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The diversity of the Indian consumer base means that the insurance industry needs to offer more choices in terms of its products and services. The industry also needs to position it as one offering protection and simplify communication to build consumer trust and improve its performance.



The Indian insurance sector is a very old one, going back to two centuries ago. The formal regulated sector came about two decades ago with the formation of the regulator—the IRDA. The insurance reach across our country and various consumer segments is low, at 3.7% (total insurance premiums collected as a percentage of the GDP); it had been 2.71% in 2001. While the market share of private sector companies in the non-life insurance market rose from 15% in FY04 to 56% in FY21 (till April 2020), in the life insurance segment, private players had a market share of 31.3% in new business in FY20. However, over the years, efforts to develop the market have been paying off, albeit slowly.

Insurance has always been seen as a last-thought-out-of-financial-protection-product by the consumer. Most insurance products are bought by consumers without understanding the full product and how it could benefit them. While the regulator has been strict on clamping down on the mis-selling of the products, the industry has not improved its performance in simplifying communication about insurance products.

The insurance sector’s growth is impacted by various challenges, a major one being a “level of trust” whereby people delay buying insurance due to the doubt that the insurance claim will never be passed owing to some ifs and buts at the time of claim settlement. Other challenges include low awareness and poor customer experience. In terms of behavioural changes, customers look for better services, quick purchase, minimal pain-points for claim settlement and increased choices (even while buying basic products on digital channels, today’s customer is spoilt for choice with easy returns and replacements, complete transparency, value for money, reviews for the smallest of products and excellent customer service).

The new age customer, especially in the post-pandemic world, also demands more online and tech-friendly processes in terms of app-based services and innovative tech solutions to make insurance as simple as possible for the layman. For example, there exists a section of the population which would prefer the inclusion of wellness services in insurance, including tech-based fitness products, gym memberships, fitness trackers, etc, based on which premiums can be lowered for fitter policy holders. We need to encourage more innovation and consequently a wider range of products.

Demographic factors such as a growing middle class, young insurable population and growing awareness of the need for protection and retirement planning are expected to support the growth of life insurance in India. Hopefully, consumer sentiments after Covid will also help the insurance industry build a robust pipeline of newer and differentiated products to suit the various strata of the market.

The proposal in the Union Budget 2021-22 to allow FDI in the insurance sector up to 74% could augur well for the sector too. This could bring in a fresh bout of much-awaited investments for an upfront-capital-heavy sector, where domestic capital seems to have slowed down to a trickle.


Customers need simplicity of understanding what the product does for them and their product needs. It might be useful if the regulator can make it mandatory for insurers to have a standard policy document template like a one-page term sheet of key terms/conditions/benefits with details including whom to call for claims or to email for any clarification.

The basics of financial inclusion are to make sure that consumers have access to a choice of relevant products that suit their needs. A true “market economy” will be when these consumers can reject any product as not acceptable for them.

To be critical, the industry has been traditionally focused on developing products and selling them, rather than understanding consumer needs and solving their issues. The industry also has its dilemma of balancing quicker revenues by selling non-protection products and hence getting caught in its own market-communication web of what insurance stands for—protection or investment returns!


Regulatory inputs over the past few months during the Covid lockdown on the standardisation of products have received a mixed bag of reactions.

The IRDA has brought in a template for newer standard products across life, health and general insurance. While one of the arguments for the idea is that it could bring in some products (where none existed before), the push backs are multifold.

Indian demographics are very stratified in their composition. There are many nuances apart from age, gender and geographic and linguistic differences. The risk profiling of consumers needs a deeper analysis than it is currently (and wrongly) assumed, since each of the consumer categories might have different insurance ‘needs’.

Today’s customers are hungry for choices. To tackle the insurance sector’s challenges, improved customer services, increased activities to gain the “trust” of the customer (which is of utmost importance), quick claims processing, more innovative products which suit individual needs, transparency while selling insurance products, and efforts to increase awareness by interacting more with the customer are required. For consumers, if they don’t have choice, it does not help in increasing financial inclusion anymore!

For insurance companies, they need to block capital on every insurance policy that they underwrite. While this is the basis of the industry business model, the industry has had a plethora of schemes that they have had to participate in as part of the “financial and social inclusion” policy of the government. This comes at the cost of capital (many of these mandated products lose money!). While the large insurance companies can absorb these losses due to a large AUM as well as revenue base, the rest of the industry bears it silently.

