Citizens' Issues
Maharashtra bans sale, possession of beef

Under the new law, anyone selling beef or in possession of it in Maharashtra can be jailed for up to five years and fined Rs10,000

 

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday signed a bill banning cow slaughter in Maharashtra that had been pending for almost two decades, state finance minister, Sudhir Mungantiwar has said.
 
Under the new law, anyone selling beef or in possession of it can be jailed for up to five years and fined Rs10,000.  Maharashtra is now the 25th Indian state to enact a law that bans the slaughter or sale of cows.
 
According to a report from Business Standard, among Hindus, a variety of lower castes still eat beef, alongwith most Muslims and Christians, for whom beef is a cheap source of protein, since it is cheaper than mutton or chicken.
 
The President's decision comes on the heels of a meeting with a delegation of seven state BJP MPs led by Kirit Somaiya, which submitted a memorandum seeking Mukherjee's assent for the bill.
 
The memorandum said that the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 1995, passed during the previous Shiv Sena-BJP regime, had been awaiting approval for 19 years.
 
According to newspaper report, the passage of the new Act will ban the slaughter of bulls as well as bullocks. However, it still permits the slaughter of water buffaloes, whose meat is generally seen as inferior in quality. 
 
"I am very happy that the President finally gave his assent. We have been trying hard from the last several years to get the bill passed into a law. It not only ensures that animals are not killed, but would also stabilise the agricultural situation. Prevention of the killing of animals will increase the productivity of farms...Even healthy animals were being killed for money, but it will stop now," Mungantiwar said.
 
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis too expressed happiness over President Pranab Mukherjee's decision to give assent to the bill.
 
"Thanks a lot honourable President Sir for the assent on Maharashtra Animal Preservation Bill. Our dream of ban on cow-slaughter becomes reality now," Fadnavis said on Twitter.
 

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NSEL Scam: Amit Rathi among three brokers arrested by EOW
According to reports, those arrested by the EOW, include, Amit Rathi, Chintan Modi of IIFL and CP Krishnan from Geojit Comtrade
 
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai police, which is probing the Rs5,600 crore National Spot Exchange Ltd (NSEL) scam, has reportedly arrested some brokers. According to reports, those arrested by the EOW, include, Amit Rathi, managing director of Anand Rathi Financial Services Ltd, Chintan Modi, vice president of India Infoline (IIFL) and CP Krishnan from Geofin Comtrade (formerly known as Geojit Comtrade).
 
Police sources said some other executives of Anand Rathi, Motilal Oswal, Geojit Comtrade and IIFL were already questioned by the EOW.

According to NSEL data, brokers were manipulating client codes to the tune of 3,00,000 times, after the trade was carried out on the exchange and then they transferred the same to other names.

It may be noted that in equities and commodities, changes in client codes are allowed only in a genuine case. But in this case, changes in client code were effected to transfer profit and loss to launder money.

According to market sources, as many as 200 brokers are alleged to have sold NSEL products as investment vehicles by promising an assured return.

After the exchange was shut down and the agencies began to probe the roles of the management and the brokers, the then newly formed NSEL Investors Forum had been demanding an investigation into the role of the brokers.
 
According to police, broking houses charged 0.2% as warehousing charges, but never gave investors any warehousing receipts (WRs). "Nobody verified the warehouse receipt or whether goods were actually at the warehouse. Some warehouse receipts are said to be authentic as some genuine producers wanted to finance their working capital till their goods were sold. But as nobody verified the warehouse receipts. More commodity traders started producing warehouse receipts against which they received easy funding. Some may have used this money for financing their business, but the rest is anybody's guess," another report from the newspaper had said.
 
Around 200 brokers are said to be involved in the scam. Major brokerages, which are under the scanner are Anand Rathi, Motilal Oswal, India Infoline and Geofin Comtrade, the reports said.
 
Last month, according to reports, the Maharashtra government was planning to liquidate properties worth Rs6,500 crore belonging to defaulters in the NSEL case to settle claims of the investors.
 
Ranjeet Patil, minister of home (urban), told DNA, "Until now, all such defaulters used to regain the hold of the assets. But we will ensure that property worth Rs6,500 crore, which was already attached from the defaulters, is liquidated. The auction on the property would be initiated soon to settle the claims of the investors."
 
The EOW had attached assets of the defaulting members, including MCX promoter Jignesh Shah and other NSEL officials under the Maharashtra Protection of Interests of Depositors (MPID) Act.
 
Last year in August, the EOW had filed a charge sheet against Jignesh Shah, promoter of Financial Technologies India Ltd, in connection with the NSEL scam.
 

