are too busy. Disappointment. You expect your best friend to like something you do, but they don’t. Disappointment. You expect your spouse to like the same kind of food, TV shows and movies that you do. They don’t. Disappointment. Or you expect them to express their feelings more often and they don’t. Disappointment. You expect your children to always think the way you do and automatically think that they will live their lives the way you want them too. They don’t. Disappointment once again. 

You are not alone. We all have had these moments in our lives and felt disappointed with other people. The reason is not about good or bad, or loving or less loving. The reason is because of unrealistic expectations. If you do not expect, you will not be disappointed. Unmet expectations can lead you down a very dangerous path of thinking that you are not loved or that you are unworthy in some way. But that is not the reality. 

Every soul that is born has a history of multiple lives before. Each incarnation leaves certain imprints on our souls. Those imprints from previous lives and from this current life as well has an effect on the way we think about and perceive the world, ourselves and others. We often forget that even the ones we love the most have a spiritual and karmic history that is different from ours. We all have our own individual journeys. We can not expect that anyone else will be exactly the way we expect them to be. 

Unrealistic expectations aren’t always about other people. Sometimes we expect too much from ourselves. We always try to push ourselves too hard or are overly critical of ourselves. Often the cause of this is two fold – comparison with others and understanding our own limitations. 

It is natural to desire things that others have. We see someone in a fancy car or a fancy house and we start to compare ourselves to them. We start to expect things from ourselves in relation to that comparison. We need to remember that everybody has a different situation and looking at other people’s lives should not change our own life plan. You can learn lessons from the lives of others but remember that your goals in life, your dreams in life are yours only. Expect from yourself only what you think you can handle and not because someone else is living a lifestyle that you desire. When you compare yourself with others you will never be satisfied. 

Learn to give time to your inner self through meditation and creativity. Take a breather and enjoy the moment! It is OK to take a break in life. Just because you expected your life to be a certain way which did not happen does not mean you have failed or that you need to be upset or disappointed. Remember no matter how much we plan, life has its own plans for us. There will always be some new opportunity for you to explore and always a new lesson to be learned.

The same applies to other people’s expectations from you. Remember that your thinking and actions should not depend on what other people expect from you. Your dreams and goals and the kind of life you want to live should be lived only because you want to live it like that. People have a tendency to want to control others. Many people must have experienced this in life. It could be a parent, spouse or boss. These people need to manage their own expectations and your life should never be about fulfilling the expectations of others. 

We all expect things from life itself. As kids we probably expected to be millionaires by the age of 40. Some expected to be famous and powerful. Everyone must have had certain expectations in life. This is natural and normal. Having an expectation which is in the form of hope and desire is fine. It is when we allow our expectations to rule our happiness that problems are bound to occur. Remember that life has its own plan for us. We could call this karma or destiny. But the trick is to live in the moment. Strive to do the things you enjoy. Let the joy of doing it be its own reward. Once you do it, don’t expect people to praise you or don’t expect that you will suddenly become famous or powerful. Keep on doing what you want to do without expectations of the outcome or the accolades of achievement. Life is about the journey and not the destination. Take each day as it comes without expectation.

Acceptance is an important part of spiritual growth and not having unrealistic expectations is a great way to achieve this. Learn to let go. This does not mean that we have no boundaries. Not expecting things from others does not mean that you become a pushover. Self respect and self love is the most important thing. If you are not happy the way someone is treating you, voice it and do not accept. Communication is necessary. Do not expect that the other person will know your problems and what you are not liking. Accept others for who they are. Everyone is different. That is what makes life so wonderful.

Not having unrealistic expectations helps you on the spiritual path. We are all on an infinite journey across multiple incarnations in a variety of dimensions and worlds. We should always be open to learning lessons and understanding that our happiness is within us and can never be gained by expecting anything that is beyond our control. We can only control ourselves and our reactions to external situations. This will teach us to accept and forgive ourselves and others. These are among the most spiritual of all virtues.

