Category Archives: Social awareness

You need hope to survive in this world!

Life is a blessing and a joy to be lived and experienced to the fullest. But sometimes for an individual, it becomes a burden and he is forced to take the extreme step of suicide. Loss of life is a tragic event in any of its forms.

What are these forces that drive a person to such a pit that he sees killing himself as the only solution to his misery, suffering and pain? These are the forces of betrayal, shame,depression, failure, defeat, heartbreak, helplessness or loneliness.

I came across this novel by Sriram Aiyer – “The story of a suicide” recently. Once i started reading it, i could not keep it down till i had finished it. The story is interesting and narrated in a very unique style with each chapter focusing on different issues faced by the youngsters in our society. It is the story of Sam, Hari, Mani and Charu and how their lives are interconnected through deceit, betrayal, hurt, passion and heart break.

 

The book vividly captures the pressures these young people face as a result of stereotyping and non acceptance by society. Hari is sexually abused by his own uncle but fails to find any confidante within his family and friend circle which drives him towards frustration, loneliness and despair. The hurt and pain he experiences makes him completely hopeless. A person can face extreme difficulties if he has hope, even if that hope is just an illusion. Lack of support system of any kind is his undoing in life. Even his parents refuse to believe him when he approaches them for support and help. He is warned against hallucinating by his doting dad who later refuses to accept that his son is a gay.

Later Hari finds a friend and partner in Mani, but his trust is soon broken. This episode in particular is quite ironic in the story as Mani himself had reached a point in life because of despair where he decides to end his life. Luckily life gives him a second chance to live. But he himself becomes the cause of despair and reason for a friend’s complete disillusionment with life which forces him towards the doors of no return-suicide.

The book can be read here http://www.storyofasuicide.com

Many shades and stages of lust, passion and love as experienced by Sam and Charu are well portrayed. Ego of a person can drive him to even hurt and harm the person he once confessed to truly love. Sam resorts to snooping on Charu by implanting a software Jarvis in her devices to record her activities, but this act of his had far reaching effects which he had not expected in his wildest dreams.

The lines which i found had a deep meaning and were profound are mentioned below-

“When a person loves another to fill a void, then the relationship is doomed for failure. It is born out of fear, insecurity and low self-esteem. And this is common among men and women. But the way both of them handle that during and after break up may be different.”

Saar, this is my son Manivannan. I am a labourer in a brick kiln from Devarapalayam in Dharmapuri. I have never been to a school saar, but my son is very intelligent. His school head master told me that he has scored big marks. I am very happy. He is my only hope saar. My husband ran away with another woman, when Mani’s brother was just two months old. My Mani will become a very big man and a collector one day. I am confident. Saar, will you take care of my son?” Alex remembered this scene distinctly.

 

This book by the author is a strong and very timely initiative to bring into focus the lacunae in our society and its detrimental effects on sensitive individuals. After each chapter in the book,  a guidance column on’  how to cope ‘ on different topics like heartbreak, loneliness, betrayal, sexual abuse, harassment and bullying are given in detail. One can find great suggestions and course of action to follow in times of despair. link is –http://www.storyofasuicide.com/how-do-i-all.html

To be strong and cope with the hardships in life, one should strive to develop inner strength. Instead of looking for happiness outside, get in touch with your inner self and achieve true contentment. Keep your expectations low as when these don’t get fulfilled, the hurt caused is immense. Be your own true friend and practice self love. Accept yourself completely and stop looking for approval from others. Learn to move on , let go and forget. You cannot move forward in life if you are buried under the burden of past mistakes and regrets. Don’t be ashamed of asking for help from family, friends or professional psychologists. You don’t have to suffer in silence while fighting the external or internal demons.

I would recommend this book for reading to everyone as it carries pearls of immense wisdom and learning. Let us strive to the best of our capabilities to bring this topic into focus and discuss solutions to stop suicides at all costs. Its high time society and we, as integral parts of this society learn to let go of the age old prejudices and stop judging and stereotyping people. Everyone deserves freedom of choice and right to live peacefully.

pic and video credit: storyofasuicide.com

Easier and faster way to file income tax !

