Consumer Issues
'National Insurance policy-holders suffering due to system problem'

Last week, the computer system was down for a couple of days continuously and policy-holders were left in suspense as to their risk-coverage

 

"System down, come tomorrow" is one common refrain that policy-holders here of the public-sector National Insurance Company Ltd hear, complain employees, agents and policy-holders.
 
At a time when competition is severe in the 26-player general insurance sector, the government-owned National Insurance Company has been turning away its existing policy-holders who want to renew their policies. The reason? System problems.
 
Last week, the computer system was down for a couple of days continuously and policy-holders were left in suspense as to their risk-coverage.
 
A number of employees, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told IANS that they were facing the problems ever since the company implemented the core insurance solutions.
 
"It is really frustrating to sit before the computer terminal endlessly waiting for a page to load. In our earlier software, renewal policies used to take just 30 seconds whereas now it takes not less than 15 minutes," an employee told IANS.
 
"In the case of a new policy it takes at least 30 minutes to feed in the details," he added.
 
According to employees, National Insurance Company had implemented a core insurance solution called EASI.
 
"Though it is called EASI it makes ours as well as the policy-holder's life tough," the employee said.
 
Senior officials of National Insurance Company were not available for comment.
 
To a query about why policy-holders are turned away instead of accepting their premium and issuing a receipt, an employee said: "To issue a manual receipt, one should know to calculate the premium. Ever since computers came in, employees have lost the ability to calculate the premium."
 
Further, the days of issuing manual receipts have gone.
 
"Many a time, a premium is booked couple of days after the receipt of a cheque. If, for some reason, the cheque bounces, then there is the risk of the policy-holder being without any risk cover," a woman employee told IANS. 
 
"Varoom Aanna Varadhu' (would come but would not come) is the standard dialogue in our office referring to their core insurance solution and net connectivity," she added.
 
"We don't get a clear answer as to why the system is slow -- whether it is due to the problem of the core insurance solution or with the net connectivity speed or with the low computer capacity is not known," an old timer in the company told IANS.
 
"The top management, though aware of the issue, is not taking any corrective action. The core insurance solution was first implemented in one office in Chennai in 2011. Now it is 2015, still the solution has not been rolled out across the company," he said.
 

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'Fast & Furious 7' - Fitting tribute to Paul Walker

"Furious 7" is a high octane, over-the-top, adventure caper, that is frivolous in nature. It definitely caters to its fans' expectations

 

Film: "Fast & Furious 7"; Cast: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Djimon Honsou and Lucas Black; Director: James Wan; Rating: **
 
The best part of the seventh edition of the "Fast & Furious" franchise is its last 10 minutes. Apart from the action, the film encapsulates the mood and sentiments of a team and pays a glowing tribute to Paul Walker, who was killed in a car accident, albeit unrelated to the film, in November 2013.
 
But to reach to this final 10 minutes of the film, one has to endure a barrage of outlandish ear-deafening action sequences, sprinkled with a few comical as well as emotional moments that take place across continents.
 
Nevertheless, "Furious 7" is a high octane, over-the-top, adventure caper, that is frivolous in nature. It definitely caters to its fans' expectations.
 
The story takes off from where it left in the previous edition and from the very onset stresses on "family ties and friends".
 
The narration begins with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the team. Haunted about their past, they are now trying to settle down to a sober lifestyle. But Deckard Shaw (Statham), who had lost his brother, is hell bent on avenging his brother's death.
 
After numerous attempts to curb Shaw, Dominic and his team approach FBI Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson). He is unfortunately holed up in a hospital with a bandaged arm and his daughter to monitor him.
 
Hobbs advises Dominic to seek the help of a secret CIA operative (Kurt Russell), who introduces himself as "Mr. Nobody". The CIA agent agrees to oblige them, only if Dominic's team would secure a sharp tracking device for the US government.
 
On the other hand, a group of mercenaries led by Jakande (Djimon Honsou), are also attempting to lay their hands on the tracking device.
 
Director James Wan, who had earlier given us a few horror movies like the "Saw" and "The Conjuring" series, has very resolutely delivered this action-packed film, keeping in tune with its pedigree.
 
Unfortunately, what makes the narration tedious, is the talk-heavy exposition and continuous loud action scenes, from start to finish. They numb your senses forcing you to even snatch forty winks. But when you are wide awake, you can relish some preposterous action sequences shot at post-card locales along with unusual stunts which include fisticuffs and street-style fighting. Some of these are nail-bitingly edgy.
 
The dialogues are crisp and tempered with the characteristic one-liners that have been often seen in the series. These are especially evident, during moments of one-upmanship, when the cast keeps ribbing their opponents, "too slow". These serve as a reminder of what the film is about.
 
On the performance front, there is nothing exceptional to talk about. Emoting has never been a strong point of these action heroes. They deliver strong lines stoically and the ladies too are no better.
 
Visually too, alternating between shots of foot on the accelerator and the speedometer, the adrenaline rush of the speed thrills, is effectively created by the sound design and quick edits.
 
The songs with the lyrics, "Oh oh my, I couldn't believe in my eyea" and the one at the very end, "We have come a long way about you, my friends" as background score is touching.
 
Overall, this film will only appeal to fans of the series.

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Replace beef with chicken to save the climate

How large a space domesticated poultry has to move around in does not impact greenhouse gas emissions to any great extent -- rather, the issue pertains more to cost

 

Even though vegan diet is the most climate-friendly, we can continue eating animal protein and still make a major contribution to the climate if we replace beef with poultry and eggs, and cut down on our consumption of milk and cheese, says new research.
 
The study by David Bryngelsson from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden examined various future scenarios to determine how the climate would be impacted if humans were to change their diet.
 
"Cattle ranching is already responsible for 15 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions that humans cause," observed Bryngelsson, who recently presented his doctoral thesis on land use, food related greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change.
 
He noted that increased consumption of beef runs counter to the goal of limiting the temperature increase to two degrees Celsius.
 
There might be ethical objections to the current chicken industry, but Bryngelsson believes that climate gains will prevail even with more animal-friendly production methods.
 
Technical improvements in the production chain can to a certain extent also reduce the food industry's climate impact, but cattle are still the biggest problem, he noted.
 
It is difficult to change the fact that they need a lot of feed and that they release methane as they ruminate. Furthermore, forests are being encroached upon to make room for the increasing number of cattle, which also impacts the climate, the study pointed out.
 
"Since around 70 per cent of all agricultural land is currently used to raise cattle, converting to a more energy-efficient diet of poultry would free up land for cultivation of for example bioenergy," Bryngelsson explained.
 
"You could say that chicken is like an electrical car -- it is a better alternative, yet still very similar to what we are accustomed to," he said.
 
How large a space domesticated poultry has to move around in does not impact greenhouse gas emissions to any great extent -- rather, the issue pertains more to cost.
 
For example, if chickens are given a space that is five times larger, the space is still small in relation to the space required for feed production and will probably not noticeably affect the chickens' impact on the environment.
 
The difference between chicken and beef as regards area requirements and greenhouse gas emissions is so great that there is no doubt that the chicken leaves a smaller carbon footprint regardless of production method, the study noted.
 

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