So while some expectations are natural, we must avoid unrealistic expectations from others and from ourselves and from life itself. Enjoy the journey. There is something waiting for you that is better than your wildest dreams or expectations!

Click here to see the scanned version of this article.

Time to look back and introspect

This appeared in The Indian Express on December 25, 2019

Prashant Solomon

The last week of the year is heralded by Christmas. At this time next week, we will be in the year 2020 which is not just a new year but the beginning of a new decade. This is a perfect week for reflection. It is a great time to look back at not just the year but in this case, the last 10 years and take stock of our own lives. Are we happy with the way we have spent the last year or decade as the case may be. Is there something we could have done differently?                                                        

We are living in interesting and intriguing times. We are being faced with many challenges in our world today – environmental issues, economic slowdown and an atmosphere of tension in the world that is being caused by focusing too much on our differences instead of our similarities. 

The world of today has its challenges and risks  but also its opportunities and rewards. Christmas is a good time for us to look inwards and reflect what we truly are as human beings. For while today is a day of celebration, Christmas cakes and carols, it is also the day that we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.

Today’s theme for this Christmas message is community and peace. The world has always had divisions and mistrust among communities. Take the example from the time of Jesus more than 2000 years ago. The Jews and Samaritans lived side by side. They were two sects of people living in Israel. They both despised each other. In fact, the Jews did not even like to utter the word ‘Samaritan’. But Jesus often taught great truths in the form of stories which are called parables.

One of these is the Parable of the Good Samaritan-


Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii (local currency)  and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expenses you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

What makes this story even more interesting is that the Samaritans were people who were hated by the Jews of that time. They were considered so low that Israelites did not even want to speak to them. But yet, this Samaritan was the only one who actually helped. On the other hand – the priest and Levite (both respected and high ranking people amongst the Jews) refused to help. This story conveyed a deeper message that despite our prejudices or differences against certain people, we must know that there is good in everyone and sometimes it is the ones who are considered different, the ones despised, who actually end up helping you at the end and sometimes the people who you consider as your own may not.

Jesus himself was a Jew and for him to tell a story where a Samaritan was actually the ‘hero’ of the story was very meaningful as it represents how important he considered it to love, respect and help people irrespective of their religion or background.

When people do that, there will be peace.


“Peace is not the absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice.”

Baruch Spinoza


As Spinoza said, peace is not just the absence of war but a state of mind where there is an atmosphere that makes it conducive to thrive. It is a state of mind where the creative spirit of humanity is encouraged to grow and prosper. 

As Jesus said at the end of the Biblical account – “Go and do likewise.”

This statement is interesting indeed. If we take the phrase – “O God” it can be considered as the simplest communication with God. But within that phrase is encapsulated in the form of anagrams the phrases “Go Do” and the word “good”. All we really need to do to please God irrespective of your religion or belief is this – “Go Do Good.”

That’s it. It is that simple. But doing good is not only about treating yourself and others with love. Doing good means doing creative and enterprising things to make the world and all life on it better for future generations. 

Doing good means making new inventions, new discoveries, creating art in any form, creating businesses, creating jobs, creating education and creating a wholesome environment. It is not enough for us to just sit and think good thoughts – but to “go DO good”.

“Go and do likewise,” said Jesus. Action is important and so is the type of action. We must do good in every way we can in a manner that will benefit the world.

Christmas 2019 is a perfect time to reflect on our past, present and future. Where do we want our world to be 10 years from now in the year 2030? Think about it and work towards that goal. Each one of us has the potential to be a spark of goodness that will make the world a better place.

But take this moment to let this thought sink in. Enjoy the Christmas spirit of love, joy and universal peace. Merry Christmas and wishing you a Happy new year 2020 and a happy new decade of the 2020s.


