Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Life Exclusive
Stress and distress are an integral part of life

The strongest bridge of all could be built with human love to withstand all distress. We need this message now more than ever before in history

“Fear not, life still
Leaves human effort scope,
But, since life teems with ill,
Nurse no extravagant hope”
Mathew Arnold, Empedocles on Etna

The word ‘stress’ brings on goose pimples in many of us. There are courses and symposia on stress management measures all over the country and even abroad. Stress, however, is the single most important growth related stimulus for all living organisms on this planet. If there is no stress, a zero stress state, there is no growth and, consequently, there would be death soon. Stress is, therefore, an integral part of life itself and the latter, in turn, is ceaseless change until death. Therefore we should not and, cannot, try to get rid of stress. What brings on disease and disability, however, is our abnormal response to stress, that many of us condition ourselves to acquire. This is better called ‘distress’ for the sake of clarity and proper understanding. Whereas stress is good and welcome, distress is the killer that needs to be managed well, lest it should lead to disease and disability.

To understand distress I better give a common analogy. When a civil engineer builds a bridge, he takes into consideration the most important role of that bridge, of bearing a particular load put on it. If it is a footbridge that needs to take a few humans crossing, it need not be as strong as the roadbridge that has to have big vehicles passing over it. In short, different bridges are built with varying strengths based on their needs. If a simple footbridge were to have a heavy vehicle pass over it there is a good possibility that the bridge might crack or break. In the same way, the human body is built with unique capacity to withstand stress and grow with it. But life being what it is, especially these days, where man eats man, every one of us meets with situations and stress levels that we are not built to cope with. That is how many of us bend and crack or break under the daily stress or unusual stress that could come our way.

How to cope with abnormal stress?

The one vital difference between the bridge that the civil engineer builds and the human body, that is built to last, is the capacity of the latter to vary its strength based on the level of stress and the need of the hour. It takes a bit for each of us to strengthen our defences against the abnormal stressors in life. Whereas the weak bridge could be temporarily strengthened, the human system could be trained to withstand any stress if only one learns to do that.

Human beings have three important levels at which they work. The body, as we see it, is only a minor part of the ‘whole’ human being. The most important part, the one that helps all kinds of adaptations under difficult situations, is the human mind or consciousness. The other vital part is our genome or the genetic structure. This is not changeable to any great degree. While one could build his/her body in a gymnasium by regular training of the muscles, one could as well train his/her mind through meditation, faith, and the ancient ‘Yoga’ system of India.

Faith heals

 Faith is not religion—far from it. Faith is mainly spirituality, which is sharing and caring. Scientific studies have shown that believers have lower blood pressure levels, slower heart rates, better breathing rhythms, and suprisingly, significantly lower rates of cardiovascular accidents and cancers compared to the non-believers. If one believes that he/she alone runs this world, there is always room for frustration and depression when things do not go the way one wants. This happens not infrequently. The resulting depression is the main cause of suicidal deaths, heart attacks and cancers. Many studies, on either side of the Atlantic, have now shown that depression ranks higher than cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking as a trigger for the above mentioned killer diseases.

The best antidote for frustration seems to be this prayer.

“Don’t feel totally, personally, eternally, irrevocably responsible for everything,
 That is my job.  God
  (For the atheist is it Mother Nature)

This is the essence of the Indian philosophy of humility—the core of Indian education.

Meditation Helps

Meditation is not chanting any mantra. Meditation is silence that is golden, and listening to our own saner inner voice. We spend a lot of time with others and live in the midst of all kinds of noise pollution in this materialistic world today and rarely do we get time to listen to our inner voice. We rarely socialize with our own self. If one learns to listen to his/her own inner voice, sanity comes quickly and many of our actions, which might bring us sorrow and depression in future, could be modified. The prerequisite for proper meditation is the need to breathe slowly using the diaphragm, the belly button breathing. The latter makes the whole lung expand and contract making our individual body cells, of which there are more than one hundred thousand billion in all, to have better oxygenation. Every body cell, mentioned above, has the human mind at its sub-atomic quantum level. Better oxygenation of cells makes us tranquil in no time.

