Today Current Affairs In Hindi
Breathing, In A Time Of Pollution – Is your bank mis-selling?
- December 3, 2018
- Posted by: Shivam
- Category: NEWS Worth To Read
Breathing, In A Time Of Pollution
Getting a device that measures pollution turns nameless fears into numbers. Doubt turns into a quantitative fact. Air turns certifiably into poison. Some illusions die quickly. Open green spaces do not necessarily translate into better quality of air. The home is no sanctuary. Early mornings, celebrated in lore as the purest parts of the day, are proven to be anything but. There is the unmistakable sense of living in a prison that cannot be escaped from. As in cancer, where life itself turns against you, when the air you breathe starts killing you, the feeling of being trapped is inescapable.
The good news is that the air purifier is put to test and found to be effective. In a few minutes, the PM2.5 levels recede significantly. The bad news is that there is only so much it can do, given the extent of the problem. After all, what is a catastrophic crisis in any other part of the world is a good day in Delhi, and several other cities in the country.
Not surprisingly, air purifier sales have gone up, but surprisingly, only by a reported 30%. Admittedly, these devices don’t come cheap, but with screaming headlines every day, one would have thought that these would be flying off the shelves at a much faster rate. Is it apathy, or simply a sense of helplessness in the face of a problem too large to come to grips with?
The problem is that pollution is that kind of problem. Unlike the smokestacks that spewed out visibly contaminated air, the pollution in today’s times takes on a more devious form. Of course, there are days where the smog is so acrid that your eyes smart and so thick that you can carve it with a knife, but otherwise dangerous levels of pollution can often exist without any great external sign. One might be able to protect oneself when one is indoors at home, but what happens when one steps out of the house?
Also, the ill effects of pollution unfold after a long time, and are rarely directly attributable to it. Barring those with respiratory issues and overall vulnerability of health, for most others, pollution is an enemy that strikes in unknown ways over an unspecified period of time. As a society, we understand the idea of pollution well enough, particularly in its ritual form. It is when pollution becomes real that we struggle to grasp it.
The very nature of breathing has a lot to do with the difficulty that many face in acting upon an issue like pollution. As a defining feature of life, breathing is literally the most natural thing in the world. Life kicks in with breath, and signs off when it stops. To distrust breath is to fear life itself. In fact, even to become aware of one’s breath requires a great deal of effort. We become aware of our breath either when we choose to become mindful of it, as we do when we meditate, or when we have difficulty breathing. There is a reason why it is so difficult to even listen to a person with respiratory problems struggle with their breathing. The sound of a young child struggling with childhood asthma is a traumatic experience for any parent.
The other time that we become aware of our breath is when we choose to focus on it. Meditation opens up a world of experiences that we are able to access by breathing mindfully. Breathing deeply and rhythmically changes the way we perceive the world. Meditation makes us realise the power of our breath, of how profoundly the involuntary act that we engage in every living moment of our existence affects the way we experience ourselves and the world outside.
But now, there is a new mindfulness that we need to develop about breathing, and the problem is that being conscious of the problem does not help in any way to solve it. Air pollution defeats us because it bypasses the mechanisms that we have at our disposal to deal with external threats. The body is not equipped for it; evolution has not accounted for it. The filters in our nostrils, the cleaning capacity of our lungs have been designed for a world where human beings did not get to change the essential nature of the environment that they lived in.
Human beings can handle most other threats by finding a way around them. Water, the other foundational need for the existence of life, is now routinely purified and consumed. We have found a way to adjust to our changed circumstances in this case, largely because it is possible to do so. Unlike breathing, we are not drinking all the time.
There is a sense of helplessness that pervades the pollution discourse. It needs steps of a kind that are precisely the ones that India finds most difficult to implement. Tackling a problem of this nature requires the simultaneous and very granular workings of a host of different bodies. Top-down regulation thrown at the problem, which is our preferred mode of dealing with any crisis, is simply not enough in this case, given that the problem involves so many sectors and such diverse constituents. Since virtually nothing works in the way that it is meant to in India, to harness such a diverse group of constituents and stakeholders in trying to solve this problem looks well-nigh impossible.
