October 30, 2009

Micro Finance for The Indifferent !

Yes the economic bug has smitten me again. The last time i have written something in this genre had to do with the downfall of neo petroleum economies. And as usual the prediction has gone wrong and the oil rich kingdoms are back to their comfort zones. So why should you take me seriously with this regard ?

Banking is a daily necessity like the air we breath or the food we eat. You could beg to differ and i can keep on arguing on my opinion. But the fact is that it is one think that has been influencing our actions, decisions and even our destiny. So changes in the banking system can evidently bring about changes in our lives.

I have been reading the biography of the Nobel Prize winner Mr. Muhammed Yunus, and i have got an entirely new perspective towards persistence and social entrepreneurship. For the uninitiated he is the father of Micro Finance. He has showed with evident results that we can change the social structure of bonded labour and the destitute through credit. ( the book is a must read, will write a review once iam done through it)

So what is Micro Finance, in a layman's word or through the eyes of the Mango People it can be defined as institutional credit of small amounts without physical collateral and collected back in small negligible installments (Daily, Weekly etc.). It is an anti thesis to conventional banking, where minute loans are detested with the argument that the proposition wont even cover the documentation cost involved, Where you have to prove that you are rich enough to not need a loan to avail the facility you need and Where the reality of the society is totally neglected to service the so called socially and economical advanced class.

This is the true form of banking the society needs, to make a difference to the social structure yet remain profitable and financially viable. The process of raising a loan is a more emotional task than the cumbersome paper works. In the grameen model the proposer has to form a group of five people who act as mutual guarantees instead of the collateral model and the group ha to prove their credit worthiness step by step to ensure that the entire team is eligible for the credit.

The grameen people has been instrumental in elevating poverty, social stigma, improving living conditions and even empowering its customers. Another matter of difference is that the majority of customers of the grameen model are women. This is because women are better to lend (yes) because of their credibility, social conscience and responsible nature.

So what can we learn from the model the poor can be trusted than rich industrialist faking non favorable conditions for defaulting humongous amounts of money. The recovery rate is 98 % compared to some disturbing statistics provided by banks established to promote industry, agriculture and society. We need more Muhammed Yunus in the world to alleviate poverty, bring about social change.

In new developments the opportunistic entrepreneurs have evolved micro finance into more commercial models manipulating the need of the people. They sell anything under the sun through the micro finance model, some are good like offering the rural folks with drip irrigation systems, solar lanterns etc. But some have gone one step ahead and disguised to form a new avatar of money lenders promoting materialistic behaviour in the unexplored rural market.

October 28, 2009

Where Are We Going ?

Now i know why not many people are consistent in their motives, why it is not always easy to do the easy things. I have come to accept the reality that life is predictable, there are no shortcuts to happiness and above all the easiest and most basic things are the most difficult ones. Don't ask me about the circumstances that has led to such a conclusion.

When i read the book Alchemist for the first time , i wondered what is so special about following your dreams, doesn't everyone already do that, isn't that the purpose of our life. But now i have come to realise that complacency is as much an illusion as any other feeling of self content. We do loose hope, we do compromise, we can even fail and leave behind what was once the only purpose of our lives.

The greatest mystery of life is not how we can succeed but how we can hold our nerves together in times of great stress. How not to step over to the other side can be more demanding than how to remain focused on our dreams.

I know all these sounds crappy but sometimes we sit, we ponder and come up with strange conclusions. Its just that iam going through one of those stages of confusion, when everything puts you in a dilemma, even the fundemental questions of life. What is the purpose of a life ? what is our role ? How we can make a difference ? How not to be forgotten ?

So if you are as enlightened as me, ask yourself these questions, if you are luckier than me in finding an answer do share them with me.


October 16, 2009

On Rain, Rainy Days and More !!

The most memorable memories of my motherland has a lot to do with rain, the drizzle, the downpour, the gloomy sky and the intoxicating smell of soil.Like the latest tourism departments promotion, rain is an experience , something to cherish for a long time. Unfortunately the past month monsoon has been on a reluctant mode. The sky has been frowning, acting moody yet denying the much awaited rain.
In my memories related to the school days one of the most memorable one is riding the bicycle through a winding road wearing a rain coat yet drenched in water. I remember a school holiday when the main bridge connecting our town was flooded by a heavy rain. The joy was not in the holiday or the free time but in seeing the bridge flooded, the pillars and the road immersed like a jigsaw puzzle visible here and there.
The same river bed had been left barren in the major part of last decade like a football ground or a plot assigned for sale by real estate agents. Unexpectedly the river flooded once and an opportunistic photographer utilized the snap and sold it with the caption " the dream view of Bharathapuzha"

Another interesting memory is switching our football game into a match of rugby when it rained and the ground became slippery and muddy. The main motive of the game is to slide thought the slippery grass and enjoy the unexpected free falls. One of these days a good friend was tagged as "Faker" (not as in fraud) but someone good at faking movements and tackling. Rugby was an opportunity to get even with your rivals and annoying peers, all you had to do was pass the ball to him while playing and inititate a pile up over him. He is sure to suffer sufficient pain and definitely remember you for a long time.

There are some really mesmerising things to do in a good rainy season. Walk barefoot through the muddy floor, sip a cup of hot tea in the balcony or open veranda with the rain drizzling on your face forced by the wind. Drive with the windows open playing soft music like abnajaa by Euphoria, Pall by KK or the likes of these, drive aimlessly (not recklessly which iam famous for).

Go to the beach and sit on its shores staring aimlessly at the glory and limitless fury the sea holds in its belly. Walk through a paddy field and cross the brooks bare foot across it. Try to get the huge circular palm leaves cap used by the farmers and stand in a heavy down pour, it is a wonderful experience.

Travel in a train sitting on the side doors with the wind blowing a rain drizzling on your face ( be safe and alert). A time to renew friendships, to write poetry (sentences ending with rhyming words written in paragraphs hehe). To huddle in cozy sofa and watch a tear jerker or a cheesy romantic flick. To sleep without knowing whether its day or night listening to the tinkering, splashing, humming sound of the wind and rain. Wake up in a haze and again sleep like there is no tomorrow.The best food to have in the rain spicy hot pani puri or in the home front try apna meen mulakittath and appam a culinary marvel.

"rain like there is no tomorrow, like its going to flood away our lives, let it wash away all our pain and sorrow, let it rain for a better tomorrow "

P.S. This is not a fresh post and the timing is unlikely too, this has been posted elsewhere earlier. The idea of putting it up here has lot to do with the absence of a new post and my increasing lethargy towards writing something new.