The death of handwriting

The writing on the wall is not cursive any more. People born after 1980 tend to have increasingly illegible scrawls.

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    If nuke bill is passed, India can tap global corpus

    The contentious nuclear liability Bill, if passed by Parliament, would enable India to tap an international corpus of funds to pay compensation in case of a nuclear accident

    The contentious nuclear liability Bill, if passed by Parliament, would enable India to tap an international corpus of funds to pay compensation in case of a nuclear accident, officials said, reports PTI.

    A civil liability for nuclear damage law is a prerequisite for India to be part of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation (CSC) adopted by UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in 1997.

    The CSC makes the operator of the nuclear installation and not the suppliers, liable in the event of an accident and caps the level of compensation at not less than 300 million Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), equivalent to nearly $460 million.

    Similarly, the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010, which the government has been forced to defer, seeks to put a financial cap on compensation at Rs2,100 crore (300 million SDRs) and limits the liability of the operator to Rs500 crore. The government has to share the rest of the amount.

    If more funds are needed, the government could tap into an international corpus proposed to be set up under the CSC and draw an additional (approximate) $500 million. However, the CSC is yet to come into force as it has been ratified by only four countries—the US, Argentina, Morocco and Romania.

    According to the IAEA, at least five states with a minimum of 4,00,000 MWe of installed nuclear capacity have to ratify the Convention for it to come into force.

    The other international conventions that provide such indemnities to the global nuclear industry are the Paris Convention (1960) and the Vienna Convention, which was revised during an IAEA conference in Vienna in September 1997.

    Meanwhile, many countries who are not yet party to any convention have their own legislative regimes for nuclear liability.

    In the US, nuclear liability is addressed by its 1957 Price Anderson Act, the world's first comprehensive nuclear liability law, that calls for $10 billion in cover without cost to the public or government and without fault needing to be proven.

    According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), an international organisation that promotes nuclear energy, the federal law covers power reactors, research reactors, and all other nuclear facilities.

    In the UK, the Energy Act 1983 addresses the nuclear liability and in 1994, it set a new limit of £140 million for each major installation, so that the operator is liable for claims up to this amount and must insure accordingly.

    Germany has unlimited operator liability that requires €2.5 billion security which must be provided by the operator for each plant. This security is partly covered by insurance, to €256 million.
    In France, the domestic law requires financial security of €91 million per plant, while in Switzerland (which has signed but not yet ratified the Conventions) it requires operators to insure up to €600 million. The country is now mulling increasing this to €1.1 billion and ratifying the Paris and Vienna conventions.

    A 2005 Act in Finland requires operators to take at least €700 million insurance cover, and operator liability is unlimited beyond the €1.5 billion provided under the Vienna Convention.
    In Sweden, the country's nuclear liability act requires operators to be insured for at least 3,300 million Swedish kroner (€302 million), beyond which the state will cover to SEK 6 billion per incident.
    The Czech Republic is moving toward ratifying the amendment to the Vienna Convention and in 2009 increased the mandatory minimum insurance cover required for each reactor to Czech koruna eight billion (€296 million).
    In Canada the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act is also in line with the international conventions and establishes the licensee's absolute and exclusive liability for third party damage.
    While suppliers of goods and services are given absolute discharge of liability, the law sets 75 million Canadian dollars per power plant as the insurance cover required for individual licensees.
    In Japan, which is not party to any international liability convention, plant operator liability is exclusive and absolute and they must provide a financial security amount of 60 billion yen ($600 million). From 2010 this doubles to 120 billion yen ($1.2 billion).
    Russia, which is party to the Vienna Convention since 2005, has a domestic nuclear insurance pool comprising 23 insurance companies covering liability of some $350 million.
    Ukraine adopted a domestic liability law in 1995 and has revised it since in order to harmonise with the Vienna Convention, which it joined in 1996. It is also party to the Joint Protocol and has signed the CSC.
    China is not party to any international liability convention but is an active member of the international insurance pooling system.
    The international community has been showing seriousness for the safety of nuclear plants since the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in Ukraine in 1986. Over 50 people died at the plant, while an estimated 65,000 died from complications over the years.

    Nearly 400,000 people from neighbouring areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia were evacuated and an exclusion zone of 3,000 sq km was created and deemed off-limits for human habitation for an indefinite period after the disaster.

