Revisiting my life plan

The end of the year is normally a good time to assess how your life is going on and how is it likely to look in the future. In the last few days, I have given some thought to it and have decided that there may be a few changes to what I had considered 3 years back, when I had started in my Financially independent ( FI ) state. Let me share it in this post.

As you would have read in several posts, I am in an FI state, thereby not really needing any active income to take care of my expenditure. However, I have a Management Consultancy practice and earn active income out of it. Much of it currently goes into investments. While I can continue with my consultancy practice for the next few years, I am thinking of a few other areas where I can spend my time professionally. The first of these is a business venture, which I have thought of seriously over the last year. It is a fairly interesting concept and does not need too much funding. However, it needs a group of founding investors as anchor and I am thinking of some active work in this area from now on. It will probably take another 1-2 years to take off but the effort of getting the team together and kicking it off has to start. The second area is to invest actively in the stock market in a serious manner. Now, while my stock and MF portfolio is of fair value, I do not actively buy and sell in the market. With more time in my hands this is something I plan to look at. The third area will be to monetise the blog or write on topics which are of interest to me.

Depending on how the above things go, I am probably looking at being actively involved  in work, as we know it, for the next 5-7 years or so. Beyond that, my own estimate is that I will live for another 25 years, where I do not have any vocation, only my hobbies and interests to keep me busy. Not that I have ignored my hobbies or interests otherwise, in fact I have generally been happy about the work life balance I have been able to achieve.

One important factor to consider is where will we be living. As of now, we are in Hyderabad and there are really two options that I am considering. The first, is to continue being here for the next 2-3 years. The other option is to look at a shift to Kolkata in the next calendar year. The flip side to that may be the opportunities available for my consultancy, should I decide to continue it. Long term plan will be to shift to Kolkata anyway. Even though we have an apartment in Chennai, we do not plan to go there as the climate does not really suit us. Of course, another consideration in Kolkata will be whether we should own a place or rent it. More of this in another post, but if long term rent options are available, I will prefer it to buying a place.

All Indian families have their children as a key consideration and we are no different in this regard. Fortunately for us, both our children are well on their way to getting settled in life. My daughter Rinki is an Engineer from BITS Hyderabad and is presently pursuing her MBA from XLRI. She will complete her course in March 2018 and is likely to get a job of her liking in some company. My son Ronju is doing a dual degree course in Msc Maths and BE Computer Science from BITS Goa. He will complete his course work in May 2018, though there will be mandatory internships of 1 year. Of course, he may decide to do a PG course later on but that is a future issue. In the meantime, it is unlikely that our children will stay in the same city as us. As far as their marriages go, we will live it to them for deciding the time and partner. We will fund the wedding expenses and I am keeping a separate track of it.

What will be the key activities that we will engage in? Well, travel within and outside India is a passion that both Lipi and I share and in the next 10 years we will do that a lot. Our other interests in movies, cultural events, dining, sports etc are also likely to keep us busy in the first decade. Over the next decade, it is very likely that our going out will reduce considerably and we will have more indoor activities such as reading, tv and hopefully some family time with our children. Health is something we are reasonably all right with so far and hopefully we will not have any major mishaps along the way.

So far so good – what will be the cash inflows required to get these funded? Do I have the requisite financial assets to take care of this life plan? I will attempt to answer these questions in the next post.

 

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The Ram Janambhoomi Babri Masjid saga – the beginnings of politics

The order by the Faizabad district court, permitting worship of the idols was seen by the Hindus as a vindication of their stand and by the Muslims as yet another betrayal of their cause in practising their religious freedom. Even before the locks to the structure could be opened as per court protocol, they were broken and people started to flock in. The resultant tension and bitterness between the communities manifested itself in severe rioting and violence throughout north India. Muslims observed 14th February as a Black day, stating that not only the government but even the judiciary had failed them.

However, in order to understand the issue completely we will need to get back to the politics of it. Over the years, Jan Sangh had tried to mobilise the Hindu populace to get some political dividends but they had only limited success at an electoral level. Though RSS had impressive membership and reach as a social and cultural organisation, Jan Sangh were unable to reap the direct benefits of it. They also did not want political alignments with other parties like the left or Janta dal variants. The Emergency proclaimed by Indira Gandhi changed all of that and kind of forced the opposition parties to get together. Jan sangh went with the Janta Party, who won the elections in a handsome manner and had their first taste of being part of government. They were also one of the reasons for the unravelling of the Janta party, courtesy the dual membership issue with the RSS. After uncertainty of about a year when the elections were held in 1980, Indira Gandhi stormed back to power.

