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On International Women’s Day, the three women were applauded for their special efforts towards uplifting women financially, building alternate media for education and fostering night schools for working students
On the occasion of International Women's Day on Tuesday, Moneylife Foundation felicitated three women achievers for their special contribution in separate fields: Ms Preeti Telang, general manager of Swadhaar FinAccess, Ms Chandita Mukherjee, founder of Comet Media, and Ms Nikita Ketkar, founder of Masoom.
Ms Deena Mehta, director of the Bombay Stock Exchange, presented a memento to each of the women and appreciated their special efforts. "We do not realise, but it is the NGOs which make the country liveable. We all know the kind of gaps that exist in public administration. We should thank civil society organisations that take up the responsibility to help people and better our lives."
Deena Mehta felicitates Preeti Telang, general manager of Swadhaar FinAccess, which works with urban poor women
Accepting the acknowledgement by Moneylife Foundation of her work, Ms Telang explained the mission of Swadhaar FinAccess, saying, "There are many schemes for women in rural India, but very few for slum dwellers in urban areas. It takes a lot of persuasion to get the government and banks to start zero-balance savings accounts and issue ATM cards for them. Together, we have tried to teach these women about banking, so that they can deposit their small day-to-day savings easily."
Swadhaar FinAccess is a non-banking finance company that provides micro-finance. Its activities are focused on financial literacy, savings and livelihood development programmes. Ms Telang said the NGO currently reaches out to 8,000 women, and it aims to cover 30,000 slum dwellers by 2012. Swadhaar partners with Citibank, which has provided zero-balance accounts for urban poor women. Swadhaar has also worked with ICICI Bank, to facilitate banking in areas where Citibank cannot reach. (Read her story here:Udhaar se Swadhaar tak )
Chandita Mukherjee, award-winning short documentary film maker and founder of Comet Media, accepts a memento from Deena Mehta. Comet aims to develop alternate media for education and inculcating a scientific spirit
Chandita Mukherjee spoke about the need to foster alternate media for education and innovate learning processes. She said, "There is a need to make learning enjoyable and move beyond rote learning, as well as reach out to those who don't have access to education. It is important to incorporate new, modern teaching techniques, and we are working for that."
Ms Mukherjee is an award-winning independent filmmaker, and is one of the best short documentary makers in the country. She has been part of various film committees, and her interest lies in promoting a scientific outlook and learning about India's technological heritage. Comet Media, which she set up, makes communication materials in a range of media, conducts workshops for teachers and students, and is exploring the area of community radio which is still very new in India. (Read her story here:A Different Toy Story)
Deena Mehta congratulates Nikita Ketkar, founder of Masoom, for her efforts to set up night schools for working students
Nikita Ketkar underlined the need to foster night schools, which are the only means of learning for most impoverished students, who are busy working during the day. Ms Ketkar's organisation, Masoom, does exactly this. "We have 600 students currently, and plan to spread out to the whole of Maharashtra. We are asking the government to open night schools in other states also, because there are many youngsters who have to work during the day to support themselves."
Ms Ketkar held administrative positions in the Defence Research & Development Organisation, Air Headquarters, and the NCC Directorate before setting up Masoom. She moved out of the Indian Civil Service to work with charitable organisations. (Read her story here:Turning night into dawn)
Masoom addresses the infrastructure and quality of education provided in night schools, with the intention to improve the learning environment and prospects of less-privileged students. To involve the students and parents, regular workshops are organised where parents and teachers come together, also narrowing the bridge through such meets.
The BSE board director believes that leaving women, children out of the financial area is something a family cannot afford today. Besides, she argues, men are known to be bad planners, and emphasises that women must learn more about investments
"Women definitely make better investors, because investing, by default, is a game of common sense and patience and women possess this in spades," Ms Deena Mehta, the lone woman member on the board of directors of the Bombay Stock Exchange, said today. Speaking at a workshop hosted by Moneylife Foundation on the occasion of International Women's Day, Ms Mehta said that keeping women and children out of the financial arena is something a family cannot afford today.
Chandita Mukherjee speaking about her organization Comet Media
Ms Mehta dwelt a lot on what families ought to do about their finances. "Simply sticking to fixed deposits will not help, because inflation will eat away at your money. Understanding the market is necessary, and not difficult. If you can take the pains to learn, you will not only make money, you will also contribute to family fortunes," she said.
