Interview with Sarita: Jagganguda Village, Andhra Pradesh
Duration: 00:40:43; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 26.383; Saturation: 0.067; Lightness: 0.407; Volume: 0.203; Cuts per Minute: 0.712; Words per Minute: 80.230
The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Interview with a Sarita who heads 5 joint liability groups consisting of 25 persons. Saritha is an important MFI ‘central leader’ in Jagganguda village of Shamirpet Mandal of Ranga Reddy District. She is credited as the person who introduced MFIs into her village by providing companies with early references and organising the people into various Joint Liability groups. Saritha was a central leader in her village at the time of the AP government’s intervention in 2010. Saritha owns a small kirana store and her husband supplies various food items to nearby shops. The family borrowed heavily from SKS and Spandana to build their house. They also bid for their chits and sold gold to raise money for investment in their house. Before the coming of MFIs she borrowed from various informal lenders.
INTERVIEWER:What is your name?
INTERVIEWER:Do you have any property?
INTERVIEWER: Who does this house belong to?
Sarita: We built this house recently. We used to stay in a rented accommodation. The site was given to us by my mother. Though the house is not fully complete, we have moved in so that it saves us the rent.
INTERVIEWER: Who does the land belong to?
Sarita: My parents.
INTERVIEWER: Have they gifted it to you?
Sarita: No, two of my sisters died and I am the only child. I have no brothers.
INTERVIEWER:What does your husband do for a living?
Sarita: We supply sweet and savoury items to various shops.
INTERVIEWER:How much money do you make a month?
Sarita: These days it is okay. Sufficient for us to make a living and pay for the children’s fees, etc.
INTERVIEWER: Do you earn approximately Rs.10,000 per month.
Sarita: Approximately Rs.6-8,000.
INTERVIEWER: What do you do?
Sarita: I make few of the items that my husband sells at home. I had a small shop, but due to certain circumstances I have not been able to run it.
INTERVIEWER: But I can see the shop outside your house?
Sarita: Yes, but now it is not functional. If we invest money and get stock then it will do well.
INTERVIEWER: How many people live in this house?
Sarita:My four children, two girls and two boys. My husband, mother and myself.
INTERVIEWER: Who is older and what is their age?
Sarita: My daughter is the eldest. She is 17 years old.
INTERVIEWER: Is this your last child? How old is he?
Sarita: Yes, he is my son and he is 8 years old.
INTERVIEWER: Is your husband educated?
Sarita: Yes, upto the 10th Standard.
INTERVIEWER: What about you?
Sarita: Till the 6th standard.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have any agriculture land?
INTERVIEWER: How long have you been in the business
Sarita: From 1997.
INTERVIEWER: How much did you invest?
Sarita: Started with Rs.2000 to Rs.3000 even to this day we have the same amount. If we invest more money it will run well.
INTERVIEWER: Where did you get working capital?
Sarita: In the past we would borrow money from outside for 3% per month. Over the past three years we have borrowed from Micro companies.
INTERVIEWER: What is the interest?
Sarita: If we are reliable then people will lend at 2% per month. This interest rate is for large amounts.
INTERVIEWER:What is considered a large amount?
Sarita: Rs.30,000-Rs.50,000 or more.
INTERVIEWER: I am coming back to a previous question; does your husband own any property? Where is he from?
Sarita: No he doesn't own any property. He is from Ponnaru, Shamirpet Mandalam. It’s the neighbouring village.
INTERVIEWER:Where are you from?
Sarita: I am from Changuda. After 5 years I found it difficult to manage with my children in Ponnaru. Both my in-laws had passed away before my marriage. So it was just the both of us. I used to struggle with my young children as I was married off at a young age. So my mother bought us here.
INTERVIEWER:Do you have a house in your in-laws village?
Sarita: Yes we do. It’s a small plot without a house.
INTERVIEWER:Would be aware of how much it would sell for?
Sarita: It’s in a remote village, I don't think it will be of much value.
INTERVIEWER:Say about Rs.40,000?
INTERVIEWER: You said that half the house was incomplete and you came here and repaired it?
Sarita: We started building, and then we had financial problems. We had second thoughts about building this house as we have had to borrow money. We wondered why we were unnecessarily paying Rs.2000 as rent and the loan installments. We moved in as soon as we could.
INTERVIEWER: How much have you invested in this house?
Sarita: We have invested Rs.3.5 to 4 lakhs till now.
INTERVIEWER: So this house cost Rs.3.5-4 lakhs to build apart from the plot. Where did you get this money?
Sarita: Chits, borrowed from other sources.
