What, Why and How of Insurance

Summary: Nothing can be said with absolute certainty for the very next moment. The entire day may get spent smoothly, but that does not guaranty evening to be the same. Any untoward incidence might occur at any time. There was the time when loss of life of a person or his/her belongings had little significance. But, with the passage of time, the need was felt.
Insurance, though does not and cannot provide any mishappenings, but it certainly proves to be a shock absorber if and when it occurs. The term insurance takes care of loss(compensation), but not the sufferings. Nowadays, there are myriads of insurance plans available that help the insured appreciably.

Knowing about insurance will be illogical without knowing about the risk.
Risk is involved in any situation in which some kinds of loss or misfortune is possible. The loss might involve any one of the following:
·       Financial
·       Physical
·       Material
Insurance is designed to protect against risk, because individuals who buy insurance are financially compensated in case of loss. Individuals who are concerned about the potential risks pay insurance companies for protection against specific types of risks, such as flood, medical costs, car accidents, and many others. It is important to note here that purchasing insurance does not remove risks. It merely provides compensation for the loss and spreads the cost of sharing the risk.

Why Insurance is important?
There was the time when even human loss has no any value. People used to get killed as it was so desired by their ruling kings or their chieftains. But, as the time changed and feudal forces subsided, some values start getting attached with the loss of human beings and their belongings.

Given below are some of the reason why insurance is important:

Ø It compensates financial loss: Though insurance cover cannot protect you from the loss, it certainly will prove to be a shock absorber. You financial loss will get compensated by the insurance companies you have opted for. In case of human loss, the compensation is just a fig leaf, but it certainly proves to be of certain help in the form of finance.

Ø It gives you a sense of security: Let me give you an example to understand this heading. Suppose you are earning handsomely, but you are the sole earner of your family. If you have insurance cover, you will get a sense of security for your family, if anything untoward (god forbids) happens to you in the days to come.

Ø Very helpful in medical emergency management: Suppose you have health insurance and suddenly you get diagnosed with an illness that is chronic in nature. Though it is not life threatening, but it necessitates huge expenditure in terms of surgery and the subsequent medical bills. At such a time, insurance is like most trusted friend of yours.

Ø You can insure even your belongings: For most of the people, the term insurance means insurance against death/loss of a human being. But, contrary to what they think, the term insurance not only pertains to the loss of life of human beings, but it also covers their belongings.

Ø Cultivates sense of savings: Every insurance comes with premiums, either monthly, quarterly, half yearly or yearly. So, in order to arrange for its premiums, you will have to cultivate a sense of frugality in your family. More premiums for insurance means more savings.

Ø High Returns: There are some term plans that insure very high returns in case any casualty occurs. This term plan is both good and bad. If the insured loses life, his/her dependant family members will get high return in. But, if no harm is caused to the insured, the premium will not attract any return.

Comparing Types

Term Life Insurance
Whole Life
Universal Life
Type of coverage
covers you for a particular period of time, usually 5, 10, 20 or 30 year periods
Remains in effect your whole life as long as you pay premium on policy
Remains in effect your whole life
Builds up Cash Value
Generally yes, but value tied to cost of insurance and stock market risk.
Generally least expensive for terms of up to 20 years.
More expensive and not widely available because insurance company takes most of risk.
Generally more expensive over the short term but less expensive over whole life.
Offered by most carriers
Yes, widely offered and rates are competitive.
Death Benefit
Fixed death benefit in a specific amount.
Outstanding loans on policy deducted from death benefit, which is set to endow at around 100
Flexible death benefit amounts
Can borrow against policy.
Policy can lapse
Yes if cash amounts aren't enough to cover costs of insurance and administration of policy
Administration Expenses
Rolled into premium.
Not easy for consumer to know.
Transparent and available.

Tips to Get the Best Deal in Life Insurance
The cost of life insurance is broadly based on some of the important factors, such as age, health as well as the lifestyle. Given below are some of the tips to get the best deal in life insurance:

Ø Be a Teetotaler: In order to grab the best deal on life insurance, it will be prudent from your part, if you become a teetotaler. Mind, no insurance company will sell you insurance plan without a check-up on your health. And if you are not refraining yourself from drink and/or smoke, chances are you will not be found hale and hearty at the time of check up.

