Saturday, January 28, 2017

Global Parli goes “Cashless”

By Chetan Temkar (Mob: 9892452492)
This is a story about how the transformation of 15 villages in Beed district turned out to be the catalyst for a cashless revolution.
After quitting AAP due to internal squabbling and non-adherence to core principles of transparency, Mr. Mayank Gandhi decided to return back to corporate life. He started working with a start-up which got to the funding stage. Meanwhile he read some articles about the drought in Beed district where people were rumoured to be sipping the leftover water thrown from cars on the road.
Mayank was disturbed by the reports and decided to go and have a look for himself.  He surveyed the area and found out that there indeed was a severe shortage of even drinking water. Some parts of this area were covered by Government schemes while others weren't. Mayank quit his job and took over the task of supplying water to a cluster of 38 villages with around 60,000 people. With the goodwill that he had earned in his India against Corruption and AAP days, he asked people to donate for tankers and organized the whole effort that supplied 1.57 crore litres of water until the rains.
After this exercise, he realized that even though the water effort was necessary and critical at that time, it was only a temporary fix; a bandaid. Something more permanent needed to be done. With the help of some volunteers, he did an on ground survey and started the Global Parli project. The mission was simple and succinctly put - to increase the per capita income of the villages by 250%, with accompanying human development. He chose 15 villages instead of one to make a statistically acceptable sample with enough variation to take care of anomalies.
Global Parli is a lab where methods and techniques will be developed which can be applied to the entire country.
My partner Dipesh and I met Mayank when we worked together on the private venture that he was leading. Our company Jump in Jump out Technologies was building the underlying technology for Mayank's company. I had left a cushy job in the US to come back to India to make a change. Life in the US was comfortable and the fear was about falling into a comfortable lull, where one started living in a bubble oblivious to the suffering of others and pontificating how they should improve their lives.
My father used to say that after a lot of good karma, you get a human life. It’s not enough to just have a family and take care of it. You have to make a difference in at least 100 families to justify your birth. Hence, I came back to India to do something worthwhile.
When I came back, my two friends Prakash and Vasudha started an organization called V-Excel ( with an intention of creating special education teachers, something which India sorely lacked. We built a model school in Chennai and now V-excel serves thousands of special children through the school, its branches and the teachers it has trained. The model is being used in 8 schools in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra and is being replicated all over India.
I am also one of the founder trustees of Mumbai Environmental and Social Network, which works on issues in public transport in Mumbai and promotes sustainable mobility.
Dipesh and I have also created a suite of free mobile app modules called SmartShehar that aids commuters in Mumbai and also gets them involved in helping the municipal corporation with problems like potholes, garbage disposal, traffic and parking in the city.
With this background, it was fitting to get involved in Global Parli as this would be a far reaching project, reaching lakhs of people and with the potential to transform rural India. Mayank’s genuineness and easy style of working attracts the best talent to work with him.
Dipesh and I took over the IT pillar of Global Parli and started thinking of different ideas using technology for education, internet etc. We visited the villages for a ground survey and to our surprise we found that most households had at least one Android phone with an internet connection.
Then, the PM dropped the D-bomb (demonetization). The media was full of reports of the suffering of the poorest of the poor in villages. I spoke to Mayank and said that we should make sure that our villages were not suffering and see what we could do for them. He asked me to take charge and said that he would provide whatever assistance that was required from Global Parli.
The people at Global Parli turned out to be some of the best people that I have worked with. Apart from Mayank, Bhairavi is a superwoman who not only handles everything on the ground, but she even has time to wake up at 4 am to co-ordinate ground transport for us. Always smiling and perennially helpful, she is easily one of the most productive and efficient people I have known. I was assisted by Renuka and Sanskriti on the ground, two eager young girls who became indispensable to me for this project.
The first thing we did just after the demonetization exercise was to visit the villages and understand how it had affected their lives. We were surprised to find out that even though there was so much chaos in the cities, most of the villagers were hardly affected. Kind of strange, isn’t it? This is why. The average household income in the villages that we work in is Rs. 3,500. When we asked them, the villagers said, do you really think we have 1,000 and 500 rupee notes? Next, I asked them about how they withdrew cash. Their answer was that it has been always difficult for us to go to banks and get cash. We learnt that they have to travel far, stand in lines and receive lousy service at the bank. They added that this time they just had to wait a few hours longer. We realised that they were very stoic about the whole thing and were in support of the government’s move because they could clearly see that it was inconveniencing the rich more and they could sense instinctively that it would help them in the long run. Short term pain for long term gain.
Figure 1 Crowd outside banks

