A government official wants you to send your privacy, data concerns - but on his Yahoo email ID!

The government wants you to send your suggestions on privacy, data protection and security to a free email service

The Indian government has constituted a group of its officers to develop a framework that could address the country’s interests and concerns on privacy, data protection and security. According to a release from the ministry of personnel, public grievances and pensions, put up on the Press Information Bureau's site, one can send suggestions to KG Verma, director, department of personnel and training. However, in case you want to send an email to Mr Verma, then you will have to send it to his personal ID ‘[email protected]’.

This borders on the bizarre. Especially when a senior government official of the rank of a director does not even have an email ID provided by the government and asks for information to be sent to his personal ID. Again, when the whole issue is about privacy, data protection and security, why share it through a free email service? “Does this means the data of the ministry is stored on the Yahoo server somewhere, somehow?” asked an IT expert.

This is not to question the effectiveness of Yahoo’s mail servers, but one should keep in mind that when a high-ranking official like a director is inviting suggestions from the public, then the government should at least provide its own email ID, said other IT expert.




7 years ago

many of the companies that helped in this project are asking for something out of it for themselfs.
i guess this is the story.

as someone here suggested, having a security password in place (in addition to biometric) would help.
also, laws regarding when can a person choose not to be identified by biometrics.

Col NR KurupRetd

7 years ago

What is the use ? I have not come across a single government office who reply one's e-mail.

K B Patil

7 years ago

The top bureaucrat's life is far different from that of a common man. They don't have problems of commuting, of facing domestic problems such as water shortage, power cuts or getting a reliable electician, plumber or carpenter for small repair jobs. So, concerns of privacy are of little interest to them. Also, since they are having people to do every single task, many of them (particularly those in their 50s) may have computer phobia. That's the reason why government websites are not people friendly.

TP Viswanathan

7 years ago

This is all a handiwork of some vested interests. In USA one cannot survive without a social security card. That card contains all such personal data as one can conceive of. Yet people take it unhesitatingly. After all, just by knowing some data a third party cannot ruin or plunder that person's assets. Other normal securities are very much in place. Instead, fool proof password protection should be developed side by side.

Mercedes joins the trend with second-hand cars in India

But if you need more bang for your buck, it makes more sense to shell out a little more and go in for a new car

A second-hand Mercedes-Benz, not over six years old, with a six-month manufacturer’s warranty added on. That’s the deal that Mercedes-Benz India is offering, at indicative prices which are typically around half or less than half the price of a new car, with variations for usage and model year, as well as condition. All this, sold through existing Mercedes-Benz dealerships, in addition to the new cars on offer there. Making this announcement, Wilfred Aulbur, the CEO and managing director of Mercedes-Benz India Ltd (MBIL), took a small step up for Indians who already have a vast choice of new and used cars, and a large jump down for Mercedes-Benz—from a perch occupied for decades now on the perceived proposition that buying aMercedes-Benz car in India was an experience unlike buying any other car.

Sounds very good. A star in my drive for half the cost, that too, with a manufacturer-backed warranty. So what if it is old and used, and the technology that was state-of-the-art five years ago is already obsolete in new generation cars costing a fraction of the amount? I am an Indian, and I should consider myself lucky, in being allowed to place the famous 3-pointed star in or outside my home. At least, that’s the attitude, in large doses, which one gets at every interaction with Mercedes-Benz in India.

If nothing else, this gives potential owners of Mercedes-Benz cars in India a very good idea of what the resale value and depreciation will be, going forward. But first, before going forward—a wee bit of history, and why this attitude from a manufacturer of cars, which elsewhere in the world are slowly fitting into a slot often known as “utilitarian”—apart from the top-of-the-line show models, which in any case usually don’t make it to Third World countries—unless destined for the dictator or ruler.

Mercedes-Benz cars have had a favoured run as the ultimate in aspiration for luxury in post-Independence India. One reason for this was the excellent relationship that TELCO, forerunner to Tata Motors, had with the powers that be. This rubbed off on to its international truck partner, Mercedes-Benz, who were the collaborators with TELCO after a deal with the French fell through. The other reason was that it was certainly made difficult for any of the other luxury foreign automobiles to establish a beachhead in India, courtesy a particular well-connected Kashmiri gentleman, who was also in those days very close to the powers that be.

So, along with a restrictive import policy, it was not very uncommon to see that second-hand Mercedes-Benz cars often achieved a price higher than that of a new car—when released into the market through STC, or as and when the original importing owners were permitted to resell the cars—or sold them in ‘benami’ transactions anyway. This happened right up to as recently as the mid-‘90s. And of course, how could these transactions take place without help from the various dealers, authorised as well as otherwise, for such imported cars?

Cut to the future, 15 years later, and take stock of the horizon with about 30,000 Mercedes-Benz cars sold since MBIL started assembling and manufacturing cars and vans in India. Competition is fierce and free-ranging, and from Germany alone both Audi and BMW are offering not just newer and fresher products, but also aggressive pricing as well as that which all seekers search for—more bang. Mercedes-Benz on the other hand ends up carrying this staid reputation, which would have been fine if all the potential buyers and users of luxury cars were above 50 years old, but that’s not true anymore either. Prices of some models of the lower-end luxury cars are now really low—if you search hard enough—and that’s not surprising considering the way the same cars are stacked up against Japanese and South Korean brands in the international market.