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    Planning to fly? Don’t forget your travel insurance

    Travel insurance can protect you against flight delays, baggage loss, journey cancellations and medical emergencies

    The next time your flight is late, do not fret over it—rather, you can turn that time into earning some money. What you need to do is buy travel insurance. This insurance provides protection against flight delays, medical expenses, baggage loss and journey cancellations.

    On a yearly basis, Indians make around 12 million overseas trips. Only a few buy travel insurance—and within these few insured travellers, a smaller number of travellers know exactly what they are covered for and thus avail the benefits of insurance.

    “The numbers of complaints we get are very less from people who are using travel insurance,” said Shreeraj Deshpande, head for Future Generali India’s health insurance business.

    Travel insurance becomes applicable from the scheduled time of departure, to the time when you return to your place of residence, or the expiry date specified in the certificate of insurance, whichever is earlier.

    In addition, buying travel insurance is also very cheap. “Travel insurance premium is a small fraction of the total travel related expenditure,” said Tapan Singhel, CMO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

    For example, consider this travel insurance plan from Future Generali India. For a travel period of four days for persons up to the age of 45, and making a trip to Europe, the premium for a $50,000 plan would be Rs391. For a similar profile, but with a coverage of $2,50,000, the premium would be just Rs1,022. For domestic flights, Apollo Health Insurance charges its customers a premium charge of Rs111, while Tata AIG charges Rs129 from its customers.

    Thus, for a delay of a continuous six-hour period beyond the scheduled departure or arrival time, the insurance company will reimburse you for the flight delay. You would be insured for the expenses incurred on meals and accommodation, provided the airline does not reimburse you for the same. All that is needed to get these benefits is that you have to get a written confirmation from the airliner, including the length and exact nature of the delay. The maximum insurance these companies pay up for domestic flight delays is Rs1,500.

    If you need to cancel or shorten your trip due to sickness, injury or death of an immediate family member or travelling companion, the insurer will reimburse you a sum up to Rs15,000 to Rs20,000, depending on which company you have bought your insurance from. The same would go for a trip curtailment, when the insurer can pay you up to Rs15,000, subject to conditions detailed in the policy.

    In the case of permanent loss of baggage by the airline, an insurance company will also pay the amount required to purchase new items of the same kind and quality, with allowance for the condition and reasonable depreciation of the articles lost. However, the maximum amount that will be paid—on an average—by various insurance companies will be around Rs7,500 for lost baggage.{break}

    You will need a property ‘irregularity report’ from the airliner confirming the baggage loss. The liability will be limited to the travel destinations specified in the original travel ticket, including all halts and destinations specified. The payment will be reduced by any sum for which the carrier is liable to make payment, if any.

    Even if you were to be evacuated due to a medical reason, the insurer would reimburse a certain amount for transportation, the cost of an attending medical practitioner from a hospital to the nearest facility and cover the necessary medical services. The maximum amount companies will provide is Rs1 lakh.

    In case of international flights, if an accident were to occur—leading to hospitalisation for more than seven consecutive days—then the insurer will let one immediate family member travel to the hospital on an economy ticket, provided that the member resides in India, and the insured person was travelling alone. The family member is also covered for the costs incurred for an emergency stay.

    But while buying international travel insurance, be clear on the product you plan to buy and keep in mind certain important factors like the country/countries one is travelling to and the length of travel.

    “Even the sum insured will be dependent upon the country one is travelling to and the length or period of travel,” Mr Deshpande said.

    The arrangements for travel assistance and the reach of the service provider are also very important. An insurance company will not reimburse any claim for any insured person due to childbirth, pregnancy or related medical complications and facts which the insured person was aware or should have been aware of, which might have resulted in the cancellation of the trip.

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    1 decade ago

    Avoid international roaming

    It’s a no-brainer that activating the international roaming service on your cellphone while travelling abroad would burn a huge hole in your pocket. Instead, you could opt for SIM cards provided by operators like Matrix / clay / reliance passport etc. that work as local SIMs in your destination country. This option also scores over buying a local SIM upon reaching the destination, especially if your trip spans multiple countries, since buying a new SIM each time you visit a different destination is a needless hassle.

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