Your Kids Do not Need Electronic Learning Toys

We've all seen the advertisements for toys, videos, even teaching programs for babies promoting to give your child an academic edge. Maybe we've been moved to purchase those toys that teach colors, counting, and ABC's in English and Spanish. Maybe we've been consumed with guilt because we did not give our children these toys, and we'll always wonder if we are the reason they might turn out to be something other than rocket scientists and neurosurgeons.

Is there anything wrong with these toys? No, nothing at all. They are often cheerful, colorful, and include a catchy tune your toddler or preschooler will enjoy. And they do, in fact, give kids early exposure to those basic academic skills. The lights and sounds are delightful rewards for your little one who is exploring the buttons, dials, and sliding levers. All that exploring improves their eye hand coordination and hand strength, aka "fine motor skills."

So what's the problem? Well, frankly, the problem is parents expect the fancy "teaching toys" to live up to the hype, and give something back for all the dollars paid to get this toy or gadget. After all, do not the toy companies know what they are doing? Does not the app teach a very obvious skill, like matching? It sets parents' mind at ease, and they may feel the kids are getting a superior education. Some may feel the toys are better teachers than moms and dads. Some may feel that adding extra "teaching time" with the child would be unnecessary. This is a very dangerous way of thinking.

We have to ask ourselves to think – how do kids learn? Toddlers and preschoolers are not ready for lectures and power point presentations any more than they are ready for these kinds of "lessons" the so called learning toys are trying to provide. This may seem like comparing apples to oranges – lectures are obviously for teen and up, but those learning toys are fun and kid friendly, right? Wrong. How could they be likened to a lecture? Because of one key ingredient that is missing in both instances, the very thing that makes it inappropriate for a child – it is not attached to a meaningful personal experience or social interaction.

Lectures are one sided. A speaker presents information, the listener soaks it in. Sometimes the audience is invited to participate somehow, but it is usually limited. The learning toys are only slightly better. They make their noises, and some of them try to get the child to press a button to respond. The child is cheered for or asked to try again depending on how they respond. Does this count as a meaningful personal experience or social interaction? No, not at all. The child simply listening to a computer. They are not holding and working with real objects. No one they care about is sitting with them to provide the encouragement or praise. Instead they hear a computer voice that is empty and repetitive. Sometimes the machine responds inaccurately, like when the child sets on the toy and the toy cheers for the child who incidentally sat on the button that was the correct the response. Like a lecture, these toys are impersonal, use representation instead of real objects, and may even give inaccurate feedback.

Do you still think those learning toys are superior?

Let's take a look at naturally occurring learning now. You can call it the unplugged version. Junior is in the sandbox with Grandma sitting nearby. His fingers are covered in sand, providing delightful sensory input. (If you are not familiar with "sensory input" just think of all the stuff kids like to touch because it is so varied – sand, paint, jell-o, beans, rice, water). Whenever you add sensory input, you are activating more parts of the brain, which aids in memory and learning in general. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the light breeze is blowing, all the more sensory input that makes outside so much fun for kids. Junior is busy pouring and scooping sand. He plays pretend with a dump truck and uses it to transport sand to the "construction site." Grandma and Junior chat while he plays, and she gives him words to learn like empty, full, big, little, wet, dry. Junior is in charge of the play scenario. He fills up that dump truck himself. He shows how and when and where to dump it. Grandma smiles and encourages him. She challenges to make "a great big pile" of sand and applauds when he does. Junior beams with pride.

What just happened out there in the sandbox? Meaning happened. That sand was in Junior's little hands, not pixels on a screen. He scooped by using his little hands and muscles, not with a stylus tapping on a screen. He learned about physics out there, as he learned how hard to push the truck to make it go through the sand, how much pressure he needed to lift up the dump truck, what happened to the sand when the bucket was already full, how far Water splashes when he dumped it all at once. He was encouraged to keep going when the bucket was not full yet and Grandma helped him understand that full meal up to the top. He accomplished an actual physical task that he could see, touch, and be proud of. He got lost in the joy of make-believe play, which is critical for child development. Grandma's praise was genuine and accurate, and he loves that lady to pieces so he did not give up until he got it right.