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax”  ~Albert Einstein

This bang on assessment on income tax by Einstein was made decades ago; but it still holds true. For majority of us, the mere mention of the word ‘tax’ is enough to trigger a headache and an avalanche of stress.

According to wikipedia, a tax is a financial charge or other levy imposed upon a taxpayer by a state to fund various public expenditures.

Purpose of tax is to raise  revenue to fund government to carry out expenses on economic infrastructure, military, scientific research, public work like construction of roads and bridges, public utilities like maintaining of law and order and operation of government itself. Tax is also the main source of government revenue needed for developmental and welfare programs like free education and mid day meal schemes for poor and assured employment plans.

Thus income tax filing is an important duty of all the citizens who come in the tax paying category. It is our duty towards our nation. The importance of income tax can not be emphasized enough as it is the powerful force which drives the economic growth of the nation and helps in creating more jobs which is the urgent need right now for youth of India. It is also a barometer for progress of a country as rising income tax shows a corresponding growth in income.

Still, only about 4% of the population pays taxes, according to the income tax department records. Some factors to be considered here are- that 60% of the population is excluded as they are into agriculture. Out of the remaining, certain percentage of the citizens doesn’t fall into the tax bracket. Also, a large percentage of those who fall in taxable bracket, don’t pay their taxes regularly or timely. Some deem it as an unnecessary, unimportant, time consuming burden. All this results in tax base remaining low in our country, resulting in lack of revenues for the authorities.

Thus, it is necessary for those who come in tax paying bracket to do their duty by filing tax returns regularly and timely and also encourage others in their family and friend circle to do the same. This way the tax base can be increased which will be advantageous to the nation as a whole.

Also, our job does not end at just paying the taxes, filing returns is an equally important activity so that details of all income sources including salary, interest rent earned etc can be specified and appropriately taxed.

 

Some personal benefits of filing income tax return are:

  1. It is highly useful in your financial life. It comes handy for sanctions of loans be it for your dream house, vehicle or higher education.
  2. Opening bank account, trading in stocks or making any other investment becomes easy for you if you have income tax return statement.
  3. It can be used as your standard income proof.
  4. It becomes easy to obtain a visa for foreign travel as most countries want to cross check if you are financially sound before granting visa. In such cases, income tax return can effectively prove your financial worth and sound status.
  5. Financial portfolio planning becomes easy, which can lead to maximized returns.
  6. There are good chances of getting a refund of extra tax paid by you if you file the ITR.

 

Income tax department of India has taken several measures to make the process of tax filing easy, quick and hassle free by adopting informational technology. ITR can be easily filed online by registering on the income tax India website from anywhere, anytime. Several services have recently been upgraded and a user friendly grievance mechanism has been put in place for the benefit of tax payers.

 

E-filing of income tax return is the best option as it is:

  1. Faster and easier-It is very simple, convenient and quick to file ITR online. E-filing transfers your tax return documents instantaneously to income tax department. It gets filed in timely manner without any undue hurry when the deadline approaches. It is completely DIY (do it yourself) with easy steps to follow and it can be done from anywhere at your convenient time through your computer, tablet or smartphone.
  2. It is non time consuming– you don’t need to travel long distances in heavy traffic to tax offices or your financial advises’s office. There is no need to stand in long queues . If you submit your tax return online on regular basis, the statement comes pre-filled with earlier information like salary details, investments, fixed revenue sources. You can then file it with a few clicks in a couple of minutes, thus saving lot of valuable time.
  3. It is secure and completely confidential- the information is guarded through high grade encryption system. There is no chance of the important tax documents getting misplaced, lost or forgotten unlike the traditional paper based system.
  4. E-filing is cost effective and free – you don’t need to pay heavy fees to get your documents prepared and submitted by professionals.
  5. It is more accurate– the online site is always accessible from anywhere. You can check your information and make changes as many times as you want before final submission. You can double check the details like PAN number, bank account numbers and address. So, there is almost no chance of wrong info related to name, income, address etc.
  6. Tax estimation can be calculated easily and accurately – taxable income, tax dues can be easily calculated. You can thus find optimum plans to maximize deductions which will lower your taxable income by great margin, which puts you into a lower tax bracket, helping you save a big amount.
  7. Tax refund of excess tax is fast and completely hassle free- you can get tax refund directly into your bank account, often within a month if you file tax return online.
  8. You can view your tax credit and file it online from any part of the world at your convenient time. You can even track the processing status in real time.