With this knowledge, we took our first step to select a village that would be our test case to go cashless. For two months, we visited all the villages under Global Parli, spoke to the people, and analyzed the various elements that were needed to ease this transition. For us, going cashless was not just installing point of sales (PoS) machines, but a combination of all available methods like UPI (BHIM app) and USSD. PoS machines are for people who do not have smart phones or have a problem using smartphones, USSD is for people with feature phones but our most preferred option was UPI (BHIM app) as it does not have transaction charges just like cash transactions do not. Also it works from villager to vendor, vendor to villager and villager to villager, again just like cash transactions. Thus this would be a seamless transition from a cash-based economy to a cashless one.
When we started, we thought it would just entail training people to use the technology, which we succeeded in doing for a few people and get them to use their phones to make transactions. However, the problem was multifold, sometimes they didn’t have balance and their phones to send an SMS which was essential for the app to work, and sometimes internet connection were patchy. The main problem though was the bank accounts. Most villages are ‘adopted’ by a particular bank. This means that most of their loans and government subsidies come through that bank. Unfortunately for us, most of the villages that we work with were served by Maharashtra Gramin bank which is not one of the 31 banks that offer UPI and is also technologically backward. This means that this bank is not equipped to handle UPI which almost brought our effort of going ‘real cashless’ to a complete halt. Some of the villagers did have accounts with State Bank of India, which is UPI compliant, but most of these accounts were either defunct because of no activity or did not have ATM cards, which is again essential for UPI.  We connected with SBI, which being a government monolith is slow to move but did help us to get some accounts activated.
Figure 2 UPI apps being downloaded on rooftops as it is the place to get the best internet network.

While we were struggling with this, the zonal head of HDFC bank contacted Mayank and showed interest in working with us. He actually made the effort to visit the villages which happened to coincide with the District Collector’s visit. The collector of Beed district, Mr. Naval Kishore Ram is a young, dynamic officer who understand the needs of the villagers intrinsically and has gone out of his way to help us in this project. Some of the things that Global Parli does would either be far too difficult or impossible to do without his help. HDFC Bank’s zonal head was thoroughly impressed by the work we were doing and the support that we were getting from the Collector. Immediately after his trip, HDFC came on board to help us create a cashless village.
Figure 3 Meeting with the HDFC team in Mumbai
Our two month long research helped us narrow down the criteria for selecting the first village that we would start working in. We selected Aurangpur based on good internet connectivity, enthusiastic villagers, cooperative Sarpanch and active bank usage. With the help of HDFC Bank, we conducted a banking literacy camp and also showed them videos about the importance of banking. HDFC Bank started opening new accounts and we decided to first start with the women since they always had issues getting bank accounts. Once the accounts were ready, we helped the villagers install the HDFC Bank mobile banking app and also the BHIM app and get them both activated. The effort required long days of work starting from 8 am to 11.30 pm some days to get the ball rolling. We were surprised though to see that some of the young boys in the villages learned to transact with each other using UPI on the first day itself with about an hour’s training. Kudos to Renuka and Sanskriti for having the patience to handhold them till they got it.
Figure 4 Account opening by HDFC Bank in Aurangpur village
Figure 5 Videos been shown on the importance of banking, during the financial literacy camp at Aurangpur.
So far so good. The girls transferred ten rupees to some people and then told them to start passing it around, giving a rupee each to their friends. Ten youngsters had started using UPI, on a small scale though, but this was a very fruitful and rewarding experience to actually experience how cashless could work in our villages.

