Monday, September 2, 2013

Understanding Your Payslip

Understanding your Payslip

My friend has finished engineering and joined a company as a software developer a few weeks back. She had got her first salary and asked my help to understand her salary slip since she did n't have much idea about finance. I had faced the same situation when I started my first job and I thought if I share it as a blog post it will be useful for many people.

Here are the common components of salary slip in most companies:

Basic Salary - Basic salary is the fixed part of your compensation and it is fully taxable. It is the base criteria used for calculating many employee benefits like E.P.F and gratuity.
House Rent Allowance (HRA) - HRA is the amount paid by the company to meet your expenses for renting a house. Usually it is 50 percent of the basic salary. Certain percentage of HRA is exempted from tax if you produce rental receipts.
For HRA, least of the following will be exempted from tax:

  • HRA received
  • 50% of basic (40% for non-metros)
  • Rent paid in excess of 10% of basic

Conveyance Allowance - Conveyance allowance is the money paid to meet your expenses for commuting to office.
In India, conveyance allowance up to 9600 per year (800 per month) is not taxable.
Medical reimbursement - Medical reimbursement is the amount paid to meet your medical expenses. Medical reimbursement for up to 15000 per year (1250 per month) is not taxable in India. You have to submit bills at the end of the financial year or per quarter according to your company policy to get tax exemption.
LTA (Leave Travel Allowance)- LTA is the allowance paid by the company when you travel with your family on vacation. The travel expenses are exempted from tax if you provide bills. It can be claimed only twice in a block of 4 years.
Other Allowance or Flexible Allowance - Any other allowance that is not part of the above allowances. Some companies include medical and LTA also as part of the other allowance.

Here are the common deductions:
E.P.F - If your company is providing E.P.F benefit, 12 percent of basic salary is deducted as E.P.F contribution. It may not be applicable for many small companies where employee strength is less.
For more information about E.P.F, see my blog post Understanding EPF
Professional tax - Professional tax is the tax levied by state governments and the maximum limit is 2500 per year (208 per month)
Income tax - Income tax will be deducted according to the salary you are getting and it is levied by central government. it varies according to the Income tax slabs government fixes for each financial year.
Income in rupees and tax slabs for the financial year 2013-2014 for general tax payers and woman:

  1. 0 to 2,00,000 - No tax
  2. 2,00,001 to 5,00,000 - 10%
  3. 5,00,001 to 10,00,000 - 20%
  4. Above 10,00,000 - 30%

Your take home salary will be the sum of all this components less deductions. Suppose your annual package is 3,00000 per year.
You may think you will get 3,00000/12 = 25000 as your monthly take home salary. But in reality, your take home monthly salary will be your basic salary + HRA + conveyance allowance + medical+ L.T.A (If applicable)- deductions(Income tax + EPF+ Professional tax)

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Monday, August 26, 2013

How to check your PF balance online

how to check your PF balance online

You can check your Employee Provident Fund (E.P.F) balance online, if you know your PF account number. But all PF offices do not support this facility and you can check the PF balance only if your PF office supports this facility. Also, if your company has a separate trust for EPF you won't be able to check it online at EPFO website.

Here is the procedure to check the PF balance online:

1. Go to

2. Select the state where your EPF office is located

3. Select your EPF office and the member balance information window will be displayed.

4. Enter your details in the member balance information. For example, if your PF number is KN/xxxxx/yyyyyy, KN indicates the state, xxxxx is the establishment code for your organization and yyyyyy is your PF number. Employee PF account number has five text boxes. The first two fields will be filled automatically and enter the remaining information as per the following steps.

a. Enter the xxxxx part of your PF number as the establishment code in the third text field.

b. Enter the extension number or fill it as 000 if there is no extension number in the fourth text field.

c. Enter the yyyyyy part of your PF account number in the fifth text field.

d. Enter your name as per EPFO records.

e. Enter your mobile number.

f. Read the terms and conditions and click agree if you are fine with it

g. Click Submit.

You PF balance information will be sent to you as SMS.