So now we have seen how a real task, like sandbox digging or block tower building, with real people, is obviously better than tasks on a computer screen. But what about the ABC's, you ask? What about the counting in English and in Spanish? Times have changed drastically, and the pressure is really on once kids get to kindergarten. You want your future neurosurgeon to be ready!

OK, here's the truth. You can teach a toddler letters. You can teach shapes as complicated as "cylinder" to a two year old and she will be able to name it when she sees it a few weeks later. You will beam with pride. She can learn to count to ten, too. The question here is, should you?

It comes back to meaning. A child can count to ten, but does she understand what the numbers mean? Does she know that 8 is twice as many as 4? That 4 is one less than 5? That there are five cookies on the plate but when she eats one, that there are now four cookies? And what earthly purpose does a toddler have for adding the word "cylinder" to her vocabulary? She can learn letters, but she will not learn to read any faster. And without regular re-teaching, your child will quickly forget these things – for the simple fact that they do not hold any meaning for her. Our memories work by sorting and associating concepts with familiar things or in a way that makes sense. And all that academic mumbo-jumbo you gave her does not have a "storage drawer" inside that developing little mind. She has not got any place to store it that makes sense, so it fades quickly. So if it is not going to stick, why waste her time with it? Why not go outside and play in the sandbox? We know the lessons learned out there are going to last.

As your child approaches kindergarten, you will want to ensure he is "ready." Today's standards mean he should know a great many things, including letters and how to hold a crayon, his full name, and how to hop and skip. But starting to teach academies in baby and toddler years is not necessary. In fact, it may rob children of the time they could have spent filling and dumping a bucket of sand.

Still not convinced? Consider the child's growing mind. At one year of age, your child still thought he was an extension of you, and that he could control you. He fought, you fed him. He was bored, you played with him. You left him, he hinded until you returned. He tantrums because he can not control you any more. And he is mystified! He can not sort it out. Now fast forward to age 2. He's still tantrumming regularly. He cries because his meatballs are "all gone" even though you look in his bowl and see meatballs still there. Was that even the issue? Nobody knows! Now I ask you, is he ready to learn the complicated sound / symbol relationship of letters and begin to read? Is he ready to count in Spanish? Probably not. Research suggests kids are not ready to recognize and remember letters until … ready for this? … age five . That is shocking considering today's grueling pace. There is also some evidence that early exposure to letters and learning to read does not matter at all. A child can learn to read, and learn in a matter of months, if you wait until the child is developmentally ready to do so. That's around age seven. Of course, in America we do not wait until a child is seven to get started, the point of this is remind us that child development happens in a predictable, linear fashion. It can not be rushed. Development happens on child's schedule, not due to parental diligence with flashcards and learning videos. However, your child still has loads of things to learn. He is ready to play with you, listen and learn from a real person who loves and cares for him. He wants to please you, and wants to interact with you.

You do not have to "try" to teach a young child. Simply interact with him, talk with him, and ask him questions. Let him try things on his own and help him be successful. Learning happens in play, not on a screen or with a computerized toy. You can play pretend, build, paint, dig, hop and run, and even sort and categorize familiar objects like food in a toy kitchen. You can bake cakes and wash the bowls afterward. You can play catch and make up a simple game. You are all your child needs. Computerized toys can never replace the invaluable learning that happens when you simply play with your child. Choose toys that allow for problem solving, building, pretend play, or dress-up outfits. Do not forget about things like blocks, balls, and books. These classics never fail to entertain and to teach, too. Best of all, it is easy to join in and play with your child!

Automotive Industry at a Glance

The World Automobile Industry is enjoying the period of relatively strong growth and profits, yet there are many regions which are under the threat of uncertainty. Carmakers look for better economies, market conditions which are ideal to have a successful stay in the industry. The automotive industry has a few big players who have marked their presence globally and General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Volkswagen, and DC are among them. It has also been suggested that automotive industry has accelerated more, after the Globalization period, due to easy accessibility & facilities among nations and mergers between giant automakers of the world.

