Bipasha Basu (on twitter): A big cheer for Dabbawalas for supporting Anna! And more power to Anna!
A note on Wall Street Journal on the action by Dabbawalas:
Shekhar Kapur: This is not just about the Lokpal Bill. It's about the people of India sending a clear message that they are taking their destiny into their own hands.
Video of protests in Hubli:
Arvind Kejriwal: 15-day fast may go beyond the period
New Delhi: Team Anna Hazare on Friday said the 15-day fast for a strong Lokpal Bill may go beyond the period depending upon the government's response to the agitation. Hazare's associate and RTI activist Arvind Kejriwal said the 74-year-old Gandhian was actually planning a longer programme for the protest fast but there was a legal problem.
Kejriwal said Hazare's health was fine and was not a matter of concern.
Asked if statements coming out that Hazare's fast is indefinite and not a fast-unto-death was a climbdown, Kejriwal said, "There is no climbdown. Anna Hazare never used the word fast-unto-death. It is an indefinite fast. Anna used the word indefinite because it is more spiritual. Fast-unto-death seems a little more in the connotation of blackmail."
Replying to a question about the possibility of certain organisations and individuals in the movement becoming violent, he said, "You have seen the movement so far remaining non-violent. This shows the spirituality of the entire movement."
Short rallies in DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon, in support of Anna Hazare
Anna Hazare fever spreads to Hong Kong, Singapore; expat Indians join protests
BEIJING: The Anna Hazare fever has spread to Hong Kong and Singapore with expatriate Indians holding relay fasts, meetings and demonstrations. More demonstrations and a drive to raise funds for the movement back home have been planned over the weekend.
Volunteers posted at the entry gates of subway stations in Hong Kong are distributing a two-paper leaflets explaining why it was necessary for Indians living abroad to express their support for the anti-corruption movement and comparing the official and the Anna Hazare versions of the Lokpal Bill.
"We are telling people we should share the pain felt in India over issues like corruption. Sharing the nationality is not enough," said Dilip Pandey, a Hong Kong-based IT expert, who played a key role in organising a meeting attended by 80 local Indians last Sunday. Pandey, his wife and another local Indian have been on relay fast for the past two days.
Another meeting is scheduled for the coming Sunday when Pandey and his friends expect a larger turnout. Plans include launching a fund-raising drive to send donations for the Jan Lokpal movement in India. They also plan to collect signatures of the attendees on a memorandum to be submitted to the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong.
"We also want to approach the United Nations saying that the main principals in the UN Convention against corruption have not been implemented in India," Pandey said.
A group of Indians based in Singapore has approached the local police for permission to hold a meeting at the Speaker's Corner, a place designated by the government for the purpose of holding protests. They are also implementing a signature drive in order to submit a memorandum to the Indian High Commissioner demanding implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill.
"We are expecting the permission to come through soon. We have provided the police with details about the nature of our demonstration including the banners we will be carrying and protest T-shirts to be worn by us," Aashis Sharma, a financial consultant organising Indians in Singapore, said.
Singapore is holding its presidential election on Saturday. Sharma expects the police to give him permission to hold the meeting on another day. "There is a huge amount of interest from Indian citizens involved in a wide range of professions in Singapore," he said. He expects at least 700 people to turn up at the forthcoming meeting.
Indians in Hong Kong were early starters submitted a memorandum to the local Indian Counsel-General on April 9 and holding a bicycle rally with volunteers wearing T-shirts carrying the "India Against Corruption" logo on April 16. Two local Indians, Sailesh Saraf and Ajay Sharma have already gone to India to join the Anna Hazare movement.
Anand Mahindra (on twitter): Comforting that media-savvy young India's image of an iconic leader is not a photogenic & Clintonesque character but a simple septuagenarian.
Kiran Bedi (on twitter): Just been informed that nine opposition political parties have asked government to withdraw their Lokpal Bill and table an effective one.
CVC accuses Ramnath Pradeep of violation of bank norms to favour some corporate houses in disbursal of loans and of granting undue favours. Asks finance ministry to seek explanation and take appropriate action
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has indicted Ramnath Pradeep, chairman and managing director of Corporation Bank, on a series of charges of corruption and abuse of authority to favour some corporate houses.
The CVC has said in a report that Mr Pradeep abused his authority and power by deliberately favouring some corporate houses in sanctioning big-ticket loans, despite them being in default of loans from other state-owned banks. He has also been charged with altering the bank's decision-making process for sanctioning advances to certain parties and granting undue favours in awarding consultancy, retainer ship as well as outsourcing of ATM activities.
According to a newspaper report, Mr Pradeep has been charged with eight offences, four of which concern irregularities in extending advances and the others are related to other issues such as management decisions.
