Abstract: Food security is a serious problem among the poor in Maharashtra. Malnutrition deaths of children, particularly in the under six age group of tribal children, are often reported, especially during the monsoons. The Integrated Child Development Services Programme focuses on children below six years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers. It provides supplementary nutrition, training and monitoring of the growth of children at the anganwadis. However the depletion of food stocks during the summer months, coupled with low employment opportunities, in remote and inaccessible tribal villages, often lead to child deaths and adult mortality. Grain Banks have been thought of in this context as a novel community intervention to provide food security in poor and remote areas.
Keywords: Chadku village, Dhule district, Self Help Groups (SHGs), SHGs women, rural women, women of Chadku, durgamata bachat gat, Nandurbar district, government schemes, swayamsiddha programme, organic manure, tribal children, development corporation
I visited Chakdu village in Dhule district, in April 2006 to see the Grain bank set up by the SHG women of Chakdu. The local tribal Pawras believe that they are from Pavagad in Gujarat and are of Rajput origins. As we entered the village they greeted me with an aarthi and tribal dance to the tune of the Dhol, the Pavi (a wind instrument) and the thavi (cymbals). They carried leaves and flowers in their hands. Both men and women danced the entire way from the village entrance to the meeting place – in the village school, despite the scorching summer sun. A visitor from the outside world was a rarity for them and they accorded a warm welcome in this traditional fashion to every visitor to their village.
The triangular shaped, Dhule district in Western Khandesh, is one of the tribal districts in North Maharashtra. In 1998, the district of Nandurbar was also carved out of Dhule. Today there are four talukas of Dhule, Sakhri, Sindkheda and Shirpur in the district. This district has the Tapi, Panjra, Burai, Arunavati, Bori and Kaan rivers flowing through it. It is bounded by the Jalgaon district on the east, the Nasik district on the south and in the west by Nandurbar district, and the north by the district of Nemad from Madhya Pradesh. It has an average rainfall of 592 mm. and an average temperature of 42 degrees Celsius during the summer months. Dhule is connected by rail (broad gauge) to Chalisgaon and the Surat- Bhusaval railway line (on the western railway) also passes through the district from Shinkheda.
The Self Help Group Movement in Dhule
Self Help Groups were first set up in Dhule district under the Maharashtra Rural Credit Project in 1998 in the second phase of the programme in the four blocks of the district through the Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal, the state women’s development corporation in Maharashtra. This programme came to an end in 2002. The Swayamsiddha SHG promotion programme funded by the Department of Women and Child, Government of India operates in two blocks. The Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana and the Rammai Mahila Sakshamikaran programme are also implemented in all four blocks of the district.
There were 1031 SHGs formed by MAVIM in Dhule district as of Jan 2006: 265 under MRCP in four blocks, 405 under the Special Component Programme (Rammai) in four blocks, 103 SHGs under the SGSY in four blocks and 258 under Swayamsiddha in two blocks. 13070 women have been mobilised through SHGs by MAVIM. The SHG women have saved Rs. 84.44 lakhs, their internal lending was Rs133.28 lakhs, and bank loan availed by them was Rs. 276.89 lakhs.
The Swayamsiddha programme is a Government of India supported programme, implemented by MAVIM from 2002 onwards, in 19 districts and 36 blocks of Maharashtra. 3600 SHGs were to be formed under the programme by MAVIM. The programme was to end in 2006 but was extended till 2007. This programme was in operation in Dhule district from 2003 onwards. Two blocks of Dhule district – Shirpur and Sakri were selected for the programme. 100 SHGs were to be set up in each of the two blocks. The major focus of the programme was on training of SHGs, convergence with various government departments and theme camps to overcome social problems and setting up of community assets by the SHG women. The programme also aimed at setting up federations of all SHGs in the area.
Chakdu village lies at the foot hills of the Satpuras, in Shirpur taluk of Dhule district. Shirpur itself is around 60 km from Dhule district headquarters. Chakdu village is 40 km from Shirpur taluka head quarters and is on the Shirpur-Borpani Road. As we traveled to Chakdu by jeep from Dhule, Shri Jeevan Gawli District Coordinating Officer of MAVIM informed me that the nearest Primary Health Centre from Chakdu was at Boradi, three kms away. There was a primary school with classes up to the fourth standard in the main village, which had three padas – Aapsingh Pada, Umarpada and Sardar pada attached to the main village. The total population of Chakdu inclusive of its padas was 2343 – 1198 women and 1145 men. But Chakdu proper had a population of 1543, with 789 women and 754 men. Thus the sex ratio in this tribal hamlet was not skewed against women and pointed to their better status in the village. The nearest high school was at Boradi, which also had a residential school (ashram shalla) for tribal children. There was an Anganwadi in the village with 334 beneficiaries, including 140 children, 65 boys and 75 girls.
