Nation
Troubled Monsoon Session of Parliament ends

“This session is likely to be remembered for the work that was not done,” observed Rajya Sabha (Upper House) chairman Hamid Ansari while adjourning the House sine die

 
New Delhi: The turmoil-ridden Monsoon Session of Indian Parliament came to an end after most of its sittings were washed out over the controversial coal block allocation issue with the BJP remaining unrelenting on its demand for resignation of prime minister Manmohan Singh, reports PTI.
 
The second-worst session since the 2009 Lok Sabha (Lower House) elections functioned for only six out of 19 days and was paralysed for remaining period due to the stand-off between government and main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
The worst session was the Winter Session of 2010 which was a complete washout due to the opposition demand for setting up of a Joint Parliamentary Committee in to the 2G spectrum allocation scam.
 
“This session is likely to be remembered for the work that was not done,” observed Rajya Sabha (Upper House) chairman Hamid Ansari while adjourning the House sine die.
 
Minutes before, speaker Meira Kumar adjourned Lok Sabha sine die without making the customary concluding address. The prime minister and Leader of Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde were present when the House was adjourned.
 
Observing that the data on work done was “in no need of commentary”, Mr Ansari regretted that 62 hours were lost in the din during the session which began on 8 August 2012. Only three bills could be passed. While Question Hour was taken up once in the 19-day session, only 11 out of 399 starred questions could be taken up.
 
The Constitution amendment bill for providing reservation in promotions to Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) was introduced amid high drama with the Upper House proceedings witnessing a new low with members of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) coming to fisticuffs.
 
The measure could not be taken up for consideration and passage, despite being listed for the last three days due to vociferous protests by SP and Shiv Sena. BSP supremo Mayawati’s suggestion to extend the session for passage of the bill did not find favour among other parties. 
 
The controversy over coal block allocation continued even though prime minister Manmohan Singh made a statement in both Houses of Parliament on 27 August 2012 in the light of the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General of India) report.
 
A highlight of the session was the bonhomie between the ruling alliance and the opposition witnessed during the unanimous election of PJ Kurien as the deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha on 21 August 2012.
 
It was again visible on the last day of the session, when the opposition greeted Mr Kurien as he sat next to Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitely.
 
Both the Houses of Parliament showed solidarity with the people of North East, with Rajya Sabha adopting a unanimous resolution demanding a thorough probe into the spread of rumours that created panic and assuring them that they are safe anywhere in the country, while urging them to go back to their places of work and study.
 
The session also saw cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar beginning his innings as a lawmaker when he attended Rajya Sabha as its member. Nominated to the Upper House in April, he had taken oath during the inter-session period.
 
The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill, aimed at protecting those exposing corruption, could not be passed as discussions remained incomplete on this anti-graft measure.
 
Though the government had listed around 30 bills for consideration and passing in Lok Sabha, only four bills were passed in the month-long session and that too in din without any discussion.
 
The Rajya Sabha could pass only three bills including the AIIMS amendment bill. Two bills—Armed Forces Tribunal (Amendment) Bill and the Constitution (17th) Amendment bill to provide quota in promotion to SCs/ STs—could be introduced. The last three days saw commotion and drama in the Upper House over quota in promotion bill. 
 
In the Lok Sabha, speaker Meira Kumar said it was sad that Parliament could not transact normal business during the session.
 
“In our democracy, sometimes there are forms of dissent, which disturb us. But we are all staunch believers in the functioning democracy of our country and I am very hopeful that a solution will be found, situation will normalise and Parliament will function,” she said after the session ended.
 
Both the Houses offered felicitations to Indian sportspersons for winning medals at London Olympics, 2012.
 
The session also witnessed sad demise of Union minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. Both Houses condoled the death of Mr Deshmukh, a sitting member of Rajya Sabha.
 
Parliament also condoled the death of cine star Rajesh Khanna, Captain Lakshmi Sehgal and eight former members of the Upper House.
 
In the Rajya Sabha, none of the eight short notice questions admitted could be taken up. So was the fate of all three short duration discussions listed on price rise, drought and food security.
 
None of the four matters of urgent public importance listed in the form of calling attention motions came up for discussion. Similarly, three half-an-hour discussions listed could not be proceeded with.
 