With the standardisation of products, there could be a price war, which might not mean well for the industry as industry players below the median line would burn more capital.

a capitalist model, where participants are investing for a very long term (20 years + horizon), the insurance sector needs to encourage players to customise products on the basis of the consumer affinity groups that they wish to serve. It would benefit the development of the overall sector by encouraging a greater variety of products to be developed by the industry players. In that endeavour, probably they can be asked to serve a proportion of their new business premium from unserved consumer groups as part of insurance licence requirement.

From the regulatory side, the IRDA could encourage market development by offering speedy product approvals for newer products/under-served consumer segments that the industry creates. This could even be a time-bound approval process that could set a pace forcing the industry to keep up with product development!

Indian consumers deserve choices in products and services—one size won’t fit all. Insurance is still a “push” product in India. The industry needs to position it well as a “protection” industry and demystify its jargon and speak the language of the consumer to make the product a “pull” one. Or else, a good intention (standardisation) to build consumer trust could become plain affirmative action.

The writer is an independent markets commentator.

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New international metaverse token VCORE closes oversubscribed, pre-sale



Leading technology company Together Labs recently announced that VCORE, an ERC-20 token that rewards active, international players, creators and earners across the metaverse will be available to users outside of the U.S. and Canada via its IMVU platform.

VCORE is a key step to accelerating virtual economies and will set the stage for future growth throughout the broader metaverse. With a new token launching in 2022, VCORE should give its users access to a new type of economy where every player may participate in the future of the metaverse.

“This initial presale was to connect with and secure interest from the top strategic crypto and metaverse buyers which know our space well—and we could not be more pleased to have this select group as part of our project,” said John Burris Chief Strategy & Blockchain Officer of Together Labs. “When we will launch VCORE next year, we will have a strong one-two punch with our first token—VCOIN, a globally transferable fiat-backed token—and now VCORE to power the next generation Metaverse economy.”

Participants in the pre-sale included BITKRAFT Ventures, a global investment platform; Sky9 Capital that has a focus on driving innovation in Internet, enterprise, and deep technology; Executives at GoldenTree Asset Management which hold investments in Coinbase (pre-IPO), ConsenSys and Animoca Brands and Jump Capital which has a vast crypto portfolio including 0x, BitGo, BlockFi, Coinlist.

“Launching VCORE is a giant milestone for the IMVU metaverse and its global user base. I

t is rare that a new token has an immediate audience so large,” said Daren Tsui, CEO of Together Labs and IMVU. “Now, VCORE allows us to reward our international members for their engagement. As players explore, earn, and shape the future of the metaverse, VCORE allows them to hold real-world value in its success.”

“When we will launch VCORE next year, we will have a strong one-two punch with our first token—VCOIN, a globally transferable fiat-backed token—and now VCORE to power the next generation Metaverse economy.”

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Globalisation is crucial to create a stronger justice system: Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India



Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India & Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, speaking at the valedictory session of the three-day Global Law Schools’ Summit on the theme “The Present and Future of Global Legal Education” said, “Globalisation in the last few decades has been accelerating exponentially largely due to the advancement in transportation, communication, technologies and various other reasons. With the great benefit of globalisation also comes some global risks and very vital global challenges. Recently, all of us have witnessed the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the largest price was paid in terms of lives. Therefore, it has also resulted in greater demands of global justice and a need for a better understanding of the implications of globalisation. In order to virtually recreate the world, not only do we need to strengthen our legal systems and innovate solutions that are balanced with empathy, but we will also need to come together to reimagine a global justice system. Globalisation in law and legal education has always been—and even in these times will be—very crucial to pave a path for a stronger justice system. With JGU being one of India’s institutions of eminence and JGLS being India’s number one law school as per the QS World University Rankings, the institution has indeed lived up to its commitment to increase in building India’s global footprint.”

Mehta added, “With this summit seeing leaders from across 100 law schools from across the world and representing divergent views and intellectual ideas, JGU has truly elevated the idea of being global, especially at a time when globalisation is crucial to the progress of the world around us. We need to redefine the way global education can contribute to bringing about a change in this world and we must use this gathering today as an opportunity to find our collective consciousness to re-assess the present and reimagine the future of global education at large.”

