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US Senator Demands Answers on Red Cross' Finances
Prompted by an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, Sen. Charles Grassley asks the charity to explain how it has used donations from the public
 
Citing an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, Sen. Charles Grassley is asking the American Red Cross to explain more clearly how it uses public donations, specifying how much money goes to services and how much to overhead. 
 
"The public's expectation for an important, well-known organization like the Red Cross is complete, accurate fundraising and spending information," Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. "In reaction to the news reports on this topic, I'm asking the Red Cross to elaborate on how it calculates the facts and figures given to the donating public."
 
Americans typically look to the Red Cross whenever disaster strikes, giving generously. The iconic charity took in over $1 billion in donations in 2013.
 
In response to Grassley's request, the Red Cross said it is setting up a briefing for the senator's staff that will happen sometime later this month. "We welcome and look forward to the opportunity," Red Cross spokeswoman Suzy DeFrancis said.
 
Grassley's request was first reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
 
At issue are statements made by Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern and echoed on the charity's website and in other published materials that "91 cents of every dollar that's donated goes to our services."
 
But that oft-repeated figure is not borne out by the charity's statements in annual reports and tax filings. These documents show that fundraising expenses alone have eaten up as much as 26 cents of every donated dollar in recent years.
 
After our inquiries last month, the Red Cross removed the statement from its website. The Red Cross said at the time that the claim was not "as clear as it could have been, and we are clarifying the language."
 
Grassley has long pushed for tougher regulations of nonprofits and has a history with the Red Cross. In 2007, he pushed through legislation that overhauled the governance structure of the charity, which was chartered by Congress over a century ago.
 
Grassley isn't the only one nosing into the Red Cross' operations. The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, is looking into the charity's troubled response to Superstorm Sandy, which hit New York and New Jersey in late 2012.
 
The GAO's inquiry, which was first reported by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, began last February after a request from the staff of Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee. Since then, the GAO and the Red Cross have been discussing the parameters of the study. The GAO says it plans to finalize its methodology "within the next couple of weeks" and then begin working on the inquiry itself.
 
The scope of the GAO's probe is expected to encompass more institutional questions, including "What are the nature and extent of the oversight to which the organization is subject, and is it sufficient?"
 
 
Courtesy: ProPublica.org

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Health Expectancy

Life expectancy is a narrow way to judge quality of healthcare and lifestyles

 

If you have been to a medical college, you would have heard of ‘life expectancy’ many times over. People have misconceptions about this concept. During a lecture at Hyderabad, to a group of intelligent and educated people, I told them that life expectancy is only a statistical term and should not be equated with life span. One audience member, a chartered accountant, got quite upset and insisted that I was wrong in my understanding of the concept, that they were one and the same. Moreover, he thought that it was his specialty, since the ideas are oft-used in the actuarial field. A few days later, he called to say that he was mistaken, indeed.

 

Decades ago, I was surveying blood pressure among people, to see the effect of the environment on blood pressure, I used to go to my old village and later to larger cities.

 

What surprised me was that the majority of elderly people in that village had very little contact with doctors and hospitals. Many of them had not taken any drugs or vaccinations in their lives and they were apparently very healthy and working very hard. They could make do with what nature had to offer by way of herbal drugs for their minor ailments like our homebred cats and dogs do. I used to be curious when, on my daily walks, I used to see cats and dogs eating grass, but now I know that we could learn from them. Our villagers those days loved one another and helped each other. That is the true definition of health, i.e., enthusiasm to work and enthusiasm to be compassionate. I was curious to know more about it as until then, I thought (I was taught and made to believe as my seniors did) that unless one goes for regular check-ups and takes preventive drug ,treatments diseases could kill one at a very young age.