The next issue was how to incentivize people to put money in their accounts. Though some people immediately understood the utility and deposited money, others would have to be pushed to use this system. This meant that we needed to target a regular transaction that if made cashless, would ease their routine life. Once they had that one transaction that they did using their mobile, they would get hooked and then the transition would be easier.
Guess what this turned out to be. The ubiquitous ‘phone recharge’! Something that everybody does, all the time. For a recharge, the villagers had to go to the nearest town which was at least 3 km away or sometimes even 10 km or more. Plus most people tend to do small recharges, which meant that they would have to do this every few days. With the app and the bank account, they could now do it instantly without any travel or effort. This struck a chord with the villagers. Post that, they learnt other facilities on the mobile app like NEFT themselves and were thrilled with the effortlessness with which they could transfer money to anyone, sitting in their village. Now the people who did not have Android phones were giving money to the young kids to do recharges for them.
What our experience taught us is that what started as a purely technical problem of using apps for cashless transactions, turned out to be a bigger problem of financial inclusion. We realized that we could use the demonetization fear to get people to use the banking system. Once the villagers started using banks, they could get out of the clutches of the high interest money lenders who at times charge more than 100% interest per annum.
To get the village vendors and the nearby towns into the cashless system, we plan to get them discounted PoS machines from HDFC Bank and UPI. In the future, we will set up Aadhar based thumbprint devices. We have already started this in a small town near Aurangpur called Shirsala where at least 20 vendors will be given PoS machines and UPI. Given that all the villagers have Rupay cards or Android phones, we should be able to cover most cases to reduce the use of cash.
Figure 6 Opening of current accounts for vendors in the nearby town

Monday, December 26, 2016

UPI - The simple path to cashless transactions

UPI i.e Unified Payment Interface is a public private partnership between the Reserve Bank and NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India)

UPI is an advanced mechanism of cashless money transfers including C to C (Consumer to Consumer), B to C (Business to Consumer or B to B.

The advantage of UPI is that using the underlying banking systems, it allows transfers from one bank account to another instantly. The technology is similar to NEFT but instant works 24 x 7.

These are the key advantages of UPI
Money can be transferred using VPA (Virtual Payment address) which is like an email id e.g. vijaysharma@icici. This makes it easier to use, as no IFC code and account number is required. Even if the user changes their bank account, the VPA can just be pointed to the new account without the payer having to change anything.

At this time, there is no commission on transactions.

Money goes directly into the bank account of the target user, not into a wallet.

UPI also allows for payment requests, equivalent to raising a bill that can be sent to user.

A payment request can also be for a future date where a user can snooze a payment and pay it later.

UPI requires a valid bank account and works on an Android phone with the phone number that is registered with the bank.

31 banks are already have activated UPI including SBI, HDFC, ICICI, Axis bank, etc.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The myth about 2 factor authentication

Facebook, Google, etc. ask your phone number for 2 factor authentication
This is a trick to get your phone number
According to US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - is insecure and should be banned.
A hacker can easily intercept your sms and hijack your account.
Use email instead, it is more secure

Unfortunately this is true about banks also but a lot of banks also ask for a code that is printed on your debit card.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Selective Freedom of Speech

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire

It was heartening to see that Mumbai stood against the Shiv Sena to defend SRK'S in the MNIK issue to say what he wanted to.

In all the noise and din though, people did not differentiate between what he said and his right to say it. He said that 'Pakistan is a good neighbor' - Normally a statement like this by anybody would be met with a lot of opposition and a public outcry, but somehow the actual statement was forgotten. Even though we all did the right thing by supporting his right to say it, we should have been equally critical of the statement which I am sure the majority of people disagree with.

Now contrast this with another recent issue. Taslima Nasreen a Bangladeshi writer who has taken refuge in India, wrote a book on the lives of Bangladeshi woman who are oppressed by the strict interpretation of  Islam in our neighboring country. Some fundamentalists threatened to kill her in Kolkatta and then the rallies by Muslim parties started against her. The West Bengal government made it known to her that she was unwelcome because she had displeased the Muslims. Her novel was in print for many years and everything that she said is factual.

They even made her actually change certain facts in the book which she did. In spite of this, under the guise of protecting her, they shipped her out of West Bengal to Delhi and then the Indian Government advised her to leave the country.

Why, because a vocal group of fundamentalists threatened to go berserk if she wasn't thrown out of the country, freedom of speech be damned.

My question is - Why is it that there wasn't as much support for her. How were the West Bengal and the UPA governments different from the Shiv Sena? In fact wasn't it much worse because here the government actually did much worse than what the Shiv Sena did. They threw her out of the country. By the way, she has still not got the right to live in Kolkata.

Contrast the two. SRK says something out of turn which could be considered offensive to 26/11 victims and their families and people who have suffered from the terror unleashed by Pakistan on India. On the other hand, Tasleema narrated true incidents of atrocities on Bangladeshi women. SRK gets massive public support, in contrast, only a few of the intelligentsia, media  or the general public support Tasleema.