Moreover, the advancements in industrialization led to a rise in the growth and production of the Japanese and German markets, in particular. But in 2009, the global car and automobile sales industry experienced a cogent decline which was during the global recession, as this industry is indirectly dependent on to economic shifts in employment and spending making, it vulnerable. While demand for new and used vehicles in mature markets (e.g. Japan, Western Europe and the United States) fell during the economic recession, the industry flourished in the developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Boost in global trade has enabled the growth in world commercial distribution systems, which has also inflated the global competition amongst the automobile manufacturers. Japanese automakers in particular, have initiated innovative production methods by adapting and modifying the U.S. manufacturing model, as well as utilizing the technology to elevate production and give better competition. The World Automotive industry is dynamic and capacious, accounting for approximately one in ten jobs in developed countries.

Developing countries often resort to their local automotive sector for economic growth opportunities, maybe because of the vast linkages that the auto industry of the country, has to other sectors. China is by far the largest market for sales followed by Japan, India, Indonesia, and Australia. Sales figures of 2005 to 2013 indicate that sales for vehicles in China doubled during this period, while Indonesia and India also benefited. However, there was slump in sales during this time in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Interestingly, this year competition in the truck segment has become more intense, with the three big U.S. automakers striving for supremacy in both performance and fuel economy. The Japanese aren’t giving up, either, with both Toyota and Nissan launching new pickups in 2015.

India is the seventh largest producer of automobiles globally with almost an average production of 17.5 million vehicles with the auto industry’s contribution amounting to 7% of the total GDP. It has been estimated that, by 2020 the country will witness the sale of more than 6 million vehicles annually. India is expected to be the fourth largest automotive market by volume in the world where, two-wheeler production has grown from 8.5 Million units annually to 15.9 Million units in the last seven years and tractor sales are expected to grow at CAGR of 8-9%, in next five years, making India a potential market for the International Brands. As 100% Foreign Direct Investment is allowed in this Sector, India is expected to have a speedy expansion, to, soon to become the largest automobile Industry. While India is second largest manufacturer of two- wheelers and largest of motorcycles, it is also estimated to become the 3rd largest automobile market in the world by 2016 and will account for more than 5% of global vehicle sales. As large number of products are available to consumers across various segments, providing a large variety of vehicles of all the types, manufacturers aim towards customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Following the FDI policy, entry of a number of foreign players with reduced overall product lifecycle and quicker product launches have become a regular occurrence in the automotive industry of the country. Indian auto market is seen as the potential market which can dominate the Global auto industry in coming years. Moreover, giant dealers and manufacturers are inclining towards the country because of ease of financial norms as well as an environment so conducive to support in their projects.

With Narendra Modi’s Make in India Campaign, the automotive industry is expected to witness quite a few changes, where 800 Cr have been allocated in the Budget to promote the Energy and Hybrid Vehicles manufacturing. This move is expected to cut down the prices making these electric and hybrid vehicles cheaper and more eco-friendly. It is also expected that this move will curb down the carbon dioxide emissions to 1.5% till 2020. This program will subsidize the purchase of new hybrid and electric cars, as well as other vehicle types. It specifies incentives of up to 29,000 rupees for scooters and motorcycles, and up to 138,000 rupees for cars. Three-wheeled vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and buses will also be eligible for incentives of varying amounts as well.

The used cars sector in India has emerged as one of the major industries due to its easy accessibility and lower rate of interests. But growth in used car sales are lower than new car sales as people still prefer to purchase new cars as opposed to buying used ones. A big reason of this could be the fact that there is a reduced supply of used cars, and high prices of these used cars are pushing the consumers to opt for the low priced new cars. But despite of lower growth compared to new cars segment, used car industry has been showing a fast and steady growth. According to the industry analysts, the sales of used cars are expected to boost up in the next few years.

