Life – Living

Life

The clock is ticking away

The seconds of living

We have only one life

A life to live, love, be, die

How many deaths

In a life do we live

How many heart stopping

Stomach curdling

Blood freezing moments

When we stop living

Until that final breath

Is drawn and exhaled

But not breathed in again

When we totally stop

LivingLife.jpg

 

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Demonetisation..Suggestions for improving ease of doing business

Demonetisation: Suggestions for improving ease of doing business

Prof N Natarajan

2000

It is a fact that there are long queues in front of banks and ATMs. Thousands of ATMs are still being configured to dispense new 2000 rupee notes. This job is in the domain of private parties. It is taking considerable time. Banks are doing a splendid job. Barring a few excited customers who are easily provoked by mindless opposition by political parties and those with an axe to grind, the general population has also shown admirable patience and understanding in this hour of difficulty. They appreciate that the demonetisation proposal had to be handled in extreme secrecy and hence advance preparation beyond what has been done was just not possible. Hopefully things will vastly improve in the coming weeks. However in the meanwhile here are a few suggestions for improving the ease of currency exchange and cash withdrawal:

1. Banks should make more counters operational.

2. Separate counters should be set up for deposit of cash, exchange of old notes for new and withdrawal of cash.

3. Every branch should have one exclusive counter for senior citizens.old

4. No photocopy of any identity card should be required for withdrawal of cash by a customer of the bank when submitting cheques. Any third party should be allowed to take cash upto Rs2000/- against cheques issued by the bank’s customer without being harassed to prove his identity. It is the responsibility of the customer whose cheque is being cashed.

5. There should be no need for a payee to submit both the original and a photocopy of his identity. Verification of the original and Xerox results is avoidable wastage of time at the counter. A self attested photocopy should suffice as pointed out by our PM himself.

6. Banks should deal sensitively with the tired waiting customers especially where there are serpentine queues. A good idea will be to have a volunteer to distribute drinking water on demand. At least water can and a glass should be placed in a conspicuous location. A few chairs to sit down temporarily will also help.

7. Indians tend to push and try to get ahead of their positions when standing in queues, creating unnecessary tension for themselves and others. Hence a system of issuing tokens, as is customary in most banks for daily transactions, and calling out numbers will remove this tension.

8. Some frustrated customers do lose their temper. Bank staff should keep their cool in those trying circumstances and not engage in a slanging or shouting match. It will only increase the ire of the waiting person.

9. Banks should temporarily engage retired staff to cope with the new temporary demand. Responsible citizens can also volunteer.

10. Government should appeal to all shops which accept debit cards to remove the self imposed lower monetary limit for acceptance of cards to increase cashless transactions. Govt can consider reimbursing transaction fee if any. Currently, many shops have a lower limit of Rs 250 per transaction.

Epilogue: One is reminded of an old joke in banking circles when automation was first introduced. The top management of a bank sent circulars to managers of all upcountry branches under the caption ‘Change Management’. The circular explained the revolutionary changes in the pipeline. It pointed out the new work environment in which a lot of manually performed back office work was going to be substituted by computers and how there would be a realignment of human resources. It sought to prepare the existing staff mentally for re-training to handle the new processes.

One overworked branch manager responded immediately after just reading the caption: “This branch has no change management problem. We have lined up a large inventory of change of all denominations. We can even assist other branches that are facing a deficiency in this regard.” His response would have been music to the ears of big bank bosses in the current scenario

Prof N Natarajan

It is a fact that there are long queues in front of banks and ATMs. Thousands of ATMs are still being configured to dispense new 2000 rupee notes. This job is in the domain of private parties. It is taking considerable time. Banks are doing a splendid job. Barring a few excited customers who are easily provoked by mindless opposition by political parties and those with an axe to grind, the general population has also shown admirable patience and understanding in this hour of difficulty. They appreciate that the demonetisation proposal had to be handled in extreme secrecy and hence advance preparation beyond what has been done was just not possible. Hopefully things will vastly improve in the coming weeks. However in the meanwhile here are a few suggestions for improving the ease of currency exchange and cash withdrawal:

1. Banks should make more counters operational.

2. Separate counters should be set up for deposit of cash, exchange of old notes for new and withdrawal of cash.

3. Every branch should have one exclusive counter for senior citizens.

4. No photocopy of any identity card should be required for withdrawal of cash by a customer of the bank when submitting cheques. Any third party should be allowed to take cash upto Rs2000/- against cheques issued by the bank’s customer without being harassed to prove his identity. It is the responsibility of the customer whose cheque is being cashed.

