Retirement: EPFO Settles 1.1 Million Claims in July
The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has settled over 1.1 million claims, including transfer and withdrawal of provident fund, during July 2014. This has taken the cumulative total during this financial year to 4.3 million claims, the retirement fund body said a statement.
 
Of these claims, more than 68% were settled in less than 10 days. The EPFO also updated 92% of the annual accounts due for the year 2013-14. “It has happened for the first time in the last 30 years,” EPFO added.

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Consumer protection: Booked for Failure To Provide Member with Resort Bookings

The Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission brought to book Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Limited (MHRIL) for indulging in unfair trade practice after it repeatedly failed to provide accommodation to a member of its ‘time-share’ scheme. The firm will have to reimburse the Santa Cruz couple, Ritu and Navdeep Uppal, the membership fee of Rs2.21 lakh, along with a Rs1.62 lakh compensation.
 
The Uppals filed an appeal after a district forum rejected their complaint. They said they had subscribed to the holiday scheme after they were approached by MHRIL representatives at a Mulund mall on 4 June 2006. The Uppals were assured that the membership would get them accommodation without any difficulty.

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Corporate Governance Deficit?
This is with reference to the article on Infosys (Moneylife, 27 June 2013) by Sucheta Dalal. More than a year later, Ms Dalal’s foresight and prediction seems to have come true. After all, the founder members played musical chairs and earned their millions; now the baton has been handed over to Vishal Sikka as the new CEO of Infosys. But Narayana Murthy has ruffled a lot of feathers by claiming that all the employees who left, or were asked to go, did not contribute to the company’s growth. This is Mr Murthy speaking more like a businessman; not like a great business leader as he has always projected himself to be. 
 
There is no denying that Infosys has created lakhpatis and crorepatis out of ordinary people. But according to some people, the ‘simple and Spartan image’ created by the Murthys is more of a façade than a reality. Ms Dalal has reported the family value of Infosys holding at Rs7,000 crore. So, Rohan Murthy earning a salary of Re1 is no great deal.
 
A carefully orchestrated image, and a desire to be in the news all the time, had raised expectations from the Murthys; but the cat is out of the bag now. The dimming fortunes of the IT bellwether may not be necessarily due to plunging business growth. It has also to do a lot with the way employees have been treated, their motivation and morale levels, the never-ending deadlines and work pressures. When I mention about employees, I am not talking about some greenhorns but employees who have put in many years in this IT bellwether.
 
From an outsider’s perspective, Infosys looks like a great place to work in; but attrition levels present another side of the story. I do not know if stories of Infosys employees quitting their high-flying jobs, to become teachers and bankers, are apocryphal but none can deny that stress levels of employees are at an all-time high. To be fair, the employees are also getting paid that kind of money; any business that pays its employees through its nose would expect them to stretch themselves.
 
If we look at the events in this organisation in the past few years, the following facts emerge clearly:
(a) The succession planning has not been a great success.
(b) Top management leaders who have been at the helm of the affairs have not left the company on an amicable note.
(c) There has been a severe corporate governance deficit in the organisation.
(d) There seems to be an inexplicable discomfort prevailing in the organisation after the return of Mr Murthy.
 
I recall a conversation laced with wry humour that Rohan Murthy was the Rahul Gandhi of Infosys. I also do not recall reading if Rohan Murthy’s induction as executive assistant to his father has brought about any major transformation in the ways of working. Of course, we can expect a rejoinder that he was in this position for too short a time to bring about a radical change in the business climate. However, the truth is that, after his induction, apparently things have turned from bad to worse.
 