For detailed information about EPF, read my blog post

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi - A traveller's delight

Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi (English: Blue Skies, Green Waters, Red Earth) is a brilliant attempt by Samir Thair to make a road trip movie for the first time in Malayalam cinema. Supported by Hashir Mohammad's brilliant script and excellent visuals by Gireesh Gangadharan the movie has turned out as a beautiful visual treat.Dulkar Salman has done a superb job as Kasi-the lead actor. The story is about Kasi - a youngster who completed his engineering and Suni - Kasi's intimate friend and their journey from Kerala to North Eastern India on bikes. Their warm friendship and comradarie is beautifully captured in the film. Through this journey with out any specific aim, Kasi wants to get over his past relationship.( I too had a similar experience some time back traveling with a friend on a bike who was in the same state as Kasi :-) )

On their way, they see and feel the real India through the people they meet during the journey.Inspired by the people he had met during the journey, he decided to search for his lover Assi- a young woman from Nagaland - who came to Kerala to study engineering in the same college where Kasi and Suni studied. They were attacked by thieves, got into a group of hippies , captured by Naxals, witnessed the riots in Assam, enjoyed the song of sadhus and consumed bhang with them, experienced the anger of Naga's and learn more about themselves and India. Along with the journey, the film progresses though the college life of Kasi and Assi and their struggle to get the approval from Kasi's orthodox family who first accepted their love but succumbed to pressures of the orthodox society they were part of. Kasi's college life is almost the same story of many youngsters in Kerala. The idealistic left activism they cherish as students and the confusion they face later in the real life when they have to work as part of the same system they opposed once. The confusion of Kasi about his identity is actually the same confusion many experience when they are constantly reminded about their identity by the society even though they had came out of their traditional beliefs and customs. The naxal village portrayed in the films throws some light on the threats of crony capitalism on the life of villagers in India and their struggle to fight against it to protect their homeland. Finally after all his struggles Kasi got back his sweet heart from Nagaland and starts his return journey and the film ends. I felt that the climax would have been more powerful than the ordinary climax that was shown in the movie.

The movie is a delight to watch for a travel enthusiast who can identify with the joy of seeing new places and cherish the experience of a long journey. The film encourages every traveler to explore the new horizons and seek the thrill and excitement that every journey offers. Exploring India is a great learning experience and makes you a much better person. The visuals are beautiful and as a unique attempt to make road trip as a theme the effort is commendable.

The film has it's own weaknesses too. I felt that some scenes in the second half were dragging. The climax was just ordinary nothing special. There was more scope for covering the diversity and the variety that India offers, but may be two and half hours may not be a sufficient.

I heard from my friend that Hashir Mohammad- the script writer of the movie, actually traveled to North East immediately after finishing his studies on a bike and got inspired to make this movie :-).
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Common Banking Interview Questions

There are a lot of people applying for jobs in public sector banks in India and the competitive examination is also tough to crack. State bank conducts separate examination to recruit staff and other banks recruit through a common exam known as IBPS.

Here are some of the commonly asked questions related to banking that helps you to prepare for the interview:

What is repo rate ?

Repo rate is the interest rate at which Reserve Bank of India (RBI) lends money to the commercial banks for a short term against securities. Suppose you are a small shop owner (commerical bank) who buys goods from a whole saler in debt keeping some thing valuable as collateral. In return, you have to pay a higher price mutually agreed between both of you later and take your collateral back. The profit the wholesaler takes from you can be called as repo rate.

Current repo rate is 8.5 percent.

Note: These values vary according to RBI policy.

What is reverse repo rate ?

Reverse repo rate is the rate at which commercial banks lend money to RBI

Suppose the whole-saler is in shortage of goods and you have stocks of extra goods and you are willing to sell the goods to the whole saler. The rate at which you give goods to the whole saler can be called as reverse repo rate.

Current reverse repo rate is 7.5 percent

What is bank rate ?

Bank rate is the interest charged by RBI on loans by commercial banks. Here collateral is not required.
The current rate is about 6.0 percent.

What is CRR ?

CRR is the ratio of funds banks have to keep with Reserve Bank as per norms. If CRR ratio is less banks will have more money to conduct business.

Current CRR is 6 percent

What is NEFT ?

There are two modes for transferring funds from one bank account to another account in India using electronic fund transfer.
They are National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS). In NEFT transactions are processed in batches and in RTGS the transaction is done immediately. So, RTGS is faster than NEFT.

Note: I am not an expert in banking domain. I collected these information when my sister was preparing for the IBPS P.O interview :-)

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bangalore Bus Tips for Non Bangaloreans

If you are new to Bangalore and you don't know to read Kannada initially you will find it a bit difficult to go around by bus because there are route numbers and bus boards will have only Kannada boards. It is a good idea to learn Kannada but it will take time. There are three important bus stations in Bangalore and you can see buses to these three places from most places in Bangalore.

