Sunday, January 30, 2011

Will Nicorette really help Indian smokers??


Johnson & Johnson has recently launched Nicorette in India and has been targeting smokers to use the same to quit smoking. But, will using Nicorette solve the real purpose of Indians who want to quit smoking? I don't think so in an Indian scenario.

One of my earlier roomies is a regular smoker and I am a person who ensures even not to shake hands if a person hasn't washed his/her hands after smoking. So, a condition imposed on him when he moved into our room was to go downstairs every time he wants to smoke. Apparently we lived in the first floor which was not much of a problem but, definitely a problem during the midnight or early morning. Let's consider this set of people who need to go out of home/office to a near by place to smoke as set-A.

My new office is good distance away from a place where people need to go for a smoke (outside the main gates). Definitely good enough pain for all those smokers. Let's consider this set of people who need to go out of home/office to a distant place to smoke or those who need to smoke secretly so that family members don't observe as set-B.

And there are a group of people who don't care about where, what and why of smoking and there aren't many who question them too. Let's consider them as set-C.

There are a couple of reasons why people want to quit smoking? First (set-1) is for the commitment given to family/friends(post a big gyan session/debate). And second (set-2) is self realization. And an extra reason where a person(set-3) wants to avoid smoking for time being is to ensure you don't create a bad image of yourself in the eyes of certain people at a certain place/point of time(cultural sentiments or sentimental cultures). In Indian scenario, though you may classify a person into set A/B/C/1/2 there, is a minor portion of a reason (set-3) which automatically creates a major issue. People in both the sets A & B will eventually fall into the sets 1 or 2 or 3.

And set C if at any point of time will move into Set-A or Set-B which will eventually lead into set-1/2/3. Looking at the products in debate a normal cigarette on an average makes a person consume 1mg of Nicotine where as Nicorette comes in 2mg and 4mg packs depending upon the type of smoker you are.

In the case of self realization as well as the gyan session/debate for Set-A and set-1/2/3 combination, the end purpose is to avoid the ill effects of smoking of which a major chunk comes from the substance Nicotine present in the Cigarette/other products but, it some how adds up the set-3 reason as well. To avoid the ill effects or under self realization in reality, the self restraint comes into picture rather than a requirement for a gum to replace smoking. Might be there is a 20% chance that this group will use Nicorette but, there isn't really a requirement for the smoker to move in for the gum which might make him/her addicted to the gum and this might make those in set-1 to just use it as a diversion (especially for those involved in gyan/debate) but, the intake of nicotine hardly reduces for this group.

In the case of Set-B and set-1/2/3 combination, it's a mere comfort level for the person in question. Hence, you can expect a good number of smokers (40%) to use Nicorette for the cravings rather than for the reason to quit smoking and this might eventually lead to addiction towards gum which becomes more comfortable and might be the person who had actually come down from 8 to 5 cigarettes per day due to the comfort levels might move towards nicotine levels which might have come from 15 cigarettes a day.

But, the way Nicorette is being advertised or promoted there's a huge sale of product in the offing for J&J and a similar rise in the levels of nicotine in people. As they say, it doubles up your chances of smoking but, I believe it will also double up the levels of…… And shouldn’t this pack too have a deadly picture of a skull as on a pack of cigarette?? Bring back Anbumani Ramadoss and Gulam Nabi Azad on screens J

Have I missed any other Sets D/E/F.... or 4/5/6.... Open for Comments

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dilemma of Multiple regulators

Assume you walk into a bank to open an account or a mobile store to take a connection only with a photograph and you were able to open the account / take the connection without any further verification? How much time will it save….

I met a friend of mine recently at a reunion and we started a discussion on workplace. The discussion took some turns to a point when I asked him, "Why don't you people try and make it simple for customers/organizations? Why can't you and RBI be on the same line or make a common forum/requirements/documents etc?"

And the reply made me almost drop my glass. He said, "I am not aware of any RBI. By the way, who is RBI?" I am not surprised because he isn't aware that RBI is Reserve Bank of India but, I am really surprised to see in reality of what I always only heard of. A clash of “ego” between the regulators. I think anyone who's in my place would have had the same feeling knowing that the friend I am speaking about works with another very famous regulator in the world of Indian financial sector.

Have you ever thought of how many copies of PAN, address and other proofs do you submit in a year? Almost every time you want to get into a financial instrument or open a new bank account or take a new telephone/mobile connection / Insurance policy / Loan. Why can't we replace these with a single instrument / single time documentation that is maintained on a particular depository? Yes, it is very important that the details (the so called KYC) are verified and the norms are adhered to. But, there is a better way to do the same and make it convenient for customers which is very much possible. The sad part is the very much possibility is made impossible by the egoistic regulators who always try to prove a point that they are the superior ones / they are not any inferior to others.

This has been to a certain extent done well when, SEBI has made it mandatory for every customer to be KYC compliant and updating the KYC through any intermediary means "you can transact with any intermediary for investments by just quoting your pan number." This is really a wonderful solution within the investments circle but, still I believe this is just done as another paper work rather than following it as per actual requirement. For example, as of now updating KYC at CDSL doesn't have the ways to track the expiry date of address proofs in case of rent agreements given or a latest bank statement given. Might be these additional checks are required to take it to the next level. Might be it can track the expiry date and automatically your KYC turns into "Not Verified" on the expiry date of an agreement. Might be the rule can be changed as KYC to be updated every 3years. These sort of additional checks would make it very much fool-proof and will be useful to any other organizations like banks/data companies rather than to re-verify themselves.

But, updating KYC on CDSL(depository) today doesn't mean you need not do fresh KYC while opening a bank account or for a existing account or for a mobile connection etc., which is very much like doing the same work again and again. Why can't we have the same suffice for a bank account or a mobile connection? Some intermediary has definitely checked the proofs and has done the verification of KYC and it should be a fool-proof one.

Assume you walk into a bank to open an account or a mobile store to take a connection only with a photograph and you were able to open the account / take the connection without any further verification? How much time will it save for customers as well as how much time will it save for the companies in verifying address / identification? The company pulls your data from a common depository and if it says verified, you are given the connection / your account is opened without any further hassles or documentation? So, why can't all these people use the same resource? Aren't they re-doing the same work which already some other organization has done might be very recently or a month back or a year back for the same customer?

But, in today's Indian environment that looks very difficult due to almost single reason: Loss of importance for a regulator. Every one feels superior to each other or else atleast on par and definitely want to be in the light. Obviously SEBI will not allow RBI/TRAI to get into what it believes is it's turf of investments. RBI will not allow TRAI/SEBI to get into what it believes is it's turf of banking. TRAI will not allow RBI/SEBI get into what it believes is it's turf of telecom. A clash of Ego and a clash on loss of identity or a gain of identity for the regulators.

If this kind of co-ordination/ego issues are resolved, many hours are saved for the customers / organizations and might be you will see the lower costs to organizations make your savings bank account get 3.75% rather than 3.5% or 100sms extra on the same pack. I hope some day these equations change to make life simpler.

Open for Comments