Monday, January 31, 2011

Covai Flower Show 2011 – TNAU Botanical Gardens, Coimbatore

For those who missed to visit the Flower show at Coimbatore. Here are some nice pix..

The 20,000-odd strong crowd that swarmed the fourth edition of the Covai Flower Show on Saturday, the opening day, more than doubled on Sunday, the second day. And, none of them went back disappointed from the Botanic Garden of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

There was much more than the exotic flowers to captivate the visitors. From the moment they stepped into the garden, the display of species of flora greeted them.

The first thing to greet you in this edition is the “Nature in Miniature” plant exhibits which are miniature trees (some with even fruits) that have been grown for many years but still have a small size.

There were enamoured mammoth floral arrangements made to salute the Armed Forces, named “Pillars of Strength”. The War Memorial, the army tank, aircraft, map of India and the rocket were creative works of the students of horticulture of the university. They also planned and executed other thematic presentations like the Mickey Mouse, heart, train and Santa's cap.

It was a real treat to eyes and looking forward for event like this in Coimbatore.

In India, a Busy Fair and a Spirited Art Scene

NEW DELHI — The third India Art Summit, an art fair that ended last week, took up more than 90,000 square feet of Pragati Maidan, the main public exhibition hall here in India’s capital. Eighty-four galleries were represented, showing the work of 500 mostly Indian modern and contemporary artists. Organizers reported 128,000 visitors over the fair’s three-day run, and millions of dollars changed hands, with a couple of buyers each taking home more than $2 million in art.

The Armory Show it was not. The quality of works varied much more widely than at that premier New York art fair, and there was a lot less money involved. But it was also a far cry from the first version in 2008, when only 34 galleries and 10,000 visitors showed up, and Neha Kirpal, the event’s 27-year-old founder, didn’t manage to break even.

This time around Ms. Kirpal, now 30, bustled around the crowded hall on the first day of the fair, collecting business cards and stuffing them in the suit pocket of an assistant who trailed her.

“There are people who are coming who are saying: ‘I have money in my bag. Where do I start?’ ” Ms. Kirpal said.

She was only half joking. Just as the prolonged economic boom in China has contributed to globalized tastes and a major art scene in recent decades, India is now experiencing its own, relatively modest version of that phenomenon. At the Art Summit, the largest event of its kind in the country, many newly moneyed visitors were clearly curious about their options. Wealth managers turned up at panel discussions led by curators and college professors; a Kolkata businessman listened as a dealer patiently explained the French influence in the work S. H. Raza, a prominent Indian artist long based in Paris.

But they were also buying, across a wide spectrum of prices. One gallery owner from Mumbai said she was somewhat unprepared for what happened on preview day, before the fair opened to the public, when all three editions of a $13,000 neon light-and-acrylic piece by Tejal Shah, a young Mumbai artist, were snapped up by buyers. A New Delhi gallery sold 10 contemporary pieces, including photographs, paintings and sculpture, at prices ranging from $7,700 to $270,000.

Other dealers reported sales of contemporary Indian works for as much as $400,000. And two sold paintings by Picasso, each of which went for more than $1 million.

“In the hierarchy of needs, people are at a place now where they want to aesthetically satisfy themselves,” Ms. Kirpal said.

One of the most aggressive buyers in India in recent years has been Kiran Nadar, the wife of the billionaire technology baron Shiv Nadar and the founder of the unabashedly named Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, which opened on the eve of the Art Summit inside a new shopping mall a few miles away.

Ms. Nadar, who was a competitive bridge player long before she became an art collector, seems to have brought some of the same energy to acquiring art. She has built her collection swiftly and aggressively, turning up at international art auctions and buying several important examples of modern and contemporary Indian work.
At her museum she is showing major pieces like a haunting three-panel green-and-ivory canvas called “Mahishasura” by the painter Tyeb Mehta, who died in 2009 and was associated with the influential Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group of the 1940s; a set of nudes by one of that group’s founders, F. N. Souza; a room-size steel-and-muslin mobile by Ranjani Shettar, a young Bangalore artist who shows widely in Europe and the United States as well as India; and a mammoth elephant by Bharati Kher of New Delhi, another internationally known artist, covered in her signature bindis.

