Diwali special issue of Sunday Eye: From managing money to spending it, eight stories you should read

In this Diwali special issue of Sunday Eye, we look at the centrality of finance in our lives.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: October 19, 2017 3:24 pm
Eye 2017, money, importance of money, history of money, nature of money, money in bollywood, money in literature, diwali, diwali 2017, demonetisation, business, diwali this year, indian express eye, Indian express Trust and faith in a currency came from its being issued by the sovereign; stamping his head on the coin was seen to serve as a guarantee of the weight and fineness of the metal used.

Diwali is an ode to happiness, hope and homecoming, but it’s also a prayer for wealth and well-being. In this special issue, we look at the centrality of finance in our lives.

A brief history of money

Money’s basic function is as a medium that enables purchase and sale of goods and services. Since buying and selling is what generates output, jobs and incomes, money is the vital lubricant that keeps an economy going and contributes to its gross domestic product. And since money’s essence is its acceptability as a medium of exchange, this could initially only have been a thing that was solid, durable and possessing intrinsic value. Besides, it had to have portability, malleability and divisibility, allowing for it to be easily carried around even in one’s little pocket and being melted and reshaped into homogenous units of lower or higher denominations. It was natural, therefore, that most money originally was silver, copper or gold. Click here to read more

A Hole in the Pocket

Five artists talk about how the idea of money has shaped some of their works and vision. Jitish Kallat says his work Death of Distance is imbued with doubt, ambivalence and uncertainty. While the Re 1 coin is enlarged to the height of an average Indian and covered in black lead, the lenticular prints flip between two overlaid ‘found texts’. One is a disturbing news story about a 12-year-old girl from West Bengal who killed herself because her mother couldn’t afford to give her Re 1 to buy a meal. The other is a 2006 news report announcing the launch of a “One India Plan” by a telecom company, which would bring down the cost of inter-state calls to one rupee. Click here to read more

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The Stuff of Life

For all the money we had made and the things we had bought, it was apparent that we hadn’t bought clean air or clean streets; for all the bling we could now afford, we hadn’t thought of either public health or infrastructure or even a bit of public beauty as essential to our everyday lives; and, most of all, for all our money, we had forgotten that wealth, in its essence, is dignity. Instead, we scramble. To cross a road, to please a boss, for arguments that prove we are better even though it’s clear that we are not. Click here to read more

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The Secret Currency

Even though some of India’s leading bankers — Chanda Kochhar, Arundhati Bhattacharya — are women, working women fare no better. The expectation is for them to work both at home and at the office while contributing to the household expenses like the good-little-modern woman so celebrated in today’s media. The husband will manage the money, open those FDs, pay the EMI, plan the investments — it’s a man’s job, right? Any money spent on her is skimmed off the top, to oil the wheels and keep things rolling along smoothly. Other families who think they do not need the woman’s income, like their bahus to toe the line: stop all this working nonsense, the in-laws complain, after the first year or so of marriage, the old refrain of “We have more than enough for you” drumming away in the background. And all of this for one simple reason: control. If we control her access to the money, we control her. Click here to read more.

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Temple Run: A gold rush at the Padmanabhaswamy Temple

An ongoing legal battle about the ownership of the Padmanabhaswamy Temple in the city and protection of its wealth, resulted in the Supreme Court ordering a stocktaking of the secret chambers of the temple. Out came antique gold ornaments, diamonds, golden idols, crowns, coins, necklaces and vessels studded with precious stones — a partial estimate of it all came to a staggering US $22 billion (discounting the antique value). One more major chamber hasn’t even been opened yet. Click here to read more

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500 Notes and a Wedding

With the wedding season set to begin in less than a month, and Diwali just around the corner, the cramped shops of Kinari Bazaar in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk area are doing brisk business. From sequined laces to colourful garlands to blingy boxes, customers flock to the market to buy them all. But one item is missing from the display this year — the pricey noton ki mala (garlands of money). A customary part of the groom’s trousseau in several communities in north India, the money garlands this year have been tucked away in the back out of “fear”, say the shopkeepers. “Ever since demonetisation, there have been rumours of raids and checks in the market. No one wants to draw unnecessary attention to their shops. Click here to read more

Eye 2017, money, importance of money, history of money, nature of money, money in bollywood, money in literature, diwali, diwali 2017, demonetisation, business, diwali this year, indian express eye, Indian express No more a rich man’s world Customary money garlands or noton ki mala are absent from Delhi’s Kinari Bazaar ahead of the wedding season(Express Photo by Ankita Dwivedi Johri)

Greed is (Now) Good

The years after liberalisation have changed our cinema a great deal, as they have changed us. From clapping for the self-made Bachchan hero who refuses phenke huye paise in Deewaar or rises in rage in Trishul at the idea that his ambitions might stem from having come into his baap dada ki daulat, we have reached a stage where we can smile indulgently at Ranbir Kapoor when he introduces himself to Konkona Sensharma in Wake Up Sid (2009) with “Main? Main apne dad ke paise kharch karta hoon (Me? I spend my dad’s money).” Click here to read more

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Please sir, I want some more

One of the greatest stories ever written about money, and everything that is more valuable than it, is Chekhov’s masterpiece ‘Rothschild’s Fiddle’. Thoughts of money occupy every moment of the undertaker Yakov Ivanov’s miserable life. Even when playing the fiddle at weddings, he does so with foul grace. He is especially unkind to the Jewish flute-player who bears a millionaire’s name. It is only at the end, after the death of his wife, that Yakov realises how much he has missed out on all the other gifts of the world: beauty, goodness and joy. In his dying moments, Yakov asks for his fiddle to be given to the Jewish musician. Click here to read more

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