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Articles by: Moin Qazi

Women farmers at work in their vegetable plots near Kullu town, Himachal Pradesh, India.  Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

India Needs To Focus On Its Development Warriors

  India spends more on programmes for the poor than most developing countries, but is not getting  the expected dividends that significant public expenditure would seem to warrant, and the needs of important population groups still  remain  partly addressed. This   has been haunting  social scientists and policy makers . India has ranked a lowly 131 among the 188 countries surveyed for[Read More…]

Women farmers at work in their vegetable plots near Kullu town, Himachal Pradesh, India.  Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

New Mantras For India’s Development

  A decade or two ago, many in India’s development community acted with the best of intentions, but without the best of evidence. If households lack clean water—help build wells ; if people suffer ill health—set up health services; if the poor lack capital to start businesses, give them credit. But the actual reality is not simple, it is very[Read More…]

Where Farmers Are Taking Lives, Women Refuse To Die

Where Farmers Are Taking Lives, Women Refuse To Die

  The large swathes of cotton farms in Central India have been the epicenter of a global crisis that has gripped the rural population in crippling debts and has driven thousands of them to suicide. But the great news is women in this region have creatively and doggedly used the power of hope to reemerge form the ruins. This new[Read More…]

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Heat Wave Scalds Orange Farmers

  Nagpur’s oranges, which were the pride of the country, are fast losing sheen. Nagpur still retains the appellation of “Orange City” but the scene today is nowhere near the mystical description that famous Englishman Major Henry Bevan gave following his visit to Nagpur in 1818. “The greatest ornament of the garden is… (an) orange tree called Cintra (santra) or[Read More…]

Poor Women Deliver Rich Dividends

Poor Women Deliver Rich Dividends

 We live in a world in which women living in poverty face gross inequalities and injustice from birth to death. From poor education to poor nutrition to vulnerable and low pay employment, the sequence of discrimination that a woman may suffer during her entire life is unacceptable but all too common. When we want to help the poor, we usually[Read More…]

Making Microfinance Work For People

Making Microfinance Work For People

The claims of microfinance are not necessarily dubious but then as the saying goes, there are three sides to every story—your side, his side and the truth. The good claims are trumpeted and the bad evidence is rubbished. It is a reminder that those who provide microfinancial services   need to monitor carefully not only their positive impacts but also their[Read More…]

Healing India’s Suicidal Farmers

Healing India’s Suicidal Farmers

  How many deaths will it take ‘til he knows That too many people have died The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, The answer is blowin’ in the wind. –Bob Dylan, Nobel Laureate India’s economy may be soaring, but agriculture remains its Achilles’ heel, the source of livelihood for hundreds of millions of people but a fraction[Read More…]

Tamil Nadu farmers strip outside Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Office in protest demanding waiver of loans

In Champaran’s Centenary, Indian Farmers Await Another Gandhi

   This is the centenary year of  the Champaran sayagraha (policy of passive political resistance)  – the first experiment by  Mahatma Gandhi of his epic philosophy .This tool  was to become Gandhi’s most powerful amour  and  earned him  a cherished and coveted place  in the pantheon of world ‘s legendary leaders . Gandhi launched his satyagraha in Champaran district on[Read More…]

Bridging The Gender Gap

Bridging The Gender Gap

Pride and dignity would belong to women if only men would leave them alone. Egyptian Proverb Gender inequality is not only a pressing moral and social issue but also a critical economic challenge. India has a larger relative economic value at stake from advancing gender equality than any of the ten regions analyzed in a McKinsey Global Institute report, The Power of Parity:[Read More…]

Give These Tenacious Women Some Flashlights

Give These Tenacious Women Some Flashlights

  Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression. – Margaret Sanger Providing women with more and better opportunities to fulfill their social, economic, and political roles is now deemed so essential for reducing poverty and[Read More…]

Rice threshing near Sangrur, SE Punjab, India. (Photo:  Neil Palmer (CIAT)/flickr/cc)

In India’s Villages Women Are A Solution, Not A Problem

  Women are the mainstays of small-scale agriculture, the farm labour force and day-to-day family subsistence. The biggest myth is that the rural woman is part of her land’s wealth.  Yes, but only to the extent of generating it.  They don’t own land but produce secondary crops, gather food and firewood, process, store and prepare family food and fetch water[Read More…]

