Moneylife Foundation was honoured with the prestigious MR Pai Memorial award, this was the 10th year of the award. Sucheta Dalal and Debashis Basu, Founder-Trustees received the award from Dr Deepali Pant Joshi, Executive Director of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The award was instituted in memory of MR Pai, a well-known crusader for consumers rights, especially in banking and telecom, by the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank Ltd (PMC Bank) and carries a citation and a monetary award of Rs1 lakh.
The selection of the awardees is done by the All India Bank Depositors’ Association (AIBDA), which was founded and led by Mr Pai for several decades. The event itself is conducted in association with AIBDA and the Forum of Free Enterprise (FFE), another organisation that Mr Pai headed for a long time. Since the award is in memory or MR Pai, it is apposite to remember that he was also an honorary secretary of the AIBDA, through which he published the book Depositors’ Rights and Customer Service in Banks that provided customers of banks, information required to deal with the various problems faced by them.
In her address, Dr Pant Joshi said, “While improving financial literacy is a necessary step in protecting consumer from exploitation or exclusionary practices, it is not a sufficient step. Regulation must be redesigned to ensure that while extending adequate precaution the poor are not kept outside the financial services because of regulatory barriers.”
Earlier, at the function held at the Indian Merchant’s Chamber in Mumbai, SS Bhandare, President of AIBDA spoke about his organisation’s association with PMC Bank and the MR Pai Award.
CS Chadha, Chairman of PMC Bank said, “The Award was set up in memory of MR Pai, who had done tremendous work for consumers’ protection. The prize money was increased to Rs1 lakh from Rs50,000 in 2009 and the Bank is proud to felicitate activists, journalists and NGOs who are carrying forward the legacy and work of the late Mr MR Pai.”
The citation of the Award said that it was deserving for Moneylife to get the award “…in recognition of its (Moneylife Foundation’s) immense contribution in impacting common people seeking fair treatment and justice”. It specifically notes the work of the Foundation in empowering people through financial literacy campaigns, workshops, advocacy and the multiple helplines that it runs.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Basu, said, “We feel highly honoured and absolutely humbled to accept the 10th MR Pai Memorial Award on behalf of our entire team at Moneylife Foundation and over 30,000 Moneylifers! This is our first award. And, as the first ever award, it will always be most cherished, we hope we will always be able to live up to the high expectations that it builds. What makes this all the more precious is that this award salutes the memory of a stalwart in the field of consumer activism and a pioneer of the rights of bank depositors.”
“As you would agree, the work done by any NGO depends partly on the support it gets. We do hope the policy makers pay more attention to NGOs, that are the voice of financial consumers,” Mr Basu added.
The award ceremony was attended by several members and supporters of Moneylife Foundation as well as members of AIBDA, FFE and officials from the RBI and PMC Bank.
Previous recipients of the MR Pai Award include Pushpa Girimaji, Manubhai Shah (founder CERC, Ahmedabad), Dr AV Huligol, Pradeep S Mehta (of CUTS Jaipur), Dr Ashish Das, Dr YV Reddy (former governor of RBI), Sunita Narain (Centre for Science & Environment), Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Shirish Deshpande of the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.