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Carlos Garcia was three years into his first job in technology at Merrill Lynch when he first learned what a 401K retirement savings account was. He was floored when he learned that a colleague had already saved $30,000 in three years, and the company had matched it.
The concept of making money off money was foreign to Garcia, an MIT graduate who was born in Texas to immigrants from Mexico. His story is not uncommon among U.S. Hispanics, who lag behind other demographic groups when it comes to saving for retirement. But for Garcia, the episode became the inspiration many years later for Finhabits, a bilingual digital platform designed to make savings and investment accessible for Latinos.
Finhabits launched last year into a crowded world of robo-advisers, savings apps, online lending platforms and other financial-technology companies.
But it is one of the few aimed at demystifying stocks and bonds for Hispanics, particularly young professionals who have the means to start investing but may have inherited a fuzzy understanding of the financial system from their immigrant parents.
“Hispanics are very hard workers and we are able to generate quick income for our families. Sometimes we are good at savings but we put the money under the mattress,” said Garcia, who previously founded two other companies, including an internet analytics service for hedge funds.
Other financial-tech startups aimed at Latinos have focused on immediate financial needs: paying off debt, building credit and gaining access to loans. Few besides Finhabits are dedicated to encouraging investing and long-term financial planning.
Another is Mi Dinero Mi Futuro, a personal financial planning platform started by Ramona Ortega, a former New York corporate attorney who became preoccupied with the lack of financial literacy among Latinos while working in bankruptcy and securities litigation.
“No one talked to me about money,” said Ortega, the daughter of Napa Valley farm worker and the first in her family to go to college. “The fact is that our communities have not had a legacy of talking about money.”
Finhabits follows in the footsteps of robo-advisors Betterment, Wealthfront and Acorn, which use computer algorithms instead of a traditional wealth adviser to manage customer funds across various types of investments. Ortega’s platform is similar to more well-known personal finance apps Mint and Credit Karma; it offers personalized budgeting tools and recommendations for affiliated financial products.
More than competing with established players, the founders of Finhabits and Mi Dinero Mi Future see themselves as creating a new market among Latinos, who they believe are overlooked by traditional financial institutions and even many of the digital newcomers.
It is not an easy market to penetrate, however.
According to a 2014 Prudential Research study, just 19 percent of Latinos had individual retirement accounts and less than 10 percent had investments in individual stocks, bonds of mutual funds. Only about 60 percent of Hispanics had a savings account, compared to 80 percent of the general population. The study cited various factors, including uncertainty among immigrants about what will happen to investments if they leave the country, distrust of financial institutions and difficulty understanding products.
Another study, done in 2016 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, found that more than 60 percent of Latino workers lacked access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, compared to 40 percent for white workers.
“This demographic has been very tough to crack historically,” said William Trout, head of wealth management research at Celent, a consulting firm focused on financial services technology. “Will that second generation look for a platform that is speaking to a Hispanic population? Well, somebody has to test it. I think it’s worth a shot.”
With Finhabits, beginner investors can start with $5 weekly contributions into traditional IRA, Roth IRAs or taxable investment accounts for shorter-term goals. Finhabits asks users about their priorities and risk tolerance and then recommends investment portfolios. The money goes into low-fee exchange trade funds from Vanguard and BlackRock.
Through its app, blogs and text-messaging services, Finhabits explains financial concepts (portfolio diversification? It’s like ordering different types of tacos) and compound interest to persuade people that investing their money is safer and wiser than trying to “hit the fat one,” as Latinos refer to the lottery jackpot.
Crucial to the Latino community, Finhabits lets users open an account with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, a processing number issued by the Internal Revenue Service for people who are required to pay taxes but do not have Social Security numbers. That makes the service accessible to immigrants who are not legal residents but still pay federal taxes.
Savvier investors can simply set up accounts directly with Vanguard or BlackRock, which require more active knowledge of investing. But most often, those big players don’t have formal marketing strategies for Hispanics.
Garcia said Finhabits has about 10,000 active clients who invest an average of $40 a week. It is signing up about 1,000 new clients each week and aiming for 50,000 by the end of the year.
One challenge for financial start-ups is earning the public’s trust. Finhabits and Mi Dinero Mi Futuro are trying to that through partnerships with institutions already targeting minority and underserved communities.
Finhabits is a provider in Washington state’s newly established Retirement Marketplace, which helps individuals and small businesses find low-cost retirement saving plans. Nearly 80 percent of the West Coast state’s 385,500 Hispanic workers are not covered by an employer-sponsored plan, said marketplace director Carolyn McKinnon.
Finhabits also has partnerships with credit unions, including Neighborhood Federal Credit Union, which serves New York City’s predominantly Latino neighborhoods of West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.
Rosa Franco, director of lending at the credit union, said the partnership is still in development. She anticipates a challenge in marketing the service to her clients, many of whom are consumed by pressing concerns like debt repayment and or sending money to relatives abroad.
“It’s difficult for many people to think about the future. They live paycheck to paycheck. Many people just think Social Security is their only option for retirement,” said Franco, who used the Finhabits app herself to open a Roth IRA.
Ortega, who recently received a new round of investment from venture fund Backstage Capital for Mi Dinero Mi Futuro, crisscrosses the country giving workshops at universities and Hispanic professional organizations.
At a financial boot camp in Los Angeles City Hall, Ortega won over Liliana Aide Monge, who moved to the U.S. from Mexico at age 5 and is now the co-founder of Sabio, web development and cybersecurity training company.
Growing up, Monge said her family was “not part of the formal banking structure at all. The money came in and you pay the rent and you pay for food.”
Now a mother of two boys, Monge has used Mi Dinero Mi Futuro to budget her money, buy life insurance and open a high-yield savings account.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” she said. (VOA)
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.