Debited without My Consent
I am a subscriber to Moneylife and Stockletters Antelope & Lion. I would like to bring to the attention of fellow readers a recent experience.
I have a savings account with Canara Bank, Lalbagh West branch (Mumbai), since 1994.  I noticed a debit of Rs12/- as “PMSBY (Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana) SUBSCRIPTION-06840106150292952” in my passbook. I have never opted for this scheme and, without my consent the Bank has debited my account. All TV ADs have a line ‘Insurance is the subject matter of solicitation’. How can the bank debit without my permission?
I was also told that Canara Bank, Electronic City branch (Bengaluru) also has made similar debits from other accounts.
If I am insured at one place, my claim will be limited to that, and no extra amount will be given. Is this not a violation of IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India) norms?
N Udayasimha, by email

General Comments

This is with regard to some comments on the articles in Moneylife (issue dated 23 July 2015).
With reference to “Housing for All: Slogan vs Action” in ‘Crosshairs’, it will remain a slogan, since the government has no definite record of poor people with no house of their own. The government has neither the data on the income of such people nor whether they own their house or not.
With reference to the column ‘Fixed Income’ (page 27), North Kanara Goud Saraswat Brahmin Co-op Bank and Shamrao Vittal Co-op Bank have floated such non-callable FDs, with 50bps extra rate of interest. Last year, Bank of Baroda had also offered such FDs, with 50bps extra interest over the FD of the same period.
After reading the column ‘Stock Watch’ (page 36), it is better to avoid IPOs (initial public offering), since a large number of all the IPOs floated in the past three years have performed poorly. But investing in secondary market is equally risky now, unless the investor gets good guidance from organisations like Moneylife Foundation, which puts in a lot of effort in research.
Under ‘Insurance Trends’ (page 46), IRDAI’s (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India) stand on health insurance claim is quite informative. On page 47, the explanation about life insurance policies of LIC and Reliance being unproductive, is lucid. The salaried middle-class will not get trapped in low interest investment traps. At the end of the each write-up where to invest your savings in such a situation is also explained well.
In the column ‘Legally Speaking’ (page 54), how consumers are trapped by private banks, by giving free credit cards, is explained well. Gullible customers are literally looted by such banks. They send credit cards to the account-holders, without their application, with a sweetly worded covering letter, saying that “we give such offers to our valued customers, and you are one of the few such customers.” As per the contract law, even if you have not applied for the credit card, once you use it, you become its owner and its liabilities are carried by you.
Therefore, if any bank sends me such a card, I return it immediately, after cutting it across, and ask for a photocopy of my application form. I also state in my letter that, if the Bank does not give me copy of my application within 15 days of my complaint, I will complain to the banking ombudsman. Then, suddenly, the bank sends me an apology letter admitting its mistake. Only a few people write to the bank for such misdeeds.
On page 58, under ‘You Be the Judge’, by Bapoo Malcolm, I would like to narrate a recent incident near the Family Court at Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla Complex: A public transport double-decker bus (route 310), which is always heavily loaded with passengers, knocked down a lady scooter rider, with another lady riding the pillion. Both came under the bus. 
Immediately, all passengers left the bus, fearing police inquiry. Not a single person thought of calling the emergency ambulance’s toll-free number 108 or police numbers 100 and 103. Before fleeing, if someone had called these numbers and given the accident site location, an ambulance would have come during the golden hour, and the victims could have been saved. Although the driver moved the bus away, both of them could not be saved because of the delay.
I suggest that all the buses, trains and public transport vehicles should have the inscription, “In case of accident, please phone toll-free number 108, 100 or 103, and give information about the accident site.” 
Shirish S Shanbhag, by email 

Awareness in Delhi is High

This is with regard to “When Good Samaritans Get Bad Luck” by Bapoo Malcolm. I have lost count of the number of times I have helped take people to hospital and not been held back or troubled beyond being asked my name, address and phone number. This is, of course, in Delhi, where awareness on this has been high for some time now. Only twice have the police called up for some more information; once they came over to ask something. I think, only once has the family concerned called to thank me.
Veeresh Malik, online comment  

Media Support for the Cause

This is with regard to “Stop One-sided Contracts of E-commerce companies” by Sucheta Dalal. I thank Sucheta Dalal for calling a spade a spade, by exposing these so-called online sellers like Flipkart, Snapdeal and others like Shopclues, Voffie, Myntra, etc, and aggregators like Uber Ola Cabs, Taxi for Sure, and Fleet Cabs like Radio, Cool Cabs, Meru Cabs, etc.
But the mention of top stockist and online seller, Amazon, was only in the passing. She has pointed out that it is behaving one-sided in the United Kingdom. Madam, Amazon has the same anti-consumer policy all over the world. 
While charging more than the MRP (maximum retail price) is not a violation of law anywhere, including in India, Amazon sells goods for more than the MRP in India also.
I have already sent an open letter to Amazon to stop such unfair and illegal practices by amending the policy in India. I would like to gather media support for this cause.
Mohan Siroya, online comment

