ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by M S SriramSubscribe to M S Sriram

Ela Bhatt (1933–2022)

The passing of Ela Bhatt leaves a certain void. This obituary is a refl ection upon the style of leadership that she provided for civil society intervention in empowering poor women in the unorganised sector. Elaben’s ideological position is located in the Gandhian frame of bringing about fundamental changes while continuing to engage with the system. She internalised the essence of Gandhian thought and interpreted it in her own fi eld of action, and demonstrated that this interpretation was effective for the cause espoused.

Financial Inclusion and the Pandemic

Three broad aspects that have affected the financial inclusion space during the pandemic are examined in the paper. At the outset, the business of inclusive finance (growth, portfolio quality, and discipline) and how it has coped during the pandemic is looked at, and the policy measures and announcements made by the union government during the various waves of the pandemic and its implications are listed. How the technology and digital ecosystem have evolved in the past two years and the implications it might have been assessed, and finally, the business of inclusive finance and how it has coped during the pandemic are analysed.

Farm Laws

The possibilities for extension of the minimum support prices to ensure a decentralised procurement system in a diverse range of crops are discussed. How the architecture of this system in partnership with the private sector can be developed and how this could be made market-facing without compromising the primary interests of the farmers is also looked at.

Road Map to Prosperity

India’s Long Road: The Search for Prosperity by Vijay Joshi, Allen Lane, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016; pp 421, ₹699.

Review of Local Area Banks and Policy Implications for Narrow Banks in India

In the recent past there has been renewed discussion on the possibility of setting up narrow banks to focus on including the population left out of the formal financial sector. Reviewing the experience of local area banks and the landscape of financial inclusion, this paper identifies internal contradictions in the approach to narrow banks -- primary objectives, structures, limitation of size and geography, mainstream banking standards, evaluation of performance. Despite these issues, the existing banks are indeed performing (under severe constraints), and do not give cause for anxiety on solvency and stability.

Ananthamurthy and URA

U R Ananthamurthy was a writer, public intellectual, a philosopher, a keeper of public conscience and much more. The complexity of Ananthamurthy was that he belonged to multiple worlds and was a critical insider in all of them.

Identity for Inclusion

State intervention in India to expand financial inclusion to rural areas has had an interesting history. It has moved away from building state-led institutions to setting policy that pushed financial inclusion through non-state agencies as well. While identity, de-duplication, and authentication were issues that affected the pace of financial inclusion, they were not the most significant problems to be fixed. By allowing the Aadhaar project to set the discourse on financial inclusion, the State has moved away from the Reserve Bank of India's definition of comprehensive and meaningful financial inclusion towards a model that facilitates transactional aspects, with significant costs added at the intermediary levels.

Remembering Baviskar, Revisiting Cooperation

Recalling B S Baviskar's very influential contribution to the sociology of cooperatives is a much-needed corrective in these times when markets are supposed to provide all the answers. This article looks back on this and the long-running difference of opinion he had with the National Dairy Development Board and Verghese Kurien.

Macro View on Microfinance

Microfinance in India: Issues, Problems and Prospects: A Critical Review of Literature by S L Shetty (New Delhi: Academic Foundation) 2012; pp 658 (hardcover), Rs 1,295.

Microfinance Industry in India: More Thoughts

Microfinance institutions need not be treated as holy cows. They do not need any soft regulation. They should be treated on par with any non-banking companies. A comment on Y V Reddy's article on microfinance and a response from the author.

Microfinance: A Fairy Tale Turns into a Nightmare

It was inevitable that the commercial model of microfinance in India, with its minimalist and standardised model of lending, would grow into a bubble and run into trouble. Many microfinance commercial organisations have entered the market in search of profits and are competing to lend to the poor. In the process they have put the "understanding" of the needs of the poor aside and have started chasing targets and numbers. For these institutions, the poor are not seen as human beings having individual identities and needs. Instead they are seen as data points that add up in their profit statements. The anxiety for growth is dictated by the fact that the investors in the market-based models are impatient and look for high returns - and then exit!


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