Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Phoneless office : ICICI Prudential's experiment?

We have heard about paperless offices. How about phoneless ones?

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company has an office in Kodambakkam High Road, Chennai. I went there to enquire about a life policy. The first response predictably was "Our systems are down". However after some time, I was given the information. The conversation went like this:

"Would you give me your telephone number so that I can avoid coming to your office for simple enquiries?'

"We don't have a phone. You have to come personally if you want details."

"Why so?"

"When we are engaging a customer, we do not want to be interrupted by a phone call." (WOW!)

"Can you provide your mobile number?"

"Why should I give you my personal mobile number?" (in a brusque tone).

"I do not want your personal number. I thought the company would have provided you a mobile. Can I see the head of this office?"

I was directed to another official. His reasoning was even more bizarre.

"IRDA, the insurance regulator, has prohibited our calling the customers who are in "do not call" list. So we do not have telephones."

"Why don't you have phones atleast for incoming calls?"

"You don't understand. We are prohibited by IRDA ----"

This kind of nonsense and irresponsibility is not expected from ICICI Pru.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Army, ISRO and GOI

We have started wondering whether the Government of India can do anything right at all. Murphy's Law has taken a new name: GOI Law.

GOI bungled as much as humanly possible in the age issue of the Army Chief. Now it is handling the Antrix-Devas deal most clumsily. V.Narayanaswamy, a rambunctious minister, says that the action taken against the former Chairman of ISRO is a lesson to all scientists. He has deservedly been castigated by C.N.R.Rao, Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the prime minister who wonders whether the honourable minister has attended any school!

People are wondering why the maladroit government has not awarded Bharat Ratna to Kasab. Maybe it soon will.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ministry of cabals

It is repeatedly coming to light that Manmohan Singh is assisted only by a ministry of cabals. It is now authoritatively known that Alliance Air had cancelled a scheduled flight inconveniencing booked passengers only to accommodate the interests of Praful Patel's daughter and the IPL team. Government resource is used for private purposes. Shameful!

If the prime minister and the president do not care for principles of governance, ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Army Chief goes to court

Gen.V.K.Singh has thought it fit and even necessary to seek legal remedy to be rid of aspersions on his integrity. It is widely perceived that he is being victimised on account of his refusal to tolerate proven corruption in the army.

It is for the Supreme Court to decide on the issue of the General's chronological age. The court may or may not agree to spend its valuable time to find the actual date of birth. It may take the view that the Supreme Court will decide only on legalities and it is for the lower courts to fish for facts.

In the normal course, people may not favour the Chief of the Army to litigate against the government. But the present days are extraordinary. The central government has covered itself with so much inglory that anyone fighting against it is deemed as a welcome crusader. Indeed the General may truly be one.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thuglak's 42nd annual meeting (continued)

There is a huge interest among Tamils all over the world regarding what happens in the meetings convened by Cho Ramaswamy. So some more details of the Valluvar Kottam meeting are given here. It is astonishing that Cho has single-handedly carried on the Thuglak crusade for 42 years so far. I wonder if there is any other magazine which has been navigated by just one person for such a long time.

In the 41st meeting, Cho had hoped for a change of government in Tamilnadu. Since his wish had come true, it was natural that the readers raised some questions on the replaced Chief Minister. Cho responded that Karunanidhi ought to be more pitied than criticised. The colossal defeat in the elections has totally unnerved Karunanidhi. Cho ridiculed Karunanidhi's theory of "the upper caste conspiracy" being responsible for DMK's electoral defeat.

Cho blamed the disabling competition among newspapers for the unexpected (and to some, shocking) front-page coverage given by The Hindu to a report in "Nakkeeran" newspaper on Jayalalitha. A newspaper that prides itself on its agreement with The New York Times on publishing the latter's material and on its role in the WikiLeaks saga has also chosen to publish a report from Nakkeeran. Cho argued that publication of such information in Nakkeeran is neither surprising nor unusual. Rather, it is expected. But The Hindu's readiness to outdo other newspapers in sensationalism is shocking and is a sad commentary on the state of the Press. (It is interesting to note that The Hindu dated 15th January has given copious coverage to the meeting.)

Advani's assertion that good governance and corruption cannot go together was understandably cheered by the audience. So was his reference to incompatibility of democracy and dynastic politics. He wondered if Sonia Gandhi is capable of articulating her views cogently on any issue of importance to the nation. Calling Cho as the tallest among journalists for sarcasm and humour, he felt sorry for continuing decay of capacity for humour among the legislators of today.

Modi gave irrefutable facts and figures to prove Gujarat's achievements. He read out a fairly long speech in English.

In an interesting interlude, Cho offered to translate Advani's address into Tamil. Advani remarked that in that case, the translated version would be better than the original. Cho readily withdrew his offer and assured Advani that the audience does not need a translation.

We now look forward to the 43rd Anniversary meeting. Cho's annual meetings are compared by Chennaivasis to the budget speeches that the eminent jurist Palkhivala used to deliver in the good old days. There was only one Palkhivala. There is only one Cho. It is the rarity of such personalities that makes them appealing to the public.

Thuglak's 42nd annual meeting

The traditional Pongal-eve meeting of readers of the Thuglak magazine took place on Saturday,the 14th January. Valluvar Kottam, the venue of the meeting is perhaps the most spacious place for such gatherings. The hall was overflowing even two hours before the start of the meeting.

Cho was at his sarcastic best. He laid bare the ills of the Manmohan Singh government. Kapil Sibal's habitual denial of even the most blatant scandals received special attention.

L.K.Advani and Narendra Modi also spoke.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Supreme Court on the Prime Minister

The Supreme Court has castigated the Prime Minister in unambiguous terms on 10th January. "The Prime Minister is not an honest man as he had not lived up to his constitutional oath. Action must be taken against him for failing to act on an order to reopen graft cases against the President."

The five-judge bench added, "The Prime Minister is not an honourable man as he had not lived up to his constitutional oath. The premier had shown loyalty to his political party rather than the constitution. The government's refusal to write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen cases of alleged money laundering went against the Constitution."

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has now proved to be more courageous and dutiful than its Indian counterpart.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Where is the dollar headed?

The links to an article that appeared in the "Industrial Economist" issue of January 2012 are provided below: