It was a great opportunity for me to attend this Conclave on Financial Inclusion, under the aegis of Meghalaya Basin Development Authority, Government of Meghalaya, Shillong. The beginning coincides with the beginning of the 12th Five Year Plan of the Government of India and as was communicated it is coterminus as well.
Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) are the key players in helping and supporting the cause of financial inclusion. Grameen Bank which was established in Bangladesh to help poor in improving their livelihood conditions has pioneered the movement of MFIs all across the globe. SKS was a great success story for India, however its fate is not less known by its stakeholders as well as the patron of all, the government. It is really nice to hear policy makers, bankers, MFI representatives etc who show their concern for poor and poverty through their talks and data support. I shall like to vent my views on the issues discussed in the conclave little differently, not really through crude data but through crude observed reality.
The policy initiatives in a democratic system have to target well being of citizens and that becomes all the more important for a nation which follows mixed economy. The business primarily has to run by the private entrepreneurs however the sectors which are directly services driven have to seek state’s patronage. This has been happening in India for many years. Around 40 years after its independence the government realised that they need to little open up on the economy front so that the growth parameters start responding positively. Different schemes of privatisation got introduced and I do not really know how the message of getting involved in money-making got to the nerve of Indian citizens that almost everybody who had some role in delivery of services through government planning got involved in siphoning sizeable proportion in order to develop his/her own empire. Money became such a strong parameter that all businesses started getting invovled in the practice of multiplying their wealth. The dominance of market in almost every sphere of professional as well as social life started determining the direction of actions to be taken by individuals at their respective ends. This became disastrous. Per se making money is not bad so far as the means are reasonable, however when one becomes purely driven by consideration of money, one tends to get involved in unreasonable end. This is further more disastrous for the built of the rationale society.
Education and Health were such sectors where individuals and institutions which had philanthropic mindset initiated great institutions to serve people through channelizing donations and propagating the commitment towards charity. It produced great results for the development of social sector. Similarly temples, churches and other such religious places were built so that people can assemble there and follow their practices. Schools, hospitals and temples were not built for profiteering rather the basic motive was service.
Similarly came the initiative for the establishment of MFIs for providing financial inclusion. As it is visible, as in case of schools, colleges and universities, and hospitals which are primarily getting initiated for wealth creation, it has already become visible that these MFIs are not really for serving the poor but for profiteering.
I wonder what really would happen for the sense of WellBeing for everybody excluding the poor.... bankers, policy makers, MFIs.
Bad and Sad both. True - God made man, man made money and money made the man mad....
Bhutan hosted a high level meeting of GNH activists at UN HQ in New York, today where they are going to initiate a resolve on the priority of Happiness and WellBeing over GDP. I could have made my presentation there but for the university which had its reservations on calling it a meeting or conference or seminar...
(Shillong, 10 PM, 2nd April 2012)