Almost all families are financially sick, because they don't pay attention to their money, she said. "Women must educate themselves about investing and the market, because if you miss the market, you are missing a lot, and losing a lot of money in the process."
Nikita Ketkar speaking about ‘Masoom’ her organization working for night school children
Several international studies have shown that women are wiser in investing and they manage finances better, whether it is at home or at the workplace. India's top banks have prominent women administrators and heads-names like Naina Lal Kidwai, Chanda Kochhar, Ranjana Kumar, Kalpana Morparia. Still, finance, and in general economics, is viewed as a predominantly masculine field. Ms Mehta pointed out how, historically, stock markets had been an exclusive arena, with no entry for women. Hence, till date, very few women have entered the markets. Mass participation in the markets is only a recent phenomenon.
Busting the 'men-only' myth on finances, Ms Mehta said, "Most men have zero understanding of financial management, and bad planners. That doesn't only apply to the husbands, but the fund managers as well. So question the man of the house as well, because there is a very good chance that he is not doing his work properly, or is clueless about what should be done."
Preeti Telang speaking about 'Swadhaar- FinAccess' and its activities
On the occasion of International Women's Day today, Moneylife Foundation felicitated three women achievers: Ms Preeti Telang, general manager, Swadhaar FinAccess, which helps urban poor women save money and advocates financial literacy among them; Ms Chandita Mukherjee, award-winning short documentary film maker and founder of Comet Media, which develops media to foster education and a scientific spirit; and Ms Nikita Ketkar, founder of Masoom, which supports night schools.
Last year, on this occasion, Moneylife Foundation had felicitated Ms Indrani Malkani, who started the Model School Bus Service and is also involved in some other social projects; Ms Sumaira Abdulali , noted environmentalist and founder of Awaaz Foundation; and Ms Anandini Thakur, noted civic rights activist from Bandra and chairman of H/West Ward Citizens' Forum.
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In a panel discussion on the Union Budget, organised by Moneylife Foundation at Mumbai, prominent speakers felt that this year’s Budget is a precursor of many changes that would take place from April 2012 onwards
The Union Budget 2011 has some good features, but on overall analysis it appears to have done more lip service than anything specific to tighten the country's loose governance systems, improve economic competitiveness, or hold out hope of effectively tapping its anticipated demographic dividend. This was the overall sentiment expressed by speakers at a Budget Discussion hosted by Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Ameet Patel, chartered accountant and tax partner at SKP Group said, "The Union Budget 2011, is dry and has very less tax proposals as the government is trying to pave the way for the Direct Tax Code (DTC), which will determine taxation issues for the next 40-50 years, and the Goods and Services Tax (GST)."
He pointed out that the thrust of the Budget was undoubtedly on the infrastructure sector, which accounts for 48.5% of the planned expenditure. On the growth front, the finance minister (FM) expects the economy to grow at 9% in the next fiscal and he did not dare to completely roll back the fiscal stimulus announced in 2008. The rates of service tax and excise duty have remained intact, Mr Patel said. "Another reason not to change the tax rates was the comfortable position of fiscal deficit, mainly due to revenue collections from auctioning of 3G spectrum."
Speaking on the impact of the Budget on the stock markets, leading investment expert and prominent market analyst, Gul Tekchandani, said, "I think, for the Nifty the bottom would be 5,000 and by the year-end it may go up to 6,000 levels." Mr Tekchandani also shared his experiences on the global markets, the persistent inflation threat across the world and its possible effect on Indian markets.
The FM has allowed foreign investors to invest in SEBI-registered mutual funds after fulfilling Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements. However, Debashis Basu, editor and publisher, Moneylife, cited various studies by many institutions over the years, and said, "Although foreign investment is a good thing, many investors are home biased when it comes to investment." For example, he said, people tend to invest only in their home country, rather than invest in a country that they know little about where they may earn more.
The panellists analysed, debated several aspects of the Budget, and presented a detailed analysis of the implications of the proposals for the common man and corporates. There was an interesting and enlightening exchange of opinions between the panellists and the participants.
Earlier, Sucheta Dalal, managing editor, Moneylife, and founder trustee of Moneylife Foundation, introduced the panellists.