 

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Some documents to keep handy while e-filing your tax return:

  1. Form 16- This is your tax credit statement as well as your salary certificate. It has two parts- part A (contains TDS details from your salary )and part B( contains salary details like allowances, basic salary, deductions under chapter vi A etc.) You can upload your form 16 directly or fill it manually making sure you don’t miss out on any info.
  2. Tax credit statement 26 A – Form 26 A contains details of -tax deducted from tax payers income,tax collected,advance tax etc.
  3. Investment details- details of ASF, NSC, ULIP, UTI, PPF, Equity saving schemes, ELSS etc.
  4. Interest income details- interest earned on saving bank account, PPF account, FD etc.
  5. Medical or life insurance details-The premium you pay for these are allowed as deduction from your income.
  6. Bank account details- It is compulsory to mention all your active bank accounts as on date of e-filing the tax return. Details like account number, IFSC of your bank branch and type of account should be provided.

Over all, e-filing is not a difficult task, but if you need assistance in filing your tax return electronically, there are tax-expert platforms like H&R Block to help you. They have experienced and expert professionals on their panel who can guide you at each step and are available on chat to solve all your queries. H&R Block – the largest tax filer in the world which has  the experience of serving 2.5 crore clients worldwide, has tied up with 300+ corporates in India and e-filed more than 3 lakh returns with customer score of 9/10.

Their in depth knowledge is also  a great advantage to individuals with capital gains, dual taxation, ESOP workings, global income,sale of foreign shares, and many similar complicated issues. They also provide year long access to your adviser, your account page and documents that help in planning taxes in better way with guarantee of accuracy and confidentiality.

So, let us all take a #taxpledge to regularly and timely file our income tax returns. Hope this initiative by blogadda and H&R Block truly acts as a wake up call for everyone and we all take a much needed step forward in becoming worthy citizens of our great nation.

pic credit: pixabay.com

I’m taking the #TaxPledge to file IT returns with the easy Income Tax efiling option from H&R Block at BlogAdda.

Let’s Have A Gala Time With Colors !

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                   SHOP SELLING HOLI COLORS

 

India, a land of rich culture and diverse heritage has many festivals. Holi ! the colorful festival of fun and joy has been one of my favorite out of the dozens we Indians celebrate. The mere thought of this festival fills me with excitement and enthusiasm.

 

I have always associated Holi with a time of great festivity, joy and love. Traditionally, during Holi, even enemies, turn into friends and forget any past grudges or hatred. This is the true essence of the festival. The colors spread their cheer all around, filling each corner with happiness and joy. Colors are definitely the main attraction and highlight of Holi; making it so popular with kids, irrespective of religion, caste, social status, or economic background.

 

Colors make for some of the strongest and fondest association in our brain. They can change even our moods. Colors evoke different emotions and responses ; eg: Yellow for comfort, Blue for trust, red for energy; and when they are all combined together as in Holi, they denote the strongest emotions of love and happiness.

Soon, it will be time to celebrate the fun filled Holi again, with colorful gulal and balloons, delicious gujiyas, and the cool thandai.

The very word Holi evokes such fond memories of fun, laughter and reunions . As a child, I literally used to start counting the days for Holi as soon as month of March began. Growing up, we would eagerly look forward to the colors, water-guns, balloons and off course the delicacies that were prepared on holi.

