Figuring out real value of things is key to living

Sunil Thongam *

 Leima-Traders introduced 'Rani Phi' design on the theme of 'Doctor in 2020' :: September 2020
Leima-Traders introduced "Rani Phi" design in September 2020 :: Pix - Kh Chanu Leimatombi

We tend to believe money is everything. We need money to make life possible. Shelter, food, healthcare bills, and a good education are basic human needs. However, psychological and spiritual poverty is also a fact we must not forget. Material goods that we buy with money cannot fill the needs of the soul. I believe in the saying that money can't buy happiness simply because happiness is an emotional state.

'A lot more money doesn't make a lot more happiness,' notes Dan Gilbert, a psychology Professor at Harvard University and the author of Stumbling on Happiness. The issue lies in how much money costs us is important. I think joy in simple things of life, relationships and dignity should not be allowed to be compromised by money at any cost. Wise people say do not let money buy your morals.

However, its very difficult to judge how people try to have the strongest sense of financial and personal well-being. We know that figuring out the real value of things is important. Gold serves as a physical token of wealth based on people's perceptions because it has worth. Interestingly, Warren Buffett does not invest in gold. He has invested almost $1 billion in silver, so the reason for his aversion is not simply a dislike for precious metals.

The explanation for Buffett's dislike of gold and for his enthusiasm about silver stems from his basic value investing principles. Warren Buffett has been very vocal about his disdain for gold as an investment. He sees little to no value in it. What Buffett refers to as a lack of value results from a lack of usefulness. He once stated about gold, "It doesn't do anything but sit there and look at you."

One of Buffett's basic principles of investing is that one should only invest in things that are useful and that serve some purpose and that supply some practical need that people have. Silver has a myriad of industrial and medical uses. Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest men alive, amassing his fortune through a successful investment strategy. He is currently the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

He is an American. Indians adore gold more than the people of any other country. This explains why one cannot stop Indians from buying gold. Unfortunately, India does not produce any gold. The last gold mines in Kolar and Hutti in the State of Karnataka have nearly exhausted their wealth. Mining the gold still left has become too expensive. Love for gold is rooted in the Indian tradition.

But, the craze for buying it rose exponentially in the last three decades making India the largest importer of bullion in the world. I love to have tea at local tea stalls since my boyhood. Here I use the word 'stall' in place of hotel because a hotel is a building where people stay, paying for their rooms and meals. Generally, we find signboards written or painted with 'Tea Hotel', which is not correct.

I would get a cup of tea only at "shiki" or 25 paise. The cost of living was not high. During that era we used to spend less on snacks. Nowadays, people cannot make it through to the day without snacks and beverages. Consumer spending is high now. It is said that as people get richer they spend a smaller proportion of their income as they already enjoy a high standard of living and thus are able to devote more of their income to savings.

Low-income earners tend to spend more. Some say it could be something psychological: Compensating the feeling of being poor by consuming. Perhaps this idea is common sense. Lalu, ladu, chini angangba, kabok, mangan, and chana, to name but a few were very popular local snacks of Manipur in the past.

These locally made foods are healthy to snack on. We even used shiki, makhai, shikhi ahum, and lupa to buy these foods from local shops. Even peisa manga, peisa tara and peisa kun were valuable coins. Those were good old days. We need to deal with junk food cravings. Health experts say unhealthy foods could sabotage your health goals.

There were two kinds of coins issued in ancient Manipur right from the time of the onset of marketing, which are "semkhai" and "sen". The earliest known coinage was issued by during the reign of emperor Ura Konthouba in the 7th century CE (Christian Era) in ancient Manipur.

Some historians strongly opined that the oldest known coins were circulated from the 1st century CE during the reign of emperor Nongda Lairen Pakhangba in ancient Manipur. It is evident that bronze coins dating back to 568 AD to 658 AD were found inscribed with letters of archaic Meitei script.

The Meitei currency for most of the history of Manipur consisted of gold, silver, bronze and copper coinage. Bartering for goods was replaced by commodity money. One of the more advanced examples of commodity money is a precious metal such as gold. The second type of money is fiat money, which does not require backing by a physical commodity.

Instead, the value of fiat currencies is set by supply and demand and people's faith in its worth. Fiat money developed because gold was a scarce resource, and rapidly growing economies growing couldn't always mine enough to back their currency supply requirements. Today, the value of money is decided purely by its purchasing power, as dictated by inflation.

That is by simply printing new money will not create wealth for a country. As money flows out of India, the rupee-dollar exchange rate gets impacted, depreciating the rupee. According to the International Monetary Fund, the US dollar is the most popular. As of the fourth quart. of 2019, it makes up over 60% of all known central bank foreign exchange reserves.

Generally, the currency of any country in international trade is paid in US dollars. That makes it the de facto global currency, even though it doesn't hold an official title. The economy of Manipur improved during the colonial rule in Manipur (1891-1947). Technological development had become rapid: bell metal industry, blacksmith or iron industry, weapon manufacturing gun-making tannery, was highly developed.

The bell metal coin known as 'ser was in circulation. Monetization started taking place gradually in the economy of Manipur after the coming of the British. The British Government of India did not annex Manipur mainly for the reason that owing to the scanty resources of Manipur, the British authorities considered the taking over of the state administration to be a liability; not an asset.

There were developments in communication facilities; schools were established to impart formal education to the native children. There was no organized financial institution in Manipur until the Manipur Co-operative Bank Limited was opened for the first time in 1939.

As for the conditions of the markets, the records indicate that until the advent of the British rule in the state towards the close of the 19th century, most of the Manipur markets were by the roadsides without any proper sheds or shelter. Thus, it was after the subjugation of the State by the British in 1891 that the Sadar Bazar and the Maxwell Bazar were opened by Col Maxwell and J Shakespear, respectively, with a limited number of sheds.

Maharaja Churachand Singh (1891-1941) started the construction of market stalls with corrugated iron roofs at Sana Keithel. It is mentioned that some markets came up since the beginning of the 17th century during the reign of Maharaja Khagemba, who opened formally various markets in different parts of the State with Sana Keithel at the heart of Imphal valley as the biggest market in 1614.

Selling of machine made Manipuri conventional wears in the State has been strongly opposed by local weavers and retailers backed by major student organisations. The organisations stand and work for the poor population which is larger and hence their move is very powerful. Hand woven fabrics of Manipur are very popular throughout the world.

Inaphi, Phanek, Mayek Naibi, Lai Phi and Chin Phi, Khamen Chatpa, and Potloi are traditional dresses of Manipur. Beautiful and colourful weaves of Manipur have been replaced by similar products made in the outside states. This has been protested by weavers and Ima Keithel women vendors in Imphal, the metropolis of Manipur.

Manipur has the highest concentration of weavers and highest concentration on the possession of loom in India. The traditional skill of handloom weaving is not only a status symbol for the womenfolk, but it is an indispensable aspect of socio-economic life in Manipur. Copied products could have serious impact on the socio-economic life in the state.

We agree that people want cheap price. But, raw material costs are a burden to the local clothes manufacturers in Manipur. Unless the problem of factor cost, the market value of goods or service at the retail level, is solved, it appears that the fate of local weavers and retailers is unpredictable. The outside copied products could force them out of business.

* Sunil Thongam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on August 07 2022.

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