Tapping Into The Creativity Of The Poor

Tapping Into The Creativity Of The Poor

I always believe that people can do wonders, if their energy is channelized and focused on a given task. Tomorrows are made by people. A lesson I learnt early in life is that great leaders don’t teach. They touch and transform. They don’t instruct; they inspire by their conduct and disposition. They help people discover within themselves the strength to[Read More…]

A Partnership For Banishing Poverty

A Partnership For Banishing Poverty

  Any sensible government must learn to unleash the energy of its people and get them to perform instead of trying to get a bureaucracy to perform ―Verghese Kurien, I Too Had a Dream Tackling poverty requires an approach that must start with the people themselves and encourages the initiative, creativity and drive from below. The strategy must be at the[Read More…]

How Fair Is The Media?

How Fair Is The Media?

   There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil. -Walter Lippmann In an ideal world, journalism is a profession of incredible integrity. Good journalists are amongst the most dexterous and skilled people in the world—and also the most respected. We have all benefited from the work of indefatigable journalists who[Read More…]

India’s Social Programmes Need Passionate Managers

India’s Social Programmes Need Passionate Managers

India spends more on programs for the poor than most developing countries, but it has failed to eradicate poverty because of widespread corruption and faulty government administration. India is not getting the ‘bang for the rupee’ that its significant expenditure would there is need for a radical overhaul of India’s social programs. Marginal changes alone may not deliver the kind[Read More…]

The Smart Way Of Beating Poverty

The Smart Way Of Beating Poverty

I often wondered why was it that when there were so many social programmes for the poor that poverty was yet so endemic and stubborn. Despite such vast investments there were regions in which we could just nibble at the frozen layers of poverty. This is not to discount the enormous progress we have made in improving the social indicators,[Read More…]

Letting The Poor Steer The Development Agenda

Letting The Poor Steer The Development Agenda

  The perception that the poor do not have skills or would not be able to survive on their own is a myth. My experience with development finance has demonstrated that we have to encourage strategies that ensure wider participation of poor in schemes aimed at solving their problems. It is the unleashing of their social and mental energies and,[Read More…]

The Enduring Myth Of Microfinance

The Enduring Myth Of Microfinance

  Access to the right financial tools at critical moments can determine whether a poor household is able to capture an opportunity to move out of poverty or absorb a shock without being pushed deeper into debt. When microfinance-provision of financial services tailored to fit the needs of low income people – made its first appearance, everyone was infatuated by[Read More…]

Women Herald The Development Sun

Women Herald The Development Sun

  Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women ― Maya Angelou  Over the years several strategies have been used to empower women .One of them relies on community groups whose members   can be trained and equipped to use their collective strength and wisdom to tackle their problems. [Read More…]

India’s Gender Reforms Need Greater Bite

India’s Gender Reforms Need Greater Bite

  Of all the world’s major ills – such as war, hunger, and natural disasters – none can quite compare to the millions of baby girls and female fetuses killed by parents  .The  National Family Health Survey 4 data for 2015-16  indicates that the practice of aborting female fetuses and murdering girls after birth is being contained  efforts The   sex[Read More…]

Microfinance Needs To Realign Its Focus

Microfinance Needs To Realign Its Focus

Today, microfinance   — an approach to financial inclusion based on providing small loans and other financial services to poor people, primarily women —  is a global multi-billion dollar industry with operations on all continents .Microfinance had once generated considerable enthusiasm, not just in the development community but also at political levels. It was considered a marvelous innovation and was expected[Read More…]

25 Years Of New Middle Women

25 Years Of New Middle Women

  We live in a world in which women living in poverty face gross inequalities and injustice from birth to death. From poor education to poor nutrition to vulnerable and low pay employment, the sequence of discrimination is very hard, but all too common. They face significant constraints in maximizing their  But there are also silvery strands in this dark[Read More…]

Rice threshing near Sangrur, SE Punjab, India. (Photo:  Neil Palmer (CIAT)/flickr/cc)

A Relook At Our Social Programmes

  A decade or two ago, many in the development community acted with the best of intentions, but without the best of evidence. If households lack clean water—help build wells   ; if people suffer ill health—set up health services; if the poor lack capital to start businesses, give them credit. But the actual reality is not simple, it is very[Read More…]

