Usha Thorat, Deputy Governor, RBI, feels women have a big role to play in the anti-poverty schemes
Dressed in an emerald green silk sari with a single string of gold beads, a big bindi and her characteristic grey and black hair rounded at the nape of her neck in a neat hairdo Usha Thorat, Deputy Governor RBI very politely and warmly says that she wishes to talk only about her subject, finance. She was in the city to inaugurate the discussion on Crisis Monitoring System for Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) hosted by Institute of Small Enterprises and Development (ISED).
But what about women and finance?
Oh yes, women are keepers, movers and shakers of finance, she is sure. A lot of anti-poverty programmes in India have been implemented through women, she says, and goes on to quote Nobel Prize winner for Economics, Muhammed Yunus: The poor repay, the poor woman repays certainly.
She says there are dramatic stories across the countryside about economically downtrodden women who are enterprising and that power, she feels, can be unleashed.
Women are concerned about the family needs and when they are empowered they empower other women. The Self Help group programme is like a movement that is seeing women grow from strength to strength. On her own role as a successful woman in the hard-nosed world of finance, on the successful handling of the global downturn that has been handled remarkably well by the RBI, she gives the credit to the Governor and when insisted about the pivotal role that she has played, she puts it on teamwork.
According to her, recession is frankly not what we are facing in India. “Just that the times are not what we are used to in the last five years.” Financial downturns are cyclical, she reasons and advocates the reading of ‘The crash of 1929’. “It is so relevant today. History repeats itself.” The book says that it is memory of a crisis that prevents a crisis. So the moral of the story is to learn the lessons from a crisis.
Kerala, whose economy depends on exports from either marine or spices, from tourism and inward remittances must certainly have felt the slowdown according to her, but she revealed how she met a businessman on a flight to Kochi who said he sourced all his outputs from Micro and Small Enterprises here.
And coming to the subject that brought her to Kochi she revealed that the RBI has taken unprecedented measures to ensure the health of this sector, the steps being, ensuring liquidity or flow of credit to this sector, restructuring of dues and the MSME Act. The way forward is to look beyond credit services and to take professional advice.
And finally she does see the glass as half full saying that there are huge opportunities in recession. The only non-financial fact that she parts with a broad smile is that she has two daughters and that she is from Tamil Nadu.P.S.