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by some extraneous aids to promotion alone, that they can attain the object of their ambition. They must purchase out largely from among all, who come within the periods of possible retirement. As for new regiments, or any increased expen. diture on the part of Government for the benefit of the army, such assistance to promotion need hardly be anticipated in these days of public economy, and parliamentary animosity to army estimates at home or abroad. Officers must carve out their own means of early retirement to the land of their birth : and encouragement ought to be unanimously given to every well-digested plan, which facilitates this most essential of all objects. Let the ambitious, the healthy, the untiring soldier of fortune cling on to the service. It is a glorious field for his ambition : but the prizes are too few for all to aspire to them;
and it is for the benefit of each and all, to foster and facilitate every means of retirement to Europe, to a large portion of their community.
The health may fail; the climate will not agree with all ; and, where is the advantage of lingering on in exile and exposure to a tropical sun, with all its evils of wasting strength and debilitated constitution, when the means of escape may be secured by a few years of patient economy and common prudence? Since the failure of all attempts to establish a general Retiring Fund, either by the aid of a Curnin, or the more reasonable efforts of a Hannyngton, there is, now, we find, an opening to secure the blessing of deferred annuities and endowments by a chartered public insuranoe office, the Family Endowment Society, under the patronage of a well-known former Governor-General, and supported by some long tried public officers of the Government, and others in England. A moderate monthly, or periodical subscription, for a continued number of years, will ensure a competent retiring endowment, or annuity: and we would strongly recommend the plan to the earnest consideration and approval of our military readers. The possession of such an endowment would enable officers at any time to retire to Europe: and, without some such aid or means of escape, it is utterly impossible for the army itself to hope to diminish the obstacles to promotion, or to remedy the wretched stagnation of all advancement to rank in an army, which, when speaking of its physical efficiency, and the prospect of early retirement to Europe, with the benefits of advanced rank, may truly be said to be cursed with a system of seniority promotion.
The next essential point, which is affected by Mr. Neison's results, is that of Life Assurance in India. If Europeans die there at the rate only of 2.6 per cent. per annum, it is suscep
tible of easy demonstration, that the present offices for life assurance in India, with very few exceptions, are most cruelly fleecing the insured classes, by the high rates of premium, which they are extorting.
By Mr. Neison's figures, and from what we have already stated, it is plain that if 1,000 men insure, each 1,000 rupees, there will be twenty-six deaths; and the office will have to pay 26,000 rupees for that number of policy-holders, who have died during a year. If the offices receive 26 rupees yearly from each individual of the 1,000 policy-holders, they will suffer no loss, except it be for their expenses and establishment. But as all premiums are paid in advance, and the office has the benefit of interest on the pre-paid premiums; and, as all policies, discontinued or thrown up at any time before death or completion of the term, are clear profit to the office, it may safely be inferred that all premium, in excess of the mathematical risk, which is demanded by an insurance company; is a profit to itself, and so much overpaid by the party holding a policy.
But it may be right and proper for all insurance offices, protected by a body of responsible shareholders, who have to pay up an amount of capital in the first instance, to have a certain margin of profit, in excess of the mathematical risk. In Europe, about twenty to twenty-five per cent. is added therefore to the scale of premiums, for the purpose of giving, from this source of advantage to the office, the usual interest allowed for the capital of shareholders; and the residue profits are then disposed of, either among the policy-holders, or the office at large, as may be laid down in the printed rules of each Society.
But in India, how stands the case ? We have shown, that to insure 1,000 rupees, 2-6 per cent., or 26 rupees, is the mathematical amount required to meet the risk, even if money have no interest at all. Now the Indian Laudable Society demands on an average, between the ages of twenty to fifty, no less a sum than fifty-eight rupees per thousand; the Oriental demands the same; and the Universal asks for fiftynine rupees to insure the same amount. Had these offices exacted an additional fifty per cent. even, instead of the twentyfive per cent. recognised in Europe, as sufficient advance on the real risk, the rate of premium would still have been but thirtynine rupees per thousand; but, as it is, they have overcharged the policy-holder more than cent. per cent. for their own profit and expenses !
If the Indian community choose to submit to pay such extortionate rates of premium, after this plain exposition of the state of the case, it is their own fault. The whole system, as at present managed, is most lamentable and faulty. It is idle to talk of division of profits, and returned premiums. No division can take place, till a policy-holder has run the gauntlet for several years; and he must survive five or six years, before he can have a chance of his over-payment being accounted for to him. Why should he be subjected to over payment at all ? It defeats the legitimate object of life insurance, so advantageous in European communities to the mass of the middling classes, where cautious provision for families and children, and accumulation for old age, are economically attained; and in India it follows that none resort to life assurance, except the debtor, the adventurer, or those driven into it by speculations in heavy indigo advances, or other necessitous and calamitous circumstances. *
We do not mean to assert that it would be safe either for the assured, or for an assurance office, at once to adopt Mr. Neison's law of mortality as the basis of their operations. His tables shew that, for the last septennial period of the present century, there has been a far greater average of deaths, than in any other preceding seven years since 1800. Any new office, therefore, established within the last few years, and framing their tables of premium only on Mr. Neison's general average of data, would have suffered immense losses. But we defy the Indian offices to prove that-if, at the age of twenty, an insurance office had demanded for tbat term, three per cent. as premium, at the age of thirty, three and one-third per cent. ; at the age of forty, four per cent ; and at the age of fifty, five per cent. -any principle of perfect safety would have been compromised, or that the shareholders would not have been fully protected, and remunerated for their risk.