 

After a good amount of research, I found that aboriginal races like the American Indians, the Innus of Canada and our own forest dwelling forefathers, did not have any contact with modern medicine, neither did they suffer from any major illnesses as we do now. As per the records of those times available on leaves and stone inscriptions, the major causes of death were old age and predation. That was when I coined a neo-logism. Here I would like to introduce a new term, which may anger many people. “Health expectancy”—the number of years a newborn baby can live without the need for doctors and hospitals. Further thinking and study on my part revealed that this is the highest in our country. Later in life, I saw this phenomenon myself in the villages of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Then I hypothesised that health expectancy is highest in our country and many other poor countries, but lowest in the ‘developed’ West, especially USA. Many children there start on drugs right from infancy, with lorry-loads of all kinds of vaccines (nearly 30 vaccines are administered in the USA, in the first six months of life). The thought of those 30-odd vaccines trying to coax the poor 150 genes in the 9th chromosome that oversee the immune response in the body frightens me. I can understand one vaccine at a time cajoling the immune system to produce antibodies again the desired germ, but common sense tells me that 30 of them almost simultaneously nudging a gene might send those genes into a tizzy. Now, many scientists believe that one could avoid reductionist chemicals getting into the system as they are rejected by the human body’s intelligence. Douglas C Wallace, a professor of genetics, showed in his epoch making study using a highly sophisticated computer chip, the MIT chip, that the body throws those many of the drugs we pump into our body into the liver to get destroyed. The human body thinks that they are one among the new poisons. That is the basis of the famous ‘first pass effec’” in pharmacology. He also showed that this phenomenon does not happen with holistic herbal drugs (Genetics 2008; 179: 727). In short, health expectancy would be a good parameter for public health officials to depend on, rather than life expectancy in future. God save mankind from chemical poisons.

 

There are three types of lies—lies, damn lies, and statistics.” — Benjamin Disraeli

 

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS.)

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Loan settlement? Here is what you need to be careful about

Seven years after he settled a loan, a borrower is being subjected to numerous calls, notices and even arrest warrant. The only mistake, he committed was not to collect the NOC and account statement from the lender after his settlement 

 

Mumbai-based trader Ramnik Patel (name changed) was happy and relieved when in 2007 he repaid Rs58,000 to ABN AMRO Bank as full and final settlement against his loan outstanding. Seven years down the line, he is receiving calls from recovery agents, and notices from lawyers and warrants from places located thousands of kilometres away from Mumbai. He is not only disturbed, but feels like being mentally tortured just because a small mistake committed by the bank while updating its record.
 
In 2005, Patel took a personal loan of Rs2.15 lakh from ABN AMRO Bank. However, during 26/7 monsoon fury, he suffered heavy loss and could not repay his loan on time. Then on 21 March 2007, he received a letter from the Bank offering him a settlement. As per the offer letter, he was asked to pay Rs58,000 in two tranches of Rs29,000 each. The Bank also promised him that it would hand over all his unused post-dated cheques (PDCs) and no-objection certificate (NOC) within seven working days of the loan being closed on its system.
 
After accepting the offer from the Bank, Patel, promptly paid Rs29,000 each time on 28 March 2007 and 20 April 2007 to ABN AMRO Bank as per the settlement offer.
 
Meanwhile, ABN AMRO Bank was sold to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). RBS then sold all the debts of ABN AMRO to Kotak Mahindra group. Phoenix Asset Reconstruction Co Pvt Ltd, a unit of Kotak Mahindra group handles the recovery of these debts acquired from RBS.
 
Suddenly, in 2012, he received a phone call from somebody called as Choudhary from Patiala Parliament Police Station informing that there was a case filed against him and warrant was also issued by the Court. The warrant was sent from Delhi Police to Dadar Police station in Mumbai for execution. When Patel reached Dadar police station, he was told that a case was filed against him in 2011, which was transferred to Delhi Court. This was related with the loan he took from ABN AMRO Bank, he was told.
 
 
Here is a Checklist if you are going for a settlement with a lender...
  1. Keep copies of all your written communication with the lender
  2. Always have everything in writing (Even if you receive a phone call, send an acknowledgement mentioning points discussed during the call)
  3. Keep copies of the settlement letter, cheque/DD or pay order you submitted
  4. After the settlement, obtain a NOC and collect all your post-dated cheques, if any
  5. Do no forget to collect your loan account statement that shows zero balance
 
 
Interestingly, Patel never received any notice, memo or any warrant for his arrest from anybody until the phone call from Choudhary. Patel, then asked his lawyer to send reply to all concerned, including one lawyer called S Gupta from Delhi and police stations at both Delhi and Mumbai.
 