But most of all, nobody has any idea any more of how much of any car, luxury or otherwise, is now made from parts and components coming largely out of China—but could also be from anywhere else. Which does not in any way reflect on the quality of the end product, but certainly makes one think—if a brand new car from any of the other countries is available at the same price as a five-year old Mercedes in the same bracket, then which would be a better choice?

In addition, please be aware, rapidly-changing regulations for new generation fuels—BS Stage IV is now a fact in the larger cities and soon going to spread—is going to create problems which were not even envisaged when these cars were designed. And this is not going to be easy to fix, either—there are multiple complex issues involved, especially with complex car engines, which no amount of local tinkering will resolve.

So, while the price may sound attractive, the fact remains—it may make more sense to go the extra yard, spend double the money, and buy something new, and here the choice is much wider now. Or it may make sense to spend the same amount of money, and look at different brands. After all, ‘new’ also means that you can be sure that your luxury car today was not somebody’s private taxi yesterday.

And if you must have a star in the drive, then something which was new about 10-15 years ago is often available for a price which even your scrap merchant may match—and that’s the truth too.



Dr George Koshy

7 years ago

living in Europe the past 13 years and travelling extensively, to me the biggest paradox is that an average Indian who buys a luxury vehichle like the Mercedes Benz, Audi or BMW in india from the show room pays twice his counterpart in a far richer nation like the USA and at least 70 % more than his counterpart in Europe both countries where the average earning potential is may be 3 times as much. Senior Doctors in private practice may earn upto 10,000 $ in India and in the USA perhaps 15000$ per month but the American pays 75,000 $ for an S class Benz while the Indian if he chooses to buy the same pays 175,000 $. Tell me in which way is this Fair. To top it all check our Governments provided infrastructure for a car owner and check what other countries give theirs. We were fleeced by the Monarchy & now by our beloved government. We Indians should stop taking these atrocities with "This is the best we can get" attitude !

Why the new ULIPs are the same as the old ones

The changes may have been cosmetic and won’t rock the boat of insurance companies

The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) introduced sweeping changes in Unit-linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) yesterday. Among the measures are-a five year lock-in, even-out commission over the first five years and graded charges for the subsequent years.

How will these changes affect ULIPs? Are they competitive now with mutual funds (MFs) as long-term products? Nothing has really changed for the investors.

All IRDA has insisted is that the fat commissions, which insurance companies were paying, would have to be spread over five years. Insurance companies were doling out upfront commission as high as 30%-35% to distributors in the first year.

 They will now have to spread this commission over the five-year lock-in period. But this will put off distributors used to making a fat upfront income. "It's not attractive for distributors anymore," said a top official from a fund house. He points out that for mutual fund investors, there is no entry load. If you invest Rs1,000, you will get units equivalent to Rs1,000. Considering a commission of 6% in ULIPs for the first year, if you invest Rs1,000 in a ULIP, your investment will be worth Rs940 after deducting the 6% expenses.

The insurance regulator has attempted to cap the charges at 4% annually for 5 years, and 3% for 5-10 years and 2.25% for products of above 10 year terms.

These are more expensive than mutual funds. The total maximum permissible expense for a mutual fund stands at 2.5% on the first Rs100 crore of the average weekly net assets collected by the fund. This is then reduced to 2.25% for the next Rs300 crore, 2% on the subsequent Rs300 crore corpus, which finally comes down to 1.75% for the balance assets. The expenses consist of Investment Management & Advisory fee (1.25%); Custodial fees (0.05%); Registrar & Transfer Agent (RTA) fee (0.25%); marketing expenses including commission paid to distributors (0.65%); Audit fees (0.10%); Costs of fund transfer from location to location (0.10%) and other expenses (0.10%).

Moneylife contributor R Balakrishnan says, "The ULIP changes are cosmetic in nature. Maybe the product becomes a little more efficient than it used to be, but in no way has it become comparable to a mutual fund. In a mutual fund, the total damage is limited by law to 2.50% per annum. In ULIPs, the selling commission has not been reduced. The only thing that has happened is that instead of front ending, it is now supposed to be spread evenly. In effect, a marginal improvement."

Some industry experts believe that ULIP charges will still be opaque and can differ from company to company. Insurance companies can still charge a lot of money to investors under the garb of administration and management expenses.

Mr Balakrishnan pointed out that in all investment products of the insurance industry, "There is a management charge, administration charge and some other charges. Typically, these aggregate over 3% per year, assuming a typical monthly investment of say Rs20,000 per month. These charges are separately deducted from the contribution paid by the customer."

He added, "ULIPs are the sole survival mechanism for the insurance industry. And they are perhaps the biggest prop for the stock markets. The government just does not want to rock the boat. Hence they have legitimised what they have been doing." 




7 years ago

1.Is it possible to take a pension plan for wealth creation..instead of pension annuity?.... ie.. is it possible to surrender the policy after a certain period n take the payout as lumpsum..with out purchasing annuity.?
2. life coverage mandatory for pension plan frm 1st of septmbr onwards?

