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Articles by: Moin Qazi

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…]