Monday, July 25, 2011

State of IT Usage in India?

Mutual funds in the old days would give paper certificates. As computerisation increased, these paper certificates disappeared and were replaced by an account statement. Over the years, each purchase became a different account. Some consolidation of the accounts into folios was done but even then I had a lot of folios.

Online handling of the accounts meant that I had to manage multiple folios with multiple passwords. It seemed simpler to try to consolidate them.

The rules were not too complex, though some seemed a bit silly. But without silly rules, bureaucracy would not be able to survive.

Since online purchase required that a registered bank account be used to prevent money laundering, I filled a form to add a second bank account to each of my holdings. That would also ensure that the bank accounts would be the same for each folio that I wanted to consolidate.

Request was rejected because it was treated as a request for CHANGE of bank account though the form was for ADDITION of bank accounts. The change of bank account required some more papers. I suspect that the chances are their IT system could not handle the additional requirement introduced by the regulator.

There was some impact of my request, which I cannot really comprehend. One of my holdings now had the account number of one bank but the name of the other bank! The dividend could not be credited. I had to provide proof of the account which was already there in their computer records! The service centre printed a copy from their system, which I signed and submitted.

I decided to make one more attempt as ensuring that the registrar did not goof up with my bank records was a scary proposition.

This time I carefully consolidated only those folios which had the same bank account. Folios of one bank were consolidated but not for the other.

Reason - the bank details did not tally. That was strange. However, it appears that in their system, the bank details associated with each account are separately stored. For some reason, in some folios, in some of the holdings the other bank's details were present. This is a logical fallacy as per their rules. But their computer system is more flexible!

Since that flexibility is not be used, it clearly implies an erroneous data model of their system.

The process has left me bewildered and worried. As the computer systems keep getting more complex, I will need to monitor my accounts to ensure that no mess has been created.

I have also decided not to consolidate my folios because I wonder what new errors will be introduced.

Or may be they moved their processes to the cloud as they  were too complex - as in tech-comics- let cloud computing make your life-easier.

When the Cost of Labor is Low

The renovation of our bathrooms continues. I am surprised by the amount of wasted effort and time.

Breaking parts of the walls and floors was with a hammer and chisel. I had expected that.

However, I was surprised that for laying the pipes, walls were first built and then bricks were broken using a chisel and hammer to make space for the pipes. I would have expected that the bricks should have been cut before using them to make the wall. In fact, I would have expected that someone would have come up with suitably shaped bricks baked so that no breakage was needed on the site.

For installing an embedded cistern, it would have been easy to use a rectangular frame as a place holder. But again, the wall was built and then a rectangular cavity created with a hammer and chisel.

I suspect that the low cost of labour is the reason that we continue to use very primitive methods in our construction.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who knew how the time would go - replacing a toilet

It is absurd the amount of variety which exists for WC's. It took some time to narrow down to one. The process gave me a headache even though the criterion for me was minimal cost with a simple design. I chose a well known brand inspite of not wanting to pay for brand value. I suppose fear of the unknown prevents a rational choice.

The real headache was still to come.

I took possession of the WC. I took it home, relieved. Next day, the plumber looked at it and told me that the cistern/tank has a crack.

I took the cistern back to the dealer. My mistake had been that I had not opened the boxes and verified that there was no problem on taking delivery. The dealer examined the box with the cistern. It wasn't a crack. The cistern was in 3 or 4 pieces. The dealer refused to admit that his people could have delivered that box in such a condition. The item would have rattled and easily noticed by them that the product was damaged. There was no way for me to prove that the damage did not happen while I was transporting it or by our plumber.

I paid a 'discounted' price and took a replacement cistern.

When the plumber tried to install the WC, the cistern would not sit properly on the seat. Another trip to the dealer. We got a replacement cistern. It did not took any different and it wasn't. The new cistern did not fit either.

The dealer phoned the service department of the manufacturer. We chased the service department and waited. Meanwhile, I searched the net and saw that the specifications on the web site did not match the seat. I called the dealer. This time I did not have to make a trip to the shop. The dealer sent his staff to check, who probably knew that they had delivered the wrong product. So, they came with a replacement seat. A relief. The seat and the cistern fitted.

We called the plumber back, as he had left rather than sit idly at our home. He started on the work and discovered that the nuts for the bolts were missing.

The dealer grumbled that such errors are not possible but gave duplicate nuts from the spares.

The nuts and the screws did not fit. The plumber tried the usual Indian tricks to make it work but failed. Now I took the nuts and the bolts back to the dealer, who with great reluctance replaced them from another set.

He talked about bad omen (muhurat theek nahin tha). I suppose that makes sense - I should have had a havan at home before starting :)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

No dignity for the poor - victim gets abused

We are getting some work done and the contractor had ordered some material. The shop owner wrote the wrong address on the invoice. Our name was also not on it. So, the rickshaw puller went to the wrong house in our neighbourhood. Such errors happen.

We happened to be walking by and heard some commotion. A neighbour was abusing the rickshaw puller. We realised that it must be material meant for us and had the rickshaw follow us.

The neighbour kept on abusing the poor fellow who was at a loss what to do and through no fault of his. Fortunately, I do not know the neighbour and have no intention of befriending him. But it saddens and depresses me.

Why must someone be so nasty to the rickshaw puller rather than offering him some empathy and sympathy.