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US, UK pull out from Afghanistan to impact India’s economy?

Taking a step ahead, India is also making huge investments in other countries especially in Afghanistan. But hard clouds loom.

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US, UK pull out from Afghanistan
Source: JNS.org

With the Cabinet reshuffle and the average age of the Ministers now at 58, hopefully, India is laying down a strong foundation for development and its economic growth with an eye on winning the 2024 General Election.

While the country may be grappling with crises within, its relations with the other countries have seen a steady improvement. The aim here is to lure investors into the country using its friendly ties. These ties definitely came in handy during the second wave of Covid that hit the nation this April.

The help we got from the Russia, America, Syria and Poland proved how the present Government is going forward in building relations.

Taking a step ahead, India is also making huge investments in other countries especially in Afghanistan. But hard clouds loom. After an agreement between the US and the Taliban on February 29, 2020, India needs to urgently reposition itself or it will become difficult to recover the cost sunk in Afghanistan.

S. Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs Minister, who was part of the two-day virtual event — Afghanistan Conference in 2020, had said that India will undertake more than 100 projects worth $80 million in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the pulling out of troops from Afghanistan doesn’t bode well for us. Britain’s 750-strong contingent, part of a wider NATO stabilisation mission, has been quietly leaving Afghanistan over the last few weeks after the US President, Joe Biden, said he wanted to pull out most of the remaining 2,500 of its combat troops.

India has had a troubled history with the Taliban. In the early 1990s,  it supported the Northern Alliance against the Pakistan-supported Taliban. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, Afghanistan became a fertile and favourable ground for Pakistan to run terror camps and divert the jihadis to Kashmir.

The only reason why India has also been able to invest in Afghanistan’s future has been partially because of the presence of US-led troops and the relative stability it brought. With this stability at risk, we need to move fast, both in Kabul and Kashmir to maintain peace and provide the much-needed economic growth.

The vital interest that we have in Afghanistan, including the urge to counter Pakistan’s influence there and secure Kabul’s friendship in the process, India needs to tread carefully in the coming months and decide on a course that will be a win-win for all.

 What is at stake? Investments in Afghanistan:

  • The building of Afghanistan’s Parliament in Kabul (the complex includes a library, so in that sense, India did build a library in the country. Afghanistan’s Parliament was inaugurated in 2015, which is a symbol of Afghan democracy.
  • Reconstruction of the Salma Dam, now known as the Afghan-India Friendship Dam.
  • New Delhi is financing the establishment of the Afghan National Agriculture Sciences and Technology University in Kandahar and assisting it in various ways.
  • The Indian government has gifted hundreds of buses for the Kabul transportation system and 285 military vehicles for the Afghan National Army.
  • Indian government provide Mi-25 and Mi-35 choppers for the air force and 10 ambulances for public hospitals in five cities. Meanwhile, airbus aircraft for the national airlines.
  • New Delhi provided materials for substations and a transmission line in the Faryab province and high protein biscuits for Afghan schoolchildren.  Shipments of wheat and pulses also included.
  • India is also providing funds to an Afghan Red Crescent Society program, free medicine and medical consultations in its medical missions in five Afghan cities.
  • India are providing Afghan public institutions with technical advisers and giving training for Afghan public servants like policemen and soldiers.
  • The hundreds of scholarships for Afghan students with vocational courses for Afghan youth and women. Tele-education courses for the students.
  • Building the cricket stadium in Kandahar and a cold storage warehouse in the same city along with this upgrading telephone exchanges in some provinces.
  • Constructing the Chimtala power substation in Kabul, expanding the national television network and digging tube wells in some of the provinces.
  • Reconstructing the Indira Gandhi Institute for Child Health/Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital in Kabul (which had also been built with India’s help decades ago) and supporting it in many ways.
  • Now Taliban hold nearly 50% of the rural districts in Afghanistan. India is wary of the Taliban given its proximity to Pakistan and its military spy agency the Inter-Services-Intelligence.

The external affairs minister S. Jaishankar underlined that India’s long-term commitment to the development of Afghanistan and the benefit to its people as a contiguous neighbour and strategic partner.  After all these developments, India is going to suffer in all ways. Because the investments India are making is just to provide a boost to economic growth. Hence, creating more employment opportunities in India itself.

