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BW Businessworld

Suddenly Something!

In this issue of BW Businessworld, we bring to you how Nirav Modi scam has once again pointed out the weak links in Indian banking system

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The Narendra Modi government prides itself on being incorruptible and transparent. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s favourite slogan is “na khaoonga, na khaane doonga” (will neither take nor give a bribe).

So, how has the government fared in terms of corruption and transparency in public affairs? Anecdotal evidence indicates that corruption has come down several notches in high offices. Yet, in public perception, things are not that hunky- dory. In the recently released Corruption Perceptions Index, India has skidded down by two ranks (from a slot of  79 in 2016 to 81 now).

This, however, is only an aside. Public attention has singularly been focussed on the Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam, ever since news broke out that Nirav Modi and his accomplices had swindled the bank of  more than Rs 1,200 crore (revealed till we go to Press). The government’s reprimand for the regulators responsible for the scam was belated.

The incident has given rise to a furious debate in India – should Indian public sector banks be privatised? One school has stridently argued for it, quite conveniently forgetting that private sector banks were at the centre of  the 2008 financial crisis. The debate on privatisation of public sector banks in the present context is all the more ironical because the PNB was an offshoot of  India’s struggle for Independence.

Deputy Editor Raghu Mohan dives deep into the issue in our first cover story and looks at the systemic malaise plaguing the sector. There are no easy answers and the questions that the cover story raises should provoke introspection amidst the powers-that-be.

Our second cover report, anchored by Senior Associate Editor, Mahua Venkatesh, looks at the new and novel phenomenon of  life insurance players venturing into the health insurance space. A study shows that 80 per cent of  healthcare expenditures come out of  the pockets of  the consumers, offering a huge opportunity to players in the insurance business. Life insurance companies have sensed the prospects of a virgin market and jumped onto the bandwagon. This segment of BW Businessworld includes exclusive conversations with leading players in the insurance business, like Ashish Vohra of  Reliance Life, Puneet Nanda of  ICICI Prudential, Tapan Singhel of Bajaj Allianz and Ashish Mehrotra of  Max Bupa.

Our third cover story is on the pharmaceuticals sector that has witnessed a churning lately. Senior Special Correspondent Himani Chandna does some trend spotting and concludes that the pharma sector is going the FMCG way. After talking to multiple players, she concludes that wary of  the proposed law on mandatory prescription of  generic drugs, pharmaceutical companies have taken a leaf  out of the book of  FMCG companies, to go big on branding.    

We also bring you some interesting reports, like one by correspondent Ruhail Amin, who scans through the latest IRS survey, converses with industry players and comes to some interesting conclusions. Senior Correspondent Avishek Banerjee looks at the evolving market for automobiles now that the deadline set for making electric vehicles mandatory has been relaxed. And Correspondent Anurit Kanti evaluates the 2022 target the government has set itself for renewable energy.

We promise you an engrossing read and look forward to your feedback.