Social lending - India perspective

India for long has been a bedrock for family values, extended relations and social mores established centuries ago and followed by generations and generations. While the ills of these institutions have been extensively written and debated, one forgotten aspect of these families has been the support system that it has perpetuated and fostered leading to stable and progressive mental states of the participants in these institutions.

So we had families of uncles, second cousins, grand uncles and aunts, spread over generations providing a whole host of perspectives and influence over the social fabric of the family and through them the society. Enough on the background, I make my case and there in lies the beauty of the Institution of the Joint Family which was the first source for any money requirements which were either lent or subsidized or provided for in a number of ways. In many cases in the olden days, places of work, initial manpower assistance, money for working capital and so on was advanced by families / extended families and this was the foundation on which many a big business has been built. Moreover these extended families had someone related / known to them living in the farthest of the places and staying anywhere else when one visited the town would attract all kinds of social sanctions.

People wouldnt think twice of having a distant relative staying with them for an extended period of time for studies or other works and would feel offended if that wasnt followed to the extent of these people subjecting the home town people to the same in the event of their visit to their town or village.

Gone are those days or are rapidly disappearing, nuclear families, congested cities leading to small living spaces, cost of real estate, the living index itself have all but driven this connect that used to be there in the Indian sub continent. While the reasons are many, the net effect is that today we do not have meaningful relationships beyond the first degree and in some cases even the first degree relationships are few and far between.

This state of the family, added to the emergence of the cities and the tendency of these cities to breed anonymity leaves us with a Society where survival becomes paramount and the symbols of success are displayed at all times and in all forms leaving very little option for the individual to attain gratification and survive in these chaos.

I have painted a bleak picture from a social perspective but the overall economic situation also has changed skewing the maturing process of the individuals and the society leading to several imbalances all manifested in a variety of socially unacceptable forms starting from vagrancy, begging, lawlessness and finally violence.

Amidst all this is the need for money to fuel the growth, aspirations, expectations in lifestyles, acquisition of property, ownership of affluent symbols depicted is a basic human need which mankind continues to indulge in with degrees of success across societies.

Theconstant need for gratification and the lack of social sanction which used to be present initially in the large families, individuals today have powerful motivation to indulge and consume on one side and to grab these by any means on the other side.

This isolation has its roots in many phenomenon as we can see, but fulfilling the need for money through an extended family system had many benefits and is likely to be a powerful source of funding for people. Moreover the cost of money through institutional sources and its resultant pressure on individuals to modify/ make significant corrections in their lifestyles on account of slight indiscretions has had a depressive effect on these nuclear families and their constituents. Money in the earlier days was available at a lower cost, from somebody whom you knew, counseled on prudent uses and assist in the end of the use of the money was crucial to its popularity in the social context. This ensured that there was timely intelligence available to the whole family on the use of the money, combined disapproval in case of injudicious use, timely corrective measures initiated jointly or severally and finally an acceptance of the reality with little after effects. These and other such instances effectively formed a layer which when used judiciously delivered results more often than not.

Social acceptance, censure is still the most effective deterrent for anti social behavior except in the case of a Sociopath, which has been vindicated over and over again and building an effective mechanism that will enable these social affirmations and acceptances while remaining cautious to the proliferation of undesirables could be a powerful tool in the coming years.