Beyond Money
A better Life for the Fairer Sex

Dr Nita Mukherjee finds a century-old NGO in the heart of Mumbai

Twelve years ago, when Guddi Advani walked into Seva Sadan to volunteer her time, she had not expected that the Sadan would become her mission in life. She did not even know then that it was one of the oldest organisations in Mumbai for destitute women and girls. Today, she is its honorary president.

Later registered under the Bombay Public Trust Act 1950, the Sadan was founded in 1908 by two philanthropists, Behramji Malabari and Diwan Dayaram Gidumal. The institution provides shelter, education, vocational training, and employment opportunities to make girls and women self-sufficient and to lead lives with dignity.

Over the past hundred years, Seva Sadan has changed in its approach. Guddi says: “We have tried to go beyond the basics of food and shelter. The old ideology of charity has been replaced with goals of education, self-reliance and overall development. To instil self-worth and self-reliance, women are assigned duties and jobs at the institution, for which they are given a small remuneration.”

Seva Sadan has a ‘Home’ that houses approximately 100 women and girls. Free low-cost accommodation is provided in a family-like atmosphere. Residents are provided a nutritious, well-balanced diet which the inmates assist in preparing. All aspects of the residents’ lives—social, emotional, educational, economic and cultural—are looked after. Currently, residents’ age varies from eight to 90 years. Several women have lived in the institution for over 50 years and continue to contribute their time and skills for the welfare of the Seva Sadan community.

Admission to the Home is given irrespective of caste, creed or religion to: orphans; single mothers who are unable to provide adequate shelter to their girl child and are willing to come and live with her; single-parent girl child; girl child whose parents are unable to provide for her; and homeless women.

The Sadan also runs educational institutions for girls. There is a pre-primary school for 100 children. The primary school (Std 1 to Std 4) is aided by the BMC and has 350 students; the secondary school aided by Government of Maharashtra has about 500 students. The schools are primarily for local girls and the medium of instruction is Marathi; many parents are demanding that it be changed to English medium for which the Sadan will have to train its teachers—a task that requires a lot of funding. The Sadan also has a teachers training college offering a two-year government-recognised diploma course (DEd). All these activities require funding, only a part of which comes from the interest on the corpus. For the rest, funds are raised as project grants.

More recently, the Sadan has started what it calls ‘self-sufficiency projects’. There are two restaurants initiated and managed by Seva Sadan and located on its premises, namely, ‘By The Way’ and ‘Aahaar’ which provide value meals and are very popular. Simultaneously, they offer livelihood for the Sadan inmates. The former serves non-vegetarian and vegetarian Indian & Continental cuisine and the latter caters Maharshtrian/Gujarati meals and snacks.

The Sadan is managed by a 12-member honorary managing committee elected once in three years. The committee meets every month. Khurshed Pavri is the secretary and Kashmira Dajee the treasurer. There is also an advisory panel comprising eminent professionals from various fields.

There are several ways in which you can help, besides contributing to the general corpus of the Trust (for which exemption under 80G is available). You can sponsor: an inmate’s annual expenses (Rs20,000); a child’s education (Rs4,000-Rs5,000 per year); a meal for all inmates (Rs3,000-Rs5,000); a teacher’s training programme (Rs10,000 per year) or even a school picnic (Rs10,000). Most of all, the Sadan needs professionals who can offer their skills and services on a voluntary basis. Guddi says ruefully, “Because of the pressures of living in Mumbai, this spirit of volunteerism is now dying.”

Seva Sadan Society
Pandita Ramabai Road
Gamdevi, Mumbai 400 007
Telphone: +91-22-2380 8005
Telefax: +91-22-2388 9109
Email: [email protected]
Website: sevasadan.org

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Gold ETFs get crowded and debt funds are popular among retail investors

Even as the equity market rallied and then turned volatile, retail investors have put money in gold and bonds

Investors have been chasing gold over equity during the last year, as gold prices have relentlessly climbed and equity shares went nowhere. According to data sourced from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), assets under management (AUM) of gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) increased to Rs482 crore as on March 2010 from Rs298 crore in September 2009. The number of investor accounts or folios increased to 1.42 lakh from 99,454 during the same period. Religare Mutual Fund launched its 'Religare Gold Exchange Traded Fund' in February which has mopped up Rs26.68 crore as on May 2010. But the percentage of gold ETFs to the total AUM still remains very low.
 
