A Triumph Against Usury

Monday, March 31, 2008

One of the gravest issues haunting the social structure of rural India is the exorbitant rates of interest on loans lent to poor people by local money lenders (mahajans). The interest rate can be as high as 120% per anum which is more than 10 times of what is being charged by the banks. Think of a rickshaw-puller who earns Rs. 2000 per month and has to pay back Rs 500 per month as interst on a loan amount of Rs 5000 which he had taken for a surgery. We are really feeling a sense of accomplishment by having established a proper machinery of credit among our Jagruti ladies.

As it was discussed earlier, each of the ladies will have to come to attend a weekly meeting every Sunday at 3.30 PM irrespective of the presence of any student representative from IIT. In each meeting everybody has to deposit Rs 5 towards a common pool which is meant for meeting the monetary needs of the members in case of any exigencies. If a lady comes late or fails to attend the meeting without giving a prior information then she will have to pay Rs. 2 as fine. This idea was being implemented since last three meetings of the ladies and the money thus pooled got its first beneficiary within a month of the conceptualization of the idea.

Dolly didi is one of the members of Jagruti. Since last 10 days her husband is hospitalised due to some serious illness. As he is the only bread-winner of the family (he is a rickshaw-puller in IIT campus) so Dolly didi had no other option but to seek credit from somewhere. Now, this time instead of going to any local moneylender she asked for a loan from the Jagruti fund. As all the other members of the group were well acquainted of the illness of her husband everybody readily agreed to lend her Rs 200 from the fund. For the first time Dolly didi did not require to knock on the doors of any money lender to lend her money and that too on an usurious rate.

It was later decided that in case of similar emergencies all the group members are entitled to take a loan not exceeding Rs. 1000 for a period of 3 months and the interest rate would be Rs 2 per hundred per month (in the language of rural people) or 24% per anum. The interest has to be paid each month and the principal amount can be paid back in installments.

Though I know it will be very difficult to uproot the evils of unorganised and unregulated money lending mechanism in rural India but I can definitely say that slowly but surely Jagruti will be able to accomplish this as well.

Posted by TS at 10:02 AM  
1 comments
n said...

My deepest respect for what you people are doing! We students are the ones who can use our intelligence and hard work to change the world, starting from the bottom.

I wish you all the very best.

May 1, 2008 at 2:58 PM  

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