“Financial freedom is available to those who learn about it and work for it.” – Robert Kiyosaki Coronavirus pandemic has made us realize true importance of managing our own finances. In times like these when people are losing jobs, experiencing salary cuts, businesses suffering due to country wide lockdowns etc. we can understand why knowing about concepts like Emergency Funds is crucial. Vittshala, the financial literacy cell SRCC had the privilege to have ‘Monika Halan’ ma’am with us for E-Baithak- ‘Personal Finance Q&A with Monika Halan’ where she answered our queries and gave her insights in the field of personal finance. Monika Halan is a best selling author – “Let’s Talk Money”, adjunct Professor at Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, finance journalist a speaker and a writer on financial literacy, regulation, inclusion and consumer issues in retail finance.
I could not believe my credit card bill when I clicked it open a few days ago. The card that pays for petrol was zero. Zero. The other one was down to 20% of earlier spends. And I consider myself frugal—spending on what I need and not what I greed—and yet the difference a lockdown made to my own spends left me quite amazed. My age cohort and I grew up in an India of very limited means, choices and options. Basics like milk, water and electricity were in short supply. Less than five homes in 100 had a phone in most middle-class metro colonies and if you owned a car, you had either inherited it or were up to no good in that business of yours. But our generation was also on the ground floor when India opened up and was able to ride the wave of growth that lifted a lot of boats. Things began to change, but slowly. By the time the 1990s kids were born, small luxuries were becoming commonplace—eating out was not that budget breaking exercise that it used to be. The ’90s kids still remember a money-careful approach and some built money habits that usually last a lifetime. It is the parent and kids cohort of the 2000s and above that probably is really struggling with the new tight-money reality of the pandemic.
Delhi’s walled-in centre of education and residence is in the middle of a mobocracy that resulted in pitched battles with the police for violating the law, bitter graffiti, a statue of Vivekananda vandalized with communally inflammatory barbs, holding guests to the campus hostage and behaviour more suited to rioting brigades than pursuers of fine subjects that make the world a better place. The JNU mobs are making a proposed hostel fee hike a story about the entitled ripping into the poor, disposed and the weak. The issue is of a hike after about 40 years in the hostel boarding and lodging fees that students have to pay—a hike from an insignificant ₹10 and ₹20 a month. The upset is also about asking students to pay for utility and service charges that were zero till now.
JNU has rolled back the hike of its fees, but should it have? Was the fee hike at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) from ₹10 and ₹20 to ₹300 and ₹600 a month, respectively, as rent for a hostel room fair or not? Judging by the way student mobs were rampaging, this is the next thing after the Bengal famine to hit Indian shores. Instead of the ₹10 number, the much larger attention-grabbing heart-breaking 300% hike number is being thrown around rather than the base figure of ₹10 cost—the cost of a South Delhi room in a verdant walled campus on a twin-share basis in India’s capital city. The hike is actually 2900%, but it seems that those protesting did not do the math correctly. Too busy earning their money, that they pay taxes on, on the other side are those who are asking why their money is being used to deeply subsidize students who may have the capacity to pay but are too entitled to do so.