It does look like we have no option but to navigate this issue the best that we can on our own. Either accept pollution as a way of life, or more accurately, its opposite. Or fight it with purifiers and masks. To fear that gives life and to shield ourselves from it all the time is the gift that we have given ourselves. On National Pollution Control Day, which is when this column has been written, all that we can see is a haze of our own making.
Is your bank mis-selling?
Find out how bank executives continue to mis-sell insurance and other financial products
Balanced funds can offer better returns of around 1% per month in the form of dividends, said the immaculately dressed, senior bank official. I had told him that I wish to invest ₹10 lakh in a fixed deposit with monthly interest payouts. I wanted a safe option offering me assured returns, but the bank official believed a market-linked, risky product with no surety of monthly flows was better suited to a 55-yearold than a fixed deposit. Clearly, he was hiding the truth. But so was I, as neither am I 55 and nor do I have any intention of investing in a fixed deposit. This was just a mystery shopping exercise to gauge the extent of mis-selling by bank executives.
Private banks are worst offenders Most of the mis-selling happens at foreign banks and new generation private sector banks. When I wanted to invest ₹5 lakh in a FD in a foreign bank, the salesperson started pushing FDs from NBFCs. When I asked about the risk, she said she was offering FDs from ‘reputed’ NBFCs with little chance of default; this comes after the IL&FS fiasco. To be fair, not all bank employees are bad apples. But, several banks were found pushing sub-optimal, or risky products. Here’s an account of what the banks pushed for when asked for specific products:
SCSS:After having introduced myself as a retired 55-year-old, I inquired about opening an SCSS account at a PSU bank. I was denied the form, citing my age. “Only people above 60 can invest in the SCSS,” the official said. This was factually incorrect. People who are 55-60 years old and have retired can invest in SCSS. When I approached an old generation private sector bank, which has become aggressive, aping new generation banks, the RM said that SCSS is offered only by PSU banks. Again, this was incorrect; private sector banks are allowed to offer SCSS.
Term insurance:The RM at a large, new-generation private sector bank began by explaining to me the details of a term plan, but then started pushing for Ulips. When I asked about their exposure to equities and the risk, the response was: “Your dedicated RM will shift the investment between equity and debt (move out of equity when market falls and will come back to equity when market rises), so there is no risk involved here.” That’s a patently false statement. No bank RM can switch funds between equity and debt.
Gold bonds:I approached a large PSU bank to apply for an ongoing gold bond issue. The staff started pushing gold coins instead saying , “you can sell or get ornaments whenever you want.” Two new-generation private sector banks I approached also pushed gold coins. Bonds are a better product for investors. While banks sell gold bars and coins, they don’t buy them back, forcing investors to sell them at lower prices to jewellers. The main advantage with gold bonds is that if you hold them till maturity, you will get back your invested sum. The interest of 2.5% from the bonds is an additional gain.
Bank locker:Since the demand for bank lockers is much more than their supply, most bank branches tie them up with some investment product even though the RBI has asked banks to stop this practice. The first co-operative bank I approached said, “We are planning to increase the locker capacity and you may get at that time. First you open savings account and then give us the application for a locker. We will give lockers based on first come first serve basis.” The PSU bank I approached demanded that I open an FD of ₹2 lakh to be considered for locker allotment.
How to secure yourself?
You have no option but to deal with aggressive bank RMs. So, the first thing is avoid revealing specific financial information. Second, be very specific in what you want, don’t readily agree with anything they suggest and cross check any new suggestion coming from them. Take your own time to do the product analysis. And finally, if you get tricked into buying a wrong product, approach the banking ombudsman for grievance redressal.
(Source :Times Of India)
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