Ms. Nadar’s most famous acquisition came last year: a large square canvas of geometric reds and oranges, called “Saurashtra,” by Mr. Raza, which she bought for nearly $3.5 million at a Christie’s auction, setting a record for Indian modern art. The piece takes up one wall at the top of her museum’s main exhibition hall.
It’s the kind of collection one might expect at a national art museum, except that in India government museums — in addition to being woefully neglected — rarely collect new work. Ms. Nadar is one of a number of the new private collectors who are trying to make up for that deficiency with museums of their own.
At least two other private museums are in the planning stages, one in Coimbatore, the other in eastern Kolkata. And there is already one devoted to new, often unknown contemporary work from across South Asia, called Devi Art Foundation, in the New Delhi suburb Gurgaon, which reflects the interests of its backers, the mother-and-son duo Lekha and Anupam Poddar, scions of one of India’s most established business families.

For her part Ms. Nadar sees investment in art among the newly rich as a civic good and does what she can to encourage it. “It can improve your aesthetics and be something you can bank on,” is one bottom-line argument she offers. “It’s like jewelry.”

The vogue for art buying was strong enough by this year’s Art Summit to attract galleries from 19 countries outside India, and the expanded fair also drew representatives from a handful of foreign museums like the Tate Modern, interested at the very least in the “spectacle and schmoozathon,” as one local dealer put it.

And in a scene reminiscent of “satellite” events held around more established art fairs, Feroze Gujral, a well-known socialite, invited four artists to put up an installation in a gutted villa that her family had acquired in the city’s most exclusive neighborhood. Then she staged a party.

Still, the summit faced its share of typically Indian challenges. One dealer kept a worried eye on a tangle of electrical cables buried under the carpet. Ms. Kirpal had to get the 10 domes of the exhibition hall covered with waterproof sheeting at the last minute. And thugs threatened the exhibition of India’s most famous painter, M.F. Husain; the Hindu right has for years railed against Mr. Husain for his representations of Hindu goddesses in the nude. Ms. Kirpal agreed to put up his works, then, fearing attacks, ordered them taken down, but was again persuaded to let them be mounted. By then Mr. Husain’s defenders had publicly criticized fair organizers.

Among those who came to view Mr. Husain’s paintings was India’s most powerful politician, Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress Party, and her visit too proved a headache. Inconveniently for the art-viewing public, she came toward the end of the last day of the fair. The police closed the gates, effectively shutting down the fair earlier than scheduled, leaving dealers and would-be Art Summit visitors angry.

And Mr. Husain himself did not attend. Out of fear, he lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London.

Source: Newyork Times

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Returns from fixed income close to peak

While interest rates are on the rise making loans expensive and inflation throwing household budgets into a tizzy, investors of fixed income schemes have a lot to cheer with gains now well close to the heady levels last seen during the liquidity crunch of 2008.

With banks paying up to 9.8% for one-year certificate of deposits (CDs), retail investors in fixed maturity plans (FMPs) can rake in gains of close to 9.3% now for schemes of a little more than a year. Even liquid funds that offer easy exit options within a short period are giving annualised returns of over 7%, says a top industry official. "The next set of FMPs would perhaps offer the best yields in the one-year time frame," says an investment consultant. 

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"Fixed deposit (FD) and FMP investors should start committing funds now. It's a good time (to invest) as yields (from fixed income) are closer to peak," says a senior official with a fund house that focuses on fixed income schemes. "We are asking investors to lock-in money for the one-year tenure as returns are almost near the top," says Suresh Sadagopan, certified financial planner, Ladder7 Financial Advisories.

Fund houses are continuing their FMP launch blitz cashing in on the high rates. Fund mobilisation by FMPs surged more than six times in January-November 2010 with 257 launches collecting Rs 60,867 crore.

"Investor in debt funds stand to gain (from rate hikes) and FD rates would become better for retail investors in a couple of months," says Lakshmi Iyer, head, fixed income and products, Kotak Mahindra Mutual Fund. SBI revised the interest for term deposits of one year and above from 7.75% to 8.25% only on January 3.

CD rates, the rate at which banks borrow from the market, have increased by over 3% in the past few months as banks increasingly started to tap the market for funds on the back of sagging deposit growth and tight liquidity conditions. 

While rates would remain firm till March as demand for funds from banks during the last quarter is traditionally high, they would start softening from April, say observers. "It may be difficult to predict the peak but investors should take advantage of the firmness in rates."

