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Satyameva Jayate in Financial Services: When Victim is also a Criminal

I am a big fan of Aamir Khan and his ideas, so I make it a point to watch Satyamev Jayate every Sunday morning.

Over the past five weeks of watching the show, I’ve realized that there are three types of people who relate to Satyamev Jayate…

  1. People who suffer from the crime – the victims
  2. People who create the crime – the criminals
  3. People (like you and me) who aren’t criminals but love/hate to hear about the crime between 11 am and 12.30 pm on Sundays

I feel sorry (and pathetic) for the first type – the victims. They really deserve huge moral support from their families and friends.

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As for the second type of people – the criminals – they won’t anyways be bothered about what Aamir Khan says on the show. The crime is so much ingrained in their psyche.

For the third type – people like you and me – I’m not sure how many of us are bothered to take any action one hour after the show is over.

I see Satyamev Jayate as a superb concept for spreading awareness about the malaise that surround us (after all, a celebrity’s words carry more weight than if I was told about the crime by my neighbour!) .

But the bigger question that the show leads us to is – how do we solve the malaise…the rut that is so much embedded in our “modern” society that we don’t even see it as anything abnormal?

  • Like we don’t see so many small girls working as housemaids, even some times taking care of kids older than their age.
  • Like we don’t see piracy – till 2 years back year, I used pirated Windows version at my home.
  • Like we don’t blink an eye before bribing a traffic policeman for a violation we committed intentionally.
  • Like we never ask for proper bills while buying things, just to save a few rupees in taxes.
  • Like we forge house rent documents to evade some tax.
  • Like we hate it when power is off for an hour at our homes, but enjoy all 75 IPL matches that waste such humongous amount of power.
  • Like we differentiate between treatment rendered to boys versus girls.
  • Like we treat garbage pickers as untouchables (call it freedom of action, huh!).
  • Like we dole out huge amounts of ‘cash’ to save some money on the total cost of buying real estate.

The list is endless, but the sorry part is that all these cases are worthy of participating in Satyamev Jayate.

The worrisome part is that we – the proud viewers of Satyamev Jayate and those who curse the criminals portrayed in the show – are one of them in some way or the other.

If not being perpetrators of any of the crime (or some other) mentioned above, we stand still with our studied silences, witnessing these crimes.

In many cases, some of the perpetrators are people from our social circle (like I have some friends who have like a 10 year old maid taking care of a 12 year old girl), so we are somehow also involved in this sham.

Anyways, you may wonder, “But what is Satyamev Jayate doing on an investing and personal finance website?”

Well, I am just coming to that.

Satyameva Jayate in financial services
Over the past few days, I have read some ‘honest’ financial experts write and tweet about how the financial services industry must be shivering at the thought of being portrayed in one of the future episodes of Satyamev Jayate.

And why not? Like medicine (or any other sub-domain of India’s educational sector), financial services is one big hotspot of corruption – hidden agendas, fake advices, big commissions, etc. etc.

Sometimes, we are the criminals spreading incorrect advice for instant monetary gains. Often, we are the victims of such incorrect, biased, commission-driven advice.

Like we see in Satyamev Jayate, if we are the criminals, we won’t bother to change ourselves.

But if we are the victims, we must NOT look for moral support from friends and relatives.

Because unlike other cases portrayed in Satyamev Jayate, where the victims are physically, mentally, socially, or financially weak…we aren’t financially weak.

At least, if you are reading this post on your desktop, laptop, or mobile, you can’t be financially weak.

Even if you have just Rs 5,000 to invest per month, you are financially well-off…since you are still left with some money to save and invest (when millions don’t even have enough to eat).

So the conclusion is that ‘investors’ are not financially weak (being physically, mentally, and socially weak doesn’t count here anyways).

So what makes the greedy financial services companies and their advisors take investors for a ride?

What about investors’ lack of willingness to take things under their control?

“My advisor is a chor (thief)!” can’t be an excuse here. You can’t blame a chor to be a chor! He is just doing his job!

“What were you doing when he was swindling your money in broad daylight?” I ask you.

“But I did not know that he was playing with money! I thought he was an honest advisor.” you reply.

“Wow! Please gift me some money to play around with!”

“But why should I give you my hard-earned money?” you ask me.

“See, now you are doing the right thing!” I tell you.

“And what’s that?”

“Asking questions – asking why you should give me your hard-earned money – the most-important question you forgot to ask that swindler of a financial advisor!”

You see, the point I’m trying to make here is that, unlike the other victims portrayed in Satyamev Jayate who had some inherent weakness within them – what victimized investors lack is just the willingness to ask the right kind of questions to their financial advisors (and there are advisors who are very honest in their answers and actions).

The last few episodes of Satyamev Jayate have been around money – asking for money (dowry), and looting money (doctors).

The show on financial advisors, I believe, will go even deeper because the victim – the investor – will also be a criminal.

Criminal for…

  • Not asking questions while letting the financial advisor or relationship manager play with his money.
  • Being greedy to earn quick returns and thus speculating in dubious financial products
  • Any other similar reason

What do you say?

Have you been a victim at the hands of a financial advisor (or a bank’s relationship manager posing as one) in the past? If yes, do you agree that you were equally at fault?

By the way, I believe a better title for Satyamev Jayate would have been “Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya”, which means “from darkness to light”…

…instead of “Satyamev Jayate”, which means “truth alone triumphs”. My view is because the truth on display here – the crime, which is harsh and horrible – must never triumph.

We can only find the way to move from the darkness of crime to the light of compassion.

For investors, we must find a way to move from the darkness of ignorance, hesitance, self-doubt, and unwillingness…to the light of having full control over our financial destinies.

(From the word ‘destiny’, I am reminded that fortune tellers and dhongi babas must also be brought to task soon :-))

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mansoor says:

    In agreement, I am also a good fan of Aamir and his ideas. I have not watched this show, but has caught few short clips. It’s important that he acknowledges that somethings are going wrong and brings to people’s attention. I hope there’s a mechanism to inculcate change in the masses.

    Someone created a website called ipaidabribe[dot]com. Instead of learning from it and discouraging bribe, people are using that to learn how much to bribe for registering a house, a car etc. This is due to fundamental thought process issue. People will change, they will struggle and finally give it up, kyunki jeena bhi padta hai bhai. This is one dark circle that needs to be broken, one step at a time. There cannot be a revolution to change India (Anna style). Individuals need to take charge, take the pain for the sake of better tomorrow, for the sake of a better life for our kids and next generation.

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