Tag Archives: Shubhashish

I am alive.

 

This is an email I sent to every single contributor to Project Hope on January 12, 2014, the first year anniversary of Hope.

 

 

Hi,

A very happy new year to you!
Today is a special day. It is the first year anniversary of Project Hope. What better day than this to write to you and share what we have accomplished. Nothing of this would have been possible without you. Thank you.
A few of you wrote to me in the earlier months asking my whereabouts. So here it is.
Five months, one full term and 15 kgs lighter I must say I am doing pretty good! Although I don’t have any major update at this moment as grades for the three essays from the first term are yet to be announced. Yes, I am not in the best of situations but nothing ever goes as per the plan. I really wish I could devote less time thinking and planning expenses as the money is woefully short. In my previous emails I did mention about the forex rates hitting my budget hard but this is worse than I imagined. But this isn’t anything that can’t be tackled. I am doing everything possible to make it work and will sail through. Just that, as I said, I wish I could worry less about money.
I am fully satisfied with the course and am really enjoying it. London is pretty and on many days while walking back home and looking at the skyline I think that I can’t believe I actually made it. And I think of each one of you, your emails, your words of support and thank you in my heart. I hope you get the hiccups on a regular basis.
I will write again by the end of this month updating about the grades for the first term.
Cheers!

This is it. Day Zero.

This is an email I sent to every single contributor to Project Hope on September 8, 2013.

 

Hi,

I fly to London tonight.
To be honest, there was a point in the past month when I thought that this email will never happen. But here it is.
Thank you once again. In its truest sense believe me that this wouldn’t have been possible if not for your unconditional support. I am overwhelmed by your love. Definitely my past life’s karma is paying me off.
After being in touch over the past months I am sure you have realised how dramatic I am (cues in some Gothic music), hence I am christening today as Day Zero.
This is where it begins.
Cheers!

 

Pound touches 100

This is an email I sent to every single contributor to Project Hope on August 19, 2013.

 

Hi,

Six months ago when I sat down to budget this MA plan I had to take a worst-case scenario. I took 100 rupees to a pound. Today this nightmare has come true. It is not that I don’t have this money. The question is whether I am being arrogant by still going ahead with it when affording it means looking like a fool.
This is not the first time I am apprising you the currency fluctuation. Some of you replied after my earlier email that I should have handled currency volatility by certain methods. Although, it is really not in my hands. The visa rules needed money to be in the account for a specific period of time. This means that I had no option but to see the rupee slide and see Project Hope expense swell like its been stung by a bee.
By the time I came to a stage where I could buy pounds it had already crossed 92. Obviously I made a mistake by hoping that the RBI guidelines and the government’s actions might come to the rescue.
The question is whether Project Hope is tenable? Am I being pure foolish if I don’t abandon this now? 
Sometimes one needs to go by the gut feel and discard the economic tangent. I am beginning to feel that the increase in monetary implication cannot be ignored anymore.
I am trying to find answers to the above asked questions. Its my job to keep you posted, hence this email. I will communicate my final decision by the end of the week.
Regards,

Does our socialist economy really care about education?

Why do education loans attract the highest interest rates when the government stresses on the impetus of education?

I distinctly remember the union budget speeches of our Finance Minister and now the President of India Pranab Mukherjee and the current finance minister P Chidambaram. They both outlined the government’s focus of elementary education through theSarva Shiksha Abhiyan and theRight to Education Act. Speech after speech they stressed on the government’s commitment towards the education sector.

In P Chidambaram’s last budget speech, the word ‘education’ was used 15 times whereas ‘economy’ was uttered 13 times. However, in the 2010 budget speech of Pranab Mukherjee, he said the word ‘economy’ 19 times and ‘education’ 8 times. Inclusive growth? As part of Mukherjee’s inclusive development agenda, he proposed to increase the plan allocation for school education from Rs.26,800 crore in 2009-10  to Rs.31,036 crore in 2010-11.

