Money & Banking
Interest rate hurting; RBI should cut rate gradually says Kamath

According to the ICICI Bank chairman interest rate is hurting the common man and that's what is translating into lack of demand and a pressure in terms of the corporates

New Delhi: High interest rate is hurting the common man and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should cut interest rate gradually to spur economic growth, ICICI Bank Chairman KV Kamath has said, reports PTI.

"I would think that we cannot dismantle rate which is very high. We have to do it gradually ... to kick-start demand at the hands of retails individual that's where large part of growth would come from," Kamath said in an interview to private news channel CNBC TV18.

RBI raised interest rates 13 times between March, 2010 and October 2011 to stem rising inflation.

"But, let me take one issue which I think is really the cause of a large part of what is perceived as a slowdown. And that is interest rates. The interest rate, where it is today, is hurting the common man. It is hurting the lay individual," he said.

"And that's what is translating into lack of demand and a pressure in terms of the corporates," he added.

However, inflationary pressure weighed high on RBI's governor mind leading to status quo of rate in the latest monetary policy review last month.

While the short-term lending rate (repo) was kept unchanged at 8%, the CRR, portion of deposits banks are required to park with RBI, stood at 4.75%.

The decision of RBI came at a time, when GDP growth hit a nine-year low at 6.5% in 2011-12.

Kamath said, "global interest rates are low. Our inflation rate consequent to various things remains high. I guess we need to make sure that we understand what is happening in a global context."

The wholesale inflation was 7.55% in May. At the retail level, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation for May was 10.36%.


GlaxoSmithKline’s crooked behaviour: Norm or exception?

GlaxoSmithKline has pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and agreed to pay $3 billion in fines for various sins. Well, GSK is not alone. GSK has been caught doing what all pharma companies  do most of the time, as I have been warning for decades

 “Power corrupts. Knowledge is power. Study hard. Be evil.”— Anon

This seems to be the hot news in the US today. But for me this is no news at all. This happens with all companies and all drugs all the time. I have been warning people about this for decades. I feel happy today that many of my detractors will feel bad that a governmental agency has been able to spot this fraud! Read the news as it is below:

Washington—Global healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) agreed to plead guilty and to pay $3 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, its failure to report certain safety data, and its civil liability for alleged false price reporting practices, the Justice Department announced today. The resolution is the largest health care fraud settlement in US history and the largest payment ever by a drug company.

GSK agreed to plead guilty to a three-count criminal information, including two counts of introducing misbranded drugs, Paxil and Wellbutrin, into interstate commerce; and one count of failing to report safety data about the drug Avandia to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Under the terms of the plea agreement, GSK will pay a total of $1 billion, including a criminal fine of $956,814,400 and forfeiture in the amount of $43,185,600. The criminal plea agreement also includes certain non-monetary compliance commitments and certifications by GSK’s US president and board of directors. GSK’s guilty plea and sentence is not final until accepted by the US district court.

What makes this interesting are the revelations further of what GSK has been doing which again is what all companies do but, let us see it from the source.

“GSK paid a speaker to talk to an audience of doctors and paid for the meal or spa treatment for the doctors who attended.”

“The United States contends that GSK paid millions of dollars to doctors to speak at and attend meetings, sometimes at lavish resorts, at which the off-label uses of Wellbutrin were routinely promoted and also used sales representatives, sham advisory boards, and supposedly independent Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs to promote Wllbutrin for these unapproved uses.”

In the past I had written about a good book “The truth about drug companies—How they deceive the public and what to do about it” by the former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, Marcia Angell. She was the editor for 20 years and before that her husband, Relman, was there for 20 years. Both of them are now fighting the drug company menace in the USA. This book will let the reader have all the inside dealings of the drug lobby to sell their wares even when they know that the drugs that they were going to launch could kill many people. They do not want their share holders to lose their money. Here is one case in the open now. GSK was fully aware that the glitazone that they were going to release to the market could result in heart attacks in the recipient but they wanted to make enough money before that comes out in the open. Obviously, for them patient deaths were just statistics but their profit was sacrosanct!

The said company was well aware of the dangers of administering anti-depressants to children below the age of 18. They not only used dubious methods to promote the drug for depression in those below 18 years of age but they invented new indications like attention disorder, etc in children to sell the drugs. Antidepressants in children could increase their suicidal tendency! In her beautiful book “Dementia—a crime against mankind” by Elizabeth Grace Jackson, a professor of psychiatry in the US Navy, she gives us the dangers of antidepressants in general and shows how the epidemic of dementia these days is due to abuse and overuse of psychiatric drugs!

