Guest column | Saving for a rainy day has been very helpful to Indians
Over the past three years, India has undoubtedly done better than most Western countries economically, despite the Covid crisis and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
If India has been able to thwart inflation, poverty and hunger in this very difficult time, the credit goes to our philosophy of valuing money and saving it for a rainy day, instead to indulge in blind consumerism and to spend ostentatiously and extravagantly, even if one has to beg and borrow money. This philosophy is built on certain values and principles and finds its place in all religions.
The first principle is austere living and frugality. We are taught to spend and invest consciously, without falling into the debt trap. Even if, in these changing times, financial companies encourage us to borrow money, our philosophy advocates management with our means: Tete panv pasariye jeti lambi saur (one must cut one’s court according to one’s fabric).
It saves us the anxiety and agony that comes with debt. Our physical health stems from our state of mind and it is said that the best tonic for a healthy mind is frugality and restraint.
The second principle is circumspection and pragmatism in the use of money. Our philosophy of life does not allow us to spend what we earn. Today we have future security instruments such as provident fund schemes but if we go back around 70-80 years our mothers used to keep their savings in hidden places or in the form of gold for rainy days. An increase in household income did not mean a commensurate increase in expenses.
We usually give shagun in the form of silver coins or banknotes to initiate savings.
My wife still has the silver coins that were given to her as “shagun” at the time of marriage or on important occasions. Greater income meant greater savings, which would be invested in real estate, land, and gold during the lean times, as the weather is dynamic and economic conditions may not always remain the same.
Contentment is the third principle. It is said jab aave santosh dhan, sab dhan dhuri saman (To a contented man, wealth equals dirt), Our philosophy of life emphasizes contentment rather than remaining unhappy and damning ourselves for not being richer. If discontent drives people to insure themselves more through ethical means, that’s fine, but most of the time, in the absence of caution, it drives many to indulge in speculative ways of making money. , which can lead to impoverishment and indebtedness which has the capacity to lead to vices. Many family conflicts stem from this discontent.
Fourth, Indians believe in earning by the sweat of the brow rather than depending on free handouts. Many go into farming, even if they work in decent white-collar jobs and earn college degrees. All this adds to the GDP and therefore we have enough food grains to save for other countries.
These philosophies have made Indians better equipped to weather economic crises.
(The author is a freelance contributor based in Chandigarh)