5. There should be no need for a payee to submit both the original and a photocopy of his identity. Verification of the original and Xerox results is avoidable wastage of time at the counter. A self attested photocopy should suffice as pointed out by our PM himself.

6. Banks should deal sensitively with the tired waiting customers especially where there are serpentine queues. A good idea will be to have a volunteer to distribute drinking water on demand. At least water can and a glass should be placed in a conspicuous location. A few chairs to sit down temporarily will also help.

7. Indians tend to push and try to get ahead of their positions when standing in queues, creating unnecessary tension for themselves and others. Hence a system of issuing tokens, as is customary in most banks for daily transactions, and calling out numbers will remove this tension.

8. Some frustrated customers do lose their temper. Bank staff should keep their cool in those trying circumstances and not engage in a slanging or shouting match. It will only increase the ire of the waiting person.

9. Banks should temporarily engage retired staff to cope with the new temporary demand. Responsible citizens can also volunteer.

10. Government should appeal to all shops which accept debit cards to remove the self imposed lower monetary limit for acceptance of cards to increase cashless transactions. Govt can consider reimbursing transaction fee if any. Currently, many shops have a lower limit of Rs 250 per transaction.

Epilogue: One is reminded of an old joke in banking circles when automation was first introduced. The top management of a bank sent circulars to managers of all upcountry branches under the caption ‘Change Management’. The circular explained the revolutionary changes in the pipeline. It pointed out the new work environment in which a lot of manually performed back office work was going to be substituted by computers and how there would be a realignment of human resources. It sought to prepare the existing staff mentally for re-training to handle the new processes.

One overworked branch manager responded immediately after just reading the caption: “This branch has no change management problem. We have lined up a large inventory of change of all denominations. We can even assist other branches that are facing a deficiency in this regard.” His response would have been music to the ears of big bank bosses in the current scenario

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ATMs–Then and Now

atm

ATMs–Then and Now

Prof N Natarajan

The latest news is that nearly 95000 ATM’s across the country are yet to be configured to accept and dispense the new notes. This exercise may take weeks. Another piece of news is that Canara Bank has deployed mobile vans to exchange notes.

My memory takes me to 1987 when my bank decided to install the first ATM. There were numerous problems. The first was to obtain a licence from RBI which treated an offsite ATM as a new branch. Foreign banks were not allowed to open new branches or even shift an existing branch to a new area without clearing a whole lot of red tape. Every ATM, even in the branch premises, had to be sanctioned by RBI. Further the Government and RBI’s permission had to be obtained for importing the machine which necessarily involved foreign exchange. RBI preferred foreign banks to pay for the machine in foreign exchange using their accumulations abroad. This was a hurdle too. Finally, an ATM that cost Rs 34 lakhs, a fortune in those days, was procured. Another factor was our overseas Head office’s concern about the justification of the huge capital expenditure. We were unable to ‘prove’ beyond reasonable doubt the viability of a business that did not exist. Our HO reluctantly took our word for it.

Our bank crossed all these hurdles successfully over a period of 12months. Then we were advised that ATMs were akin to human beings in many ways. They could work only in a highly efficient dedicated air-conditioned environment. The ATM’S had to have a pace maker called UPS to maintain regular supply and orderly shutdown when the electricity went off. A standby generator was required for the ATM’s to function if there was extended power failure.  They had to be erected on anchor bolts buried deep in concrete to ensure that they were not stolen in the night. The ATM machines had to be on a perfect level and would not tolerate any tilt, right or left. Fire protection was another mandatory requirement. Even with all these addons, the machines would catch cold now and then. Specialist doctors from the supplying firms had to be summoned to diagnose the infection. Our internal quality compliances demanded 24/7/365 operation and 99% uptime.

These requirements meant an even more initial investment and a lot of running costs. Our General Manager Operations was losing his sleep with nightmares. During a siesta, after beer and lunch,  he ‘had a dream’ . He knew it was a mirage, yet he wanted to lift his team’s sunken spirits  by describing his super- vision. He said the solution was for the bank to set up a widow type ATM. Customers could insert their cards and key in their currency requirements. These would be received by an invisible human teller in a secure room who would then verify the veracity of the demand and pass on the cash to the customer through the money dispensing slit in the window. No explanation had to be given for rejecting a request. This arrangement would not need fail safe clean power or 22 degrees air conditioning.  The capital expenditure would be negligible and operating costs only a small fraction of operating an ATM. No special permissions, RBI nods and budgetary compliances would be required. The team had a good laugh and went back to their arduous tasks cheerfully.