  • Majestic Bus Stand also known as Kempe Gowda Bus Station or KBS (ಕೆಂಪ ಗೌಡ ಬಸ್ ನಿಲ್ದಾಣ) - This is the major bus stand in Bangalore and you can get buses to most of the places around Bangalore from Majestic bus stand. ಕೆಂಪ ಗೌಡ ಬಸ್ ನಿಲ್ದಾಣ(Kempe Gowda Bus Nildana) means Kempe Gowda Bus Station and the bus board will also have the bus number. ಕೆಂಪ ಗೌಡ ಬಸ್ ನಿಲ್ದಾಣ is not very difficult to memorize if you observe the pattern. The first letter ka is similar to ta (ठ) in Hindi and the first letter of ನಿಲ್ದಾಣ is a slight variation of na (न) in Hindi. Keralites can easily recognize the la sound in niladana. If you are still not able to recognize ask for a bus to Majestic because I really doubt how many people know the actual name Kempe Gowda Bus Station.

    Majestic Hogutha ? (will it go to Majestic ) will work most of the time. If you lost your way there is an unwritten rule in Bangalore that then you should catch the next bus to Majestic :-). There is some logic in it because you will get a bus to almost any place in Bangalore from Majestic bus stand.
  • K.R Market (ಕೆಆರ್ ಮಾರ್ಕಟ್) - K.R Market is the next major bus stand after Majestic and it is the major market place in Bangalore. The bus board will be written as ಕೆಆರ್ ಮಾರ್ಕಟ್ (K R MARKET). As mentioned earlier you should be able to recognize Ka easily and the last letter ttu (ಟ್) you can easily remember.
  • Shivaji Nagar (ಶಿವಾಜಿ ನಗರ್) - The third important bus stand is Shivaji Nagar (ಶಿವಾಜಿ ನಗರ್). It is also very easy to remember if you observe the pattern. The first letter sha is a variant of श in Hindi.
Some more major destinations:
  • Shanthi Nagar- ಶಾಂತಿ ನಗರ್
  • Banashankari- ಬನಶಂಕರಿ
  • Indira Nagar- ಇಂದಿರಾ ನಗರ್
  • Marthahalli- ಮರ್ಥಹಳ್ಳಿ
I am also listing a few bus route numbers that may help:
  • Attibele- Kempegowda Bus Station -360-B
  • Electronics City- Kempegowda Bus Station -356-C
  • Narayana Hrudayalaya- Kempegowda Bus Station -356-N
  • Banashankari -Hebbal 500-A
  • I T P L Banashankari 500-C
  • Silk Board Hebbal 500-D
  • Marathahalli -Kempegowda Bus Station -333-J
  • I T P L -Kempegowda Bus Station -333-P
  • Kadugodi -Nagarbhavi -333-T
  • Kadugodi -Kempegowda Bus Station -335-E
  • Bannerghatta National Park- Kempegowda Bus Station 365
  • Kormangala- Kempegowda Bus Station 171
To find all the bus routes you can see the following links:
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

List of SBI branches with PPF facility in Bangalore

If you are in Bangalore the following SBI branches support Public Provident Fund (PPF) facility as per my knowledge. (It is not a comprehensive list and I will update it whenever I receive more information)
  • SBI Koramangala
  • SBI Hulimavu
  • SBI Bannerghatta road
  • SBI Richard town
  • SBI Indira Nagar
  • SBI Sarjapura Road
  • SBI Belandur
  • SBI Banashankari 2 stage
  • SBI Kempa Gowda Road, Bangalore Main Branch
  • SBI Basaveshwarnagar
  • SBI Cantonement, St Marks Road
  • SBI Sanjay Nagar
  • SBI Jeevan Bheema Nagar
  • SBI Hegde Nagar
  • SBI BTM (Mico Layout)
  • SBI NAL Branch
  • SBI JP Nagar Branch

For more information about how to open a PPF account with SBI, see my blog post :

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Things you should know before buying Gold Jewellery

I am not a fan of Gold and I consider wearing gold as a weird thing. I don't consider Gold more valuable than some other element like Iron in the periodic table, but we live in a country where gold traditionally plays a major role in every important event in your life. During my engagement, very reluctantly I bought a ring for me. I chose the smallest ring that one might have bought for engagement and my wife still complains about it :-). Again there may be numerous occasions where you have to buy gold for your sister, your nephew and so on even if you don't like.