Overrated Fund Managers

This is with regard to “Do Equity Mutual Funds Buy and Sell Stocks Smartly?” Fund managers of mutual fund companies are so overrated. The one thing that is universal in India is that they are all consistently bad at their work! HDFC MF’s performance of the past two-three years speaks for itself and the example cited in the article is a clear indication of the way they are functioning.
Suketu Shah

Is Technology Within Reach of a Few?

This is with regard to “Cyber Fraud, Privacy & Public Ignorance” by Sucheta Dalal. Part of the reason for unawareness about privacy is consumer electronics / popular consumer software like Gmail, WhatsApp etc.
A few decades ago, technology was within the reach of only a few and those who had access to it knew the intricacies involved. Only a few people used email and those who did protected it well.
With the advent of consumer electronic companies, like Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, and consumer software, like search engine, chat applications, etc, privacy has taken a back seat and user convenience has been given priority. Most of the people using these are unaware of encryption, data mining, digital signature, etc
Pravesh Pandya  

Luxurious Life Even in Jail!

This is with regard to “Three Cheers for the Supreme Court’s Orders on IPL, Mallya and Sahara” by Sucheta Dalal. Such defaulters are protected by our politicians and face harassment but not punishment. They will lead a luxurious life even in jail, even if they are punished. It requires plugging at initial stages so that public money does not bleed from the coffers to these people enabling them to lead a luxurious life at public expense.
Praveen Sakhuja


Drive a Hard Bargain!
Smart decisions about car loans and insurance require careful thought. It is much easier to handle insurance and loan for a new car. For used cars, insurance and loan are a bit complicated. Raj Pradhan found that there is a need to understand the way insurance works, for not just the buyer but for the seller too. For instance, should the seller transfer or cancel insurance? Along with the complications of insurance, a used car loan is expensive. Financially, it makes little sense to take high-cost loan to buy a used car as the effect of lower price will be negated. The dealer may confuse you about the rate, if you focus only on the EMI (equated monthly instalments). We have provided the loan rates from several banks for you to compare.
While you look to get the best deals for your car, R Balakrishnan writes on what you should look for before investing in big businesses that are not quoting at a bargain price. He lists points on how to pick a potential winner.
How about a ‘Herbal’ bleach which may not be herbal, or a ‘Healthy & Tasty’ cooking oil that may be neither? Sucheta, in her ‘Crosshairs’ column, writes on misleading brand names and harmful products that have proliferated throughout the country. Are the regulators and other government agencies aware? Will they step in to protect consumers? In another brief piece, she highlights the speech by SS Mundra, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, on five kinds of financial illiterates. What we need most is less lip-service and better outcomes of all the financial literacy and financial inclusion campaigns being proffered. In her ‘Different Strokes’ column, Sucheta points out how, for almost two decades, the regulators have been treating foreign institutional investors through Participatory Notes being used to channel money into the Indian stock markets. 
Do you know whether your building is structurally safe in case of an earthquake, landslide, fire, deluge or internal design alterations? Do join us on 22nd August to hear expert views on building safety. To register, visit


Pankaja Munde tops list of ministers absent from cabinet meetings
Pankaja Munde, Eknath Shinde, Dr Deepak Sawant, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Rajkumar Badole are the top five ministers, who have not attended all cabinet meetings in the Fadnavis government
Pankaja Munde, the controversial Minister of Women and Child Welfare Department from Maharashtra has attended least number of cabinet meetings, reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
According to the reply received by RTI activist Anil Galgali, ministers like Eknath Shinde, Dr Deepak Sawant, Sudhir Mungantiwar and Rajkumar Badole also skipped cabinet meetings most of the time. Munde tops the list of absentee minsters. Only Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Babanrao Lonikar, the Minister for Water Supply, have attended all the cabinet meetings.
Replying to the RTI query, Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Chief Secretary's Office, said during 11 December 2014 and 23 June 2015, 28 cabinet meetings were held. Before that, there were few ministers in the Fadnavis cabinet. Pankaja Munde was absent in nine out of 28 meetings, while Shinde, the PWD Minister was absent in seven meetings. 
Health minister Dr Deepak Sawant was absent in six meetings followed by Finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and Minister for Social Justice Rajkumar Badole in five meetings, Housing Minister Prakash Mehta and Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam in four meetings, and Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse and Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule were absent in three cabinet meetings each, the RTI reply reveals.


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