Source: Times of India

Airtel launches 3G services in Chennai, Coimbatore

Airtel on Thursday rolled out 3G mobile services in Tamil Nadu beginning with Chennai and Coimbatore.

Promising a versatile mobile Internet experience across live TV, movies, music, gaming and social networking, Airtel was confident that its High Speed Packet Access HSPA+ network was capable of delivering download speeds of up to 21 Mbps, against the average access speeds of 50-60 Kbps.

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“The voice experience will also be enhanced in this journey into a world of data services,” Airtel president-Mobile Services Atul Bindal told a press conference.

Airtel, which saw over one lakh of its 2G users switch to the 3G experience within three days of launching in Bangalore, expects similar success in ringing in the next wave of mobile telephony in Tamil Nadu, which it regards as a key market in leading the telecom revolution.

Airtel has a customer base of 1.2 crore in Tamil Nadu and delivers its mobile services through a network of 11,000 cell sites, a good number of which will have co-located 3G equipment.

Mr. Bindal hinted at a rapid expansion of the 3G footprint, adding new locations “every fortnight and every month” with a target of at least 40 cities across Karnataka and Tamil Nadu by March and 1,500 cities in India by March 2012.

Film actor and Airtel's brand ambassador Karthi, who was put on video call, feigned to be held up at a distant location before walking into the thick of the launch, where a demo package on the 3G experience played out to the background score of Aerosmith's “Dream On.”

Karthi, who took Airtel's first 3G connection in the State, said he was really excited about the possibilities that his phone opened up for him now.

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The actor who is playing a double role – a cop and a thief – in “Siruthai” said the cool thing (about 3G) would be being able to catch up with the news on live TV, video-calling home and indulging in video blogging. “The only downside is that I can no longer lie about where I am,” he joked.

Vineet Taneja, Airtel's Operations Director (South) said the “Airtel Live,” the WAP portal for applications had been completely redesigned to accommodate a 3G zone.

Airtel has also put together tariff plans to suit every category of 3G customer, from the “sachets” for occasional users to the “flexi-shield” plan for subscribers with heavy data consumption.

Mr. Bindal later told The Hindu that the network had been customised to provide 3G services on the same SIM cards that 2G users were having.

Chettinad College of Engineering and Technology and First Job Pvt. Ltd., signed MoU in Coimbatore

For first job:Representatives of Chettinad College of Engineering and Technology and First Job Pvt. Ltd., with the MoU they signed in Coimbatore. Chettinad College of Engineering and Technology has signed a memorandum of understanding with First Job Pvt. Ltd, a Singapore-based Education Management Company, to provide an exclusive platform for students in getting their first job.
Under the aegis of the MoU, the company will provide career opportunities, question bank, online mock test on competitive exams and instant ranking, exclusive report on each student's performance with student summary and career advising and development.
They will also give information on various competitive examinations from all banks, LIC, BSNL, RRB, PSU, UPSC, TNPSC, MNCs and assistance for campus interviews by conducting pre-assessment test for other private companies.

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Sri Eshwar College
Sri Eshwar College of Engineering and Nextgen Mobile Technologies, a telecom company based in Bangalore, signed a memorandum of understanding to nurture the technical knowledge of students related to latest progress in telecommunications.
SNS Rajalakshmi College
Dr. SNS Rajalakshmi College of Arts and Science and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) entered into a memorandum of understanding to share knowledge resources for technical seminars, conferences and workshops conducted by the college.
According to a release, BSNL will enable students and faculty for industrial visits and in-plant training.
To create skilful engineers: Representatives of Nehru Institute of Engineering and Technology and CODISSIA with the MoU they signed in Coimbatore.
Nehru Institute
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Nehru Institute of Engineering and Technology and Coimbatore District Small Industries Association to enhance the Industry-Institute interaction and to create skilful engineers.
The MoU entails industrial visits by students to firms and factories under CODISSIA, training and placements for the students, providing live projects and helping them in research and development.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Coimbatore chosen as preferred destination

Australian States of New SouthWales and Sydney today invited entrepreneurs and industrialists from Coimbatore to invest there, especially inthe Engineering, biomedical sectors and also textile sectors.

Both the States have chosen Coimbatore as the preferred destination for attracting investments, following the strong presence of India's top companies from these sectors in the region, Rohit Manchanda, Director, Trade and Investment, India for New South Wales, told reporters here.