Since I had been to jewellery shops a couple of times to buy gold now, I learned a few things about purchasing Gold.

Here are some of the points I learned:

What is Karat? Why do the jewellers mention 22 Karat ?

24 Karat is pure gold, but it is too soft and ornaments made out of it may not last longer. In India what we get from jewellery is usually 22 Karat Gold. That means it contains a certain percentage of other metals like Cadmium and Copper. 22 Karat means it contains (22/24) * 100 = 91.6 percentage Gold and remaining percentage contains other metals. That is why it is known as 916 Gold.

Suppose it is 21 Karat Gold, then it contains 21/24 *100 =87.5 percentage Gold. So to get more value, make sure that you are buying 22 Karat Gold.

What is BIS certification?

To ensure the purity of Gold and to prevent fraud, hallmarking Scheme was launched by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The BIS certified jewellers can get their jewellery hallmarked from any of the BIS recognized assaying and hallmarking Center.
For example 916 hallmark from BIS ensures that it contains 91.6 percentage Gold or 22 Karat.
For more information see:

How do Jewellers Calculate Price of Gold ?
Jewellery price include the following:
1. Price of gold as per market rate for the day * number of grams of gold
2. Making charges
3. Wastage charges
4. VAT
Suppose you are buying jewellery worth 8gm gold and the market price for gold is 20000 for 8gms.
The price of jewellery= 20000+ making charges+ wastage charges+ VAT

What are Wastage Charges?

Jewellers claim that a certain percentage of Gold is lost when you make ornaments from Gold. I don't buy this argument since you are using machinery to make jewels these days and also even if there is a Goldsmith I heard that the Goldsmith can recover a substantial percentage of Gold wasted while manufacturing. Even if Gold is wasted, it may be minimal.

Unfortunately we have to pay for this wastage charge since there is no norm from government about it.The wastage charges vary from jewellery to jewellery and it is between 8 to 20 percent. It is where the jewellers make huge profit. If they are charging more than 10-12 percent you should negotiate to reduce the price. It may be possible to get it reduced by 2-3 percentages if you are making bulk purchases.

What are Making Charges?

Making charges are the cost involved in making jewellery from pure gold. It includes the price of additional metals and labor charges of the goldsmith. Most jewellers will club making charge and wastage charge together and name it as value addition charge. Some may charge it separately. Here also you can negotiate to reduce the price.

What is VAT ?

Value Added Tax(VAT) is a tax on the final consumption of goods or services and is ultimately borne by the consumer.It is usually charged at 1 percent for precious metals like Gold.

Some Important Points to Keep in Mind:

Jewellery is just another business- Don't go to a jewellery shop with the mindset that you are entering a temple. Ask the price of every item in detail like making charge and wastage charge. If you are a regular visitor or purchase in larger quantity negotiate on making charge and wastage charge. The better you negotiate the more benefit you will get. I had my own experience when my relative negotiated in a jewellery shop they said you are the first guy who negotiates in a jewellery shop like you are going to a vegetable market and they tried everything to make him feel ashamed. But he insisted and finally he succeeded to get a reduced price :-)

Buy gold only from reputed jewellers or jewellers you trust- All jewelers may not be selling 22 Karat Gold while charging you the price for 22 Karat Gold. Ensure that the 916 hallmark is present in each item you buy.

Check the market price and find out the making charges before you go to a jewellery shop - It is better to check that days market price before you go to a jewellery shop. It would be good if you can find out about the making charges also.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Getting into Technical Writing

A few years back, when I used to say I work as a technical writer many people didn't know and some of them used to raise their eye brows. I had a difficult time explaining technical writing to those confused souls around. I am not sure whether we should thank the training companies or the rumors about handsome packages offered for technical writers. But for some reason, these days I am getting a lot of queries from people from different sections of the society about technical writing. Most of them wanted to know how to get into technical writing for their spouses or cousins. So I am dedicating this post to all those enthusiastic individuals and trying to answer some of the common queries:

What does a technical writer do?

As a technical writer in a software company, you need to write documentation for different software and hardware products. You need to go through engineering specifications, gather information from subject matter experts, research about complex details and develop that information into clear and concise instructions that is useful for end users of the product. Technical writers have to create a variety of documentation outputs including user guides, online help, and installation guides depending on the requirements of users.

