Paradigm Paranoia or Mission Drift? Lessons From Microfinance Crisis in India
Keywords:Microfinance, Self-Help Groups, Poverty
AbstractGlobally, microfinance industry is said to be at the tipping point thanks to crisis originating from India, particularly the state of Andhra Pradesh. The crisis manifested through the suicides of the borrowers who allegedly were lured into excessive borrowing and subsequently, pushed into usurious debt-servicing by the microfinance institutions. The hard selling of the debt and questionable debt recovery practices are attributed to the drift towards profit-seeking micro-lending as against the avowed mission of serving the poor. With the help of case study of SKS, the article attempts to examine the incidence and impact of mission drift in microfinance. It , then, puts it in the broader context of the neoliberal paradigm that paranoically upholds that the markets by themselves are capable of attaining the developmental goals, including alleviation of poverty. The article highlights the tyranny of markets with the help of two more instances since SKS, viz., Sahara and Sardha. On the basis of the analysis of these failures, the authors posit that rather than being paranoid about the neoliberal paradigm that presumes that market is self-creating, self-regulating, self-stabilising, self-legitimising and hence, self-sufficient institution, it would be more advisable to take note of their limitations more so as those pertaining to the permissibility of pursuit of one's greed as genuine self-interest.
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