A Speck of Gold Every Month
Outlook Money|February 2021
Investing ₹500 a month can help the rural poor finish their gold rush
Yagnesh Kansara

For Amudha, life was an irony between her identity and the reality she lived in. Her Tamil name referred to the wealth of Ambrosia, but all she had was a handful of dreams fostered deep in her mind. She didn’t know how she could give her three daughters a life better than what destiny had unleashed for her. Krishna, her husband and a farmer, could ensure a reasonable living for his family but his income was not enough to make Amudha’s dreams come true. He could save no more than ₹1,000 or so a month during the harvest and would spend up all the savings during the lean period. The homemaker, in her late-30s, from Sirukadambur village in remote Tamil Nadu, knew that gold was the safest haven for anybody to cradle dreams till they bloom. Alas! With her meagre resource, she could never afford the yellow metal.

The appreciating value of gold makes it the most preferred investment option for the middle and low-income section of the Indian society to fight any exigency and weave their dreams for real.

“When my child had to undergo an emergency surgery two years ago, we didn’t have enough savings to bear the cost at a private hospital. We had to take loans from the village moneylender at a steep interest rate and we’re still paying it off,” recalls Anjalai, another villager from Sirukadambur.

A credit-line is often the lifeline for 60 per cent Indians eking out a living from the primary sector or working as daily wage earners. With the government stressing on financial inclusion to bring this huge chunk of unbanked population into the banking ambit, Micro-Finance Institutions (MFI) began homing in aggressively on rural India. The MFIs introduced the flavour of banking to people who were shunned by bigger lenders for their inadequate credentials and low income. It created a room for lenders to tailor their micro-savings products in line with the government’s aim for financialising gold as a productive asset class.

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