How can I get into technical writing? Do I need to join a course?

Like most of the other careers, technical writing can be learned on the job. In India very few universities provides courses in technical communication and if you have a basic degree, that is sufficient. But sometimes if you have a degree in journalism, English literature, or computer science it will give you an added advantage depending on the company where you apply. If you have no idea about technical writing, doing a technical writing course from a private institute may help you. But I wonder whether the institutes that charges you sky rocketing fees are worth joining. If you can learn Java or CCNA training course for 10000-20000 rupees (I have done CCNA and Java training courses and CCNA course definitely requires more expensive infrastructure), I can’t understand the logic in charging 35000-75000 rupees for a technical writing course. Most technical writing institutes are just making hay while Sun shines.

Most institutes provide you an overview of technical writing and teach one or two tools used by technical writers and most of these things you can learn by yourself. If you do a Google search, you can get a fair idea about technical writing and common tools that are used in technical writing. You can download trial versions of the tools and explore them in your own. Most commonly used authoring tools include Adobe Framemaker or Arbortext Editor for authoring user manuals and Robohelp for online help generation.Again, tools will be different from company to company and your mastery over one tool may not give you a lot of brownie points when you are searching for a job. Tools you can learn by practice but developing good writing skills requires a lot of effort and time. So technical writing may not be a good option for you if your writing skills are below average.

What are the necessary skills required for a technical writer?

The primary skill you require is an ability to learn new technologies quickly and write about the technologies in simple English for end users. You should have an aptitude for research that will help you to develop the primary information you receive from subject matter experts and given in the engineering documents into a form of content useful for end users. Good communication skills will give you a lot of advantage since you needs to interact with subject matter experts to collect information. Also, you should be familiar with the common authoring tools used by technical writers.

I have a fair idea about technical writing and I have the necessary skills, but I am not seeing many openings in newspapers or job sites. How can I apply for a technical writing job?

Technical writing community is growing in India but still it is relatively small compared to the other professions and technical writing openings are mostly shared with in the community.
Subscribe to Technical Writers of India ( and Society of Technical Communication India Chapter ( mailing lists for job openings. You can also check the jobs posted at Technical Writers of India Website
Getting into a big company is most of the time difficult if you lack experience, but many small companies hires technical writers without experience as trainees. So, if you are a fresher try applying in small companies and work for two or three years and then try in a big company.

I got an interview call from company A, but I have no idea how to prepare for the interview. What should I do ?

In most companies there will be a written test to assess your writing skills followed by one or two rounds of interview. The written test may have questions to test your knowledge about English grammar and also a few scenarios to see how well you can express your ideas in a layman’s language using technical writing principles. Based on your performance in the written test, you may be called for an interview. It would be good if you carry some work samples with you or you can point to your blog or content you authored online. The interviewer may ask you questions about the sample projects you have done, the process you followed or the tools you had used. If you are a fresher, expect questions from the subjects you studied in college. Try to learn about the company you are applying and the domain they are working. You can expect a few questions about the product domain of the company.

Finally I wanted to give some advice for those who just wanted to get into technical writing only because they heard from some body that it is a cake walk and pay handsomely.

Technical writing is not rocket science but it is not everyone’s cup of tea – True, technical writing is not rocket science and it can be learned. If you are willing to learn new technologies and you can write about technology in a simple language you can become a technical writer. But for all those creative geniuses, there is not much scope for creative writing in technical writing. Technical writing is only considered as a necessary evil by most engineers and you should be prepared to do a thankless job in many situations. Technical writer's time is mostly spend on routine tasks like interacting with subject matter experts, following up with engineers to get the content reviewed and fixing the errors in the documents. If you are working for a services company most of the time you have to work on unrealistic time lines to meet deadlines and the indefinite wait to get information from busy subject matter experts will test your patience.

Growth Opportunities are limited in technical writing- In India we give a lot of importance to titles and the general notion is one should become a manager in a few years. Definitely you can grow as a professional by learning new technologies, developing expertise in your domain and the processes related to your company as a technical writer. But, if you are too ambitious and want to climb the corporate ladder immediately you may be disappointed after a few years in technical writing. Growth opportunities for a technical writer are definitely less compared to other professions.
Some useful links:

Some books I found useful as a beginner:
  • Read me first! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry by Sun Technical Publications
  • Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors by IBM
  • The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tips to Pass CCNA examination

I have cleared CCNA Routing and Switching examination last month and I found it a bit difficult to crack because I am attempting an examination after long time. Here are my takeaways from attempting the exam.

