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arvindaga - Freelance Writer with 11 Reviews
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Mar 2011 – now
Digi Content Writers
Apr 2009 – now
Veggy Agro Products
Mar 1985 – now
The Jalpaiguri Cinema Company Limited
Oct 1992 – now
Gaia Advisory Services

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English Advanced

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1981 – 1984
St. Xavier's College
1976 – 1981
St. Paul's School

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10 commandments for investing in mutual funds

Mutual funds are a good investment option, especially for those with limited knowledge, time and money. Individual investors in developed markets gravitate more towards holding stocks through Mutual Funds. Compared to this, individual investors in India, tend to hold more stocks than Mutual Funds. In fact, Mutual Funds account for a mere 3% of the total market cap as against 22% of direct stock holding by individual investors in India. Although investing in Mutual Funds is relatively easier than the equity markets, it is still important to know certain key factors to safeguard your hard earned money. To help you understand these key factors, here are the 10 commandments for investing in Mutual Funds. 1. Common mistakes to avoid While making errors is human, there are errors like those listed below, that get repeated over and over again. • Having no investment plan chalked out. • Speculating rather than investing. • Believing a fund with a low NAV is cheaper than one with a high NAV. • Investing in NFOs because they are available “at par”. • Stopping or pulling out investments when markets are uncertain. 2. Take a personal risk assessment Every investment has the potential of either increasing or decreasing in value. It is thus very important to clearly know your investment goals and analyze the risks that you can afford to take. Your investment pattern will depend on your personal risk assessment. There are online calculators that you can use to know your risk profile. 3. Be clear about your reasons for investing Everybody has an objective for investing their money – while it could be a retirement plan for some, for some it might be to pay for their child’s college education. However, it is important to stick to the objectives of your investments and not lose sight of your goals. Allocate the larger chunk of your resources to these goals, while keeping some aside for any emergency requirements. 4. Complete your research before you invest While tips and advice can be used as a starting guideline, investment without doing your own research becomes speculation. The expected returns, expenses, taxes, optimum investment period and risks differ with different categories of MFs. Study each category carefully and invest only after a thorough understanding of which fund best suits your risk profile. 5. Invest in funds with proven track record You select the school for your child based on its previous performance record – why should investing in a MF be any different. However, do not make the mistake of looking at the funds return in isolation. Instead compare the funds return against its benchmark return along with evaluating its category average returns. While there is no guarantee, funds which have performed well over the years will generally continue to do so.

Save or Invest – that is the question

Saving and investment patterns of people around the world have gone through rapid changes in the last decade. Higher incomes coupled with more options for saving and investments; better access to information coupled with aggressive marketing by all players – while these have all resulted in creating larger avenues for people to explore, they have also created more confusion. Should I save or should I invest; where should I park my savings or place my investments; is my invested money secure or should I keep it in a safe at home; which avenue offers better returns. Should I save or should I invest? This is the first question that needs to be answered. The next few paragraphs should answer this question leaving you with no doubts about what you should be doing with your hard earned money. SAVINGS ‘Save for a rainy day’ – for years, this expression stood for smart money management. Does it still hold true? Unfortunately, in all developed economies and in most emerging economies, saving is no longer the smart option. Falling interest rates on bank accounts– some countries like Japan, have negative interest rates – have taken the sheen off from keeping your money in the bank. To add to the woes of the G20 countries; in 2014 their leaders declared that the Cyprus model of “bail - in” should apply globally. Small saving schemes are not far behind in yielding low returns. In the Indian context, the present government has recently announced rate cuts across small savings schemes (see chart below). The chances are that the RBI will over the next few years cut the repo rate further, which will allow banks to reduce their interest rates on both deposits and loans. The biggest factor against savings today is inflation, something that most people fail to take into consideration when making financial decisions. The result – they end up becoming victims of what economists call ‘money illusion’. Lack of understanding the difference between “nominal changes” as against “real changes which reflects inflation” is money illusion. Let us look at an example. Most people I know invested in the 5 year National Savings Certificate which offered an interest rate of 8.50%. Average inflation for the period between 2010 and 2015 stood at 8.91%. The real rate of return on this saving scheme actually was negative (inflation rate less interest rate); a loss of 0.41% in the purchasing power of the money saved. The scenario was the same across the other small saving schemes and bank deposits.