Don’t worry be happy

‘Here’s a little song I wrote.. You might want to sing it note for note, don’t worry.. be happy!’ This is the opening line of the famous song by Bobby McFerrin back in the 1980s called ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’ Now more than ever, people should heed the words of this song.

The times we live in are stressful indeed, but when stress begins to control us, it can lead to fatal consequences. We have all heard about the things that are bad for us – smoking, drinking, obesity, etc. but the real killer is stress. The bad news is that we live in a world full of stress. But the good news is that stress can be managed. When we realise this, we can take control of our lives and overcome the stress. How?

‘Don’t worry, be happy!’

Happiness is a hidden gem that often remains hidden. But yet, the irony is that it can be achieved rather easily if we change our approach and attitude towards life.
Always remember that worrying never solves anything. If there is something that is in our control, we can control it. If not in our control, then worrying will not make any difference. So in either case, don’t worry!

There are many ways that we can make adjustments in our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that can lead to us being happy.


Let’s start with breathing. Breathing is something that we all do without really noticing it. As you read this article, you are breathing. Notice it. Feel the air coming through your nostrils, feel it going into your lungs and be aware of it as it is exhaled. Simply focusing on your breathing is relaxing and regularly doing this is perhaps the easiest form of meditation. It reduces stress and will make you more centred in your thoughts.
Exercising is also a great way to reduce stress and make you happy. One can start with taking a daily walk for minimum 30 minutes. While you are doing this, try to think of something pleasant or funny. Try not to think about work or other stresses while walking. Going to a gym and exercising is also great and remember that you can start with lighter exercises. The feeling you get after exercising is the reward itself. Generally, one feels very relaxed and happier after a workout.


Browse the Internet and read something that interests you. There is a whole world of information and knowledge that is waiting to be discovered. Read something online or watch some interesting videos on YouTube. Watch something funny on TV. Humour is a great stress reliever and puts things into perspective. Life is not meant to be always serious and humour is a great way to remind yourself about the balance needed in life.
Read books. Take out the time to read a good book. It will teach you something and at the same time, it will transport your mind into another world of sorts. Imagination and wonder is a great way to be happy and reduce stress.
Writing is also a great way to relieve stress. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to write an article or a book (although that would be great) even just jotting down your thoughts in a notebook or writing a diary is a great way to let out vented up stress and energy and express yourself. You never know what comes out of you when you write. Every bestseller began with a single word.


In our daily relationships, there are good days and bad days. Sometimes we have fights, arguments, and disagreements with people whom we love. Sometimes we suffer from breakups, separation or divorce. These situations can lead to major emotional trauma and stress.

But the good news is – don’t worry be happy! Believe it or not, you are the only one person responsible for your own happiness. We tend to become emotionally dependent on others. We have this feeling that we can only be happy if we are with so and so. Be it a spouse, a friend, a child, a parent, a sibling, etc. But this is false. This is only a mental construct. We are the only ones responsible for our own happiness. In order to do this, we must become friends with our selves. We must love ourselves. This is not a selfish kind of love. It is not saying that we don’t love others, but it is saying that we love ourselves just as we love others.

So, in case there is a breakup or an argument or a fight, etc. we will also be content with having our own self to keep us company. This might seem funny, but try it. If you are alone or feeling lonely, talk to yourself and not just random babbling, but have an actual conversation with yourself. Trust me, in time you will feel the stress and loneliness melt away and happiness will flow towards you.

Watching a nice movie, play or reading a good book can also lead to an emotional charge that will not only entertain you, but also teach you some new perspective about life. It will help you to get rid of emotional stress.


‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ – Pierre Teilhard De Chardin


We are spiritual beings currently on planet earth to learn, explore and grow. The sooner we realise this, the soon happiness will come.

Meditation and charity are great ways to develop spiritually and as this happens, stress is bound to be relieved and happiness is sure to come.

