Case Study Madhuri Singh

Madhuri Singh helps Dalit & other marginalized women gain economic freedom by organizing them in Self Help Groups

Madhuri Singh, 46, is known to the women not only in Shankarpur village in Varanasi, but also in more than a dozen others. Her claim to fame is we7Garib Banks, which she has created without any outside support. These banks are self help groups (SHGs-without subsidy based) which have in stilled confidence in Dalit & other marginalized women by giving them economic freedom. Women are now free from the clutch of moneylender and developing herself in a sustainable way with dignity.

Dalit & other marginalized women (now there are more than 640 from 14 villages of Chiraigaon block of Varanasi district) are now saving Rs.100 to Rs.200 a month (in the starting years the saving was 20-25 rupees per women per month) per women in their group. The money collected is kept in the accounts opened in regional banks in their group names. Members are given what can be called passbooks to keep a record of their dealing. Money is given to a person only after it is approved in the meeting. A watch is kept on repayment and those who default without adequate reason are made to pay a nominal penalty. Women can use these savings to get loans for self employment, such as selling vegetable and fruits, opening a small shop, agriculture related activities like – Flower & Vegetable cultivation, Dairy, Goatry, Poultry and even for the use of education of children and necessary needs for the domestic purpose. The increasing network and the savings over a period of time have reached a point where Dalits are even taking agricultural land on patta (lease) from land owners. Sarita, a teacher at a Dalit school in Shankarpur, narrates how members from different village came together to get a piece of land. Madhuri has faces a lot of problems by the local money lenders who based from upper caste and involved in money lending work since last two generation, but she could not stop in their campaign against them with the support of marginalized women who trusted on the real developmental work done by Madhuri Devi in the surroundings. The total saving and credit transaction has gradually increased in these self help groups and it has increased up to 1 Crore 17 Lakhs within the 640 women, without taking any credit support from any bank.

 “Usually, SHGs involve an organization or the government. But she has refused any such support, and the financial discipline in her system is something that is worth emulating,” says Rupak Verma, who was a manager at Union Bank of India in Varanasi. Recruits from leading banks in the area are often sent to her to learn banking with the poor.

Madhuri started it all nearly 14 years ago, as a health worker. Her family was edgy about a woman from a high caste working with Dalits. “My mother-in-law would advise me to carry my own plate during training sessions, but I refused, “she recall with a chuckle. Madhuri once took her mother-in-law to the training venue. Her husband, Dhirendra Pratap Singh, works with a cooperative society, but chips in with whatever support he can extend.

“Now I am confident and satisfied with my work and believe that the God has made me only for this purpose, what I am doing for these women, now I am not alone, hundreds of women and thousands of blessings are with us. We are moving ahead”  – Madhuri says.

Name & Madhuri Singh

Social Worker, Mob. 9005681918

Village – Shankarpur, Post-Gaura Kala,

Block – Chiraigaon, Varanasi

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