The Upper House also gave farewell to its secretary general VK Agnihotri.
 
The Rajya Sabha discussed the issue regarding need to create a separate state of Telangana through a private member's resolution. 
 

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Orchestrated scam in merchant power projects, captive coal blocks and PSU bank loans?

There seemed to be an orchestrated move towards benefitting a few influential private companies backed by individuals to exploit land and coal resources with the help of the public moneys raised by PSU banks, alleged EAS Sarma, the former secretary with the GoI

 
EAS Sarma, former secretary with the Government of India has alleged that there seemed to be an orchestrated move towards benefitting a few influential private companies backed by individuals to exploit land and coal resources with the help of the public moneys raised by public sector banks.
 
Mr Sarma, in a letter written to Arvind Mayaram, secretary of finance and D Subbarao, governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has said, “It is distressing to know that the bank defaults of ten companies amounted to Rs5.39 lakh crore (at 40% compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR) and now equates to 13% of the total bank loans and 98% of the net worth of the banking system. It is equally interesting to know that some of these companies have used the political clout they have to get captive coal blocks allotted to them purely on a subjective basis. Some of these companies are even known to have funded political parties in violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) on which I have formally lodged a complaint before Election Commission of India and home ministry.”
 
According a report by Credit Suisse, over the past five years, Indian banks have witnessed strong 20% annual loan growth. “However, this growth is increasingly being driven by a select few corporate groups and in fiscal 2012, over 20% of the incremental loans came from just ten groups. The total debt level of these ten (Adani, Essar, GMR, GVK, JSW, Jaypee Group, Lanco, Reliance ADA, Vedanta and Videocon) has jumped five times in the past five years to Rs5.39 lakh crore (40% compounded annual growth rate, or CAGR) and now equates to 13% of the total bank loans and 98% of the net worth of the banking system,” the report says. 
 
Credit Suisse said, “Investments of most of these groups are in similar sectors and projects (primarily, power and metals) and many of them may be stressed. The asset profile of many of these groups is similar, with infra, and to a large extent, power assets driving up investments in the past few years.” 
 
There is an impending financial crisis in PSU banks, which recklessly granted loans to developers of dubious merchant power projects and questionable captive coal blocks, cleared under suspicious circumstances by ministry of environment & forests (MOEF), ministry of coal and ministry of power, says Mr Sarma.
 
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), in its recent report, has estimated undue benefits to the tune of Rs1.86 lakh crore to private players on account of coal blocks allocation to them without resorting to auction. The coal ministry is likely to contend before the Parliamentary panel that the estimates by the government auditor should not have been done in the manner it was made.
 
According to the former secretary, the government has been deliberately in a denial mode as several politicians of the ruling party at the Centre and those in the states were directly involved in this large scam. “Even after the CAG uncovered the magnitude of the scam, the same denial stance continues!” he said.
 
Mr Sarma said, “I was surprised at the latest response from the senior ministers of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) that the government cannot de-allocate captive coal blocks cornered by a few private companies because the blocks are linked to several merchant power projects and because the banks have financed huge amounts to the developers of both the coal blocks and the merchant power projects. These ministers have, as expected, deftly turned the tables to convert what should be termed as one of the largest scams since Independence into a lame excuse to obfuscate the core issue and make it look as though the economy would collapse if the unethical, corrupt developers are to be penalised.”
 
On 27 August 2012, prime minister Manmohan Singh read a statement in Parliament rebutting the CAG report both in its reading of the law and the alleged cost of the government's policies. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition party, has alleged that corruption was involved in the coal block allocation and the PM was responsible for it (coal block allocation). Following complaints from the BJP, the matter was referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is now investigating some Members of Parliament (MPs) on criminal charges related to the issue.
 
“There are several influential persons who sponsored the developers of both the merchant power projects and the captive coal blocks and they were fully involved in getting environment and other clearances at a mind-boggling speed. They were the persons who pushed the PSU banks into throwing caution to the winds and lend huge amounts of public money to these unethical developers. In my view, those that try to blur the crucial issue of corruption and nepotism should not be allowed to get away,” Mr Sarma said in his letter.
 
