Take the example of the banking sector. We have opened it up. Many foreign banks have opened their branches in India. But after all these operations, if you take the total deposits in the entire Indian banking sector, the deposits of all the foreign banks combined together do not come up to more than eight per cent of the total deposits. They have not been able to elbow out the Indian banks out of the business.

Take the example of mutual funds. Now, this sector has also been opened up. Now, the foreign companies, the multinational companies have also opened up their mutual funds in India but still the Unit Trust of India is the leading player. They have not been able to elbow out the UTI from the business.

I will give you another example. In the two-wheeler market, Suzuki, Honda and other companies have entered India. The Indian company, Bajaj has not been closed. They competed with them and now, 300 Indian two-wheeler companies are selling their goods in Europe, Africa and the United States of America. So, why do you have a fear that all the time the foreigners will come and will make India small? Why do you not think that Indian companies will go to America and capture their market also? I will give you the example of the computer sector. Take the case of WIPRO. It is now the number one computer manufacturing company in the United States of America. The owner of WIPRO--I am forgetting his name--is considered to be the richest Indian in the world today.

1833 hours (Mr. Deputy-Speaker in the Chair)

One day the time will come when the Indians will go abroad; India will also create its own multinational companies and we will go to other countries and also capture their markets as Japan has captured half of the Hollywood companies. It is not true that the American market is a totally protective market and other companies are not entering it. It is not true. As Dr. Sengupta has said, other companies have also entered it and have captured a greater part of the American economy and American companies. So, we can do that.

We want to make India great. We want to make India a world power. How? It cannot be done by resorting to protectionism; by giving protection to our own companies, who do not improve in quality and who do not improve in giving qualitative service.

I agree that the insurance companies of India - Life Insurance Corporation and General Insurance Corporation - have done a good job. I do not deny it. But I also agree with hon. Member, Dr. Nitish Sengupta, that much better could have been done. Everyone has already mentioned that about 22 per cent of the insurable population of India have been insured. Why not more? Why could we not do more? I am saying that there is a place for everybody in India. If the foreigners come, if the multinationals come, they are not going to weed out others.

I will just give one example. Take the example of Philippines and Taiwan. Even after the entry of the multinational companies and insurance companies, they are having only 5.5 per cent market share in Philippines and only 2.9 per cent market share in Taiwan. If you ask me why their market share is not more, then how will they provide money for our infrastructure for which we are inviting them?

Sir, I mean to say that it is just a signal. I am not saying that insurance companies will bring money. They may not bring much of money, but it is the signal we are giving to the West; it is a signal we are giving to the multinational companies that India has opened up its economy, opened up its sector in real terms. We require 60 billion dollars for only the power sector.

We require Rs. 1,25,000 crore for the National Highways and the Express Highways, a pet project by our hon. Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Where do we get all this money? This money will have to come from outside because this requires a long gestation period for recovery because to construct a road and to gain profit on this, you require 30 to 40 years. Not many investors will come and invest their money and just wait for 30 years or 40 years to get back their money and profit. So, for this gestation period, we require them and they will only come, if they are really convinced that India has opened up and Indian economy has opened up.

The General Insurance Corporation and the Life Insurance Corporation are having a wide network of more than 6,000 branches. These are the two institutions which are having their branches outside India; they are having their branches in Baharin and in the United Kingdom. So, I am saying that these are the institutions which are capable of giving a tough fight to the foreign multinational companies and if the multinational companies come and if there is a competition, then the quality of service provided by the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation will improve. As a result of that the people will be benefited and they will get better qualitative service at a low premium.

I mean to say that the small companies or multinational companies which will come, will not be able to compete with the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation for ten or twenty years to come and they will not be able to elbow them out of their business. So, let the General Insurance Corporation and the Life Insurance Corporation stand up as Indian Companies like the Maruti and WIPRO and let them fight with the multinationals and prove that they are the best in the world and they do not require any protection from the Government of India.

So, finally, let me say, as Dr. Nitish Sengupta, has told that only because some people will lose their leadership in trade union activities, let us not go to deprive the millions and millions of people of this country from getting benefit from the private insurance company and from the insurance sector.

