Losing Our Valued Trustee Dr KC Chakrabarty (1952-2021)
We are starting this month with the terribly sad news that our very valued and well-known trustee, Dr KC Chakrabarty, former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, passed away on 26th March, at the age of 68. A strong and vocal supporter of customer issues and a huge advocate for fair and equal treatment of consumers, Dr Chakrabarty's sage counsel and guidance will be badly missed by us at Moneylife Foundation. Please read our tribute to him here and do make time to join us for an online remembrance meeting on 6th April at 5:00 pm.
Dr Chakrabarty is probably the only regulator who had dared to take on and answer any query from customers in uncensored open-house meetings taking on every issue and complaint lobbed at him by the audience without hesitation. He was also instrumental in financial inclusion and financial literacy both in India and abroad. His commitment to these causes is evident from his willingness to join Moneylife Foundation as a trustee, something that most regulators shirk from because it often means questioning the very regulatory bodies that they came from.
Dr Chakrabarty was a huge champion of banking rights for the poor and this loss is not a merely a loss for the people who knew him, but also for the people who have benefited from his work. His death leaves behind a significant vacuum that would perhaps never be filled with another policymaker of his calibre.
GV Ramakrishna (1930-2021)
Last month, on 20th March we also lost the legendary G V Ramakrishna, 91 - an extraordinary human being and the man who was responsible for giving life and power to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), even when it had no teeth! Investors in India probably take his invaluable contribution in setting up a strong market watchdog for granted. This is because people have forgotten the political clout that brokers and other market intermediaries enjoyed in the 1990s. Were it not for one man's courage, willingness to put his job at risk and the wisdom and sagacity to know what was required, we can be sure that SEBI would have been a lame duck regulator from the start. No SEBI chairman since then has come anywhere close to achieving the kind of fair and even-handed regulation that created a template for all independent regulators set up in India after SEBI. Please read out tribute to Mr Ramakrishna, Padma Bhushan awardee, here.
Memorandum on Freezing/Suspension of Bank Accounts
As you might recall, in these past few weeks we have been collecting information on cases where bank accounts were frozen or suspended for apparent non-compliance with KYC norms or misinterpretation of the rules concerning beneficial ownership. The information gathered has been put to good use in a detailed memorandum after consultation of consumer activists and banking experts, and has been sent to the RBI. The memorandum contains a list of suggestions that should be implemented for fair treatment of a loyal bank customer and we are hoping that positive changes are made in regulatory policies. We will upload it on our website in a couple of days.
Study on Rental Housing in India
Following up from our previous comprehensive report on the Efficacy of RERA from a Consumer's Perspective, this year we are working on a exhaustive study on Rental Housing in India and how policies can be worked out to cover the best interests of both landlords and tenants. There is a steep rise in the demand for affordable rental housing in urban areas from young Indians who wish to take up residence in a new cities seeking new career opportunities. But as it happens, demand greatly exceeds the supply due to various reasons ranging from poor rental yields, lack of proper legal protection for landlords in case of disputes and discrimination by caste, religion or marital status in terms of tenants. With this report we are attempting to look at various regulatory policies and the dispute resolution mechanisms that are presently available for both landlords and tenants, and also make recommendations for changes that will essentially make renting easier and safer for all parties involved. Many of you have already shared your comments and feedback with us in terms of rental housing and we would certainly appreciate any further suggestions or inputs for the purposes of our report. Please do send us an email at [email protected] with your suggestions.
As many of you are already aware Moneylife Foundation has been conducting webinars over the past few months on topics that concern us the most in these difficult times. For those who are unable to join on Zoom, our webinars are always live streamed through our YouTube and Facebook channels, so you can also watch us live. A video recording is also uploaded on our YouTube channel a few days after the session.
Please follow our newsletters and social media channels for some exciting discussions and events planned in the coming days, which may be announced at short notice. 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 March
Recently the National Stock Exchange (NSE) suddenly closed down the market after encountering an unexplained technical hiccup in their system. Although the standard operating procedures laid down by the regulators require that alternate disaster recovery (DR) sites take over when such an incident occurs at the exchanges, the same was not put into motion on the day of the disaster. We had therefore organised a webinar,Disaster Recovery and Crisis Management: Learning from Mistakes, with Mr Ashish Chauhan, MD & CEO, Bombay Stock Exchange, Mr Piyush Chourasia, Chief Risk Officer, Indian Clearing Corporation Limited and Mr Umesh Jain, Ex-CEO NSE Infotech, to better understand what went wrong and how similar mistakes can be avoided in the future. If you missed this important session, you can still watch a video recording of the session here, and also read more about it here.
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, Dr KC Chakrabarty, 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.