The Jindal Global Law School (JGLS), O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU) has organised a truly international, one-of-its-kind Global Law Schools’ Summit, bringing together 150+ thought leaders from six continents and 35+ countries over 21 Thematic Sessions, eight Special Dialogues, two Colloquiums, and three Keynote Addresses to discuss the present and future of Global Legal Education. The summit concluded with a Valedictory Address by Tushar Mehta, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India and the Solicitor General of India. Dr Sasmit Patra, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha and Member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, India delivered the Special Address.

In his Special Address, Dr Sasmit Patra said, “Sometimes we take democracy for granted. Whether it’s the Middle East, the Far East or South America, you find new definitions and dimensions of democracy, which basically hinges on who has more power, resources, demography, population, etc. Before we can think of democracy and strengthening democracy, the idea of strengthening the citizen is paramount. Legal education has a huge role to play in terms of building those core values for budding young lawyers. It is important to remember the basic rules and fundamentals of studying law and that using law as a platform will help to provide information, strengthen citizen-centric services, and help citizens to really rediscover their strengths to be able to ask the system questions and to get their rightful answers.”

Dr Patra raised pertinent questions on whether legal education is preparing students to ensure access to justice, public accountability, respect for democratic institutions and ensuring the independence of the jury. “Legal education is surely strengthening the legal process. But is legal education truly helping us to strengthen democracy? Many a time, we find that democracy survives sustains, grows, and thrives when especially the citizens of a nation have access to the judicial system.”

In his welcome address, the Founding Vice-Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University and Dean of Jindal Global Law School Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar said, “The onset of the pandemic from March 2020 was perhaps was one of the most unprecedented crises of our times. With an aim to envision the transformation of law schools, we held our first law summit last year. It was the starting point of an ongoing transformation at JGLS and we wanted to further strengthen our commitment to the change we want to see in the delivery of justice. Therefore, this 2nd edition of the summit is focused on the importance of globalisation in the way we evolve our legal education. We wanted to evaluate the kinds of resilience adopted by the law schools in the face of the pandemic and create dialogues. What began as a small idea has evolved into a global platform and we have witnessed an overwhelming participation of more than 150 thought leaders across six continents and over 35 countries over the last three days. This has been our humble effort to have members of academia and industry come together on a single platform to shape and transform the future of law and legal education. We had 50 hours of live streaming with more than 3500 views across multiple time zones.”

The concluding remarks were made by Professor (Dr.) S.G. Sreejith, Executive Dean, Jindal Global Law School. “The idea of this conference was prompted by the many uncertainties faced by society over the last two decades. During this summit, we wanted to hear stories of resistance, response and resilience in the areas of legal education and the legal profession. The conference brought to us incredible stories in the language of theory, practice, experiences and experiments. From those stories, we understood the inescapability of phenomena which further informed us that we have the courage and competency to face those uncertainties. We have heard tales of redemption and reimagination in various branches of law, the struggle for the intellectual and cultural identities of law but still, all our deliberations and collective self-expression ended on the note of hope.”

The Summit saw law experts, academics, vice-chancellors, deans and heads of law institutions from 35+ countries, to make this Conference a truly global experience. The vote of thanks was given by Professor Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik, Registrar, JGU.

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Aahana Kumra and sister get awarded for their fitness journey



After making a strong name for herself in the film industry with performances in projects like ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ and most recently, ‘Call My Agent! Bollywood’, Aahana Kumra is now setting some fitness goals. And recognising that, the actress and her sister, Shivani Kumra were bestowed with an award for their inspiring journey in the field of fitness.

Aahana’s sister Shivani works in the perfume industry and is a mother to a five-year-old son, but she is also an athlete who has dedicated herself to fitness and health and is even a marathoner. Her Instagram profile is the perfect motivation for any fitness lover and not just her followers, but Shivani has motivated her younger sister into fitness too.

Fourteen months older than Aahana, Shivani had always been into sports since childhood and an inspiration to her younger sister. Both the sisters’ journey into fitness began in childhood and their mother had a big part to play in that. Their mother was a cop while they were growing up and the siblings have admitted that it was her who pushed them into getting more into sports and living a healthy lifestyle.

Aahana has admitted before that Shivani never misses a day of workout and even pushes her into doing it. Aahana has confessed that she started going to the gym because of Shivani as she brought that discipline into her life. And today, Aahana can’t live without her morning runs.

The siblings have sure set some fitness goals for everyone else and the recognition they have received for it seems well-deserved.

The writer is an actor and former Mr India.