The other big criminal act by the drug companies is to sponsor the so called Continued Medical Education (CME) for doctors. It should instead be called “Continuing Brain washing of Doctors” by drug companies (CBD). The scenario is the same in India. Of course, we ape the Americans in every sphere of human activity, more so in medicine.  You have now realized what the receptionist means when she tells you to come after the doctor has returned from the conference. John Ioannidis MD, DSc from Stanford University is an expert in finding the loopholes in our medical system. His recent paper “Are medical Conferences useful?” in the prestigious JAMA (JAMA. 2012;307:1257-1258) gives the following facts about conferences, which I call as CBDs.

“Do medical conferences serve any purpose? In theory, these meetings aim to disseminate and advance research, train, educate, and set evidence-based policy. Although these are worthy goals, there is virtually no evidence supporting the utility of most conferences. Conversely, some accumulating evidence suggests that medical congresses may serve a specific system of questionable values that may be harmful to medicine and health care. Power and influence appear plentiful in many of these meetings. Not surprisingly, the drug, device, biotechnology, and health care–related industries make full use of such opportunities to engage thousands of practicing physicians. Lush exhibitions and infiltration of the scientific program through satellite meetings or even core sessions are common avenues of engagement. Although many meetings require all speakers to disclose all potential conflicts, the majority of speakers often have numerous conflicts, as is also demonstrated in empirical evaluations of similar groups of experts named on authorship lists of influential professional society guidelines.”

“Meetings may also create a branding system that builds the reputations of scientists working in the field and promotes herding after elevated prestigious opinion leaders.  Opinion leaders are experts whose valued utterances can exercise wide influence regardless of, in the absence of, or even against evidence. Gaining the podium for the plenary presentation or important sessions at a major meeting confers prestige, even though there is little safeguard that what these featured speakers say has any value and quality. Each professional society and organization creates its cadre of leaders, with meetings making these leaders visible to the members who usually participate passively by listening. Given the dynamics of large professional societies and conferences, leadership is sometimes judged not on scientific merit, hard work, and originality of thought but rather on the ability to navigate power circles. Some young scientists may be even discouraged to think that merit, hard work, and originality of thought is what counts. Instead, they may struggle to become better positioned within influential societies, with the hope that they will some day gain a spot on the podium of the specialty arena.”

One of my friends, an industrialist, had recently gone to Singapore for a cruise. To his wife’s surprise 98% of the passengers were Indian. She was very proud of our country to know how rich our people were. Next morning during breakfast she had a group of ladies talking to her. She found out that all of them in the ship were from one city in India and they were all doctors and their spouses! The cruise was booked by one drug company in return for the favours done! My friend’s wife had a shock of her life. She has not been seeing doctors for minor complaints ever since!

Instrument companies do not lag behind either. For each cardiac stent inserted for example the company budgets a small amount of $500 as doctors’ hospitality. The manufacturing cost is just about $10. The company might make a small profit of just $1490 or so per stent! This assessment of mine might be subject to revision recently! All that glitters is not gold in the field of human healing. Are you now happy that medical arena is one big business where profit is the ONLY motto irrespective of consequences based on the corporate principle of Bernard Mandeville, Adam Smith’s teacher. Long live mankind on tender loving care of good humane doctors who have not fallen prey to this yet. They have lots of temptations. I am happy to let you know that there are many such good souls who are not hard to find if you look carefully even today.

 “Yes! Finally captured Martha Stewart. You know, with all the massive and almost completely unpunished fraud perpetrated on the American public by such companies as Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco and Adelphia, we finally got the ringleader. Maybe now we can lower the nation's terror alert to periwinkle.”— Jon Stewart.

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society’s Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former vice-chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected])



Narain Jagirdar

5 years ago

Almost all pharma companies across the world are perhaps guilty of such practices, for they go under the name of marketing.The US is the mother country for birth of these practices and if one company is pulled up, it doesn't mean rule of law works there...this is an exception. The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association in the US is an extremely strong and a rich lobby. A similar practice in the case of another company might have got regularized of which we are not aware.

Adi Daruwalla

5 years ago

Education corrupts and business education corrupts absolutely !!

P M Ravindran

5 years ago

That's the difference between actual rule of law in an actual democracy in US and the farce being perpetrated in a fraud democracy in India in the name of rule of law!

Observing simple traffic rules: Stop and proceed please

Important thing is to prevent accidents from happening. Laws must be in place but the focus should be physical features that prevent cars moving at high speeds in by lanes and road junctions

There is a report that the driver of a Bollywood actor, while rushing in a Toyota Lexus in Bandra to take a tiffin box and an umbrella, hit a 70-year old pavement dweller at about 10.30pm. She died at the hospital. It is reported that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol.