Chakdu village was electrified and there were around four households owning a TV, two had telephone connections and three households had mobiles. Around 8 to 10 people read the newspapers which they got from the market. The nearest post office was at Kodith
1.5 k.m. away. There was a bus service twice a day to Shirpur. There were also private taxis running. There was one village well and a water supply scheme in the village.
The livestock population in the village consisted of 100 bullocks, 55 buffalos, 65 cows and 150 goats. The population relied on agriculture and agricultural labour for sustenance. The soil comprised of black cotton soil. The cropping pattern was mainly Kharif -crops taken were Jowar, Ground nut, kudith (local pulse) and some varieties of Cotton. Some Rabi crops were also taken such as Wheat, Harbara, Ground nut, Bajra and Cotton.
The SHGs in Chakdu
When I visited Chakdu in April 2006, there were a total of thirteen SHGs in the village. Three women’s groups had been formed by MAVIM under the Swayamsiddha programme. An NGO Sathpuda Sanstha had formed 3 SHGs of men and 3 of women and another NGO Anandsadhan had formed 4 SHGs of men. The SHG women ran two grocery shops, a group activity of organic manure, and a floor mill. They also took up activity such as Vanrai Bandaras (check dams), adoption of a malnourished child, and supply of food to the anganwadi. The Grain Bank scheme was taken up in Chakdu village by the Durgamata bachat gat and the Lakshmimata bachat gat set up by MAVIM. The Santhoshimata bachat gat formed later by MAVIM also joined the scheme.
Durgamata Bachat gat
The Durgamata Bachat gat was set up in September 2003 and had eleven members. The members each saved Rs.30/- per month. The women were landless agricultural labourers, dependant on wage employment, hence they said that they could not save more money. Six members were illiterate, five could sign and one member had studied up to the II std, one member had studied up to the fifth std and another up to the seventh std. The group had a saving of Rs. 12,000/-. The leader (Sangatika) of the group was Nabbibai Yuvraj Pawra. She was around thirty years old and had studied up to the 5th std. Her husband had one acre of land on which Jowar was grown. They had one girl and three boys.
“When the MAVIM Sahayogini (village level facilitator) Maltitai came to our village and asked us to form the SHG, I thought that I should join the group in order to have food for my children,” Nabbinai said.
All the women who lived nearby decided to form the group. Nabbibai’s son Dinesh who had studied up to the 9th std. wrote the accounts of the group. The group was active and had given small loans to all of its members. A loan of Rs. 25,000/- was sanctioned initially to the group by the State Bank of India. The money was returned within a year. Rs. 5000/- was used for a grocery shop set up by a member, Rs. 300/- taken for a child’s medical treatment, Rs. 3000/- by a member for her own medical treatment – a stomach disease, Rs. 1000/- for celebration of Durgamata puja etc. The group charged 2% interest from the members. All the money was returned within the year. Later in July 2005, Rs. 2.2 lakhs was sanctioned for the organic manure project of the group. The group had sold two quintals of organic manure at Rs. 3/- per kilo in the village. Thus the use of loans by the group members had been both for consumption as well as for productive purposes. The group was also given the contract for the village ICDS anganwadi food supply. The group was seen to be growing well on the whole.
Lakshmimata Bachat gat
The Lakshmimata bachat gat was set up around October 2004 and had eleven members, seven of whom are illiterate, one could sign her name, and one member had studied up to the fourth std, one up to the sixth std and one up to the seventh std. The Leader was Parmila Ratilal Pawra and each member of the group saved Rs. 50/- per month. Their total saving was Rs. 9900/-. The Anganwadi worker Sunita who was a member of the group wrote their accounts. Initially they distributed Rs. 950/- equally to all their members, who used it for consumption purposes – for purchase of grain or to treat the illness of a family member. The members returned the money. Later they took loans ranging from Rs. 500/- to Rs. 2000/-, for purposes such as purchase of grains, illness of family member and for the education of their children. They charged 2% interest to the members. The group was sanctioned a bank loan of Rs. 25,000/- a year ago. This was welcomed by the women since the Sahukar in Boradi, Shirpur and in Pansemal – a village in Madhya Pradesh charged them Rs. 50/- as interest for every Rs. 100/- taken. They used the loan for the purchase of seeds and fertilisers since they each own about one to one and half acres of unirrigated land. The members also work on land owned by big landlords, for which they are paid Rs. 20/- per day. Men are paid 25/- per day. The women said that they have no work for about four months in the year.
