The plan has options for life cover that range between 1.25 and 5 times the premium
Single-premium ULIPs are in fashion nowadays, because of their convenience. Also, it's easier for insurance companies to sell these plans compared with selling the regular ULIPs. But the life insurance coverage is much lower than that for regular ULIPs.
Future Generali Nivesh Preferred recently launched a single-premium plan with options for customers to strike a balance between their insurance and investment needs. There are two options for life cover ranging between 1.25 and 5 times the single premium.
The plan has four term options of 7, 10, 15 and 20 years with the minimum single premium at Rs40,000 and the maximum single premium at Rs4,00,000.
The loyalty addition at the end of the fifth policy year is 0%, 3%, 5% or 7% for different premium slabs.
The premium allocation charge is 2% of the single premium paid, while the policy administration charge is 1.75% of the single premium for the first five years, inflating at 5%per annum and nil thereafter. This is in line with other single-premium products. It's one more single premium ULIP in the market.
On the occasion of the launch, Deepak Sood, managing director and chief executive officer, Future Generali India Life Insurance Company, said, "Insurance is about smoothening the volatility of one's personal balance sheet and Future Generali's Nivesh Preferred Plan has been designed from the very onset with the objective to enable investors who have very little time to manage their money, draw the twin-benefits of protection and optimal returns. The need of the hour is to offer innovative, simple ULIPs with attractive riders. With Future Generali Nivesh Preferred customers can avail the benefits of a single-premium plan-for times when they have some investible surplus that they want to invest in a cost-efficient and easy-to-manage insurance-cum-investment plan to achieve their financial goals."
Entry Age: Minimum 7 years, maximum 68 years.
Age at maturity: Minimum 18 years, maximum 75 years.
Premium payment frequency: Single premium only.
Policy term: 7 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years.
Sum assured: Options for between 1.25 and 5 times of single premium.
Powerful commercial interests have been lobbying for the enactment of a Data Protection Act, but there is no such equivalent power, either financial or temporal, to rally behind reinforcing personal privacy protection
India's Constitution has inbuilt safeguards to protect personal privacy. Unfortunately, it is expressed in general terms, to wit, Article 21 (in the 'fundamental rights' section) assures citizens of the right to life and liberty, but this has been specifically reaffirmed by the Supreme Court to include the right to personal privacy.
Should this be a source of comfort, then, for law-abiding Indians? Sadly, the answer is no. While there are a number of laws, rules and judgments that describe the protection, and exceptions to that protection, afforded by the body corpus of the law, the devil is in the details-that is, the men and women detailed to give life to the law.
Reality intrudes: Security forces are mostly concerned, in the real world, with finding out what went wrong, and bringing the wrongdoers to court. Detecting would-be criminals is a bit of a far-fetched idea, unless of course they had the power to read through or listen to every conversation or communication that takes place in the country. And surely that would fly in the face of every principle of liberty for which, under the colonial yoke, we fought to make ourselves independent? Surely.
Enter two of the most extraordinary legislations that have ever been inflicted on the Indian people, rivaling almost anything that feudal overlords and colonial squatters attempted. And this is because, when we did win independence (purportedly from both of them), we chose to allow existing repressive laws to remain on the books-including the notorious Telegraph Act of 1885, whose anti-democratic provisions have been updated within the Information Technology Act (2000, amended 2008).
The NATGRID Bill and the NIAI Bill now form a not very subtle nexus, with its sharp end piercing right through the protection afforded by Article 21. Let me explain. (NIAI is short for the National Identification Authority of India; NATGRID stands for National Intelligence Grid.)
The NIAI Bill provides for setting up a very huge database, which will be populated by data pertaining to the identity of each and every individual in India-1.2 billion and climbing. This data has not been collected yet, at least not by the designated authority (I say 'designated' and not 'authorised', very specifically), although the exercise has begun, willy-nilly.
