World Heart Day could be very profitably used to inculcate heart-healthy habits in the populace rather than screen a few and treat them at their asymptomatic stage without any benefit to them
“What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things”— Margaret Mead
Thanks to this annual thamasha of the World Heart Day, another one of those clandestine business tricks, to get more business for the pharmaceutical lobby, more than 14,000 hapless, unsuspecting victims have been converted into patients in one establishment alone according to the newspapers. Any human being who goes for a check-up becomes a patient; s/he rarely ever, if ever, becomes normal human being again! Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and the like are backed by the greeting card and hospitality lobbies, the human organ-based days are lucrative business for the hospital lobbies. They organise marathon running on those days. The gullible public joins in the fond hope of helping a good cause. It is, of course, a good cause to fill the coffers of those hospitals which would have earlier advertised reduced charges for check-ups on that day.
Disease mongering has many faces these days what with plethora of hospitals and laboratories vying with each other to get as many bakras as possible. This, however, is not a new development; let us not give credit to the new managers of today. When drugs for lowering the blood pressure first started coming to the market they introduced nice mini mobile clinics, WELL MAN CLINICS, in Germany with a cute nurse inside and a blood pressure apparatus. These were parked outside churches on Sundays and outside shopping malls on weekdays for a FREE check-up! Thus started the bonanza of blood pressure drug sales.
It is not a disease. It is one of the thousands of chemicals inside the human system. This white, odorless and tasteless powder is the life line of humans. Every human cell, of which we have between 50-100 trillion in all, has its walls made up of cholesterol. The cell wall is needed for good health. A weak cell wall is a good invitation for cancer! We need to regenerate billions of body cells daily.
90% of your blood cholesterol is manufactured in your own liver for your good. I do not think that the body produces anything that is bad for it. Only 10% of it comes from the food that we eat. The only way people bring down the cholesterol levels in the laboratory reports is by blocking the liver enzymes manufacturing cholesterol which, in turn, blocks many other vital body functions!
Cholesterol phobia, created by this kind of marketing strategy, is one of the common causes of hypochondriasis and miserable life for the informed common person. One has only to see it to believe it.
How I wish I knew! We only know the average cholesterol for any population by epidemiological studies. This average is used as normal level synonymously to confuse the public and sell drugs. In the human system we do not know the normals but know the averages. That apart the average level for one population is not the same for another population. For some mysterious reasons, the averages keep going down as years pass by, thereby increasing the drug sales! In addition, cholesterol, like any other body parameter, keeps changing from second to second, so called, healthy CHAOS. If two readings are taken a few minutes apart two different levels are obtained! Studies have shown that if the same sample of blood is analysed in twenty laboratories simultaneously twenty different levels will be shown!
A recent French nursing home study of the old elderly beyond 90 years of age did reveal that those ladies had their cholesterol levels far beyond the average, way up in the 600s! Maybe for living long one has to have high cholesterol levels to be able to replace dead cells by new ones daily.
We doctors tell patients that elevated cholesterol is a risk factor for killer vascular diseases. There is no irrefutable evidence to prove that. The largest and the longest risk factor interventional trial in the world, the MRFIT study, did show that these drugs might lower the risk factor without lowering the risk of death. These drugs, starting from the first drug cholestyramine to the present day expensive statins have all been shown to have INCREASED total deaths at the end of the day. The last mentioned one has many dangerous side effects like diabetes, cancer, suicide, accidents, muscle damage, liver damage and kidney failure, in addition.
Professor Philippe Even, director of the prestigious Necker Institute, and Bernard Debré, a doctor and Member of Parliament, were appointed by French president Nicholas Sarkozy to study the medical care in that country. They recommended to the government that more than half of the drugs used there are superfluous and hazardous (worth 10 billion euros). Apart from that saving they also opined that this reduction will reduce drug induced deaths in that country by 20,000 annually. Among those that they alleged were “completely useless” were statins, widely taken to lower cholesterol. The blacklisted 58 drugs (they said were dangerous) included anti-inflammatories and drugs prescribed for cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, contraception, muscular cramps and nicotine addiction.
Routine screening of the apparently healthy could be most dangerous, according to an article in the prestigious British Medical Journal. The so called normal levels statistically increase false positive reports to the extent of 5%-25% for every parameter. If we could check, say, twenty five parameters in one sitting (free) we get to label 125 people as patients out of every 100 screened!!
Does that make good business sense? Some of them, like borderline technical alterations in the ECG, could generate more money by collateral tests like TMT and coronary angiogram, all for no extra effort on the part of the establishment. The bakra is already caught in the screening thamasha.