Till last decade, consumers were involved in unorganised sector of Used Vehicles industry, there were no organised players to assist the consumers in buying of used vehicles, and about 60% of used vehicle sales were customer to customer where there is a trust factor. The remaining sales were managed by the local dealers. But then in 2001, Maruti came with the first company of selling used cars in 2001- Maruti True Value. Despite the automobile industry witnessed slow sales numbers in the last few quarters, the used or pre-owned car segment is growing fast, and is likely to accelerate in future. In fact in the last fiscal year, more used cars were transacted, 10% more than the new ones, according to the assessment by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and Honda Siel Car India Ltd. With the organised players stepping in, the used cars market has benefited from fair deals, warranties, better retail network, credibility, transparency, easy availability of finances. These have all made buying a used car easy. Organised used car showrooms provide the platform to the prospective consumers to choose cars from various brands and segments. Car makers have realized the potential of used car market and are making conscious decisions to operate in the pre-owned car sector also. Besides exhibiting multiple brands, the branded used car retailers, also offer one-stop shop for all inquiries and grievances. All the major Car dealers have now established their pre-owned car segment retail showrooms, Maruti True Value, Ford Assured, Hyundai Advantage and Toyota U Trust are some of the major used car dealers.

Constant decline in fuel prices and better financial policies in the past year are the factors that are being expected to be the reasons for the number of new buyers to be increased in the market, which declined in 2013-14. But during this period, one segment that benefited from this decline was the used vehicle market, with increased awareness, financial reforms and organized firms. Most of these used cars buyers are younger people who prefer buying Pre-owned cars which come at lower prices and they get a good bargain for the same. Indian used vehicle market which is still, almost quarter of new vehicle market is growing at a rapid pace. The Pre-owned car sector is expected to grow by 15-18% in coming years.

Also with the rising in number of organized players have boosted the amount of confidence people are putting in buying a pre-owned car. These players not only offer a good line up of used cars but also offer finance & extensive vehicle check facility for 100% customer satisfaction.

The Automotive Industry is an important part of every economy as it is interrelated to growth of sectors of the economy. India as one of the progressing economy is resolving towards making its automobile industry more and more successful ultimately, linking it to overall development. With the Make in India Campaign and promotion of eco- friendly vehicles, India is expected to soon to become largest automobile industry globally. Used vehicle industry is expected huge gains with more and more people resolving to it along with the growth in the new car market. With more resources for the buyers and sellers, the automotive industry is expected to flourish meritoriously in coming future ultimately taking the country forward.

Intelligent Ways Of Investing

Let's say you've got your hands on a pretty large sum of money. The first thing you bought to do is handle any withstanding debt that you may have; Then, you should establish a sum of money that you need for immediate expenses and small extravaganzas. As for the amount you have left, it's best to invest it in order to start producing revenue for the years to come.

One of the best investment opportunities in the world is gold. This precious metal has a consistently high value and is considered to be an actual hedge against inflation and other similar processes, so it's rather safe to buy even in these times of financial uncertainty. You can purchase it in whatever shape suits you best, whether it's bullion, stocks or derivatives. However, keep in mind that the first two are longer long-term oriented, while the last one can bring you quick profits, but is pretty risky at the same time. Just make sure you have the appropriate storage means, so that you will not be exposed to the risk of being robbed.

Another good idea would be to acquire stocks or shares in a company. If the firm obtains profits, your investment will increase in value; Contradarily, if it goes bankrupt, your shares will also plummet to the ground. This is why it's very important that you first take some time and analyze the current situation of the company in which you're about to invest. Make sure you take a look at its policies towards investors, as well as any other matters that may be of interest to you. This way, there will not be any unpleasant surprises for you down the way.

If gold and stocks are not exactly your thing, there's always the alternative of buying real estate. This kind of purchase can be quite expensive, so it's not something to do on a whim. Still, some people say it worth the trouble, since it can bring you a much larger amount of income in the following years, especially if you decide to rent it or re-sell the property when prices have gone up.

Finally, be aware that most experts agree it's best to create a diversified portfolio of investments. Use part of your money for larger purchases, such as real estate, another part for stocks and shares, and the rest for commodities. This way, you will be "covered" no matter what happens to a particular market or to the economy itself.