Various scientific studies have shown that slow and deep breathing, described above, makes changes in some of the vital aspects of the whole system. It lowers aortic pressure (blood pressure), pulmonary artery pressure (blood vessel taking blood from the right heart to the lungs for cleaning), and increases the heart’s ejection fraction (the power to pump blood) even in patients with decompensated hearts (heart failure patients). One could easily understand the good that it could do to a normal person! Slow breathing and better oxygenation of every bit of the human (cell) mind is meditation. The serenity that comes with it strengthens our mind to resist and cope with even the worst stressor.

Yoga is the answer

Yoga is not synonymous with aasanaas. Yoga is, simply, the training to control the undulations in the mind. Desire, greed, pride, ego, hatred, hostility, anger, and jealousy are the enemies of mankind. The one good antidote to kill all these negative thoughts is the capacity of a trained mind to overcome them. That is exactly what a good yogi achieves. He becomes tranquil to understand that life is uncertain, transient and the only purpose of life here is to be of some use to someone else, who might need a helping hand to wipe his/her tear.  He quickly learns not to weep at human action, not to hate it, nor to laugh at it but, to understand human action. Understanding human action is the strongest antidote to any distress in life.

The yogaasanaas, in addition, give the body muscles a good pull everyday. That is shown to produce very powerful opioids that help reduce certain common cancers like that of the breast, lung and prostate gland. This is the bonus one gets.

‘Civilized’ man has been trying to change the world, but has never attempted to change himself. The above mentioned training should help one to change oneself. When one changes, one is absolutely certain of one thing—that there would be one rascal less in this world. That would make this world a better place to live in. Even if one does not understand where the human mind is never mind; as long as you practice the above three methods to bring that mind under control to manage distress. One does not manage or avoid stress in life as it is impossible, but one could always manage distress using the above methods of love as being, sharing and caring.

One could still argue that the above methods hold good for the ‘educated’ class only and might not help the poor illiterate in the world. Most of the illiterate in our poor villages are better educated than most of us literate lot. Poverty is the greatest risk in life and is the womb of all diseases but, the poor have learnt to “pay for their poverty with their lives” because of the literate, uneducated people see that 90% of the wealth is held by 10% of the top rich and the rest of the world should rest content with the remaining 10% of the wealth. This “inverse care law” teaches the poor the best solution for the stress, i.e. to lessen their wants and not increase their needs. They mostly live a hand-to-mouth existence but, are happy with their lot most of the time. Again the greedy amongst us that make them spend what little they earn on tobacco and alcohol, the two enemies of mankind that we, the rich, sell to become richer! The solution suggested above that all of us become tranquil would remove the greatest risk for the poor as well, without their having to do anything at all.

Still some questions remain! Today’s risks, like what happened in NewYork and Washington on 11 September 2001, have never happened in the past and how does one cope with this kind of novel distress? The distress that the Yangste Valley peasant had in the times past of plagues and pestilence, as also the predation that killed our forest-dweller forefathers were as bad as what happens today, may be even worse. While a few thousands died in NewYork, almost 90% of the population of London and Venice were dead bodies during the plague epidemic (Black Death) and an equal number died of the white death (tuberculosis) in Europe in the past. Time might not be far that our terrorists might reenact that scenario for us in the near future. Some of us have stockpiled deadly germ warfare weapons. That would make the battlefield even at all times—real equality indeed!

Our greatest enemy has been our educational system that taught us the struggle for existence as the basis of human life on earth. Both Darwinists and the social Darwinists that cry for class struggle drew their inspiration from an economist, Thomas Malthus. Malthusian hypothesis that survival depends on struggle and competition is flawed at its very root. Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest has been disproved time and again by biology. A pregnant butterfly that smells a snake in the vicinity, changes its foetus so that the offspring is born with larger wings to fly away from danger faster. Similarly a pregnant lizard that senses the presence of its enemy with its smell, changes the smelling (olfactory) apparatus of the foetus inside its womb to be able to smell, after birth, the enemy from far greater distance than the mother does! On the contrary, a human mother that does not get proper food during her first trimester of pregnancy makes the foetus have a much smaller pancreas, heart and blood vessels, exposing the future generation to have precocious fatal diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart attacks! Curious are the ways of nature.

