A turf war has broken out between the two over ULIPs. ULIPs are insurance plans that are similar to mutual funds and have been around for a decade now. They have emerged as one of the hottest investment products in recent years.
ULIP is a generic term used to describe insurance plans where the choice of asset lies with the investor. The structure is similar to that of a mutual fund. Just like in a mutual fund, ULIP money is allocated to either an equity or income or balanced fund and any gain in the value of these assets is reflected in the appreciation of the net asset value of the units. Charges towards insurance and asset management are recovered from policyholders — a practice that mutual funds also follow. More than 80% of new premium collected by insurance companies from policyholders is in ULIPs. The product is responsible for insurance firms emerging as dominant players in the stock market. Under the circumstances, a curb on ULIP may also impact the stock market.
SEBI has issued a notice to all insurance companies in India asking them to explain why they have not taken its permission before selling ULIPs.
But IRDA appears to have not taken the move by SEBI lightly. It is reported to have asked the insurers to give it a copy of the notice so that it can take up the issue with the Government.
Worldwide, there are not many instances of such regulatory dispute. One reason is that internationally most insurance companies, which mobilise funds under ULIPs, farm out the management of these funds into asset management companies that come under the purview of the markets regulator.
In India, life insurers are barred from using the services of mutual fund managers, even though almost every life insurance promoter has a mutual fund within the group.
All the ATMs (at least the majority) established by banks in India are connected to a National Financial Switch (NFS) that was established by IDRBT (Institute of Development and Research in Banking Technology), a subsidiary organization of RBI. Recently IDRBT handed over this NFS to National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI), which is owned by six commercial banks including the SBI.
The switching charge, which was Rs 2 per transaction until 2007, was completely waived in December 2007 to bring down ATM interchange charges. While IDRBT has waived the charges for the usage of the switch, NPCI has started charging the member banks (37 are there) at the rate of Re. 1 per transaction from January 1, 2010.
However, NPCI is reportedly at looking at lowering the cost below Re. 1and also adding more members. The 37 members have 49,467 ATMs and the daily average volume is around 1.6 million with a peak volume of 2.6 million so far.
Two third of suicides are in the age group 14-44 and that and for every reported suicide case there are at least four which are hidden. And, even with the incomplete statistics India is near the top of suicide table of the world. Further, the menace of urban and professional suicides is increasing and becoming game spoiler for the Indian century. It is instructive to note that annually more Indians die from suicide than combined curse of naxalism, terrorism and deadly lungs cancer.
Lost productivity, health and social care costs of suicides are estimated at many billions of dollars each annually and suicide accounts for 20 millions years of healthy life lost in the world, with India being a prime contributor.
Rigorous studies in developed countries have concluded that there are two groups of people who commit suicide — 50% are those with diagnosed or treated mental disorder and 90% of the balance 50% in whose case psychiatric autopsies and retrospective studies confirmed that a psychiatric disorder existed. This makes mental illnesses, more particularly the subgroup of clinical depression and bipolar disorder as the prime contributor to completed and attempted suicide.
Following is the seven-point national agenda worth pursuing to combat the epidemic:
We need to get the suicide statistics right. With barely 20% deaths medically certified in the country, the task is difficult. But dramatic improvements made in South Korea can act as a role model.
We need to humanise and decriminalize suicide by deleting Section 309 of Indian Penal Code. The Law Commission in its 210th report recommended deletion and found it as the stumbling block for prevention of suicide and improving the access of medical care to survivors. There is a case to emulate UK Suicide Act, 1961 which abrogated the law which made attempt to suicide a crime but enhanced punishment for complicity in another s suicide to 14 years.
With mental illness being prime contributor to suicide, there is urgent need to set up a standing empowered National Commission for Mental Health to work as nodal agency for all the policy and action for prevention, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation of mentally ill.
A paradigm shift is needed at government, school, workplace and family level to accept that suicide is preventable. Education and awareness of all including health professionals, is central to such an approach.
Outlay and utilisation of budget for mental health and suicide prevention needs exponential augmentation the economic and financial return of the same will be high as most who commit suicide are in productive age group.
Non-governmental efforts require mainstreaming and working in tandem with government, sufferers and carers.
Media has collateral responsibility in dissemination of information, education, creating awareness and self regulation for humane portrayal of suicide.
Pleasing and appropriate manner or style (especially manner or style of expression); State of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy
eg: Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar would appear to have lost the felicity with words essential for a politician.
Profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger; A word or phrase conveying no independent meaning but added to fill out a sentence or metrical line
eg: If he had used a few less expletives, could Britain’s best known chef Gordon Ramsay have morphed into Goverdhan Ramji on his recent whirlwind visit to shoot for a TV food show?
Move (people) forcibly from their homeland into a new and foreign environment; Pull up by or as if by the roots
eg: His penchant for prurience may have been a mite more believable, though, if he had picked up some choice Indian terms of the same genre, or even their abbreviations in English devised by deracinated city dudes.
The cause of a disease; The philosophical study of causation
Adjective: (used of arms and legs) bent outward with the joint away from the body
Adverb: With hands on hips and elbows extending outward
eg: We were neither privy to his flying tackles, gravity-defying breathless stunts or his usually macho akimbo pose.