But another important feature must arise from Mr. Neison's calculations. All deferred annuities and reversionary benefits, and all post obit expectancies, must be materially altered. In the question of deferred annuities, or pensions, the difference is immense. The expectation of life is so much increased by the result of Mr. Neison's researches, and the chances of living longer in India, and of retirement to Europe, are so largely augmented, that it would require nearly one-fifth more money, by Mr. Neison's figures, to secure a given yearly sum to an annuitant, than by any former calculation known in India.
* This statement is strikingly confirmed by the fact of the very short average duration of policies in the Calcutia offices, as stated by Mr. Francis, and adverted to in our notice of his pamphlet in our last No.
select Mr. Griffith Davies's value of annuity at the following ages, and contrast the same with Mr. Neison's.
Value of an Annuity of £l
All offices, public funds, or annuity societies, which grant prospective benefits, will do well to attend to this most serious consideration; else, at the end of ten or twenty years, they may find themselves in a ruinous dilemma.
It is not an usual operation for Europeans in India to raise money on reversionary expectations : still the facts, which are elicited by Mr. Neison, will be found practically to touch upon many and various interests of the community at large, besides the stagnation of military promotion. Mr. Neison's tables are valuable to the official statist, to the aspirant for advancement in the civil and uncovenanted appointments of the State, and to the tenure of public employment generally; and all concerned will do well to give some little attention to the able and valuable report before us.
It is somewhat sad to close this notice by an intimation, that the labour of the indefatigable actuary, which has produced these results, has been a very unprofitable occupation to himself. He undertook, we have heard, the enquiry into the affairs of the Bengal Military Fund for a fee of 200 guineas, and the expenses of printing his report. It has come to our knowledge, that, at the India House alone, his researches there have cost Mr. Neison far more than the amount of his honorarium, for bonâ fide payments to the assistants, whom he employed under him in the investigation. We cannot conceive that the army, or the Indian Government, will permit Mr. Neison to be thus positively a loser by his exertions in their behalf. The Directors of the Bengal Military Fund, we hear, have submitted the case for the favourable consideration of the Home Authorities.
Since this article was written, the affairs of the Fund, to which it relates, have been much before the public, in consequence of the detection of a fresh instance of abstraction of its Funds, and falsification of its accounts. The offender, this time, is a native
sircar, who has made himself scarce, and who has not as yet, so far as we have learned, been apprehended. The amount of plunder, though far short of that on the former occasion, is very considerable. The Secretary, and the Auditor, of the Fund have both been dismissed—not because of any the slightest suspicion, that either of them had any thing to do with the delinquency, but because neither of them was either acute enough or attentive enough to detect it. Considerable discussion has taken place, as to the propriety of the dismissal of the Auditor, who had strongly remonstrated against the system of book-keeping pursued in the offise, and who avers, we believe truly, that, if the system, which he attempted to introduce, had been adopted, the fraud, which has actually escaped detection through several audits, must of necessity have been detected at once. While this considerably diminishes the blame, that seemed at the first blush of the matter to attach to the Auditor, we cannot regard it as sufficient to warrant his retention in office. The whole matter seems to lie in a very small compass. The accounts were badly kept: that is not disputed. Mr. Cooke did all that he could do, in order to get them better kept: and, had his method been adopted, the fraud could not have taken place, or must have been detected at once. This also is granted. But still the fact remains. The accounts, as kept, were either auditable, or they were not. If they were not, Mr. Cooke should not have accepted a salary for professing to do that, which could not be done. If the accounts were capable of audit, the alternative charge of incompetence, or inattention, must lie against Mr. Cooke.
Various means have been suggested for the avoidance, in future, of such frauds as these. The two, that seem to find most favour, are a paid Directory, or the transference of the entire management of the Fund to the Government.
As to the latter mode, we question whether the Government would accept the charge. As to the former, we question whether officers of standing could be found willing to undertake the enhanced responsibility, that is understood to attach to a paid official. To us it seems, that the only thing, within the power of the Army, is the appointment of a well-paid Secretary of business habits, a competent and active Accountant, and an Auditor, who should be so remunerated, as to enable him to bestow a fair amount of attention to the duties of his office. With this, and with a greater amount of publicity given to the statements of the Fund's affairs, we doubt not that an effectual check would be put to the evil practices, that are so much to be lamented.