Class struggle of the social Darwinists also does not depend on struggle completely. Before the struggle starts there is always co-operation. The class that wants to fight the other class will have to first have co-operate among themselves to fight another class. If they, instead, take the other class also into co-operation where is the need to compete and fight? We need human understanding as stated above to avoid all struggles in life. Distress of all kinds could be managed with the tranquil mind. As the original analogy goes, the strongest bridge of all could be built with human love to withstand all distress. Long live mankind. We need this message now more than ever before in history.

“If you do not learn from history,
You will have to relive history”

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former vice-chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected])


Life Exclusive
IRDA chairman underlines that nobody should be refused an insurance but admits enforcement may be lacking

Speaking at a Moneylife Foundation seminar, IRDA chairman J Hari Narayan also said prohibiting banks from selling insurance products is not feasible in India

J Hari Narayan, chairman, IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority), said no party should be refused an insurance policy and disability should not be a ground for rejecting insurance. It is also against the rules to refuse medical insurance to senior citizens, he said. However, he admitted that enforcement on the ground may need to be tightened. He was speaking at a small interactive session organised by Moneylife Foundation with senior citizens and physically challenged. The IRDA chairman said that he would look into the issues raised by the group of senior citizens and activists.

The IRDA chairman later addressed a packed public meeting on the topic whether sensible health insurance is possible in India. On prohibiting banks from selling insurance, Mr Hari Narayan said that this is not feasible in India, though countries like Canada do have such stringent policies. Issues relating to life insurance, mis-selling, bancassurance, lapsed policies and poor grievance redressal were also discussed.

Health insurance is a cause of concern for everyone. With rising medical inflation and annual hike in health insurance premium, quality healthcare seems to be a distant dream, except for the elite who can afford the expensive hospital treatment or pricey health insurance premiums, the activists said.

The common issues that most citizens face are rising health insurance premium, inability of senior citizens' to increase sum insured, TPA (third party administrators) and intermediary issues and restrictive mediclaim policies. There were complains that more and more claims are getting rejected for impractical reasons and cashless facility restricted to few hospitals.

Moneylife Foundation, in a memorandum presented to the Mr Hari Narayan, raised these and others issues along with suggested actions.

Regarding handling health insurance claims, Mr Hari Narayan pointed that the system was working well, by and large. He pointed out that last year out of the 47 lakh claims received, 9.4 lakh claims were rejected. He pointed out that 80% of the claims are met and the industry has paid out as much as Rs5,885 crore. More than half the claims were settled within 30 days. He pointed out that the most frequent claims are from fever due to unknown origin followed by cataract.

Sensible universal health cover for masses is certainly a possibility in India, the IRDA chairman said. The government-initiated products like RSBY (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna) has done well for the masses with premium as low as Rs400 per family for a cover of Rs30,000 sum insured. They cover primary and secondary health care. Arogya Shree is another success story in Andhra Pradesh which covers tertiary health care i.e. covering only if any procedure is performed. A product, which is a combination of two can be promoted to masses for bulk penetration. This can be offered to certain section of society at nominal cost.

The other half of the population, which is at a higher income level can buy this product at a higher rate, which will still be much lower than an individual mediclaim product. The product may be up to certain sum insured. If anyone needs higher sum insured, they can buy 'top-up' policy to cover over and above the sum insured, which is offered by this mass product, Mr Hari Narayan said.

The seminar was attended by a number of activists, experts and eminent citizens.