Lastly, I would say that because of the fear that the multinational companies might come and might engulf us, let us not do away with this golden opportunity of just inviting other companies which will give us the advance technology and which will provide us with better quality service so that the Indian companies will also improve.

SHRI SONTOSH MOHAN DEV (SILCHAR): Mr. Deputy-Speaker, Sir, I do not know whether I rise to support this Bill or oppose this Bill. It is in between. This particular Bill was the baby of the Congress, as a follow up of the Malhotra Committee. This was hijacked by Shri Chidambaram. All our friends had supported it at that time, though CPI(M), as usual, opposed it, I must say. But afterwards it was tactically kidnapped by Shri Yashwant Sinha. Why we were worried and why I particularly was trying to stop it for the last two days was, as Shri Dasmunshi has said, because of a very unmannerly remark by your spokesman. He is a good spokesman, but he should take the reality of life. You cannot browbeat a party of 136 Members and get the support in that manner. Your Parliamentary Affairs Minister says that this is your Bill and is going to be passed. Your spokesman says that this is a bargain by the Congress to save Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi will save himself. Shri Bhagat has come out, Shri Jain has come out, Shri Balram Jakhar has come out. Nobody with political vendetta can do anything to anybody. The Indian Supreme Court and the Indian High Courts are still alive. My hats off to them. What the CBI do, let them do, but justice will come from the proper place. Today what makes you to think that we are going to oppose this Bill? If you say this is your Bill and you are going to pass it and the Congress has to support it, this is not fair. We dialogued for two days. I tried to resist, but hats off to my leader, Shrimati Sonia Gandhi. She stood firm and said: This is our commitment; they are doing it and we should support it. Even then you are saying that Sonia Gandhi is not supporting, that they are doing this thing, that thing. She has overruled our opinion. Even then I have one small submission to make and I know the Finance Minister will appreciate it. I do not know of many things which have been said against him today. I know he is basically a sportsman, a tennis player. I am also a player. So, we know each other very well. What I want to say is that I have been a victim of this liberalisation. I was the first man to do delicensing in steel. I was the first man to take away freight equalisation. I was the first man to do decontrol. The Finance Ministry had assured me that they would always see that we did not get an unhealthy competition from outside. To my surprise, within two years, the customs duty was reduced. Officers like N.K. Sengupta and Montek Singh Ahluwalia say, it is a level playing ground. Level playing ground I have seen in cricket and tennis, not in economics. I went to my P.S. and asked him what is this that all should be given equal facility to fight? The power rate is going up, the railway freight is going up, the employees' salary bill is going up, the bank interest is going up, everything is going up.

At the same time you reduced the custom duty and you asked the Steel Ministry to fight with you.

I am glad that today, of late, you have made some reduction. I will appeal to you to see that such things should not happen here. Why am I saying this? During the briefing on this over the last three days, one of the greatest economists of the country or the world, in reply to a question, said that the premium will come down when the foreign companies or the private sector comes. How does it help L.I.C. and others? If the premium goes out, L.I.C. may again become sick and they might have to go to B.I.F.R. Premium should not go down to outlive L.I.C. if there is a reason. But do not forget that the establishment cost of the L.I.C. is much higher than that of a small private company coming in the market. They go to Calcutta and have a small, computerised office and say that so much is the premium for this. All will go from L.I.C. to 'A' Company and then what will happen after some time? There will be an agitation. They will say : "Hell with this staff of L.I.C. and G.I.C.".

I am not a Communist. They are always against me. But I want to say that the employees must also be protected. I have seen what had happened in I.I.S.C.O. The Ministers were coming and I was advising them. But I.I.S.C.O. is not revived. The staff is still there without work. What is the help? Nothing else is happening. We must learn from history. Some protection has to be given.

Secondly, L.I.C. is doing very very good work in the field of social justice in the country. They have a number of schemes. I have seen in my constituency. I have seen a good L.I.C. Manager. I have got it done. They help. Even in fire-fighting, they have come and helped. It is the attitude of the L.I.C. which the Government has inculcated, and imparting it depends on you and me.

They are coming with this 26 per cent and doing business. You must take care that it does not happen like the Steel Ministry. All the people of steel sector are crying. They do not come to pay donation during election time saying that there is no money and they cannot pay. That is their condition. You be very careful. We have to see to it.

