Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Living amidst Gujaratis in Mumbai
Mumbai, as we know, is a cosmopolitan city. Gujaratis comprise a rather large section, with some pockets of Mumbai characterised by a sizeable presence of Gujaratis. A major part of my childhood was spent in a locality with many Gujarati families. 
 
I continue to be amazed by their entrepreneurial spirit and a strong value system. Many people consider Gujaratis to be shrewd in their approach but one thing that cannot be denied is that the Gujaratis are a very cohesive community. They have the ability to endear themselves to others and have superlative persuasion skills. 
 
My home was close to a Jain temple and it was remarkable to see many of our neighbours visiting the temple early in the morning in traditional clothes, carrying a a small metal box. In the evenings, women would spend time telling stories to children or playing indoor games. As an outsider, I never ever had an opportunity to enter the precincts of the Jain temple, though it was a landmark to find our house. Whenever a relative got lost we just had to rattle off the directions, adding, “It is the fourth building from the Jain temple”. Occasionally the aroma of puris and shrikhand would waft in the air when I rushed to college in the morning. 
 
I am extremely fond of Gujarati dishes like thepla, papdi, dhokla, and undhiyo and I attribute this to the inherent bond that I developed with the Gujarati community right from my childhood. Some of the Gujarati dishes are calorie rich and I feel that when it comes to matters of food, the Gujaratis are the gourmets of Western India, like Punjabis in the North.
 
I think one has to appreciate the way Gujaratis maintain their home. I have visited the homes of a few people in the neighbourhood – though with different purposes though. A cup of adrak (ginger) tea was almost guaranteed in every home. Their hospitality is legendary. Many families lived in one-room tenements, but the way they maintained their homes was amazing. Everything would be so neatly stacked and arranged. 
 
My mother used to send me for errands like buying homemade pickle or papads from a woman in our neighbourhood. Whenever I visited the house of the woman who used to sell them, I was dumbstruck with the impeccable manner in which things were laid out even though the area was so small.
 
Let me add here that I was often pained by the lower prices shopkeepers paid to these women who supplied them with snacks like dhokla, kachori, and thepla while charging a premium from consumers for selling the same items. 
 
Many of the lower middle class Gujarati women supplemented their family income by making homemade pickles, theplas and papads and their hard work is worthy of emulation. Some of these women sold milk in the mornings while some assisted their husbands who were tailors. 
 
Some of these women also sold sarees at reasonable prices. There were women who used to fill in for their baniya husbands when the latter had to go sourcing merchandise for the kirana store. It is admirable that despite having minimal education, these women realised the need to be financially independent. 
 
The mention of Lijjat Papad evokes memories of many empowered Gujarati women. Movies like Shyam Benegal’s Manthan (1976) and Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala (1987) portrayed Gujarati women who were strong and independent – intrepid and rich in character. 
 
Today many of these women from the middle class also double up as beauticians. Come summer and these women were always busy drying papads, preparing mango pickles and homemade masalas. Navratri festival was celebrated with gusto in our locality and the garba dance was a treat to watch. 
 
Now it is a different story. There was a time when the songs that played out during garba were immortal songs like – “Main toh arti utaroon re santoshi mata ki” (Jai Santoshi Maa, 1975) or “Main toh bhool gayi babul ka des” (Saraswatichandra, 1968). In fact, Saraswatichandra was based on a Gujarati novel and was regularly telecast in Mumbai Doordarshan.
Once things like ‘disco dandiya’ started gaining attention and traction, melody took a back seat. Today the less said about the songs played out during garba or dandiya the better. Readers may recall that the movie “Kai Po Che” (2013) (based on a novel by the prolific Chetan Bhagat) revealed the dark side of the Navratri festival. 
 
Two qualities of Gujaratis deserve mention here. If you develop a bond with them, they will respect the bond all their lives. Secondly, Gujaratis are persevering and demonstrate a never-say-die attitude and undying optimism. Let me recount a real life instance from the mid-70s.
 
in those days, we lived in a one-room tenement that faced an industrial colony. As a child, I was a keen observer. There were railings in the balcony. It is funny to recount how my father installed a grill on the balcony.
 
One morning my father was leaving for his office, located in Apeejay House. This meant an arduous train journey lasting more than an hour, followed by a walk of close to 20 minutes to reach office. He saw me waving to him from the balcony. The balcony had no grill. My father was alarmed. He returned home immediately and applied for half-day’s leave so that he could contact the fabricator. By evening, the grill was fixed. 
 
