Skip to main content

Empowering the Poor or the Rural Elite?

We feature an article published in The Hindu's Business Line by our researchers, Deepti KC and Kalrav Acharya.

Image Source: PTI

In this general election, many candidates are banking on votes based on the performance of poverty reduction and social security schemes.

India has a plethora of such schemes, and the government has invested billions of rupees in them. In this context, especially with the anti-corruption debate making waves, we tried to study how these schemes are actually working.

India currently has the world’s largest poverty reduction initiative, the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), based on the principle that communities (mainly women) be directly involved in the development process -- taking control of resources and decision making.

Bureaucrats say it is a viable method of delivering development funds, thanks to its ability to circumvent a top-heavy, corrupt system.

At the same time, some experts argue that in heterogeneous communities with high social inequality and vulnerable groups could be excluded due to the possibility of the programme being captured by local elites. Our findings seem to support the latter view.

Under the purview of NRLM, the Tamil Nadu State Rural Livelihoods Mission (TNSRLM) recently stated that it aimed to cover 265 blocks by 2016. The mission is an expansion of the World Bank-assisted Pudhu Vaazhvu Project (TNPVP) that has already covered 120 blocks.

Livelihood issues

We conducted a case study in four villages where TNPVP was implemented four years ago. The selection of the sample was not representative of the whole population of 120 blocks; nevertheless, the challenges we recognised could work as lessons for all.

Central to TNPVP is a series of exercises on the Participatory Identification of the Poor (PIP), which aims to label every household in the village as ‘very poor’, ‘poor’, ‘average’, and ‘wealthy’ — relative to each other. We found that villagers present during these exercises ensured that their households were listed in the ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ categories, also known as the ‘beneficiary list’.


Popular Posts

Vocationalisation of education in India: Current Scenario, Key Challenges and New directions

“Every handicraft has to be taught not merely mechanically as is done today, but scientifically. This is to say, the child should learn the why and wherefore of every process.” - Gandhi’s Philosophy of Education

The greatest challenge in Indian education system today is to provide skill based education to the youth. This is exacerbated by a mismatch in demand and supply for the skilled workforce. The penetration of vocational education and training remains poor not only in rural areas, but also in urban regions where there is a higher installed capacity to impart the same. This post is an attempt to make the readers understand the need of vocational education in India. Also, this is an attempt to summarise a few recommendations on the same. 
A recent survey (61st round) conducted by the NSSO found that:

1. The percentage of population that completed primary education was 70%, but less than 10% went on to complete a graduation course and above. Almost 97% of individuals in the age bracket…

Rockstar of Financial Inclusion: Business Correspondent Model of India

About Author:  Jatinder Handoo is a social business enthusiast and a branchless banking practitioner. Currently works at FINO PayTech Ltd and is based out of Mumbai. He is reachable at
India is a hot bed of financial exclusion. A country which houses nearly 16% of the global population  has more than 65% of its people outside the formal financial system (Global Findex 2012). The Indian banking system has adopted multiple approaches to make universal financial inclusion a reality right from early days Indian post-independence banking system. Be it bank nationalization in 1969 or formation of Regional Rural Banks. Formation of NABARD or fostering microfinance through Bank-SHG linkage programme in early 90’s. A shimmering ray hope was rekindled with the growth of JLG based microfinance, however later studies made it clear that the model is credit led, concentrated predominately in the southern region of India thus could not be seen as painting complete financial…

A Platform for Knowledge - Enabling people to learn ..

I received a rather interesting link/website via my email today. The link read as MR University and all I could think of was, "Ok, this must be another website portal of some university or college". Well, on clicking the link and looking through the contents of the site, I was pleasantly surprised. The site is an online education portal or platform that allows users or teachers to upload short videos on topics or lessons they wish to impart. First topic that I come across is Development Economics.
The intent of the website is eloquently put out by the two economists, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok in the intro video. What started as a blog focusing on economics and its various implications in understanding why things are the way they are around us, has now an interesting addition. A video portal titled MRUniversity or Marginal Revolution University that focuses on online education with subjects pertaining to economics. It brought back to my mind,…