Raising the ‘Beatrice’s Goat’: The Indian Experience in Microcredit
Empowerment of the poor entails three basic inter-linked dimensions – generation of employment (and income), reduction of poverty, and erasing inequality. The perspective has now undergone a basic change from the collective care mechanism of a paternalistic state intervention meted out from the top to bottom to a people-centered and participation-oriented bottom up approach. With this new perspective, new practices have emerged through integrated community participation of the poor. Thus the basis of the concept of micro finance is self-mobilization and self-organization of the poor at the community level driven by an ardent desire backed by an unfaltering trust in their own inherent capacity to improve their living conditions by themselves, given an enabling environment. An active realization of such self-mobilization is found in self help groups (SHGs), formed for distributing the microcredit benefits, inspired by the success of the Bangladesh Grameen experiment. This approach has already taken strong roots across the lengths and breadths of India as an effective and viable channel to take the poor to a new domain of economic empowerment and social upliftment. Microcredit, which synergies the thrift and credit habits of the poor in a participatory and informal setting, is now widely acknowledged as a strategic tool in all poverty alleviation programmes. This paper discusses the Indian experience in microcredit.
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