“The Right to Education (RTE) Act is being implemented with effect from April 1, 2010 through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). For 2012-13, I have provided Rs 25,555 crore for RTE-SSA. This is an increase of 21.7 per cent over 2011-12,” Mukherjee in 2012-13 budget speech said.
Chidambaram, in 2013-14, said, “Education is the other high priority. I propose to allocate Rs 65,867 crore to the Ministry of Human Resource Development, which is an increase of 17 percent over the RE of the previous year. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Right to Education Act are firmly in place. I propose to provide Rs 27,258 crore for SSA in 2013-14.”

One might argue that with the above mentioned allocations the government is dispensing its social duties. Education for all.

But is this education for all? Is this inclusive? What happens to higher education? What happens to students who dream to study more?

Of course I am not suggesting that the government should subsidise education at every level. But is it too much to expect realism in terms of affording higher education?

Now let’s look at the latest data available with the Reserve Bank of India. It says that during March 2012 to June 2013 period, the lending rates for education loans saw the sharpest decline of 63 basis points. Kudos! Now the bad part: the median lending rates of scheduled commercial banks for the education sector was 13.12 per cent in June 2013. In simpler terms, if you approached any private bank for an education loan, the interest rate it will charge you is 13.12 per cent. Even after the sharpest decline amongst all sectors, the lending rates for education were only second to credit card interest rates. Necessity versus luxury?

A home loan in June 2013 was available for 10.93 per cent, vehicle loan for 12.85 per cent and agriculture loan for 11.67 per cent versus an education loan, at 13.12 per cent. Credit card interest rates were at 26.67 per cent.

Turns out, socialist, democratic republic of India cares more about capitalism. What else could be the reason that a home loan and vehicle loan is cheaper than education loan?

The banks will tell you that the problem is with the students. They do not repay the loans and the bad debts that banks have to write off in the education loan segment are high. Therefore, as the risk is greater, the interest rates are higher. Instead of finding a solution as to why students are not able to repay their student loans, this is the solution the banks have found.

Now imagine such a situation with a big corporation? Banks would have bent over backwards to offer them a corporate debt restructuring (CDR) plan. No questions asked, interest rates lower, time period increased, more money pumped in, moratorium, etc. Kingfisher Airlines?

This story shows how CDR has increased from Rs 86,535 crore in March 2009 to a whopping Rs 2, 50,279 crore in June 2013.

Now let’s look at the RBI data on the deployment of gross bank credit by major sectors. In July 2012 and 2013,outstanding education loans grew to Rs 49,800 crore and Rs 54,500 crore, respectively The education loans, which are mentioned under the priority sector, as on July 2011 were at Rs 45,300 crore. Lowest after micro-credit at Rs 16,200 crore and export credit at Rs 33,100 crore out of the list of 10.

What does this show? The government’s impetus on education is not necessarily finding space with commercial banks?

The priority sectors or the areas important for the economic and social growth of India are identified to be agriculture, micro and small enterprises, education and housing. Interest rates for all of which are in double digits with education being the highest. Education loan, although described as the harbinger of India’s future and economic stability and growth, classified as a priority sector by the government and the RBI, is still mentioned under the ‘personal loan’ sections.

If education is supposed to uplift the people and with them their families and the economy on the whole, is it still a personal loan?

If the government’s allocation for education goes up year on year, if a student wishes to study more it becomes his personal ambition rather than an ambition for the nation?

A student who wishes to pursue his higher education abroad cannot do so because he doesn’t belong to a rich family and the interest rates that the bank charges on such loans is back breaking. Most banks offer education loan for higher studies abroad of upto Rs 20 lakh with a few public sector banks even offering Rs 25 lakh. But these loans are not without a collateral and understandably so.

But what happens to a student whose family doesn’t have a house to mortgage to the bank to secure the loan? Isn’t it the duty of the government to underwrite the loan for the underprivileged?  Is the flight of one’s dream based on the money his parents or their forefathers earned?
If education is such a top priority for the government then the interest rates, the method of lending and government’s role should reflect that.