Beyond The Muslim Veil

Beyond The Muslim Veil

   This woman, who is your beloved, is in fact a ray of His light, She is not a mere creature. She is like a creator -Rumi In recent years, due to the global socio-political climate, the phrase “Muslim woman” might conjure an image of a demure un-empowered woman sheltered by her veil Yet this image is not what our[Read More…]

How Poor Women Are Taking Charge Of Their Future

How Poor Women Are Taking Charge Of Their Future

If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones. ― John Steinbeck The Indian women farmer, almost never publicly acknowledged, reviled by superstition and patriarchy, and increasingly troubled by entrenched social and cultural mores and taboos bears the real burden of farm labour. Nearly 98 million[Read More…]

Digital Fiance Must Be Humane If It Is To Succeed

Digital Fiance Must Be Humane If It Is To Succeed

We will have to sign off 2016 with a cultural baggage of a new vocabulary which elderly  and illiterate  Indians   may not be comfortable with , but have to embrace it    in order to honour the government since  the new rules of democracy leave them with little choice. . Most of the conversations in the new year we   will have[Read More…]

Farmers Continue To Suffer Pains Of Demonetisation

Farmers Continue To Suffer Pains Of Demonetisation

  Demonetization has left deep scars on the economy and, despite assurances from the government, the journey to normalcy may be slower and more painful than expected. The denudation of India’s vast informal economy, almost entirely dependent on cash, has put the marginalized and economically vulnerable – farmers, daily-wage labourers, street vendors ,  small businesses, tiny industries, shops,  and countless[Read More…]

My Romance With A Village Postman

My Romance With A Village Postman

daak laaya  kushi ka payaam kaheen dardanaak laaya daakiya daak laaya …” —From the film  Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein’  (1977)    The Rajesh Khanna, Hema Malini starrer 1977 film was a flop in the Box Office, but the song, penned by Gulzar and sung by Kishore Kumar remains a strong favourite for that generation. The lyric  reflects a reality all[Read More…]

Why Are India’s Development Programmes Not Delivering?

Why Are India’s Development Programmes Not Delivering?

   In India, most development programmes for   poor have been designed on the assumption that the poor need charities and they cannot afford to pay for the services .This is   erroneous   and we have witnessed how dollops of free money have stifled their initiatives .Several studies have revealed that the  poor are keen to have access to proper healthcare  ,[Read More…]

How Women Are Remaking Their Destiny

How Women Are Remaking Their Destiny

When I first initiated livelihood finance projects through women collectives called as Self Help Groups, more than two decades back, I encountered stiff resistance from the local elders who couldn’t believe that their women could attend a meeting without a male chaperone. There were some who felt that since I was a male, I had no customary sanction to interact[Read More…]

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Cash Crunch Turns Orange Trade Sour

The orange growers of Nagpur have now  joined the fellowship of pain of their peers in the cotton farming community.  Demonetization has dented the orange trade in Vidarbha. The orange exporters who export to Bangladesh   have suffered the most as the fruit prices have fallen by up to 50%. “Prices have crashed by 50% and the time to harvest the fruits is getting over. We fear that the situation can lead to increase in suicides of farmers,” was written in a memorandum that was given[Read More…]

Village Moneylender: The All Season Vampire

Village Moneylender: The All Season Vampire

Almost every farmer across India’s arid cotton-bearing central plateau is a hostage, in one way or another, of  the moneylender. The present demonetization has come as a blessing for the moneylenders For centuries moneylenders have monopolized rural Indian credit markets. Families have lost land, farmers have been asked to prostitute their wives to pay off debts and, when all else[Read More…]

Microfinance Can Actually Harm The Poor

Microfinance Can Actually Harm The Poor

  Microfinance continues to thrive despite   being under fire from legions of critics.  One plausible reason for the lingering faith in the power of microfinance is that it provides a convenient strategy for investors to demonstrate that that they are active fighters against    poverty   and are trying to save the poor while making a substantial amount of money from them. Microfinance –[Read More…]

