Prof Shagata Mukherjee from the Megnath Desai Academy of Economics was in the college to discuss micro finance – its efficacies as a tool for taking economic development to the bottom of the pyramid. A highly decorated economist and an academician, Prof Mukherjee is an alumnus of the Presidency College Calcutta and JNU New Delhi. He also holds of a Doctorate in economics from an overseas university. His work has a strong focus on the role of gender, social contexts and norms on policies. Using empirical analysis and experimental methods, he attempts to answer in the real-world relevant questions about policy framing and their impacts.
The seminar was attended by more than a hundred, with a large number of faculty members joining in to hear the distinguished speaker. Prof Dilip Shah, the Dean of Student Affairs of the College welcomed Prof Mukherjee to BESC and felicitated him on behalf of the students and the members of the faculty.
Prof Mukherjee spoke at length about micro credit and micro finance. Having established the socio-economic context in which we approach the terms, he succinctly explained the relevance, efficacies and effectiveness of taking financial support to the micro levels. He also went on to address another very relevant issue of burning importance – are women better borrowers in microfinance? Using the findings of his studies he pointed out how loans advanced to groups of men and women, at the time of repayment were seen to have higher percentage of defaulters among men than among women.
Taking the discussion further, he explained how group liability reduces the overall default rate; how overall, women are less prone to default on an average; and how social norms are a major reason for default.
The interactive nature of the discourse with the learned professor encouraging the students to ask questions and get their doubts cleared made the proceedings not only extremely lively, but also very engrossing for the participants. Through questions and answers, some of the areas that were covered included policy imposition by the Reserve Bank of India, different types of loan options available at the grassroots, and how micro finance is the best suited to address the woes of the poor. He introduced Md Yunus of Grameen bank in Bangladesh and provided the students with a gist of the Noble laureate’s life and mission. In the context he talked about the need to delink collaterals from the loans and talked about micro credit ventures like the Bandhan Bank and the financial models on which they run.
The visiting faculty members from the M D Academy of Economics also talked about economics in general and the various opportunities that its study provides in terms of career opportunities, strongly urging the students with the right knack to take up the subject. Course details and all supporting literature were also provided to all those who envisioned interest.
(This report has been filed by Akshat Bothra and Komal Chowdhary along with camera person Satya Soham Pradhan of the Expressions collective of the BESC).