5 years ago

The Irda regulator has a dual role of not only supporting the consumer's right but also ensuring the sustainability of the industry, hence an argument ofaccusing a regulator to be pro industry or pro consumer is invalid and wrong. Of all the concerns raised we seem to ignore some obvious facts 1. Although some banks may not be selling the right products currently they (banks) still offer the widest reach as compared to any other distribution that exists in the insurance industry. And anyone can recognize the key to increasing insurance distribution which is a key need is reach. What needs to be done is not prevent banks from selling but ensure a right sell.
2. Medical coverage to senior citizens is definitely a requirement but what do we expect , that the same would be provided for by private institutions. The only way insurance can be affordable to senior citizens is by either ensuring cost of premiums are kept low by subsidizing against premiums of the younger population ( which is unfair to the younger persons who ensure coverage in time) or ensuring adequate provision by the govt in the form of subsidies ( remember even the rsby scheme would not be successful without sufficient govt support and currently rsby schemes may not be sustainable at current rates hence requiring further govt support)
3. Let us not make a mistake of trying to solve social problems by depending on private companies which can only exist if they are profitable.



In Reply to MJ 5 years ago

Right selling by Banks:How to ensure it? Firstly train the Bank staff on products before allowing them to sell.Secondly there should be monitoring on the quality of sales.Can RBI do it?No,then IRDA need to devise mechanisms .Thirdly what is the punishment for wrong doings.This should come under the disciplinary code of conduct for Banks staff.
2.Part of the cost for senior citizens medical insurance should come from Govt like in some western countries.But there are many ills in the present health care system which can be cured by the approach adopted by Narayana Hrudalaya.The premiums are affordable,services are trustworthy and reliable and customers trust the delivery mechanisms.No unnecessary tests and generic medicines at fraction of branded drugs available.


In Reply to PCP 5 years ago

Completely agree that a honest, transparent and fair collaboration between insurer's and service providers would provide adequate control of medical costs thereby reflecting in control of premiums.However considering present scenarios where service providers find no adequate incentive or regulations governing them it seems quite impossible. Hence what is required is a centralized effort ensuring standardization of treatment protocols, costs and recommended usage of generic variants governed by a industry and government recognized body.


5 years ago

IRDA Chairman, should visit to any Banker and see the way the bankers are selling the insurance plans like selling some vegetables, ... who cares every thing is chalta hai in India especially when big players are involved...public is the sufferer


prakash praharaj

In Reply to eajaz 5 years ago

A good suggestion and IRDA should see how Banks are selling insurance!


5 years ago

The chairman may be right on prohibiting banks from selling insurance as he said that this is not feasible in India.
But one thing he can do by not allowing banks selling insurance products - life ,non-life, health from its bank premises or counter under the same roof.
Bank is a broker of the insurance company and it has to open separate offices for doing that business rather than sitting in the branches where the premises is meant for the banking transactions.
executives sitting in the bank and other employees including staffs in cash counter is running after customers to put their money in insurance products to get incentive, bonus and gifts.

IRDA should look into this angle and take necessary steps to stop missale.


prakash praharaj

In Reply to G N GHOSH 5 years ago

You are right.Infact Bank staff are now after cross selling incentives than providing services to banking customers
Secondly they do not understand the product but try to sell which results in misselling.
Thirdly an insurance product needs explaining and time which bank staff can illafford.


5 years ago

Sr citizens should be sold mediclaim as a part of social health care security.It has to be a targeted campaign for all insurer.IRDA must make a must sales campaign.Have we seen an ad campaign for insurance cover for sr citizens?

J Udaya Shanker

5 years ago

I have studied almost all comments. There are several problems in Health Insurance in India. Only one answer to all these problems. IRDA should ask all the insurance companies to design only one type of policy with ratings, deductions, exclusions, terms & conditions for retail customers, group policies. The rating should be only one if the customer goes to either Bank, Insurance company or a Broker. Till then, even the Chairman also cannot answer for the questions raised by sr.citizens/activists. If it is not possible to prohibit insurance products through Bankassurance, minimum the IRDA should take steps to stop selling to Credit Card holders through telecallers. If the IRDA take steps to set up the universal business code for all the Companies/ Bancassurances/Broking firms, then it is possible to solve some of the problems in Health Insurance.



In Reply to J Udaya Shanker 5 years ago

For millions of vehicles , third party liability Policy have been uniformly designed. Even comprehensive motor policy formats are few , with additions , extensions, special features They are sold regularly in the market, within acceptable degree of satisfaction for the vehicle owners.Why not for Health Insurance ?


