SHGs alone cannot alleviate poverty: Dr Femida Handy

Dr Femida Handy Prof School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, noted mere opening of accounts didn’t amount to financial inclusion

“Self-Help Groups in India has made the condition of the poor better but it cannot be a medium to alleviate poverty,” said Dr Femida Handy Prof School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania here on Thursday.
She was speaking at a symposium on Microfinance and Rural Development organised by SBRR Mahajana College and Social Business Academic Network India Chapter in association with School of Social Policy and practice.
Addressing the gathering she said: “The need for credit is universal. However by opening a bank account one cannot be financially inclusive. In a research conducted in states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala we found that people who have reached higher education and have better access and utilisation of accounts. Thus we propose education as a key tool in financial inclusion and it has to be institutional form to mitigate the problem.”
Further she said that financial crisis was not monolithic so government should intervene and provide conducive atmosphere by incentives so that more banks were pushed to serve the poor. The condition in India was encouraging and positive in this regard, she noted.
Founder of Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement Dr R Balasubramaniam, Prof Yashvanth Dongre, Principal SBRR Mahaja College Prof K V Prabhakara, Director Organisation for Development of People Staney D Almeda were present.
Prior to the symposium a team of eight students from University of Pennsylvania headed by Dr Femida Handy interacted with the mediapersons.
She said that it was their second visit to India and that they would be here to know the practice of social business and education system. They will be concentrating on Mysuru, Hubballi, Mangaluru and Bengaluru to know the culture.
“There was quite a lot difference in the Indian education system compared to USA. Here students are oriented towards memory wherein we back in America the focus is on skills. Choice Based system makes a lot of difference,” she said.
Referring to rural condition now they said that the thrust in India with respect to rural development and micro financing was huge. The movement started by Muhammad Yunus has gained a big platform here, she added.
Principal of SBRR Mahajana College Prabhakar said that a team of students from the college will be participating at the World Social Economic meet to be held on July 29 at Dhaka.

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