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Showing posts from June, 2013

An Average Ravichandran

In 1951, the Times of India commissioned cartoonist R.K. Laxman to illustrate the common man's reactions to current events in a daily comic strip, "You Said It". The comic strip had an extremely successful run and more than 60 years in, has given us one of the nation's most endearing mascots — an always bewildered, balding, dhoti-clad householder — often seen peeking into meeting rooms from behind half-closed doors or eavesdropping on conversations, his face buried in a newspaper.
It turns out, unifying the common characteristics, reactions, aspirations and troubles of a majority of the nation and presenting them in a single persona was a good idea. It was an amusing caricature but it was also a powerful image that would be frequently referenced for many decades to come. Another example of this is the idea of an Indian "aam aadmi" — a phrase that, when coined, resonated so widely that it won a national election. Just as popular are the terms "an average…

The Other Tragedy at Uttarakhand

Financial Inclusion – The Challenges of Implementation

CMF's Savings Monitors Study provided me an opportunity to get a first hand feel of some of the challenges faced in implementing financial inclusion among the poorer, rural community. 
Recent research has shown that individuals across the world have trouble meeting their savings goals. In developed settings, technologies such as savings reminders and automatic retirement savings enrollments help individuals overcome these difficulties. Such technological solutions are far harder to implement for rural clients in developing countries, however. In our study we explore how existing peer networks might help individuals in these settings to mitigate psychological barriers (such as time inconsistency) and better mobilize savings. 
The Study is operational across sixty villages in five districts. A key aspect of the project is to open no frill bank accounts (renamed by RBI to Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts in August 2012) or post office accounts (depending on the choice of the respond…

The Minds Behind MOOCs

Today we present to you a guest post and infographic on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) by Allison Moris. Allison Moris is currently pursuing her communications degree at University of Illinios at Urbana-Champaign.

The MOOC market is slowly beginning to emerge among Indian students. Over 3 lakh students are currently enrolled in MOOCs. The need for quality education in India is even more pressing; with current government expenditure on education totaling to only 3.8% of its GDP. However with only 3.7% of population having access to internet, the scope for MOOCs at a large scale is still a distant dream. Read further to get a global perspective on MOOCs.  June 4th, 2013 by Allison Moris

Academia is buzzing about MOOCs. What sounds like genteel name-calling is actually a powerful new medium with potential to transform the education system. Indeed, MOOCs and mooks are simply unfortunate homophones but the former is certainly ruffling feathers because their aim is to make higher educatio…

No Country For Women!

What is women's empowerment? And more importantly, how is a woman valued in India?A brutal gang-rape of a medical student, who gave in to her injuries a fortnight later, shook the nation last December. The incident and the events that eventually unfolded saw the whole of India vociferously protest against this hideous act. People took to streets, coffee shops, bars, offices, and social media outlets to voice their opinions. Even the most famous surfing portals were filled with phrases like strong law enforcement, death penalty and so on.



However, the front-line media as well as the discussions on public forums (or at least the ones I read) seemed to have missed one very important point. Yes, this incident was bizarre and yes, the protests were justified. But why only this incident? Is it because it happened in posh South Delhi? Is it because urban India (that most media outlets cater to) could relate so well to the incident and feared that it could have been one of them…

Why do Indians buy gold?

India is one of the biggest markets for gold and gold loans. Reasons for this are spread across various social, economic and cultural dimensions. According to World Gold Council, India accounts for 10% of total world gold stock, of which rural India accounts for 65% of the total gold stock. For Indians, gold is not just a commodity, but an auspicious metal that they buy for various purposes on different occasions. There has always been a high demand for gold in India, irrespective of prices. During 2001- 2012, the annual demand for gold remained relatively stable at around 700 to 900 tonnes despite constant rise in prices during the last ten years[1].

In a recently concluded CMF research project, we attempt to understand the characteristics and behaviors of the various stakeholders involved in the gold loan market through a survey methodology. This post highlights one of the interesting findings from our preliminary analysis of the data.In order to gauge people’s perception about gold,…

Welcome to the new IFMR Research Blog!

As you can see, we’ve rebranded our blog from the Centre for Microfinance Blog to include the Centre for Development Finance (CDF), the Small Enterprise Finance Centre (SEFC) and the Centre for Microfinance (CMF) – the research centres under IFMR Research.

In order to reintroduce our readers, IFMR Research is a premier social science research institute based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The institute specializes in using scientific research methods to assess issues around access to financial services and products for the urban and rural poor; contribution of public and private sector to improve investment and delivery of public goods;and development of the Small and Medium Enterprise industry to aid poverty alleviation. The primary research areas IFMR Research focuses on include, but are not limited to - financial inclusion, livelihoods, social objectives, policy and regulation, environmentally sustainable finance, infrastructure and governance, rural market insight, development metrics, …