 

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On behalf of Citibank... Blame it on the dialler!
Citibank agents are making blank calls every day to a person recovering from serious ailments, and who, despite all difficulties is repaying minimum amount due every month
 
The cellphone rings. I see the number and say "hello". Usually, it is a call "on behalf of Citibank". Only, in last two-three months, it was very rare to hear even this introductory sentence every time I respond...
 
Rare because most of the times, no one speaks from the other end. It is a blank call. May be if I am lucky, some human being does come on the line and the usual chat regarding my Citibank credit card ending with 4996, of which I have fallen behind in payments.
 
This is because of various factors, including no income for a long time. To add to that, I was down with indifferent health, long hospitalisation and finally the day arrived when doctors dramatically gave their verdict: "Multi-organ failure, condition critical; we can only keep him under observation". I was the only earning member of the family, but being unemployed for a long time there was no money left with us. In fact, we are living on borrowings. (I had no medical insurance because no one would give to me. Had heart bypass surgery in 1994, which failed soon enough; suffered heart attack in 1998, was advised against any further surgery but there was consensus from second, third, fourth and fifth opinions -- from eminent doctors from Mumbai to Hyderabad to Chennai -- that I would not go beyond two to four years.)
 
Some 16 years later, my treatment -- medical and financial -- by this corporate hospital is another story. The brain was impaired and yet during a few moments of consciousness in the Critical Care Unit, I whispered to my wife, "I want to die at home" ...and closed my eyes.
 
There were many good Samaritans, who pitched in with help, but why waste money when doctors themselves had given up hope? The wife took a decision, which she said was inspired by God, to take me home the very same day, on 2nd July last year. 
 
The hospital initially refused to discharge me. My wife explained about our financial situation and told them she wanted to take me to another hospital where we could get discount based on a community health card. They agreed. Once in the ambulance, she gave the driver the directions. 
One senior doctor, who had stepped out, had a doubt and looked at her. She confessed: "I am taking him home." He said, "I think you are taking a wise decision". By then, I was reduced to being almost a vegetable and a skeleton. 
 
Once we reached home, all life-saving paraphernalia was removed and I was laid on the bed. All medicines given by the two previous hospitals were stopped. I survived and lived to see another day...
 
Anyway, calls "on behalf of Citibank" continued even through the nearly two months of hospitalisation in three different medical facilities and despite having mentioned to the callers of my condition and not being able to communicate. Two-three months down the line, I received a postal/ e-mail communication from Citibank officials themselves and I explained to them the situation via e-mail. I even promised that I will try to sell my house and nearly half an acre of land and repay the entire outstanding. The markets were dull.
 
Over phone, one official suggested that I make some payment, say about Rs10,000. Since then, during the first week of every month, I have been regularly paying at least 5% of the outstanding, which is over Rs10,000. 
 
Yet the calls continued. It became very irritating at first and downright mental harassment later. Almost every day, the calls used to come, several times a day, that I even stopped lifting the phone for a few days. Once they disconnect the call on my cell phone, my landline starts ringing. And whenever I receive the calls, there was no one on the other end and it gets disconnected.
 
In December 2014, one “human being” spoke to me and I mentioned about the mental harassment the situation has created. The person on the other side was rude and said harshly, "We will continue to keep on calling you". Please note here that I am paying Citibank every month, thanks to a monthly 'dole' I am receiving to take care of my medical and household expenses besides the children's education and so on from my brothers-in-law ever since I was down and despite their own family issues.
 
I happened to mention this harassment on Twitter in December. Two kind souls, @suchetadalal and @moneylifers replied to my tweets, asking me to record a conversation and write a story. Someone also mentioned that the TRAI had once shut down Citibank's phones for a short period. 
Someone from Citibank also sent me a tweet with a link, which led to a form on their website in which I was asked to give my name, number, e-mail address and grievance. I chose not to do so. 
However, the calls stopped the very moment my tweets appeared. Peace at last, I thought. Before the next due date, I again made a payment.
 
About a month later, peace was again shattered by a series of calls every day. I was itching to implement the suggestion of recording a call if it ever came through.
 
Once or twice, someone did talk, but I was not prepared for the recording. On 3rd February, one caller seemed genuinely surprised that I had already made a payment on that day itself.
 
On 4th February, after quite a few of the usual blank calls, one Mr Shriram "calling on behalf of Citibank" came on the line. I asked him to hold on and switched on my recorder. 
 
"Sir this is regarding your Citibank card ending with number 4996..." 
 
I cut him off, saying I wanted to talk to him instead about the scores of blank calls I was getting from their side. I wanted to know what was happening and what the problem was.
 
"This is due to some technical problem in the dialler, sir," he said. 
 
I told him this had been going for a long time and that every time I pick up the phone no one answers.
 
He attempted to defend his earlier line: "It will be disconnected automatically or ...no response from your end." 
 