Meditating increases our awareness and leads to a state of bliss that relaxes us and decreases stress and also gives us a glimpse into a larger peaceful world of energy and love. There is a field of spiritual energy that surrounds us and binds us. Meditation helps us gain access to this field. Soon we realise that we are on a spiritual journey and the only thing we take with us back to our spiritual home after we leave our bodies is our thoughts, feelings and karma. Not one paisa or square millimetre of land! If we only strive for material things, we are wasting our time. Material things are important, but as a means to an end and not the end itself.

In the end, all is good.

So once again, don’t worry, be happy!

(Published in Double Helical Magazine September 2017)

Creating your own custom image display sizes in WordPress

Creating custom image display sizes in WordPress is something that can make your site really attractive!

Are you having problems with WordPress image display sizes?

There are some tutorials available on YouTube and Google, but none seemed to work properly for me.

Recently, I decided to revamp this website and since I am a web designer and have dabbled in stuff like PHP/MySQL etc in the past, I decided to do it myself. So, first I installed WordPress on my server and got some cool themes and plugins and created a new site (The theme on my site is Executive Pro). I think the new site looks pretty cool.

However, my images were being displayed in the wrong sizes. Somehow my images on posts were always coming in thumbnail size despite changing the image display size options in the Media Library.

An image sized 400x264
An image sized 400×264 px in WordPress

I went to Style.css and made some changes to the IMG tag and was excited when I saw that an image of my books was now displaying in the correct size as I wanted. Was the problem solved? Not yet.

I found a picture of President Donald Trump’s swearing-in for a new post I was writing. But this picture, which I wanted as a wide banner like image was being displayed as a small image – like my book cover images on my Books page. I changed the image size in Style.css again. The Donald Trump image got fixed, but now my Books cover images were large, stretched and distorted.

Create your own custom IMG class

I used YouTube and Google to find a solution to this. Most of the solutions I found involved resizing images in the Media Library or resorting to coding. The resizing part didn’t work and I did not want to get into PHP coding. For almost three days, I tried to find solutions to no avail. But last night, I got an idea that so far seems to work well – creating IMG classes for specific posts or pages.

So for example, I wanted my book IMG size to be 166×248 pixels. When you look at the code in Text mode on the post editor, the IMG tag had been designated a particular class by WordPress and while the IMG code showed these dimensions, the IMG somehow never displayed correctly.

Then I thought just like we can create STYLES for text, why not for IMAGES? I wanted that my book cover images should be assigned a class which I called ‘book’. So I went to the Style.css file and found:

#primary img {

                      width: 100%;
                      height: 100%;

and then I inserted the following code in the STYLE.CSS file immediately after this:

#primary {

width: 166px:
height: 248px;

Basically, I created a new class of images sized particularly for my book cover images. Then in the BOOKS page, I deleted the WORDPRESS CLASS that had been created by default at the IMG tag and added class=”book” into the code. It worked like a charm. So far, so good. I hope it helps you as well.

Crowdfunding is slowly becoming popular though not regulated yet


(published in The Economic Times, The Times of India – Dec 10, 2014)

The real estate sector in India, despite its many impediments, continues to be a favoured investment option for many. Urbanisation has been rapid in the past few years, with ‘upwardly-mobile’ buyers keen to invest and reap dividends from the real estate market growth real estate investment has proved to be a good investment in the long run.

The current year and its developments have laid the path for strong demand in commercial real estate, debt and equity markets. This will also lead to an increase in demand for infrastructure from every other sector like manufacturing, education, health, industries, auto, etc., which, in turn, will lead to demand for residential as well. Some recent developments like the introduction of REITs and relaxation of FDI norms have raised market expectations, but then REITs are yet to take off and gain momentum and crowdfunding is slowly gaining ground and becoming popular though not, regulated yet.