Firstly, this is another occasion reported of an accident when a speeding car hit a person crossing the road in the Bandra Khar region. Unlike the last time that occurred at Khar Danda when the driver-owner stopped and took the pregnant woman and her husband to the hospital, in this case the driver had no such concern and fled to the police station at 1am fearing mob fury! When the 70-year old victim in the current accident was taken to the hospital, the story is as pathetic as it was then, except that the victim breathed her last outside the first hospital, as was reported in various media.

From various press reports one could say for sure that the driver was driving at high speed; he had to negotiate a near u-turn for which the speed was still high enough for him to have lost control, especially after he suddenly saw this lady crossing the road and tried to avoid hitting her but was late in doing so. The impact must have been severe enough to injure her sufficiently that she succumbed to injuries when taken to the hospital.

We know that it is next to impossible to police every nook and corner of Mumbai 24x7 and prevent speeding cars. Fear of punishment perhaps prevents many from driving rashly but there are always some who dare to defy, especially when the roads are empty. Cars are powerful and the probability of being caught violating speed limits being low, violations do take place, sometimes resulting in fatality.

Speed limits have been imposed firstly for the safety of other road users such as other motorcars, motorized two-wheelers, non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians; and secondly for the safety of the car user himself. Modern cars are designed to provide safety to the occupiers of the cars which give added confidence to car user and he tends not to slow down. It is important to drive within the prescribed speed limits and be concerned of everyone’s safety while driving. One must value life over everything.

“Stop & Proceed” used to be the road signage put up at every road junction and generally followed by motorists. This “slowing down” brought vehicles to speeds low enough to prevent accidents due to surprises like the Bollywood actor’s driver experienced at late night. We need to reintroduce the culture of “Stop and Proceed”. This cannot just be a campaign like “Halt before Stop Line” where at road level there was non-observance perpetrated by constables themselves, but through physical deterrent like a speed breaker. Drivers must also stop before the zebra crossings. All roads must have this raised zebra crossings at the entry and exit of every by lane with proper signage of stop and proceed prior to exit point. Similar provision needs to be made at any location that appears to be vulnerable.

The point is that the driver took the near u-turn at high speed and perhaps saw the lady all of a sudden. On the other hand, I have seen drivers, including owner drivers, not slowing down while they spot pedestrians crossing even at a pedestrian crossing with green signal for the pedestrian. Therefore the culture of defensive driving from all perspectives, especially from the pedestrian perspective has to be inculcated.

I myself experienced a rash near u-turn close to the bus stop where Vacha Gandhi Road meets Hughes Road (NS Patkar Marg). It was the valet of West Side (a mall) bringing out the car of a customer. Since I had just got down from the bus at about 8:30pm and was walking towards the footpath across the Vacha Gandhi Road that I saw this car coming speedily and I stopped just in time. I escaped getting hit by a whisker. I took up the issue up with West Side and pulled up the driver. Had someone been walking in the opposite direction, surely the person would have met with an accident as neither the driver would have seen the pedestrian not the pedestrian seen the speeding car approaching.

What is essential is to get people to drive slowly on by-lanes as though their own children are likely to surprise them by suddenly coming in front. Physical deterrents like raised footpaths at zebra crossings must also be introduced. This will hopefully make even a rash driver slow down at such speed breakers.

(Sudhir Badami is a civil engineer and transportation analyst. He is on Government of Maharashtra’s Steering Committee on BRTS for Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s Technical Advisory Committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also member of Research & MIS Committee of Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority. He was member of Bombay High Court appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). While he has been an active campaigner against Noise for more than a decade, he is a strong believer in functioning democracy. He can be contacted on email at [email protected])



Vikas Upadhyay

5 years ago

I'll provide another point of view.
I have seen many pedestrian looking in other side or talking on phone & not looking at the approaching vehicles while crossing the road.
I think there are rules for everybody on the road, be he/she a pedestrian or on/in a vehicle.
Not sure of the law, but do we have anything against Jaywalking in India ?

I have been troubled many times by pedestrians on my bike (office commuter) riding around 30/40 KMPH.

Bapoo Malcolm

5 years ago

Wanna bet he was on the cell phone?

Bapoo Malcolm

5 years ago

There must be a law for vicarious liability of the owner of the vehicle. The rich and infamous get away; and usually their drivers too pay their way out. Liability of the owners and equal punishment may lessen the menace.

Many owners try to save money by employing drivers who seek less salaries. These are the ones to be aware of. Let alone ruining the car, these guys are like loaded revolvers in itchy hands.

And the usual excuse..... "brake fail ho gaya". Boy, tell me another one!

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