World Heart Day could be very profitably used to inculcate heart healthy habits in the populace at large rather than screen a few and treat them at their asymptomatic stage without any benefit to them. This message could then be propagated to the younger generations who have to change their mode of living to avoid precocious diseases. Fortunately, the advice is very easy to follow—balanced moderate intake of food, regular physical exertion, avoidance of junk food, alcohol and tobacco, to work hard loving what one does and to develop universal compassion—for good health. Unfortunately, this sane advice will fall on deaf ears as it does not generate revenue for the sponsors and might even harm the junk food and sedentary habit encouraging businesses. What is anti-business is pro-people and what is anti-people is pro-business. In the monetary world the business wins the race and human misery remains a statistic. Love all to live well.
“Gee, there is something wrong with just about everything, isn't there, Dad?”—“Beaver” (Theodore Cleaver)
(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].)
“The growing customer satisfaction has led to positive word-of- mouth in the market”, Atul Gupta, vice president (sales and marketing), Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd said
New Delhi: Two-wheeler maker Suzuki Motorcycle India reported 31.53% increase in its sales at 38,267 units in September, reports PTI.
The company had sold 29,094 units in the same month last year, Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd (SMIPL) said in a statement.
Commenting on the sales growth, SMIPL vice-president (sales and marketing) Atul Gupta said: “We have received a good response from the market for all our products. The growing customer satisfaction has led to positive word-of- mouth in the market.”
Banks woo the depositors till they secure their account, and thereafter they are left high and dry. The RBI should ensure that the bank depositors are treated fairly and equitably so as to give the depositors their due reward for their contribution to the economy
Bank depositors are the pillars of strength for the commercial banks, and the funds provided by the depositors are used by the banks to on-lend to trade, commerce and industry, Banks make profits from the interest rate differential between the borrowing and the lending rate. Naturally, therefore, the deposit rates are lower than the lending rates. While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been asking the banks to reduce this spread between the borrowing and the lending rates, a reasonable difference in rates of interest between the two is inevitable, as the banks have to make profits to remain in business. But there is no reason for banks to give the depositors a step-motherly treatment and deprive them of what is legitimately due to them. A few instances of glaring discrimination shown against depositors are mentioned below.
At present banks pay stipulated interest on all fixed deposits on a quarterly basis, i.e. compounded quarterly, and if any depositor seeks interest on a monthly basis, banks do give interest monthly, but only on a discounted basis, which means the depositor has to forego some portion of interest for availing the benefit of interest on a monthly basis. As is well known these deposits are used for lending by the banks, and all banks collect interest at the agreed rate from all borrowers at the end of every month. This means, while collecting interest on loans and advances, banks compound interest on a monthly basis, but while paying interest on deposits they compound interest on a quarterly basis, which is nothing short of discrimination against the depositors. And this has the blessings of the regulator, as RBI, while permitting the banks to charge interest on monthly basis to their borrowers never instructed the banks to compound interest on deposits also on a monthly basis. The extra benefit accruing to the individual depositor from monthly compounding may not be that large, but it is unfair to deprive the depositors this small benefit when the banks themselves enjoy this benefit on their lending portfolio.
The banks follow a practice of levying a penalty of up to 1% whenever a depositor withdraws his deposit before maturity. A few banks charge a penalty of 0.50% and some others charge a penalty of 1% as this is left to the discretion of individual banks. In effect, when a depositor withdraws his deposit before the due date, he does not get the interest at the contracted rate, but he gets interest only at the rate applicable for the period of deposit lying with the bank less the penalty of up to 1% as mentioned above. While paying interest at the rate applicable for the period of deposit is reasonable, what is unfair is the additional penalty levied for such withdrawal, as this is neither reasonable nor equitable for the following reasons.
Here again the depositors are discriminated against, because, the banks in all their agreements with their borrowers have a clause empowering the banks to recall the advance at the discretion of the banks, and banks are not liable to pay any compensation to the borrower for any such premature withdrawal of loans from the borrowers. This obviously means that the banks retain their right to withdraw the working capital loans given to the borrowers before the maturity date without any penalty; they are not willing to give the similar rights to their depositors to withdraw the deposits before maturity without any penalty.