Stating that the Governments of Australia and India had agreed to support cutting-edge biotechnology research, funding eight collaborative projects between the scientists, Manchanda said this initiative would help develop partnerships to tackle the big issues facing communities in Australia and India, inhealth, agriculture, energy and water management.

When asked about investment pattern, he said that it could be any kind of projects, be it individual or joint ventures and with transparent and conducive policy, it would not be any problem for Indian industrialists in Wales.

He also said that New South Wales had recently signed MOU with Gujarat Government in vocational education field, and train trainers in 15 courses.

With Wales contributing 33 per cent--402 billion dollars,to Australian GDP, the bilateral trade between India and NewSouth Wales amounted to 1.75 billion, Manchanda said.

Since Australia was strong in Irrigation andagri-business, Coimbatore, which was popular for pumps and motors, would have adequate business potential to tap in boththe States, Manchanda added.

Source:One India

Green trouble for film, collector orders removal of set

The latest movie of Udhayanidhi Stalin, " Ezham Arivu" ( Seventh Sense), has run into "green" trouble here. Following protests by environmental activists, the Coimbatore district collector has directed that the palatial sets raised for the film within the waters of a check dam at Nandankarai near the city be removed. Activists and local farmers had alleged that the sets made of plaster of paris were polluting the check dam.

For the last one week, about 100 workers have been creating a palace, pillars and a temple for the "Ezham Arivu" movie being produced by Udhayanidhi Stalin, son of deputy chief minister M.K.Stalin. The shooting for the movie starring Surya and Sruti, daughter of actor Kamal Hassan, was to begin later this month.

However, as the shooting sets located close to the reserve forest area threatened to contaminate the check dam which stores the Siruvani river water, local environmental groups raised serious objections.

"We have directed the removal of the sets which were put up on the revenue land inside the check dam without taking the permission of the revenue authorities," district collector P.Umanath told TOI.

The Nandakarai check dam at the foothills of Western Ghats was the first such government project constructed by an NGO. The Rural Administration department had given the construction contract to an environmental group Siruthuli to build the dam at a cost of Rs.1.28 crore. The check dam, constructed about two years ago, stores the rain water and irrigates farm lands in and around Nandankarai. "A variety of mammals including leopards, gaurs and even a tiger have been spotted near the check dam. Erecting a shooting set in the Nandankarai dam is highly objectionable," said K.Kalidasan of the local environmental group, OSAI

The film production company, Red Giants, had got the permission from the local Madhvarayapuram village panchayat for shooting the film in the village for 30 days. "However, they had raised the sets in the revenue land for which they had not obtained any permission," the collector said.

As the shooting location was close to the Bolvampatty reserve forests in the Coimbatore forest division the film company had obtained a no objection certificate from the Forest department. " We have not given them permission for shooting inside the reserve forests. The NOC is for shooting near the reserve forest," Coimbatore DFO V.Thirunavukkarasu said.

Last week, another film shooting inside the Sathyamangalam jungles, a proposed tiger reserve, had attracted the ire of environmental groups. Activists had raised objections to the Forest department granting permission for film shooting in forest areas, causing disturbance to wild animals.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Culturals go glam in Coimbatore!

Celebrities these days will go to any lengths to promote their films. From being guest judges at reality TV shows to attending brand launches, they are everywhere, especially before a big release. Lately, a new trend has emerged where big names from the film industry are increasingly attending events in colleges as special guests for functions and cultural programs and not everyone is happy with this. 

“It is a common fact that most college students in Coimbatore do not get enough exposure. By bringing down celebrities and other big people in the industry we can teach life skills to our students,” says a chairman of a city college.

Students, however, have mixed opinions, “We have actors coming down every month and most of them do nothing but promote their latest films or ventures, and in some colleges the students are expected to pay for attending such events,” says Jidesh A. Moorthy, a student of Business Management.
“I love it when they come down to our college,” says Bobby George, a Visual Communication student and model. “They talk about the tough times they had at the start of their careers and also give us pointers on how we can become like them. I strongly believe that we should continue with this concept and make sure that many people benefit from it.”