INTERVIEWER: How much did you take from chits?
Sarita:We got Rs.80,000 and Rs.70,000 from two Rs.1 lakh chits. We also sold 10 tolas of gold.
INTERVIEWER: When did you sell the gold?
Sarita: About a year ago.
INTERVIEWER:10 tolas a year ago would have roughly cost Rs.2 lakh?
Sarita: Yes, we got about a Rs.1.7 lakh.
INTERVIEWER: Did you sell it or give it as mortgage?
Sarita: No, we sold it. The value of gold increased after we sold.
INTERVIEWER: Apart from chits, did you borrow from other sources for constructing your house?
Sarita: For the business we took a loan from micro company. For the house we borrowed small amounts from a number of neighbours and friends – like Rs.10,000 or so from each member.
INTERVIEWER: Is that for interest?
INTERVIEWER: What is the interest rate?
Sarita: 3 Rupees interest (36% per annum)
INTERVIEWER:How long have you been borrowing money for business?
Sarita: From about two and half years.
INTERVIEWER:From whom have you taken?
Sarita: SKS and Spandana
INTERVIEWER:Since when have you borrowed.
Sarita: From about two years. I did not join in the beginning but joined about 15 days later. Initially people in the groups could not manage the affairs properly so the company people asked me to take over. Moreover, since I have been in the village for a very long-time, I am acquainted with almost everybody so they all asked me to look after the affairs. That is how I became a leader for the 5 groups consisting of 25 members.
INTERVIEWER:How much loan did you get?
Sarita: First we got only Rs.5000.
INTERVIEWER:Did you approach them for a loan in the beginning or did they approach you?
Sarita: In the beginning they approached me. They said that they would give loans if you start a group of five and they would give Rs.5000 loan and repayment has to be made every week including the principal and interest. People repaid in that fashion for some time.
INTERVIEWER:Did they come to each house?
Sarita: Yes they canvassed house to house. They asked everybody if they wanted a loan and if they anybody wanted to start a business. They asked everybody. All those who wanted money joined the groups and those who did not need money did not join.
INTERVIEWER: What was the duration of the loan and instalment that you had to pay on your Rs.5000 loan?
Sarita: 50 weeks. Weekly instalment was Rs.120.
INTERVIEWER: That means its Rs.1000 as interest.
Sarita: They told us that they will calculate it together for the whole group and let us know.
INTERVIEWER: What is the interest rate they charged you.
Sarita: They told us that it would cost us 18% per annum.
INTERVIEWER: Did you pay any insurance?
Sarita: Yes, Rs.100 in the beginning.
INTERVIEWER: Did you get Rs.5000 as loan or were all these deducted?
Sarita: They gave 5000. When we go for the meeting we have to take cash and pay the charges. These include bank charges, insurance, etc. They take Rs.30 as bank charges, Rs.20 as joining fees, and Rs.100 for insurance.
Sarita: If we apply this week then we will be given the loan the next week. After the member sings the application, the husband’s signature is compulsory. We need to submit all the signatures of the five membes of the group, along with that of the leader of the centre.
INTERVIEWER: Are the loans given to the group or to individual members?
Sarita:The loan is given to the group and the individual gets the loan in the presence of all the members of the group. In one meeting three members get the loan and in another meeting another 2 people get the loan. First two people get the loan.
They ask us to take an amount of loan that we can repay and afford. They also ask the other members of the group. They say that there should be no problem for any body as if the member defaults, then they will have to pay.
INTERVIEWER:First you said that you took a loan from SKS and then from Spandana ? How much did you take from Spandana and how did they come to you?
Sarita: Spandana too came to us saying that since you are familiar with groups and the modalities of borrowing through a group. Our interest rates are lower than that of Swayamkrushi. They charge interest on the total amount but with Spandana if you borrow Rs.10, 000, you will have to pay Rs.1000 the next month on both the principal and interest. So here the interest will be on Rs.9000 i.e only which the remaining amount and not the entire principal amount.
INTERVIEWER: How much money have you taken from Spandana?
Sarita: I have taken Rs.10,000.
INTERVIEWER:Over what period?
Sarita: First I took Rs.10,000 and then Rs.30,000.
INTERVIEWER:Did the SKS people give you any money? And how many times have you brorrowed money from them?
Sarita: Yes they give you Rs.10,000 after you have repaid the first loan of Rs.5000. We have taken loans twice. They also gave us a small loan of Rs.2000 in between.
INTERVIEWER: After the second loan of Rs10,000?