The CVC has submitted its report to the department of financial services (DFS) in the Union Ministry of Finance, advising it to seek an explanation from Mr Pradeep on the "lapses noticed by the inquiry officer." It has asked the ministry to the report back to the CVC with its comments. The Commission has recommended that "appropriate measures may be taken by the department (DFS) to restrain the CMD from further abuse of authority."
According to sources, the vigilance commission has addressed the report to the ministry directly to ensure that it reaches on time in view of the seriousness of the charges and that Mr Pradeep is to retire from service on 30 September 2011.
Strangely, information sought under the Right to Information Act reveals that the report was received by the ministry after a delay of 26 days.
In its reply to an RTI query, the CVC said that the report was submitted by the inquiry officer on 9 June 2011 and that it was sent to the secretary of the DFS on 30 June 2011 to obtain the explanation of the CMD. It also said that the report was forwarded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for further investigation and verification.
The Ministry of Finance in its reply to an RTI query said that it had received the "Direct Inquiry Report" of the CVC on 27 July 2011. It also said that, "The same (report) is being examined in this Department. No deadline has been fixed for completing the action in the matter."
According to a whistleblower, "DFS has sought the CMD's explanation on the report through a letter dated 1st August advising him to submit it at the earliest, without giving any timeframe. This indicates that the ministry is soft-pedalling the matter."
Meanwhile, Mr Pradeep has been quoted in the Mint business daily as saying that, "Some people in the bank had moved the CVC against me. I am preparing a reply to these charges. I have done everything as per the rules, there are no issues."
Damien Marmion believes that while banks choose insurance partners with multi-line products, they should be allowed to tie up with more than one insurer so customers have a choice
Dr Damien Marmion, chief executive officer, Max Bupa Health Insurance, says his company's approach on in-house cashless service gives it an edge. He aims to ensure that growth does not come at the cost of customer service. In an interview to Moneylife, he discussed the progress the company has made in a year since it was launched, his experiences and plans, and the way forward for the industry.
Mediclaim customers have major issues getting cashless approval. How do you handle it?
It starts with the education of customers, agents and hospital staff. The handbook has simple diagrams on the steps a customer must take. Hospitals have a regular turnover of staff, so it may entail retraining. There is a system in place whereby the customer is updated on the different stages by SMS. Our sales manager made an anonymous attempt to get cashless approval and managed to get it within 45 minutes. Our approach on in-house cashless approval gives us an edge. It is a 24-hour service.
How is your direct approach better than the TPA (third party administrator) service that is associated mostly with PSU insurers?
The main complaint of mediclaim customers is the TPA service. We wanted to avoid that route. Our cashless is restricted to only 860 hospitals, but corporate hospitals in major cities are covered. Moreover, we have done quality inspection at 540 hospitals to ensure proper medical standards. This is usually not done by insurance companies.
Do you find inflated bills when customers go for cashless treatment? Unnecessary diagnostics tests, procedures?
We have agreed on the tariff rates at all the hospitals where we have negotiated for cashless treatment. Apart from that, we have relationship doctors in 11 cities that are in touch with the hospital when a customer is admitted. We also analyse reimbursement claims. Some people think most of the claims are fraudulent. It's not the case. Corporate hospitals want to protect their brand and attract customers.
But you have a presence mostly in bigger cities.
We want to walk before we can run; expand one city at a time. Many insurers start off with trying to get customers from everywhere, only to end up with customer service being affected. Telesales and the online channel helps us to reach out to customers in numerous cities (where the agency force may be absent).
Have you explored the bancassurance channel?
As of today, bancassurance is restricted to a tie-up with one insurer. Banks go with insurers offering multi-line products so that they can sell motor insurance and other products too. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) should open it to multiple insurers. If customers want choice, then give it.
Have you started getting claims now that your company is over a year old? Have you had the experience of a policyholder going to the insurance ombudsman due to rejection of claims?
We have started getting quite a few claims. There is only one case with the insurance ombudsman. It is more to do with disclosure problems while taking a policy (which led to the claims rejection).
Based on your interaction with IRDA and GIC, how is the progress on health insurance portability that is to be implemented from 1st October? Do you think all insurers and IRDA will be ready by the 1st October deadline?
The details are still being worked through. So, we cannot conclude the date until we have the details sorted out.
How has policy renewal been after one year of business?
It has been in line with our expectations. 70% to 80% of existing customers have renewed their policies. We should have new business of Rs70 crore this year.
You offer an incentive of 10% renewal premium for health services and products.
This is in line with our initiative of 'Your Health First' for healthier living. Preventive healthcare is the best approach.
You do not offer alternative medical treatments like homeopathy, ayurveda, etc.
Not, at this time. Eventually, we will get to it.