If your a geek (or not so much a geek but) with Rs. 1000/- to spare a year, then owning your own domain has become so cheap now that there’s not much of an excuse as to why you shouldn’t own one for yourself.
The annual cost of purchasing a domain is more or less the same as it was in the last couple of years (typically $10 per year) but what makes them attractive now is that Google (Google Apps) and Microsoft (Windows Live Custom Domains) (Yahoo would be joining soon I guess) are competing to host your email for you for FREE. In my opinion Google holds the upper hand right now since in addition to creating any number of 2GB mail addresses for your domain you also get other utilities like Google Pages for hosting your website, Google Calendar and Google Talk. What sealed the deal for me though is the POP access. I now have my system setup so that Gmail archives all my incoming and outgoing mail as a backup on their server and I have my own local copy of all the mails on a .pst file.
So to get started, head over to a domain registrar of your preference (I use domains.yahoo.com, but I hear that godaddy.com is better) and purchase your domain. Then head over to either Google Apps or Windows Live and set them up to host your email. You typically should be all set within a couple of hours.
Go Daddy is holding a special promotion where your first year’s domain subscription costs only Rs. 200/- ($2) if your a new customer. Yahoo had one for the last six months or so but stopped it recently. One word of caution on reading the fine print on these promotions, you could sometimes end up not being able to transfer the domain if you decide to switch registrars.
Note that Google Apps is in beta and the free service is available only if your accepted into the beta but continues to be free even after the beta for those lucky enough to get in.