Again, in November 2013, Patel received a notice from Mumbai-based lawyer on behalf of Phoenix ARC Pvt Ltd. The lawyer, in the notice invited Patel to settle his loan in a conciliation camp (for settlement) organised by Kotak Mahindra Bank on 2 December 2013. The lawyer claimed that as on 30 April 2012, Patel had an outstanding of Rs42,811.95 that would have to be repaid along with an interest of 2% per month. Patel, then again had to reply to this notice and submit all the documents.
 
Next year, on 3 April 2014, Patel received a notice from the Mumbai District Legal Services Authority to be present during a hearing in the Lok Nyayalaya on 12th April. Phoenix ARC had approached the Lok Nyayalaya to take up the matter.
 
Patel went to the hearing and put forward his case. After looking at the documents and hearing Patel's side, the representative of Phoenix agreed to verify his account and get back to him within seven days. They even gave an undertaking in writing.
 
This has been about nine months, since Patel went to the Lok Adalat and yet there is neither any response from the Bank nor any respite to him from the recovery agents.
 
So what went wrong with Patel? From his side, he did not collect the NOC and unused PDCs from ABN AMRO Bank, while the Bank failed to make necessary changes into its account books. This also raises big question, on how can a big lender like ABM AMRO forgets to update its loan book and record the settlement and passes on the same as dues to the buyer. In addition, since ABN AMRO no longer exists, how and where the borrower, who is being shown as defaulter, and harassed for recovery of dues that he had already paid, would go? 
 
If you are facing similar issues, then you may want to take help from Moneylife Foundation’s free Credit Helpline  which offers free counselling to help you get out of this trap. In Mr Patel’s case, he approached the Credit Helpline and Moneylife Foundation’s trustees have also taken up this case with the Reserve Bank of India’s customer services department. 

 

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COMMENTS

sreedhar

9 months ago

Hi, I have settled personal loans and credit cards 7 years back. Now my score is above 750. But I am unable to get credit card or loan. Please suggest me. I have settlement letters with me.

REPLY

MDT

In Reply to sreedhar 9 months ago

Kindly send your query through Moneylife Foundation's Free Credit Helpline, which provides guidance on such issues. Here is the link to file your query moneylife.in/credithelp/#ask-question

Dipakkumar J Shah

2 years ago

Even Banking Ombudsman , which is called as Independent Judiciary from Reserve Bank of India , but a part of Reserve Bank of India closed the file !!! No action so far. No action by R B I on Banks!!!!
When I say so , when there is collusion of Bank with Limited Company with Bank to contravene the Provisions of the Companies Act , for late payment of Dividend by mechanism of writing the cheque back dated , when in fact the Money of Dividend amount was not credited to Dividend Account at all!!!! Completely illegal in the eyes of Banking Regulations act!!! No action by Reserve Bank of India !!!They say it is a question of Companies Act , write to SEBI!!!! SEBI say write to Ministry of Corporate Affairs like!!!! Sub Mili Bhagat. When supervisor office is so , How law compliance can be expected????
Shah D J

REPLY

Dayananda Kamath k

In Reply to Dipakkumar J Shah 2 years ago

This is the standard practice used by RBI, SEBI,IRDA, MINISTRY OF CORPORATE AFFAIRS, as they want to protect the executives. Even the courts of india are not helpful. they allowed credit card companies to charge interest upto 50% where as conusmer court alowed 30% and usurious interest act provisions are totally ignored. let there be a big scam effecting a powers that be then all these regulators will compete to initiate action without any whims. this is the good governance practised in india.

Dipakkumar J Shah

In Reply to Dayananda Kamath k 2 years ago

You are absolutely correct. In the case of Vijaya Bank and State Bank of India , late payment of dividend without receiving Money in to dividend account , the date of dividend cheque was allowed to be printed well back of the date of Dividend warrant / cheque. Such thing is illegal under Banking Regulation act and practice . The object of Granting Banking License is not the purpose to do such things and act. Hon . High Court Gujarat Justice passed the order immediately in favour of the Banks without taking any Affidavit in reply on record.!!!!When a complaint was lodged to R B I they say Go to SEBI. SEBI say go to MCA , complaint was passed to MCA!!! No action so far!!!!!!!!!!
This is culture of ...........
Shah D J

Dayananda Kamath k

In Reply to Dipakkumar J Shah 2 years ago

In mca they are expert in mis interpreting the letters and send unrelated reply. in one of my complaints about fudging of banks balance sheet and excess charging of interest on advances and vague replies given in banks agm by the cmd of the bank etc with a caption A Satyam in PSB. But he interpreted as claim from investor protection fund. then i asked from when interest charged by banks are being credited to investor protection fund. he had the audacity to send me the same reply with new reference number. matter was informed to 3 ministers inupa govt but no action no reply.