Both the sisters’ journey into fitness began in childhood and their mother had a big part to play in that. Their mother was a cop while they were growing up and the siblings have admitted that it was she who pushed them into getting more into sports and living a healthy lifestyle.

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In a career spanning over four decades, legendary playback singer Anuradha Paudwal has sung more than 9,000 songs and has been the recipient of Padma Shri India’s fourth-highest civilian award, by the Government of India in 2017 and is a four-time winner of the Filmfare Award. Known for many timeless songs during the 90’s, she is considered one of the best female singers in India. She is also one of the most popular bhajan singers in the country.

In a candid conversation, Anuradha reveals, “I started my career from ‘Abhimaan’. My family background was more towards education and I hadn’t received any training in playback singing and it was only after my marriage in 1972, I was called to sing shloka in ‘Abhimaan’ and immediately after that, I was called by Kalyanji–Anandji to sing a song for the movie ‘Kalicharan’. After that, there was no looking back and I worked with several composers like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, R.D Burman, and many others. I am very fortunate to have worked with several noted music composers and each composer has his own individuality.”

The esteemed singer is also engaged in social work and has a foundation named Suryodaya Foundation. She avers, “At present, we are collecting funds for HIV positive children in Latur. The pandemic has hit the country very hard and many people have lost their lives. During the entire lockdown, music has been my strength and given me peace.” Anuradha has also sung several devotional tracks and is currently working on ‘Navagraha Stuti’. She suggests struggling singers to just keep singing well.

“My family background was more towards education and I hadn’t received any training in playback singing and it was only after my marriage in 1972, I was called to sing a shloka in ‘Abhimaan’ and immediately after that, I was called by Kalyanji–Anandji to sing a song for the movie ‘Kalicharan’. After that, there was no looking back”

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The date 6th December 2021 marks the silver jubilee year for Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place. The hotel began its journey in the year 1996 with the vision of delivering the finest Indian hospitality experiences to the guests. Today, Eros Hotel stands tall as an iconic stand-alone 5-star deluxe property offering contemporary design and comfort paired with old-world hospitality charm.

Eros Hotel.

“Anniversary is a great occasion of recollecting and cherishing memories. This one is more special, as today we celebrate our hotel’s 25th anniversary” said MD of the company, Satish Sood.

“Going back in history, I would like to bring forth the vision and foresight of Late Mr. J. R. Sood. The organisation started with millions of dreams, hope and immense enthusiasm and for me, it’s a matter of great pride to see our company growing, embracing good value system and achieving milestones as we thought of,” he added.

“Over these years, CSR campaigns, sustainability initiatives, celebrating key occasions with team members and families, delivering wow experiences to our patrons through exceptional customer services, have created great memories for all of us and have contributed to hotel’s glorious journey,” he added.

Davinder Juj, General Manager of the hotel, said “We are delighted to carve a host of activities on 25th anniversary, which will be offered to make our guests and team members feel special. This is to express our heartfelt gratitude for their continued patronage and loyalty and for our teams to offer the best of the services”.

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Odisha tourism conducts 12th International Sand Art Festival



The 12th edition of five days International Sand Art Festival that started on December 1 is underway at Chandrabhaga beach in Konark, Odisha.

Every year, the tourism of Odisha conducts the Chandrabhaga International Sand art festival for the sand artists to show their art and talent to the world to see. Here the immense beach is a canvas and an artists’ deft is the palette. Artists from all over the world participate in the festival, but due to Covid-19, strict protocols were followed.

Sudarsan Patnaik, organiser of the festival told ANI that due to Covid-19 fear, this year international artists couldn’t participate but a total of 100 artisans from Odisha and 12 other Indian states including Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and more have participated with full enthusiasm.

He also informed that different themes were provided to the artists every day and on December 3, Friday, the theme assigned to them was ‘eco-tourism and environment’.

Gauri, a sand artist from Odisha who is participating in the festival for the second time in her life said, “It’s a very good topic. We have to understand nature is very important and we have to save it too.”

She also told that this is her second time participating in this event, after ten years. “I am glad to see how the event has developed in the meantime. It is only stated to organise such festival where all sand artists get exposure and we are able to show our art.”

The International Sand Art Festival was started in 2015 on the Chandrabhaga beach, a short distance from Konark. It was a part of the Konark Dance Festival that is organized during the same time. Every year, the theme for the Artists hover around the burgeoning issues of the Earth.

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