Santhoshimata Bachat gat
The Santhoshimata bachat gat was set up in April 2005 and had eleven members. The women saved Rs. 50/- each per month and have a total savings of Rs. 6600/-. Ten members were illiterate and one had studied up to the second std. The son of the Assistant leader (Sah Sangatika) Diwansingh Pawra, who had studied up to the 11th std., wrote the group’s accounts. They distributed Rs. 200/- to each member from the Rs. 2200/- collected by them initially, when there was no work in the monsoon. Later they also distributed Rs. 500/- each to the members from their savings. As there was no proper employment available for six months, some of the members returned the money after some delay. But they all returned it within a year. The SHG women stated that they had not taken loans from their SHG to repay debts to the Sahukar. They also no longer took loans from the Sahukar but only from the Group, to meet their needs. They got a loan of Rs. 25,000/- from the bank for setting up a floor mill. It cost Rs. 40,000/- and so the balance was pooled in from the savings of the women. They spent around Rs. 7000/- per month for diesel. They get around Rs. 300/- to 200/- per day from grinding the flour. The loan repayment works out to Rs. 1000/- per month and they get Rs. 1200/- in hand as surplus approximately per month. Thus this group was also seen to be progressing economically, as well as getting exposed to decision making through their new enterprise – running a flour mill.
The Genesis of the Grain Banks run by SHG women in Dhule district
About a year after the formation of the Durgamata bachat gat, the SHG women sorely felt the need of a Grain Bank in Chakdu, since the Sahukar had to be paid back one and a half to two quintals of grain for every quintal of grain taken on credit in the lean season. The Grain Bank set up earlier through the Tribal Development department, in the village had failed. Shri R.S.Walwi, Project Officer ITDP, Nandurbar who also looks after Dhule district told me that initially Khawti Karj or consumption loans were given by government to poor people to tide over the lean summer and monsoon months, when food was scarce and work was also largely unavailable. However the recovery of Khawti Karj was poor and there was an expectation that government would always waive these loans. When it was seen that an NGO in Raigad district had successfully carried out the Grain Bank scheme, the government came up with a Grain Bank scheme in July 1995. It was expected that as the Grain Bank picked up, the Khawti Karj would disappear. However the scheme did not work well. All the banks collapsed after drawing on the grain subsidy from government. According to Shri Walwi, “The recovery of grains distributed was the main problem.”
The Project Officer felt that there were questions as to whether the working committee constituted in each Grain bank under the scheme was really democratic. The responsibility for the implementation of the scheme rested with the Additional Commissioner Tribal Development and the Project Officer Integrated Tribal Development Project. The Project Officer was required to hold a review meeting of the management committees every three months. Thus the ‘we’ feeling was lacking. He also commented “If government gave anything free, there is a feeling among people that it need not be returned: All defaults will be waived sooner or later.” Each member was to make a saving of the amount of grain decided by the members, and place it with the Kosh, preferably at the rate of one quintal per family. When a tribal family contributed 1 quintal of grain, two third of the amount was to be made available by the Tribal Development Corporation in the case of needy families and one third by the family. But the scheme failed despite this largesse from the government. While preference was to be given to women members, in practice most of the members were men. There were 67 Grain Banks in the four talukas of the project area with a total membership of 5079 members. The Grain Banks were run by NGOs.
In the light of this experience the villagers in Chakdu were initially skeptical about forming grain banks. The District Coordinating Officer of Dhule district Shri Jeevan Gawli, had heard of the successful Grain Bank scheme set up by an NGO – Jan Seva Mandal in Nandurbar district. Hence he decided to take the SHG women of the district from the two talukas of Shirpur and Sakri for an exposure visit1 under the Swayamsiddha programme, to the neighbouring district of Nandurbar.
The SHG women from Dhule district wanted to see the Grain Bank activity being undertaken at Waghshepa village, 20 km from Nandurbar by the NGO, Janseva Mandal, which was then headed by Diego D’Sousa. They also wanted to see the other activities such as the growing of medicinal plants being undertaken by the SHGs there and in Umeg village. The Grain Bank being run by these SHGs was then around four years old.
