FINANCIAL CITIZENSHIP POST COVID-19
Author: Keerthi Chowdary, III year of B.B.A.,LL.B. from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.
The term “citizenship” means offering the general public a right to be a part of the decision-making process that affects society at large. It is an understanding between the general public and the government wherein the public obeys to pay tax and follow the law whilst the government comes up with legislation to ease their lives. The fulfilment of this obligation qualifies an individual as a citizen of the country. In a developing country like India, there is a broader meaning to this term involving various aspects to it, one such aspect being Financial Citizenship. There is no textbook definition of what financial citizenship means but it has been explained in a broader sense by various researchers and authors over the years.
It can be divided into 3 parts:
1. “Financial Inclusion: a process that gives access and visibility to products and services of the economy materialized through the financial system.
2. Products and services offer: an availability that suits the needs and accessibility of the citizen.
3. Financial education: a framework of knowledge and good practices that fosters inclusion based on responsible financial behaviour, thus enabling the sustainability of Citizenship.”((1) What Does Financial Citizenship Mean and Why Is It Important? | LinkedIn, n.d.)
In the past 5 months, due to the global outbreak of Covid’19 and imposition of a strict lockdown, every sector of the economy has been affected. There has been widespread poverty and unemployment. It is vital to understand that fall of any sector of the economy is directly proportional to the financial stability of that respective sector. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to educate the general public and spread awareness amongst them regarding the meaning and importance of financial citizenship as it is a tool which will aid in tackling the hurdles put forward by the pandemic in the future.
There is a responsibility upon the Central banks and other financial institutions to educate the citizens of the country about its policies and the merits and demerits that come along with it. They must strive to build a bond between the financial experts and the citizens to encourage them to fulfil their duties and responsibilities. The technicalities of every aspect of the policies are required to be explained to the general public and since it’s a democracy, any part of the policy framed by the experts are subjected to queries and doubts raised by the citizens and the officials are obliged to answer to them to clear their dilemma. (Halan, 2020)
A significant part of financial citizenship is not only to understand its meaning but also to fulfil the duties and responsibilities that come along with it. Participation in financial citizenship must be followed by the commitment to financial citizenship from the parties involved which would eventually lead to public welfare more than anything else. Few examples of duties that fall under financial citizenship are planning of various recurring payments to be made, reserve for unforeseen circumstances and funding small businesses and SMEs to prevent them from becoming insolvent. This establishes a nexus between the citizens and economy thereby forming an approach of intelligible differentia which would assist in stabilizing the finances of the economy.
The experts in finance and the government are required to come up with a legitimate laid down plan or legislation related to the functioning of financial citizenship as it is the need of the hour. The pandemic has put the financial situation of every individual at stake and a well laid down plan guiding them on how to deal with it would make a huge difference. Moreover, there is no guarantee that there would be no more crises so legislation that is set for the same could be applied to future unforeseen occurrences also. (Ilc___financial_citizenship___full_report1.Pdf, n.d.)
1. “Financial Citizenship: Experts, Publics, and the Politics of Central Banking”, (Riles, 2018)
The following research article published by Cornell University Press highlights the threats and conflicts posed in and around financial citizenship. It also discusses the opinion and view of experts and scholars and the role played by them in it. The discussion is held from a global perspective. It also sheds light on the development of the economy of a country due to the initiation and consistent development of financial citizenship in a country.
2.“Challenges and Opportunities in the Post COVID’19 World”(WEF_Challenges_and_Opportunities_Post_COVID_19.Pdf, n.d.)
The following detailed research paper focuses on various sectors that would be affected by the Covid’19 lash. While health, global governance and digitalisation were few sectors, it highlighted the economic and financial forum of the world too. It managed to establish the link between incomes, finances and economy and highlighted the current situation of the world. It concluded by giving sufficient suggestions and recommendations that can be included in order to get over the hardships caused by the pandemic.
3. “Financial Citizenship: Rethinking the state’s role in enabling individuals to save” (Becker, 2018)
The following research article focuses upon the concepts of financial inclusion and the responsibilities of each and every citizen of the country to carry forward in a financialized world. It highlights the history and evolution of financial citizenship and also the long path it still needs to go through and this can be done only with the cooperation and commitment of the people of the country. It is concluded by giving adequate suggestions in order to boost financial awareness in the country.
4. “COVID-19: Potential impact on financial reporting” (First Notes - COVID-19 Potential Impact on Financial Reporting, 2020)
The following research article sheds light on the importance of financial accounting and reporting due to the rapid outbreak of the virus. It aids in analysing the lows and highs that have incurred and accordingly the measures that must be adopted to eliminate and lows. It is concluded by giving sufficient suggestions on promoting swift accounting measures.