Jan Sangh had been rendered defunct in 1977 and the leaders found it senseless to be part of Janata party any more. This led to the formation of Bharatiya Janata Party. The philosophy it adopted as a theme was Gandhian socialism and the core Jan Sangh issues of Ram mandir, cow slaughter, article 370 and Uniform civil code were very much part of it’s agenda. It was still just finding it’s feet when the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 October, saw elections being called for January 1985. In the wake of a massive sympathy vote, Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress swept the elections nationally. The BJP did abysmally and was written off by most political pundits. They got only 2 seats and even their talisman Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a parliamentarian since 1957 could not get elected.

The BJP floundered for the next few years as the politics in the country went through a turmoil. Rajiv Gandhi had a great start to his prime minister’s innings but soon Bofors, Sri lankan misadventure and other issues started to undermine his popularity and authority. VP Singh was the major challenger and to counter him, Rajiv Gandhi agreed to the persistent VHP demands of Shilanyas of the Ram temple. Little was he to know that he was literally releasing a genie from the bottle, which could never again be put back.

Rajiv Gandhi did not benefit from the Hindu votes in the 1989 elections and was forced to concede power to the Janata Dal government led by VP Singh. BJP raised their tally to 85 seats, mostly from North India, and supported the government from outside. Indian politics would change forever, in the next few years and Ram mandir and Ayodhya were very much the centre point of it.

The Ram Janambhoomi , Babri Masjid saga – the genesis

Few controversies have whipped up as much as passion and frenzy as the Ram Janamboomi / Babri Masjid issue. Everyone in the country seems to have an opinion on it and there has been nothing else that can probably be claimed to be so divisive. The politics of the country, certainly the post 1986 period, has been very strongly influenced by it – so much so that the ascent of the BJP as a political force has been widely attributed to this issue. However, even with all of these, it is really surprising that very few people happen to know the facts accurately. This post is an attempt to correct that by documenting a timeline of this fascinating saga.

Well, where does one begin? If you are one of the so called liberals, singing praises of Islam and Christianity, while taking special pleasure in denigrating Hinduism then you obviously think Lord Ram was a myth. However, to millions of people, not only in this country but worldwide, Ram did exist and was born in the city of modern day Ayodhya. There was definitely a temple existing in Ayodhya, built in the place Ram was born. If your idea is to say that he was not a recorded historical figure then that is true for all founders of religion. More importantly, the sheer amount of literature, music and temples associated with Ram bears testimony to the fact that he was living at some point in time. The crux of the issue though is the temple – people who say today that there is no proof that a temple existed at the site are either ignorant or liars. The Allahabad high court had commissioned the Archaeological Survey of India ( ASI ) to find out if the temple did exist prior to the masjid being put up. Within a few months ASI submitted their report with incontrovertible proof that there was a grand temple, which was razed to the ground before the Babri Masjid came up.

With that basic premise in place, let us get back to the story. The structure called the Babri Masjid was ordered to be built by Babar and his trusted lieutenant, Mir Banki, constructed it in 1528. As this was done by razing an existing Ram temple to the ground, there was a lot of consternation among the population in Ayodhya, who were mostly Hindu by religion. However, during the centuries of Mughal rule, there was an uneasy calm though there was always simmering tension threatening to erupt. This emotive issue found strong voices and traction once the Mughals lost out to the British. Nirmohi Akhada which was a wresting club of sorts but had strong religious and spiritual overtones was at the thick of such efforts. There was an armed attempt by them to attack the Masjid, which was thwarted before much damage could be done.

This alarmed the British and they wanted to play the divide and rule strategy that they were famous for. Their administrative solution was to divide the area into two and allow the Hindus to put their idols and conduct worship in one part. This did not satisfy the Ram devotees as their contention was that the birthplace of Ram was on the spot where the Babri Masjid stood and the sanctum sanctorum of their temple should be that place. Over the years there were attempts to construct a temple in the area designated for the Hindus but the Muslims opposed it vehemently. The most strident confrontation took place in 1883 and it was somehow managed by the British and some sane voices.

