Expense Account, Mint
You and I are really important to the country. Did you know that we are the human shields that protect the nation? Against bank failures, against financial exclusion, against insurance exclusion, and against starvation of insurance agents.
While working on the Swarup Committee Report a couple of years back, I had reason to go fairly deep into the arguments presented by many parts of the retail financial market—the product people, the sellers, the regulators, the government itself. It was then that I realized the value of each one of us who finally has to pay for badly constructed financial products, skewed markets, one-sided contracts and regulatory gaps. If we were not going to buy the cost-heavy life insurance policy, for instance, how would India’s insurance penetration rise? The meat on the bone left for the industry and the sellers was meant to encourage penetration. Of course, we won’t go into why, after 50 years of meaty bones, the penetration is still nearer zero than 100. If we were not going to pay the obese commissions, how would lakhs of agents run their homes? If we were going to protest mis-sold products by our bank that never sleeps, some poor relationship manager was, gasp, going to see his career run aground. He would carry a lighter bonus sack home. Oh! My! God! (Yeah, I’ve been watching Friends on the 3G stick.)