Saturday, July 18, 2009

Of policies and degrees...

The father raised an interesting point this morning.

One of the leading investment firms in India asks for various documents when you invest with them. As proof of birth, they accept only the Class X certificate that CBSE hands out to all those who clear the Boards. Useful document this one is; we all used it as our date of birth proof when applying to college, since I don't know many people who know where their actual birth certificate is lying today.

But here's the father's point (which I think is extremely valid):
"i wonder if this is legally tenable - in the sense that {this firm} is denying non-10th pass/fail adults, who may have investible surpluses, the right to invest in their funds."
Are we saying that people who haven't cleared their Class X Boards can't make these kind of investements? Rather a bizarre assumption, isn't it, that people who haven't studied past a certain level won't have the money to put into the market?

This reminds me of the story by Somerset Maugham (and for the life of me I can't recall the story's name). The janitor of a church, who has worked there since he was a teenager, is suddenly asked to leave by the new vicar simply because the latter has discovered that the janitor is uneducated. While walking home, the janitor tries to think of what he should tell his wife when he sees a tobacco shop and comes up with the bright idea of setting one up himself. It turns into a raging success, and over the next few years, he has a whole chain of stores and ends up a fairly wealthy man. The story ends with his bank manager advising him to invest his idle money somewhere to which he responds saying he can't since he can't read or write. The astonished bank manager says something to the effect of "if you've made so much money with knowing how to read or write what would you be doing if you could." "I'd be the janitor in St. Peter's Church."

There you go.

Update: The father very kindly pointed me to the link of the story - The Verger.


ZiggyStrauss said...

a) it's a story but we'll ignore that
b) if he could read/write it is unlikely he'd be a janitor in a church
c) if he can't read/write he'd need someone who could to advertise his wares
d) this investment firm is in India, yeah? A bit of rose-coloured glasses thing happening perhaps where you think in a country of 1.3 billion people anyone with anything less than a BA is going to manage to become a success in anything? there are so many ways I could break that down to point out the many, many flaws in logic that I don't even know where to start.
e) but I'll try
e.1) To be an entrepreneur you need money
e.2) if you have money in India, you go to a good school, you finish school, you get a Bachelor's degree
e.3) alternatively you start your tobacco shop without much money or capital
e.4) surely you've seen them on the fringes of shopping centres, marketplaces, roadsides, stations, airports, etc. etc. etc.
f) As soon as I read the bit about the Class X certificate, that was the first thing that came to my mind - what if they haven't got that far.
g) but then - a) to e)

a traveller... said...

a) It's based on a true story

b) Not corresponding to your b, but more my second point: As a mere example, think of all the people in semi-urban areas and even the place we live in who have sold off their land to real estate developer. They're not all that educated dude, but because they had that land they're now rolling in money. Yes, the next generation of these people may then be put in the fancy schools and given "decent" education, but the parents aren't necessarily. But they still have money to invest no?

c) A lot of those shops you see on the fringes are owned by people who are rolling in money; may not be run by them necessarily.

d) You don't really need advertising to run a tobacco shop!

ZiggyStrauss said...

You need a signboard at the very least. It helps to be able to read the labels on the cigarettes you sell. And - I cannot stress this enough - 1.3 billion people, do you see the level of competition? The most who are rolling in money have in all likelihood reached year ten and maybe gone beyond. The rest constitute a miniscule percentage and are just freaks. If there are any 'rest'.

That story, true or not, has a false ending because - and again, I stand by this - if he could read and write he can't say with such certainty that he'd be a janitor. I had to read that last bit a few times to comprehend what it was implying.

The world is a cruel place and this was just luck and luck is rare. How many people uneducated people are successful and how many aren't? out of (let's hear it again) 1,300,000,000 people

a traveller... said...

All of which is true. I see the magnitude of the problem and yes the chances of being successful without being educated are slim to zero in this country; heck, half the time it's slim to zero even if you are educated.

But the fact remains that you can't necessarily say that just because a person doesn't have a 10th class pass certificate he (and I use "he" here rather than my usual "he/she" consciously) will not have the money to invest in the market. A lot of people who play in the market are not educated, but just a bunch of youngsters who have earned a small sum of money and are looking for a way to turn that into millions and make a quick buck!

The Seeker said...

I don't think I've ever seen my birth certificate. I have to use my driver's licence whenever I need to verify my birthdate, but that wouldn't work for everyone either. This opinion is rather unpopular in Britain these days, but I'm all for IDs for everyone.