Between 1883 and 1934 there was sporadic violence related to the site and the bad blood caused by this was one of the factors why the two communities substituted amity for hatred and mutual suspicion. Matters came to a head in 1934 when there was widespread violence in Ayodhya and adjoining areas of UP. The British administration tried to contain it as best they could but by then they had their hands full with the ongoing freedom struggle. The positions of the two communities got entrenched in the period 1934 till independence in 1947. The formation of Pakistan had diametrically opposite effects on the two communities. While the Hindus felt betrayed by partition and the associated violence and thought that they should now have the temple in a country where they were the majority community, Muslims wanted to feel secure in the fact that their religious rights would be protected as a minority in India.

What happened next is fairly dramatic and can be interpreted with different angles, based on which side of the divide you put yourself. On 22nd December 1949, a group of hardcore Hindu fanatics entered the Masjid and put the idols inside. From the next day there was a huge uproar in the country from both communities who indulged in blame games. Hindus saw this as a miracle and a sign that the Ram temple must be built. The Muslims played the victim card and cited how they were betrayed by the majority community and wanted status quo to be restored. The central government headed by Nehru acted swiftly in the matter by locking up the place. This was good for the Muslims – though they publicly stated that the Masjid should be open for prayers etc, the reality was that prayers were never held there for long. The Muslim game plan was not to allow the Hindus to get the satisfaction of a grand Ram temple there.

The Hindus were livid with Nehru’s decision and saw it as an example of them being second class citizen’s in their own country. The rise of Hindu nationalist parties of all kinds and the growth of cultural organisation’s like the RSS, owed in no small part to this treatment. Over the years, Jan Sangh grew in popularity, albeit not having  critical mass to win many Lok Sabha seats. Though the issue always figured in the public discourse, the communities moved on with other aspects of life and a developing nation had a lot to look forward to.

This however, did not mean that the Ram temple was forgotten. There were legal and political efforts ongoing to make the Hindus worship their idols, which were now under lock and key. Out of all these efforts, some legal success came in the year 1986. On February 1st the Faizabad district court ordered the locks to be opened and gave right of worship to the Hindus. At long last, they seemed to be getting somewhere with their aspirations of building a grand temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram.

However, this started the next part of the saga which I will write about in the next post.

A passage to Konkan coast

We are just back from our Konkan travel and, all things considered, it was probably one of the best vacations we had in recent times. It had been a long cherished desire of mine to view beaches of the Arabian sea from all States and, over the years, I had covered Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Diu and Gujarat. As for Maharashtra, my forays were limited to the Mumbai beaches and I was very keen to visit beaches on the Konkan coast.

People who are interested in the travel planning can read about it here. Travel logistics are covered in this post. In the present post, I will cover the actual trip which started on 20th November early morning and ended on 25th November evening.

Our flight to Goa was at an unearthly hour of 5:40 AM, so we woke up at 2:30 AM and were in the car by 3 AM. In the morning hours drive on the ORR is a pleasure and we reached quite fast. Hyderabad airport was rather crowded even at that hour and it took us a fair time to get through security check. As is our practice nowadays, we headed to the airport lounge. It was way too early for breakfast but there were enough food items along with some decent coffee. Thankfully the flight was on time and we reached Goa in an uneventful manner, catching up on some lost sleep of the night before. Goa is like a second home to us, courtesy our Timeshare and our son Ronju studying there. This time we went to the Colva beach after picking up Ronju from BITS. Sitting at the beach shack, savouring some breakfast while watching the sea and catching up with Ronju was a great way to kick start the vacation.

Our train was from Madgaon at 12 noon but the winter timetable had changed it to 2:30 PM. Though it was a trifle bugging, as experienced travellers we take things in our stride and had a fairly interesting lunch in the station outlet Benjoes. The train ride was a short one, we reached Kudal at around 4:30 PM. Our first experience of the views from the train were quite favourable, especially the backwaters and the lush greenery of the western ghats. From Kudal the only viable option for Tarkarli travel is an auto rickshaw and having engaged one, we reached the MTDC resort around evening.

