Andhra Pradesh; A 35-year-old homemaker from Old Alwal, Jyothi couldn’t move when doctors at a private hospital asked for 1.2 lakh rupees to treat her COVID positive husband. She discovered herself feeble with no savings from the narrow income of her husband, an autorickshaw driver. The amount was required instantly for three doses of Remedesivir, which the doctors said each would require at least 30,000 rupees. The helpless lady had no choice but to pawn her wedding necklace and the little gold she possessed.
“I was crying to the nearby pawnbroker who said he would give only 1 lakh at an interest of 2.5% a month. I pleaded with him to give ?1.20 lakh, but he reiterated his terms and refused to relent,” said Ms. Jyothi. Fortunately for her husband, Madhusudhan Chary, two of his autorickshaw friends whom he had supported earlier, arrived in with 20,000 rupees, despite their financial limitations.
Begetting drained all her support, Ms. Jyothi is now reliant on help from friends and relatives as she nurses her husband back to form. Ms. Jyothi is not lonely in being confronted with monetary straits due to the pandemic, which has crashed several thousand families. For these sad families, who have no other source, gold has become the mythical panacea to support the much-needed reserves for medical treatment.
Alike is the tale of Yalamanchili Ramu from Gayathri Hill who sold 30 tola (one tola equals 10 grams) of family jewelry for the medicine of his mother, daughter, and himself who were admitted to a corporate hospital in Secunderabad. After a week, Ramu rushed out of cash and had left with no other choice but to sell the gold. “Selling land is a long process which might take months or at least weeks and gold has come to the rescue of my family. We paid more than ?10 lakh for the treatment of three persons,” he said.
Inquiries with lenders and gold loan companies show there is a constant tread of desperate people to pawn their gold ornaments.“Yes, for the past month there is a steady increase of people who are pledging gold ornaments for treatment. When they say they want money for treatment, I’m giving money at a very low rate of interest,” said a jeweler from Secunderabad. On Thursday, Kavitha, a nurse from Regimental Bazaar pledged two tolas of gold jewelry with this jeweler to help her relatives, who supported her husband’s treatment a few years ago.
When reached, a spokesperson of a leading gold loan company said they were giving gold loans for 14% interest per year, and the interest rate changes if the loan amount is large.“If the loan amount is more than ?5 lakh, we offer a interest of 12%, and one has to renew the loan within 12 months to avoid auction of their gold,” he said.