5 years ago

May the IRDA itrospect and ascertain , how many , above 60, have been medically insured , per standard/Varistha polices for last three years?
What are the obligations for the Insurance Companies, to expand coverage to the sr citizens( like rural sector insurance coverage)?
IRDA as a development Authority , must be true to themselves to enforce the social obligation , in enforcing guidelines for the Insurers.Insurers do not refuge cover , but discourage/ avoid insurance for the Sr citizens.


5 years ago







R gopalan

5 years ago

I am a little non-plussed at the comments. All the really hard-hitting reports that i have EVER read are here in Moneylife.
Are these guys really accusing Moneylife of being pro-IRDA and supporting the chairman.
Its a pity I am not in Mumbai and couldnt attend this event - but even from a distance, it seems like the nasty comments are only from insurance agents. I for one had sent a question to be asked and I see it in the memorandum that is one Moneylife's website. So how come the two angry fellas in this list didnt write in advance?
Wouldnt they have reason to complain if Moneylife had refused to include their views in the memorandum on life and health insurance!
Keep it up Moneylife, if you rattle the agents - you are doing a good job. We want you to be pro-savers not for the commission industry.

Deepak R Khemani

5 years ago

If anybody was expecting solutions to their individual problems by attending this seminar I think they were wasting their time. What was important that we were heard and we includes agents, savers, senior citizens and the media.
A good point was raised by one Senior Citizen and the IRDA Chairman did not know that X-ray films were required to be submitted for reimbursement of claims when they may be required for later medical examinations and follow-ups. Only the copy of the report should suffice, to which he said that he would look into the matter, also as said by Ms Sucheta a memorandum was given to him before the event, let us wait patiently and see what comes out and then we can take it forward from there.
Well done Moneylife team and looking ahead to more programs like these in the future


prakash praharaj

In Reply to Deepak R Khemani 5 years ago

What about a proposal for identifying a group of volunteers to help genuine aggrived consumers. I propose to support Money Life Foundation initiative on this and propose:
(1) We can identify coordinators to guide and follow up cases.
(2) A standard format for registering complaints with respective companies be devised.
(3) The escalation matrix can be defined
(4)A periodical review may be done on the outstanding issues.
This will be similar to Mr Vivek Law's effort through Bloom berg.

Deepak R Khemani

In Reply to prakash praharaj 5 years ago

I think it is a good idea, moneylife already has something similar going on these lines already


5 years ago

it appears that 20-25% appro.claims rejected. 1 million claims.
no details that most of the claims were from retail,individual policy holders.
the loss made in corporate group policy are shifted over all.
the regulator ,it appears looks after insurers, tpas, brokers, big time claim adjusters.
the individual policy holder,for whose interest the regulator was set up,has been filled with retired, urban oriented ,highly paid (recent increase pay package) ,the policy holders ,on complain, are shunted back to same predator insurers
the regulator should have made known the amount of losing legal battles with individuals.
whenever the insurer is at fault, they are warned.
regarding allowing some people to talk & others disallowed,reminds us of big tycoon AGM proceedings
someone has already remarked " paisa feko, kuch be dekho, (gain)"


kumar krishna

In Reply to suvarnamk 5 years ago

Really? Did you pay to attend? Werent you there free? Did you pay for Tea and biscuit either?

Maybe you are an insurance agent too and so used to grabbing customers' money that you think this too is about paise. I agree with Sucheta - the meeting was not for you insurance agents but for savers.
Are you a member? Did you not receive the mailer and send your question in advance? My question was asked to IRDA chairman by Debashis. In fact, most questions that Debashis was reading were from members... so how come you have a problem?


5 years ago

IRDA Chairman , however, let down the Sr Citizens community , by not addressing issues and unfinished Agenda outlined by Sastry Committee Report.
Hopefully , the task would be laid before the freshly constituted Health Insurance Forum at IRDA.The report being the only piece of well researched subject on Health Insurance for Sr citizens calls for strategic action.Varistha , so ill designed, has not taken off the marketing table.Not even a handful of elders, have availed the policy.Agents are advised not to bring clients above 60.Because of a skewed sales strategy for Sr citizens mediclaim cover, the economics of small number , militates against a viable scheme.This root cause need to be addressed by the Chairman IRDA.
There are other issues to be tackled on a strategic basis.Hopefully, irda with a development stance would take the elder citizens worries to heart.