On the 23rd November 2004, two bus loads of SHG women from around 20 to 25 villages of the two talukas of Shirpur and Sakri, eight Sahayoginis, the District Coordinating Officer of Dhule, the Assistant District Coordinating officer, and the Assistant Monitoring Officer went to visit the village of Waghshepa in Nandurbar district.2 On their return from the exposure visit to Nandurbar, the SHG women of two SHGs in Chakdu – namely the Durgamata bachat gat and the Lakshmimata bachat gat were fired with enthusiasm and they decided to form a Grain Bank.
Formation of the Grain Bank in Chakdu
Tabbibai Kokinya Pawra, of the Durgamata Bachat gat, took the lead in making the Grain Bank. The women held several meetings to discuss the rules of the Grain Bank. It was decided that every woman would save fifteen kilos of Jowar. Thus in November 2004 they saved the grain. They made a cane storage basket called Kanji Kothi or Mutti. It was plastered with a mixture of cowdung and clay. The grain was cleaned and dried in the sun, so as to be rid of any infestations. The grain was then stored in the Kanji and Neem leaves were kept in between the grain to keep out infestations. The grain basket was covered with a cane covering. However it had no lock. Despite this there was no instance of pilferage of the grain.
At the meetings held to decide on the rules, the women decided that
- Anyone who needs grain would be given it.
- The grain of the same quality was to be given back – for every kilo given, a kilo and 250 grams would be returned.
The other rules made by them for the Grain bank were:
- The meeting of the Grain Bank would be held every month on the 2nd of the month at 8 p.m.
- Every member would save and deposit 15 Kg of grain every year.
- Every kilo of grain distributed, would be returned with an additional 250 gms of grain per kilo.
- A member who is absent at the monthly meeting shall be fined 500 gms of grain for her absence.
- The monthly meeting would be held in rotation in members’ houses.
- Grain would be distributed as per the needs of individuals.
- The grain deposited would be of uniform quality.
- The responsibility for safeguarding the stored grain would be rotated among members.
- All needy women of the village could be members of the Grain Bank.
- The post of Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Grain Bank would be held in rotation by the members.
The women have kept the accounts of the Grain Bank with the help of Bansilal Guruji the local school teacher, whose wife is a member of the SHG. The first year, the women of two SHGs – the Durgamata and the Lakshimata Bachat gats formed the Grain bank and saved fifteen kilos each by December 2004. There were twenty two members in the Grain bank. The women met in May 2005 and sanctioned loans of grain to six needy members. It was returned by them with an interest of 250 gms per kilogram, by the harvest in August –September 2005. The eleven women of the Santoshimata Bachat Gat that had been formed that year also joined them in 2005. Thus the Grain Bank now had thirty three members. They all saved fifteen kilos each again from the harvest of September 2005. They collected an additional amount of 82.5 kilos from the members. Thus the corpus of grain now available with them was 990 kilos. They distributed this stock to twenty nine needy members again by May 2006.
“Free from the Sahukar”
Tobbibai Kokinya Pawra from the Durga bachat gat took the lead in forming the Grain Bank in Chakdu. She was 35 years old and has passed the second std. She was the Sah Sangatika or Assistant Leader of her group. She had two boys and two girls. Her husband was not educated. They had two acres of unirrigated land. Tobbibai worked as an agricultural labourer. She got Rs. 20/- per day as wages. She went to Shirpur for four months to cut sugarcane, weed grass and work on construction sites. Women were paid Rs. 40/- per day and men got Rs. 50/- per day in Shirpur. Her children resided in the ashram school and came home for the holidays. Her migration for work did not upset the children’s education. There had been a government scheme to set up a Grain Bank. But Tobbibai said that they did not get the benefit of it. Now by setting up a Grain bank themselves, they had stopped making double payments for the grain to the Sahukar in lean months. “At present I have a saving of Rs. 900/- in the bank. I feel more secure now after joining the SHG and after forming the Grain Bank. We are now free from the Sahukar” says Tobbibai.