What's wrong with this picture? Why this differentiation in one person's freedom of speech over another's?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Anybody There?

With so many mediums of communication around us, isn't it ironic that we are actually communicating worse than before. Or maybe, we are spoiled by choice.

Have we become more erratic in how we communicate with friends, relatives, peers and managers? At times, some exchanges even fall below the basic norms of decency. When there were only letters, each letter would be answered even though the process of writing, putting stamps and posting was cumbersome. Before the advent of cell phones, each voice-mail would generally result in a returned call.

How many times does it happen now, that one person calls another and never gets a callback? Or somebody sends an sms to another person and it goes unanswered. If you go by the basic tenets of courtesy, this would be considered quite rude. Why is it that in the current age, this is treated as normal behavior both by the abuser and the abused?

Consider these real life incidents -

Rinali and Ajay are friends. They meet regularly and are in constant touch normally. One day Rinali calls Ajay but he does not answer. She then sends him a couple of texts (SMSes) but he doesn't reply. After a few days Rinali gives up and then Ajay calls her. He is very casual. When she asks him what happened in the past two days, he says 'Nothing, I was just taking it easy'. When Rinali asks him why he was incommunicado, he has no answer..

Rinali is confused but doesn't know what really transpired. Rinali does feel hurt and Ajay surely knows it but does not address it. This is probably one of the causes why relationships are so fragile now. At this point, Ajay has already managed to distance himself to an extent in Rinali's mind.

Seema and Nazma are very good friends at work. They keep in touch regularly even when they are not at work, and socialize with each other outside work at least 2-3 times a week. Nazma is very meticulous about her communication. She replies to each sms and returns each call. Seema can be very effusive at times, bombarding Nazma with 10 texts in an hour, but at other times she takes hours to reply to a single sms. Every time this happens, it perturbs Nazma and she has even tried to ignore Seema's texts at times to make her realize how she feels but Seema just picks up the phone and fires Nazma for ignoring her. Of course, if Nazma does the same, i.e. calls Seema when she does not reply, Seema just ignores her calls. It is very difficult for Nazma to voluntarily ignore somebody's call, so unfortunately she succumbs to Seema's bullying. Is there anything Nazma can do?

Its possible that when Nazma gets friendly with another girl and the other girl is more communication friendly than Seema, she will prefer the new person to Seema.

Mostly we prefer reliable people in our lives unless we have issues of self esteem where we thirst after the people who treat us badly. Given the option to have more communication friendly people around, we choose those. Its just that we tolerate this behavior because it has become so pervasive in society, that we have started thinking that there is no other option.

How does one handle these problems of communication in ones life? Common courtesy demands that we dignify the effort that anybody puts into writing to us by at least a cursory reply. Is the person taking you for granted or are you just one of the hundreds of friends that she has that, either she doesn't care, or by the time she gets to replying to you, the moment has passed. Are you no longer that interesting to this person or does that person crave constant novelty?

If one is sensitive to this, should that person limit one's friendship to a few close friends or alternately make a lot of inconsequential friends so as to not feel left out?

If this is a common problem that affects a lot of us and most of us feel that it should be fixed, should there be more education in this area in terms of workshops or soft training courses? Shouldn't more people also be complaining to their friends vociferously?

There could be some norms that we could start with that would ease these communication heart-aches.
  • Communication should at least be acknowledged. There are times when somebody writes us a beautiful sms or email and we want to take time to write back and then we keep on procrastinating till it never happens. It would be better if one just acknowledged by a simple one liner and drafted an elaborate reply later e.g. Thank your for that thought, more later ....
  • Sometimes we get into frivolous chains of texts, so its ok to break off at any point.
  • Communication should be more or less consistent, so even if one person is on a holiday or assignment, and normally they there are ten communication touch points, it should not shrink to zero. There should at least be to a couple of messages exchanged in a day.
  • Not responding to somebody almost always causes a bit of rejection for that person. There are times, when people are pests and the communication is unwelcome, and it is ok to do it to them, but not the people one considers to be close.
  • On the flip side, one must not expect 24 x 7 availability from anyone. It should not be required that each call and sms be returned within the hour. In this we can follow the age of the telephone where generally calls were returned in a 24 hour period. That should be acceptable.
  • One can make sure that one limits calls to people who don't respond and also keep conversations interesting so that the other person seeks more.