Tarkarli is a nice place, though a little desolate and the MTDC resort has great location. The Konkani cottage which we had booked, overlooked the sea and you could just take a 50 meter walk to reach it. Service at the resort is quite good and prompt, though the room could have done with better upkeep. The restaurant has been let out to a private party and we got friendly with the Chef there. Food was generally good to taste and the fish/prawns were great though a trifle on the dearer side. These places are all about experiences though and we had our fill of it in the 3 days we were there. Sitting in the Gazebo and having dinner while listening to the sea, wading through the sea waves along a long and isolated beach, lying on a hammock with the sea breeze rustling the tree leaves – you can take your pick, I liked all of these.

Tarkarli has two main activities and we did those in the two days we were there. First is seeing some nearby beaches and the Sindhudurg fort which you need to reach via a ferry. While the beaches were nice the fort was spectacular. I was glad of my fitness levels as it takes a fair bit to climb the fort walls, in order to get views of the sea. However, such efforts were greatly rewarded by the absolutely glorious views of the Sea which you get to see. Shivaji had great foresight with building this fort and it was one of the main reasons why the Marathas were able to hold on to their own against the naval threat from the colonial powers. There is also a beautiful Rock garden worth visiting, mainly due to the sea views again, though the landscaping here is brilliantly done too.

When in Tarkarli, one must do the boating in Karli river and see the notable points namely Dolphin point, sangam where the river meets the sea and Tsunami island. The ride through the river and the sea in a fairly rickety boat was quite an adventure and the sights of the villages and the various moods of the sea made the exercise worthwhile. We engaged in some water sports activities available in the Tsunami island. The speed boat and water scooter were predictable but the Bumper boat ride, where you sit on an inflated rubber sofa and are dragged at great speeds by a speed boat was definitely adrenaline pumping and hair raising. In the evening I also tried para motoring where a jeep pulls you hanging from a parachute. Quite an experience !!

Ganapatipule is about 200 Kms from Tarkarli and we hired a car to take us there. Even though this was a bit on the expensive side, the coastal route was replete with temples, beaches, backwater stretches and lush greenery. The combination is rather unique and I doubt whether we will have something similar elsewhere in India. We had our lunch in Ratnagiri – once again the ubiquitous fish thali, which we were getting rather used to. The drive from Ratnagiri to Ganapatipule is a very nice one with great sea views again from a height.

Ganapatipule beach is really the best beach I have seen. It is a white sand beach, stretching across a long way and as it can be only accessed easily from the MTDC resort, it also gives you a splendid sense of isolation. Lipi and I took long walks on the beach, watched two glorious sunsets and marvelled at the myriad hues of the sea. Our room was on the first floor and the balcony provided magnificent sea views. If you are too lazy for activities, just sitting on a chair and watching the sea waves will be an excellent idea. The in-house restaurant, Tarang, is run very well and has great food selections. 

Right next to the beach is the famous Ganesh temple, visited by countless devotees all over the year. If you are a religious person you will be deeply moved by the reverence showed by the worshippers there. Even otherwise, the location of the temple as well as the idol of the deity’s Mount makes it a very unique shrine. Do not miss out on the laddu which is given as prasadam here. In addition to the temple, an open air museum named Prachin Konkan, depicting how people lived in a typical Konkan village in early times is worth a visit. We also went to a new wax house, having some wax figures created by an American sculptor. It is a novel attempt though you can be excused if you think that the similarity to real life is not a great one. 

It is possible to visit the Jaigad fort and a couple of other beaches but with limited time at our disposal, we wanted to maximise our experience of the beach. Soon it was time to bid adieu to the place and, once again, the journey to the Ratnagiri station offered us great views of the Konkan coast. The vastness as well as the beauty of the Arabian sea has no better viewing point than this journey. We boarded the Jan Shatabdi train in the Vistadome coach – it is one having large windows and glass all around for maximum viewing surface. Despite the high cost of tickets, it is absolutely worth it and allows you to view the western ghats as no other mode of transport will do. Through this travel one can appreciate how tough it must have been to build Konkan Railway and how significant it has been for the lives of the people in this region.

All too soon, the train journey ended and we were back in Madgaon. A taxi ride to the Goa airport, an Air Asia flight to Hyderabad and finally another taxi ride saw us back home on Saturday evening. It was a matter of only 6 days but the experience was for a lifetime. Konkan coast can be addictive and I am sure we will be back in the near future, there is so much to see yet.

In the meantime, I will plan for other travels – it is the elixir of good living that keeps me motivated to carry on the other parts well. 