Ø Be Mindful of your Age: It is important to note here that the quantum of the premium of your insurance is decided by your age. So, the early in your life you decide to take an insurance plan, better it will be.

Ø Don’t be in any dangerous jobs: There are jobs that involve greater health hazards or is even life threatening. If you are in any such job, either relinquish it, or do not expect much lucrative insurance cover.

Ø Do your homework: If you fulfill all the criteria mentioned above, you will require good homework. Extensive research on the insurance plan of a particular company and then juxtaposing it from that of others will surely help you get an insurance plan that will be up to your highest expectations.

                                                                                ---Sushmita JhaSusht

How Drinking Reveals One's Character

'If you want to judge a man, offer him a drink'.

                                                    -Spanish proverb

'Alcohol brings out your true self.'

                                               -Austrian proverb

'Some people drink to enjoy and some to fight and abuse'.

                                                        -Irish proverb

'If you know how to hold your drinks, you can face life's unexpected and tricky situations.'

                                                           -Poet Walter De La Mare

'Kamzarf hain jo pee ke bahak jaate hain' (They're lowly creatures, who lose control and senses after drinking)

'Not how you eat, but how you drink determines what you're.'

                                                                                                  -Finnish adage

Alcohol is the most infallible barometer of one's character and social standing.
                                                              --Winston Churchill

                                                                                                     Whether or not drinking is good or bad is inconsequential. What's of paramount importance is how one behaves during and after drinking. It's a very delicate issue. Alcohol has a liberating influence on the senses and neurologically speaking, it hyper-activates neurons and brain cells. That's the reason, people tend to behave in a rather awkward manner after drinking for which they regret when the drinking session is over.  

You know, why drinking is prohibited in Islam? That Muslims drink a lot is immaterial. It'sharaam (prohibited) in Islam because it influences your thinking and makes you do things, which you won't do when you're in your elements. There's no denying the fact that most of the drinkers lose their marbles and behave quite foolishly after gulping down one or two pegs. The word 'sharaab' is an Arabic word. It's the combination of 'shar+aab'(Shar=Vices+ Aab=Water; water that begets vices). There's yet another term for it in Arabic: Ummul-khabayas (Ummul=Mother+Khabayas=Vices and ills; Mother of all vices).

Since drinking tends to make a drinker uninhibited, he/she acts, reacts and responds in a manner that's often unbecoming of the person's dignity. You may have noticed that very many people start talking too much and also incoherently after drinking. There's an old and rather condescending English adage that 'lowly people (people of England at that time) start conversing in French after consuming alcohol'. The logic behind this old English adage is that there was a time (14-16 centuries), when French was the language of the elites across entire Europe and English was the languages of petty thieves and pirates. By the way, English is still justifiably called the language of pirates and Vikings in aristocratic French societies. And it's called a patois by the French and German snobs. 

People with inferiority complex tried to converse in French after getting liberated, thanks to drinking. Many drinkers drink to hide their deep-seated inferiority complex and there're also many, who try to caress their over-bloated ego by drinking and behaving in an unruly fashion. One must enjoy one's drinks and see to it that the sanctity of the party or gathering must remain intact. There's no use drinking, abusing and making a fool of oneself when hemmed in by people. It's embarrassing for all and it only shows the frivolity of the person and causes others to opine: 'Ise sharaab pachti nahin' (this man cannot remain in senses after drinking).

A Semicolon Dilemma

 'Of all punctuation marks, the most fascinating as well as perplexing is a seemingly insignificant semicolon because one is never certain as to where to use it and when, ' candidly observed Sir Winston Churchill whose written English was simply impeccable. 

A semicolon is indeed one punctuation mark that amply evaluates a user's mastery over the language. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and Rudyard Kipling were of the opinion that the correct use of a semicolon enriched the written language and proved a writer's sincerity towards the language he or she was using.

Radhakrishnan would often correct Sarojini Naidu's use of a semicolon and also put it where she used a comma in place of a semicolon. Radhakrishnan also corrected the use of punctuation marks and shortened sentences in Nehru's first drafts of 'The Discovery of India' and 'Glimpses of world history'. Nehru was always in a dilemma regarding the use of a semicolon. He rather rampantly used semicolons in his original drafts, which were done away with Radhakrishnan. 