We are definitely going to support this Bill. But it should not be diluted. If you accept what the Standing Committee has said and the amendments that are coming before you, it is good. If you can convince us that you cannot do it, that is another thing. We are open to it. But we have thought over it very very carefully and we thought that these things can be accepted by your Government.

SHRI TARIT BARAN TOPDAR (BARRACKPORE): What apprehension is there for it? ...(Interruptions)

SHRI SONTOSH MOHAN DEV : Sir, I will not make a big speech. I would like to say that I do not go with the opinion that the employees of L.I.C. and G.I.C. are irresponsible. Their unions are very strong. They do this thing and that thing. Generally they have proved well and they have contributed to the national exchequer for various things by collecting the premium and other things. Today we are on the street. Their representatives should be called by the Minister of Finance or the hon. Prime Minister. The views and the apprehensions expressed by them should be taken care of. You have said in a public meeting - I have seen it - that you have no intention to see that the L.I.C. goes out of business or they go out of the social cause which they are serving. You yourself have said it. Why are they not believing? ...(Interruptions) It is because they are seeing what happened in the past. It may not be your Government. Many Governments have not kept their word. As I said, I was the Minister looking after the steel sector. I did many things. I could not keep my word when I told the industry people and others.

You say you are going to build a new India. It is good. Many people said about it. Shri N.K. Sengupta, a former bureaucrat said something. You are also a reasonable bureaucrat but not a bad bureaucrat. Within your circle, you are doing well.

The functions of the LIC should be considered vis-a-vis the functions of the private sector. We have seen in the past that North-Eastern sector is a sensitive area. We have no objection to private companies going there, but the companies having foreign investment should be restricted from going to the North-East. Why am I saying so? It is better to ask the Home Ministry, not me. In the guise of the agents of LIC and other companies, many persons will land there and contribute to destabilisation. That has to be monitored by the Government in one way or the other. You know that at one time, there used to be a lot of foreigners in the tea industry and other industries. Gradually, the Government of India had to ask them to go back and Indians took over. They have to see on this factor also.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker Sir, Shri Bhakta is not here. You are from Lakshadweep. He told me that neither Andaman and Nicobar Islands nor Lakshadweep was looked after by the LIC. I do not know whether it is correct or not. You cannot speak sitting on the Chair. I am speaking and you look at me. In these sectors also, the insurance companies can get better business than in many of the big cities because people use to keep their money in a place where it is secured. As you know, many of the finance companies have ditched money of the investors in this country. The Government is taking action, but it is a long process. So, more branches of the LIC should be opened in remote areas. Let cities be taken over by the private companies. Let the expansion of the LIC be in the rural areas, in the remote areas whereby we can avail of the facilities provided by the LIC. At the same time, the message goes that the facilities to the rural sector and urban poor will be maintained.

With these words, under constraint, I am supporting this Bill, which I was not supposed to do originally. But something came in the newspaper against me. I do not know how it came. My point was only that the issue has been mishandled by your managers. Many more Bills will come where we have to cooperate with you and you have to cooperate with us. Kindly tell them tonight that thus far and no further. When they go in front of Zee TV or Star TV, they become mad thinking that the whole nation is listening to them and they do not know what to say and what not to say. They should not say anything at the expense of the Government or at the expense of the relationship between friendly parties here. Everybody is here for constructive work.

Shri Nitish Kumar, are you listening to me?


SHRI SONTOSH MOHAN DEV : Okay, you are not listening. Let some Bill pertaining to your Ministry come. I will see how you get it passed.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker Sir, with these words, I request that ....

MR. DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Are you supporting it?

SHRI SONTOSH MOHAN DEV : No, I am not opposing it. I am toeing the line of my party. But we were hurt when it was equated with Rajivji. We do not want to see that. Whatever might be the constraints of the Government relating to CBI or other things, that is another issue. It should not be tagged up with this particular issue. Tomorrow, there will be a headline in the newspaper that the Congress party, at last, sacrificed Shri Rajiv Gandhi and taken Shri Jaswant Singh in their lap and supported the Bill. This also should not come. If it comes tonight, the situation may change overnight and voting is to take place tomorrow.

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