“I think it should be stopped,” says Visual Communications student Vinay, adding, “They give us good information once a while, but mostly it’s just all fun and games. It’s like one of those masala shows on TV with big stars.”
Sanjeev Rao, student organiser for Saarang says, “Celebrities help rope in a larger audience. They attract many fans, thereby making our jobs easier. Last year we had roped in Sonu Nigam and this year we are planning to bring KK, so it’s good for the fans and for us as well.”
However, Vj Ramya belives, “I think such college fests provide a platform for stars to interact with their fans. The youth are your target so I think it’s the best way to interact with them. You are a celebrity because of your fans and paying a lum sum just for your apperance does not seem right, I never charge anything while I go for any cultural but I am selective about the institutions I go to.”

Source: Decan Chronicle

TNAU gets its first U.S. student

This university has seen students from many countries. But not from the United States. That vacuum was filled when Megan Elizabeth Fenton from Penn-Yann, New York, walked into its portals.

She has travelled all the way to Coimbatore to pursue a master's degree at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). Megan registered as a full-time student for the post-graduate degree programme in agronomy on Wednesday.
While the movement of Indian students to foreign shores, especially the U.S., for higher education is on the rise with every academic year, the reverse is not comparable to it. 

Even some of the students who come from the country on exchange programmes do so for attending short-term courses. 

In this scenario, the girl, an agricultural science graduate from Cornell University, the U.S., has come to India on her own initiative. 

The university has nearly 30 students from countries such as Africa, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Iran and Iraq. Though their entry began more than four decades ago, there has not been a single student from the U.S. According to Vice-Chancellor P. Murugesa Boopathi, it is a matter of great pride.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mini-marathon to create awareness on obesity

Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu, jointly with Gem Hospital, is jointly organising ''Coimbatore Mini Marathon'' here on Jan 30 to create awarenessabout obesity, claimed to be behind most diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

The ''fight obesity campaign'' would have four categories for school boys and girls, men and women.

It is jointly supported by Bharathiar University and NSS, Raja Mahendran, District Sports officer and Dr C Palanivelu, Director, Gem Hospital, told reporters here today.

The first three winners among all the categories would be sponsored by the State Government for the Chennai Marathon scheduled on February 13, Mahendran said.


Bangalore emerges as '420 City' of India

Here is some disturbing news for Bangaloreans. India's Silicon City has now earned the dubious tag of '420 City'. Besides, it is the number two crime city in India, next only to Delhi, with 32,380 criminal cases being registered in the Police District of Bangalore in 2009. Delhi city has recorded 45,247 criminal cases.

"Bengaluru has reported the highest (Delhi excluded) incidence of IPC crimes during 2009," says the latest edition of 'Crime in India' report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). "Bengaluru reported the highest incidence of Preparation and Assembly for Dacoity and Cheating (Section 420 IPC) cases," the report added.

Statistics reveal that as many as 32,380 criminal cases were registered under various sections of the IPC in Bangalore in 2009. Of this 3,007 were cases of cheating. Mumbai follows closely with 31,262 criminal cases.

In fact, Ahmedabad, which comes third in the list, had registered only 20,726 cases. "The cities of Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai have accounted for 13.2%, 9.4% and 9.1% respectively of the total crimes reported from 35 mega cities," the Crime in India 2009 report said.

Bangalore also topped in the number of cases registered under the Information Technology Act. Of the 178 cases reported under the IT Act, 97 were registered in Bangalore followed by 10 in Ahmedabad; six each in Bhopal, Coimbatore and Kochi and, five each in Delhi, Indore, Ludhiana and Pune.


Coimbatore gets its first equestrian centre

If you are crazy about horses and love riding them, then step in to the United Royal Riders (URR) equestrian training centre at Thangamani Thottam in Nachipalayam.

Situated 15 km from the city, URR is the first of its kind training centre for horse riding. “We are going to offer specialised training in mounting, cantering and galloping, besides show jumping,” said Vinod Arumugam, its director.
He said most centres like these have Indian bred horses. “But we have foreign breeds. And, each one of them has a passport. We have about three horses at the moment. They are from the Pune stud farm and have run at the Mysore races. We plan to add seven more to the stables next week.”

It was not an easy task for URR.

“We planned for about two years. Obviously, we had to do a lot of homework. Yet we are not full fledged. But we hope to offer complete services in a reasonably short time,” said Mr. Vinod, who will work alongside URR's chairperson, K.J. Vaijayanthi.

Why Coimbatore? “We chose this city for its salubrious climate. It is very important for horses. If the place is hot, horses lose their energy. They may also not follow commands,” he added.