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Opinion

How to manage finances during COVID-19

The present pandemic has thrown up many challenges including how best to manage finances given that many have had to take salary cuts. Here’s what one can do

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Family members discussing how to manage the finances during the pandemic
Source: University of Alberta

One of the first things to remember is that even the slightest of things and simple decisions can make a difference when it comes to finances. This is because financial stability is necessary to avoid stress. It also gives security that one is set. To achieve this, here’s what one can do.

Spend less than you earn

The COVID-19 has thrown up many challenges and hence it is important to track how and where one spends the money. It is always easy to get swayed by the lure of the glamour around you and buy things on credit cards. But remember, this amount spent has to be repaid.

If the full amount is not paid, you will end up paying a high rate of interest putting a great strain on the monthly budget. The mantra to follow: Spend less than what you earn. Save!

Money management

To manage finances, it is necessary to sit down and make a list of the expenditures. This will help cut down unnecessary expenditure and ease financial burden especially if one has taken a salary cut. One can even save up for a rainy day. Scrutinise the expenditure and separate the needs and the wants. All the family members should be part of this exercise.

They should know that they too need to contribute and do their bit in these testing times. Some fixed expenses could be Mortgage repayments/rent, school/tuition fees, transport costs, taxes and utilities like gas, insurance, electricity, water, phone and or Internet. Then there are other costs like food bills, household goods, school books and stationery, medical fees to name a few. You have to consider these expenditures as they relate to the family’s lifestyle.

Managing money will help you to avoid falling into debt. If you have existing debt, debt settlement vs debt consolidation strategies to help manage finances. Consult debt management companies that have experience in dealing with such problems.

Create a solid savings plan

An important thing to keep in mind while managing finances is to have a savings plan. Always have a solid saving plan. You can tell whether you are spending more or less than what the earning is with good planning. You can review spending habits and plan accordingly. You should have a saving buffer for emergency purposes that has nothing to do with savings plans and financial goals.

While this exercise may appear to be old, the whole idea of spending money according to what you earn is archaic but this is a good way to avoid any debts and learn to live well within your means. This way, you can ensure that there are no financial strains and one can enjoy the money earned, however much it may be. It is simple.

Spend your money only on the items that you need and not on what you want. If you want to have a specific item and the earnings do not allow you to purchase it immediately, start a little saving planning on the side and buy it when you have the money.

Now, the important question is how to invest money so that you can earn a reward on the earnings on the deposit made in any investment.

Refer to our article: https://www.sillycorners.com/want-to-invest-in-sip-heres-what-you-should-know.

Here are other things that you need to know

There are many ways to invest your money. Though there is a risk when it comes to investing if properly invested, it can yield benefits. Below are five reasons why investing is beneficial.

High returns

When you invest, there are always risks involved. But you will almost always receive at least some return on any money deposited. However, don’t take a big risk. Take a risk that your finances will allow. You can make as much as 15% on investment if you play the right risks. This is not an exact percentage. A lot depends on the market and where the money has been invested.

Reach financial stability

Since you get a certain percentage on investment, slowly one can reach financial stability that you always wanted for the family. You can save the money that you earned from this investment for a new car or even put a down payment on a house.

Or you can save it for your child’s higher education. You can put this in your retirement savings programme and earn even more on this money at the end. This money will free you from stress and you will be assured that you will be financially independent in your old age.

Conquer inflation

Another important reason to consider investing is that you can conquer inflation. Today, the economy is not doing too well. When you invest, you get a certain percentage more than the capital that you put down. In other words, you have more money in the end. This extra money will help to cover the costs that are associated with inflation. You may even end up with a little extra. This will help cover any inflation that you may have incurred.

Save on taxes

We all have to pay taxes whether we have a business, government job, or work in the private sector. Each of us needs to know how much tax must be paid at the end of the financial year. If you invest, you can receive a large number of tax benefits and rebates from the Government, reducing how much tax you pay in the end. You will not have to use the returns that you have received from your investments to pay tax when the time comes.

Own a small part of a company

Here is the best reason why one should invest – you end up owning a small part of the company. This may be less than a percentage, yet you own it. As an investor in that company, you are entitled to any profit that the business makes. In fact, the money you invest in a company helps it to grow. You are literally helping someone’s dreams to become a reality.

