Tuesday, December 28, 2010

17,368 farm suicides in 2009 - P. Sainath

Worst figure in six years

Total number of farm suicides since 1997 is 2,16,500
The share of Big 5 States remains very high at 10,765

MUMBAI: At least 17,368 Indian farmers killed themselves in 2009, the worst figure for farm suicides in six years, according to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). This is an increase of 1,172 over the 2008 count of 16,196. It brings the total farm suicides since 1997 to 2,16,500. The share of the Big 5 States, or ‘suicide belt' — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — in 2009 remained very high at 10,765, or around 62 per cent of the total, though falling nearly five percentage points from 2008. Maharashtra remained the worst State for farm suicides for the tenth successive year, reporting 2,872. Though that is a fall of 930, it is still 590 more than in Karnataka, second worst, which logged 2,282 farm suicides.
Economist K. Nagaraj, author of the biggest study on Indian farm suicides, says, “That these numbers are rising even as the farmer population shrinks, confirms the agrarian crisis is still burning.”
Maharashtra has logged 44,276 farm suicides since 1997, over a fifth of the total 2,16,500. Within the Big 5, Karnataka saw the highest increase of 545 in 2009. Andhra Pradesh recorded 2,414 farm suicides — 309 more than in 2008. Madhya Pradesh (1,395) and Chhattisgarh (1,802) saw smaller increases of 16 and 29. Outside the Big 5, Tamil Nadu doubled its tally with 1,060, against 512 in 2008. In all, 18 of 28 States reported higher farm suicide numbers in 2009. Some, like Jammu and Kashmir or Uttarakhand, saw a negligible rise. Rajasthan, Kerala and Jharkhand saw increases of 55, 76 and 93. Assam and West Bengal saw higher rises of 144 and 295. NCRB farm data now exist for 13 years. In the first seven, 1997-2003, there were 1,13,872 farm suicides, an average of 16,267 a year. In the next six years 1,02,628 farmers took their lives at an average of 17,105 a year. This means, on average, around 47 farmers — or almost one every 30 minutes — killed themselves each day between 2004 and 2009.
Lower their average
Among the major States, only a few including Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal avoided the sharp rise these six years and lowered their average by over 350 compared to the 1997-2003 period. In the same period, the annual average of farm suicides in the Big 5 States as a whole was more than 1,650 higher than it was in 1997-2003

Monday, December 27, 2010

IRDA slaps Rs 5 lakh fine on Tata AIG Life

Insurance regulator IRDA has imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Tata AIG Life Insurance for violation of regulatory guidelines.
The company has been directed to pay a penalty of Rs 5 lakh within 10 days for violating the directions of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
Tata AIG officials could not immediately be reached for comments.
According to the order passed by the IRDA, Tata AIG Life's Expenses of Management (EoM) crossed the prescribed limit in 2008-09, following which the regulator asked the insurance firm to ensure convergence with regulatory norms.
However, the EoM statement submitted by Tata AIG Life to the IRDA for the year 2009-10 indicated that the company did not follow the regulator's directive. "This is a violation of IRDA's direction...," the order said.
It said that Tata AIG Life went on an expansion spree by opening branches in the year 2009-10, even though it had assured the regulator that it would restrict its expenses.
"Contrary to the directions of the authority and assurances provided by the company to the authority while requesting for approval to open new branches offices in the year 2009-10, TALIC has not complied with the limits on EoM," it said

LIC's new premium crosses 50,000 crore

The new premiums of country's largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) has breached the Rs 50,000-crore mark during April-October period this year, an increase of 66 per cent from the corresponding period last fiscal.
In the first seven months of the current fiscal, LIC's new premium stood at Rs 50,605 crore compared to Rs 30,469 crore during the same period last year, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) said in its monthly data.
Overall, the life insurance industry mopped up new premium of Rs 69,706 crore during April-October this year, up from Rs 46,689 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal.
The 22 private life insurers have collected Rs 19,099 crore in the first seven months of 2010-11, up from Rs 16,217 crore in the same period last fiscal

LIC to invest Rs 61K cr in equity market

Unfazed by controversy surrounding its housing finance arm, country’s largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) plans to pump in about Rs 61,000 crore in the equity market during this fiscal.“This year we are likely to invest around Rs 61,000 crore (in equity market),” LIC managing director Thomas Mathew said. Increase in exposure to equity market secondary or primary market would depend on market condition, he said.“We hold shares for long term. Whether it’s down or up it’s opportunity for us,” he said.“Now it’s (market) up so we have booked profit. Already this year we have made good profits. Last year, total profit by churning portfolio was Rs 9,400 crore full year,” he said.However, during this year till mid-October LIC has earned Rs 12,000 crore by churning portfolio, he added. During the April-October period of the current fiscal, LIC has breached the Rs 50,000 crore mark. LIC’s new premium stood at Rs 50,605 crore compared with Rs 30,469 crore during the same period last year, registering an increase of 66 per cent. Overall, the life insurance industry mopped up new premium of Rs 69,706 crore during April-October this year, up from Rs 46,689 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal

Rs 50 lakh fine imposed on 6 insurers, including Reliance, HDFC

Insurance regulator IRDA imposed Rs 50 lakh fine on 6 insurance companies, including private sector players Reliance General and Apollo Munich Health in 2009-10 for failing to comply with various norms, including rural and social obligations.
Fines were also imposed on Life Insurance Corporation, General Insurance Corporation, HDFC Standard Life and HDFC Ergo General, said the annual report of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA).
The maximum penalty of Rs 20 lakh was levied on Reliance General for violation of IRDA's regulations and guidelines, while the sectoral watchdog imposed fine of Rs 10 lakh on Apollo Munich Health for non compliance to rural and social sector obligations during 2008-09
The country's largest insurer LIC was fined Rs 5 lakh in January this year as it failed to comply with obligations towards rural sector in 2008-09, the report said.
IRDA imposed Rs 5 lakh penalty on re-insurer GIC for failure to comply with the investment regulations during 2009-10.
Penalty of Rs 5 lakh each was levied on HDFC Standard Life and HDFC Ergo for failure to comply with rural sector obligations in 2008-09 and 2007-08 respectively, IRDA said

Cost cuts put pvt insurers in a spot

   Financial Expressthe insurance regulator’s recent directive to cap expenses on unit-linked insurance policies and private insurers’ consequent bid to trim costs by shutting some of their smaller branches seem to have had a collateral impact: Though the policyholders’ investments are safe and the company strong, many customers start worrying when a branch downs shutters.

“Some insurers are facing this crisis now. Though nothing is wrong with the company, branch closures create a wrong impression. People feel private life insurers are fly-by-night operators. What is being faced by a few companies will be faced by others too,’’ said the CEO of a leading private insurer.

Private life insurers are cutting costs as they implement the stringent Ulip norms. Sources say many insurers including ICICI Pru Life, HDFC Life and Max New York Life are adjusting to the low-margin Ulip regime by closing branches. Private life insurers have shut almost 400 branches since September 10.

However, Irda chairman J Hari Narayan said there was no fear among the policyholders as their investments were quite safe. “If any branch closure was happening in the industry, then it was due to the fact that the life insurers’ administrative expenses can’t exceed their certain specified limits as per the Insurance Regulation Act. We don’t force life insurers to cut their costs for the initial five years. But, by sixth year onwards, we do strictly enforce the rule on them,’’ he clarified.

SB Mathur, secretary general, Life Insurance Council explained that when insurers were worried about their bottomline and topline, they couldn’t leave their policyholders in the lurch. “There is no fear psychosis. There was a 40% growth in the first-year premium in October. If the net reduction in terms of number of branches has happened by 60, it doesn’t make any difference as it doesn’t even comprise 1% of the total number of branches of 12,000.”

Rajesh Sud, MD & CEO, Max New York Life said while his company had shrunk its office space at some places, it had also combined the large number of branches to smaller ones. “On retrenchment of non-performing staff and cost management, the Irda regulations were more coincidental. In fact, Irda has signalled the direction for the industry,’’ he said.

Kshitij Jain, MD & CEO, ING Vysya Life said some companies started shedding surplus distribution force after September.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

அம்பேத்கர் திரைப்படம்

 அகில இந்திய இன்சூரன்ஸ் ஊழியர் சங்கத்தின் அங்கமான காப்பிட்டுக்  கழக ஊழியர் சங்கம் , சென்னை பகுதி - ௧, பல ஆண்டுகள்  போரட்டத்திருக்கு பிறகு வெளி வரும் அம்பேத்கர் திரைபடத்தை ஒரு மக்கள் இயக்கமாக மாற்ற அம்பேத்கர் பட டிக்கட்டுகள் வாங்கி ஊழியர்களுக்கு விநியோகிப்பது என்று முடிவு செய்துள்ளது.

வரும் ஞாயிற்றுகிழமை 12 ம் தேதி, மதியம் 11: 30 மணிக்கு ஆல்பர்ட் திரைஅரங்கில் படம் திரையிடப்படும்.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Coming up in Bandra's Palli Hill: Anil Ambani's new house
Mukesh Ambani’s Altamount Road residence, Antillia , billed as the world’s most expensive family home, will soon have competition. Its rival, and this should be easy to guess, is being built by his younger brother, Anil. 
Just a few months back, as Mukesh and Nita Ambani’s Rs 4,500-crore dream home was getting its finishing touches, construction began on Anil and Tina Ambani’s new house at Bandra’s Pali Hill. The work, as the picture here shows, has since progressed and reached the plinth level. 

Ravi Muthreja, spokesperson for the Anil Ambani-controlled Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group Group (ADAG), confirmed that the plot on the Nargis Dutt road will house a residence for Anil Ambani and his family. Muthreja, however, refused to share any details of the project. A questionnaire sent to his office remained unanswered. 

Members of the Pali Hill Residents Association (PHRA), who are opposing the project, however, revealed that the Ambanis have got permission to build a 66-metre tall structure and applications have been moved to raise the height to 150 metres. 

