With onion prices having dropped considerably over the past few days, onion growers have been holding back stocks hoping for a better price through exports
Onion growers from Nashik in western Maharashtra, one of the principal onion-growing areas, have called off their 10-day strike in anticipation that the central government will lift the ban on export of the onions soon.
The onion farmers from the region were on strike at the Lasalgaon onion market, Asia's biggest onion market over the past 10 days to demand that the ban on export of onions be lifted. The export brings better returns for farmers than what they earn from selling their produce at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) market where wholesale prices have dropped recently.
The Press Trust of India has reported that onion growers from the Nashik region are holding their stocks in anticipation that the government will lift the export ban and they will be able to earn handsome returns. Over the past fortnight, the prices of onions crashed to Rs4-10 per kg in the wholesale market.
"Farmers are hoping that the government will lift the export ban on onions, which will get them fair prices, hence the strike was called off. They are also holding their produce as they are anticipating exports will open up," said RP Gupta, director of National Horticulture Research Development Foundation (NHRDF), which monitors onion prices.
A trader at the Lasalgaon market told Moneylife over the telephone, "The situation and supply of onions was tight due to the strike, which has now been called off."
The government banned shipment of onions abroad in December last year to rein in domestic prices that had soared to Rs70-85 a kg in the retail market. Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar have urged the Centre to lift the export ban completely.
"The government is giving its attention at the highest level, to what has been said by the Maharashtra chief minister and union agriculture minister," commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had said in Delhi last week.
According to Mr Gupta, "The wholesale prices of the onions at Lasalgaon APMC market today was at about Rs417 per quintal (minimum) and Rs1,114 per quintal (maximum). The model onion prices were around Rs1,000 per quintal." (Nearly 80% of the onion produce is rated in the 'model onion' category.) "Around 8,320 quintals reached the market today by 1.30pm, as compared to 14,000-15,000 quintals that generally arrives at the market daily," he said.
The Tata group company says that it has applied for the dual-technology license after the policy announcement and is still waiting for spectrum in the Delhi circle, while RCom had applied for a license before the policy announcement and has got the spectrum across the country
Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) has said that it was the only operator which had applied for the dual-technology license after the policy announcement and is still waiting for spectrum after three years in the crucial Delhi circle.
In what could be called a hard-hitting clarification on the Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) statement, the Tata group company said, "It is indeed special and intriguing that Reliance Communications and two other operators applied and got DoT (Department of Telecom) approval even before the (dual technology) policy was announced. It is even more intriguing that Reliance Communications was allotted spectrum in all the circles immediately, in January 2008, whereas TTSL got DoT approval after 83 days, and that TTSL, even after 3 years, is still awaiting spectrum allocation in the crucial Delhi Circle and in 39 commercially crucial districts in 9 telecom circles."
According to Tata Tele, yesterday, RCom in a statement had said that it was granted the dual technology on identical terms and payment identical to three other companies, including the Tata group company.
"The grant of dual technology approval to RCom, against its application that had been pending from February 2006 for more than 18 months, was on identical terms and payment of identical fees as for three other companies-Shri Ratan Tata group's Tata Teleservices, Himachal Futuristic Communications and Shyam Telecom (now known as Sistema)-and there is nothing special or untoward in the same," RCom was quoted as saying by Tata Tele in a statement.
Taking objection to labelling Tata Tele as a 'Shri Ratan Tata group' company, the telecom operator said, "Tata Teleservices Limited and (the) Tata Group are not family-owned or family-run concerns, or owned by Mr Ratan Tata. Hence, to refer to them as 'Shri Ratan Tata group's Tata Teleservices Limited' is not appropriate."
Rajeev Chandrasekhar (former telecom player and now Rajya Sabha MP) had openly charged that the Tatas were a big beneficiary of dubious telecom policies. Although Mr Tata has retaliated with counter-charges, it is, indeed, a fact that former telecom regulator Pradip Baijal, who favoured the Tatas, quickly became a consultant with Niira Radia's firm for a fat fee and was recently raided and questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The insurance regulator has released an ad about ULIPs, which hides the reality of these products. ‘Promoting Insurance, Protecting Insured’ is the slogan of IRDA; it should read ‘Promoting ULIPs, Protecting Insurers’
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has launched another series in its consumer awareness campaign 'Bima Bemisaal' which is being advertised in leading newspapers. It is supposed to help consumers, just like the last campaign urging consumers to contact IRDA by email or phone for any grievance.
We had readers mention lack of IRDA response to several complaints like Reliance HealthWise's unhealthy premium increase by 500%. (Reliance General Insurance's HealthWise Plan: It's time to act).
So much for IRDA's response to the insured.
IRDA's new campaign is on ULIPs, titled 'ULIPs ke chaar sutra'. It will leave you no wiser about the dark side of ULIPs.
Click here to see the advertisement
People have strange ideas about insurance and think that insurance is supposed to grow wealth rather than act as risk protection. And ULIPs are terrible as investment products.
ULIPs or traditional endowment/money-back plans (that combine insurance and savings) often leave the policyholder underinsured, as well as give pathetic returns on savings.
Why doesn't IRDA create awareness of insurance as pure risk protection rather than selectively highlighting some aspects of ULIPs?
Can we have an IRDA 'Term plan ke chaar sutra' too? How about 'chaar sutra' for the toxic Variable Insurance Plan (VIP) that LIC is heavily advertising after conveniently hiding information of astronomical charges?
IRDA banned Universal Life Policies (ULPs) and revamped them as Variable Insurance Plans (VIPs). LIC is the first to launch these instruments under the new norms and is currently heavily advertising about 6% guaranteed returns with no mention that the returns are after deduction of 27.5% charge in 1st year, 7.5% charge in 2nd and 3rd years and 5% every year thereafter. How did IRDA approve the full-page colour advertisements in leading newspapers and financial websites?
Here is what readers need to know about ULIPs beyond what IRDA is advertising.