This will lead to success for you as well. As the company grows your investment grows and leads to your family’s financial stability. As an investor, you can teach your children how helping others benefits everyone as well. There is a sense of accomplishment here. You may, yourself not be a business owner but you can indirectly be one and contribute to the country’s economy.

But this needs careful planning. Do your research; find appropriate investment instruments. See what works for you and your family. Make your own investment portfolio, don’t copy others. This is a common trait amongst Indians. We follow what the other person has done.

This is a strict no-no. Each person has different financial goals. Do not do what the other person has done. Of course, one can take advice from family and friends.

But do what you need to do for your financial security in the long run. What you want and need may not be what the other person is aiming for. If you have never invested before, don’t wait. Start today. It can set you and your family up for the financial security that you are looking for.

PS: Mutual fund investments are subject to market risks. Read all scheme related documents carefully.

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Opinion

Is the present Covid-19 pandemic getting you down? Get happiness back

Almost everyone today is feeling stressed, anxious and Monday blues due to the present pandemic. Here’s how one can find peace and happiness

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PEOPLE ON STREET AFTER COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Source: TOI

This last one-and-a-half year has been testing for all. Man is a social animal and to be cooped up at home and unable to meet friends and family for prolonged periods has stressed everyone out. So much so that people now find no happiness around them.

They see only sadness and unhappiness all around. However, it is important to break away from such thoughts. While it may take some time for this exercise to have an effect, it can inspire you to look for the good in life — things that are already working in your life now; this will make you appreciate what you have.

Ask yourself 11 questions; these will teach you how to find happiness once again. We let many things affect our lives and once we get sucked into the myriad problems, we forget to look at small things that make us happy.

Take the time to answer these questions and see how much you have to be thankful for during the present pandemic. Once you have the answers to these questions, it will shift your perspective by looking for what’s satisfying, instead of what is missing.

Let’s get cracking!

Who are the people I feel blessed to have?

This could be a family member, a friend, a teacher or mentor, or even someone new whom you just met but helped you. Name such people, feel the gratitude for having met them and how unique they are.

What things do I have right now that makes life comfortable?

Look around you; see what brings you comfort. This could be the simplest things like the bed you slept on, the roof above your head, the food you just ate or even a plant kept on your table. See what things have made life for you — a fast Internet connection and how you can speak with near and dear ones even though they are thousands of miles away. Concentrate on things that entertain you.

What qualities have I developed that I feel proud to have now?

This could be kindness or generosity or any other trait that people like about you. It could be your cleanliness or superb organisational skills that you are proud of. Or it could be that you are a good listener and friends are comfortable sharing stories with you. These qualities are valuable to have in these testing times but are often not given enough credit.

What experiences have I had in my life that made me feel better?

Sometimes. One goes through experiences that make you thankful for what you have; it could be a valuable lesson learnt or an insight that has made you a better person today. Recognising these will make you see these experiences in a good light and you will feel that it was a blessing in disguise. This could be past relationships that have ended but made you love yourself even more or a lost job opportunity that led you to discover where your true passion lies.

What are the things I enjoy and love doing?

Make a list of things that make you happy and excited as you do them. It could be reading a book or gardening or even cooking. It could be playing with your pet or even watching a programme on TV. It could be watching as it rains and sipping a cup of tea or coffee. These are simple but meaningful things that you can draw comfort and yet be at home and stay safe.

What desires, big or small, do I have in the past that I am already living in right now?

Sometimes, you desire something. And these have come true in your life. Concentrate on these and remember them; remember the happiness you felt when you realised this dream once it came true. It could have been cooking or art class or desire to start your own blog or go to a place you always wanted to travel to or take up a course. It could also be opening your first savings account or starting on a diet.

night street of tokyo city

It could be anything that you had on your bucket list and that is now ticked off and it now gives you a feeling of accomplishment and happiness.

What unique things do I like about myself?

Look within. Look at things that — trait or ability that you like most about you. What makes you unique and who you are? It could be a laugh that others find funny or having a great memory making it easy for you to retain information. It could be your ability to make people comfortable and open up to you; it could be that you have great navigation skills that come in handy. Look for characteristics in yourself; feel proud of them once you recognise what a genius you are.

What made me smile or laugh today?

