Smart ways to invest and attain early financial freedom

In the past week, I have been requested by quite a few of my readers to share my views on this article that came in TOI which shows that investing in FD's gives better ROI than Real estate.(http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=VE9JTS8yMDE0LzA1LzA2I0FyMDIxMDM%3D)
"World trade centre" -when you see these words - I am sure this is what comes to your mind:
Hennur Road in North Bangalore has seen a lot of real estate activity in the past 3-4 years. The new Bangalore Airport and the promise of many tech parks and other industries in the vicinity has triggered the demand for residential spaces in and around Hennur road. This road also serves as an alternate route to Bangalore airport for people travelling from the outer ring road area. It is a four lane road and is already chocked with traffic on any normal day. All well known builders in Bangalore, including Mantri, Shobha, Prestige, Brigade have launched projects in this locality. Apartment prices are around Rs. 4000 to 6000 per sq ft.  Land rates depend on the exact location – but typical land rates are around Rs. 4000 psft to 7000 psft.
Inside Electronic city in Bangalore, where there are thousands of IT professionals working, there is a new facility that has just got inaugurated by a company called Uniworld (http://www.uniworldindia.com/).  It is a studio apartment complex with about 720 fully furnished studio apartments that comes  with additional facilities like a cafeteria, laundrette, gym, lounges, gaming zone, 2/3 home theatres, WiFi, 100% power back up etc. This complex is meant for working professionals. The room rent starts at Rs. 5500 (on twin occupancy basis) and it is truly premium in the way it is built, furnished and managed. I have
I have a friend who worked in the US for a few years and came back to Bangalore in 2003. He had a fair amount of savings then and realised soon enough that the real estate scene in Bangalore was hot. Sure enough he invested his entire savings by buying a few plots of land in different parts of Bangalore – between 2004 and 2008, things looked good with the real estate prices giving him 20% return per annum – it was not cash at hand – but he knew, if he needed cash, he could sell the plots within a few months. He also focussed on doing well in career and he was rewarded with two promotions in that period. His lifestyle kept pace with his improving financial condition - he bought a higher end car, took loan and bought a big flat, put his kids to good schools, went on international holidays - everything looked fine till the 2008 crash – early in 2009, his company started downsizing and he lost his job i