Globlization And Its Impact Of Insurance Industry In India

INTRODUCTION

The word “Fear” has only four alphabets like love but both of them have very different e meaning. Whatever man (malor female) does for the love of their families always starts with the background of fear. Generally so many times we have been asking our selves that, what will happen if we were not there, but we keep on asking rather then doing something for it. Time is precious, it never stops for any one and we are living in the world of uncertainty; the uncertainty of job, the uncertainty of money, the uncertainty of property and like this the story goes continuous for the whole life of a man.

A thriving insurance sector is of vital importance to every modern economy. Firstly because it encourages the habit of saving, secondly because it provides a safety net to rural and urban enterprises and productive individuals. And perhaps most importantly it generates long- term invisible funds for infrastructure building. The nature of the insurance business is such that the cash inflow of insurance companies is constant while the payout is deferred and contingency related.

This characteristic feature of their business makes insurance companies the biggest investors in long-gestation infrastructure development projects in all developed and aspiring nations. This is the most compelling reason why private sector (and foreign) companies, which will spread the insurance habit in the societal and consumer interest are urgently required in this vital sector of the economy. Opening up of insurance to private sector including foreign participation has resulted into various opportunities and challenges in India.

LIFE INSURANCE MARKET

The Life Insurance market in India is an underdeveloped market that was only tapped by the state owned LIC till the entry of private insurers. The penetration of life insurance products was 19 percent of the total 400 million of the insurable population. The state owned LIC sold insurance as a tax instrument, not as a product giving protection. Most customers were under- insured with no flexibility or transparency in the products. With the entry of the private insurers the rules of the game have changed.

The 12 private insurers in the life insurance market have already grabbed nearly 9 percent of the market in terms of premium income. The new business premium of the 12 private players has tripled to Rs 1000 crore in 2002- 03 over last year. Meanwhile, with regard to state owned LIC’s new premium business has fallen.

Innovative products, smart marketing and aggressive distribution. That’s the triple whammy combination that has enabled fledgling private insurance companies to sign up Indian customers faster than anyone ever expected. Indians, who have always seen life insurance as a tax saving device, are now suddenly turning to the private sector and snapping up the new innovative products on offer.

The growing popularity of the private insurers is evidenced in other ways. They are coining money in new niches that they have introduced. The state owned companies still dominate segments like endowments and money back policies. But in the annuity or pension products business, the private insurers have already wrested over 33 percent of the market. And in the popular unit-linked insurance schemes they have a virtual monopoly, with over 90 percent of the customers.

The private insurers also seem to be scoring big in other ways- they are persuading people to take out bigger policies. For instance, the average size of a life insurance policy before privatization was around Rs 50,000. That has risen to about Rs 80,000. But the private insurers are ahead in this game and the average size of their policies is around Rs 1.1 lakh to Rs 1.2 lakh- way bigger than the industry average.

Buoyed by their quicker than expected success, nearly all private insurers are fast- forwarding the second phase of their expansion plans. No doubt the aggressive stance of private insurers is already paying rich dividends. But a rejuvenated LIC is also trying to fight back to woo new customers.

INSURANCE TODAY

In 1993, Malhotra Committee, headed by former Finance Secretary and RBI Governor R. N. Malhotra, was formed to evaluate the Indian insurance industry and recommend its future direction. The Malhotra committee was set up with the objective of complementing the reforms initiated in the financial sector.

With the setup of Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) the reforms started in the Insurance sector. It has became necessary as if we compare our Insurance penetration and per capita premium we are much behind then the rest of the world. The table above gives the statistics for the year 2000.

With the expected increase in per capita income to 6% for the next 10 year and with the improvement in the awareness levels the demand for insurance is expected to grow.

As per an independent consultancy company, Monitor Group has estimated a growth form Rs. 218 Billion to Rs. 1003 Billion by 2008. The estimations seems achievable as the performance of 13 life Insurance players in India for the year 2002-2003 (up to October, based on the first year premium) is Rs. 66.683 million being LIC the biggest contributor with Rs. 59,187 million. As of now LIC has 2050 branches in 7 zones with strong team of 5,60,000 agents.