Requesting, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to oversee the investigations conducted by CBI, the former secretary says that it should also cover the improprieties in the Centre and the states clearing merchant power projects and in PSU banks granting loans indiscriminately. “(The) CVC should know that the scam is a much bigger one than that of captive coal blocks alone. He should know that the government will first try to stall de-allocation of the coal blocks and protect the unethical developers, as huge amounts seem to have already changed hands. If the government is forced to de-allocate the blocks finally, it will try to cover up the huge PSU bank scam by surreptitiously coming up with a scheme to ‘re-capitalise’ the NPA-stricken banks, a euphemism for covering up the associated bank scam,” Mr Sarma said.
 

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COMMENTS

Black Mamba

4 years ago

Question: Who is the loser in the end?
Answer: The common man.

Dahyabhai S Patel

4 years ago

It seems the person at the top wearing religious signs is not following the real religion; he is not following the oath he has taken as MP and the highest post he has "grabbed" some how; he is not serving Bharat Mata but some other Mata, younger to him, who I doubt has any ************* except the post held by default.

AEGON Religare Term Insurance Plan offers double death benefit

AEGON Religare Term Insurance Plan is a new product with inbuilt accidental death cover and optional double death benefit at an additional premium. Does the insured really need both these features? Understand pros and cons

 
AEGON Religare Life Insurance (ARLI) launched a term plan called the “Term Insurance Plan”. The product is touted as “innovative term plan”, but its name is unimaginative. It is worth exploring the new product features of inbuilt Accidental Death (AD) and optional double death benefit at an additional premium. How does the product compare with the existing ARLI iTerm, which was recently revised for pricing?
 
ARLI Term Insurance Plan is a term plan which provides a choice of two death benefit options: Option-1 pays out the entire Sum Assured (SA) on death of the insured. Option-2 pays out half of the SA on death of the insured. Thereafter, it pays out 3% of the SA, every month, for a period of five years, making a total payout of 230% of the SA. Both options have an in-built AD cover, equal to that of the SA.
 
The minimum age of entry is 20 years and the maximum is 65 years. The maximum age at maturity is 75 years and the minimum SA is Rs10 lakh. The policy term options are 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 years or cover up to 75 years of age. The premium payment term is equal to the policy term.
 
Advantages 
 
1. Policy term up to 75 years minus entry age is a good feature. E.g. For a person of age 25 years, the policy term can be 50 years. It helps to ensure that the policy does not get over at a time when it is difficult to get another policy.
 
2. Option-2 is good for someone wanting regular flow of money instead of getting lump-sum of full SA on death of the insured. It ensures that the insurance money is not misused after a big payout. Getting 230% of the SA is an excellent option if you need high insurance cover even though salary is limited. E.g. A person earning Rs5 lakh usually gets term plan of Rs50 lakh SA. With option-2, the insured will be assured of 230% = Rs1.15 crore cover. It is to be seen how much cover one can really get in this policy based on their salary. It depends on ARLI underwriting.
 
3. It gives an option to add three riders:
 
a. Critical Illness rider that covers nine illnesses.
b. Woman Care rider that covers illnesses pertaining to women.
c. Total and Permanent Disability rider that covers permanent disability.
 
Disadvantages
 
Enforcing the inbuilt AD cover does come at a price. It also forces the AD cover along with the life insurance cover. You may not want such an arrangement or such high AD cover. E.g. For a  27 year old, non-smoker from Mumbai buying ARLI iTerm for policy term of 48 years and SA of Rs50 lakh, the premium (including taxes) is Rs4,663. 
 
The premium for ARLI Term Insurance Plan is Rs10,169. It means Rs5,506 (10,169 minus 4,663) may be going toward AD cover of Rs50 lakh. It is high considering that Personal Accident covering AD as well as Permanent Total and Partial Disability for Rs50 lakh will cost Rs5,000 or less. The difference could also be due to iTerm being a pure online plan while Term Insurance Plan is an offline plan.
 
1. Option-2 payout of 230% comes at a price. The Term Insurance Plan premium for above example will be Rs16,854. It is on higher side. Again, it could be due to offline nature of the plan. 
 

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