The arguments put forth by Mr. Amanulla Khan, president of the All-India Insurance Employees’ Association (Op-Ed, Dec. 5), were insightful. Despite the odds created by the successive governments at the Centre through the promotion of private insurance companies, the market share of LIC stands at 76 per cent today. It has been possible only due to the unstinted faith reposed by the masses in public sector undertakings and their dedicated workforce. It must be noted that more than Rs.7 lakh crore has been contributed by LIC to the Eleventh Five-Year Plan for infrastructural development.
Since 1956 after nationalisation, LIC has served its policyholders by mobilising their savings. It has safeguarded 30 crore individual policyholders across the country. After IRDA came into effect, there are 24 life insurance companies in the fray. At the moment, only 26 per cent FDI is allowed in joint-venture insurance companies in the insurance industry. After allowing IRDA and FDI in the last 12 years, only Rs.6,300 crore has accrued to the country.
The issue is about selling a promise. There is always the possibility of a failed promise unless it is backed by government guarantee. India is the only country that has a high savings rate when other countries are driven by consumption. Foreign players are waiting on the sidelines to repatriate this wealth since these are long-term contracts. The penetration theory is disproved as the average annual premium for a policy issued by a private insurance company is Rs. 60,000, compared to Rs. 9,000 for a policy issued by LIC in an environment where per capita income is very low. The commendable job done by LIC must be highlighted especially when the government has accepted that there has been a decline in the savings rate.
The Congress and UPA 2 have entered the bullpen with double vigour and to negate the traditions of parliamentary democracy. It is ironic that those in charge are intent on burying the ideals of the founding fathers of the Congress — and who wanted strong insurance and banking sectors.
The government needs to revisit the issue, especially in the background of the Financial Development Report 2012 of the World Economic Forum rating India as number one in life insurance — in terms of insurance density. Many of the players who were a part of the financial crisis of 2008 are now in India.