The retail share of traditional ETFs (excluding gold) has lost Rs12.90 crore, from Rs130 crore in September 2009 to Rs117 crore (as on March 2010). Benchmark Mutual Fund launched India's first ETF called Nifty BeES in 2002. The industry has seen the launch of 11 new ETFs since 2002.
 
Industry experts say that gold prices are not likely to see any further upside from here. "People did make some good money in gold ETFs. We have also seen good opportunities in debt funds. The upside in gold is not going to be too substantial from here," said Y Jawahar, VP-head, distribution, Mata Securities.
 
"It's not been helped by institutional investors but rather by retail investors. There is a general positive outlook on gold. Considering that gold prices are going up, it's a typical case of retail investors chasing gold," said Dhruva Raj Chatterji, research manager, iFAST Financial India Pvt Ltd.
 
The gold rush-though small in size-is significant when set against the sharply reduced flows into equity funds. Between September 2009-March 2010 investor accounts or folios have dropped by 2.56 lakh. The 30-share BSE Sensex is down 1% between September 2009 and March 2010. In May 2010, equity schemes reversed the negative trend when they recorded net inflows of Rs1,256 crore after continued redemptions for months together.
 
Balanced funds which provide a combination of debt and equity have recorded a 6% slump in their retail AUM at Rs8,969 crore as on March 2010 from Rs9,344 crore in September 2009. The retail investor folios in balanced funds dropped by 1.66 lakh between the same period. Balanced funds constituted only 3% of the total AUM as on May 2010. "People might be investing separately in debt and equity and it could be because of some profit-booking. There cannot be a clear reason behind it. The composition of balanced funds as an asset of the industry has been stationary all through the year," added Mr Chatterji. 

"Balanced funds traditionally had an Equity bias to take advantage of the Income Tax rate structures. However, the performance, positioning and marketing was and to some extent still is not up to the expectation of investors, and this could probably be the reason for the decline in AUM," said Jimmy A Patel, CEO, Quantum Mutual Fund. 
 
There is one other place retail investors have put in their money: debt funds. The retail AUM share of debt funds recorded a Rs4,279-crore jump in seven months while the investor accounts increased by 3.23 lakh.

 Global funds, which were launched with great fanfare during the bull market have performed poorly, leading investors to withdraw money from such schemes. The retail AUM share of these funds dropped Rs124 crore in seven months. There has been a decline of 25,206 investor accounts. Fortis China India Equity Fund, launched in late 2007, is down 8%. Similarly, Tata Indo-global Infrastructure Fund, launched in November 2007, has plunged 10% over two-and-a-half years. Moneylife had previously reported about the dismal performance of such schemes
(Read here: http://www.moneylife.in/article/5781.html) while predicting in 2007 that these were mere ploys by fund companies to attract cash. 

While the retail investor accounts under all categories of schemes have only fallen by 37,161, the AUM size of retail investors has seen a 7% jump, an increase of Rs10,771 crore since September 2009. The total retail investor AUM of all schemes stands at Rs1.63 lakh crore as on 31 March 2010. According to data available, the total number of investor accounts stood at 4.77 crore holding units worth Rs6.16 lakh crore as on March 2010. Individual investors contribute Rs2.45 lakh crore or 39.77% of total net assets in the mutual fund industry.

"The industry had always worked on the “push” strategy. Post the entry load removal, there is no price for guessing that distributors have gone all out and pushed competitive products over Mutual Funds. The Fund of Funds always had a tax disadvantage, and therefore it is likely that investors have encashed their Fund of Fund investments with an improvement in market sentiments," adds Mr Patel.

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