Keshav B Bhat

7 years ago

Today it is a fashion and everybody tries to become famous by writing all imaginary things about ULIP and Insurance. Agents accumulating wealth and misselling. At the same time why these people can not write about the families who were saved because of insurance (can you imagine the pliegt of a young widow and the under aged children when their sole bred winner, listening to these experts decided not to take insurance, and meets the unwanted fate?).
Why these people are talking about the commissions received by the agents so much when they themselves earn their living by just writing these so called exprt advise?
Keshav B bhat

Sunil Date

7 years ago

The above article implies that Insurance companies can charge whatever they want but spread over 5 years and give a hefty commission to agents. It is not true.
If MF have a cap of 2.5% per annum as per the article, then ULIPS also have a cap on difference between nett yield and gross yield. I quote "For insurance contracts which are of a tenor of less than or equal to 10 years duration, the difference between gross and net yields shall not exceed 300 basis points" "For other contracts, i.e., those whose contract period is above 10 years, the difference between gross and net yields shall not exceed 225 basis points" The nett yield considers the allocation charge, the FMC and the policy administration charge. Only the mortality charge and morbidity charge is not to be considered. Morover the FMC is alsocapped at 135 Basis points. But then MF do not offer Insurance or critical illness cover.
So it not that Ins co can charge whatever they want. I believe that the above facts are not known / not understood while making such comments.


7 years ago

MS. Manoja
what is the amount is being charged for 1 crore life cover what is duration of coverage &what amount is invested in ulip 's what % of return's is expected please let me know such that i can also plan for my client's


7 years ago

A client of mine who was just about 24 years wanted to take a life insurance plan. His requirement was something like this: short premium duration, large life cover, returns at the end of the plan period. I suggested him to go through the ULIP route. He put in a premium of Rs.100,000 per year for three years. He got a life cover of Rs.1 Crore. He had to pay three premiums mandatorily. He will remain invested in the product till he reaches the age of 60. At which time he will get the fund value back. Assuming a fair return of about 12% over this period, the fund would be valued at around Rs.90 lakhs. After deducting the upfront charges, after deducting the annual fund management charges, after deducting the mortality charges for the life cover.

It continues to surprise me how skewed the whole outlook on this ULIP issue is. Everyone is talking only about the costs without considering the obvious benefits the product has on offer.

In my career as a financial advisor, I have come across very few individuals who have the dedication & discipline to invest a fixed sum for a long period of time. After the initial enthusiasm towards investment wears off, they will find a number of excuses not to invest. In a scenario like this, ULIP is one product which helps them to get the dual benefit of insurance cover and market linked growth.



In Reply to Manoja 7 years ago

Hai ! I 'm also an Investment Pro cum CFP. Y do you make the ULIP route for the goal? Select a good moderate class mutual fund and invest periodically and take a term insurance. Considering the current ULIP charges (after 30 JUNE 2010 IRDA new guidelines) this will certainly make a difference!


In Reply to balaji 7 years ago

Dear Balaji,

Two things.

One, a term insurance plan for a 24 year old person for Rs.90 Lakh would work out to Rs.27,450 per year. If he pays this for 35 years, the total outflow would be Rs.9,60,750/-. And no returns at the end. Instead, dont you think it makes sense to invest Rs.100,000 for three years and get a life cover for Rs.90 lakhs?? With a very real possibility of getting some amount back at the end of the period in case the policy holder survives???

Two, we all assume that an average individual is dedicated and discplined enough to keep investing a certain amount of money every year till he / she retires. This is definitely not going to happen. People find a number of reasons not to invest money. And at times there might be a possibility that they may not have enough money to invest also.

Also, I wonder why all this fuss? Do you mean to say that once a person invests in ULIP he will not invest in any other product at all? Through out his life?


In Reply to manoja 6 years ago

may i know the name of the plan which you mentioned above?

Raj Talati

7 years ago

Since last 6 months I am seeing that all media Print as well as electronic is only talking of ULIP why not for traditional plans which pay much higherer comission in the range of 35-40% and renewal upto 7 %.
In case of ULIP it is still possible to recover the charges in long run but in traditional plans atlast investor is getting nothing.
I think the time has come now cut should come in traditional plans as well.


7 years ago

Why agents are not permitted to sell products of all companies like mutual fund agents. This will benefit the customers as the agents who want to sell properly will have the options available from all companies to select and sell the best as per the needs of the customer.



In Reply to D B DESAI 7 years ago

Dear Desai

You are right.

Dillip kumar swain

7 years ago



7 years ago

Its good that the commission from ULIPS will be staggered. This should lead to substantial drop in pass backs / rebating. This was nothing but a procedure of generating unaccounted money for the ULIP applicant.
However, IRDA need to bring more changes keeping in mind the DIRECT TAX code.


nagaraja k

In Reply to Prabal 7 years ago

Dear Prabal
Please dont say there will be drop in passbacks. As is corruption so is passbacks. It will never ever be eliminated even if God wills. Big deals have bigger passbacks and it is there to stay.

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