This licence will help BBVA to invest in the on-shore bond market in India
The Indian regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) has granted the certificate of registration, permitting BBVA to access the Indian on-shore bond market.
This marks BBVA's second undertaking in the Indian financial market and is consistent with the bank's strategy of entering emerging markets. India has a robust securities market and the current Indian regulation allows foreign institutional investor (FII) licence holders to invest in the Indian debt market up to $10 billion in government securities, $15 billion in corporate bonds and $25 billion in long term corporate bonds for infrastructure development.
Gonzalo Toraño, managing director and head of BBVA Asia, said, "We are delighted to receive this FII licence from the Indian capital market regulator, the SEBI. This licence will enable us to access this rapidly growing market, and to apply our global expertise to invest in the Indian bond market."
Jeffrey Chu, managing director, said "We have a fully fledged global markets business in Hong Kong, which actively trades most Asian currencies and interest-rate products. This FII license will allow BBVA access to the Indian on-shore bond market for the first time, adding an important market to BBVA's fixed-income securities product offering."
Following the receipt of the FII licence, BBVA intends to increase its exposure to the Indian financial market by bringing in its emerging market experience in risk management and investment expertise BBVA has maintained a representative office in India since 2007 and in December 2010 it signed a MOU with Bank of Baroda to acquire a 51% stake in the bank's credit card business, BOB Cards. Through the joint venture, BOB Cards aims to become a top credit card player issuing more than 5 million cards in the coming years.
This is despite the market volatility and significant challenges faced by the insurance sector
Aviva Life Insurance announced a profit of Rs29 crore in FY2010-11, for the first year since launch of operations in May 2002, against a reported loss of Rs345 crore in the previous year. This is despite the market volatility and significant challenges faced by the sector. The company maintained total premium collected at par with previous year at Rs2,345 crore with total assets under management pegged at Rs7,654 crore.
TR Ramachandran, CEO & MD, Aviva India said, "Our business focus has been on sustainable and profitable growth driven by a quality led business model focused on bancassurance. The transition to profitability is a result of proactive steps taken to re-organise the product portfolio and continuous management focus on achieving higher productivity, improving persistency and strategic cost management."
The company has capitalised on the large opportunity in the protection and child segment and in the last FY, nearly 10% of business has been contributed by each of these segments. Aviva India introduced a complete suite of protection products, including its online term plan Aviva i-Life. Aviva India also launched seven traditional products and four unit-linked products in FY10-11.
The strong management focus towards resource optimisation and cost efficiencies led to a reduction of 20% in total operating expenses. The company's operating expenses to gross written premium ratio improved from 30% in FY09-10 to 24% in FY10-11.
Survey by the WHO and the World Bank points out that India has miles to go to ensure a life of dignity for the disabled
The World Report on Disability, compiled by the WHO (World Health Organization) and the World Bank, released on 10th June, shows that India has a long way to go to ensure welfare for citizens with disabilities. Despite being the home to a large number of people with disabilities, India has fared poorly in terms of rehabilitation of the disabled or for their education, healthcare and employment.
"In India, children with disabilities in special schools fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, while children in mainstream schools come under the Department of Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development. This division reflects the cultural perception that children with disabilities are in need of welfare rather than equality of opportunity. This particular model tends to further segregate children with disabilities, and shifts the focus from education and achieving social and economic inclusion to treatment and social isolation," the report says.
The report defines 'disability' in a very wide sense, which also includes people who suffer from chronic health conditions, or undergone physical or mental trauma in an accident. "More than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability, of whom nearly 200 million experience considerable difficulties in functioning. Disability will be an even greater concern due to ageing populations and the higher risk of disability in older people as well as the global increase in chronic health conditions," says Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO and Robert B Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group in the preface to the report.
The apathy can be noticed in a variety of other ways too. In India, 42% of public buildings do not follow the compliance norms necessary to make public structures accessible to the disabled. With a high disability prevalence rate of 24.9%, India loses some10.5 years of health due to disability. During 2004-2005, only 0.05% of the budget allocated to the ministry concerned was reserved for welfare of people with disabilities. Access to healthcare is severely limited to many, due to high cost, lack of convenient transport and lack of services.
In matters of access to primary education, the share of disabled children not enrolled in school is more than five times the national rate. Even Karnataka, which has fared the best among Indian states, almost one-quarter of children with disabilities were out of school, and in states like Madhya Pradesh and Assam, the number increases to more than half.
Moreover, though as high as 60% of disabled children between 6-11 years attend school, the number drops to 30% for those between 12-17 years. Only 37.6% of the people with disabilities are employed—and 87% of them are in informal sectors.
According the 2001 Census, there are 21.90 million people with disabilities in India. However, a 2007 World Bank Report on disabled persons in India observed that there is growing evidence that people with disabilities comprise between 5%-8% of the Indian population (around 55- 90 million individuals).
However, India has shown significant improvement over the years, and the country has seen the movement for the support of the disabled gain significant ground. Many schemes have been implemented, and in many parts of India, the education and healthcare situation has improved. The Leprosy Mission's training centres have a job placement rate of more than 95%. The 2011 Census is supposed to be more 'disability-sensitive' and accurate, and the much awaited Persons with Disabilities Act, 2011 is to be implemented this year.