Travel to the Konkan coast – the logistics

In the last post I had outlined the way I arrived at the plan and the route for our Konkan vacation. Once this phase is over, the next tasks are to look at the bookings. In general you will need to book for transportation and accommodation. Of course, there is the issue about local conveyance as well but we normally deal with that when we reach our destinations – it is easier this way as you have greater options.

As I said in the previous post we were fine with the dates and did not need a fixed itinerary. As such I started with the air bookings. Let me take you through a step by step process so that others would be able to follow it easily:-

  • I started by checking any 6 day range where the morning flight to Goa and an evening flight back to Hyderabad were reasonably priced. You can do this through many websites. http://www.makemytrip.com  and http://www.easemytrip.com are normally the ones I choose to look at.
  • In the first one you have a convenience fee of 300 Rs per ticket which is not there in the other one. However, the first App lets me get some cashback on the tickets as long as the charges are 6000 Rs plus.
  • In this case the cashback was not working out so I booked the EaseMyTrip deal.
  • We got a really early flight to Goa which will leave us enough time for reaching Madgaon station. Similarly, we got an evening flight from Goa.
  • Ideally one should book about 60 days in advance to get the best rates but we started plans a little late for this trip. Even then the overall cost for the two of us came to about 10000 Rs which was reasonable.

Before booking the ticket I had checked the accommodation availability for those dates – 3 nights in Tarkarli and 2 nights in Ganpatipule. I chose the Maharashtra tourism properties as they had the best location and normally these places are tourist friendly. You can do only booking at the Maharashtra tourism website. This proved to be quite a bit expensive based on what rooms we chose. Unfortunately, the GST rate reduction had not happened by then so that was a double whammy. The total accommodation costs came to about 16500 Rs. Of course there were cheaper options in these properties and you can also look at other staying alternatives. However, these places and the rooms were aligned well to what we were looking for in a vacation, so it was all right.

The final part was the train bookings. We booked a chair car from Madgaon to Kudal and a Vistadome coach seats from Ratnagiri to Madgaon. I had again checked the availability before the other bookings and had been relieved to see that there were enough seats. The First journey was 670 Rs but the other one was rather expensive at 2520 Rs. However, travelling by the Konkan railway has been a long cherished desire and we definitely wanted to try out the Vistadome coach.

What are the other costs that will be associated with the trip. There are quite a few, but the ones I can think of right now are as follows:-

  • Food – both of us love food and we are looking forward to sampling both Maharashtrian and Konkani cuisine. 
  • Transportation from home to airport, Goa airport to Madgaon station and back.
  • Local transportation from Kudal to Tarkarli, sightseeing in Tarkarli, travel to Ganapatipule, sightseeing in Ganpatipule / Ratnagiri etc.
  • Backwater and sea cruises + other water sports.
  • Buying some souvenirs from these places.

While I do not really know what will be the costs here it will be safe to assume a figure of 20000 Rs or so. That will bring the overall expenses to the trip at 50000 Rs or so. Is is a tad excessive? Well, it can be done a lot cheaper but that depends on you.

For me, this is an amount I am willing to spend and am looking forward to our trip with great anticipation. I’m almost definite it will be well worth it and will update the readers through a travelogue once we are done.

A travel plan for Konkan beaches – the conception

People who know me, either personally or through my blog, will be aware that I am an aficionado for travel. Seeing new places and the whole exercise of conceiving and planning for travel really gets me excited. The actual travel is rejuvenating but even the anticipation which starts with the plan is great. Many people have asked me as to how I plan for my travels and in this blog post let me talk about the trip we are planning to undertake in the near future.

While there are several great places to see in India, beaches have always held a great interest for me. India is blessed with a really long coastline, three glorious seas and countless beaches to choose from. Over the years we have covered a lot of beaches starting from Kanyakumari to Digha on the east coast and to Mandvi on the west coast. On the western coast we have done Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and even Diu/Gujarat beaches but not the ones on the Konkan coast. Maharashtra beaches are less visited but they are very highly talked about and I have wanted to go there for a long time. As our anniversary is in late November, it seemed as good a time as any to plan this out.

For making a travel plan, I first read up to gain knowledge about the area in order to decide on the places to visit as well as the activities to engage in. There were some good travel blogs available for Konkan travel as well as great websites with a wealth of information. The Konkan coast stretches from Mumbai to Goa and there are several great beaches along it. However, two major ones are Ganapatipule and Tarkarli and with the time at our disposal being a maximum of 5-6 days, I decided to stick to these two. Based on the blogs I viewed it seemed that 2 nights both in Tarkarli and Ganapatipule would be adequate to cover what we would want to see there.