5 years ago

Next best discussion was in the area of Universal access into Mediclaim.An integrated scheme up from primary care to secondary and tertiary , on need based seems to be logical and need to be standardized like RSBY.A mass based scheme would augur well for APL, leaving out the rich to tailor their own solution duly customized and underwritten as stand alone cover.


5 years ago

It would appear most Agents were interested in getting answer to , how to make Regulator to relax conditions to enable most non compliant claims payable.One was wondering why claim s sare not reported within 24 hrs and submit claim papers within 7 days.Chairman rightly sensed the reasons , attempt at fraud.An industry player endorsed the same and inquired if , it does not happen with cashless , but only reimbursement cases.


Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Samar 5 years ago

I am glad you said this Mr Mahapatra. As you can see below, they are furious that i did not allow them to disrupt the meeting by ranting against the IRDA chairman on our platform.

We the savers wanted an interesting with IRDA. And of course, we did not expect miracles, we wanted our voice heard.
A double bonus was that the Insurance Ombudsman was also there along with two colleagues. Those who understand the value of this are very happy with the meeting.
After all, everything meaningful action needs to start somewhere, dont you think?

arun adalja

5 years ago

irda chairman is the final authority in the sector but he is helpless.how can one expect justice from irda?most of the regulatories always favour their members and not worried about common people.

dayananda kamath k

5 years ago

if the irda chairman is of the view that it is not possible to exclude banks from selling insurance it means irda is in favour of misselling insurance. it is the banks which will missell most of the insurance.i have sent two complaints but no response from irda so far. how banks are violating agent norms in selling insurance and how they force customers to go for insurance evn allowing temporary overdrawals.

CCI okays Nippon Life’s proposal to acquire stake in RCAML

The deal, which is valued at an aggregate amount of Rs1,450 crore, is the largest Foreign Direct Investment deal in any Indian asset management company till date

New Delhi Competition watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the proposal of Japanese major Nippon Life to acquire 26% stake in Reliance Capital's mutual fund arm RCAML, reports PTI.

The deal, which is valued at an aggregate amount of Rs1,450 crore, is the largest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) deal in any Indian asset management company till date.

"Considering the facts on record and the details provided in the notice... and the assessment of the proposed combination, the Commission is of the opinion that the proposed combination is not likely to have any appreciable adverse effect on competition in India and therefore...

approves the proposed combination," CCI said in an order.

CCI noted that Nippon Life, which is a global player in providing asset management and portfolio management services, has no direct operations or presence in India in the same space, except for a 26% equity participation in Reliance Life Insurance Company, a subsidiary of R Capital.

"It is observed from the information available on the website of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) that there are more than 40 other AMCs registered with SEBI providing services similar to the asset management services provided by RCAML in India and there are more than 250 portfolio managers registered with SEBI providing similar services," it said.

First announced in January this year, Nippon Life will invest an aggregate value of Rs1,450 crore ($290 million) to acquire 26% stake Reliance Capital Asset Management Company (RCAML).

The transaction pegs the valuation of Reliance Capital Asset Management at around Rs5,600 crore ($1.1 billion).

This deal further expands Reliance Capital's partnership with Nippon Life. In October last year, Reliance Capital completed a 26% stake sale in its life insurance venture, Reliance Life, to Nippon Life for over Rs3,000 crore.

Reliance Capital Asset Management (RCAM) manages around Rs1,40,000 crore assets.

Nippon Life is a Fortune 100 company and the seventh-largest life insurer in the world. It is a leading private life insurer in Asia and Japan.

CCI is empowered by an Act of Parliament to scrutinise high-value deals that could have a bearing on fair competition in the market.

Shares of Reliance Capital closed at Rs287.95 on BSE, down 2.83% from its previous close.


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