The general idea is to dignify the person who takes the trouble to keep in touch with you.

Remember that at times, the people who hang around you, no matter how you treat them will just be that - 'hangers on', not friends.

CTizm: If you don't want your rights to be taken away by a company, make sure that you don't allow them to become a monopoly. Take the example of Microsoft, Google or Facebook. As they get more market share, the more they try to control your lives. Make sure that you always use alternative services even though it makes your life a bit more difficult, so that you do not allow these companies to control your lives. e.g. There was a time when Microsoft was the 800 pound gorilla that everybody feared would take over our lives but it has been quickly replaced by Google which has invaded the privacy of people more insidiously than Microsoft ever did. You can't blame these companies because, in a capitalist economy each company is expected to return maximum value to its shareholders by aiming to become a monopoly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Friends in the Real and Virtual Worlds

Like in any other relationship, even in friendship, it helps to take stock of your life and plot a path of what you want in a friendship.

You can ask yourself these questions. Where do you want to go, Where are you, are you going in the right direction to get where you want to be. These are general questions about life that can be applied to friendship too. Today, the emphasis on the 3 minutes of fame and success is so much that we tend to forget ourselves. In pursuit of this fame, we forget our priorities in life. In order to keep a certain life goal we need to define our own terms of success and not base it on what somebody else would want.

Anybody would agree that life without friends is difficult and lonely. In India, given our culture we are well supported by family and relatives but still they cannot be a complete replacement for friends. Remember though that sometimes somebody in the family can also be a good friend, as good as or even better than your peers. We often tend to neglect or understand friends in the family and tend to take them from granted. We need to treasure them like any other valuable friend.

Even though communication has made it much easier to keep in touch with friends, it has also created the problem of quantity over quality.

In this article, lets examine life through the prism of friendship. For the sake of argument, lets assume that the better friendships you have, the better your life is.

In today’s age social networking tools like Orkut and Facebook have become almost mandatory in maintaining friendships. If not anything, these sites serve as good contact and calendars reminding you of every birthday and every anniversary. The danger though is that you can have too much of a good thing. According to a British medical journal Priory, there is new phenomenon call Facebook ‘friend addiction’ that includes an obsession to build a large group of friends on the site.

Rita has 763 friends on Facebook. Reena has 100. Does that mean that Rita is more popular and hence happier?

Think about this, even if Rita took an average of two hours in a year to keep in touch with each of these 763 friends apart from the many hours she spends with ‘real’ friends, she would be spending almost 4 hours everyday, just to keep in touch with each friend just once a year!

Reena on the other hand would just need 20% of the time to be more in touch with her friends than Rita.

As human beings we are such sheep that we always value people by how others treat them, rather than by our own experiences. Logically, shouldn’t you be wary of being friends with a person who has 763 friends because you would be just 1 of 763? You are ensured of never getting attention from this person.

In defense of Rita though, it could be just that she uses Facebook as a networking tool and actually only has a core group of a few friends who she is regularly in touch with.

On the subject of Facebook though, did you notice that when you take a vacation or are doing something really interesting, you tend to be less on Facebook? Time on social networking sites is generally inversely proportional to how interesting a life you have.

On the flip side though, it is such a useful tool to reconnect with old friends who had apparently disappeared from your life.

And what about ‘Friendship Day’? Do we really need a ‘Hallmark event’ (Hallmark is a card company in the US which apparently creates these events as a marketing gimmick to sell more of its cards).

Now lets take another example pertaining to the real world on friendship.

Raja and Farhan are two really good friends. They both work for a small IT company which is a very benevolent employer and always treats their employees well. One day, Raja leaves the company and starts his own business. He then invites Farhan to join him. When Farhan goes to meet him, he realizes that Raja has stolen the software of his company and the client that his company worked for.

What should Farhan do? There are three options that he has.

  1. Join Raja
  2. Do nothing and stay with the old company
  3. Ask Raja to hand over the software and apologize to his employer

In most cases, Farhan will choose option b. based on a false sense of loyalty to his friend. Even though his employer may have groomed him, made him what he is, he will have this ‘friendship’ thing which will stop him from doing what is right. It could also be that Farhan is afraid of confrontations so b. will be the option he chooses.

