Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lakshmi irundha dhaan Saraswatiya ?


I read this post and while I am happy for those who got aid for their studies, I think there are 2 issues that I want to address here.

One, the position of the bank – a financial institution and not a charity or a NGO. I know this well because my father is a bank manager while my uncles, grand father, a few of our family friends work in Banks too, so I pretty much know the situation in most cases. Every bank manager who has an authority to sanction loans, also has a limit he can sanction as well as a responsibility to recover the loan. In case of an educational loan, in cases where the candidate gets no employment within a year and cannot repay the loan, he can apply to the bank citing reasons and he will be given an extension. In spite of this, there are many people who neither respond nor repay the loan. I know of numerous times where appa has spent time tracking those people and other times where he has had to go to court for such cases. This gets worse in rural areas. I was completely surprised when I visited appa in one of the rural areas he was working in…I was treated like a queen! Appa had all kinds of visitors and everyone used to be ever ready to satisfy every whim of his! Appa explained to me later that he is seen as the source of income/ready cash (in the form of the loan sanctioning authority) in such areas and many people take it for granted that the Bank is responsible for giving loans without realizing that it’s a loan and they should pay it back. Gold loans fall into that category where people borrow money mostly before a wedding to buy gold and then neither pay the interest nor the loan itself. Obviously not everyone does it on purpose; they simply cannot afford to pay it back. In such cases, Appa has helped many people but there is a limit because he is a salaried employee and not the bank owner. If he does not meet the targets, his job (and in turn his family) would be in trouble.

The second and the most baffling issue to me w.r.t educational loans is ‘Why should education be so expensive?’ and ‘Why is no one discussing this as an issue?’. When I studied engineering, there were I think less than a 100 engineering colleges in Tamilnadu, now there are probably twice that number. It is a known fact that more than half of them are good for nothing colleges with their old students as lecturers, no lab facilities, no campus interviews and absolutely nothing except a building and an affiliation to the Anna University. Why are these colleges allowed to charge so much when institutions like IIT, Anna University charge 10% of that ?! Yes, they are funded by the Govt. while the others are private – understood. But why should people be willing to pay lakhs of rupees to get a namesake engineering degree from one of these colleges ?! It has been statistically established by many companies in India that the employability of graduate engineers is extremely poor and they have to invest a sizeable portion in training these people for the job. When this is the case anyway, why is the Govt. granting permission for opening more colleges ? Why are many universities getting the ‘autonomous’ status where they can charge what they want with no one questioning them? Why are more and more people falling for it ? Why is a B.Sc/M.Sc degree not enough ?

These are the topics that Neeya Naana should be discussing. They should invite Govt. officials and discuss on making education affordable instead of encouraging banks to provide more and more loans. How many people can afford to repay the loan when they probably have a huge family to support? But these TV channels are only capable of echoing their political parties’ thoughts and are completely spineless when it comes to discussing and providing resolutions in issues that really affect the society. I recently heard of one of the neeya nana topics – Penngal thali anivadhu avasiyama !!! Naatuku romba mukiyam !!!! I also heard that one of the ladies actually removed her thali and gave it to the host and was appreciated for being ‘bold’….muttika oru sevuru poradhu !! All these topics would only disrupt communal harmony and induce unnecessary emotions in different groups of people whose sentiments are hurt by these arguments and actions.

I am digressing….coming back to the topic, I have seen numerous such examples where people come to me for tips or advice and in many cases, I have discouraged them from joining one of these useless private engg. colleges and asked them to instead get a better B.Sc/M.Sc degree from a much better/cheaper college. It is sad that I did not realize this when I did my engineering but to be fair, I did learn something at college and I was able to repay my educational loan without much ado.

I originally intended to do my masters in the US but when I realized that the possibility of aid was very slim because of the sept 11 attacks that had happened when I applied, I decided to let go of that since there was no way I could have afforded it. I did my masters in Germany and I paid a semester fee of 120 euro!! When good education can come at such a price, I fail to understand why education is becoming more and more unreachable for people in India when on the other side organizations are discussing literacy campaigns… many say, India is indeed a mysterious land !
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