Gandhiji was very disciplined about semicolons but admitted that he would often make a mistake when it came to putting this baffling punctuation mark. He once jokingly told Emerson, the Home Secretary, 'Mr Emerson, please put semicolons from your end, where they are required.' Emerson wrote back, 'Mr Gandhi, please you also do the same where I missed to put a semicolon!' Though poetry often dispenses with all punctuation marks, interestingly, poets have retained semicolons as the sole punctuation mark!!

Look at the quintessential example from the Irish poet and Nobel laureate William Butler Yeats' brief verse: 'But I being poor have only my dreams.........I've spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly for you tread on my dreams.....'

Or Robert Browning's ' I give the fight up........Let there be an end.......a privacy, an obscure nook for me; I want to be forgotten even by god.'

Or, Rudyard Kipling's ' Fern above the saddle bow, flex upon the plain; take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss my love again.'

Here, I must add that the Russian poets and novelists have been very meticulous in the use of semicolons, especially Pushkin, Tolstoy, Chekhov, among others. 

'Semicolons are like a nagging wife's tantrums; irritating to the core and uncertain when to appear.' An unknown grammarian's comment on semicolons was seconded by Sir David Crystal, world's foremost linguist and grammarian. He added, ' I avoid semicolons because I don't want to sound semi-sure about anything; a comma is, therefore, more preferable than a dithering semicolon....'

Remember, a semi-colon is like a secret beloved; often unseen (in public and in a copy).

But who cares for a semi-colon nowadays? In this age of grammar free language/s and punctuation-depleted copies, who has time for the nuances like semicolons and commas? Those who use them are anachronisms in this age and people look at them as relics from the past. Ask a youngster or a college-goer, whether he/she ever used a semicolon while writing something, they'll look at you in a way as if they are seeing Steven Spielberg's ET! Alack, we are living in linguistically impoverished times and climes.

New Year Resolutions

Aren't new year resolutions like dew-drops on the leaves of grass; destined to fizzle out on the very first day of the new year? They're. New year resolutions are like a lover's promises or a politician's assurances. Both are never fulfilled. They're are like eggs, so easily breakable. Yet, many of us make grandiose resolutions just to leave them behind like the last year. Why do we fail to adhere to them? We fail because we often make impractical and outlandish resolutions and are never serious about implementing them in our lives.

 If you want to get rid of a bad habit, why should you wait for the next year to divest yourself of it? Drop it the moment you think that this is not good. Tomorrow never comes. Kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab (What's to be done tomorrow, do it today and what needs to be done today must be finished right now). ' It's the procrastination in implementation that causes new year resolutions to peter out, ' wrote a famous psychologist.

We make new year resolutions, not because we want to turn a new leaf in the new year, we make them because we know that they're useless. A new year is just an increase in the number, a mere digital shift (as Carl Sagan put it). It's a change in the calendar and man's limited attempt to measure the time's endlessness. And that's it. Isn't every new day as big an event as the new year? Well, back to New Year resolutions. In the earliest Greek Orthodox Church in 34 AD, a resolution was passed that delinquent followers would take a solemn vow in the last month of the year to be more regular in their religious duties in the ensuing year.

 It was seen as a sort of ' perfunctory leniency ' on the part of the earliest church, a delayed way to mend the ways in the due course of time. Very few people followed their religious duties in the new year despite their firm resolutions in the dying year. People have forgotten the origin, but the perfunctoriness in approach and intent has survived.

 We somehow manage to deceive ourselves as it's the easiest thing to do. We therefore make resolutions and shelve them the way the almanac of the last year is shelved and forgotten forever. So what's your new year resolution for the year 2018 ?         

Egg: A gourmet's delight

I read in the North American edition of The Reader's Digest (September, 2011) that almost 7 billion eggs are consumed everyday across the world. Now the population of the world's 7 billion. It means an egg  per head is consumed everyday. It's great.

 Mind you, there're many people who don't eat eggs!!! Chefs all over the world sing paeans to the egg's amazing culinary adaptability and in the western hemisphere, almost every food item has at least an iota of egg. Though staunch vegetarians still consider it to be non veg, the omnipresence of egg is simply remarkable and the slogan like 'Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao ande,' has increased its sale and consumption manifold. There're people, who don't eat meat but love to gorge on eggs.