What is CCNA - My trainer asked this question to us in the first class. According to my trainer, CCNA is an examination that tests your ability to setup, troubleshoot and maintain a small network. It covers the basics of routing, switching and other fundamentals of networking. Whatever be the ideal definition, it is simply like another examination where it tests how better prepared you are for the examination and how do you manage time to answer questions than how much you know or your capability to set up and maintain a network. CCNA is an online exam of 2 hours (for non-native English speakers) consists of around 50 questions. The questions are a mix of theory and practical simulations. You may get 48-55 questions out of which three or four will be simulations. To pass the exam you need to get a strange 825 out of 1000. May be the people who first designed this exam got 825 when they tried it out :-)

If you have time it is better to join an institute and study even though you are aware of the concepts. It will help you to go through all the topics in a systematic manner. If you do self-study, sometimes you may not go through the portions where you lack interest. It would be ideal to attend the examination immediately after the training if you want to pass the exam. There are two reasons for this. One reason is you may forget what you have learned. The other reason is you need to do the simulation part really faster if you want to pass the exam and it would be ideal if you appear the exam after regular practice for some time. For practice you can download Cisco Packet Tracer.

If you want to pass the exam, set aside all your preferences. Even if you don't like switching part a lot like the boring how to find a route bridge, designated port so on remember for some reason Cisco loves switches a lot. May be because it gave those billions of dollars what they have now in the bank. Expect a lot of questions from switching and be prepared for that. Even if you work on Cisco routers set aside some time and study all the portions including concepts in switching. Some of the other important portions include sub-netting, access control lists, EIGRP, RIP, and OSPF.

One of the important parts of the exam is simulations. How do you handle the simulations decide if you pass or not. Usually there are 3-4 simulation questions. Try to finish your theory questions faster and then attempt simulations. Even if you do one simulation wrong the chances of passing the examination is rare. Practice mock tests and don't attempt the examination till you score more than 90 percent in the mock examination.
See which is an excellent resource for CCNA sample questions and simulations:

I have referred the CCNA book by Todd Lamle that explains concepts in a simple manner. Go through all the questions given at the end of each chapter in the book because many of them are repeatedly seen in the CCNA examination.

Lessons that I can share:
1. Study for one month dedicatedly and do rigorous practice for simulations to improve speed.
2. Go through mock tests.
3. Finish the theory questions as fast as possible so that you get enough time to attempt simulations.
4. CCNA is like just another examination where how well prepared you are for the exam is more important than how much you know.
5. Time management is very important since you have to attempt 50 questions and 3-4 simulations within 2 hours.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Understanding EPF

What is EPF ?

Most of us who are working in the private sector may have heard about EPF. The answer most of the time comes to our mind is "Oh that thing, every month some amount of money is deducted from my salary, that is EPF right? ". Even if you have some idea about it let us explore it in a little bit detail. EPF or (Employee Provident Fund) is a retirement fund created under Employee's provident Fund act 1952 to help employees to generate some kind of savings when they retire. Every month 12 percent of your basic salary is deducted from your salary and kept it in a PF account and it is maintained by the Employees Provident Fund Oraganization (EPFO). Your employer also needs to contribute the same amount to the PF account. Government gives you an interest ( currently 8.5 percent) for keeping the money in PF account.

So things are simple right? Not so simple. In reality, out of 12 percent of your employer contribution, minimum of 8.33 percent or 541 which ever is lesser will go to a pension account known as Employee Pension Scheme (EPS). The interest rates for EPF and EPS are calculated separately on annually compound basis.

How to check my PF balance online ?

You can check your EPF account balance at the following link:

You need to provide your PF office location, PF number, your name, and mobile number to get the EPF balance information.

I heard that my company has a separate PF trust and I wonder what it is ?

It is called an exempted PF trust. Some companies are allowed by the government to form their own PF trust after getting approval from EPFO provided they satisfy some terms and conditions. They have to provide the same rate of return given by EPFO.

I have changed my job and I wanted to tranfer my EPF to my new company. How can I do that? What should I do to transfer EPS ?