“The Pune centre is pretty good compared to both Bangalore and Chennai. We have added a similar facility here,” said Mr. Vinod.

URR has roped in experienced trainers for its centre. “We have Sunder Rao and D. Prakash. The former is a well known jockey who has 40-plus years of training experience in Chennai, Bangalore and Kuwait. The latter is a basic level instructor,” he said.

The Centre, which will be inaugurated by the City Police Commissioner, C. Sylendra Babu on Sunday, plans to start its training sessions on January 24. “It will be open to the 4-45 age group. There will be four camps and each camp will have eight sessions of one hour each. We have already registered 12 entries. We plan to concentrate on people who seriously enjoy good riding and not on those who want to spend some jolly time,” added Mr. Vinod.

He said besides imparting training, the Centre plans to host national show jumping events every year. “Apart from the nationals, we will also have basic level show jumping events once in three months,” he said.

The Centre, which is spread over 3.5 acres, would utilise one acre for urban level training, 1.5 acre for advanced training and one acre for maintaining and upkeep of horses. “We want to be professionals in this segment,” he concluded.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Give your home a smart makeover

Buying a dream house, it seems, is an easier task than converting that house into a dream abode. The right seating and lighting arrangement , the right colour of the fabrics, the comfort factor... the list just goes on and on. No wonder then that the Indian middle class is spending a lot of its time and money on renovating homes.

However, many would confess that the task is not an easy one. “After running around for locating a house and securing a loan, we thought doing up the house would be a small task. We already had the colour scheme in mind – actually , we picked it up from the hotel we stayed during a holiday. However, the colour just wouldn’t work for our house because of the lack of sunlight,” says Shilpa (surname with-held ). “We spent a lot of money and we had to put up with the stuff for around three years. We invited very few people home during the period,” she adds. Now, you know why certain neighbours would never open their doors completely or invite you over.

Keep it simple :

The house in that glossy magazine or your favourite holiday resort may have looked stunning. But imitating the same design won’t get you the same results. For example, space is a big issue in many large cities, especially in Mumbai. So, rule number one in doing up your home is to keep it as minimal and simple as possible. Says Sanjay Puri, prinicipal architect, Sanjay Puri Architects, “You must stick to a minimal design for your house. Most houses in Mumbai are small. Keeping that in mind, you should not spend too much on storage, and other things. Have lesser number of elements in your home. That way, you will be able to give your home a spacious look and also it will help you save money,” he adds. That tip should stop people about to clutter their homes with stuff they have seen in western interior magazines .

Draw up a Budget :

Sure, you can already picture the house after it goes for a makeover? That’s a good sign. At least you know what you want. But how about your wallet? Do you know much it would cost to make it look like a Devdas set? Sort of, right? That’s not good enough, you must have a figure in mind. This is because once you have a figure in mind, you will be able to pick stuff that will stay within budget. For example , you can redo your bathroom for a lakh or a few thousands. It is entirely up to you. Also, having a budget ensures that you don’t overspend on a particular section. For example, if you have already overshot your budget doing up the drawing room, then you may have to break your deposit or liquidate your investments to do up your bedroom.

“Most people start renovating their home without having a proper plan in place. Many of my clients come to me confused. They do not know what they want,” says interior decorator Tina Dharamsey . She offers an example: “When it comes to finishings, they don’t know whether they want a sunmica finish or a laminated finish. There is too much of trial and error. That way you end up wasting too much money.”

How to draw up a Budget :

Don’t blow up your savings doing up the house. Remember , you may want to redo it in the next five years. Two, don’t borrow heavily just to beautify the house. Borrowing large amounts can be justified only if your house needs urgent work to make it inhabitable.

Avoid a theme :

Often people tend to replicate a theme they have seen somewhere . However, experts are of the view that you should never have a fixed theme for your home. The problem with a fixed theme is that you would then have to get all the artefacts according to the chosen theme.

Protect Your Business with Credit Insurance

Insuring your accounts receivables maybe a worthwhile investment.

Managing your company's cash flow is a tough task when you're not sure your clients will pay what they owe. Rather than take a chance, consider credit insurance.

Credit insurance policies cover your accounts receivables, insuring your business in the case of non-payment. You tell the insurance company which accounts you want to cover, and you'd pay a monthly premium based on the creditworthiness of your client and the amount of credit you're extending to that client.