Antillia, for record, towers over almost all of south Mumbai at 170 metres and has Mukesh’s personal library on the top floor. If Anil’s new house gets the clearance for 150 metres, it would dwarf everything in its sight in Bandra. 

A senior officer from the Buildings Proposal Department of BMC , who did not wish to be identified, confirmed that his office has received a proposal from the Ambanis for a residential building in Bandra. "It’s a preliminary proposal. I would not like to comment on the proposed or sanctioned height of the building," he added. 

The 1537 sq mt plot where the Ambani house is being built was home to a bungalow of Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply company’s (BSES) chairman. In early 2000, when Reliance gained control of BSES, the spacious bungalow came into its ownership. 

Subsequently, in 2005 when the brothers split, Anil got the power business and with it this quaint bungalow on Pali Hill. 

Anil currently stays with his wife, sons and mother at the 17-storeyed Sea Wind building at Cuffe Parade. 
The Pali Hill Residents Association, meawhile, are building up their case to oppose any move to allow Anil’s house to rise to 150 metres. "There is water reservoir that supplies to almost all of Bandra and Khar adjacent to this plot. The new building will also be in the flight path of planes taking off and landing at the airport," said Madhu Poplai, secretary, PHRA. 

The residents association is also raising questions about the plot’s ownership. "After Reliance Energy acquired BSES and plot came into their possession, the land was sold to Kunj Bihari Developers, whose main officials, including the directors, were employees with Reliance Infrastructure . This huge plot was sold to Kunj Bihari Developers for just Rs 43 lakhs," PHRA chairman Amitav Shukla said. 

Muthreja, however, dismissed all of PHRA’s reservations. "There are so many highrises in the area, we do not know where are these objections coming from," he said. 


‘Corporates suborn policymaking'
Interview with Prakash Karat, general secretary, CPI(M).

Prakash Karat: “What is required is to find out how an entire system could be manipulated.”
PRAKASH KARAT, general secretary of the CPI(M), spoke to Frontline on the latest controversy involving the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Excerpts:
The CPI(M) had raised the spectrum allocation issue way back in 2008, but at that time no one, including the BJP, took it seriously.
Ever since the privatisation of the telecom sector began, there has been a series of corruption scandals. We raised such issues during the time of the BJP-led government and during the first UPA government's tenure. We took up the allegation of the 2G spectrum as early as February 2008. A number of letters were written to the Prime Minister and statements issued by the party regarding the big loss to the exchequer due to the actions of Minister A. Raja. But until the recent outcry after the Comptroller and Auditor General's report, nothing much was done.
Why does a JPC have more sanctity than the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)? Sections within the Congress opine that the CAG report has not incriminated anyone and that the individuals concerned have been removed from their posts.
After the CAG report confirmed that there was large-scale manipulation of the system, the Congress leadership had no other option but to ask Raja to resign. But that does not end the issue. What is required is to find out how such a massive scam could be perpetrated and how an entire system could be manipulated. That is why we have demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee that can go into all the ramifications. I do not know why the Congress party and the government refuse to constitute a JPC. During the period of the NDA government, when the Congress was in the opposition, it demanded JPCs for the Tehelka tapes and for other corruption scandals. The 2G telecom scam is much bigger than these earlier scams. It has caused the single largest loss to the exchequer.
The removal of the people who are responsible from their positions is the first step, whether it is the CWG corruption or the Adarsh Housing scam. In all such cases, what is required is prompt investigation, filing of cases and prosecution of those guilty. In the case of the 2G spectrum issue, the most important step would be to cancel the licences of the companies that illegally got the allocation.
Secondly, there should be an auction of the spectrum so that the government can recoup the losses. The committee set up to inquire into the CWG is useless as it is without any powers. What is needed is investigation, filing of cases and prosecution. The CBI and other investigating agencies like the Enforcement Directorate should conduct joint investigations.
The BJP, too, has in a sense lost the moral authority to attack the UPA on corruption. Is it possible to have a fair inquiry into the allegations against the Karnataka Chief Minister if he continues in office?
The Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka has set a new brazen record in corruption. First of all, the government was conceived with the mining mafia being part of it. This has made the government a centre for all illegal and corrupt activities. The Chief Minister himself is facing serious charges of bestowing favours to his sons and relatives in land allocation. It is shocking that the BJP leadership has refused to act in the face of growing evidence of wrongdoing. Their decision to keep the Chief Minister on has exposed the hypocrisy and double standards of the BJP.
Are all these corruption scandals an outcome of a kind of policy that has been pursued since the 1990s and that the face of corruption has changed somewhat in this period?
After liberalisation, what has developed is a nexus between big business, politicians and the bureaucrats. Under the neoliberal regime, corporates and multinational companies are able to suborn policymaking. If one side of the 2G spectrum is Raja, on the other side are corporates who try to get famous. In the recent case of officials of banks taking bribes for giving loans to the real estate sector, corporates are involved in the bribing. But the government refuses to acknowledge the nexus that has developed. Even some of the regulators are in connivance.
This is not just because politicians need money to fight elections. The loot of public funds is a form of accumulation of capital in the country. Without fighting against this system and policies, corruption cannot be curbed or eliminated.