Looking back, I get the feeling that the 1978 dream of our General Manager can be translated into action in the present ATM crisis.

The bank branches could have a human ‘hand’ behind every ATM and the size or shape or colour or denomination of the Rupee would simply not matter!

What do you say to a semi-automated teller machine SATM?

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Demonetisation 2016–PC and his doubts

The Government’s decision to demonetize the 1000 and 500 rupee notes has been criticized by the former FM Mr. Chidambaram (PC).

notes.jpg

The sudden and swift move has caught all hoarders of black money unawares providing no major loophole to protect their holdings. Their opposition to the Government’s deft move is understandable. However PC is no ordinary person. He is a Harvard alumnus, top Supreme Court lawyer, former distinguished Finance Minister whose views and advice are sought by top business houses. He has an impressive following. His criticism of the Government’s demonetization move is surprising, in view of his intimate knowledge and hands on experience. He says he is perplexed. It is not clear why he has chosen to echo the seemingly inane arguments of his fellow politicians on this occasion. It is necessary to examine the arguments and assertions of this legal luminary.

PC, like his party men, is shedding tears for the long queues of the common man to exchange their meagre holdings. He pretends that he has never witnessed long queues in India. Queues are a common feature of life in India, whether they are in front of a ration shop, or for school admission, voting in elections or for rail or cinema tickets. This is the mildest form of suffering that a common man has got used to, thanks to Congress party’s long innings as rulers of this country. The present temporary queues are for a superior national cause and the country men will gladly suffer it. Of course privileged VIPs have never been subjected to queues and it is but natural that many of them are suddenly observing them and hurriedly using the phenomenon as a weapon to attack the Government.

The next question in PC’s mind is why the Government has put into circulation note of Rs 2000 denomination. The answer is that these notes have half the production cost and occupy half the space of Rs1000 notes, quarter of the space and cost of Rs 500 notes and 5% of the space and cost of Rs 100 notes. Correspondingly they also require less time to transport and dispense, thereby cutting the queuing time. Thus there are strong logistical and scientific reasons that the learned former FM cannot be unaware of. The Government had to keep the preparatory time minimal to minimise the  risk of a fatal leak of information that would have defeated the very purpose of the exercise.

2000.jpg

His next objection is that it is even easier to hoard Rs 2000 notes. According to him since the new notes will simply replace the old ones, they would be hoarded the same way as before, even more easily as they are of double the earlier denomination. He cannot see how black money will be reduced. This logic would have been valid if the environment of the past few decades that had actively encouraged the amassing of black money had remained unchanged (including the Congress Government and its FM and the PM).

Fortunately 2016 is not the same as 2006. We have a determined government with a strong spine. It is pushing for cashless transactions and a cashless economy very hard on the back of digitization. The GST bill has been passed which promises to end multiple stations of tax collection accompanied by extortion. Already the income taxman is breathing down the necks of black money hoarders. The Government is aiming to put a cap on cash payments. Technology, E-commerce and secure payment systems and E-commerce (Plastic cards, NEFT, RTGS, POS payments, transparent web sites, Mobile Wallet, cloud computing, reverse auctioning etc) are enabling this at an exponentially increasing pace. Moreover governments all over the world are now promising to cooperate with the honest Indian Government to prevent bribery, terror funding, and rupee round tripping. Corruption will no more be a low risk business. Hawala and benami transactions would be curbed. Accumulation of black money will be simply far too difficult. The new notes are a new beginning on a clean slate. PM has already indicated that the number of Rs2000 notes will be limited and demand for high denomination notes will be curtailed by prohibiting large value payments in cash. Under the circumstances a new baby of black money has no chance of survival to become a grown up monster as in the previous Congress regime. The present successful operation will teach a lesson to black money holders. They will fear that a repeat of demonetization vis-a-vis the new 2000 rupee notes will ground them again. Hoardings on the previous scale can never happen again. Moreover once the current holdings are brought into the white banking system it will be difficult to suck them out of the system.