"Credit insurance has been around, but up until recently, it was really a very expensive proposition and really not affordable for small businesses," says Michael Zeldes, a senior vice president of HUB International Northeast, a business insurance broker.

These policies, also known as business credit insurance, trade insurance, bad debt insurance or accounts receivables insurance, may be a worthwhile investment, especially in this rocky economy.

How Credit Insurance Works
Credit insurance is appropriate for any business that extends credit to its clients.

Zeldes offers this example: Say a company has 50 customers and it sells widgets. Of those 50 customers, the widget-maker feels 20 of those companies are their most important customers because they buy the most merchandise.

The widget-maker can identify which of those companies they're most concerned about, perhaps because of past late payments or non-payment, or simply because of the amount of extended credit. The underwriter for the credit insurance policy will investigate those specific clients and approve the ones the policy would cover.

One of the biggest benefits: The underwriters will continue to monitor the financial health of those companies over time. You'll get regular reports from the insurance company about your clients, so if the client encounters financial difficulty, you'll learn about it quickly.

It could really help you stay in business," says Michelle Dunn, credit and debt collection expert and author of the Collecting Money book series.

The Cost
During a recession, you might be thinking that insurance costs are a luxury you can't afford, but there's no downside to applying.

"It's sort of a no-brainer," Zeldes says, because underwriters are very willing to evaluate the risks presented by your clients for free, and no one gets paid unless you buy a policy.

You can also control the cost of the policy by deciding how many clients you'd like to cover, and which insurer to use. Depending on the policy, you can choose how many days late a payment has to be before the policy kicks in. You can also select the percentage of the unpaid invoice the policy would pay.

Other Financial Safety Nets
If you extend credit for your clients but you're not ready for credit insurance, the only other options is to do your own due diligence. Do what you can to check the credit worthiness of a company before you extend credit, said Dunn, but that can be a challenge.

"You can do your own risk management. Only do business with those you know will pay you," Dunn says. "In a good economy, you might say that you could sell to anyone, but in a bad economy, who knows if even Wal-Mart is a good bet."

* Risk Management


The Importance of Saving and How Much To Set Aside

Saving is an important step on the way to financial well-being, both in the short term and in the long term. In the short term, it gives you an emergency cushion in the event that an unforeseen, large and urgent expense arises. In the long term, a consistent pattern of saving can enable you to accomplish your financial goals, such as financing a college education, a home purchase, or a retirement.

If more money comes in every month than goes out, congratulations -- you're saving. If not, head over to the credit and loans section . If you're not sure, take another look at the budgeting section. If you are in debt, you should start saving to pay it down (especially if it's debt at a high interest rate, such as on a credit card). Once you are free of high-interest debt, the next step is to build up a cash cushion to protect you from emergencies, such as a layoff or a medical expense.

How much should you build up and set aside? Experts recommend that you build up at least three to six months' worth of
living expenses. The right amount for you will depend on the following:
    * What are your financial responsibilities? If you're the head of a household, or have dependents or anyone else who relies on your income, you'll want a larger cushion.
    * How willing are you to take risk? If you're risk-averse, you'll want a larger cushion.
    * What expenses do you anticipate having in the coming few years? If they're higher than usual, you'll want a larger cushion.
    * How regular is your income? If you are self-employed, work on commission, or otherwise have income that fluctuates, you'll want a larger cushion.

Some people feel that they don't need this cash cushion, claiming that they can just run up credit card debt if they need to. While this may be true, taking on credit card debt is a dangerous trap to fall into, because the high interest rates make it difficult to escape from. (If you do decide to rely on credit for emergencies, consider a home equity line of credit, which generally charges a significantly lower interest rate than credit cards do). Additionally, saving the money is a great idea even if you don't need it for an emergency, because then you'll be able to use it toward your long-term financial goals. Others
say that they have stock and could just sell it if they needed to. Again, they're correct, but the downside is that circumstances might force them to sell the stock even when they don't want to.

As you build up your emergency fund, and even once you've finished building it, the money should remain in a safe place. Any money beyond this cushion that won't be needed for several years can go toward higher-risk, higher-reward investments such as stocks, but this emergency fund should not be placed at risk. Since you will want to be able to access the money on a moment's notice, keep it in a money market account or