Monday, November 28, 2011

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Service Story: "My LIC days!"
It was her humble submission that "insurance companies the world over do not disclose reasons for refusal of insurance".
It is a fact that they do canvass people for insurance. They grant insurance. When however they refuse to give insurance, they do not disclose their reasons.
But the Ombudsman was not convinced. He asked: "Why?"
Lady officer who represented the insurance company repeated her answer. " Sir, we don't disclose reasons".
"Sir, that is the practice!" This time she asserted with all the emphasis at her command.
But the Ombudsman ordered that the reason for refusal of insurance must be disclosed to the person seeking insurance. Finally insurance office relented and the reason was communicated.
Permission for communicating the reason was conveyed by the head office of the company. But they instructed the local office to intimate the ombudsman that as a special case the reason was being intimated. In future the reason won't be disclosed.
Again, why?
Nobody had the reason. But they knew that it can't be said.
But what is the reason?
Again the same old answer: it can't disclosed.
Insurance companies collected many details from the applicant through the application for insurance. In addition they collected information from agents, doctors and others with the understanding that the same shall be kept as confidential. They are duty bound to keep this information as confidential. This is the reason why it is not disclosed.
Ombudsman should have been told that the company would be prepared to disclose the reasons to the ombudsman in a closed envelope but not to the applicant.  This is the usual practice in courts while dealing with confidential matters and such an argument would have been accepted by the Ombudsman also.  
With the advent of institutions like ombudsman and consumer forums, the old method of refusing to act or to inform the customers is no more possible. These companies have to learn to invent new styles and exist.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010



We were sixteen persons selected for final interview. That was an all India selection for Probationary officer's post in State Bank of India.

We had come all prepared. Necessary advance notice of the interview was received by every candidate one month before the interview by registered post. It meant that each one of us had received ample time for preparation.

All India recruitment board of SBI had arrived well in time. Though they were present in the interview room around 9.30am interview was to commence only at 10-30 am.

The head of the local head office of State Bank of India came out of his chamber before the interview commenced. He had a survey of the scene outside the interview room. For a moment he just looked at the sixteen candidates who were sitting outside and waiting for the interview.

As if he observed something, suddenly he moved towards a candidate quietly sitting in a corner there. Candidate got up. Now the officer told him "You have still time. You can go and have a change of dress," thereby he meant that all others had come in suits and his dress did not suit the occasion.

This candidate was wearing only a casual dress of pants and shirt. State Bank chief was not pleased with this dress. Though there was no dress code, he perhaps thought that the candidate's dress did not suit the occasion and mood of such an all India interview.

The candidate was a close friend of mine. My friend was not in a mood to go for a change of dress. Perhaps he did not have the dress ready at his place. And naturally so. I had got the suit specially stitched for the interview purpose only.

My friend looked a sad man. Bank chief was in fact trying to help him by giving his advice. In effect this spoilt the mood of my friend.


It was true that my friend was not wearing a suit on the day of interview.

But what was interesting in this episode was the fact that he had come to attend the written test wearing a tie!

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Monday, February 22, 2010



Some gangsters selling cameras to pedestrians moving through the footpath market at Fort in Mumbai had tricked me into buying a defective camera. 


I was to return to my native town next day.  I had some money left in my pocket.  And this was the reason why I thought of buying something.  Since cameras had a fascination for me from my childhood days, I became an easy prey to these gangsters who tried to sell cameras or something of that description.


Quite easily the gangsters mesmerised me into buying a camera.  When I returned to the office guest house I found that it was a defective piece which one would throw away rather than using it.  Clearly they had played a trick on me.


I returned to the market place. This time I was very careful.  Before setting out, I took all precautions.  Removed practically everything and of course all valuables from my body.  My wrist watch, purse containing money – I had kept everything in my guest house room.


I moved through the footpath market once again in lonely search of those tricksters who had hoodwinked me.


I found them out soon. They were in fact goons. I knew it would be dangerous to deal with them.  So I was very careful.


They threatened me. They pretended they had nothing to do with it.  They said sale was over.  They said nothing could be done about the same. At times they abused me. They frowned at me.


One moment they offered some refund.  But next moment they withdrew the offer. They paid me some money.  Then they took it back for no reason.


I was really going through an ordeal.  It was a difficult situation.  A harrowing experience.


At the end of the whole drama staged near the Flora Fountain, however, I was emerging successful in getting at least a major portion of the money.


Then I heaved a sigh of relief. Jumped in sheer joy.  I got into the nearest  beer parlor.  Gulped down a full bottle of chilled beer. Then I returned a cool man to my guest house room.


Yes, it was a case of sheer presence of mind. 


And nothing else, I can assure you!



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Sunday, February 21, 2010



Prof. Ishwar Dayal had agreed to be interviewed. He had conveyed his permission in a letter to me.  He had asked me to contact Zonal Office at Chennai for necessary arrangements for the same as he was coming on an official visit to Chennai.


Prof. Dayal is the architect of modern version of LIC.  He shaped LIC to its present form. 


I received necessary invitation from Chennai office.  They had reserved a room for my use in their VIP Guest House.  I stayed there for about a week's time.  The occasion provided me with an opportunity to meet several dignitaries who stayed there.  Prominent among them was the Director General of A.I.R. who was on a private visit to Chennai.


Prior to interview, Regional Manager had called me to his office.  He explained the necessary formalities I should comply with to meet Prof. Dayal. 


Prof. Dayal was staying in a VIP suite at Taj Coromandal. I was given the date and time for interview.  But the Regional Manager asked me not to go to his suite direct.  I should make a telephonic call from the reception and seek his appointment after reaching Taj. Though I have met Chairman of LIC after taking permission from his private secretary, this time I felt that I was meeting more formalities to meet the advisor to LIC.


On the day given to me for interview, I reached Taj Coromandal Hotel around 5 pm.  I also made a call to Prof. Dayal.  I could talk to him.  In a gentle voice, he said he had just returned from the office.  I was asked to wait for five to ten minutes.


I waited.  I was not sure when I will receive the call to meet him. 


It was my first meeting with Prof. Dayal.  I had seen his pictures in office magazines.  Beyond that I had no idea about him. 


Soon I saw a tall, rather stout man approaching me.  As he reached me, he asked:"you are Mr….. isn't it?"  I said, yes.


"Come along.  I am Ishwar Dayal."  Then he escorted me to his suite on the fifth floor of Taj for the interview.


That was a memorable interview.  It was prominently published in 'Yogakshema'.  It was also published in 'Initiative',a magazine I edited. 


After about 20 years, the same interview was also reproduced in the Special Issue of 'Yogakshema' brought out in connection with the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Life Insurance Corporation of India.


That he came down to the ground floor from his fifth floor suite and the fact that he meted out a warm and affectionate treatment to me lingered long in my mind for many years. Even now it provides me with happy memories.





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