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Millennium Post

Car loan heartburns of a pseudo-economist

The devaluation of our currency Vs-i-Vs its Yankee counterpart, coupled with, what seems difficult to cure, inflation is justifiably said to have been the reason why one of India’s premier nationalised banks reportedly advised its branches all over India not to even accept applications for car loans from people with less than Rs 50,000 per month income. Now this piece of depressing information must have broken many a heart of many ambitious people with not so moderate income, but certainly not bordering on that minimum standard of bank’s understanding of what should be sufficient enough. The problem with our economists, especially the tax men and bankers is that they are not particularly fond of any arithmetic of equations and proportions while calculating individual or family income, which should have been the necessary pre-requisite for eligibility for loans in question, and for tax payment, especially for the middle-middle and lower-middle class people.
For example, just think that a man with Rs 50,000 of monthly income with a sizable number of dependent family members and many liabilities will still have an edge of preference over his independent bachelor colleague with, say for example, Rs 35,000 or Rs 40,000 of monthly income; no matter it is the latter who should be counted more economically sound because of his relatively less monthly recurrent expenditure. And then, also take into account what remains with the eligible one after paying his income and service taxes, for those departments don’t take one’s family size, his liabilities, burdens and unavoidable recurrent expenditures into consideration while calculating one’s taxes. No whining because first I am not an economist, and secondly,  a few economists in India have failed  at fixing the minimum cost of living for a poor man. Besides, most importantly, I am only relatively poor and that too, by some banks’ loan giving standard, which should not count much.

The inflation generated depression at times takes me to a time which was a couple of decades ago, when I was not yet over 15 years of age, but the signs of some sort of heartrending seriousness had already begun to show up on my staid and non-studious face. It was the time when to my utter dismay I first learnt from my class teacher that the average life expectancy in our country was not above 52 years then. Our class teacher who first broke that sad piece of news to us was himself quite young and unmarried, yet  he was very angry with the country’s life-expectancy figure. Why wasn’t the government not doing something about it?, he would  ask us, expecting an answer, thereby encouraging us to wonder at his sense of frustration and a few seconds’ rage. His pupils were 15, who did not seem to bother much, so  he calculated for us the remaining years we supposedly had in our lives to live if India had not done anything serious in the meanwhile about her citizens’ living status. Our probable balance sheet of remaining years in life came to some 37 years. He told us to worry more and study hard, for life in India would not be fine when we would grow up and grow old, not certainly for playing  monkey shines from the banking point of view, if one doesn’t have a recurrent self-depositing source of income. How prophetic of him, considering that the banking perspective was my addition to his generalised theory of everything dismayed in life without a bank balance.

Years later, someone from the old school brought a good piece of news of relief that life expectancy in India had risen to an optimistic 58 years on average. Those of us who had managed to keep in touch with each others, we found  out that as grown up, we would rather have a change of heart in our appreciation of the value added life. By value, we mean as understood by a progressive economist and not as what is fed to us for a hefty price by a motivational speaker.  In recent times, when the nation was undertaking a new census, as the official reports projected newer statistics of development, the average life expectancy in India  had frog-leaped in the meanwhile to somewhere near 68. However, a brilliant student  in our class, who has become an economist of some repute, is still being hypercritical of any optimism, for according to him, we still lag behind by miles the magic 80 figures of Japan which the latter had achieved as early as at the start of the new millennium, despite tsunamis and earthquakes, not to speak of that dooming nuclear holocaust.

In the recently changed scenario, he now thinks that with his only child clamoring to ride his way to his school in his own car and with his income falling a little below that benchmark set by his bank, more bad days are here to come psychologically, unless someone taught these lending and tax charging institutions to study  the laws of proportionate income while fixing applicant’s eligibility. Of course if there are any, theoretically speaking. This argumentative layman does not know much economics.

The author works with the Information and Public Relations Department of Odisha
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