Moreover, recently RBI has directed all banks not to levy penalty on housing loan borrowers, who pre-pay their loans before the due dates. While this is good for the borrowers, the same benefit of waiver of penalty has not been extended to depositors who withdraw their deposits before maturity. In actual practice, nobody would like to withdraw deposits before maturity unless on unavoidable circumstances, as it will result in loss of interest. So much so, if only this penalty clause for pre-mature withdrawal of deposit is removed, it will give a lot of comfort to the depositing public, and banks will be able to get more long-term deposits than at present, helping them to reduce the mismatch in their liquidity position as well.
At present, banks do not pay any interest after the maturity date of the deposit, if it is not renewed from the due date. One of the public sector banks in its website has stated that in respect of very old matured term deposits outstanding prior to 1 August 1998, simple interest at the current saving bank rate will be paid for the overdue period of the deposit only if the said deposit is renewed. It also states that in the case of death of depositors after the date of maturity of the deposit, interest will be paid at saving bank rate operative on the date of maturity, from the date of maturity till the date of payment as per the RBI guidelines.
On the contrary, banks charge a penal interest at 2% over the agreed rate on all overdue loans and advances, and on all interest unpaid on such loans. While the bank is entitled to charge penal interest on their receivables, it is not willing to pay any interest after the maturity of the deposit, unless it is renewed from the due date, except in the case of deposits of deceased customers, where RBI has mandated payment of interest at a paltry savings bank rate only. Besides, banks have stopped sending notices of due dates of deposits to customers, and if for any reason they fail to withdraw the deposit on the maturity date they lose the benefit of interest for the expired period from the due date of deposit.
Is it fair to deprive the benefit of interest to the depositor when the bank has enjoyed the benefit of funds by using it for their lending operations? In fact, banks in the US follow the doctrine of unjust enrichment, and pay interest on any amount lying with them unclaimed for any length of time. This is based on the principle that morally and ethically the one who gains a benefit that he or she has not paid or worked for should not keep it to the rightful owner’s detriment. It simply means that a person shall not be allowed to profit or enrich himself inequitably at another’s expense. It is necessary for banks in India to follow this principle in the interest of not only equity and justice, but also for retaining the good will and custom of depositing public.
Of late you would have observed that politicians, industry associations, captains of industry and all and sundry have been clamouring for reduction of interest rates on loans and advances granted by banks. And this call for reducing the interest rate on loans became louder by the day, when the finance ministry officials, including the finance minster, and the RBI officials including the governor joined the chorus, chiding the banks for not reducing their lending rates even when the RBI reduced the CRR by 0.25% recently.
In striking contrast, have you ever heard a single voice being raised or a write up in the media demanding increase in interest rate on saving deposits, which has been de-regulated by RBI for more than six months now? The RBI has washed off its hands by simply giving freedom to banks to fix their own interest rate on SB deposits, but neither the public sector banks nor the big private banks, (barring three new generation small banks), have thought it fit to increase the interest rates on SB deposits so far. The middle-class and the lower middle-class, who form the majority of the banking public, have been suffering silently by the galloping inflation due to which a large majority of our countrymen and women are not able to make both ends meet in their daily life. The rising inflation, which has reached double digits, has been affecting the capacity of our people to save, and this is reflected in the falling rate of growth of SB deposits in banks. As per the RBI report, the percentage of growth of savings bank deposits in all scheduled commercial banks has fallen from 26.9% in 2009-10 to 21.8% during 2010-11. But neither the RBI nor the finance ministry officials have shown any concern for the depositors, who have been at the receiving end of rising cost of living and getting negative return on their investments in banks.
These are some of the areas where Indian depositors receive a raw deal from the commercial banks because they do not have a powerful lobby to champion their cause. And the frontline media is busy highlighting the woes of big industrialist borrowers, who demand their pound of flesh from the banks who oblige them at the cost of poor depositors. The government is keen to expand the reach of banks in unbanked areas propagating financial inclusion, but has done precious little to incentivize savings through the banking system. Bank deposits are no longer attractive, post inflation, and with the interest on bank deposits being subject to income tax, they are the least preferred avenue for investment today. This has resulted in considerable fall in financial savings in our country as rich people prefer to buy gold, which in rupee terms has given 23% annual return for last five years. The RBI, in its latest annual report for the year 2011-12, has stated that the financial savings of Indian households, as a proportion of GDP, plummeted to 7.8%, the lowest during the last 20 years.
The banks woo the depositors till they secure their account, and thereafter they are left high and dry unless otherwise directed by the regulator. It is high time, therefore, the RBI should ensure that the bank depositors are treated fairly, squarely and equitably in the interest of not only continued flow of savings into the banking sector, but also to give the depositors the due reward they deserve for their contribution to the economy of our country.
(The author is a banking analyst and he writes for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’)