An interview on the Financial situation amidst Covid-19 -Dr. Mugdha Kulkarni

1) What interested you to take up finance as a career, especially when it haunts so many students?
==> Maybe this is because I come from the family of academician and chartered Accountants, so at a very early age in college started understanding market and had practical exposure to bookkeeping, banking audit, etc. Also, Finance is exciting for me and opened doors for many new opportunities.

2) Abhijit Bannerjee got the Nobel Prize for economics for his work with other academics like Esther Duflo, on eradicating global poverty. How relevant are his findings in 21st century India?
==> Of course, findings are extremely relevant when it comes to framing policy in countries like India particularly necessary to be able to prioritize more effective policies over less. He received the award for their contribution to reviving development economics, particularly through the popularization of “randomized control trials” (RCTs) that break larger questions about policy interventions into smaller, easier to test studies.

3) COVID 19 has impacted the finances across various classes of society in India, can you suggest a few basic steps in which one can balance their finances apart from depending upon regular income.
==> Budgeting Rule of 50-30-20 is still valid. Where 50% should go towards living expenses, i.e., household expenses, Rent, including groceries.30% on Entertainment (OTT platforms; like Netflix, Amazon Prime & Hotstar, eating outside, etc. ) 20% allocated to safe investments like debt/equity mutual funds that can be used as a corpus to be used for large expenses (E.g. Health issues, College fees, Weddings, etc.). With a pandemic, it is the time to get aggressive about your emergency fund. If you are working from home, you can redirect the money you save on the commute, meals, dry cleaning, etc. towards your emergency fund. And since you are not indulging in any leisure activities (thanks to home quarantine) like movies, concerts, restaurant meals, etc., you can put this money toward this uncertain event.
Regular investment can help balance your finance. If you are regular income inflow one of the following options can be taken, Investment in Mutual funds like SIPs Systematic Investment Plans (SIPs) and Systematic withdrawal plan (SWPs)or combination, Trade Stocks, Other than that you can Sell Your Old Stuff, do Freelancing, Tutoring, coding, content writing, social media management, web designing, Youtuber.

4) What important lessons do you think has Covid-19 taught us amidst the lockdown?
==> The Covid-19 has helped us to revisit some of the important things like
1.Health, Exercise, and General hygiene,
2.Work life balance, everyone in the family should help in household work like buying groceries, cooking, cleaning, etc.
3.Importance of friend and family in our life

4. Do we have adequate Insurance cover and Emergency fund, Is my job stable.
5.Most important of all learn to respect and appreciate Nature

5) What importance does learning finance plays in a student’s life? Can you suggest a few basic tips a student should follow to check up their finances?
==> Financial Literacy for students will help them to understand managing personal finance, money, borrowing, investing, own retirement requirements, the allocation for medical expenses in the future.

6) Is pursuing higher education a viable option for students in the current market situation, especially since classes are being held virtually?
==> I guess online education was around for a long time maybe a decade now. So why is it not normal? When all businesses have already moved online why higher education should not. Technology-enabled teaching is definitely the future we are looking towards, but the transition was not easy. Higher Education experts have already started anticipating several positive research and pedagogic consequences of the pandemic. So, I don’t think it is not a viable option.

7) Is the decrease in the fees for students justified since everything is virtual now?
==> In my opinion, colleges have fixed costs related to instruction. They have faculty members who do the teaching, infrastructure maintenance, IT, academic support staff, and other academic expenses. Such expenses do not go away just because instruction has moved online. Those are real costs to institutions. Costs do not decline when instruction shifts online. The price charged, then, cannot be reduced, either. Students may argue that online instruction should cost colleges less, that teaching from home is less expensive than ramping up campus facilities and labs. To be sure, colleges don’t have to pay for certain expenses when campuses are vacant, especially with respect to daily maintenance. But other new costs are likely to eat up those potential facility savings quickly. Increasing Bandwidth, Electricity charges increasing, platform usage fees are some of the new increasing costs.