Should public funds be invested in tobacco based companies?
Reply to a query raised under the RTI At has revealed that government run organisations have invested in companies that depend on tobacco for profits in violation of an international treaty signed in 2004 by India. As per the treaty, the government is prohibited from investing in tobacco companies and from accepting donations from the industry.
The scrutiny of documents received under RTI reveal that the government-owned Life Insurance Corporation of India has invested in nearly one hundred crore shares (99,58,91,658 shares) in companies like ITC, VST Industries and DS Group whose major chunk of profits in the balance sheet are based on tobacco products like cigarettes. Other than LIC, other companies like the New India Insurance, UTI, Gen Insurance Corporation of India, the Oriental Insurance Company and National Insurance Company Ltd. too have invested in tobacco based companies.
Anti-tobacco activists have protested against the investment of public funds in such companies. It has been reported that at least one million Indians die due to tobacco use each year.