IMPACT OF GLOBALISATION

While nationalized insurance companies have done a commendable job in extending the volume of the business, opening up insurance sector to private players was a necessity in the context of globalization of financial sector. If traditional infrastructural and semipublic goods industries such as banking, airlines, telecom, power etc., have significant private sector presence, continuing a state of monopoly in provision of insurance was indefensible and therefore, the globalization of insurance has been done as discussed earlier. Its impact has to be seen in the form of creating various opportunities and challenges.

The introduction of private players in the industry has added colours to the dull industry. The initiatives taken by the private players are very competitive and have given immense competition to the on time monopoly of the market LIC. Since the advent of the private players in the market the industry has seen new and innovative steps taken by the players in the sector. The new players have improved the service quality of the insurance. As a result LIC down the years have seen the declining in its career. The market share was distributed among the private players. Though LIC still holds 75% of the insurance sector the upcoming nature of these private players are enough to give more competition to LIC in the near future. LIC market share has decreased from 95%(2002-03) to 81% (2004-05). The following company holds the rest of the market share of the insurance industry.

TABLE – 1

IMPACT OF GLOBALISATION

NAME OF THE PLAYER MARKET SHARE (%)

LIC 82.3

ICICI PRUDENTIAL 5.63

BIRLA SUN LIFE 2.56

BAJA ALLIANZ 2.03

SBI LIFE 1.80

HDFC STANDARD 1.36

TATA AIG 1.29

MAX NEW YORK 0.90

AVIVA 0.79

OM KOTAK MAHINDRA 0.51

ING VYASA 0.37

AMP SANMAR 0.26

METLIFE 0.21

PRESENT SCENARIO OF GLOBALISATION

In a tough battle to expand market shares the private sector life insurance industry consisting of 14 life insurance companies at 26% have lost 3% of market share to the state owned Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) in the domestic life insurance industry in 2006-07. According to the figures released by Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority, the total premium of these 14 companies have shot up by 90% to Rs 19,471.83 crore in 2006-07 from Rs 10, 252 crore.

LIC with a total premium mobilisation of Rs 55,934 crore has been able to retain a market share of 74.26 % during the reporting period. In total the life insurance industry in first year premium has grown by 110% to Rs 75, 406 crore during 2006-07. The 2006-07 performance has thrown a few surprises in the ranking among the private sector life insurance companies. New entrants like Reliance Life and SBI Life had shown a huge growth of over 381% and 210% respectively during the year. Reliance Life which has become one of the top five companies ended the year with a premium of Rs 930 crore during the year.

Though ICICI Prudential Life Insurance remained as the No 1 private sector life insurance company during the year. Bajaj Allianz overtook ICICI Prudential in terms of monthly market share in March, for the first time ever. Bajaj’s market share among private players in non-single premium for March stood at 29.1% vs. ICICI Prudential’s 23.8%. Bajaj gained 4.6 percentage point market share among private sector players for FY07.

Among other private players, SBI Life and Reliance Life continued to do well, each gaining 4% market share in FY07. SBI Life’s growth was driven by increasing contribution from ULIP premiums. Another notable developments of the 2006-07 performance has been the expansion of retail markets by the life insurance comapnies. Bajaj Alliannz Life insurance has added 20 lakh policies while ICICI Prudential has expanded over 19 lakh policies during the year.

With the largest number of life insurance policies in force in the world, Insurance happens to be a mega opportunity in India. It’s a business growing at the rate of 15-20 per cent annually and presently is of the order of Rs 450 billion. Together with banking services, it adds about 7 per cent to the country’s GDP. Gross premium collection is nearly 2 per cent of GDP and funds available with LIC for investments are 8 per cent of GDP.

Yet, nearly 80 per cent of Indian population is without life insurance cover while health insurance and non-life insurance continues to be below international standards. And this part of the population is also subject to weak social security and pension systems with hardly any old age income security. This itself is an indicator that growth potential for the insurance sector is immense.

A well-developed and evolved insurance sector is needed for economic development as it provides long term funds for infrastructure development and at the same time strengthens the risk taking ability. It is estimated that over the next ten years India would require investments of the order of one trillion US dollar. The Insurance sector, to some extent, can enable investments in infrastructure development to sustain economic growth of the country.

