Mumbai, 26th March, 2010: Moneylife Foundation today held a second special financial literacy workshop for women. Speaking on the occasion was Ms Ketaki Jayakar, a well-known senior advocate who specialises in marital law.
Ms Jayakar structured her talk in the form of a number of real-life stories on the diverse travails faced by women and families, which inevitably boiled down to a failure of these individuals to ensure their financial independence with proper legal documentation.
For instance, there was a nurse, Sheela, who earned part of her income in cash, which she handed over to her husband, who in turn deposited it in his bank account. He was a part-time singer, who was often out of work. When they bought a house, it was in the husband’s name and the repayment was through the same bank account. When the husband deserted her, Sheela discovered that she had no documentation to prove her right to the marital home.
While Sheela did manage to get some redress through the family court with Ms Jayakar’s help, other stories did not necessarily end happily. For example, one story that led to a lot of discussion was that of the parents, who sold their house and pooled their retirement money with their son to buy a bigger house in his name. Soon after his marriage, the son absconded, and his wife left the home. He has since accused his parents of ill-treating his wife and stopped making his monthly loan repayments for the home, leaving his parents high and dry. The discussion led to the conclusion that the son could be declared a defaulter, which would force him to take responsibility, since the implications of a negative credit rating would be disastrous for him.
There was yet another instance of two elderly and infirm women, who were all alone and were systematically looted by their chartered accountant and a distant relative. Each of these tales held a lesson for better financial prudence, while some, like that of the older women, highlighted the lack of protection and infrastructure for senior citizens in India.
Ms Jayakar, who has always been associated with different social causes, was very keen that these stories should motivate women to take charge of their finances. With this objective, she has published the cases that especially moved her in a book titled “A Bunch of Flowers”. She said, “All of us as children have enjoyed stories and I will use that as a tool to impart wisdom. I meet several women who are in distress. Over the years, I realised that writing about their issues is the best tool to convey my message.” Ms Jayakar is a member of MAVA (Men Against Violence & Abuse), an NGO. She has also written the script for a television serial called ‘Adhikar’, which was the first serial on legal issues in India and won two RAPA awards in 1994.
Ms Jayakar’s talk was followed by an interactive working session on finance, specifically designed for women, by Mr Debashis Basu, Editor of Moneylife and Ms Sucheta Dalal, consulting editor of Moneylife. Ms Dalal spoke on how to avoid losses by staying away from certain kinds of investments like chain marketing and pyramid schemes. She also spoke about the implications of credit card transactions and gave the audience some tips on choosing banking and insurance services sensibly.
Mr Basu told people that investment does not have to be difficult and complicated if one was clear about the basic objectives, avoided obvious potholes and followed a sensible and consistent investment policy. He explained at length the enormous power of compounding one’s income, and quoted Albert Einstein, who had said, “Compounding is the most powerful force in the universe.”
A surprise visitor to the Moneylife Foundation office on this day was Mr K P Krishnan, Joint Secretary (Capital Markets), Ministry of Finance. He spoke at length about investor protection, financial literacy and awareness.
Although the event was primarily aimed at women, it saw the participation of several men as well. Moneylife will be holding a series of such workshops for all categories of investors. To be informed about these, please take advantage of the free membership and registration facility offered at www.moneylife.in.