Thursday, August 31, 2017

99% of Banned Rs.500 and Rs.1000 currency notes returned

On Dec 1st, 2016, there was an article by IANS, the headline of which was ‘Demonetisation’s rude shock: There may not be any black money’ and it goes on to argue that 8,44,962 crores have been deposited with the banks from November 10, 2016 to November 27, 2016., in Rs.500 and Rs1000 banned notes.

On August 30, 2017, Reserve Bank of India’s annual report gives the following figures on demonetisation and the total money deposited with it.

Following are the excerpts from the annual report:

The notes issued decreased by 11.79 per cent from ₹17,077.16 billion as on June 30, 2016 to ₹15,063.31 billion as on June 30, 2017. The decrease is the net impact of withdrawal from circulation of the old ₹500 and ₹1000 notes issued till November 08, 2016 and subsequent remonetisation efforts made by the Reserve Bank.
The report further states that:
Until June 30, 2017, SBNs (Specified Bank notes) were received by the Reserve Bank either directly or from bank branches/post offices through the currency chest mechanism. Some of these SBNs are still lying in the currency chests. Subject to future corrections based on verification process when completed, the estimated value of SBNs received as on June 30, 2017 is ₹15.28 trillion.
Moreover, vide notification no G.S.R. 611 (E) dated June 20, 2017, Government of India allowed District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) to deposit SBNs accepted by them from their customers within the period of 10th November to 14th November, 2016.
Reserve Bank is in discussion with Government of India with regard to the acceptance or otherwise of SBNs held by citizens/Financial Institutions in Nepal.
If one were to add the total SBNs received and counted, SBNs received still to be counted, SBNs from Cooperative banks, and those from Nepal, the total amount would just about close the gap of 11.79%.
Under the heading of ‘Expenditure’, in ‘Analysis of Income and Expenditure’, the annual report states:
 iv) Printing of notes
Expenditure incurred on printing of notes during 2016-17 was ₹79.65 billion as compared to ₹34.21 billion in 2015-16.
The increase was mainly on account of following reasons:
a. Supply of notes during the year at 29,043 million pieces was 37 per cent higher than the total supply during previous year (21,195 million pieces). Supply of higher denomination notes during 2016- 17 was 13,702 million pieces as against 5,268 million pieces supplied in 2015- 16, higher by 160 per cent.
b. In the wake of withdrawal of SBNs, there was an increase in the number of remittances in our remonetisation efforts resulting in higher freight and forwarding expenses. For urgent supply of notes across the country, notes were also remitted by air resulting in increased expense on freight charges.
c. Reimbursement of cost for finished banknotes, work in progress, raw materials, etc. as the printing presses had to discontinue printing of ₹500 and ₹1000 denomination banknotes which were withdrawn in November 2016.
If one were to add the expenditure incurred towards printing of the new currency notes of Rs.500 and Rs.2000, and distributing them in the limited period, to the total amount, RBI could have taken a loss, and the headline on Dec 1st, 2016, ‘Demonetization rude shock: There may not be any black money’, may have come true.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Interesting features, Lisbon

