Education in India has become a costly affair in the modern times to say the least. The poor and underprivileged ones who cannot afford to pay the lump sum often resort to availing education loans to pursue their academic dreams. Though it often gets tough to repay the loan in time, they willingly resort to such desperate measures planning to repay the same on getting jobs in the future.
Such poor graduates hailing from Bodinayakanur in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district were recently humiliated by State Bank of India for apparently defaulting on repaying their education loan in time. The alleged humiliation has been caused by SBI’s Bodinayakanur branch itself. They resorted to publicly humiliating the defaulters by displaying the photos of the students along with their guardians.
This detestable incident occurred a few days back and till now has been able to whirl up a strong gust of protests from fellow civilians. The bank feels that this act of theirs will stir up the conscience among the defaulters to pay their loans owing to the public humiliation factor. Bank officials say that outstanding loan amounts range from Rs 40000 to Rs 5 lakhs.
This dastardly act has created a furore among the students who feel that the bank has violated their social dignity by publicizing the identity of defaulters in broad daylight. They have openly expressed their angst against the move and demonstrated protests against the bank.
Activists like A Thomas say, “This is a clear violation of human rights. The victims of misappropriation must resort to legal advice and take necessary action against the bank. They never put up a photo of an eminent and wealthy man when he is a defaulter then why target the poor and economically feeble ones?”
A girl student who has graduated but is yet to get a job said, “This act of the bank has publicly humiliated me and my family. Now it will become hard for me to get a job in the local vicinity. In a rural area like ours no one will want to marry a humiliated girl like me. Before we were poor but at least lived with dignity which now we have lost entirely.”
It is not hard to understand that the repayment of loans is a laborious job for poor families. They mostly pay their outstanding dues only after they get jobs. In the rural areas the jibs are often inferior quality where pay is low. Thus makes the repayment even harder to be borne by the student. The current recession too has had an impact on the scenario as there is an acute shortage of jobs in the market leading to the rise in number of jobless graduates. Correspondingly, the number of defaulters is on the rise too.
Experts feel that just like loan waiver for farmers, the government and the banks too must devise ways to implement such schemes for poor graduates who aren’t economically strong enough. The approach must be more humanistic and conscious on behalf of the banks. Ironically SBI authorities have ordered the removal of the controversial display with immediate effect much to the relief of the victimized individuals.