The balcony had an opening at the floor level with railings on it. For a child of 5-6 years, it was possible to sit on the railings and observe the world outside (in this case, it was the industrial colony opposite our home). I would merrily dangle my legs outside the grill. It was a blessing for my mother as she could concentrate on the kitchen.
I attribute my modest creative abilities to this childhood experience of mine – something that children today are deprived of. There were no gadgets or smart phones or video games then. A swing that my father had purchased was a luxury for us and that was something that I loved as a child.
 
We lived on the second floor and diagonally opposite our flat was a Gujarati family that lived on the first floor of the industrial colony. The family comprised the husband, wife, two daughters and a son who was polio stricken. It was a perfect family picture - save for the fact that the son (may be 3-4 years) was handicapped. 
 
I have vivid memories of discreetly watching how both the mother and father took turns to caress the child and massage his legs with oil. This was a regular affair for a few years and I remember seeing the couple along with their daughters and son going for an evening walk after the husband returned from office. The couple would carry the son in their arms. The couple made a lovely pair and their images are still etched in my memory. The camaraderie between them was amazing. 
 
After we shifted to a new place in 1976, I lost track of this Gujarati family. I believe that they too shifted to their own pad. The industrial colonies then did not have a toilet within the home. Families had to share common toilets housed on every floor. I did hear from some of my friends who lived in these colonies that families took special efforts to maintain them and keep them spic and span. 
 
I was delighted to get a fleeting appearance of this couple in 1980. The son had grown up and was also able to walk on his own. It was a real miracle and I recall coming home and excitedly telling my mother that I had seen them and that the son had recovered from his ailment. I was so glad that the son had got cured! I can only imagine the anxiety that the parents would have faced; yet it is remarkable that they took some action rather than simply brood over the problem.  
 
Today many of these colonies and older buildings have vanished, thanks to the redevelopment spree that has gripped Mumbai in the last few years. But the memories can never fade away. I visited Ahmedabad for an official visit in 2010 and I could see that the city was no different from Mumbai. It felt like home. The culture was so familiar. 
 
 
For five years, I lived in Mulund West (the most happening suburb in Mumbai today), a predominantly Gujarati locality, in a building that housed many Gujarati families. The way they celebrated Holi, Diwali, Navratri and New Year together deserves special mention. 
 
Neighbours behaved like one big family. Women used to organise Gayatri mantra chanting sessions. I remember the occasions when the women used to celebrate Jalaram Bappa Day to commemorate the saint’s birthday. My impression about Gujaratis got reinforced during these five years that I lived amidst them. I found them so enterprising on all counts. They are definitely a gregarious lot.
 
A neighbourhood kirana store that I used to frequent suddenly sold a portion of their shop. This happened in the ‘90’s when I had begun working. When I asked him the reason, the shop owner replied, “My son wanted to pursue further studies in the US. I had to fund his higher education. There was no other option”. 
 
 
There are several such examples that I can narrate when many of these shopkeepers who were managing the ‘mom-and-pop’ stores or kirana stores were particular about educating their children. Some of them became chartered accountants, engineers and doctors. But there is a distinct change in the trend today. 
 
Earlier – especially during the ‘70s and ‘80s – it was a common practice in Gujarati families to get the daughters married off passing out from school. But today many Gujarati families are realising the need for educating their daughters too and marriage is considered only after the daughters secure a job or after they complete their higher education. 
 
Way back in the ‘80s, when satellite television had not entered our dining rooms and Doordarshan reigned supreme, it was not uncommon to watch Gujarati families going for a leisurely dinner after watching the Sunday evening Hindi movie telecast on Doordarshan. The neighbouring Ratna and Sadguru restaurants served delectable fares that would be lapped by these families.
My father’s friend who ran a ration shop in our neighbourhood used to often remark, “What are we earning for? We need to spend too as we have to enjoy life”. His statement is characteristic of a Gujarati family’s value system and philosophy about living a well lived life.  
 
 
Even now, if you visit Mumbai and happen to walk on the streets where  there are Gujarati households, you cannot miss the energy and enthusiasm with which these women do their chores – whether it is washing clothes and drying them, buying milk in the morning, cooking, haggling with the vegetable sellers or gossiping with neighbours.
 
What cannot be denied is that business is in their blood. 
 
(Venkatesh Ganapathy is at present pursuing his doctoral research in supply chain management from Alliance University, Bangalore. He is a freelance writer and an avid blogger. In this column, he shares the memories of his childhood in the ‘70s.)
 