Laughter is the best medicine. Before you go to sleep try and recollect three things that made you laugh or smile today. It could be something that you came across on Insta or a post on Facebook or even a funny programme on TV or a conversation with a friend that brought a smile to your face. Or it could be the relief that the rain Gods brought with them. Notice these subtle things around you. Remember, it is the small things that bring joy on a daily basis.

girls standing together and drinking

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

What things worked out for me this week?

Instead of thinking of things that didn’t work out, look at the positives over the week. Look at how you managed to complete the work assigned to you or a compliment that you received from someone on work well done. It could be that you finally cleaned your wardrobe, something that had been pending for ages. It could be weekly cleaning of the home. Or buying groceries or even cooking a special meal for the family. You will see as you accomplish these tasks, things start to move forward.

What kind of help have I offered?

Have you helped someone this week? What good have you done for somebody? Offering help to a friend in need, assisting a co-worker on a project, giving directions to a stranger, offering food to the hungry or donating old clothes to charity can bring happiness and a feeling of accomplishment in you. Besides helping another person, you bring positive energy in you.

boy helping homeless girl on street

Photo by Metin Ozer on Unsplash

What do I appreciate about life in general?

This will give you a broader perspective of your life. Note things that feel good about being alive today. It can be as mundane as the sun rising every day or beating the heart. Notice the magic in your life. Feel how blessed you are that you have such a beautiful life and that you are alive to witness it firsthand.

Conclusion

Remember, each of the answers to the matter of the above question and is counted adding to your happiness. With time, it will be easy for you to know how to get happiness back every time you get those blues. Make it a daily habit to focus on the good that is in your life!

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Opinion

Want to invest in SIP? Here’s what you should know

Before one blindly invests in SIP, there is a need to know what your financial goals are and what is the mode of investing? -help you to invest a stipulated amount in a particular mutual fund scheme

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Want to invest in SIP? Here’s what you should know
Source: Jama

There is a rule of thumb when it comes to investing. Usually, Indians go with what their friends or family recommend. But each person has different financial goals. Hence, no two investment plans can be the same. But before we start, here are some interesting facts on SIP plans.

Market timing

One of the biggest difficulties in equity investing is when to invest or where to invest? While investing in a mutual fund solves the issue of where to invest, SIP plans help to overcome when to invest. Remember, SIP plans involve disciplined investing irrespective of the state of the market.

Reduces average cost

One can start investing a fixed amount regularly. Therefore, one ends up buying more units when the markets are down and less when the markets are up. If you are not comfortable with dealing with market trends, avoid lump sum investments when the markets are rising. SIP tends to average out the cost of an investment portfolio.

Power of compounding

The returns you will earn from your invested amount will be re-invested, and thus increase your principal amount. Starting an SIP will help to grow investment with the power of compounding as you invest a fixed amount.

Does not strain daily finances

A SIP plans allow us to invest very small amounts – as low as Rs. 500 a month making investing easier. SIP plans, therefore, become one of the ideal investment options for a small-time investor. If you want to accumulate savings prudently, opt for a larger SIP amount. However, one must research before starting SIP plans. If unsure, consult a financial advisor.

PERSON SITTING ON EURO coins

There are two subcategories

Active funds are actively managed. The manager picks stocks as per his choice. These are considered to be more aggressive. The fund manager, along with analysts and researchers, actively engage in research, buying and selling stocks to achieve the best possible returns. A passive fund is a type of fund in which the fund manager and his team do not actively manage stocks.

Before choosing the best mutual fund to invest in, you need to determine the financial goals, investment horizon and risk-bearing capacity. Age, income, financial commitments all add up to risk capacity.

Also, instead of focusing on the last one-year top performers, investors need to go a bit deeper to select the best mutual funds to invest in this year. This is because the funds that did well last year may not continue their performance. Assess the mutual fund performance across one, three and five-year periods.

Ask these questions:

  1. What is the mutual fund expense ratio?
  2. What is the portfolio churn rate?
  3. What are the portfolio composition and their underlying concentration levels?

Remember, there is no one best mutual fund to invest in which is suited for SIP. Start with any ticket size that does not burn a hole in your pocket. Choose from different types and varieties of mutual funds to choose from.

PS: Mutual fund investments are subject to market risks. Read all scheme related documents carefully.

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