Insurance is a federal subject in India. There are two legislations that govern the sector- The Insurance Act- 1938 and the IRDA Act- 1999. The insurance sector in India has become a full circle from being an open competitive market to nationalisation and back to a liberalised market again. Tracing the developments in the Indian insurance sector reveals the 360 degree turn witnessed over a period of almost two centuries.

Important milestones in the life insurance business in India

1912: The Indian Life Assurance Companies Act enacted as the first statute to regulate the life insurance business.

1928: The Indian Insurance Companies Act enacted to enable the government to collect statistical information about both life and non-life insurance businesses.

1938: Earlier legislation consolidated and amended to by the Insurance Act with the objective of protecting the interests of the insuring public.

1956: 245 Indian and foreign insurers and provident societies taken over by the central government and nationalised. LIC formed by an Act of Parliament- LIC Act 1956- with a capital contribution of Rs. 5 crore from the Government of India.

In a tough battle to expand market shares the private sector life insurance industry consisting 14 life insurance companies at 26% have lost 3% of market share to the state owned Life Insurance Corporation(LIC) in the domestic life insurance industry in 2006-07. According to the figures released by Insurance Regulatory & Development Authority the total premium these 14 companies have shot up by 90% to Rs 19,471.83 crore in 2006-07 from Rs 10, 252 crore.

LIC with a total premium mobilisation of Rs 55,934 crore has been able retain a market share of 74.26 % during the reporting period. In total the life insurance industry in first year premium has grown by 110% to Rs 75, 406 crore during 2006-07. The 2006-07 performance has thrown a few surprises in the ranking among the private sector life insurance companies. New entrants like Reliance Life and SBI Life had shown a huge growth of over 381% and 210% respectively during the year. Reliance Life which has become one of the top five companies ended the year with a premium of Rs 930 crore during the year.

Though ICICI Prudential Life Insurance remained as the No 1 private sector life insurance company during the year Bajaj Allianz overtook ICICI Prudential in terms of monthly market share in March, for the first time ever. Bajaj’s market share among private players in non-single premium for March stood at 29.1% vs. ICICI Prudential’s 23.8%. Bajaj gained 4.6 percentage point market share among private sector players for FY07.

Among other private players, SBI Life and Reliance Life continued to do well, each gaining 4% market share in FY07. SBI Life’s growth was driven by increasing contribution from ULIP premiums. Another notable development of the 2006-07 performance has been the expansion of retail markets by the life insurance companies. Bajaj Alliannz Life insurance has added 20 lakh policies while ICICI Prudential has expanded over 19 lakh policies during the year.

OPPORTUNITES

- A state monopoly has little incentive to innovative or offers a wide range of products. It can be seen by a lack of certain products from LIC’s portfolio and lack of extensive risk categorization in several GIC products such as health insurance. More competition in this business will spur firms to offer several new products and more complex and extensive risk categorization.

- It would also result in better customer services and help improve the variety and price of insurance products.

- The entry of new players would speed up the spread of both life and general insurance. Spread of insurance will be measured in terms of insurance penetration and measure of density.

- With the entry of private players, it is expected that insurance business roughly 400 billion rupees per year now, more than 20 per cent per year even leaving aside the relatively under developed sectors of health insurance, pen More importantly, it will also ensure a great mobalisation of funds that can be utilized for purpose of infrastructure development that was a factor considered for globalisation of insurance.

- More importantly, it will also ensure a great moblisation of funds that can be utilized for purpose of infrastructure development that was a factor considered for globalisation of insurance.

- With allowing of holding of equity shares by foreign company either itself or through its subsidiary company or nominee not exceeding 26% of paid up capital of Indian partners will be operated resulting into supplementing domestic savings and increasing economic progress of nation. Agreements of various ventures have already been made to be discussed later on in this paper.

- It has been estimated that insurance sector growth more than 3 times the growth of economy in India. So business or domestic firms will attempt to invest in insurance sector. Moreover, growth of insurance business in India is 13 times the growth insurance in developed countries. So it is natural, that foreign companies would be fostering a very strong desire to invest something in Indian insurance business.

- Most important not the least tremendous employment opportunities will be created in the field of insurance which is burning problem of the present day today issues.