People need to be aware about the project along with the operators of the crowdfunding platform

Despite the time delay, REITs will bring in globally accepted practices to real estate finance and will also attract domestic as well as global investors by providing them with a transparent and risk free investment opportunity to invest in completed revenue -generating properties. Crowdfunding has raised many eyebrows in India. Currently most of the reward -model crowdfunding projects are in the social and creative area currently, but slowly entering other sectors as well. The Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is in the process of finalising a legal platform for crowdfunding in India.

Until now, SEBI has considered three types of crowdfunding options namely equity -based (EbC), debt -based (DbC) and fund -based (FbC) for implementation in the first phase.

Crowdfunding is not entirely a new phenomenon, but once in motion it will enable investments in small sums of money, lucrative for people who have limited cash to invest. Even though crowdfunding eliminates most of the hurdles associated with traditional real estate investing, it needs to be organised, monitored and regulated.

Studying is not mugging


(published in Millennium Post Edit page August 27, 2013)

Education in India needs to be more learning-oriented and less examination-centric.

It is the children of any nation that are the biggest resource of the future and India is no exception. The population of India is around 1.22 billion and more than 50 per cent of the population falls under the age of 25 and around 65 per cent under the age of 35. Among the hundreds of millions of children in our country, some could be the next Einstein, Leonardo Da Vinci, Gandhi, Newton, Bill Gates or Abraham Lincoln. Somebody out there amongst the children of today are the national leaders of tomorrow. But what are we as a nation and as a society doing to gear them up for the challenges and opportunities ahead?

What kind of education system are we giving them? And how much of a priority is education to the national leaders and governments of the day? The education ministers and education secretaries of all Indian states may not be the most powerful or even well known amongst their peers, but one thing is for sure – for the long term welfare of the Indian Republic, they are the most important people in this country. For in their hands lie the future development and growth of India’s most precious and important asset – its youth. They also have the power to formulate and implement new policies that will improve the quality and quantity of educational institutions. So now we are in 2013, 66 years after the British left our shores and left us with the responsibility and destiny of governing our own land and preparing our own youth for the challenges of the future. But let us examine our own selves and ask how have we really changed the education system that the British left us with? It has been said often that the British system of education was designed to create a nation of clerks amongst the Indians and perhaps that is true. All of us remember the anxious nights we had cramming for an examination the next day. We all remember trying to memorise dates in History, formulae in Physics, Chemistry and Maths, trying to remember important latitudes and longitudes in Geography, trying to remember all the Latin associated with Biology and so on. But is that the right way for youngsters to learn?

The system needs an overhaul and fast. We have to move far away from the system of clerk creation that the British left us with and introduce a much more interesting, fun approach to education and we also need a totally new approach towards examinations.

Education in India needs too be more learning-centric and less examination-centric. At the very least, it needs to have a completely different approach to examinations. Instead of having voluminous textbooks that are meant for purely cramming information into the minds of our youth so that they can go and take an exam, there needs to be a much more practical research based approach to education. Children at a certain age need to be able to choose their subjects according to their interest and capability instead of according to a pre-defined curriculum.

We live in a rapidly accelerating Information Age. Can we possibly keep stuffing all this information into our brains? And why should we? The very term Information Age implies that we have access to information of all kinds accessible instantly through the Internet and other digital forms, yes also physical books and papers as well.

But in such an Age, is it not more important to know how to access that information quickly and easily and to be able to use it as and when needed. Research needs to be encouraged where children will be encouraged to actually research something and use whatever information tools are available for the task. This is how our youth will learn how to learn and think. Education is about learning and thinking and not memorising! When are we going to understand this simple fact.

Examinations should also be such that children can have access to their research materials and use them so that their answers will be more accurate. But of course within a prescribed time limit.

Evidence of this lack of thinking and innovativeness is seen around us. Just think of how many Indian products or brands are available globally. Products that were invented in India. How many inventions and discoveries in general are made in India? Very few. This is because of this lack of research approach in education and a lack of research and development of science and technology in general.

Children will learn more when they experience things and do things on their own. In the US, schools regularly take their students to zoos, museums, planetariums, aquariums and such places. They have outdoor excursions to the forests where kids can experience plants and certain animals face to face.