As Ms Dalal has pointed out in her article, rules are often broken by people who frame them and Mr Murthy has proved that he is no exception. Board members like Omkar Goswami and Deepak Satwalekar staying on the board for more than nine years is a case in point. When the committee headed by Mr Murthy had recommended that the board members should have a maximum tenure for nine years, how can this rule be flouted? Or is it that rules are only for others? If the events of the past year are any indication, in addition to a governance deficit, Infosys is also suffering from a reputation deficit. When the entire world is talking about employees as assets and human capital, Mr Murthy seems to be thinking otherwise. Too sad.  
V Ganapathy, by email
 
Tax Tyranny 
This is my response to 80-year old Central government officer BK Mitra’s letter to the editor in Moneylife (10 July 2014). Income-tax officials complain that they are themselves victims of unilateral adjustments of such refunds; there is nothing they can do, as it is a ‘systemic issue’! On my pursuing the matter vigorously, I managed to get all the matters set right and also received the pending refunds with interest.
 
In my case, after many letters, I frankly told the joint commissioner (a step above the assessing jurisdictional ITO) that I contemplate taking up the matter:
(a) with the income-tax ombudsman, or
(b) invoke the provisions of the Right To Services Act, or
(c) even move a class interest petition by all similar victims.
 
Just writing letters or submitting copies simply doesn’t work with the babus who need to be badgered with constant personal visits for submitting proof of each of the past completed assessment orders and copies of refund orders or tax paid challans.
 
If this is not done at the ITO-level, immediately approach the joint commissioner and, later, the ombudsman. There is no need to appoint professionals because they are reluctant to speak up for fear of ‘antagonising’ the officials. A silver-haired senior citizen is generally better respected!
Nagesh Kini, by email
 
Sellers are smarter than buyers
This is with regard to “Regulations: Allahabad HC Raps IRDA & SBI Life but what about a senior citizen buying life insurance?” by Raj Pradhan. The author has raised a valid question. Why did the senior citizen buy insurance in the first place? The basic answer seems to be that the buyer assumed that insurance is a safe investment option (traditional mindset or herd mentality at play). People are used to getting their ‘money back’ with some ‘bonus’ from their insurance policy. ULIPs are being sold cleverly to such naïve believers in insurance without explaining the expenses. Had the buyer been sure that he was not going to get anything back, he would not have bought the policy in the first place. Even if such insurance buyers get something back from their endowment and money-back policies, the amount would be worthless after 10, 15, or 20 years, as inflation would have eroded the purchasing power of the returns.
 
Insurance for protection against income loss due to death of an earning member is the only thing that one needs to buy. Trying to benefit from insurance in any other manner (only for tax savings, to get something back, or to give something to family members at the time of one’s death, etc) is foolish, at best. 
 
As long as people don’t recognise the fact that the sellers of insurance policies are smarter than people who buy them, there is no point in blaming insurers, IRDA, agents, etc.
Chilukuri KRL Rao, online comment

 

Informed electorate is watching
This is with regard to “Modi’s Budget: More Tax & Spend” by Sucheta Dalal. Mountains can’t be moved by a little finger. It can be at best aspirational. Good governance cannot be delivered under the existing legal regime. There are a number of laws to be purged and a number of rules in existing laws made redundant. The sooner this happens, the larger would be the scope for good governance. 
 
There is an urgent need to examine the details and create a framework for PPPs sector-wise; to this end, an announcement did figure in the Budget. It is to be hoped that the government would quickly come out with the solution.
 
Planning Commission—the Yojana Bhavan, a euphemism for Bhojana Bhavan, meaning the eating house of resources of exchequer for decades—has to be wound up. The other institutions that need purging are University Grants Commission and AICTE that have killed higher education and technical education. 
 
More than the speed, it is actual action that would be watched, at least by the informed electorate.
Yerram Raju Behara
  
Online feedback system is not user-friendly
This is with regard to “Take Public Grievances Online” by Veeresh Malik. This is a good idea for solving problems. But experience differs from person to person. In case of online feedback on the Bank of India website, there is no mention of grievance/ complaint. In the feedback form, locating the branch, where you hold your account, is so cumbersome that it takes 10-15 minutes to simply find the branch. Subsequently, your actual address is taken as invalid and the form cannot be submitted. Similarly, 'MAY WE REACH YOU' submit button cannot be clicked at all.
Ramesh Vaswani

 

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