Rise of Self-Help Groups As a Social Movement: Experiences from the Indian State of Odisha
Monday, July 14, 2014: 4:45 PM
Studying and participating in the process of development has been the approach of governments in developing countries and Non-government organizations (NGOs) there-in for which they have taken plethora of initiatives following both top down and bottom up approaches. Some of those (initiatives) succeeded while others failed. But no programme for socioeconomic development was so wide reached and popular than the Self-help group approach. Self-help group (SHG) is a small, economically homogeneous and affinity group of poor people who come together to save some amounts regularly, mutually agree to contribute to a common fund, meet their emergency needs, adhere to collective decision-making, resolve conflict through collective leadership and provide collateral free loans on terms decided by the group. These groups try to empower the least empowered sections (mostly women) socially, economically and politically. Involving millions of women (through SHG), thousands of NGOs, MFIs, and bank branches give this phenomenon a movement perspective.
This paper is an earnest attempt to examine the evolution and development of the phenomenon of SHGs from social movement perspectives. It examines if the phenomenon is a social movement at all and the applicability of different theoretical perspectives to study it. The paper uses the resource mobilization theory and constructivist approach as the analytical frameworks to explain the emergence and working of SHG system. The political and cultural opportunity structure in Odisha has been very much supportive to make the movement wide spread. At the same time operation and control from the top (Government of Odisha) affects the rigor of the movement. The paper discusses some such complex issues of collective actions.