I remember as a child (I studied in the US as a kid) in class 2, we were taught about the Mayan civilisation. I remember that we hardly read anything in a textbook. We were shown a Discovery channel type documentary in our classroom and were shown and physically held artifacts of the Mayans. We were explained things through maps, diagrams, etc. Generally, the information was portrayed in a very interesting and meaningful way, so much so, that I remember everything clearly even now 34 years later!

But there is another thing that needs to be highlighted. Education is not only about science, social studies, etc. It is also about morals, ethics, civics and ideas. Imagine a subject called ‘Ideas’ where children are encouraged to think and try to discover and invent new concepts. This is how a nation will grow into a great nation.

Our children are tomorrow’s leaders. They are the only hope for this country. If they learn to have respect for society, for country, for women, for environment, for rule of law, for research, for entrepreneurship, for poverty reduction, for education, for lofty and noble thoughts and ideas, for honesty, for truth – then we have an education system that is worth it.

We need more schools, colleges, adult schools and adult colleges, more museums, more libraries, etc. The private sector’s participation is needed more. Allow schools, colleges, museums, libraries, etc. to be profit making bodies. Let them be run by companies listed on stock markets and pay teachers well. Why not? Which is better – that a company provides quality education and makes a profit in the process? Or that governments continue to allocate budgets to education and yet not be able to provide quality classrooms, teachers or teaching.

Just like we had an economic liberalisation process that started in 1991, we need an education revolution starting now!

Wake Up Call For Citizens


(published in Millennium Post Edit page August 2, 2013)

India is destined for greatness. But where will this greatness come from? Is it only the government of a country that can lead it to greatness? Is it only the political leaders that can forge the destiny of a nation? No. The true greatness of any nation lies in its people.

There is potential for greatness in every citizen of the land. For the true owners of our nation are its citizens. Government is only the custodian of the nation and is there exclusively to serve the people of the country. This is what a true democracy should be like. However, for a true democracy to thrive, the citizens have to play a larger role and fulfil their duties towards the nation.

The most famous line from US President John F Kennedy’s inaugural address is, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ What is this but a call for citizens to rise to the occasion and do their duty? What we in India many times tend to forget is that while the Constitution of India gives us several fundamental and other rights, it also has prescribed a set of Fundamental Duties in Article 51(A).

The purpose here is not to list these out as a simple Google search can reveal them in more detail to anyone interested. However, what is important is for us to understand the concept of citizen’s ownership. If you go to any of the world’s great countries and look at the progress and development made in these places, you will see that it is not just the role of government, but also the role of citizen. It is from the citizenry that political leaders emerge and they cannot be divorced from people. In a true democracy, the leaders that the people get are the leaders that they deserve. If we simply sit in our drawing rooms and debate about the quality of leadership this country has, we will achieve nothing. We have to take an active role in creating a new type of leadership in the country.

As mentioned earlier, it is the citizens who are the owners of the nation, but they need to act like owners. Here ownership means to play their part in building the nation. It is the citizens of any nation that are the true nation builders. Leaders are not only political. There are leaders in the fields of business, education, social service, science and technology, literature, arts, music, sports, entertainment, etc. They are all doing their duty to the nation by using their talent to not only bring glory to the nation, but also to highlight important issues that are important to tackle in order to make the country into a better place.

How can this be achieved? It can be done in a variety of ways. Just strive to live each and every day with the intention of using your talent and resources to help improve the nation in any way.
For the concept of duties to become strong, educating the youth of the country is of paramount importance. Here education is not only formal education in schools and colleges. Education means focusing on youth at home and in the workplace as well. In formal education, civics and moral science should be taught with the same fervour and importance as maths, science, economics and English. A sound foundation of good citizenship and ethics is crucial for the better future of the country.
Parents need to teach their children the importance of obeying laws and being patriotic. Being patriotic is not only about respecting the national anthem and flag, it is also about living your life for the betterment of your world and in particular your country. Children need to learn and be encouraged to express their talents and skills and consider themselves as a national asset. Every citizen is an asset that needs to be developed.