I said, "What do you mean by no response from my end? Every time, I do pick up the phone".
The caller tried to insinuate that I do not respond to their calls. But when I insisted that I do receive the calls, he started mumbling something, unlike the person from the last time who was very, very rude. 
 
And then I said, now I am going to complain to TRAI, the Telephone Regulatory Authority of India. The next time when they want to talk to me, they should first set right the system and not blame the dialler (presume it is some automatic phone calling software system) or some machine. 
 
He changed his tune. After trying to say something, he mumbled again "...can only say sorry for the inconvenience, sir.” 
 
“Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience," Shriram said.
 
I reiterated that they should set their systems right before attempting to call me, also mentioning clearly that they had no reason to call me since I have been making a minimum payment regularly.
 
A quick check, on the net, shows that these callers are from Chennai and they apparently belong to some Citibank franchisees who deal with collections. The calls are from different numbers and I am listing some of these numbers so that TRAI can take note: 
+914466639300,  +913366639500, +913366639200, +913366639600, +913366639100, +917845000164, +919043001265, +918122000197, +918122000390, +917845000193, +917845000195, +917845000119, +918122000329,  +918122000409...
 
(Shrikant N Shenoy has been a journalist since 1980, having worked in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Dubai. He launched a news portal and an online Konkani language channel from Manipal, Udupi, but ran out of money. In 2011, he successfully an English newspaper with five editions simultaneously on a shoe-string budget. He tweets as @udupinet.)

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COMMENTS

Parimal Shah

2 years ago

Why not start a service like CIBIL, say Credit Report of Offending work - CROW, and the report covers details of offending acts by different banks and their branches, the credit card companies, different brands of CC from different issuers including the co-branded products.
Let the report be available to all the people at a nominal fee of INR 60.00 including the service charges including service tax and cess.

REPLY

Dineshbabu G

In Reply to Parimal Shah 2 years ago

This is a good idea but of little help as the public will have the same set of banks to go with. Complaints should be registered with CROW and every complaint should be penalised heavily. Only when the banks suffer financial losses, they will hesitate to do such stupid things.

PRAKASH D. BASRUR

2 years ago

This is not new in the case of the notorious Citibank whose Veicle-loan-recovery franchisee's goons roughed a well-known electronic company's CEO at Thane toll naka a few years back ! Lo & behold , in that particular case it was a wrong person that they were manhandling on the basis of the brand and the color of the car ! The ruthlessness of MNC banks runs from an indiduals to the US government whose coffers were emptied by them in 2008-09 through the infamous "bailout money" gifted to them in spite of their being the cause of failed US economy that time ! So poor individuals like Mr.Shenoy could not have got help from GOI agency like TRAI !!!!!

GOWRISHANKAR KASI NAGARAJAN

2 years ago

For gods sake never ever go to a MNC bank for a loan/credit card/or a deposit. If you make a deposit, it is likely that they will debit your account for some godforsaken insurance premium or set it off for some loan availed by your close relative. If you go in for a credit card, the result is known as said in the article. RBI turns a deaf ear to the problems as their hands are tied. Most of their blood relatives are working at such MNC banks and they do not want to embarass their MNC bosses. Fair enough. Hope some political parties like Shiv Sena & RSS take up such issues and stop this kind of harasment to senior citizens.

Parimal Shah

2 years ago

Let us hope the TRAI takes a suo moto action in this regard and stops such harassment.

REPLY

PRAKASH D. BASRUR

In Reply to Parimal Shah 2 years ago

Indeed , like a typical GOI agency, at the most TRAI might assure Mr.Shenoy that they would do something in the matter and do nothing beyond that empty assurance ! What about RBI and the so called "Bank Ombudsman" ? Are they capable of tackling a financial giant like Citibank in such matters ? I am afraid they dare not touch such powerful banking roughs !

Dineshbabu G

2 years ago

The collection agents and the bank executives are extremely rude and obnoxious. The interest rates are almost 46% and still they say customers are defaulters !!!

RBI has to rein in the banks in regards to the interest rates and also the collection & recovery process of these banks. The banks will immediately update the CIBIL records but what options do we customers have to complain about the misadventures of the banks ?

Dineshbabu G

2 years ago

The collection agents and the bank executives are extremely rude and obnoxious. The interest rates are almost 46% and still they say customers are defaulters !!!

RBI has to rein in the banks in regards to the interest rates and also the collection & recovery process of these banks. The banks will immediately update the CIBIL records but what options do we customers have to complain about the misadventures of the banks ?

Veeresh Malik

2 years ago

Please get a phone instrument which has the "block number" facility. Once you do that, most smart phones automatically upload such numbers into their databases and in due course these "blocked" numbers start showing up in databases globally. Revenge is slow but sweet!

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