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COMMENTS

Mohd Shamsheer

2 hours ago

Sir, it is a wonderful article to read about the culture of the different cities in 90s. thank u for posting it :)

Shony Cyriac

12 hours ago

Nicely written sir, being someone born in the 90's i really enjoyed this piece of yours i have heard a lot about the 70's from my parents but those were are all about southern India, I am glad that you shared your memories, i really enjoyed the read. :)

francis sebastian

12 hours ago

A very well framed article touching upon the various incidents that leave a picture behind in our mind. Surprisingly, I grew up in Gujarat til i was about 6 years old . The Navrathri season , the kite festival are still some once in a life time experiences we should'nt miss..
thanks for sharing sir it does bring back some beautiful memories..: )

Ritu Chopra

22 hours ago

That's a great article Sir... very well written like always!! Love reading your write-ups. I could picture your writing. Would love to read more 😀

Mubarak mallapur

23 hours ago

Wonderful blog sir.
This will give an overview of Gujrati Families and there food habits which I wasn't know. You have beautiful childhood memories sir.
Thank you for sharing

Muhzin k

1 day ago

Good blog sir
The memmories you shared was awesome. I also start thinking about my childhood

sreenidhi sree

1 day ago

Hi sir,
well it was very good to read the culture practice and traditional of Gujarat was found to be awesome, and the memories you shared about your childhood was good. you also mentioned about Saraswatichandra novel one of the best story to read written by GovardhanRam later this was made serial. Hoping for more blogs in coming days.

Kandukur Srinidhi
GroupM Maxus
#29, 4th Floor, Mahalakshmi Chambers
MG Road Bangalore - India 560001
Tel: 080 – 42593356 | 604

Muhammed Irfan

1 day ago

Well explained your childhood sir, I started thinking about my childhood sir. Very good blog

Gaurav Muley

6 days ago

delightful article about your childhood. I liked it

Shabeeb Mohammed

1 week ago

Very nice blog sir
Your write up draged me to my child hood memories......

Muhammad Rameez .k.p

1 week ago

Sir, I applaud the column of your wonderful blog on memories of your child hood. It's a good reminder to look back to our child hood from today’s daily challenging life. An excellent read sir…

Vivek Naik

1 week ago

an excellent read

Appellate Authority at NCW is accused of sexual harassment. Is there any hope for the victim?
Sexual harassment and crimes against women continue to dent our country’s image, but what does one say when the National Women’s Commission’s itself is accused of indifference to a woman staffer’s petition alleging sexual harassment by Deputy Secretary VVB Raju? Worse, the accused is the designated the First Appellate Authority under RTI (http://ncw.nic.in/frmRTI_Officers.aspx) and in a position to stall information.
 
The matter has been taken up by the Central Information Commission (CIC), which has issued a show cause notice to the accused, following a second appeal by the victim.  The complainant, a research assistant, was allegedly harassed by VVB Raju. The CIC has slammed the NCW for its apathy and for ignoring the victim’s application. It has also recommended a clean-up of NCW’s RTI wing to remove tainted officers from key positions and to facilitate the inspection of files by the RTI applicant.
 
In 2016, the victim submitted a complaint of sexual harassment to the Member Secretary of NCW. Her complaint said: “for the last four months I have been going through huge problems in the same work and the routine. Some four months back a new Deputy Secretary has come to the Commission whose attitude and behaviour is objectionable. Mr VVB Raju, who is the new DS, started harassing me ever since he joined the Commission. He insists that I should come to him in person to get his signatures and that too in the evening, only after 5:30pm. When I refused to stay after 5:30pm for getting his signatures, then he threatened he would complain to the Chairperson of the Commission and will throw me out of the job”. 
 
Her case was addressed by the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) of the National Women’s Commission. However, the ICC’s report did not go to the Disciplinary Committee for action. So, the victim filed a RTI application seeking file notings, correspondence regarding extension (or non-extension) of contract of her employment, inquiry report, statements of witnesses, action taken on report and so on. 
 
She did not receive any information but was given a letter by the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to contact ‘higher-ups’. She made telephone calls in response to instructions in that letter, but they were not answered. She then filed First Appeal but was told that she cannot get information as it is `third party information.’’ The victims says that she needs the documents to fight her case before the various Authorities and the Competent Court. As there was no response to her RTI application, emails, telephonic requests, first appeal, visits to the NCW and other efforts, she filed a second appeal to the CIC.
 
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu, the central information commissioner who heard the case observes: “…It is not known why NCW office was acting totally against the rights of the appellant and there was not an iota of effort to address her grievance or complaint or a problem and why the RTI wing of the NCW has totally blocked access to information to the appellant. And, above all, the Member Secretary is silent on her complaint.’’ 
He further says, ``the submission of the appellant reflects unhealthy environment at workplace in the forum, which is supposed to protect the rights of women. Her right to life, right to work and right to information were seriously endangered by sexual harassment by senior officer.’’
 