Role of the Sahayoginis
Eight Sahayoginis had gone for the exposure visit in November 2004 to Nandurbar to see the Grain Banks. Three Sahayoginis – Yashoda Dhakkad, Sunanda Wagh and Malti Nathjogi had taken the lead in persuading their SHGs to set up Grain Banks in Chakdu, Boradi, Nathwadi and Jamkhel villages. Originally Yashoda was the Sahayogini in Chakdu village. She asked the SHG women to form the Grain Bank as she had seen it on an earlier trip to Nandurbar. Later a new Sahayogini Girase-tai took over and she helped the SHGs to form the rules of the Grain Bank. The present Sahayogini in Chakdu Chandrakala Bhavsar, now actively supports the SHGs in maintaining the Grain Bank. Although the Sahayogini Kavita Ahire (who later resigned from her job) did not go for the exposure visit, she helped her SHGs in Juna Chandsurya form a Grain bank. Similarly when Malti was transferred later to Sowai Mukti village, she also encouraged the women in this village to form a Grain Bank, although these women had not gone for the exposure visit to Nandurbar.
The other Sahayoginis who had not been able to help their SHGs to set up Grain Banks, were of the view that the need for Grain Banks is only felt acutely in the interior tribal areas. The Sahayoginis promoting SHGs in the non tribal areas – such as the Rammai (SC) groups, stated that their groups are not very interested in starting a Grain Bank and do not feel the need for the scheme.
Vanibai, Woman Sarpanch of Chakdu
The woman Sarpanch of Chakdu, Smt. Vanibai Vilas Pawra had been Sarpanch since June 2005. She belonged to the Ranjanamata Bachat gat set up by an NGO called Sathpuda. The SHG was only three months old. Vanibai says that she wanted to complete the construction of the village road, repair the water supply and construct houses for the poor. The village fair price shop was with the Sarpancha’s family. She felt that the Dhanya Kosh (Grain Bank) has had no adverse effect on the fair price shop. She said that her SHG would also start a Dhanya kosh. Her husband Vilas Pawra was the Sarpanch earlier. The village women from the SHGs said that Vanibai’s husband did the panchayat work and that she (Vanibai) only signed the papers. Vanibai said ‘I am only an uneducated tribal woman, slowly I will take control over village affairs’. But she appeared to be lacking in confidence at the village meeting when she could only say a few words, but the other SHG women like Tobbibai could make more meaningful speeches about their accomplishments.
Political Empowerment through SHGs
The women in the SHGs seemed to resent Vanibai becoming Sarpanch, since she did not get to be the Sarpanch because she had leadership qualities, but because her husband had been Sarpanch earlier. Participation in the SHGs had lead to political empowerment of the women in Chakdu and developed a growing awareness among the village women about their rights to participate in the governance structure through democratic processes. They were thus ready to challenge traditional village power structures.
Rift among the SHGs in the village due to SHG formation by competing agencies
The non MAVIM sponsored SHGs expressed a desire to join the Dhanya Kosh at the meeting held in the village school. They were not part of the SHG village committee formed by Swayamsiddha groups. However the MAVIM sponsored (Swayamsiddha) SHGs appeared unwilling to take them as members. They said, “These SHGs do not maintain their accounts and ledgers. They are not properly trained. Neither are they provided with proper kits for their accounts. When we transact in money, or grain there must be transparency, and proper accounting, otherwise there will be disputes and the SHG and the Dhanya Kosh will break up.” This raises the issue of the importance in standards of SHG training, especially in accounts. When SHGs are formed in the same village by different agencies, rifts appear to arise among the village women. These rifts are a threat for village unity, as well as an obstacle for having a unified approach in the village for developmental issues like food security. This unhealthy competitiveness is also a threat to the SHG movement in the village, for women’s solidarity and for the formation of a village SHG committee for concerted action for the progress of the village. Ideally there should be only one agency in a village forming SHGs. Competitive formation of SHGs by different agencies in the same village is not conducive to harmonious development of the village.
The Impact of the Grain Bank on the Village Fair Price Shop
The village fair price shop was run by Sumitra Vikas Pawra who jointly has the shop with the Sarpanch. She was also a member of the Grain Bank (Dhanya Kosh). She felt that forming the Dhanya Kosh was a good idea, as it would make available grain to needy people in the lean season. Sumitra did not feel that the Dhanya Kosh was a threat to her fair price shop. The fair price shop had 276 card holding families and 2352 units. There were 104 BPL cardholders who were entitled to get wheat at Rs 2/- per kilo and rice at Rs. 3/- per kilo. The second category of 157 BPL cardholders was entitled to get wheat at Rs. 5/- per kilo and rice at Rs. 6/- per kilo. A card holder got about 15 to 20 kilos of grain per month. But a family of five needed two kilos of grain per day or sixty kilos per month. Thus the fair price shop entitlements were not sufficient for a family to survive. In the month of April 2006 the fair price shop had received 13 quintals of wheat and 17 quintals of rice for the BPL and 8 quintals of wheat and 12 quintals of rice for the ultra poor. Sumitra admitted that in the rainy season when money was short, the poor did not lift their quota of grain. Hence she felt that the idea of a Grain bank was beneficial for poor people in the village. She also felt that it would be a good idea for the parents of the malnourished children in the village to join as members of the Dhanya Kosh. In April 2005 there was one Grade III child in their anganwadi. In April 2004 also there was one Grade III child. There were no grade IV children. In 2003 there were no Grade III or Grade IV children in their village.
