One Idiot at IIT Madras!

Published: January 14, 2013 at 8:41 pm

No I am not referring to myself! (although a few my students would have something to say about that!) I am referring to ‘One Idiot‘ the new short film directed by Amole Gupte and produced by IFDC foundation as part of their initiative to spread financial literacy to young Indians.

If you haven’t seen it please do so right away, right here!


I had requested IDFC if the movie can be part of ‘Saarang’ the annual student fest at IIT, Madras, one of the biggest such events in the country. I passed it onto the student organizers after getting IDFC’s permission. The students loved it so much that they made it the opening event of the ‘Saarang Film Festival’. I was asked to make the opening and closing remarks about the movie.

Saarang The official Saarang logo.

I had to make subtitles for the movie since about 40-50% of the movie had Hindi dialogue. After trying out a couple of free subtitling software I decided its best to create one on notepad for the Hindi speaking parts. It came out okay.  If you need it for your own local screening write to me.

The movie was filmed on Jan. 13th in a packed auditorium with 500+ people. People were seated in the pathways due to lack of seats! In my opening remarks as a buildup to the movie, I asked the audience: “What if after a couple of decades of working for money, how would you like it if your money begins to work for you?” (a standard refrain among finance pros but new to these kids). Understandably many seemed puzzled.

The audience found the movie immensely enjoyable. There were peels of laughter when Chotu asks the bench-gang if they had 50 bucks and walk off to his match in style and when he explains SIP to his elder brother. All this was quite understandable but will they get the point of the movie I wondered?

When Bugs uncle quotes Warren Buffet: “If you buy things you don’t need, one day you will have to sell the things you do need”, the audience erupted in thunderous applause!! It was spine tingling. Considering the average age of the audience would be somewhere between 20-25 it is a great triumph for Amole Gupte and IDFC!

In my closing remarks I quickly mentioned two examples of compounding:

  1. Assuming Chotu is 12 years old. He has been investing since he was 8(!) and he has a networth of about Rs. 62,000. If he continues to invest until he graduates from school, he would have enough money to fund at least 2 years of college. Imagine a guy who has just turned 18 and funds his last two years of college on his own! He could just tell his parents to ‘back-off’ and live life on his own terms. Not to mention he won’t have the burden of student loans.
  2. Imagine someone who starts earning at age 21 or 22. If he or she manages to put aside Rs. 15,000 month after month from say age 22 to age 40 in investments earning an average return of 12% per year, he/she will be a crorepati: the ‘drop by drop’ referred to by ‘Bugs’ uncle. Over an 18 year period, with proper asset allocation, a 12% average return is quite realistic. Is  investing 15,000 a month realistic so early in ones life? You don’t need to start working in Facebook or Microsoft to be able to invest this much a month. If you can’t invest this much then invest what you can as early as you can. Starting early is more important. As salaries increase one can catch up. A few older members in the audience did their best to not pay attention! Possibly because they had missed the bus to financial independence!

If you are on the right side of 35 you still have a decent shot at relatively early financial independence. All you need to do is actNow!

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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations on the basis of money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association. For speaking engagements write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
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