One the broad plan is there, the next step is to figure out how to reach there and which route to follow. Here again, the blogs and the road maps of Maharashtra were a great help. As trains to those parts from Hyderabad are few and take too much time we were able to rule out that option. The bus was also rejected for the same reason as the journey to Kolhapur by an overnight bus would be an exhausting one. I was quite keen on going by our car as I like driving and we have not gone on a long drive for ages. However, my wife Lipi was not keen on a 9 hour drive to Kolhapur and further to the Konkan coast. It would take 2 days to get there and back and 2 nights stay in Kolhapur too. Also, I saw that the new Vistadome coach has started on Konkan railways and we were keen to try that out. We had a great experience recently in a similar coach when we went from Vizag to Araku valley. Read about the details in this post if you are interested.

For Tarkarli it is convenient to go through Goa, from where you can take a train or car. As the Vistadome was not available easily on the days we searched and the timing was not good, we finalised on the following route:-

  • Travel by air from Hyderabad to Goa on Day 1.
  • Take a train from Madgaon to Kudal on Day 1.
  • Reach Tarkarli from Kudal by car/auto on Day 1.
  • Stay at Tarkarli and do activities / excursions on Day 2 and Day 3.
  • Reach Ganapatipule through Ratnagiri on Day 4 afternoon.
  • Stay at Ganapatipule on Day 4 and Day 5 nights.
  • Travel between Ratnagiri and Madgaon on Day 6 morning in the Vistadome coach.
  • Catch the evening flight from Goa to Hyderabad on Day 6 evening.

The above plan would accomplish all that we had in mind, though it would be a little expensive due to air travel etc. However as it was not a priority issue for us we were able to fix on this plan. Note that the dates were not fixed as they would depend on the bookings etc. Fortunately, I am rather flexible with my time nowadays, so it does not really matter when we start the trip.

We had to take care of the actual travel logistics next in terms of the transport and hotel bookings. Let me write about it in the next post.

How I use Mutual funds for my financial planning

Mutual funds are great instruments, not only because they let you invest in equity with reduced risk, but also due to the flexibility that they offer you in terms of all the aspects of your financial life. You can use them for goal based investments, as backup for goals, as emergency fund and also for regular income.

Over the years, I have probably used in all types of MF for taking care of the different needs in my financial life. I thought it will be a good idea to outline in a post as to what types of MF I have invested in and why. To keep the post short and sweet I will only outline the main issues and not go into the features of the MF types.

  • Equity MF Growth option: I have mainly used these for growing my portfolio. I do not really invest for specific goals, it is more like accumulating a pool of money that can be dipped into, as and when needed for a goal or some other emergency.
  • Equity MF Dividend option: I have invested in these mainly to get some regular tax free income. This forms part of my passive income base, helping my financial independence, without an active income. Most of these are close ended MF I have invested in the last 3-4 years. 
  • Balanced Funds: These provide some hedge against volatility of the markets and can be redeemed if I need money during a poor market situation.
  • Arbitrage Funds: I use this as an Emergency fund as the tax treatment is similar to that of an equity fund. Returns are low but better than FD and tax free.
  • Equity Income Funds: Similar logic as Balanced funds, helps me diversify risks. Can be redeemed if needed in a down cycle of the markets.
  • Monthly Income Plans : I have invested in the Growth option here as I am not depending on regular income from here. At the same time, I can redeem these if needed for some purpose. All of these investments are more than 3 years, so the tax incidence will be minimal.
  • Debt Funds: I have small investment in other Debt funds, mainly to lower the risks.
  • Fixed Maturity Plans: These provide stable returns and I get regular redemption from different schemes every 2-3 months. I use the capital gains as my passive income and reinvest the principal in some debt oriented instrument. With the declining rates Dual Advantage funds have been my choice of late.

As you can see from here, it is possible to invest entirely in different MF types and achieve both passive income as well as growth in your FI state. In my case, I do get some interest from tax free bonds and POMIS but that is strictly not needed. 

Are you using the versatility of different types of MF? If not, it is time you did it. I will do the next few posts on how retirement corpus can be deployed using MF.