Ms Usha Thorat, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India said, “People are not aware of the right questions to be asked. Financial literacy and education can ensure that people are armed with the right questions. Financial literacy is an essential part of financial inclusion. Unless we are able to understand the requirements of investors, financial literacy cannot achieve its purpose”. She was giving away the prizes for the ‘Big Ideas Essay Contest’ organised by Moneylife in association with Reliance Mutual Fund.
The prize distribution ceremony was preceded by a lively panel discussion on ‘Taking Financial Markets to the Masses’ – the theme of the essay contest. The panel comprised Dr Anil Khandelwal, former Chairman, Bank of Baroda, Mr Jagan Mohan Rao, Chief General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Amitabh Mohanty, Head, Fixed Income, Reliance Capital Asset Management, Mr Madu Kannan, CEO, Bombay Stock Exchange and Mr Shailesh Haribhakti, Founder Partner, BDO Haribhakti. During the discussion, Mr Khandelwal said, “Financial illiteracy is widely prevalent even among literates. One of the reasons why investors shy away from the markets is because the wrongful conduct of some market participants has not enthused confidence among the masses.” Mr Haribhakti added, “We need to seriously ponder why retail investors are withdrawn from the markets. Our challenge remains to create the right experience by serving the education and awareness needs of the population.” Mr Mohanty rightly stated, “Gone are the days when passive investing was a viable option. It is upto us to ensure people are equipped with the ability to ask the right questions.” Mr Kannan added, “Financial literacy is even more important in the Indian context. We at BSE have given importance to the training aspect for different types of asset classes. But I feel financial literacy is also needed on the institutional side.” Mr Jagan Mohan Rao agreed, “Only trained people should be allowed to advise people on financial products.”
The winners of the keenly contested essay competition are:
First prize - Ms Anshika Malaviya (Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies). She gets two return tickets to Dubai from Bahrain Air plus cash prize Rs20,000;
Second prize - Mr Binod Anand (MIT International School of Broadcasting and Journalism). He gets a Mahindra Holidays package for two for two-nights-three days to Goa plus cash prize Rs10,000.
Third prize - Mr Sanket Desai (Mumbai Business School) gets a Blackberry smartphone from Ravi Syam’s organisation – Media Training Worldwide
Most Original Idea prize - Mr Rakesh Sancheti (Symbiosis Institute International business) gets a cash prize of Rs25,000 from Moneylife.
Early Bird prize - Mr Sagar Kulkarni (Welingkar Institute of Management) gets a 4 night-5 days package to Goa from Goa Tourism
The winners were selected by a very eminent jury headed by Dr Anil Khandelwal, former Chairman, Bank of Baroda. Other jury members included Mr Jagan Mohan Rao, Chief General Manager, Reserve Bank of India, Mr Madhu Kela, Head, Equity Investments, Reliance Mutual Fund, Mr Joseph Massey, Managing Director, MCX-SX, Mr SG Kalia, Executive Director, Vijaya Bank, Mr Debashis Basu, Editor & Publisher, Moneylife Magazine.
Earlier, Mr Debashis Basu, announced the formation of the Moneylife Foundation which will undertake financial literacy programmes targeted for different sections of the saving & investing community. Moneylife Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the cause of financial literacy, investor and consumer education and protection.
The high-profile essay contest was undertaken as a unique initiative of Moneylife magazine to identify outstanding talent among the 70-odd management schools in the Mumbai-Pune region. Students were required to submit a 3,000 word essay on the topic ‘Taking Financial Markets to the Masses’. The response was heartening, with over a hundred submissions received from over 26 institutes. A preliminary screening resulted in 17 essays being short-listed. Each of these 17 finalists was given a certificate of appreciation, a gift, and a six-month subscription to Moneylife magazine.