Tuesday, May 2, 2017

From Madhavan's Harvard Speech: Funerals Cost the Village Poor Dear

I was viewing Madhavan's speech at #Harvard and came across a point about what forces villagers into a cycle of debt: An unexpected death in the family. In India, the death of a loved one mandates that the family should spend considerable money on funeral rites and organise feasts for communities and priests during the mourning period. In Hindu custom, this is commemorated by organising feasts every year. Villagers are forced to borrow money from moneylenders. Weddings and dowry people can save up for, but death can push a family into penury. People in India sometimes spend more on funeral rites and proceedings than weddings, to ensure that the departed soul rests in peace. I asked my househelp, Rangaben, about how they get money to organise village funeral feasts. She said that they pawn off the jewellery and mortgage their fields. Rarely do economists talk about this when they study the Indian poor. At seminars on development and economy, we  always have experts talk about dowry, weddings, alcohol and tobacco but never funerals. And that's why #Madhavan's observations as an actor who travels and films in the remote rural villages of Tamil Nadu are remarkably important. #Death costs the Indian poor dear.
#WhyIndiaRemainsPoor #Poverty #Villages #Debt #Development #Economics #Customs #Funerals #India


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