There was no representative from NCW at the CIC hearing, which irritated the commissioner. He says, the``non-response of National Commission for Women to two complaints of sexual harassment within their organization, allowing an officer who was accused of sexual harassment, to deal with the first appeal under RTI Act…If this is the fate of a woman who is working as research assistant in National Commission for Women, what will be the plight of ordinary women outside the NCW?’’  
 
The commissioner has demanded an explanation from the NCW with regard to its breach of two statutes on Sexual Harassment and Right to Information. The CIC has also ordered that NCW should facilitate the following. 
 
Allow a file inspection of ``statements, inquiry report, action taken on that, and provide certified copies of the documents sought, free of cost, along with the files pertaining to increasing remuneration of ICC members,and witnesses. File notings of extension of contract of appellant including remarks of satisfactory work, along with the inquiry report and action taken report on that, free of cost
He has asked the CPIO of NCW to give reason why he should not be slammed with maximum penalty
The alleged accused and First Appellate Authority, VB Raju has been asked why disciplinary action should not be recommended against him for violating the law in dealing with first appeal under RTI Act. That he is the accused in the sexual harassment case points to a clear conflict of interest;
The Member Secretary has been asked to explain why the NCW should not be ordered to pay compensation to the appellant for the harassment, and to explain his action/inaction on the complaint of the appellant. 
CIC has recommended to the chairperson of the NCW ``to save the credibility and reputation of NCW, within reasonable time and perform its duty to cleanse the RTI wing including the First Appellate Authority to make it objective and secure it from misconduct and breach by officers.’’
 
The commissioner also observed that  “members in the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) were contractual staff of NCW. How can it be expected from a contractual staff to go against the management? And this Contractual Staff was later enormously rewarded by increasing their remuneration two-fold without any adequate justification. The order increasing remuneration states that the expenditure involved is to be charged under Plan Head "Research Studies" whereas their work does not correlate to "Research Study" in any manner whatsoever. Even the witnesses who gave statements before ICC were also adequately compensated for their contribution, by doubling the remuneration without any justification.’’
 
``The second appeal clearly shows that she was further victimized because of her bold complaint against sexual harassment of First Appellate Authority, by reducing her term of contract and then by removing from her position. 
 
``First her contractual term of job was reduced, then not extended, along with two other employees. Thereafter, these two employees were re-instated in the month of April 2017, but appellant was left out. The sudden increase in remuneration of contractual employees who were on inquiry committee as witnesses strengthen the allegation of conspiracy to harass the appellant and strategic plan to remove her.’’
 
``The NCW should not have abdicated the good governance principles of responding to complaint…’’
 
(Full CIC’s show cause notice here: CIC/NCFWO/A/2017/135800)
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, which she won twice in 1998 and 2005, and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book, “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte”, with Vinita Kamte, and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.) 
 

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COMMENTS

Ravindra Malve

14 hours ago

Shocking and shameful incident for NCW. What about other women who has hope and faith in NCW? It will send wrong message to them.

Muneer mohd

1 day ago

Nicely explained your childhood
Its a reminder to look back to my childhood
Thankyou sir

Pahadi baba

3 days ago

NCW needs to follow what they preach to other men outside NCW to follow.

STT anomaly on exercised options pose serious risks for stock traders, brokers and Exchanges
Retail investors trading in stock options beware. The Securities Transaction Tax (STT), which is a massive multiple of their entire trade, has been hitting unaware investors on options expiry day. And, neither the market regulator not the National Stock Exchange (NSE) has put up any warning signs.
 
A few cases being discussed on social media, where retail traders have been charged STT, which is a huge multiple of their entire trading in exercised options. One Chirag Gupta had even started an online petition that has received over 7,500 signatures. While this anomaly can completely wipe out the trader or broker, many of them are not even aware till they are hit.
 
The STT in case of exercised options is charged at a rate of 0.125% of the entire contract value while it is 0.05% of the premium value if sold on the exchange. 
 
 
 
Aftab Khan, a small trader from Karnataka is running from pillar to post after he was hit by the STT anomaly. In one transactions on the National Stock Exchange (NSE)'s futures & options (F&O) segment, he could not square off his options, which expired with some value. For the transaction, he earned a profit of Rs2.08 lakh, however the STT levied on him was Rs6.26 lakh making him to pay Rs4.12 lakh to the broker.  
 
 
Similarly, Mr Gupta, who had started an online petition, also faced with a huge STT. Here is what he says...
 
