(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 27, 2009
LIC Agents Hold Protest Rally, Dharna in Mumbai
P R Kishnan
AZAD MAIDAN in
The aim of the rally and demonstration was to press for the long pending demands of the LIC agents and to prevent the process of privatisation of this giant public sector insurance corporation. The main demands of the LIC agents were as below:
1) Withdrawal of the LIC Amendment Bill 2009, Insurance Amendment Bill 2008, Agentís Regulations 1972 and Revised Club Rules.
2) Scrapping of the Swarup committee report.
3) Giving up direct marketing by the LIC.
4) Implementation of the demands agreed upon earlier.
5) Ensured job security for the agents.
6) Introduction of a pension welfare fund and mediclaim for the agents.
7) Protection for the bonus paid to the policyholders.
8) Reduction in the interest on policy loans.
The protesting LIC agents began
pouring into the
Maidan in small groups and processions, with flags and banners in their
In fact, a majority of them had come a day earlier from different
and union territories. By 11 a m, the portion of the Maidan separately
by the police for the LIC agentsí dharna, became full. But when the
continued, the police had to open the enclosure and allow the
occupy the space adjoining the allotted area. The proceedings of the
began with a welcome address by C A Joseph, vice president of the LIC
Organisation, while S S Potti (the LICAOI working president) who
Basudev Acharya, MP, was to inaugurate the programme but he could not
Mumbai as he was required to be in
Though it is December when it is supposed to be wintry in Mumbai, the climate on the day was unusual and extremely hot. Yet, unmindful of the scorching sun, the protesters sat on the tarpaulins in the Maidan, listening to their leaders. The protesting demonstrators were addressed by leaders from different states and zones. Among them were P G Dileep (general secretary, LICAOI) N R Thevethara (former MP), Somnath Bhattacharyam (secretary) L Manjunath (secretary), R P Bharadwaj (vice president), M Selwaraj (secretary), and Ajit Bhawan Ghosh (vice president of the organisation). As per the organisersí estimation, the number of participants in this action programme was approximately 10,000. Quite a substantial number of them were women.
The Mumbai rally and dharna, which had the character of an all-India action programme of the LIC agents, became necessary because of the retrograde measures the LIC management is contemplating for ultimately privatising this insurance giant. Therefore the organisers thought it necessary to select Mumbai, which houses the LIC headquarters, as the most appropriate venue to stage their action programme which received wide publicity and media coverage here.
One may note here that it was in
1956 that the
government brought under its control a myriad of private insurance
which were daily perpetuating frauds upon their policyholders, and
formed the Life
Insurance Corporation of
The total assets of these private insurance companies at the time of their nationalisation and amalgamation into one holding company, i.e. Life Insurance Corporation of India, in 1956 was Rs five crore only. However, the assets of this premier institution have now reached up to Rs nine lakh crore, apart from a separate Life Fund of Rs 8,50,000 crore. The total number of policyholders is 25 crore and 78 lakh at present, while the number of business canvassing agents is 13 lakh and 30 thousand. (Out of them, 2,80,000 agents are full-fledged members of the LIC Agentsí Organisation of India.) This is the biggest life insurance company in the world and, that too, in the public sector. The government is utilising the funds of this giant institution for several developmental activities.
Now, it is this megalithic institution that the UPA government is now trying to dismantle. Its purpose, not so secret, is to help the private sector insurance companies. Once the two bills now proposed by the government are passed by the parliament, the present agents on whose toil and moil the assets of LIC has grown from Rs five crore in 1956 to Rs nine lakh crore with a life separate fund of Rs 8,50,000 crore, will lose their renewal commissions as well as hereditary family commissions. In addition, if the Swarup committee report is implemented, no commission will be required to be paid to the agents by the corporation, thus jeopardising the livelihood of about 9.8 lakh self-employed LIC agents. The proposal is that they must collect the commission directly from the policyholders, as is the practice in the developed countries. This too is an example, along with many others, of the anti-people policies of the government. It is to prevent such anti-people measures that the LIC agents organised their all-India protest dharna in Mumbai.
In accordance with its working
class spirit, the LIC Agentsí
Organisation had sent out invitations to all the central trade union
One of the mention-worthy
features of the programme on
the day was the release of a magazine of the LIC agents. This new
is captioned LICAOI Voice. S S Potti (working
president of the organisation) released this magazine by handling over
After the dharna and demonstration, leaders of the organisation submitted a memorandum to the LIC chairman, demanding withdrawal of the anti-people steps being utilised. Through the memorandum, they also demanded implementation of the terms of understanding reached earlier between the management and the LIC Agentsí Organisation. The fact of the non-implementation of this agreement only shows that the government is adamant and unwilling to concede to the demands. But the LIC agents have now issued a warning that they would be forced to launch a powerful agitation if this attitude on the part of the government persists.