Our citizens could be the one discovering the cure for AIDS, finding cheaper and cleaner ways to produce energy efficiently, discovering ways to solve the problem of water and food, inventing new technologies in various fields, creating new industry that can provide employment to millions, and so on. This is why it is important to inculcate the spirit of creative thinking and entrepreneurship keeping in mind the development of the nation at the foundation of any endeavour.

All this will happen when people start to think about their country first. Instead of envying other countries, they should strive to make India prosperous. Things you do for your country do not have to be big, small things can lead to bigger chain reaction.

Whether you start a small business, write an article, teach a child, shop at local stores with local goods, not pollute, participate in cleanliness drives, create a work of art, volunteer for some social cause etc, you are performing your duty as a citizen. You are contributing to the consciousness of community development and this will begin the process of change. Considering that most young people spend most of their time at school or work, it is also important for teachers and employers to inculcate a sense of patriotism and duty into the hearts and minds of young people.

For it is the youth who is the future of the country. Some day, the older generation will be gone and it is today’s young generation that will be tomorrow’s leaders in various fields. Do not be discouraged by the present state of affairs in the country. Don’t let anybody say that things cannot change. They can. Do your bit starting today. Plant the seed of greatness now and some day it will blossom into a tree of national pride.

Budget 2011: Extend a helping hand to the realty sector that employs many


(published on The Economic Times website, February 24, 2011)

As the nation awaits the Budget for FY 2011-2012, the real estate sector is eagerly looking forward to certain reforms and amenities that will help spiral its much needed growth. The existing Taxation laws have room and scope for much improvement. By considering these incentives for the sector, the government will be adding a well needed boost to a sector that has given much to the nation in the form of employment, infrastructure and shelter, but has not got much in return so far.

Apart from tax incentives, there are other factors that the government should consider for the real estate sector. The first related to the amount of interest on housing loans that is exempted from tax. The current rules allow 1.5 lakh rupees exemption, this should be raised to 3 lakh rupees to make house buyers feel less of the taxation heat. Real estate is also plagued by being levied both sales tax and service tax. This anomaly should be abolished and a single tax should be levied instead. It should be an either/or situation and not a both situation.

Another area for exploration could be the current LTCG (Long term capital gains) tax on real estate. Currently, the LTCG tax on residential properties is exempted if the property has been held for more than 3 years and if the proceeds are re-invested in another residential property within one year of sale of that property or re-invested into Capital Gains Bonds which are recognized by the government. However, the government could consider that if a property has been held for more than five years, then the LTCG could be fully exempted. This would encourage the real estate sector because it would create a more attractive atmosphere for people to purchase property. The benefit of such LTCG changes could be extended to commercial properties as well and should also be expanded to include companies into the LTCG exemption on property ambit.

Real Estate should finally get the much desired industry status as so far it is one of the major contributors in terms of employment generation and also accounts for over 5% of the nation’s GDP. Once industry status is conferred, real estate can be regulated and organised in a better fashion. It is imperative that this is done. Housing projects (integrated townships and group housings) should get infrastructure status as they provide a backbone for the further growth of the nation.

The age old saying of “roti, kapda and makaan” itself indicates the primary importance of the real estate sector in the wellbeing of humanity. The real estate sector is the backbone on which the nation will be developed into becoming a major player of the 21st century. It needs to be awarded industry status recognition and should also be given certain tax benefits and should be given the due respect that it deserves. Hopefully, in this current budget, the hon’ble Finance Minister will listen to the cries of real estate developers and extend a helpful hand.

(The author is Joint Managing Director of Chintels India Limited, a New Delhi-based real estate development company. Views are personal.)