"This is an incident that happened with me on the last options expiry. On 25 January 2017, the expiry for January contracts, I had bought 8600 Nifty calls at 3.25pm for Rs.0.05 as I was 100% sure that Nifty will close above 8600 based on my 25 minutes weighted average price calculations. True to my expectations, Nifty closed at 8602.75. I had bought 3000 lots (one Nifty lot was 75 units at that time) of Nifty 8600 call options at 5 paise, paying a premium of Rs11,250. By the numbers, you can see that I should have made a profit of about Rs6,07,500 (2.7x2.25 lakh) right? But what followed was beyond comprehension.
 
I did make a profit on this trade because I let the option expire with some value. But much to my surprise, at the end of the day when I received the contract note, I found out that the STT in case of exercised options was charged at 0.125% on the entire contract value as opposed to 0.05% on the premium value if I had sold them on the exchange. So even though I did make a gross profit on this trade, to my shock, I ended up with a huge loss of Rs18 lakh because I had to pay STT of over Rs24 lakh. If I had sold the options before the market closed, the STT I would have had to pay would have been a few thousand rupees, but holding it just for a few minutes extra cost me over Rs16 lakh in losses. Are Securities And Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Government of India aware of how traders like me can lose their hard-earned savings in this manner?"
 
The question that arise after such examples, is why there is anomaly in the way STT is levied differently and why there is a huge difference in the rates, one at 0.125% on entire value and other at 0.05% on premium? Since majority retail traders believe that the downside to an option buyer is the premium only, they need to get a warning about the STT applicable, if they are about to allow the option to expire with some value.
 
The National Stock Exchange (NSE) on its website says STT is applicable on all sell transactions for both futures and option contracts. “Value of taxable securities transaction relating to an ‘option in securities’ shall be the option premium, in case of sale of an option in securities. Value of taxable securities transaction relating to an ‘option in securities’ shall be the settlement price, in case of sale of an option in securities, where option is exercised,” NSE says.

According to BSE, during 1 October 2004 to 31 May 2008, the Budget had provided that in the case of taxable securities transaction relating to option in securities, the tax should be the aggregate of the strike price and the option premium of such options in securities. The STT was charged at 0.01% from 1 October 2004, 0.0133% from 1 June 2005 and then at 0.017% from 1 June 2006.

As per NSE, the current STT is being levied as per the Finance Act 2008. The Exchange has reportedly taken up the issue of this anomaly in STT where options is exercised with SEBI and the government and hope to get a solution soon.
 
What is more serious in these cases is if the client did not have any funds in his account, then the Exchange would debit the money from the broker's account. In Mr Gupta's case, the broker would have to pay Rs24 lakh in case there was no money in his account. "If a bunch of clients, like me, say had bought three lakh lots with around Rs10 lakh, the potential losses just because of STT would have been over Rs24 crore. What if the broker was not liquid enough to make up for this loss? This could easily be Rs24 crore or Rs240 crore or even Rs2400 crore. Would not such losses be a widespread systemic risk to everyone in the capital markets," Mr Gupta asks. 
 
According to NSE, STT payable by the clearing member is the sum total of STT payable by all trading members clearing under him and the trading member's liability is the aggregate STT liability of clients trading through him. 
 
The STT for exercised options should be either brought down to same levels that are applicable when trading on the markets, or else it can open a trading window aftermarket hours on expiry day to close out all in the money options similar to the post-market trading session for equity.
 
At present, brokers are given a 20-minutes window in equity market post closure of the market for the day so that they can scan their logs and square off positions. Similar window is required for options as well to remove the anomaly in levy of STT.
 
We sent emails to market regulator SEBI, which said that it has been forwarded to the concerned department.

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COMMENTS

Ravindra Malve

13 hours ago

FnO segment is the most favorite of all.Market regulators must taker cognizance of this otherwise investors sentiments will be dampened further.

n k gupta

3 days ago

I think if Derivatives is a cash settled plateform , then why? a investor pay STT equal to Cash Transaction. I know this is true but what can we do ?

K V RAO

7 days ago

Some brokerages (read ICICI DIRECT,)have the practice of squaring off the position 10 minutes before closing if the client does not do it.In fact their system has been programmed to take care of this.

K V RAO

7 days ago

This is a serious anomaly that may not stand the test of law and natural justice.This is also a best case for public interest litigation.I am quite sure the judiciary will frown on this rule of SEBI.Better they set it right.

REPLY

Kunal Singh

In Reply to K V RAO 4 days ago

such strong judgement, why not test it?

MUKUND PHADKE

7 days ago

Exchanges and sebi must look into interest of common investors.

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