It was our first visit to Lisbon. the month was June; almost summer. Here are a few of the features which caught my fancy; which are different from what I see in India; and generally what I noticed. 
In the Lisbon airport there are these quirky artwork on the walls. Beige coloured stone tile cladded walls have cartoony art in white and black. I found it very cool.Without this artwork, the space would have been dull and boring.
True for a lesser degree was the artwork on the walls along the roads. You may call them mural art. While decorating the plain walls, they also provide opportunities for artist / students to exhibit their talent.
Without a sense of aesthetic the same could become graffiti like in the picture below. Instead of enhancing the looks, graffiti defaces the surfaces on which they are painted.
In the older part of Lisbon, Some of the old stone walls have lost the plastering. The stone masonry is exposed and is visible. The walls look authentic. Different coloured stones add their own charm to the entire thing.
Many of the streets in the older part of Lisbon are paved in cobble stones. Cobble stone paving is very effective on sloping sites. They are anti-slip; add a charming look to the boring street surface. On the negative side is the unevenness of the road surface makes for painful walking and tough on the tyres too. 
These steps leading to Praca do Rossio or Praca Dom Pedro, from Rossio, have limes tone cobbles, with a band of rectangular stone for the riser. Very unusual I felt, but perfect for the steps.
Not all streets are for vehicular traffic. Some of the buildings on the sloping sites are connected by stairs. These are meant for pedestrians only, and they are usually short cuts between two major streets. 
There seems to be multiple uses for walls, besides enclosing the buildings, they are also used for hanging street lights, potted plants etc. Quaint and very pretty; especially useful where open land is a premium...
Ah, look at the lovely red tiled roofs!! Such a pretty picture!! When on undulating ground, the roofs are at different heights.
Tram 28 is a special feature of Lisbon. A tour of Lisbon is never complete without a ride in the tram. During the tourist season, there will be long queues. One should be prepared to wait. At places the tram goes dangerously close to the buildings. But riding a tram is a lot of fun. The driver was very strict about getting in from the front and getting off from back.
There are 3 wheelers in the tourist areas called TukTuk. One can hire one for a reasonable fair. There were a fair number of women drivers for TukTuks. Since we had the Lisbon card (which does not cover the TukTuk), we did not travel by a TukTuk. 
It was thrilling to see the ripe oranges on the trees. Some ripe oranges had fallen on the ground too. I ate some of the tastiest ornages in Portugal on this trip.
Portugal seems to be taking its garbage disposal pretty seriously. There were different bins for different types of items. We found a bin for old / used batteries and cells. how good is that! separating the toxic from non-toxic...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Jeronimos Monastery or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Lisbon, Portugal

As there are so many interesting and never to miss places in and around Lisbon, it was a tough decision which to see and which ones to keep for another trip. 
out of all the tourist attractions, Jeronimos Monastery wins hands down.  

The guide with the Lisboa card says 'Construction of the Jeronimos Monastery began in 1501, on the orders of King Manuel 1, financed by the fabulous wealth brought back from India. Jeronimos Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site.   Vasco da Gama and his men are supposed to have spent their last night in the monastery in prayers, in 1497. The monastery is situated close to the river Tagus and Belem tower.
 The ceiling in the ticketing hall
 The Church of Santa Maria from the upper choir
The tracery vaults in the roof
Golden white Lime stone was used in the construction; because of which there is a softness to the carvings and sculptural work on the columns and ceilings.
Beautiful hand painted tiles or Azulejos on the walls of the refectory for the monks.
Lower level / ground floor cloisters, adjacent to the Church of Santa Maria.
Around a huge central courtyard, are the cloisters. Open arched windows with tracery detailing give the look of filigree from a distance. One has to see it to believe the beauty of it.
Upper story cloister facade from the courtyard

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Se Cathedral or Se de Lisboa - Lisbon, Portugal

I just love Se Cathedrals. It is probably the name. I tried to visit as many as possible while in Portugal. 
You will reach Se de Lisboa or Se Cathedral or simple De Se, from Av Infante Dom Henrique, in Alfama. The iconic cathedral built around 1150 AD, towers over all the other structures nearby. 
The approach road to the cathedral keeps climbing, and goes right infront of the cathedral. When it was built, they probably couldnot envisage the advent of the automobiles and the number of tourists who visit. The noise of the vehicles and the pollution can be damaging to the structure in the long run. That said, nothing can take away the grandeur and Majesty of the Cathedral which stands tall and in perfect condition over 1000 yrs.   
The front entrance is at the road level. The site dips down towards the back, to almost 5 floors. There are two bell towers on either side of the main entrance. 
 The front facade has a rose window covered in stained glass.
The beautiful steel hinge in the wooden main door
There is a clock below the bell on the right tower. One can see identical window opening on the south facade of the right bell tower. 
The fortress like construction of De Se was used as such in times of war. The Cathedral was built in Romanesque style of architecture initially, but with later additions and alterations, different styles were incorporated into the main structure.
The stained glass window in the west facade

The altar and the sacristy are in Baroque style. We didnot go to the cloisters which were towards the back, are said to be in Gothic style. Though Se Cathedral has a mixture of different styles from different periods, it all comes together harmoniously, to create a prayerful and pious atmosphere. 

It is calm, tranquil and rejuvenating just sitting inside. I felt the vibrations of hundreds of years of prayer and devotion washing over me.

Salvadordo Mundo Church - Goa

  It was Easter and we have a ritual of going to a natural spring before sunrise and drinking the holy water from it. Since both Jo and ...