There is no valid need for such a database, other than that the government wants it, despite the hoopla and media hype about social inclusion. No other democratic country has such identity systems used for such purposes, concerned as they are about upholding citizen's rights. Nor do democratic countries normally attempt to make the creation of such a database a fait accompli, to be regularised by a suitably worded law.
The NATGRID Bill provides for linking data on every individual and entity in India, hitherto stored in discrete and independent databases (not all of which are digital, and not all of which lend themselves to this kind of interlinking). Some of these are run by security forces, who fiercely guard their own turf, hence the need for such a Bill.
The home minister is very keen that NATGRID also include access to the identity database. If this system is endorsed by Parliament-and the way that august body functions nowadays, it is not hard to see that it can be manipulated to do so without question-security agencies will be able to track and surveil each and every person in the country, round the clock.
Enter the third witch to stir the cauldron: a Privacy Bill.
In theory, this would prevent the institutions emerging as above from being misused, with innocent, non-criminal or political elements being targeted. The UIDAI chairman too (notwithstanding the dubious legality of his own office) has called for such a Bill, although the lack of it has not prevented the organisation from proceeding at a fair clip (ready, shoot, aim-something that the less scrupulous of our industrialists are quite skilled at accomplishing) to enroll half a billion people in another four years.
In practice, privacy laws are not all that they are cracked up to be.
Many countries have constitutional or human rights provisions within their overall judicial framework. Some are explicit, as in the European Charter of Human Rights, Article 8, while others are implicit, such as the Indian Constitution, the German, the US, etc. Many people also confuse or blur the differences between privacy protection and data protection. We also have a data protection bill, framed to assist the money-spinning data outsourcing work given out from countries where it is too expensive. It contains provisions to protect data exchanged between entities, including third party data (such as credit card transaction information sent for processing, for instance), and in this sense is an extension of basic privacy protection.
Aside from primary protection, some countries also differentiate between data handled by the public and private sectors ('sectoral' protection), while others simply provide for comprehensive protection. The US, for instance, has a law specific to protection of personal data residing with the government.
In many cases, such laws provide the run-up to the framing of a comprehensive law, to deal with immediate situations created by emerging technologies. Some examples are an anti-spam law, or a do-not-call registry, etc. In other cases, it has been noticed that having a sectoral law simply pushes the need for a comprehensive law on to the backburner. This may very well end up India's fate.
The entire issue of personal privacy has been sought to be devalued by alleging opinions about Indian 'habits' of sharing information, mostly quoted out of context. Powerful commercial interests have been lobbying for the enactment of a Data Protection Act, but there is no such equivalent power, either financial or temporal, to rally behind reinforcing personal privacy protection.
It is quite clear that, in recent years, the government in power-no matter which hue of ideology it professed-has been determined to increase its ability to surveil all persons and communications relating to, or emerging from within the country. The saying goes, extraordinary circumstances demand the extraordinary, but it takes some pretty extraordinary thinking to believe that freedom can flourish in an atmosphere of repression. Warped thinking is a possible conclusion, where the price of freedom is freedom itself.
As we have seen, to our dismay, we can't even address the problems of chronic poverty and deprivation in the current environment of inequality, discrimination, and nurturing of privileges, including unfettered access to communications, afforded to a small fraction of our people.
The most extraordinary aspect of our extraordinary laws is that the government is consistently lax in framing the rules and putting a viable infrastructure in place to enforce them. For instance, 10 years after the IT Act was first notified, we still do not have a comprehensive system for legally endorsing digital signatures, or for the issue of valid digital certificates.
We can legally wiretap anyone's telephones and emails but lack the digital archiving, digital chain-of-evidence and digital processing capabilities to wield such a powerful weapon with accuracy and reliability. Search and seizure of digital content and mechanisms breach the inviolability of personal identity and privacy, yet the facility to execute such actions is casually afforded to junior untrained or ill-trained police officers who do not even have the infrastructure to use digital technology in their working environment, and thus are ill-equipped to understand or recognise what they are doing.