Historically there was no black money. Successive Congress governments parented it, nurtured it and helped it grow to the present monstrous dimensions through the regimes of ‘Licence Permit’ Raj. At one time the Income tax rate was hiked to a preposterous high of 95% making black money the logical solution to avoid the penal rate. Once the generation of black money commenced it became unstoppable. The reward/risk ratio became enormously high. The Governments made a killing by protecting black money holders and exacting a heavy price. Mock IT and customs raids were conducted after giving sufficient warning to the raided parties to hide their holdings. Do you remember a senior Central minister called Sukh Ram with sacks of currency notes and Jimmy Nagarwalla who managed to flee with Rs 60 lakhs from the Parliament Street Branch of SBI in broad day light in Indira Gandhi’s regime?

PC and his colleagues’ simplistic specious argument sounds like the last straw of a desperate drowning man. You can kill a vermin only by bringing it into the open. That is what the Government has done as a sequence to the scheme of voluntary disclosures that has just concluded by unearthing Rs 60,000 crores. All the 1000 and 500 rupee notes now being exchanged will not be given as cash. Beyond a small limit it will go into a bank accounts mount as white money that will be scrutinised and taxed. If no justification or explanation is offered for a fat increase in any bank account, heavy penalties will be levied. That is how the black money will be tracked and destroyed.

Let PC and the Congress party wait and watch before jumping the gun and shooting off their mouth!

 

 

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The Guy of Bad Time(s) Now

The second article by my husband Prof N Natarajan in the ‘affaire VM’!!

‘I don’t think that the time to return is right’ is the quote from Vijay Mallya (VM) in The Hindu’s front page top headlines (Monday 14th March). VM may not have been the King of good times or bad times or any other time. One thing is sure. He is ruling all Times. He has been in command this time and every time.  In his history of business and personal decision making, he has always landed on his feet, except perhaps when he was born. He would have been born a Google baby, cut his mom’s umbilical cord, walked from the delivery table and eyed every nurse (remember the Google ad?)  if that brand had been in existence at that time!

In the brewing business handed down to him by his father he was the bubbly star, foam at the top. From beer maker he turned into a deal maker winning a heady cocktail of brands by sleight of hand. He made deep inroads into the most celebrated international liquor businesses through a series of timely strategic decisions and became almost world’s number one in that field. He timed his dramatic entry into the Aviation sector launching and incorporating his own unique brand called Kingfisher.

Mallya became a high flyer by concentrating on the quality of service for which every air passenger was pining. There was none who did not admire his ability to feel the pulse of the passenger. He treated passengers as guests, served great meals, provided on board entertainment gifted a pen and a few other things to every passenger and abolished the class distinction between executive class and economy class. For a while his airline was the first choice. In retrospect you may say that KF lived beyond its means, but the fact is that it might have survived if aviation fuel costs had not simultaneously hit the sky.

His foray into the sports arena was also a streak of success. Formula 1 was definitely not for the common man. However even in that sport he put India on the world map and won kudos from those for whom it mattered. His innings in the IPL was also impressive.

VM entered the Indian Parliament in style and stayed there for close to 10 years with the help of all political parties. No political party had any differences with him even though they were otherwise at each other’s throat.

An entire consortium of SEVEN banks backed him to the hilt and queued to lend him money. Again, in retrospect, banks may cry foul, but they were in a dreamland when they yielded to political bosses and lent unwisely. They were in a trance when they released each tranche of credit.

VM timed all his moves in a deft manner. His final move to London was the master stroke, in between ‘look out’ and ‘don’t look out’ notices by our number one sleuths. His departure was not an undercover move but he openly travelled first class with his ‘bag and baggage’. He had seven pieces of luggage and a companion to boot.

The common man knows that it is the lousy banking system which has cheated him by throwing caution all regulations to the winds and lending VM recklessly and failing to recover even the most easily recoverable money. It is difficult to believe that all this was done without any quid pro quo. God and the beneficiaries alone know the details of this sordid affair.

Our concentrated wrath on VM is unwarranted. Even in the present mindless tirade against VM there are unintended beneficiaries in the media. They gained when he was doing well and splashing money for publicity and they are again prospering with high TRPs while taking pot shots at him. I call them news brokers, not news breakers since it is the broker who makes money whether the market is going up or going down.

We the people need a hot topic to discuss in our armchairs in the cosy comfort of our drawing rooms. It was Bofors and Quattorachi  once, then it was Harshad Mehta. Then came 2G and CWG  nextscam followed by the Coal scam. It is now the VM season. Sit back and enjoy before the next scam makes it the Breaking News!! Nothing has happened to any of the protagonists of these scams. Nothing will happen to VM or his associate bankers. He can choose his time and return if he likes. He is the Captain of all times!!

