In India, a meagre amount of just 27% of adults meet the minimum level of financial literacy. You might very well be educated, but this is an issue that plagues everyone, regardless which strata of the socio-economic hierarchy you are placed on. Our reporter, Hausianmuan Samte, talks to a student body of Delhi’s Hansraj College that is trying to fix this problem.
hile the issue of financial literacy wasn’t even a matter of discussion a few years ago, it is the need of the hour in today’s time. Owing to this inefficacy, the initiatives undertaken by the Finance and Investment Cell (FIC) of Delhi University’s Hansraj College to guarantee the ubiquity of financial literacy has put them under the radar of social and economic change.
The FIC Hansraj, which embarked on its journey in 2014, is a student body-run organization that aims to promulgate financial literacy. To bridge their aim and make their vision a reality, the cell has consistently taken up a plethora of initiatives to disseminate quintessential information on financial literacy and related concepts by organizing multifarious events or hosting regular speaker sessions with eminent personalities.
One such initiative includes Project Parivartan, a pan-India initiative undertaken by the Social Wing of the FIC, to integrate both social and financial responsibility. Prior to the third drive, the project has impacted the way more than 10,000 people spend and save money across more than 35 cities.
“We all know how a lack of financial literacy can hamper the growth of the economy. Project Parivartan was started under the Social Wing of FIC Hansraj in 2021 with an aim to foster financial awareness. The project was named ‘Parivartan’ as we wanted to bring a change and contribute towards the betterment of the society or at least initiate the process to bring the change – Parivartan,” says Khushi Jindal, who served as the General Secretary of FIC for the tenure 2021-22 and played a key role in the integration and formation of Project Parivartan in its initial stage.
In a sequel of its first two iterations of the cause, the Social Wing has once again ventured into the third drive with a primary focus on farmers and MSMEs. Despite the government’s continuous trials to provide easy credit lines, MSMEs and farmers struggle to obtain financial assistance due to multiple factors like the absence of collateral, lengthy paperwork, and lack of trust in loan repayment abilities. With that in mind, the volunteers approached the problems and grievances of the stakeholders involved with a well-researched curriculum that would reflect a transparent view to help analyze and seek solutions to their problems.
Spanning almost a month, this yearly voyage started on January 12, 2023, and came to a close on February 6. To gain insight into the level of awareness among the population, the team was actively engaged in on-the-ground work by collaborating with various organizations and collecting responses from all facets of society on issues of financial literacy and then analyzing them for a comprehensive conclusion. They then set a targeted curriculum for all age groups covering the fundamentals as well as some more advanced concepts that are necessary for the stakeholders’ day-to-day lives.
“One of the biggest hurdles we face during the drive is the reluctance of the underprivileged class towards the fact that financial literacy is important, even when your finances are limited. Therefore, a section of the target group remains reluctant about learning the concepts or accepts the fact that it is financial literacy itself that can help them get out of this paradox of poverty,” says Samay Jain, who co-headed this year’s Project Parivartan 3.0.
“My biggest takeaway from the initiative is knowing that my contributions can really bring about a change in the situation of these people, potentially lifting up a whole family, if not more, and the ability of these initiatives to really break the stereotype rampant in rural and even suburban areas that women can’t work. By equipping them with the relevant resources so that they will be able to take their own financial decisions, the growth of the underprivileged class would be exponential, while also encouraging the ones who were initially reluctant to join the cause,” he adds.
With the previous editions of the drive being recognized by highly decorated individuals and state governments such as Union Minister of State For External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Vellamvelly Muraleedharan, Reliance Group CFO Rajneesh Jain, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Blackberrys and NLC India Limited, this year’s special list of recognition includes the likes of social activist Kiran Bedi, Navjyoti India Foundation, NABARD Ghaziabad, and the Government of Rajasthan.
“The motive behind the project was basically to further the aim of the Finance and Investment Cell – promulgating financial literacy. The idea was to further our target group and do our bit towards spreading financial awareness towards the underprivileged sections who do not have access to financial literacy. I would say that the project has done reasonably well in achieving its vision. With pan-India surveys and sessions, the project strives to achieve its vision on a more grander scale year after year,” says Eesha Goyal who headed Project Parivartan 2.0 and is the current Vice President of FIC.
“The learnings and the impact that came out of it is something that is difficult to express. Handling a group of 20+ volunteers and coordinating amongst multiple deliverables is not without its fair share of difficulties but the satisfaction and the happiness when you see the impact you had envisioned taking form is multifold will always hold a special place in my heart.