 It's interesting to note that people in India had no idea of having eggs before Muslim invasions. Chicken and eggs struck Indians' culinary sensibilities rather late. These two things were religiously prohibited.  Zahiruddin Babar's autobiography 'Tuzuk-e-Babri' in Turkish has a chapter in praise of eggs and Babar was so fond of eggs that he'd consume minimum 10 eggs everyday. Once he fell ill because of excessive egg consumption and his Iranian hakim, Atmaad Laafi, who was a Zorastrian, advised him not to have eggs for at least six months.

Babar vividly described how painful those six months were sans eggs. He went to the extent of writing that a man could live without his beloved but if he was a lover of eggs like him, he wouldn't be able to live. Despite hakim's advice, he stealthily took a few eggs and nothing happened. It's worthwhile to state that Central Asian meat preparations are never complete without eggs.

To garnish a mutton, chicken or beef preparation, egg's a must. Egg softens meat preparations and also enhances the taste. Seasoned chefs unanimously agree that any meat preparation goes very well with eggs because yolk thickens the gravy and the albumen ( egg-white) lends a different kind of aroma to the cuisine, especially if it happens to be a non-vegetarian preparation.

 The entire South East Asia is extremely fond of eggs and Burmese, Mandarin (modern Chinese) and Korean have more than 1000 expressions and idioms related to eggs. Even in English, you come across phrases like, 'As sure as egg(s)' to connote ' surety and certainty', 'egghead' (intellectual) and 'egg someone on' to mean 'exhort,' 'inspire' or 'urge.'

Though there're eggless cakes for vegan but it's said that an eggless cake never tastes as good as the one having eggs because egg helps ferment it well and also softens it. It helps in the baking process. The most beautiful facet of egg's that all its preparations whether omelette, scrambled, French toast, poach or plain bolied egg, are devoured by gourmets and gourmands. And it's pretty easy to cook as well unlike mutton, chicken, pork and beef. So go and have an egg!!!!      

Plight of Pakistani Hindus

Some liberal Pakistani human rights activists and sane Muslims are of the opinion that the way Hindus, mostly Sindhi Hindus in Gujranwalan, Shikarpur, Sukkur, Nawabshah and Quetta in the Sindh and Balochistan provinces are being forcibly converted to Islam, there'll soon be no Hindus in Pakistan. Now Hindu girls are being abducted and converted to Islam. This has become a disturbingly frequent phenomenon.

The blasphemy laws in Pakistan have been designed in such a way that the minorities are forever at the receiving end with the sword of Damocles constantly hovering over their heads. The representation of Pakistani minorities in any sphere has been almost negligible right from its formation in 1947. Apart from just a couple of Christian cricketers, there's never been a single Hindu cricketer to play at the highest level. Agreed, Danish Kaneria, a Kachchi Hindu played tests for Pakistan but wasn't his original name Dinesh, that was changed to Danish (Arabic for wisdom, commonsense and intelligence)? Anil Dalpat played in the Pakistan under-25 team as a wicket-keeper batsman but the late Taslim Arif was given preference over him.

 Asma Jahangir wrote in 2010 that there has never been a single case of a boy from the minorities wooing a Muslim girl in Pakistan. It's unheard-of. He'll be publicly be-headed. When Qura'an says 'La Iqra Fid Deen' (There's no force or coercion in religion) and 'Lakum Dinakum walaya deen' (You've your faith, I've mine) then why this morbid insistence on conversion to Islam? Where will this deep-seated mentality of Pan-Islamisation lead the Muslims to?

 When I interact with Talrejas (Hindu Sindhis who were mostly in Pakistan's Shikarpur town) at Pimpri-Chinchwad in Poona, I feel sorry for them. They suffered a lot and eventually came to India in the 90s. Now the exodus of Hindus is all the more intense. It's time, Indian government made arrangement for their settlement in India. When the government can welcome the Bangladeshi Muslims and let them settle and create all sorts of trouble in Assam, why can't it let the terrified and more grateful Hindus of Pakistan live in India?    

Goa: The Caribbean of India!!

