There is grim news related to financial situation in the world every time I open google news, new channels on TV or on social media. We know that it will become even worse as billions remain in lockdown. There is a legitimate fear of survival that people are generally going through.
Chances are, your investments have seen a devaluation, if you are a business owner, your work is stalled/slow and you have started to dip in your savings. If you have a job, you are worried about lack of growth, more work stress, paycuts and job loss. If you have loans and liabilities, vulnerable family members without medical insurance – all these things are causing stress and anxiety. I am also afraid that we will see increasing emotional distress and possibly suicides related to money, hunger related deaths, malnourishment et al in time to come.
In times like these, India is a vulnerable country with a huge population and lot of poverty. While this year we will see a retraction in growth in decades, projections for next year are better as compared to other economies. However this growth will not happen automatically – it warrants all of us to collectively act towards it. We are all worried about what will personally happen to us. But the solution to financial strength is a whole community taking steps that will save the individuals. Very much the way lockdown worked. All are shut to ensure individuals are safe and well.
A lot of countries are are already encouraging their citizens to take prudent steps to ensure their country prospers but we Indians do not have a huge sense of supporting local or swadeshi. Our inner need to get things cheap is so high that collectively we buy Chinese goods, hail imported stuff and thus hurt our own GDP and thus earning capacity in return. I am no financial or economics expert but I do remember the story of a village that was in draught. On a shaman’s advice the king said to his subjects that if all citizens put a pot of milk in the local pond as offering to God, God will be pleased and it will rain. The citizens were selfish and petty and all of them thought, since everyone else is going to put milk in the pond, why don’t I just put a pot of water to save money. No one will notice and it wouldn’t matter. In the morning, the pond was full of water and barely any milk since everyone cheated. There were no rains either. This is a great analogy on us Indians. How we want to behave exceptionally individually with an expectation that others will make up for us. And thus we end up losing the game. Perhaps, this one time we need to do few things individually and not cheat, so that this can lead to a stronger economy and thus a better chance of survival and growth. Here are few things I suggest we all do once lockdown ends for at least a year to strengthen the economy, create jobs and bring money to the country
- Retain habits of prudence – This lockdown is making sure that we do not eat out often, shop for junk a bit less and do not spend unnecessarily. Perhaps retaining one good financial habit of not wasting money will go a long way in ensuring that the hard earned money is there when we need it
- Buy Local – Farming and weaving is the work done most in the country. For a year, lets not go back to the fast fashion of foreign chains and try and support handlooms, local artists and artisans, local food chains and local food in our pantries. Let’s check for the made in India label and buy India made products for home and otherwise. There was great logic in ‘khadi’ and ‘swadeshi’ movement from the independence era – it strengthens economy and takes poverty away for ALL. If we don’t practice this even now, there isn’t much hope for us as people.
- Travel Local – On holidays, lets go to local destinations -support hotels, tourist based businesses etc for India. Luckily we area big country with a spectrum of travel options. If people from smaller countries of Europe can decide to travel local to support local economy, why cant we Indians?
- Invest Local – Direct your investment towards manufacturing sector in India, agriculture, core businesses and up and coming projects. The more we inject in our economy collectively, the better results it will give us individually
- Learn something new – A lot of institutes right now are offering free programs. Enrol for something that can be a skill for you. May be learn a core life skill like farming or carpentry or weaving. Transform yourself so your skills are valuable in the new world and can help your get business or job opportunities. Upskilling is always useful
When you read these asks, do not think about whether someone else will do it or not. Dont worry that ‘What if I am the only one and it still doesnt do anything for the Indian economy?’ If a handful of us do this, it will create an impact, if more people join even better. And none of these things will have you losing out on any part of your life. Let’s start thinking smart if we want a better future for our children and to see India turn around to be world’s global superpower like Japan became post WWII.
What are your tips and tricks for strengthening individual financial safety post corona? Ensuring survival?