CHALLENGES BEFORE THE INDUSTRY

New age companies have started their business as discussed earlier. Some of these companies have been able to float 3 or 4 products only and some have targeted to achieve the level of 8 or 10 products. At present, these companies are not in a position to pose any challenge to LIC and all other four companies operating in general insurance sector, but if we see the quality and standards of the products which they issued, they can certainly be a challenge in future. Because the challenge in the entire environment caused by globalisation and liberalization the industry is facing the following challenges.

- The existing insurer, LIC and GIC, have created a large group of dissatisfied customers due to the poor quality of service. Hence there will be shift of large number of customers from LIC and GIC to the private insurers.

- LIC may face problem of surrender of a large number of policies, as new insurers will woo them by offer of innovative products at lower prices.

- The corporate clients under group schemes and salary savings schemes may shift their loyalty from LIC to the private insurers.

- There is a likelihood of exit of young dynamic managers from LIC to the private insurer, as they will get higher package of remuneration.

- LIC has overstaffing and with the introduction of full computerization, a large number of the employees will be surplus. However they cannot be retrenched. Hence the operating costs of LIC will not be reduced. This will be a disadvantage in the competitive market, as the new insurers will operate with lean office and high technology to reduce the operating costs.

- GIC and its four subsidiary companies are going to face more challenges, because their management expenses are very high due to surplus staff. They can’t reduce their number due to service rules.

- Management of claims will put strain on the financial resources, GIC and its subsidiaries since it is not up the mark.

- LIC has more than to 60 products and GLC has more than 180 products in their kitty, which are outdated in the present context as they are not suitable to the changing needs of the customers. Not only that they are not competent enough to complete with the new products offered by foreign companies in the market.

- Reaching the consumer expectations on par with foreign companies such as better yield and much improved quality of service particularly in the area of settlement of claims, issue of new policies, transfer of the policies and revival of policies in the liberalized market is very difficult to LIC and GIC.

- Intense competition from new insurers in winning the consumers by multi-distribution channels, which will include agents, brokers, corporate intermediaries, bank branches, affinity groups and direct marketing through telesales and interest.

- The market very soon will be flooded by a large number of products by fairly large number of insurers operating in the Indian market. Even with limited range of products offered by LIC and GIC, the consumers are confused in the market. Their confusion will further increase in the face for large number of products in the market. The existing level of awareness of the consumers for insurance products is very low. It is so because only 62% of the Indian population is literate and less than 10% educated. Even the educated consumers are ignorant about the various products of the insurance.

- The insurers will have to face an acute problem of the redressal of the consumers, grievances for deficiency in products and services.

- Increasing awareness will bring number of legal cases filled by the consumers against insurers is likely to increase substantially in future.

- Major challenges in canalizing the growth of insurance sector are product innovation, distribution network, investment management, customer service and education.

ESSENTIALS TO MEET THE CHALLENGES

- Indian insurance industry needs the following to meet the global challenges

- Understanding the customer better will enable insurance companies to design appropriate products, determine price correctly and increase profitability.

- Selection of right type of distribution channel mix along with prudent and efficient FOS [Fleet On Street] management.

- An efficient CRM system, which would eventually create sustainable competitive advantages and build a long-lasting relationship

- Insurers must follow best investment practices and must have a strong asset management company to maximize returns.

- Insurers should increase the customer base in semi urban and rural areas, which offer a huge potential.

- Promoting health insurance and using e-broking to increase the business.

CONCLUSION

Thus, in the last on basis of above the discussion we can conclude that need for private sector entry is justifiable on the basis of enhancing the efficiency of operation, achieving greater density and insurance coverage in the country and for greater mobilization of long-term savings for long gestation infrastructure projects. In the wake of such competition it is essential for the government monopolies (LIC and GIC) that they quickly up grade their technology, restructure themselves on more efficient lines and operate as broad run enterprise. New players should not be treated as rivalries to government companies, but they can supplement in achieving the objective of growth of insurance business in India.

* Lecturer, Department of Commerce, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore-46

Email – [email protected]

** Ph.D Scholar, Department of Commerce, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore. Email – [email protected]