(Shubhashish is a journalist who is now pursuing Masters in International Studies and Diplomacy in London. Email: shubhashish@msn.com)

 

This column originally appeared in DNA on October 16, 2013.

 

 

We made history!

People say that the problem with me is that my writing is crude because it comes straight from the heart. I guess that explains why I am writing this email at 2.30 am and sending without editing or proofing. I can’t sleep. I am soaking in what we have just achieved. Project Hope. Rs 8 lakh. We are through.

I can’t be happier than to announce to you that we have done it. And we have two more months to go for the deadline.
You know, some said that I pulled it off because it was me. This is just half of the story. Maybe, even less than half. I pulled it off because it was you. Couldn’t have done this without you. You made this possible. Thank you.
I survived every single slander, smear, smug and schmuck behaviour all because of the faith you put in me. Incidentally, all these and I have a common beginning. The letter ‘S’.
I am not making any sense, am I? I am glad I am not. Because there is no better way to explain that I have no words to express my gratitude for what you did for me.
January 12. This is the date when I officially launched Project Hope. I still remember that moment crystal clear when I just told Manisha Lakhe that this is what I am going to do. She has been the backbone of this Project and with this letter I thank her. Without your support and her constant brainwashing I would have quit a long time ago.
I can’t even begin to thank every single one of you for contributing in whatever capacities you could, in spreading the word, in asking others to do the same and in not giving up on my Hope.
I received contributions ranging from Rs 400 to Rs 2,70,000. My hands shiver as I type this because I still can’t believe that we pulled this off. Once someone asked me if the amount of money an individual gave mattered or not. I replied, “Its the intent that matters more than what one gave.” I hope you will agree with me. We are a team. You and me.
You know, when we work to make something possible and that takes over our lives? That’s what Project Hope has been since January for me. I have breathed, eaten, slept and lived Project Hope. There hasn’t been a moment when I thought of anything else. I am glad I am unmarried else my wife would have divorced me for Hope.
And during this journey I realised this strange thing about a goal. When you set your eyes on one, you can’t see, think, imagine anything else. That goal encapsulates your existence. It enchants only one song. It drenches you in the rain where every drop is a reminder of your goal.
But when you achieve that goal life just zooms out and you realise how that goal, which till now was everything, is actually just the first step of a ladder.
We have made history, but in reality, this just turns out to be my first step towards a larger goal I set out to achieve.
I hope I am able to live up to the expectations you put in me. I hope I am able to live to the expectations I put in me. And I hope that with your continued support and love we continue to change lives day after day after day.
We were just 60. Imagining what more of us can do is exhilarating.
Oh and yes, Good morning!
Cheers!
Shubhashish
PS: This is the email I sent out last night to all those chose to a part of Project Hope.

Mid-Day’s story on Project Hope

Mid-Day's story on Project Hope

When the news-writer becomes a news-maker.

Bajaj Capital just offered me a 0% interest loan!

Bajaj Capital just offered me a Rs 15 lakh loan on 0% interest rate. That’s right, you read it correct. 0%.

Is there a catch? Of course there is. Do I know what the catch is. Of course not, I don’t know.

I don’t know how these schemes work. And they way the agents sell the plans its just impossible for a naysayer like me to read between the lines.

Anyway, so here is the deal the agent tried to sell me on the phone:

For example if I go ahead with a Rs 5 lakh loan with 10 year repayment I will be paying Rs 50,000 every year.

Bajaj Capital will invest the loan repayment EMI in a life insurance policy which will have a maturity of Rs 9.60 lakh (This is where the locha is). This entire money will go to the company.

Since Bajaj will get Rs 9.60 lakh at the end of the maturity they don’t need to charge me any interest rate. Hence, I get the loan at 0% interest rate and Bajaj still makes its money on the life insurance policy.

Now I want someone to explain how this works and what is the catch.

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