A Brief History of India

India: A Brief History

First Published: ADawnJournal.com March 10, 2010

One of the oldest civilizations in the world is the civilization of India. Like China, it is one of the founding civilizations in human history, and it has had a profound impact on our lives for thousands of years. While it is not easy to sum up the history of a country going back thousands of years, this article will go through a brief history of this amazing land.

Pre-History of India

The first settlements in India began to appear about 9,000 years ago, and throughout the early part of the history of the country, it has been a mysterious land, but also a very spiritual one. Throughout pre-history, the country has been a strong civilization as well, even being the only civilization to beat back both the Mongols and Alexander the Great during its history.

It was during the third century BC that the country united under Asoka the Great, during a time that was called India’s Golden Age. It was during this time that India made great advances in mathematics, art, language, astronomy and religion. In fact, both Hinduism and Buddhism came from India around this time.

Europe Arrives

The country was able to keep itself an independent nation for a long period of time, but by the 16th century, the countries of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Portugal began to establish themselves around India, greatly disrupting the country. By 1856, the entire country became part of the British East India Company, essentially making it part of the British Empire. From this point on, for almost 100 years, the country would be under the direct rule of the British Empire. The country tried to fight against Britain in India’s First War of Independence, but they were not successful.

Independence

The citizens of India would continually try and push Britain out of their land for the first part of the 20th century. However, it was not until the legendary figure of Mahatma Gandhi came along and led millions of India towards independence through non-violent civil disobedience. Through this action, India gained its independence on August 15, 1947, along with the region of Pakistan. In 1950, the country became a republic and created its own constitution.

The Growing Giant

While India gained its independence, it still had problems with its neighbours. It got into a dispute with China in 1962 that resulted in the Sino-India War, and the country has gone to war with Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. However, the country is also a member of the United Nations and it is also one of the few nuclear nations in the world. In addition, the country has transformed itself through economic reforms and is now becoming a superpower along with China. Currently, the country has one of the fastest growing economies on Earth and it is expected that India will be one of the major countries of the 21st century, along the lines of how Russia and the United States dominated the 20th century.

One thing is clear, this country, which has been around in one form or another for thousands of years, shows no signs of slowing down, or going away.

How To Get The Best Mortgage Deals

Killer Mortgage Deals and How to Get Them

First Published: ADawnJournal.com March 13, 2010

The best mortgage deals available on the market are often ones that go unnoticed by a majority of potential customers. With a mortgage market as wide as it is – even in the financial difficulties that have become a global issue at this point – there is not only an increased level of competition for the few customers who feel brave enough to go out and borrow to buy a house, but also a real sense of being spoiled for choice. Invariably, even those potential borrowers who see fit to shop around for the best deal will find themselves getting a kind of “variety fatigue” which leaves them wondering whether they shouldn’t just take the best of the several potential deals they have already seen – even if it means missing out on an unseen gem.

Reaching for the best available deal on the market means really looking for one that satisfies all your needs, one for which you will not find it problematic to meet payments on a monthly basis, and ideally one that moves to take account of changing realities so that you do not become tied to a deal which looked good three or four weeks ago, but will leave you out of pocket in three of four years. There are various ways of going about this. Some people would say that you shouldn’t spend too long looking – just find a deal that you are happy with, which looks strong today and will maintain that strength, and not worry too much about whether you’ve missed a better deal. Others disagree.

The message from the latter group is that you owe it to yourself to get the best deal possible. Sure, a good mortgage deal will be beneficial for you, but a great one will continue to benefit you, will benefit your family and will continue to serve you well for the life of the account. You may well find at the end of it that you are able to pay it off in full earlier than you had expected. How do you find such a deal, though, if you do not know what it is or where to find it? How do you look for something which you don’t even know exists?

The first port of call is to check mortgage calculators and comparison sites. The Internet has seen a rapid rise in both of these over the course of recent years. The Internet is truly a consumer paradise in many ways because of the vast range that it covers. If you look closely enough in enough places, there is virtually no financial deal that is not covered on the World Wide Web. Trawling a number of comparison sites – ideally two or three, or even more – will give you an appreciation of what kind of deals are being offered. If all of the deals you see are from banks you are fully aware of, however, it may also be worth hitting the streets to see what is on offer from the smaller, more independent banks. With greater freedom to set their own rates, they may just throw up the great deal you were looking for.

Australia Travel Blog: Sydney City Tour

Sydney Travel Blog: Part 4

2-Day Combo: Sydney City Tour + Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise and Blue Mountains Day Trip

Sydney Travel Blog: Part 3 | Sydney Downtown

The best part staying of in Devere hotel was that it was in the heart of downtown Sydney and steps from the Kings Cross station. I was expected to be picked up in front of the hotel at 7:25 by the Grey Line tour bus.

I took a combo tour that was a two-day tours. On my first day, I would visit the highlights of Sydney and then a harbour cruise. The second day of the tour would take me outside of Sydney to visit the Blue Mountains.

The big tour bus came exactly on time. I sat in the front section because the bus was still not full. We would still pick up more customers at some other locations.

The bus drove through some of Sydney’s most cultural and historic spots with narrated commentaries. Our first stop was at The Rocks. This was the historic place where Sydney was founded.

