By Nita Chicooree-Mercier
One of the biggest obstacles facing young adults and older employees who envisage to start a family, purchase land and build a home is the exorbitant rate of interest which keeps thousands of citizens indebted to banks for fifteen to twenty years and more. It is a vicious system which enriches the rich who themselves are granted lower rates of interest for colossal sums borrowed from banks for investment in highly lucrative economic sectors.
DYFI members during a protest rally demanding justice for the Hathras victim outside the gate of IIT Powai in Mumbai Friday Oct. 2 2020. Photo – PTI
Citizens who do not register for NHDC assistance have to go through stressful borrowings and put up with a number of challenges to meet the deadline of reimbursement. Sometime back, the Ministry of Finance announced a new system of peer to peer loans to be regulated and supervised by the relevant institutions. That’s good news to the public. A short presentation of the new measure gave us to understand that it would be a panacea to financial worries entailed by high interests on loans imposed by banks.
Not many details have come out since the first announcement. There was a laconic precision to the effect that rules would be set to determine the conditions that would make a borrower eligible for loans. Common folks already have a system of sit, whereby money is collected from all the members in a given group and handed over to one member on a monthly basis. It is a system built on mutual understanding, agreement and trust. Higher sums of money require a more elaborate and structured system which empowers borrowers to pursue personal projects without a sword hanging over their head.
The rate of interest remains high while it goes down to less than one percent in richer countries. How the system fleeces thousands of citizens and blatantly enriches the super-rich and big business corporates needs no further explanation to understand the huge inequalities prevailing between different social classes. Mortgage pains, overwork and multiple jobs are the collateral damages many a citizen have to face, with detrimental effects on the quality of their lives in the present system of loans from banks.
The prevailing loan system puts off young people from getting entangled and bogged down in a net that is far from being an appealing prospect in their early adult life, let alone start a family in such conditions. So the peer to peer loan should relieve a burden off their shoulders. A detailed report on the new financial service is expected in the near future.
It is obvious that changes have to be brought in sectors that generate huge disparities in society, and the present system is a nightmare that cannot be inflicted on the younger generation for years. Left-wing parties are not so vocal on an issue that should be of prime concern to them. Their suggestions, if any, should be given due attention.
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Mauritian connection in Hathras protests?
Following news published in the press about funds sent from Mauritius to allegedly foment riots in Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh, after the rape and murder of a young Dalit woman and her swift cremation in the early hours of the morning in the absence of her relatives, which sparked anger and protests, a Mauritian minister stated that there was no official report from Delhi as regards the involvement of locals in financing unrest amongst Dalits in Hathras.
The question is why the Indian press published the news in the first place, and whether the Centre ordered an investigation into the matter to shed light on what is a serious case of fomenting unrest and pitching a caste against the authorities in Uttar Pradesh. And who stands to gain in disrupting law and peace in the state? Reportedly, the Indian press broke out the news after the arrest of four journalists from Kerala in Hathras and their interrogation by the police. Judging from the names of the journalists, suspicion arose regarding the likely source of funds that were allegedly sent from Mauritius, or whether the island served as a platform for the transfer of funds.
Any involvement of locals with media spokespersons in India to take advantage of the pain of an aggrieved family to create uprisings is a serious matter that cannot be shoved under the carpet. It is therefore necessary that a thorough investigation be undertaken to dispel apprehensions about the likelihood of any underground mafiosi-like group operating from Mauritius.
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An underworld of fishy business
Word went around that lots of shady business are slyly done in meat importation after non-compliance with sanitary rules was denounced recently. As things stand, pesticides and the use of hormones in industrial farming have altered the quality of meat over the years. Consumers certainly do not need to have stale meat with fake expiry dates sold to them. Regular inspection to detect fraud in the meat market will ensure food safety so as to avoid health problems.
Sporadic arrests staged in street corners to round up vendors and embark all their stuff in ADSU cars may indicate a serious commitment to track down drug peddlers. Such news is splashed on television and in the press on a regular basis. The hard fact is that small fries are usually caught in the net of the police, but their arrests rarely lead to drug barons who thrive on the parallel economy.
What are the obstacles to the dismantling of the underground networks? This has created an atmosphere of deep distrust in the authorities over decades. How come that the big fish get away with almost any wrongdoing? Do the police authorities have a free hand in carrying out investigations independently to ensure a high degree of efficiency?
A high degree of transparency is needed to inform the public in the allocation of funds in generous government handouts right and left. Mere announcement of millions thrown here and there do not mean much to the public in terms of proper use of state funds.
* Published in print edition on 16 October 2020