Decades ago, the stylish Indian cricketer M L Jaisimha took his equally flamboyant friend and cricketer the great Sir Garfield Sobers to Goa. The moment Sobers landed, he exclaimed, ' It's Barbados!' He was very right. Sobers, the most famous son of Barbados in the Caribbean, which produced a string of world's greatest cricketers like 3Ws, Marshall, Conrad Hunte among other, could immediately relate to the free spirit of Goa that still pervades in his Caribbean islands, especially in Barbados, Leeward island and Guyana. I've visited almost all the Caribbean islands and seen Goa in and out. I'm also in concord with Sir Gary that the fun-loving spirit of Goa is very much like that of the caribbean.
Those who've been to the West Indies (though it's a name used while playing cricket, otherwise it's an archipelago) will fall in with me that Goa is similar to those isles on many counts. The same wonderful beaches, sparkling sands, waves and a flow of beverages welcome you. If Barbados or other Caribbean islands are famous for alcoholic beverages like Rum (Barbados' contribution to the world), fenni (made of fermented cashew nuts and its luscious looking fruit) of Goa no way plays a second fiddle to them.

Now the question is what makes a place great to live in and people to live with. The friendliness of the people of Goa and West Indians is proverbial. I've seen the world more than people have seen their vicinity and I can dare say, the most friendly and forthcoming people are from Goa and Caribbean islands. It's because of this palpable friendliness and overwhelming hospitality, people from all corners of the world visit Goa and Caribbean. The most beautiful thing about a person from Goa is that even if he/she is an iconic figure, there'll be no airs and arrogance in the behaviour.

 I remember, I met the great cartoonist Mario Miranda (he was from Goa) without an appointment. Yet, he not only entertained me, he regaled me with anecdotes from his The Illustrated Weekly days. It didn't appear to me that I was talking to a man whose style was appreciated wholeheartedly by the famous cartoonists with now defunct Punch of the Great Britain.

So down-to-earth was Mario Miranda. The same simplicity, nay humbleness, I noticed among the great West Indian cricketers and celebrities like the singer and actor Harry Belafonte (he was from Jamaica and sang that immortal number, Jamaican farewell), Sobers, Michael Holding and a host of others from the Caribbean. That's why, people keep visiting a particular place and never get bored. Goa has that charm and its lovely and effervescent people make you feel at home the moment you reach there. It's indeed the Caribbean of India.          

Does Mind Rule Body?

I read a news item in " The Spectator, " London that Medical colleges in England are contemplating to start an additional course for the doctors regarding the mind-body relationship in the context of placebo effect. French pharmacist Emile Coue (1857-1926) noticed that his clients seemed to respond to treatment when their cures were accompanied by words of positive affirmation-how good the cure was, how quickly it'd work, and so on. This has opened a debate on does the mind rule body?

What Coue had really chanced upon was the placebo effect, which proposes that the attitudes and expectations of patients play a significant role in their recovery. Of course, Coue's cures were not mere 'sugar pills' (placebos), but the better-than-expected improvement suggested to him that a key part of health consisted in healthy thinking.

Coue's method was simply to repeat a positive phrase a number of times each day in the manner of a meditative mantra like: Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better. In this way, Coue realised that the patient could influence his own unconscious  attitudes-which were the things that really shaped health and feelings. Coue termed this process autosuggestion and we discuss it while discussing the topic does mind rule the body?.

For science and medicine, the placebo effect or you can say does mind rule body is something of a conundrum. It's one thing to train oneself by repeated suggestion to feel differently, perhaps, but quite another to use this process to affect the body's health. However, it's well-documented, and modern drug trials need to account for the percentage of patients who get better of their own accord.

However, it needn't be seen as a mystical phenomenon: the process of healing is something which the body mostly undertakes itself, and many medical treatments merely work to encourage or supplement natural processes. So, if the brain can be tricked  into kick-starting a certain healing process through suggestion (rather than chemically, via the administration of a drug), then the result is still the same.

However, whilst it'd be dangerous to take this too far-a cancer patient would be foolish to reject chemotherapy in favour of autosuggestion-it does suggest that modern medicine still has much to learn regarding the mind-body relationship and in the context of does mind rule body? Should we blame Rene Descartes (cogito- ergo sum: I think, therefore, I'm)?