By: Joel John & Moses Sam Paul

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November was marked by the world waiting to see the results of American elections. For us, it was a month of optimising a different kind of polling. Our surveys underwent three iterations over the course of the month and are now finalised for distribution to over 4000 individuals in the coming months. The key change that occurred since our previous post was a change in focus on target demographics. We had initially decided to look at gig economy workers across geographies and skill-spectrums. …


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Image by By Shyamalamuralinath on Shutterstock

In the last two blogs of this series, we articulated the point of view of sector experts and insurance providers about introducing meso-level insurance for agriculture in India. As we move forward towards building the case for meso-level insurance, in this blog we will discuss the perspectives of one of the potential beneficiaries of meso-insurance: Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). The insights presented here come from a series of interviews with board members of five FPOs located in Andhra Pradesh.

We interacted with FPOs that receive support, in the form of improved access to investments, technologies, knowledge support, inputs and markets, from the Government of Andhra Pradesh, that have been operational, on average, for about 3 years and that are made of ~2000 farmers each. These FPOs engage in groundnut, red gram cultivation, paddy and horticultural produce. The FPOs provide numerous services to their members, for a minimal contribution per year, in the form of promotion of agronomical practices, assistance with marketing and selling of produce, mobilisation of savings and provision of internal credit. …


By: Anita Srinivasan & Valerie Mendonca

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I arrive at Pinky’s house in Aurangabad, a small town in Bihar. Pinky’s husband welcomes me at the door and tells me Pinky is doing pooja. I wait and in a few minutes Pinky emerges from an interior room. Pinky is 35, well-groomed and talks animatedly to me about herself.

Pinky was born in a village in Jori near Chatra in Jharkhand. She was the youngest of the three siblings. Pinky’s father ran a small and moderately successful grocery store in the village. He sold grains, oil, vegetables and dry snacks such as biscuits. Her father also worked seasonally on farms spraying pesticides during the flowering season. He also sold the same in his shop just like many other seasonal products. Her childhood was comfortable and the family managed to survive on the income of her father. Pinky studied till the tenth standard and then took up a local course in sewing. …


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Photo by Madhukar Kumar on Unsplash

In March this year, when the government imposed lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic, the primary concern among most small business owners in Sivakasi, a fireworks cluster in Tamil Nadu — was their ability to supply, and not demand. For many, the equation was simple. The less number of days they work, the less they will produce; the less they produce, the lesser they will be able to supply, and the lesser money they will make.

Sivakasi’s thousand-plus units account for about 90% of all fireworks produced in the country, accounting for about Rs 2000 crore to Rs 3000 crore a year. About 80% of all sales happen during the festive season of Diwali. There have been demand headwinds every now and then. When agricultural income drops, the demand for crackers goes down. Many believe that the industry is not keeping pace with economic growth, owing to the concerns around air pollution. …


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Image by Uplift Mutuals

The recent recommendations by the IRDAI committee to allow standalone or exclusive Micro Insurance Companies (SAMI) has caused quite a stir and excitement in the financial inclusion space. In this blog, we de-code what it means for the microinsurance sector in general and mutuals and cooperatives in particular.

What’s Great?

  • The report acknowledges the work done by cooperatives and mutual models in India and across the world
  • The report discusses the Risk Based Capital Approach which makes a lot of sense for cooperatives and mutuals
  • The report recommends reinsurance for cooperatives and mutuals
  • The D in IRDAI gets a real push with the call for the setting up a Micro Insurance Development…

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Image by pixelfusion3d on iStock

As we commence our study of mobile based tools that can promote entrepreneurship, self-employment and livelihoods among rural women, we want to understand if a tool is accessible to rural poor women who face unique barriers to using ICTs (access, affordability, and cultural norms, among others). We would also want to see how a tool lends itself to promote livelihoods, or if there is potential for it to do so.

A community radio is a social media platform equivalent to Facebook or Twitter for rural areas. It uses the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system that allows users to call into a number and leave a message about their community, or listen to messages shared by others. …


By: Tina Verma & Valerie Mendonca

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Walking through a small village in rural Telengana I find a woman sitting on a mud verandah outside a house, leaning against the wall. As I approach her, a cat napping by her side, jumps up and runs away surprised by the apparent stranger. I ask her for directions to the post office and she points towards the west. ‘It’s closed Madam’ she says. Curious, she starts asking me questions and I sit opposite to her answering and asking some of my own.

The house where Pushpa lives is made of mud and bricks. The roof is tiled and held up at the front with stout, wooden poles. An old sari is hung instead of a door. There is no electricity connection and no gas cylinder. The house has three rooms, a kitchen and an attached bathroom. Each of the three rooms are rented out to different families. Pushpa lives in one of the rooms with her two sons aged 24 and 26 and a daughter aged 12. She tells me her elder daughter is married and lives in the next village. Her eldest son is no more. Pushpa is 35 but is thin and stretched; a bent shoulder makes her appear older than her actual age. …


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Image by Freedomz on Shutterstock

Our previous blogs have given a succinct glimpse into the chaos that a researcher gets into understanding farmer producer organisations (FPOs). …


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Image by ABIR ROY BARMAN on ShutterStock

Takkar mein bahut hain. Par ek bahu hai. Uske aadmi ke party pehle se sarpanch ban chuke hain, rah chuke hain, unko toh aadat pad gayi hai,” (There are many contestants. Though, there is one lady. Her husband’s party has got accustomed to winning. It has become their habit) says Meena Devi. Meena, 29, is contesting — for the first time — from a reserved seat for women in Sarpanch elections for Diwakari village Panchayat in Alwar district, Rajasthan. …


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“…his speech is of mortgaged bedding, On his knee, he borrows yet, At his heart is his daughter’s wedding, In his eye foreknowledge of debt. He eats and hath indigestion, He toils, and he may not stop; His life is a long-drawn question, Between a crop and a crop.” - Rudyard Kipling on ‘The Indian Farmer’
The Masque of Plenty, 1888

It is a great satire of independent India in the post-modern world that Kipling’s agonising words from 132 years ago continue to hold true in 2020. The Indian farmer, especially the 85% smallholder group (<2 ha avg. landholding), is still perennially drowned in debt and is still living between a crop and a crop. The problems faced by our 150 million farmers (over 50% of the workforce) are many, amongst these the topmost are crop losses, indebtedness, license raj (hopefully we will get rid of it with the new ordinance), information asymmetryandlow levels of technology penetration. …

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Bharat Inclusion Initiative

We aim to build knowledge, foster innovation & entrepreneurial activity towards improving financial inclusion and livelihood for the poor.

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