Checkered stretch

With chess fever gripping Chennai, which is set to host the 44th Chess Olympiad (a first for India), the State government has been going out of the way (quite literally!) to promote the event.

One such effort has been to paint the entire Napier Bridge in black and white checkered pattern. While it does look good, a section of the motorists are complaining that the optical illusion it creates makes driving on the bridge unsafe. The traffic typically slows down for this reason. Also, people jump onto the road suddenly to take selfies and this could cause accidents, they say. Promoting a sporting event is one thing, but doing it at the cost of road safety is not correct, they aver.

IRDAI move catches attention

If there is one regulatory step that came in for some detailed discussion this past ten days, it is insurance regulator IRDAI’s move requiring insurers to prescribe indicative targets of gross written premium (GWP) for the next five years .

While this move is primarily intended to improve insurance penetration, which is low in India by international standards, what is still not clear is the regulatory repercussions if companies failed to achieve the targets.

The other thing that is still hazy is whether the compensation that CEOs will get would be linked to achieving the targets or not? So when a seasoned hack asked this question to a chief executive of an insurer, the response was a big smile.

Not sure what this implied, the hack pressed again for an answer: ‘Is that a Yes or a No to my question, sir?’ On his part, the CEO remained tight-lipped, almost nudging the hack to read between the lines.

While this business model is yet to be tested, one thing is for sure — if CEO compensation were to be linked to target achievements, then not only penetration will grow but even mis-selling (which the industry is well known for) will see a spike, quipped an insurance industry observer.

Regulating atta

Last month, India decided to regulate exports of wheat flour ( atta). A little birdie said this was targeted at Bangladesh, which has been buying huge quantities of flour. The neighbouring nation bought 56 per cent of the total 7.23 million tonnes India exported last fiscal. Till June in the current fiscal, Bangladesh, again, has been the largest buyer.

Of the 2.6 million tonnes that India exported, Dhaka bought 0.64 million tonnes. India is having to act tough since only a low volume of wheat is flowing into the agricultural produce marketing committee  mandis.

TDP boss Naidu gets his due

For long, there has been a debate on the growth of Hyderabad as the information technology hub and the leader responsible for it.

Till a decade ago, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N Chandra Babu Naidu was mostly recognised as the “visionary” who had brought the cyber identity to the city. However, this has been contested by the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government since the formation of Telangana State in 2014.

Except Naidu and TDP leaders, not many now give him credit for the emergence of Hyderabad, which is now being promoted as a ‘Global City’ by the TRS government and the top bureaucrats. But then, the former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, feels otherwise. Ahluwalia had good words for the vision of Naidu when he publicly recalled the cyber push given by him almost two decades ago in a recent lecture in Hyderabad.

Not surprisingly, the top officials of the State government who were also present on the occasion had a tough time as they could neither agree nor disagree with Ahluwalia’s reference to Naidu, for obvious reasons.

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