Sarita: After Rs.10,000 they gave another Rs.10,000 and then after repaying both they gave another Rs.5000. Some poeple took Rs.10,000 and some were being offered Rs.12,000 and they took it. The loan amount is based on their repaying capacity. Also, all the five members of the group need to approve her loan amount based on whether or not you think she can repay the amount. The other members are held responsible if the person defaults. They ask us to let them know openly about members repaying capacity.
INTERVIEWER:What happens if somebody cannot pay?
Sarita: They have to pay!
INTERVIEWER:What happens in case somebody cannot repay?
Sarita: They have to repay. There are a number of instance where each one contributed some money and had to repay the company.
INTERVIEWER: Do they levy any fines?
Sarita: There is no question of fines because the saar will not go if we do not repay the instalment. He will stay back however, late.
INTERVIEWER: Have there been any instance where people could not pay?
Sarita: There have been a lot of instances.
INTERVIEWER: What will the employee do if somebody who cannot pay does not pay?
Sarita: If you do not pay, the Saar will not go away. In those cases, as people cannot do anything, they will contribute the money from their own pockets and pay the Saar. He will suggest to us that everybody contribute any amount, even if it is 10 or 20 rupees each and then take it back later from that member.
INTERVIEWER: What if everybody cannot repay.
Sarita: So far we have not had that problem. We have had only problems with individuals not able to repay. Everybody lends a hand as they are all neighbours. There has never been a very serious issue with repayment.
INTERVIEWER: You have taken a total of Rs.32000 from SKS.
Sarita: Yes. But they gave the loan only after we have repaid the others.
INTERVIEWER: How much money have you taken from Spandana?
Sarita: We firs took Rs.17,000 and then Rs.30,000. I have to pay Rs.2100 a month as instalments.
INTERVIEWER:Do Spandana people sanction the loan in the name of the husband.
INTERVIEWER:What about SKS?
Sarita: They write the name of the female member of the household. Spandana gives loans in the name of the individuals; this is for loans outside of the group-lending. People can access loans through groups or individually. Individuals will have to provide cheques and then take individual loans.
INTERVIEWER:How come in your loan sheet there are some entries for 2100 and at other times 450?
Sarita: I did not have money so I paid 450. Now days they are listening to us. In the past they would not listen! My father died last month so we did not have any money. So we repaid less money. Anyway we have to repay it at some time. They stopped collecting the installments but resumed as of day before yesterday. They are a bit lenient these days with the instalments but we try and repay at the earliest. Collections used to be prompt but after news reports about micro finance groups lots of groups stopped paying their instalments. People who had money did not pay saying why should they be paying when others are not.
INTERVIEWER: Are you still repaying your loan?
Sarita: We are repaying the Spandana loan as we have given them cheques. Since they have cheques we are worried that there will be some problem for us if we don’t repay, so we are paying them.
INTERVIEWER:There is some break in repayment period so do you have to pay a penalty?
Sarita: Yes, they charge penal interest.
INTERVIEWER: How much penal interest do you have to pay?
Sarita: Exactly the same amount of interest. They told us that it is better to pay on time so that there is no penal interest.
INTERVIEWER:How do the employees recover the loan?
Sarita: They come to the house, stand outside along with the books and ask for repayment.
INTERVIEWER:Do other members of the village community, like Panchayat President go along with them and help them recollect the loan?
Sarita: To my knowledge, such things have not happened in our village. If there is somebody who has not repaid the loan, by the time Saar goes away, members who have some money contribute and repay the money.
INTERVIEWER: What did you do with the money SKS gave you?
Sarita: We used it as working capital for the shop.
INTERVIEWER: What did they have to say about that?
Sarita: They give it to you only after inspecting the shop if you say it is for the shop.
INTERVIEWER: Have you taken the Rs.35,000 from SKS for the shop?
Sarita: Yes, it was for the shop. The shop closed only after my father passed away. Before that I used to run the shop.
INTERVIEWER: Have you taken two different loans for the same business?
Sarita: Yes, we could't help it.
INTERVIEWER: Do they come and inspect your business?
Sarita: They do. They also ask us if we need more money etc.
INTERVIEWER:What was the loan used for, business or for consumption.
Sarita: Once the money comes we use it for various purposes since we have to repay it. It is also used for various emergencies. For us we used it because we lost money as we had autos. We used to supply goods in autos.
INTERVIEWER:Did you borrow anything for the auto?
Sarita: Even that is mortgaged. We bought it on a loan. Now we have sold it since it had become very old and there were a lot of repairs. We now do deliveries on a scooter.
