Help Us, Help You – Sign Our Petition & Collectively Voice Your Opinion
As a second wave of Covid rages around the country, with hospitals being overcrowded and oxygen cylinder shortages, we sincerely hope that all of you are staying safe in your homes. While Mumbai is relatively safe due to the stupendous efforts of the Mumbai municipal corporation, our hearts go out to people across India who have been struggling to cope. Not a day passes without news associates, friends and people we have admired falling victim to Covid. Many of you have asked if we plan to revive our Covid Relief initiative. We are still evaluating options since we have no feet on the ground in other parts of India and would need to work with other organisations. Please write in with your thoughts and ideas.
Even with the Covid situation worsening, our Legal and Credit Helplines have been very active in addressing queries that have been posed to our experts online. Retired bankers, Abhay Datar and Ashok Kargutkar, the inimitable Shirish Shanbhag and others have continued to spend a considerable amount of their time to answer and provide guidance to many people over the past year, and continue to do so now. But before informing you about the excellent guidance and counseling provided by our panel of experts, let me first provide an update on our recent memorandum.
Memorandum & Petition on Freezing/Suspension of Bank Accounts Some of you might recall that we had prepared and sent a detailed memorandum to the RBI governor on the issue of arbitrary freezing of bank accounts for seemingly non-compliance with KYC norms. We have now realised through renowned economist Jean Drèze, that the issue is much bigger and affects ‘Jan Dhan’ account holders residing in rural areas much more severely than those account holders residing in urban cities. You can read about this here and also watch a video
We have been informed by the RBI Governor that the memorandum has been forwarded to the appropriate department for action. While we wait patiently for a positive response from RBI, we have also started a change.org petition , which has now been signed by over 10,000 people. But for RBI to take the matter seriously, we need to draw more attention to the issue and need a lot more signatures on the petition. Many of you have already signed, and I request those that haven’t yet, to please read the petition and sign the same if you agree with the issue it presents. Please do share it across social media channels and within your own groups, so that we may drive more attention to this important issue.
Counseling on Our Helplines One of the interesting cases handled this month, involved a person’s savings bank account which was showing a negative balance. It turned out that the account holder could not maintain the required minimum balance and the bank’s system kept deducting the appropriate fees and penalties for the same til the balance in the account turned negative. The concerned person approached the Banking Ombudsman for a resolution, as according to him and RBI regulations, Banks are not allowed to deduct penalties beyond a certain point so as to return a negative balance. The ombudsman’s reply was not satisfactory, which led him to seek guidance from our Helpline. After thorough research, our counselor Mr Datar was able to confirm that the bank was indeed wrong in deducting penalties beyond the zero balance from the account, but a portion of the blame also lies with the account holder as they were aware on the balance being lower than the minimum threshold and could have easily converted the account to a Basic Savings Bank Deposit Account (BSBDA) which does not have a minimum balance requirement. We have now forwarded the detailed analysis of Mr Datar to the relevant bank seeking clarification on the same. This information is being shared because it may be useful to many other members. Do use our helplines, when required, we also arrange zoom conversations with our experts for better clarity.
The largest number of queries that we receive are about Co-operative Housing Societies and MHADA related issues, but we also receive cases about consumer complaints, Right to Information and others. Our panel of experts take the time to comprehensively study and answer many of the queries that we receive. If you have a pressing query that you need answered, do take the time to register as a member and take advantage of our Helplines.
In a small digression away from our usual foundation activities, allow me to tell you about a personal initiative by me and our colleagues to honour the courage of Mayur Shelke, the amazing central railway pointman, who sprinted in front of a speeding train to rescue a blind mother’s 6-year old, who had fallen on the tracks. Responding to many who wanted to honour him, we started a crowdfunding initiative. Here’s a link if you want to join the effort: Our Democracy.
Allow me to remind you that you can always catch up on our past financial literacy programmes on our YouTube and Facebook channels, so you can also watch us live.
Do sign up for a free membership to receive information about our activities and initiatives. As always, we look forward to your active feedback on issues that you would like us to discuss, and we will do our best to make it happen. Please do write to us at [email protected]
Programmes in April
We had a very special webinar with renowned Senior Counsel Prashant Bhushan and retired Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, to discuss How RBI and Banks Find Ways to Avoid Transparency and Disclosure. The session was very well attended by RTI activists and experts from the banking sector, and several important points were brought up and discussed. If you missed this important session, you can read more about it here and also watch a recorded video of the same here. Do also take the time to read this article which further elaborates on the points brought up in the webinar and do watch this video as well.
Moneylife TV & Helplines
With the outbreak of covid-19, our physical events and daily clinics for this month have been suspended for the safety and benefit of all those involved. However, in this lockdown period you can still take advantage of our numerous videos of past seminars and workshops which are always available on our YouTube Channel Moneylife TV and Moneylife News Bites.
Although counselling on various issues from our experts is not possible in-person, you are welcome to email on [email protected] with your details. . We shall forward your mail to the expert for guidance and do our best to get your query resolved.
Also, Moneylife Foundation is now on Telegram and Instagram, so do follow us on these channels to stay updated on our activities and events.
Founder-Trustee, Moneylife Foundation
Trustees: TS Krishnamurthy, Walter Vieira, Sucheta Dalal, Debashis Basu.
Moneylife Foundation is registered with the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai, is an Affiliate member of OECD's International Network on Financial Education, is a Supporter Member of Consumers International, Development Partner of Advocates for International Development (A4ID), and is a winner of the 10th MR Pai Memorial Award.
Donations are eligible for tax benefits under Sec 80G of the Income Tax 1961 (50% tax exemption) and MLF is registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.