Empowered Muslim Women: Islam Is Her Strength

Empowered Muslim Women: Islam Is Her Strength

The portrayal of Muslim women that we glimpse in the media is grim and somber. The public perception of them is one of stubborn stereotypes: supposedly powerless and oppressed, behind walls and veils, demure, voiceless and silent figures, discriminated and bereft of even basic rights. This picture keeps reinforcing itself, largely because this is how the Western media caricatures women[Read More…]

It’s Time For Obituary Of Triple Talaq

It’s Time For Obituary Of Triple Talaq

  The best of you are those who are the kindest to their wives. Prophet Muhammad  The Allahabad High Court has finally got the clock of judicial activism ticking by saying that triple talaq  is unconstitutional. It was no surprise   and the liberal strands in Muslims thought had already stood out clear.  Indeed, one of the reasons triple talaq has[Read More…]

Women farmers at work in their vegetable plots near Kullu town, Himachal Pradesh, India.  Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

Time To Acknowledge Indian Women Farmers

The Indian women farmer, almost never publicly acknowledged, reviled by superstition and patriarchy, and increasingly troubled by entrenched social and cultural mores and taboos bears the real burden of farm labour. Nearly 98 million Indian women have agricultural jobs, but around 63% of them, or 61.6 million women, are agricultural labourers, dependent on the farms of others, according to 2011[Read More…]

India’s Agrarian Crisis

India’s Agrarian Crisis

  More than a billion people in the world are employed in agriculture, and in India, one out of four people are farmers or agricultural workers. Farm output contributes $325 billion. ( about 15 per cent) to India’s $2-trillion economy. Small farmers—who constitute 85 percent of farmers globally—make up one of the largest constituencies among the world’s poor .Small and[Read More…]

We Are Flames, Not Flowers

We Are Flames, Not Flowers

Worldwide millions of women   have traditional responsibilities as food growers, water and fuel gatherers, and care-givers. In South   Asia, women make up   make up 43% of the agriculture workforce in developing countries and account for around 66% of the world’s subsistence livestock keepers. Women secure clean water for drinking and cooking; they are familiar with non-timber forest products (medicinal plants[Read More…]

Thumbs Up To Women Power In Village India

Thumbs Up To Women Power In Village India

The transformation of women’s roles is the last great impediment to universal progress. Indian women haven’t always had much by way of social agency or power whereby they could formulate strategic choices, and   control resources and decisions that affect important life outcomes. This   , however, hasn’t stopped them from elbowing past certain patriarchal structures to powerful effect. The introduction of[Read More…]

Seeds Of Farmer’s Distress     

Seeds Of Farmer’s Distress     

Despite being the country with the second largest agricultural land in the world, hardly two fifth or forty percent of the agricultural land is irrigated. Also, even though the country boasts of being the highest producer of many major agro commodities in the world, it suffers from low productivity. The naked and cruel truth is  that agriculture remains its Achilles’[Read More…]

A Taste Of Women Power

A Taste Of Women Power

It has  been more than  20 years since the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts – termed as post-Independent India’s most revolutionary exercise in democratic decentralization and devolution of power – were passed by the Parliament, mandating one-third seats in all local governments be reserved for women. The biggest significance of women’s reservation was that it unlocked the power, talent[Read More…]

In Villages Women Hold The Reigns

In Villages Women Hold The Reigns

If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman -Margaret Thatcher If we want to bring a truly transformative gender revolution, we must remember that all women, regardless of their marital status, need access to education, good jobs, and support for domestic duties. Although transforming long-held laws, beliefs and practices may be difficult,[Read More…]

Poor Women: A Voiceless Underclass

Poor Women: A Voiceless Underclass

A mother is a school. Empower her and you empower a great nation.   -Hafez Ibrahim, Egyptian poet  The real tragedy of the poor, particularly the women among them, is that their voice is unheard in forums, even at those which are exclusively devoted to their problems. As the Madagasy proverb goes, “poverty won’t allow him to lift his head, dignity[Read More…]

Poor Women Furrowing Male Bastions

Poor Women Furrowing Male Bastions

Money is the seed of money, and the first guinea is sometimes more difficult to acquire than the second million. —Jean-Jacques Rousseau The 21st century poses many challenges that require new ways of thinking, none more important than the economic role of women in a rapidly changing world. Over the last several decades, it has become accepted wisdom that improving the[Read More…]