NABARD - 25 Years Of SHG Movement - page 20

HG methodology was devised through an action research
with the poor in the face of already existing and famous
programmes like the 20 Point Programme, IRDP, SFDA,
MFAL, Antyodaya, et al, which were all designed by
extremely well-meaning, experienced, senior, and famous
politicians, planners, and bureaucrats but still failed to meet
the needs of the poor. While devising the methodology, instead
of prescribing from the top, we had tried to find out from the
poor themselves what were their requirements, capabilities,
and limitations in the given social, economic, institutional, and
policy context, and then we came out with doable solutions
which included products, processes and policy prescriptions.
This practice of learning from the bottom continued during the
entire implementation phase with which I was involved. Not
even once, expert opinions of politicians and bureaucrats, of
whatever genre and fame, were prescribed from the top, and
we kept going back to the poor themselves to find out what had
changed and what should change. We had also learnt that SHGs
is not a tool for mere financial transactions but a very potent tool
for entrepreneurship development, appraisal and monitoring,
aggregation, and social change.
There were a few exceptions at the top who understood this
process very well. For example, Mr. Yashwant Sinha as Finance
Minister encouraged us to expand the programme as much as
possible but never prescribed what we should do or what SHGs
Dr Prakash Bakshi
Former Chairman, NABARD
should do. Mr. Venkaiah Naidu was another person who, as the
Central Rural Development Minister organized a workshop for all
the rural developmentministers fromstates and clearly told them
in his inaugural speech not to start issuing their prescriptions but
try to learn what are the fundamentals of working with the poor
and SHGs. Learning from the poor on what needs to be done was
our forté.
I am aware that the entire economic, social, and institutional
context has changed since the birth of SHGs in late 1980s making
some or many of the earlier found core issues and solutions
redundant. When we created SHGs in 1980s or even early 90s,
there was no electronics, mobiles and smartphones, BCs and BFs
and universal deposit accounts. Even deposit and investment
products were limited. We need to think seriously, are SHGs
required today to mobilize deposits? Is it not safer and more
convenient to have deposits of the poor in Jan Dhan accounts?
Can they be linked to mutual funds? What is the role that SHGs
can have today so far as deposits are concerned?
While noting the changed scenario, I would again refrain from
prescribing what I think should be done. Again, we need to go
back to the poor and find out from them what they want, what
difficulties they face, what would be the role of the group as THEY
feel, and remould the process accordingly. The same, is true for
all other products and processes.
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