Should India go ahead with framing a comprehensive law for the protection of personal privacy? It may not be necessary. Aside from Article 21 in the 'core provisions' of the Constitution, there are a number of 'enabling' provisions in other Acts and rules associated with them, that bind and restrict the State from breaching various aspects of personal privacy, itself implicit in the recognition of basic human rights. Sadly, privacy has not, so far, been a subject of much interest to legal professionals with little or no fees-earning possibilities, hence we lack a comprehensive understanding of the Indian situation.
The recent writ filed in the Supreme Court by the well-known industrialist Ratan Tata, seeking to protect the content of telephonic conversations legally intercepted by the State in the course of an investigation into possible shortfalls in income tax paid (not by him, but by the interlocutor Niira Radia), may be a game-changer. It not only injects some cash into the equation, but dangles the promise of much more, perhaps even a money train, as the question of personal damages has now been raised in a credible forum.
(The author is Regional Coordinator, Asia, for Privacy International (PI). PI is a human rights group formed in 1990 as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. It believes that privacy forms part of the bedrock of freedoms and it has campaigned across the world to protect people against intrusion by governments and corporations that seek to erode this fragile right. PI is based in London and has an office in Washington.)
The Indian market is likely to witness a cautious opening today on unsupportive global cues. US housing data was lower-than-expected pulling down key indices in major US markets overnight, while markets in Asia were lower in early trade concerned about key economic data in China. The SGX Nifty was down 47 points at 5,650 compared to its previous close of 5,697.
Yesterday, the market opened with modest gains on positive cues from global markets. The indices fluctuated on both sides of the neutral line, amid a high degree of choppiness. They touched their day's high in noon trade-but a sharp bout of selling saw them breaching their psychological levels a short while later. Volatility continued with the market touching the day's low in late trade. However, the indices witnessed a minor bounce-back, but ended in the red, erasing nearly half the gains accrued in the previous session. The Sensex ended 114 points lower at 18,978 while the Nifty stood at 5,691, down 33 points.
Wall Street closed lower on Wednesday on disappointing housing data. Housing starts fell 4.3% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 529,000 from a downwardly revised 553,000 in the previous month, the Commerce Department reported. On the other hand, building permits, a measure of future construction, surged 16.7% to an annual rate of 635,000.
Projections of lower fourth quarter earnings by financial majors Bank of America and American Express and tepid results from Goldman Sachs, Northern Trust and Wells Fargo, pulled down the banking sector.
The Dow declined 12.64 points (0.11%) at 11,825.29. The S&P 500 fell 13.10 points (1.01%) at 1,281.92 and the Nasdaq lost 40.49 points (1.46%) at 2,725.36.
Markets in Asia were in the negative terrain in early trade on Thursday on concerns over Chinese economic indictors. Weak housing starts data from the US also dampened investor sentiments. In news that just came in, China's annual gross domestic product growth rose to 9.8% in the fourth quarter from 9.6% in the third quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. Consumer prices rose 4.6% in December from a year earlier, slowing from a 28-month high of 5.1% in November. The CPI rose 0.5% in December from the previous month after a 1.1% month-on-month rise in November. This apart, the producer price index rose 0.7% between December and November after a 1.4% rise in November.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.57%, the Hang Seng fell 0.91%, the Jakarta Composite was down 0.31%, the Nikkei 225 tanked 1.13%, the Straits Times lost 0.39%, the Seoul Composite was down 0.19% and the Taiwan Weighted declined 0.28% in early trade.
Back home, a committee appointed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday suggested that microfinance institutions (MFIs) be allowed to charge a maximum interest of 24% on small loans which cannot exceed Rs25,000. The committee, headed by RBI’s central board director YH Malegam, also pitched for creation of a separate category of non-banking financial companies (NBFC-MFI) for the microfinance sector.
The panel also said small loans of up to Rs25,000 could be given to families having an income up to Rs50,000 per annum. On repayment, it said, the borrowers be given the option of weekly or fortnightly or monthly return of the loan.