To transfer EPF you need to submit the filled up form 13 to your new employer and they will forward it to the Regional Provident Fund office. As per my knowledge, once you transfer the PF amount the EPS will be automatically taken care of.
You can download form 13 from the EPFO website:

My PF transfer is not happening even after several months, what to do now ?

Welcome to common man's India. That is the way India bureaucracy works most of the time. Fortunately we have RTI now and for most people it worked wonders.

Here is an excellent post by Manish on how to file an RTI for EPF transfer or withdrawal:

Can I take a loan from EPF ?

Answer is yes. You can take a loan from EPF for the following purposes:

1. Purchase of a plot for constructing a house
2. Purchasing a home/flat
2. Home Improvement
4. Marriage of children, self, daughter, sister
5. Repaying home loan
6. Loss of Job
7. Higher education of children
8. Purchasing equipment for physically disabled family member

To take a loan, you need to submit form 31 and also submit the required supporting documents.

Can I increase my contribution to EPF ?

Yes you can increase your contribution to EPF voluntarily. But the companies contribution remains the same as 12 percent.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

How to get marriage certificate in Kerala

I recently registered my marriage and got my marriage certificate after a few day's effort in Kerala. I am sharing my learning through this post.

As per Kerala Government order in 2008, all marriages happening after 2008 should be mandatory registered under the respective local body (Panchayath, Municipality or Corporation) where the marriage was held. For example if your marriage occurred in a temple under Aluva Municipality you should register your marriage under Aluva Municipality. Registration will happen only between 11 AM and 3 PM. So, if you go there some other time you may have to go again.

Procedure varies according to the time period you are registering after the marriage.

With in 45 days- As per rules you should ideally register your marriage with in 45 days. If you are registering your marriage with in 45 days you need the following documents.
  1. Filled up application form with one duplicate copy. You need to affix two photos each of bride and bridegroom.
  2. A certificate from the religious institution where marriage was held.
  3. Copy of Marriage Invitation (Good to have.)
  4. 2 copies of certificate (SSLC book, Passport or Voters ID) to prove age of bride and bridegroom attested by a gazetted officer.

Once you have all the documents, both bride and bridegroom need to go to the respective local body office with two witnesses. Witnesses should have identity proof. Fees for the registration is 10 rupees.

It may not take much time to complete the proceedings and will get your marriage certificate, but all depends on the official you are dealing with :-). If you are lucky you will get it with in one day. As per rules you should get it with in 5 days after submitting the application.

With in 45 days and 1 year - The more delay you make proceedings become tougher. If you are registering your marriage with in 45 days and 1 year you need the following documents.

  1. Filled up application form with one duplicate copy. You need to affix two photos each of bride and bridegroom. In addition you need to get both forms attested by a gazetted officer , MLA, MP or member of the local body. The same person should attest both forms.
  2. A certificate from the religious institution where marriage was held.
  3. Copy of Marriage Invitation (Good to have.)
  4. 2 copies of certificate (SSLC book, Passport or Voters ID) to prove age of bride and bridegroom attested by a gazetted officer.
  5. One application in white paper with 5 rupees stamp mentioning the reason for delay.

Once you have all the documents, both bride and bridegroom need to go to the respective local body office with two witnesses. Witnesses should have identity proof. Fees for the registration is 100 rupees. My situation was this. It took me 3-4 days to get it because I was not clear about the procedures and the officials were not helping much.

After 1 year - After 1 year proceedings become more tougher. You need the approval from the registrar general at the district level and it may take more time. If you are registering your marriage after 1 year you need the following documents.

  1. Filled up application form with two duplicate copies. You need to affix three photos each of bride and bridegroom. In addition you need to get all the three forms attested by a gazetted officer, MLA, MP or member of the local body. The same officer should attest all the forms.
  2. A certificate from the religious institution where marriage was held.
  3. Copy of Marriage Invitation (Good to have.)
  4. 2 copies of certificate (SSLC book, Passport or Voters ID) to prove age of bride and bridegroom attested by a gazetted officer.
  5. One application in white paper with 5 rupees stamp mentioning the reason for delay.

Once you have all the documents, both bride and bridegroom need to go to the respective local body office with two witnesses. Witnesses should have identity proof. Fees for the registration is 250 rupees. It may take more time because one copy needs to be sent to the district registrar general and needs his approval.

The detailed government order you can see here:

Kerala government says you can apply online but detailed procedures are not listed any where.
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