Next to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this is where European settlers first landed in 1788. I wandered through the cobbled laneways and open quarters where the convicts, soldiers, and sailors used to live and sleep. It’s like open-air, outdoor quarters made of stones.

The Rocks is also famous for hosting Sydney’s oldest pubs, upscale restaurants with harbour views, the Museum of Contemporary Art, open markets, food stalls, and much more.

The Rocks is a vibrant, historic waterfront district where present and past collide. It is one of the must-see attractions to visit in Sydney to understand the city’s past and present.   

We were given a guided tour in The Rocks and then some free time to wander around. I took this opportunity to capture my Rocks visit with my camera.

How to Build an Investment Portfolio

How to Create an Investment Portfolio

First Published: ADawnJournal.com March 14, 2010

What Is An Investment Portfolio?

An investment portfolio is nothing but your collection of investments. You can hold a wide range of investments such as stocks, bonds, money market instruments, and so on in your portfolio. The objective of building a portfolio is to minimize risks and maximize return by diversify it among variety of investments. Diversification can be made within same asset class or across different asset classes. Research has shown that a diversified portfolio spreading across different classes always is the key to build a successful portfolio.

What I Need To Consider Before Building A Portfolio?

There are various factors you should consider before start building a portfolio. These factors are:

– Your time horizon
– Your risk Tolerance
– Your investment objects etc
I discussed about these in another article. Please follow this link to read it – What Is Asset Allocation?

Are There Any General Rules of Thumb Building An Investment Portfolio?

There are too many, actually. I would have to say, the most common rule is the 100 – age rule. This is simply getting the percentage of stocks and bonds you should hold by subtracting your age from 100. For example, if you are 30, you should hold (100 – 30) 70 per cent stocks and 30 per cent bonds. As you grow older, you should be reducing your stock portion according to this rule. When you are 60, you should be holding 40 per cent stocks and 60 per cent bonds.

Another simple portfolio building approach is the Neutral Allocation – which is holding 60 per cent stocks and 40 per cent bonds. Two other portfolios worth mentioning are Lazy man or couch potato portfolios by Scott Burns and The Permanent Portfolio by Harry Browne.

To find many other portfolio ideas, do a search by entering these keyword phrases: “investment portfolio mix,” “portfolio asset allocations tools,” “model investment portfolio,”etc.

Do You Have Your Own Investment Model Portfolio?

Yes, to make investing simple and worry-free, I have been invented a model portfolio called “A Dawn Portfolio” or simply ADP. You can read more about ADP here – (I am still working on this project and will add a link once done)

To find many other online asset allocation calculators, do a search by entering these keyword phrases: “asset allocation calculators,” “portfolio asset allocations tools,” etc

Last Word

Of course, you need to decide if the recommended allocations match with your personal risk tolerance and market views. Investments must be considered in context

If you are at all interested in asset allocation strategies, I strongly recommend that you read about the science. Don’t just follow conventional thinking and rules of thumb.

How Central Banks Control Interest Rates

Monetary Policy, Central or Reserve Bank, and Interest rates

First Published: ADawnJournal.com March 16, 2010

In Canada, there is a lot of talk about interest rates right now because of the interest rate going up in June. Currently, the interest rate is set at .25 percent, which means that when banks give out loans, they will give out a loan at an interest rate of Prime plus a certain amount of percent. This means that the prime interest rate is .25 percent, so if the bank does prime plus five percent, the interest rate they set is 5.25 percent.

Obviously, the lower the interest rate from the central bank, the less people pay for their mortgages and other credit items. In June, the Bank of Canada is going to be increasing the interest rate in an effort to slow the growth of the real estate market to prevent a bursting of the housing bubble. When the interest rate goes up, so too will the amount it costs to borrow money. For example, if the interest rate goes to 1.25 percent, then that original bank interest rate example goes from 5.25 percent to 6.25 percent. Now, one percent may not seem like much, but on a $400,000 mortgage, that one percent moves the amount of interest paid for the house from $21,000 to $25,000. That is an increase of $4,000!

How is it those central banks set these interest rates and why do they set interest rates?

Well, when a central bank wants to contract the supply of money, they can increase the interest rate. If an economy is growing too fast and in danger of collapsing, you can stop the high amount of borrowing by just raising the central interest rate of the country.

During a tough economic period, a country will then lower their interest rate in order to encourage people to use credit and buy things. For example, when the recession started in 2008, the Canada lowered its interest rate greatly in order to spur on buying. What happened when this was done is the real estate market exploded because it was cheaper than ever to borrow money for a home. With the housing market now breaking records in late-2009 and early-2010, the rest of the Canadian economy began to come out of recession before the United States was able to.

A central bank controlling interest rates and monetary policy actually goes back to 1694 when the Bank of England took on the responsibility of printing notes and backing the money with gold. This maintained the value of the coinage and print notes. As time went on, it was found that to maintain the gold standard that money was compared against, there was the need to constantly change and influence the interest rate to prevent things from going out of control.

While most people know about interest rates, many do not realize just how important the Central Bank is to their lives and the effect it has on how much they pay for their homes and other credit purchases. Our lives would be very different if not for places like the Bank of Canada and its regulation of the prime interest rate.