New Middle India’s pushback and the Big Indian Dream

I am signing copies of my book in Mumbai. The store manager and I are sitting in an alcove and doing the signing ceremony, where he hands me the book and I sign while he cracks open the next one before handing it over. Two native European (for want of a better term in trying not to say “white”) customers are watching from the other end of the shop and begin taking pictures of this book gig. We get chatting and I learn that they are colleagues from a North European country and are in Mumbai as consultants to some infrastructure project. Three minutes into a conversation with a stranger, an Indian in Mumbai, and they are shaking their heads and tut-tutting over the Indian bureaucracy and general state of things. Back from a longish visit to their part of the world and having seen their super slothful bureaucracy, weird processes and long waiting periods for service, I am in no mood to hear this. I retort. Maybe a little too loudly. Or a little too harshly. They seem to melt away into the interior of the shop. Then I notice choking noises coming from my neighbour, the book store manager. He saw the exchange and my pushback, and then just cracked up. He was recovering, he said, from an episode where a British guest of an author made racially degrading comments because one book was not in the store, but the Indian author just stood by and allowed the colonial rant to continue.

The manager does not come from that closed club of elite Indians who boast of correct English pronunciation, the right accent, similar higher education institutions, the correct home address, a common reading list, non-Bollywood movies, similar music playlists and foreign brands, but is a newly emerged middle-class Indian.

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Money With Monika (S2, Ep# 13): Busting myths about mutual funds


Money With Monika Season 2 is a weekly personal finance web series focused on all things mutual funds. In episode 13, personal finance expert Monika Halan seeks to bust some common myths about mutual fund investments. She explains that mutual funds are not just about equity and stocks. “A mutual fund is a way to invest in something else. That can be stocks, bonds, gold and very soon real estate,” says Monika. And if you thought that top rated funds guarantee better returns or dividend option is better than the growth option, then this episode is a must watch.

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In which women move away from visual imagery of being the devi diva

Women’s Day imagery often shows a sari-clad woman with multiple arms bearing various implements that run the home and work—a laptop, a belan, detergent, kid, a phone. The woman is usually smiling and looks serenely on top of all that there is to do. Not a hair out of place. If women don’t think deeply about this image, there can be a feeling of pride in being able to manage and stay on top of all there is to do. But step back and see the subliminal messaging of this image. It says that a successful woman can do it all. Work outside the home. Inside the home. Be the one to take off in case of a family emergency. And manage to keep it all together while looking good. Look again and you see that most of these images don’t have money in her multiple arms. Why not? Oh, she gave it to the father, husband, brother or son to manage. In doing that, she has tried logically to reduce one job from her already packed schedule. Hand over money and its investment to the trusted man in the family. Notice that the monthly household spends are still part of her work load. She is fully capable of managing the home spends. It is just the control over asset creation—and therefore the assets—that is not part of her work. The social messaging around money to women aims to stop her from claiming her share of assets.

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Money With Monika: Mutual fund investment tips for women (S2, Ep#12)

  • n this episode of ‘Money With Monika’, personal finance expert Monika Halan emphasises on financial independence for women and how they can start building their investment portfolio. Start with gold and FDs and build on from that, she says. If choosing mutual funds, consult a financial planner to design a portfolio that suits you best, she adds. Also, “don’t give up your financial independence at any cost”. Monika Halan is consulting editor, Mint, and author of ‘Let’s Talk Money’

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