5. “What concept of Financial Citizenship means?” (Systems, n.d.)
The following study emphasizes on the meaning and importance of financial citizenship and its relevance in the current scenario. Moreover, it goes deep into the element of financial education and how it boosts financial citizenship in and around the country. It concludes by providing answers to a few frequently asked questions on the subject of financial citizenship.
6. “Can Financial Citizenship begin at birth?” (Can Financial Citizenship Begin at Birth, n.d.)
The following research article begins with the under-developed condition of countries like India and Africa with respect to financial citizenship. Further on, it focuses on the benefits available when financial awareness is spread amongst youngsters since a very small age.
7. “Global Financial Citizenship” (WMHS Global Financial Citizenship, n.d.)
The following study focuses on educating the world regarding finance and economy in order to increase global financial literacy. The sub-topics under this study are consumer knowledge, planning of institutions, investments, savings and career choices to name a few. They also shed light on the importance of carrying and fulfilling consumer rights and responsibilities.
The most important component of financial citizenship is to make people aware of its meaning and process. It is a pathway making sure that every citizen of the country has access to the products and services presented by the economy.
Therefore, after a difficult period of Covid’19 where the economy has dropped down, the first step is to educate citizens with the methods that secure themselves financially.
In a survey conducted by the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Centre (GFLEC), the percentage of financial literacy in various developed and developing countries was displayed. As per the data reported, Canada and the UK seem to have the highest financial literacy percentage whilst India is at the bottom.
Source: (NCFE, n.d.)
In another report accumulated by the National Centre for Financial Education Report, the percentage of financial literacy in every State of India is displayed. As per the reports, Gujarat is the state with the highest financial literacy whilst Chhattisgarh is the state with the lowest financial literacy percentage.
Source: (NCFE, n.d.)
Similarly, another report was taken to analyse the financial literacy of the union territories of India. As per the reports, Chandigarh has the highest financial literacy percentage whilst Andaman and Nicobar island has the least.
Source: (NCFE, n.d.)
Another important aspect of financial citizenship is financial inclusion. It makes sure that financial services are provided to every citizen of the country in order to process and balance their income in a systemised manner. Financial institutions like banks in India play a huge role in this. They are the single entities which secure and provide additional benefits on the income earned by individuals.
Source: (Reserve Bank of India - Database, n.d.)
The following table depicts the number of bank branches of Registered commercial banks in India that is published by the Reserve bank of India. These are the institutions which promote financial inclusion amongst people by regulating their incomes by providing loans, interests, savings and much more.
Financial inclusion commenced in India with the government introducing the National Mission for Financial inclusion (IMFI) which was called the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana in the year 2014 which guaranteed financial inclusion by providing access to banking services to the citizens of the country.
As per reports, there has been a significant rise in accounts deposits since the initiation of this scheme. But it is still not adequate as the finances of every citizen of the country would be regulated only when every earning member of a family relies on financial institutions and deposits their incomes so that it is balanced by the services provided by the bank.
SUGGESTIONS & CONCLUSION
The impact of Covid’19 has been harsh and brutal. A major part of the country has suffered mentally and financially. The finances and economy of the county must be prioritised after its health condition as it is the next important tool in survival. An appropriate financial citizenship scheme must be adopted to eliminate weak financial conditions in the future. This contingency plan of financial citizenship is vital to regulate financial governance in the country. It makes every citizen responsible for their finances as well as in lifting the economy of the country.
The two main important elements in this process are financial literacy and financial inclusion. Financial literacy makes the general public aware of banking institutions and their benefits while financial inclusion provides the platform for it. Data and surveys reveal that general literacy is not a determinant of financial literacy which makes it the need of the hour to educate the citizens of the country from a financial point of view. A simple way of implementing this would be to introduce a national finance curriculum in educational institutions. This is because financial education must be mandated amongst individuals and not given as a choice. When individuals are made aware of finances and economy from an early age, it would leave a long-lasting impact upon them.
Apart from theoretical knowledge, individuals must take responsibility and commitment toward securing their finances. They must diligently commit to financial participation for the greater cause of economic well-being and also acknowledge the fact that it protects the interests of every citizen of the country at all kinds of situations. Additionally, it also protects individuals from financial fraud and scams.
Therefore, the concept of financial citizenship must be adopted actively to fix the situation caused by the pandemic. Distinguished experts and scholars of finance must devise required hands well in advance to tackle the hardships imposed upon the country.
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