Remember, that friendship normally doesn’t come above all principles. You have to take a stand for what is right. It is up to you to convince your friends to do the right thing and if they don’t the right way would be to expose them. If we all did this in all walks of life, it would contribute to reducing the corruption that we have in India as a country.

If you have to do something for a friend, let the effort come from you, rather than the company. As an example, as a manager, instead of giving the best assignment to somebody you are friends with, groom her after working hours so that she automatically becomes the best deserving candidate for that job.

In essence, you need to manage friends, based on time available, distance and your energy level. If you are having trouble keeping in touch with the friends that you want to, then there is a problem.

One more thing, in a friendship, do not take gossip too seriously. Generally the carrier of bad tidings is more of a problem than the one who created the gossip. By the time gossip is carried to you, it takes on a new shape and form. It could begin as funny, simple comment but by the time it reaches you, it may sound many times more malicious than it start out as.

Also, when you gossip about a friend to another, make sure you also provide updates. As an example, Megan, Nisha and Vijay are friends. One day when Megan and Nisha are to meet, Megan makes Nisha wait for hours and finally ditches her. Nisha gossips and disses Megan to Vijay. After this Megan meets Nisha and clarifies how she was with another friend going through a crisis and that’s why kept on postponing the appointment and finally couldn’t make it. Nisha understands, but never conveys this news to Vijay. Vijay is still left with the impression about how wrong Megan was and how upset Nisha is with Megan.

CTizm: When having a bath, try to use less soap. Soap dries the skin and dry skin can lead to BO (Body Odor). Also, remember that Air Conditioned rooms tend to dry the body and increase BO. Always use a deodorant and check your breath frequently. A simple test is to scratch the surface of your tongue and see if it smells fresh. Always keep a brush, toothpaste and deodorant at work. Remember that these things may actually make a difference to your career growth. If you drink enough water (a glass every 45 minutes), you can almost completely eliminate BO.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Inequality in Relationships

Inequality in Relationships

All people are equal, but some are more equal than others – based on George Orwel – Animal Farm

We all strive for equality in relationships but if you reflect on it, most relationships are unequal.

The relationship at work is the most obvious because there is an implied hierarchy and one is supposed to follow it. Even with this though, there are times when some employees may feel that they are better than their superiors. Though this may be true in some areas, management and leadership are very complex issues. As an employee you may not be able to fathom the goal of an organization. e.g. your boss may not have such good technical skills and may not be an expert on the latest nuances of Object Oriented Programming but he may be an expert at talking to clients and charming them.

It is tempting to fall in the trap of being critical of people who are better than you but the best way to resolve inequalities is to look at what the other person is clearly superior in and learn from it. If you then add it to your existing skills, then at some point, you will supersede the person in question.

The same inequality exists in friends and man-woman relationships. Here it gets a bit more complicated because the normal misunderstanding is that friendships and relationships are based on equality, but they are not.

How many times does one observe the stark inequality between two friends or between man-woman relationships? How do these work then?

Unequal relationships can only work when there is a compensatory benefit from one side. E.g Assume Rakesh and Robert are friends. Rakesh is rich, Robert is middle class. Rakesh always wines and dines Robert in fancy places, the kind he is used to. Robert though is more intelligent and a source of knowledge for Rakesh. He is also loyal to him even though he can be objectively critical of Rakesh. Also, Robert makes sure that periodically he takes Rakesh out to cheaper but eclectic places with clean food which is really different experience for Rakesh.

Krish and Nishi are married. Krish is good looking and intelligent, Nishi is a bit above average in looks and intelligence but not equal to Krish. In the beginning years of the marriage, everything is hunky dory because Nishi adulates Krish and is an avid learner. Krish enjoys being a mentor and watches her bloom. As she becomes better, she gets more respect all around and suddenly starts thinking that she is equal to Krish. She starts arguing and fighting with him which not only hurts the relationship but also her own growth.

Unequal relationships work as long a the equation is clear on both sides. Suppose one is a 7 and the other a 5 and they know it, its ok. The moment the 5 starts thinking like a 7 or the 7 starts thinking like they are a 9, there are issues.

On a controversial closing note, women always are happier if the man is more intelligent and capable than them. This does not mean that a woman is less than a man, it only means that she may like a lot of men who are lesser than her but instinctively she looks for a man who is superior to her.