August 16, 2017

Tackling poverty with the magic of microinsurance

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy is an assistant professor at the Department of Commerce in St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata, India. She is also guest lecturer at other colleges in India. She has a PhD in Commerce with specialization in Accounting and Finance from University of Kolkata. Her primary areas of interest are microinsurance, rural development, financial inclusion, microfinance, micro savings and microcredit, among others. With teaching experience of almost 10 years, Dr. Roy has published over twenty scholarly research papers. Her debut book, Microinsurance: Including the Excluded was published in 2015.

GAT: Welcome to Global Asian Times, Sreemoyee. Tell us something about yourself that not many people are aware of.

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: I was born in Kolkata. I had no interest in writing. I have always specialized in Accounting and Finance that has much to do with numbers. My writing journey started with taking microinsurance as my doctoral topic. I read extensively about different aspects of microinsurance. I never thought of producing a work of art. I wrote this book to expose some myths and lies about the deprived population, and also some facts about them. That is when I realized it was time to write about this topic and find the answers and explanations myself.

GAT: What draws you to the magical world of writing and what does the art of weaving words do for you on a personal level?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: The most important thing is to keep your writing clear and concise and make sure that you get your ideas over in a comprehensible form. The other important thing is to remember to try to avoid every day informal language, especially colloquial expressions and slang. What’s important is that you clearly show your understanding of the subject and your ability to manipulate information to answer a specific question or complete a specific task, and as long as any grammar errors you make don’t impede this, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

GAT: Does the journey of seeing an idea develop and flourish into a full-fledged book teach you something about yourself or make you a better person in any way?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: Writing is thought put to page, which makes all of us writers — even if we don’t have the chops to spin beautiful prose. Personal and non-fiction writing is a fascinating topic because I get the sense that many successful people are closed doors regular writers. Firstly, it gives you immense satisfaction and confidence. Writing makes you happier as it enhances your communicating and thinking ability and most importantly, it helps you through hard times. Secondly, it makes you sharp with age.

GAT: Tell us about your publishing journey. Was it smooth or bumpy?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: Oh well, it’s been a hurricane process: lots of work, research, mind share, and one of great learning experiences of my life. My experience has made me think a lot about the writing process and what it’s all about. Authoring a book is so much more than writing; it’s about believing in yourself, generating new ideas, gathering insights, and trusting the process despite challenges that come.

GAT: Did you have a support group like family, friends or colleagues who believed in your passion for writing?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: First and foremost, I would like to thank God. In the process of putting this book together, I could never have done this without the faith I have in you, the Almighty. I also express my deep sense of gratitude to Dr. Jita Bhattacharya, Professor of Commerce, University of Calcutta, who has provided me constant support during various stages of this book, without which it would have been impossible for me to complete this book. To my parents, Sabita Chaudhuri and Samir Chaudhuri, for the first time in so many years, I am speechless! I can barely find the words to express all the wisdom, love and support you’ve given me. You are my first fans and for that I am eternally grateful. To my husband, Avirup Guha Roy. I am so thankful that I have you in my corner pushing me when I am ready to give up. All the good that comes from this book I look forward to sharing with you!

GAT: Aside from writing, what are your other passions?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: I am a full-time academician and have a secure job. Apart from that, I would describe myself as a dancer (which I have plans to pursue later), I’m interested in traveling although I have not traveled a lot, I’m just a person who loves to live life to the fullest.

GAT: How does your writing benefit the society?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: Well, I write for the deprived and excluded population and not just because it was my PhD topic. I really feel the necessity to write. I have done field surveys before writing the book, and my book failed to describe even half of the conditions in which they are in. My book is well appreciated by insurance officials and concerned persons in this field. They have also decided to take up area-wise project delivering microinsurance. This, I believe, is the true success of my book.

GAT: What are your future projects?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: I am in the process of writing two more books. They are along the same lines as the previous one and could be termed as a prequel to my current book, Microinsurance: Including the Excluded.

GAT: If an aspiring writer asks you for just one golden advice of wisdom, what would it be?

Dr. Sreemoyee Guha Roy: One main challenge is commitment. Writing is an art and it takes several years to do it well. Even if you are writing a non-fiction book on an area you have expertise in, it does not automatically make you an expert writer. If you’re not committed completely, you are more likely to be short of time, impatient and out of focus. Without a deep commitment to the writing journey, you will find endless excuses as to why you can’t finish that draft. Another suggestion would be to get useful feedback from a caring person who is not so much a fan of your writing, and you have to prepare yourself to listen to it. Take the time needed to develop your work to as high a standard as you can get. So to make it to the finish line, you need to keep writing, keep revising, keep reading, keep learning, keep fit and keep breathing!

 GAT: Our readers would like to savour a brief extract from your new book, Microinsurance: Including the Excluded.Book-Sreemoyee

Excerpt:

 Poverty is not just a state of deprivation but has latent vulnerability. Micro-insurance should, therefore, provide greater economic and psychological security to the poor as it reduces exposure to multiple risks and cushions the impact of a disaster. There is an overwhelming demand for social protection among the poor. Microinsurance in conjunction with micro savings and micro credit could, therefore, go a long way in keeping this segment away from the poverty trap and would truly be an integral component of financial inclusion.

Across the world, low-income communities are often shut out of financial services like savings accounts, insurance or mortgages because they cannot afford premiums or fee, lack of formal and regular jobs, collateral, identification on credit history-or because they struggle to write and write.

In Asia, however, insurance has emerged as one of the fastest growing financial services catering to the poor, due to the large population and thanks to relatively developed insurance markets and regulations in some countries. Microinsurance is most prevalent in India.

The book reveals that microinsurance have proved to be quite effective in bringing about improvements among the low-income people. Positive effects that have been noticed including improvement in standard of living, providing education to children, protection against seasonality etc. But problems persist. The insurance market in these districts is highly concentrated; there are only a few providers that dominate and restrict the entry of others. Although the providers have achieved growth, its penetration into the territory of the poorest of the poor is still quite minimal.  Low-income household struggle to save, and if they can save they prefer the traditional forms of savings. High premium amount, inflexibility in collection of premium, claim settlement is among other factors that appear to have a preventive effect upon respondents in choosing microinsurance as a savings option.But more and more players are entering the market and providing an active role.The outlook is cautiously optimistic.

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