It came as a surprise to all of us when my mother announced that she has over one lakh in cash and all of the money is in form of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 bank notes. She added, it is hard to hide the money in Rs. 50 and Rs. 100 bank notes, so she converted the money in much more safe-friendly Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000, a month back.
Now we have to deal with it.
When we asked my mother, why she did not tell about the money a bit earlier? Or alternatively, deposit it in the bank.
She clearly stated, “She does not want anyone to know about her money. That’s it.”
My father protested, “Do you think, anyone of us would take your money?”
She nodded in disapproval.
My father questioned, “So why?”
My mother explained she kept it secret because she does not want her money to be consumed or invested. She saved it for the future or emergency.
Yesterday, we deposited all of her money in her saving account.
But it made me startled. My mother is not the only one. It is same with every other Indian woman. Some call it Stridhan, and some like my mother call it Gupt Khazana.
So why Indian women do this? Why they hide money in secret or Khazana, instead of depositing it in their bank accounts. And the reasons are
- Financial support in bad economic times,
- Medical emergency,
- A security in bad marriage,
- To sustain their relationship with Maika,
- And other personal issues.
To them, Stridhan or Khazana is much more than money. It is a symbol of their independence.
My mother frankly puts, the Khazana empowers her in inexpressible ways. It helped her to take some bold decision, and to stand up against her husband whenever he boasts he is the breadwinner of the family, and it will be his say as the final say.
Moreover, you can’t compare Stridhan to the black money stashed by hoarders because it is not black money.
Why Not Bank and Gold? Why Stridhan?
It is interesting to note that Indian women own 22000 tonnes of gold,1 more than combined gold reserve of United States, Germany, IMF, Italy, France, China, and Russia.2 Still, they keep Stridhan or Khazana.
The answer, they do not want anyone to know about their money. That’s it.
To them, a bank account and gold jewellery are visible nest eggs. The family members pressurize them, especially the male members, to break these nest eggs i.e. fetch money from their bank accounts or liquidate gold whenever they face a little financial crunch.
Secondly, in case of gold, you can’t easily liquidate money without paying a brokerage rate. Sometimes, you need to pay a stark brokerage rate, when you need money in short notice.
Thirdly, you don’t have banks everywhere. Only 40000 out of 600000 villages in India have banking facility.3 So even when they want to open a bank account, they don’t have such luxury.
So What Are the New Challenges in Modi’s Demonetization Era?
They are their first challenge in actuality.
They need to overcome their shyness and admit that they have saved the money.
They need to celebrate demonetization because it helped them to stand in a new light as the better money player.
Having said that, it looks good only on paper. The decision, which is going to help the economy of the nation, may end up making things worse for women of the nation. It might snatch away the little liberty, they have.
It might make them stronger than ever.
First, we need to learn Stridhan is not black money, and we cannot ridicule this age-old tradition to save the money.
Secondly, we need to see, how things will turn out in future? Either demonetization will help them to recognize their abilities or sink them to new lows.