 

Having spent an almost nomadic childhood with frequent transfers to different parts of India, I have celebrated Holi in different styles, unique to each region.  When I look back and revive the experiences of my childhood  Holi celebrations, my most precious memory is of Holi spent in ‘Aligarh’ – a city in North India.

 

Holi was celebrated in its complete form and in its full glory in Aligarh,  with everyone participating with great enthusiasm and joy.What made Holi even more special is this city was the ‘true spirit of holi’ that promoted goodwill, and unity.

 

Holi preparations started almost a week in advance. The most interesting part was the preparation of herbal colors in each home, to be used for playing holi. No one used chemical colors as according to religious tradition, only herbal colors were allowed.

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PALASH FLOWERS USED FOR MAKING HERBAL COLORS

To prepare the color, dried Palash or Tesu flowers (flame of the forest)  were soaked in water for about two days, then strained to get a dark orange concentrate of herbal color. Later, this was diluted for use on the day of  Holi.

 

This color was completely natural and thus completely safe not just for our skin, hair and eyes, but also for the environment. The wonderful smell of the Palash flower seeped into the color and when this was sprayed on each other during Holi celebrations, it imparted a nice, soothing fragrance to the whole atmosphere.

 

The festival started the night before the actual’ Holi’ with Holika Dahan (Bonfire) being lit in an open ground of the colony I lived in. It signifies the’ victory of good over evil’. The legend of Haranyakashyap and Prahlad ( in which Prahlad tolerates all the torture of haranyakashyap but does not give up his path of truth), helps to strengthen our belief in righteousness and honesty.

People gathered around the bonfire and roasted the new wheat stems in the pious holi fire and later these grains were offered to each other as a token of welcoming the new harvest of crop and thanking mother nature for her abundance.

 

We kids waited for the next morning with great anticipation. Often, we were not able to sleep due to over-excitement. We would irritate the younger siblings and cousins by drawing mustache on their face using kajal (black eye liner). #BuraNaMaanoHoliHai  (All mischief is allowed on Holi)

 

The next morning we woke up early to welcome the ‘carnival of colors’. We had a quick breakfast so that we could hurry and start playing with colors. But elders allowed us to venture out of the house only after coconut oil had been applied all over our skin and hair. This was to prevent color getting soaked in skin; thus helping in their easy removal after holi. The coconut oil also acted as a natural block to the sun rays and as a natural moisturizer for the hair.

 

Once we were out of the house, it was a non-stop  merry making  and fun of  throwing buckets full of color on each other, smearing each others’ cheeks with color or  chasing each other with water guns in our hand.

As we moved from one friend’s house to another’s, we were welcomed with plates full of delicacies, which helped us in regaining our strength before we ran away on our next adventure.

As I pen down my thoughts; one interesting incidence comes to my mind- My Maths teacher was quite strict and she lived in the same colony where I stayed. I would always try my best to avoid her because of the risk of getting reprimanded for something or the other. But on Holi, I would gather all my courage and visit her home as i couldn’t resist a chance to pour color on her and with our color smeared unrecognizable faces, she could never make out who was who😄.  Also, the tasty items ma’am offered us were very delicious and different from the other houses as she was from South India and her recipes were unique to that region.

 

There were some Nigerian and Palestinian students in our neighborhood. They were studying in the Aligarh Muslim University nearby. On Holi, even they were not spared from spray of colors. Initially, they were a bit apprehensive of playing Holi, because they had never played it before, but after getting soaked for the first time, they were unstoppable. They played with great enthusiasm and enjoyed a lot.  They loved to dance on the Dhol (drums)Beats, which is an integral part of the Holi revelry and relished the goodies that were served.

 

Most of them were from Muslim or Christian backgrounds, but there was complete bonhomie amongst everyone without any differences. We all enjoyed to the fullest. The festival of Holi united us all. My friends who still stay in that colony, tell me, this is still the norm there.