Prof N Natarajan

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Good Times, Bad Times…Mallaya’s story

This is an article written by my husband Prof N Natarajans on 14.08.2014

Good Times Bad Times
There is an old story about an important task to be done. Four persons named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody were available to do it. Everybody was capable of doing it. Anybody could have done it. Somebody should certainly have done it. But Nobody did it.

One is reminded of this story when newspapers reported that CBI has opened investigations about why IDBI Bank advanced a loan of Rs. 9500000000, ie., Rs. 950 crores to Kingfisher Airlines of Vijay Maalya in spite of an internal report warning against such a move. IDBI bank is in good company. It is part of a consortium of 8 public Sector banks led by SBI which together advanced Rs7000 crores. SBI’s own contribution is Rs. 1600 crores. Other banks in the consortium include Bank of Baroda, Corporation Bank, Central Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, and Bank of India. It is not clear whether a similar investigation has been started against other banks, especially SBI.

KINGFISHER is owned by the liquor baron Vijay Maalya, the King of Good times. It started domestic operations in 2005 and international operations in September 2008. It never made any profit and its losses mounted even as the lending banks kept lending to it till the borrowings reached astronomical figures. Eventually it shut down its operations in 2012 as the DGCA suspended its flying license for several violations of Civil Aviation regulations. The airline had locked out its 1500 employees for several days before this suspension. It treated them shabbily and did not pay their salaries for several months. At least one employee is said to have committed suicide. It owes Rs300 crores to Airport Authority of India. In December 2011, CBDT Chairman announced that it was considering legal action against Kingfisher for not paying taxes and may go for prosecution. As of January 10, 2012, Kingfisher Airlines had service tax arrears alone of INR60 crores. Kingfisher also defaulted on paying to the IT Department, the Tax deducted at source from its employees. Since 2008, Kingfisher Airlines was unable to pay the aircraft lease rentals on time. High flying creativity indeed.

In fairness to it, when KFA commenced operations all passengers were treated as esteemed guests. On board and ground services were excellent. When the guests alighted at the Departure Gate at the airport to take a flight, uniformed ushers carried their baggage up to the check-in counter. Elderly guests were delivered their boarding passes without having to stand in the queue. Freebies were distributed on every flight. Cleanliness and food were excellent. Video entertainment was provided. Recorded voice of Vijay Maalya greeted the passengers. Media showered awards on KFA. All this was to build a grand brand image. Banks were impressed with the life style of the King of Good Times and lent to KFA against his personal surety. However KFA was a story of riches to rags in just six years.

To return to our old story, what magic wand did Vijay Maalya wield by which he mesmerised and paralysed Everybody? Why didn’t Anybody stop him in his tracks? Could Somebody have prevented any of the Banks from acting irresponsibly and inflating their NPA? Why didn’t Anybody act? Why did Nobody do the job?

Here Everybody meant the ruling UPA, the main opposition BJP, bureaucrats including the Income Tax Department, Banking Department, RBI, SEBI, DGCA, Boards of individual banks and so on.

Anybody was the two finance ministers of UPA including the current President of India. The financial wizard, PC could have issued directions for caution or the former opposition leaders of BJP could have intervened by posing searching questions in Parliament. RBI’s auditors certainly must have seen a pattern in the Consortium’s recklessness in lending astronomical sums and then converting some of the loans into dud shares of KFA for a price to partially adjust the loan outstanding sums. SEBI could not have been unaware of the goings on. Income Tax department too failed to launch any prosecution.

Now finally a Nobody called CBI, a bird that has gone back to its cage even after being released by the Apex Court, has finally entered the scene. Going by its own track record it will probably work for another 2 years and produce a case document of 30000 pages of non-prosecutable evidence or launch a prosecution that will not succeed. Finally after a fanfare of publicity nothing will come out of the case.

Here is a possible clue to Dr.Vijay Maalya’s outstanding ability to mobilise resources and avoiding any penal action. He was elected Rajya Sabha MP in 2002 and again in 2010 by pooling of votes of various political parties including the Congress and BJP! He does not belong to any party. He is among the 2 richest MPs in Rajya Sabha. KFA may not have paid its employees, but Vijay Maalya is very charitable in making political donations. He needs fear none. This is the message of Indian secularism and consensus politics.

