When merit determines your credit
Farmers in Jalgaon were indebted, and often did not have enough money to carry out daily farm operations, due to which they would end up mortgaging their lands. A nonprofit leader introduced a village fund to provide much needed loans to farmers.
Under it, farmers were graded in different categories based on their need, but also their ‘merit’. Merit was determined based on factors such as whether the farmers or their sons consumed alcohol, whether they had constructed and used toilets in their homes, whether women in their families were treated well, and so on. The better a farmer scored on these parameters, the higher the amount of loan he would get from the village fund.
One of the outcomes of this was that husbands began pestering their wives to eat more and better, to raise their haemoglobin count. It was one of the indicators used to determine the loan amount a farmer was eligible for.
This story was told to Sanjiv Phansalkar by social leader Neelima Mishra.
Sanjiv Phansalkar leads VikasAnvesh Foundation, a research centre established by Tata Trusts to study social development processes.