Dayananda Kamath k

2 years ago

Such things will stop only when exemplary action is initiated by the concerned authorities against the individuals who are responsible for such negligence. and the victim is compensated for mental and physical harassment he has undergone.Which should be recovered from the perpetrator.

Anand Kumar

2 years ago

I am also victim in the same way I am really happy that moneylife has shown me the way. I will write to them elaborately to get my grievance redressed.

Bapoo Malcolm

2 years ago

Yeoman service on the part of Moneylife.

May God give more strength to your pen.

Bapoo M. Malcolm

REPLY

vswami

In Reply to Bapoo Malcolm 2 years ago

In a jugular vein: More strength to 'his keyboard'!

Dipakkumar J Shah

2 years ago

This reminds me a case of one person with State Bank of India JPMR Pundichery Branch. He had two loan accounts adjusting loans against Pension Accounts. He paid , what he is stating to me, two accounts some years back. One was Paid by cash and other paid by transfer from his Savings Bank Account.
So far there was no problem for loan adjusted by transfer Account. For cash paid Loan account, EMI was not debited to his account for three months!! When they came to know that he is outside India started debiting EMI lesser than what was fixed at the time of loan when sanctioned??? For this not debiting the accounts the authority who authorised for this three months no details are given . When lesser amount of EMI who authorised the same no answer to these question . The person is a retired military man. Who never spoke untruth in life!!!
There is also a one issue that one Well Known Bank , name is silent , taking action against who have much balances and adjusted the amount of some one Credit Card Balances not recoverable for more than 10 years and lying balances to be collected from some one else!!!!!!! This is horrible to know???!!!!
I will take the inspection of the records of the Bank shortly.
Shah D J

SuchindranathAiyerS

2 years ago

I went through this song and dance routine with Standard Chartered Bank. I had returned my card when I left the country for better climes. They slapped a renewal fee and interest n the renewal fee and badgered and threatened my elderly father to "settle". He made the mistake of doing so. After a visit to India, they started badgering me to settle. I went and got their acknowledgement. On my return t Indi, I found that my Bank refused to give me a credit card. I managed through a former colleague in a third Bank to get a print out of their entry of my name in one of those public list of defaulters. I banged on their door and threatened to take them to court for defamation apart from to the consumer court and got a "no dues" letter from them to get a credit card. For all I know my name may still be on the defaulters' list. This is law less India where it is everyman's right to tarnish and belabour every helpess innocent and the courts often lend a helping hand! Every petty bureaucrat and service provider has been enabled to be unaccountable to notions of law, equity and fair play by the executive and superior courts through social engineering appointments and immunity from impeachment among other things and by the Constitution that has enshrined exceptions to both the Rule of Law and Equality under law in the Indian Constitution. Apart from eroding competence and integrity, the resultant culture has bred insouciance and arbitrariness of a very high order. The deleterious effect of this on the National character has been as extreme as the corrosion of education for political convenience. Today the Courts are defenders of the four important principles of any Banana Republic, "Just because you did it does not mean you are criminal", "Just because the statute book says so, does not make your actions a crime", "Evidence lies in the perception of the judge", and "Just because you did not do it, does not mean you are innocent".

vswami

2 years ago

The reported episode makes for a shockingly disgusting reading. May be, borrower may be regarded to have been callous in failing to collect the NOC. But was it not the basic duty and responsibility of the lender bank to have promptly reached the NOC soon after the settlement of the dues. This is an unadulterated harassment of the customer, often come across repeatedly; the culprit bank should be made to cough the maximum compensation for the misdemeanor, and its idiotic persistence.
Alongside, it says, - “Reforms & Governance under Modi.” One only hopes that as expected, Mody / the RBI takes a serious note, if not done, and cries a halt to recurrence of such anti-people instances any longer.

Sreekanth Yelicherla

2 years ago

Wow! Excellent! Kudos to ML.

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