The success of the Grain Bank set up by the SHG women of Chakdu has several factors. The most important reason seems to be that the women first gelled together as a group, whose members had come to know and trust each other. The Self Help Group ethos had also imposed its own discipline on them. Having formed a group, they had faith and trust in each other and could take decisions with unity of purpose. The number of Grain Bank members – thirty, was small enough to be viable. Thus the women could have effective direct governance of their Grain Bank. Secondly the Grain Bank was formed as an initiative taken by the women themselves after a learning experience by an exposure visit. Women were in the drivers’ seat of the programme and they devised their own rules. The gains of a small interest of 250 gms per kilo borrowed, came back to the group. So there was no resentment in making this user fee to the Grain Bank. Thirdly in the Grain Bank developed by the SHG women of Chakdu, the women felt morally bound to return the grain taken from others, who had laboured to save the grain. There was no ‘free’ grain given to them by the government.
The state government scheme on the other hand had disparate groups from one to four villages and fifty to five hundred villagers as members. (However the revised central government norms indicated that a minimum of twenty BPL members or an SHG could start a Grain Bank.) The governance of the programme was not within the group in the government scheme. The rules of the Dhanya Kosh were laid down by the government. Their freedom of participation was curbed by imposing the village headman as the head of the working committee and keeping the Mukhia as responsible for the safekeeping of the grain. Thus traditional village power centers continue to hold sway in the government scheme. Instead of keeping governance within the group, the BDO or Gram Panchayat was charged with ‘inspecting’ the Grain Bank and its loan register. Thus the responsibility for keeping the scheme going was that of the government and not of the people. The most damaging feature was the introduction of a grain subsidy which ruined the scheme. A loan waiver culture has made it very difficult to initiate any development measure which involves making people take responsibility for their own lives.
On the other hand in the Grain Bank started by the SHG women of Chakdu, there was no dole or subsidy involved. They did not feel that the grain was ‘government’s largesse’, not to be returned. The advantage to all was – food security in times of need, instead of taking the grain from the Sahukar who demanded one and a half to two quintals for every quintal of grain taken in the lean season. Thus, this common perception of an advantage, ensured that the women repaid the grain borrowed and kept the bank going.
The SHG women of Chakdu said that they would increase the grain saved from fifteen kilos per woman to thirty kilos. They would also teach the other SHGs in the village how to start a Grain Bank. The women felt that they could take the mothers of children who were malnourished, as members of the Grain Bank, so that this would provide food security to the more vulnerable families in the village. The SHG women felt that government could assist their project with the provision of some money for the purchase of weighing scales and some support for the making of the storage vessel for the Grains. The village level facilitators and District officials of MAVIM, felt that providing a grain subsidy was not good for the long term success of the scheme.
The experiment of the Grain Bank started at Chakdu by the SHG women succeeded as they realised the advantage of having food security and freedom from extortion by the Sahukar. They had a sense of moral responsibility, since they contributed their own grain and felt impelled to return it after use. The Grain Bank in Chakdu was initiated by the people who took their own decisions. It raised their level of self confidence and made them realise that they are no longer ‘victims’ but actors who could re- write their own life story.
1 Exposure visits are a specific program intervention under the Swayamsiddha program, which enables SHGs to have cross learning experiences from other SHGs or from social or economic development initiatives taken up by institutions.
2 After the exposure visit, twelve SHGs from the villages of Chakdu, Boradi, Natvade and Junachandsurya from the Shirpur block, and two SHGs from Jamkhel village in Sakhri block formed Grain Banks in their villages. Later an SHG from Sawai Mukti village of Sindkheda block also formed a Grain Bank with the guidance of their Sahayogini, although they had not gone for the exposure visit.
THANCY FRANCIS THEKKEKARA. Is currently the Principal Secretary of the Department of Minority Affairs, Government of Maharashtra.