I wonder why media is always full of stories of hatred and differences instead of focusing on such examples of togetherness and universal brotherhood.

 

Time may have glided by, but the beauty of these memorable experience still lingers on.

Today, though Holi has evolved into  a new avatar, the spirit of the festival remains the same- one of joy and of rejoicing the love we have all around us.Ultimately, the joy of holi pervades our daily lives. That’s what makes it so magical !

 

As we get ready to ring in the festival of joy- Holi, let us pledge to spread the happiness and love all around and imbibe the positive virtues by deciding to burn our negatives traits in the holi fire.

Let us wash away all differences, end conflicts, forget and forgive, to repair broken relationships. It is the festive day to rid oneself of past errors and begin anew.

 

This Holi, let us shower each other with love and celebrate life joyfully !

Wish you all a very happy and joyous holi 😍

 

P.S. Water is precious. Pls play dry holi , in order to save water as the world is facing water crisis.

 

“I’m pledging to #KhulKeKheloHoli this year by sharing my Holi memories atBlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed.”

pic credit: Pixabay.com

video credit: BlogAdda.com

Why We Need To Rethink About Bursting Crackers During Celebrations?

Crackers have been used during celebrations in many cultures around the world since time immemorial.In the bygone era,when there were limited resources of entertainment and recreation,the crackers must have brought a sense of novelty and thrill to the people.Those days air pollution was not even an issue.But as times have changed drastically,I feel the crackers have outlived their use in any form.

First and foremost is the concern over increased rate of air pollution in major cities and the deteriorating air quality.Many folks might argue that one night of cracker bursting will hardly have a major impact on levels of pollution.Contrary to this line of thought, research and monitoring has shown that pollutant levels in the air can rise almost tenfold just in one night during festivals like diwali .And the worrying part is that each year the use of crackers has been increasing almost multifold.

Sometimes this increased pollution in the air can be torturous for patients with respiratory diseases like asthma and bronchitis.Someone’s enjoyment can turn their life into hell as they face constant difficulty in breathing.This has been known to be the cause behind increase in prevalence of these diseases even in small kids and also in general population.

Most of these crackers are manufactured in units in Sivakasi employing kids,thus guilty of  child labor which is illegal and inhuman.The working conditions in these factories are hazardous even for adults.Imagine the plight of suffering kids who work there!

Also when there are immeasurable means of entertainment available to us in this digital age,what is the need to resort to something as unsafe as cracker bursting.Many fire incidents have been known to have occurred as a result of even a minor error.Some of them are small incidents which don’t cause much casualty but some are too disastrous.Even this year,the fire department  reported at least dozens of fire incidents in major cities.In Ludhiana itself there were around thirty such accidents involving fire due to crackers which resulted in great loss of property.

Recently, a warehouse of Goonj in Delhi,an NGO  working to provide clothes and other necessities to the poor and needy was gutted in a fire caused by a fire cracker.This organisation has been working tirelessly and consistently for  the benefit of homeless since many years.The whole lot of blankets,woolens,clothes which had been collected painstakingly to distribute among the homeless and poor during the approaching harsh winter months got burnt completely.The hopes of some respite from cold which the thousands were eagerly waiting for were dashed by one unruly fire cracker. Spare a moment about how the needy will suffer in absence of all this stuff when the chilly winds threaten to crush their bones during winter and rains.

The NGO founder, Anshu Gupta, shared pictures and details of the wreckage on his Facebook page.

Facebook post…

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“The fire lasted for 7 hours with 10 fire brigades till 2 am on Diwali night,” the post said.

Gupta expressed his anguish and was critical about the mishap caused by ‘crackers’.

“Tons of material, where we all had put in our days and nights turned into ash !! Nothing much to say.. anger on this insane, menace, vulgarity called crackers,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

The damage was also said to have incurred a ‘huge loss of material money and space’ to the organisation.

Those who wish to help can access the Facebook page of goonj and find out the details.