Prof N Natarajan

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Makara Sankranti..the whole experience, nationally

Special Dishes Cooked for Sankranti

Pongal in Tamil Nadupongal3

Til Poli

Tilache Ladootil-ke-ladoo

Sarsoon Ka Saag with Makke Di Roti or Corn Tortillas

Kurmure Ladoo

Many Melas or fairs are held on Makar Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbh Mela.

Kumbha means pot and Mela means Fair. This Mela is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage that is centred in four locations in India:

Prayag, Allahabad, UP at the confluence of the three holy rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and the subterranean Saraswati.

Haridwar, UP where the river Ganga enters the plains having originated from the Himalayas.

Ujjain, MP on the banks of the Shipra river.

Nasik,  Maharashtra on the banks of Godavari river.

The pilgrimage occurs four times every twelve years, once at each of the four locations. Each twelve-year cycle includes the Maha (great) Kumbha Mela at Prayag, attended by millions of people, making it the largest pilgrimage gathering around the world.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala at Sabarimala where the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the Makara Vilakku celebrations.

GUJARAT

In Gujarat the custom is for the elders to give gifts to the younger members of the family. The Gujarati Pundits on this auspicious day grant scholarships to students for higher studies in astrology and philosophy. Kite flying is an important part of the festival and has become an internationally famous event. Brightly coloured kites dot the skies all over the state.

lord_ganesha_flying_kite_eng

“Kaipoche” means that your “patang” or kite has been cut ! “Manja” is the string used to fly the kites and many ingredients were used to make the string including ground glass and glue. As many accidents happened it has become a banned item.

MAHARASHTRA

In Maharashtra people exchange sweets called ‘Tilache ladoo’ that is made from sesame seeds, sugar or jiggery. They greet each other saying – “til-gud ghya, god god bola” meaning “accept these tilguds and speak sweet words”. Maharashtrian women wear a special black saree called Chandrakala which is embossed with crescent moons and stars and get together with other married women to exchange tilgud with a special ceremony called “Haldi Kunkum”.

PUNJAB

In Punjab huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Sankranthi and celebrated as “Lohri”. Sweets, sugarcane and rice are thrown in the bonfires. The whole community joins in the singing and dancing of ‘Bhangra’.  Sankrant is celebrated as MAGHI and the body warming food of  Sarson Ka Saag and Makki Di Roti are served.

ASSAM

In Assam, the festival is celebrated as “Bhogali Bihu”.

UTTAR PRADESH

As it is the month of Magha, the Fair held at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati rivers at Triveni in Allahabad is also called Magha Mela.  A ritual bath in the river is important on this day. According to a popular local belief in the hills of Uttar Pradesh, somebody who does not bathe on Makara Sankranti is born a donkey in his next birth. The belief is probably based on the lack of ritual daily baths in the cold weather. Khichiri is eaten and given away and some call the festival Khichiri Sankranti. People also distribute rice and lentils to the poor and needy.

Ritual bathing also takes place in Haridwar and Garh Mukteshwar and Patna in Bihar. Since it is also the season to fly kites, the evening sky is awash with colorful kites of all shapes and sizes. Several kite competitions are held in various localities.

KARNATAKA

In Karnataka people visit friends and relatives to exchange greetings, “Ellu bella thindu, Olle Maathu Aadu” (Eat sesame seeds and speak only good).sugarcane and a dish called Ellu (made with sesame seeds, coconuts, sugar candy. In Karnataka cows and bullocks are also decorated and fed ‘Pongal’- a sweet preparation of rice. Special prayers are offered and in the evening, the cattle are led out in a procession with the beat of drums and music.

In the night a bonfire is lit and the animals are made to jump over the fire. The significance of this exchange is that sweetness should prevail in all the dealings.

Andhra Pradesh

In Andhra Pradesh this festival is called “Pedda Panduga” meaning the big festival. A three day festival is held between January 13th and 15th. Each day has a special significance.

  • The first day is called Bhogi panduga
  • The second day is Sankranthi
  • The third day is Kanuma

Aariselu, (known as Adirasam in TN) made of rice flour and Jaggery is a special dish. Kajjikayalu, jantikalu, puliharam (tamarind rice), garelu, boorelu, laddu and sweet pongal are the other dishes. Women and children visit homes of relatives and neighbours for tambulam consisting of tamalapakulu (betel leaves and arica nut, coconut and flowers.

On Kanuma,  farmers decorate their cattle and offer prayers for a good harvest. They sell their produce and get money. People visit temples and family gatherings happen.

Cinema is a very popular media all over the South and people make it a point of going to a newly released film.

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