Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What’s the good word?

I’ve always been fascinated by how we use words. Sometimes we string them together with only the faintest of ideas about what they mean. Sometimes it comes out right and sometimes …
Here are some words and collections of words that have caught my eye over the past few months. They come from across India — okay, Delhi and Kerala to be specific. Together, they are a testament to our way with words.
I start with the ‘curious and miscellaneous stall’ and end with my personal favourite — ‘Om Fizz, full of primordial elements to promote freshness’. May these words bring ‘freshness’ to your day, every day. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mallus and money

Literacy levels in Kerala are very high. Among the highest in India at 93.91 per cent according to the latest census. Kerala also has nine universities and 300-plus colleges. So it would be safe to say that a good number of people in Kerala have college degrees.
Yet, people in the State seem to fall for all sorts of financial scams; from money chains to fly-by-night chit funds. The latest being an alleged real estate scam.
Why does this happen? Why is it that people who are among India’s most literate, educated and aware, don’t seem to be able to figure out what’s a con and what’s not.
One reason for the Malayalee’s susceptibility to financial scams, I guess, is a basic human instinct — the desire to get rich quick. So something that promises to double or treble money in a jiffy breaks through all notions of caution.
More important though, I believe, is our lack of Financial Literacy. Most of us just don’t get even the basics of finance; so the more complex stuff goes right over our heads. As the recent global economic crisis illustrated, we’re not alone in not being able to come to grips with the nuances of finance. But that’s no consolation at all.
What Kerala, and indeed India, needs is a new movement — for total financial literacy. A movement that gives us tools to understand and manage our finances and the skills to see through scams.
Financial literacy even needs to be a part of the ‘life skills’ courses that are increasingly being taught in our schools and colleges. For I really can’t think of a greater ‘life skill’ than the ability to understand money and how to manage it. Perhaps it’s time we established a Financial Literacy Mission.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

One for Kerala

Kerala Needs You. Yes, it really does need you; rather us.
This post is a prop for Kerala Needs You, a new blog that’s been started by Swarup, a friend.
It is intended to be a space that will “highlight issues that threaten our identity and issues that need change management. These could be issues that no one might focus on today - either because there are no votes, media attention or money in it or simply because they are not seen as issues.”
The way I understand it, all opinions are welcome — even dissenting ones — on Kerala Needs You as long as they contribute to the discussion.
So if Kerala has you in its thrall, pitch in and let the ideas flow for a better Kerala. There’s currently an interesting conversation on Kerala’s — actually the Malayalee’s — new-found penchant for painting houses in all colours of the rainbow and then some!