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Chandan Mitra whom I know

A dedicated journo, whose dexterous ability influenced policy makers

Chandan Mitra

Chandan Mitra

This is related to an incident somewhere in the year 1998. In those days, I was working in the editorial department of The Hindustan Times in New Delhi and Chandan Mitra had just joined the newspaper as its Executive Editor.

He had written an Edit piece and while going through the proof, we had pointed out certain words which needed to be replaced to make it more effective, though I am unable to remember exactly the words after passage of more than two decades, that needed to be replaced to make it more effective. Now, the question was who will muster courage to go to Mitra's cabin and tell him the same.

Being our editorial boss, it was quite difficult a task to tell him about it. But then, it was our duty to show it to him and take his permission to replace the word, no matter if it needed a minor correction. Finally, I was assigned the task. Being a new recruit, I started my journey to Mitra's cabin. Even though he was kind of our next-door neighbour in the office, what with there being only a wall which separated our editorial room and Mitra's cabin, it proved to be an ever long journey to me. Every step I put forward towards his cabin, it reminded me of the fear of losing my job in case something went wrong as I was still under probation, which happens to be an Achilles Heel in one's career. Anyway, I entered his cabin and showed him the Edit. Immediately after having a cursory look at the Edit, he nodded in 'yes' for the correction to be made in a jiffy with a casual smile at his face.

I was very much relieved. But the moment I interacted with him for the purpose will have its imprint in my mind for ever.

As I had been moving from place to place and from one media house to another to render my services, I didn't get any chance to see Mitra again, except for once. Yes, I did have an opportunity to see Mitra in Taj Hotel at Colaba in Mumbai, while I was covering insurance as one of my beats, to conduct his interview.

A Parliamentary Committee had tabled its report which recommended a composite foreign investment cap of 49 per cent in the insurance sector and supported a government Bill to amend the Act.

The Panel, headed by ITRA, had agreed to reduce the paid-up equity capital in the health insurance sector against the life and general insurance sector, and had also suggested capital requirements to be retained at the Rs 100-crore level.

The limit, at that point of time, of 26 per cent was allowed only through the FDI route. "The Committee recommends that the composite cap of 49 per cent should be inclusive of all forms of foreign direct investment and foreign portfolio investments," the report which had been tabled in the Rajya Sabha had said.

Prior to it, the Rajya Sabha had appointed a 15-member Select committee to scrutinise the long pending Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008. The Bill was held up for nearly six years on account of political differences.

My interaction with him over a cup of tea was brisk, though brief one. Insurance is an emerging sector and the government has permitted 74 per cent FDI cap into the sector. So, it has come a long way since then. Still, the contribution made by Mitra to the sector in his capacity as a head of the Parliamentary Panel will continue to be in the annals of the field of the insurance.

(The author is Special Correspondent for Bizz Buzz in Mumbai)

Kumud Das
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