Is Patient Safety Being Compromised Due To The Pay Cap

The Government, in an effort to cut down on costs and to bring back nurses into the NHS fold had introduced a pay cap on the amount that an agency could charge for a healthcare professional. The cap came into force in November 2015, at which time the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had said that staffing agencies had been able to “rip off the NHS by charging extortionate hourly rates”. However, in case the trusts felt that there was significant risk to patient safety, they could bypass the pay cap. Beginning November 23, 2015, when the rules first took effect, the “break glass” clause has been used 35,662 times between 228 hospital trusts. Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said that he wanted to see “good paying permanent jobs” being created instead of paying £1.8bn to agency and contract staff. The reason why healthcare facilities were adding a larger number of nurses was due to the official report that identified the lack of nurses as a key reason for the Stafford Hospital scandal. According to the health regulator NHS Improvement, hospitals in England were short of 15,000 required nurses. While many trusts managed to stay within the regulated pay caps for the first 12 weeks, they were soon struggling to do so. The number of times the “break glass” clause has been used since 1st April when the cap was further brought down to 55%, had increased by 30% as compared to the previous month. According to the Economic Director of NHS Improvement, Chris Mullin, “Predominantly, it’s about has the nursing director got good workforce systems in place, good advanced planning, and good rostering of shifts, and are they working effectively with the finance director and the rest of the board to tackle the agency challenge.” The Royal College of Nursing claims that the NHS has not done enough to meet the demand for nurses, resulting in hospitals turning to agencies for filling in their requirements. According to figures obtained by the BBC in February 2016, more than 23,000 nursing vacancies existed in the NHS across England, Wales and Ireland. This constitutes about 9% of the workforce – compare this to typical vacancy rates across all forms of work, which stands at 2.7%. However, given the pay cap, the hospitals found themselves not being able to bring in the nurses from the agencies and so in the interest of patient safety, they had to make use of the “break glass” clause. According to chief executive of the RCN, Janet Davies, “Agency cap breaches are a barometer of the scale of the NHS's workforce problem, and it shows clearly that the problem is getting worse. NHS Trusts are unable to recruit nurses and are rightly prioritising patient safety over sticking to the cap. This is a workforce planning issue. The number of nurses being trained in the UK has been reduced, for short-term financial reasons."

Do EHR Design Flaws Lead to Errors In The Emergency Room?

IT technology and computers are supposed to make our work easier, faster and accurate. However, the transition to digitalized record systems seems to be causing a whole new category of patient safety errors. From ordering medication dosages larger than required to making entries in the wrong patient’s records – are these user errors in the making or are they due to a poor system design? According to Raj Ratwani, Scientific Director at MedStar Health, “there are new categories of patient safety errors in emergency rooms that didn’t exist before the push to use electronic record systems.” The financial incentives offered to hospitals to adopt EHRs by the federal government under the 2009 stimulus package and the 2010 health reform law, was supposed to make the system efficient while at the same time reduce errors by linking patient records. The system would also help coordinate and track healthcare delivery across the health system, with penalties for healthcare facilities that did not meet the standards. Unfortunately, the ER is a place, where things take place, very often at a rapid pace. An emergency leaves little room for recording data on the electronic system – care for the patient is the prime concern. With doctors and nurses juggling between multiple patients, verbal communication is more effective. The ER is a different type of healthcare situation and has evolved a distinct workflow over the years. A large number of ERs thus evolved electronic record programs distinct and independent of the hospitals systems. However, these ER record systems find themselves incompatible with the systems that the hospitals are buying and are thus phased out. The new EHR models may be efficient, but to work in an ER situation, they require adjustments. The current models often create a technology mismatch in the ER, something that may not be so for the rest of the hospital. According to a report published in 2013, by Jesse Pines and other members of the American College of Emergency Physicians, mistakes made in the ER like entering data in the wrong patient’s file or ordering the wrong medications, became more common after the switch to digital systems. “The way the systems are set up, it can actually predispose to higher error rates,” said Jesse Pines. The report further states that, “a growing body of evidence suggests that many errors may be the result of poor design rather than user errors. That “can have a profound influence” on patients.

Tackling Market Volatility – A Lesson from Archery

He felt the wind lightly caress his left cheek and sighed. This would mean making a few adjustments, he thought, as he squinted again at the target in front. He willed his mind to relax as he waited in case the wind stopped, but to no avail. Realizing that he did not have too much time left, he drew back his right hand, the muscles on his forearm taught as he pulled the string back. Making adjustments for the wind, he aimed just a fraction to the left of the target and let fly. The twang of the bowstring and the hiss of the arrow sounded like music to his ears, as his unwavering gaze saw the arrow flying true and striking the target dead centre. Only then did he allow himself a little smile and turned to bow at the audience – who were on their feet, clapping for him. His first round at the Lyonchen Jigmi Y Thinley Archery Tournament; with both his arrows hitting the target, and the last one striking the bulls-eye meant a great start for him and the team. As he kept his bow back on the stand, he recalled the first words of his coach – “archery is a test of your accuracy and nerves. If you can focus on your target, realizing, making adjustments and so eliminating all external factors, however volatile they may be; your aim will remain true and you will always strike your target.” Today, 6 years later, in his mind, he thanked his coach one again, like he had done countless times before. Sitting in the stands at the Changlimithang Stadium in Timphu, I reflected on the similarity between the archer’s requirements and mine to achieve our targets time and again. Oh, I forgot to tell you about myself – a businessman and an investor in the mutual funds and equity market. Are you wondering how my requirements and the archer’s are similar? Well, let me explain. In order to hit the brightly painted 3 feet tall and 11 inches wide target that stands 476 feet away, the archer has to take into account factors like light intensity, wind speed and direction, the amount of humidity in the air, the sounds around him and depend on his mental strength. He has to make the necessary adjustments to negate the external factors and will his mind to concentrate only on the target ahead – as he shoots his arrow. Any distraction – external or in his mind, if he allows it, can make him miss. In order to achieve my targets, I have to take into account factors which create volatility in the markets and depend on my mental strength and discipline. I too need to make the necessary adjustments to negate the external factors and concentrate on my end goal. Allowing distractions due to these external volatile situations to create doubts in my mind can make me miss my goals. Bertrand Russell, the British mathematician and philosopher once said, “Neither a man; nor a crowd; nor a nation, can be trusted to act humanely nor think sanely under the influence of a great fear...To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom".

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