In my growing up years, the radio played a very important role – it was the only source of entertainment and information apart from books. In a Tamil Brahmin house, the presence of radio was meant for mostly listening to the news. In fact, my father and uncles set their wrist watch time based on the radio news bulletins. We, the children, were encouraged to listen to radio news and discuss the developments with the elders. The other obsession was the Sunday Bournvita quiz contest, which got all of us to participate and improve our general knowledge.
Toward the end of 1980s and early 1990s, the entry of satellite TV made radios take a backseat in urban areas, and for most of the next two decades, the radio was practically defunct. Listening to the radio made a come-back in the 2000s when private FM radio channels started to mushroom. Though these were not into news, the music and entertainment focus got the new generation back to listening to radio, as they zoomed around in their cars. In the past two years, your popular monthly radio programme – ‘Mann Ki Baat’ has made radio popular.
A few days ago, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said in the Parliament that the All India Radio (AIR) earned over Rs 10 crore revenue in the past two years from your ‘Mann Ki Baat’ programme, indicating its wide reach and popularity. I have heard some of them, and find the medium very lucid and engaging. It is simple, easy and to the point. It has taken up several social and important issues which are very endearing.
Money talk is a taboo
Discussing money at home has become an avoidable subject these days. This is true of inter-generation as well as amongst siblings and even friends. Although one does not publicly disclose their wealth, one can easily assess another person’s worth even without disclosing it. At the same time, there is nothing to feel ashamed about if one has less or earns less and yet discusses it with friends and family. Many a times, others, who are more experienced, may have a suggestion or idea which can improve the financial lives of those who do not have much.
Your own humble beginning and open disclosure of the same is an inspiring story for many. In the same context, when you mentioned about the value of Jan Dhan accounts, I think you helped scores of unbanked people open up a bank account. The move helped in creating a financial safety for them to keep their money. It also bolstered financial inclusion. Schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana are doing wonders.
Just the way you got people to realise the importance of cleanliness with talks about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, and about the need to end open defecation and constructing toilets for all, your talk about being careful about ponzi schemes will do a lot of good. For those in far flung areas, radio is the only mode of information and your ‘Mann ki Baat’ is very popular. If you mention the perils of ponzi schemes, the importance of saving, investing and paying taxes – it will go a long way to change the perception of discussing money at home.
Dhan ki baat
If you take up the issue of money in households, you will do an invaluable service to Indians, who have the potential to save money, but do not have the ability to keep this money safely. To some extent, by discouraging cash in circulation, you have cracked the code – but the next movement should be directed towards saving and investing. Once you sow the seeds of conversations around money, you would have done your bit for the people of India, who would get onto doing the rest by themselves.
A financially aware Indian, will want to take part in every nation building activity and would automatically pay taxes and also invest in infrastructure and development projects. By touching upon money matters, you would have got a wider section across India to be cautious when it comes to handling and talking about their finances. It would also remove the perceived stigma that comes with talking about money among friends and at home. It would also help financial institutions like the RBI, SEBI, IRDAI and PFRDA find a common voice to address several problems that they collectively face.