INTERVIEWER:What was the purpose for which other members of your group borrowed from MFIs?
Sarita: For various purposes. Some of them borrowed to buy a buffalo, some to start a business, some for agriculture. It varies.
INTERVIEWER:Did they actually buy a animal?
Sarita: We don’t know. But usually they will state the purpose only if they have. Sometimes they buy a new animal, sometimes they will simply state that they will buy something if they are already into it. We don’t know the situation in the homes of people. Anyway the amount that they give is not in lakhs. It is small amount.
INTERVIEWER: Suppose I state that I want a loan for agriculture, will they demand the title deed of the land?
Sarita: No they will not demand anything. They will only take the photocopy of the ration card and photographs.
INTERVIEWER: Who are the others who lend money in the village apart from SKS and Spandana?
Sarita: There are moneylenders. Ther are the rich families that lend money. They have cash and those who have cash lend.
INTERVIEWER: Have you borrowed from them?
Sarita: Yes we borrowed. They charge 3% per month and we took when we were building the house.
INTERVIEWER: Did you try to borrow from a bank?
Sarita: Yes, I tried and I had to run around a number of times. The banks lend only to those who are very rich and propertied or those who are well connected. It is not for people like us or for the middle classes. Banks lend only to those who take large amounts and default on that, not for people like us. These people come to us, to our houses and lend us.
INTERVIEWER: Did you try for bank loans?
Sarita: Yes. We pleaded for at least 25,000 loan. I tried for nearly a year. A lot of people were given loans but I was not given any loan, though I applied for loans under the quota for poor.
INTERVIEWER: What was the purpose for which you asked for a loan?
Sarita: For our shop. If we go for a loan in March, they ask us to come in May, if we go then they ask us to come later. I got tired and stopped.
INTERVIEWER: Which lender is preferred? Who is better?
Sarita: If we repay properly, every lender is a preferred type. It is only when we cannot pay that others start behaving rudely.
We prefer to borrow from people who lend us money and come back after one month.
INTERVIEWER: Which is preferred: Banks, Cooperatives, Village moneylenders, MFIs?
Sarita: Better are the local village lenders. Because we pay them interest, they will not come and harass us. Because of the familiarity, they are more tolerant and willing to wait. In the case of MFIs, we know when we sign itself that we have to repay every week at any cost.
But, if the banks lend, it will be very good. But they don’t lend to everybody. They value you only if you know somebody there. In the case of lending through SHGs, they give 1 lakh among 10 members or Rs.10,000 per person which has to be repaid over 2 years. That is good, but the small amounts are not enough for our needs.
INTERVIEWER:What kind of products does you husband supply?
Sarita: Chocolates and biscuits and some other savoury items that I make at home. All ingredients need to be bought and then prepare them at home.
INTERVIEWER: How much capital do you need on a day-to-day basis?
Sarita: There is not much. The biggest investment is our house. There is not much capital so my husband works elsewhere and also supplies the items I make.
INTERVIEWER: Where does he work and how much do they pay him?
Sarita: He has recently joined a battery company and they pay him Rs.150 a day.
INTERVIEWER: Why have you stopped it now? How much income does your business generate? Do you have other sources of income?
Sarita: We don't have capital for making the items. We cannot depend on it if we don’t have the money to invest in it. That is why my husband juggles between the two. I earn about Rs 250-300. It depends on me, my husband can supply only if I make the items. We have no other income sources of income and manage within what we earn.
INTERVIEWER: What is your monthly expenditure like? And what is your food expenditure?
Sarita: It’s hard to say because it fluctuates. Sometimes there is expenditure for certain things, but its mostly the children's. On an average we need at least Rs.120 a day for all of us for food.
INTERVIEWER: What about clothes?
Sarita: We don't buy clothes every day. We buy on certain occasions but maybe it costs Rs.10,000 a year.
INTERVIEWER: Are you children studying?
Sarita: Yes. Elder daughter is going to college.
INTERVIEWER: What are the fees?
Sarita: For the elder girl, it costs 12,000 and for the younger girl, it costs 450 per month. For all the four children it costs nearly Rs.25,000 per year.
INTERVIEWER: What about your family's transportation costs?
Sarita: We don't travel too much. But say about 500 rupees a month. The children travel by the government transport service.
INTERVIEWER: What about festivals?
Sarita: We celebrate festivals within our means. For big festivals we buy new clothes and that's about it.
INTERVIEWER: Do you have a bank account or a postal deposit account?
Sarita: We have a bank account and it's in my husband’s name. I do not have any accounts in my name.