Citizens' Issues
Pakistan suspends mobile services to stop possible attacks

Millions of people in Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Quetta were unable to use their mobile phones since 8pm last night as cellular operators suspended all services on the directions of the Interior Ministry

Islamabad: Against the backdrop of intelligence reports about possible terror attacks during the Eid holidays, cellular services have been suspended in four major Pakistani cities, including Lahore and Karachi, to prevent bombings triggered by mobile phones, reports PTI.
Millions of people in Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Quetta were unable to use their mobile phones since 8pm last night as cellular operators suspended all services in most parts of these cities on the directions of the Interior Ministry.
After being briefly restored in parts of the cities early this morning, cellular services were again suspended between 7am and 10am as special prayers for Eid-ul-Fitr were held across the country.
Residents of Lahore and Karachi said services were restored in some parts of the cities at around 10am.
The move was criticised by people across Pakistan, who said they were unable to wish friends and relatives on the occasion of Eid.
Many Pakistanis took to social networking sites to criticise Interior Minister Rehman Malik and the suspension of mobile services, saying people would be unable to contact police or rescue services in any emergency.
"We have done it to stop bombings using mobile phones," Malik told reporters when he made a surprise inspection of security at a market in Islamabad late last night.
He said the Interior Ministry had made arrangements to suspend cellular services in Islamabad too in the event of any emergency.
"The objective of the Pakistan government is to save lives. There will be some inconvenience due to the lack of mobile services but I will request the people to bear with it," he said.
The decision to suspend cellular services was made following intelligence reports of possible terror attacks during the Eid holidays, Malik said.
"There have been instances of mobile phones being used as detonators in bomb attacks," he said.
Referring to the terrorist attack on the Kamra airbase, a bombing in Karachi and a suicide attack on security personnel in Quetta over the past few days, Malik claimed some elements had drawn up a "blueprint to destabilise Pakistan."
Nine terrorists and two security personnel were killed in the attack on the Kamra airbase and seven persons were killed in the strikes in Karachi and Quetta.
Malik claimed the investigation into the attack on the airbase was on in "full swing" and the attackers had been identified.
He said some persons had been arrested but refused to give details on the grounds that this could affect the probe.
Though the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Kamra airbase, Malik said he would accept this only if the outfit's chief Hakimullah Mehsud came forward and acknowledged the group's role.
Malik pointed out that all major terrorist attacks, including the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, had been traced back to North and South Waziristan.
Punjabi militants, members of banned organisations and foreign fighters were based in Waziristan, he said.


Reliance Life to introduce fixed salary for advisors

The Anil Ambani-led Reliance Life is launching the salary-based insurance agent drive in semi-urban and rural areas

Bangkok: Taking cue from its Japanese partner Nippon Life's strategy, India's Reliance Life is introducing fixed salary for insurance advisors to reduce attrition and to further improve customer services, reports PTI.
The Anil Ambani-led Reliance group company is launching the salary-based insurance agent drive in semi-urban and rural areas.
"Yes, we are in the process to introduce a fixed income system for insurance agents under our new format called career agent. The basic impulse is to provide a minimum fixed salary to agents in order to infuse a sense of security and professional commitment," Reliance Life Insurance President and Executive Director Malay Ghosh told PTI at the company's off-site.
The company plans to hire 5,500 career agents across 200 branches by the end this financial year.
"We have already started recruiting career sales agents and deputing them in around 100 branches pan-India. We will give a fixed stipend to insurance agents for the first six months during their training tenure and help them pass the licensing examination, before they become part of the company," Ghosh said.
Nippon Life Insurance, 26% partner in the company, has all its insurance agents on its pay-roll. This fixed salary mechanism has helped the Japanese firm retain the talent pool and provide dedicated services to customers.
In India, insurance agents work on commission basis and have uncertain income level. Hence, the industry is facing a very high attrition rate.
"We are trying to plug those gaps through our new programme and provide training to young people with career paths. We will recruit new people on the back of fixed salary-cum-variable incentives to enable them connected with the company for a longer period of time," Ghosh said.
"We believe that the fixed salary-based mechanism will be a game-changer in the domestic insurance sector," Ghosh said.
Apart from recruiting career agents, Reliance Life plans to hire over 50,000 insurance sales advisors on commission basis in the next seven months.
The company is eyeing to increase the number of insurance advisors to over 1.5 lakh by the end of the current financial year from around 1.2 lakh now. More than 60% of the company's insurance policy is sold through agents.
"We are planning to hire over 50,000 insurance agents by this fiscal-end so that net employee addition remains positive. The main objective is to expand our reach and business and increase market share," Ghosh said.
The company has over Rs1.86 lakh crore in assets under management and its large chunk is driven by agents working on commission basis.
The company recorded its first full-year net profit at Rs373 crore in the 2011-12 fiscal. It had sold over one million policies during the year, garnering a total premium of Rs5,498 crore.
Reliance Life registered 140% jump in net profit to Rs19 crore in the April-June quarter of the current financial year, as against Rs8 crore in the year-ago quarter.



Sabapathy Narayanan

5 years ago

Welcome trend!
All the Insurance companies should follow this type of Career Agents Path to enable to reduce the attrition rate.
Sabapathy Narayanan

EPFO considering minimum pension of Rs1,000 per month

The Labour Ministry has sent a proposal to the Finance Ministry to fix minimum pension of EPFO subscribers at Rs1,000 per month, irrespective of their contribution towards the scheme

New Delhi: Subscribers of the retirement fund body Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) may soon get a minimum monthly pension of Rs1,000 after superannuation, if a proposal in this regard is cleared by the Finance Ministry, reports PTI.


"Labour Ministry has recently sent a proposal to the Finance Ministry to fix minimum pension to the EPFO subscribers at Rs1,000, no matter what their contribution is towards the scheme," a source privy to the development said.


On the recommendations of the EPFO, the Labour Ministry has proposed to the Finance Ministry to either withdraw the two year bonus given to subscribers on completion of 20 years of service or bear additional burden of Rs539 crore every year for fixing minimum pension of Rs1,000.


At present every subscribers who completes 20 years of service is given benefit of additional two year bonus while tabulating his or her pension.


According the the EPFO, if this two year bonus is withdrawn, the exercise of fixing minimum pension at Rs1,000 would be a revenue neutral exercise besides pensioners getting about 5% relief.


However, if the Finance Ministry does not go for this alternative, the government would have to shell out Rs539 crore every year in addition to its existing payout of Rs994 crore annually for contributing 1.16% of basic pay and DA to the pension fund.


According to data, as on March 2010, there were 35 lakh EPFO pensioners of which 14 lakh get a monthly pension of less than Rs500.


The number of EPFO pensioners getting a monthly pension of Rs1,000 is seven lakh. The data reveals there are cases where pensioners are getting a monthly pension as low as Rs12 and Rs38.


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