Mann Deshi Foundation: Model for Women Empowerment Through Human Capital Formation and Development

Mann Deshi Foundation: Model for Women Empowerment Through Human Capital Formation and Development

Minakshi Balkawade (St. Mira's College for Girls, Savitribal Phule Pune University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1974-4.ch007
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Women in India, especially in the rural areas remain a deprived lot from mainstream education, employment, and productive resources, causing their marginalisation, poverty and social exclusion. The Government of India initiated various policies and programmes for development of rural entrepreneurship, including women. Nevertheless many of these programmes bungled owing to lack of tailor-made solutions to suit a particular rural environment. Thus SHGs, were used as a conduit to identify the needs of the rural community. Further various NGOs, and other voluntary organisations forayed in through their respective rural developmental models. This chapter attempts to demonstrate efforts and underscores the progress made by one such organisation, amidst a host of challenges in creating micro-entrepreneurs - the Mann Deshi Foundation in the State of Maharashtra, launched with an intent of human capital formation and human resource development through its b-school - Udyogini, in conjunction with the Mann Deshi Mahila Sahakari Bank and the Mann Deshi Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women.
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1. Introduction

The extent to which society gives equal protection to women is a measure of its progress

– Swami Vivekananda

A daunting task before the government is that of inequality and lack of opportunities for participation in economic activities, as India is plagued by dissection in the social set-up on the basis of class, creed, caste and above all gender. These omnipresent partitions have indeed adversely impacted the scope for promoting economic development and provision of social opportunities (Dreze and Sen, 2002). This demands a major shift from growth to development – a shift embraced by economists in the 1970s, realising the fact that 40% of the population, majorly women in developing countries had remained outside the purview of economic growth throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Thus the need for re-defining economic development as eradication of unemployment, inequality and poverty i.e. a progressive transformation was contemplated to be the key, focus being on human resource development, especially rural people and women. Hence it was realised that if a substandard or ineffective human resource policy can entail an economic and social burden on the economy, on the other hand a scientific man-power strategy will definitely assure enhanced economic development. This led to the emergence of a new measure of economic development – Human Development Index (HDI) as a substitute to Gross National Product (GNP). Further according to (Mahbub ul Haq, 1997) “Unless societies realise that their real wealth is their people, an excessive obsession with creating material wealth can obscure the goal of enriching human life”. Thus with effect from 1990 human development has been defined by the Human Development Report as “expanding and broadening choices available to the population in terms of economic, social, cultural or political, thereby enhancing their welfare” (UNDP, 1997). Thus the main theme of the “Capability Approach” as advocated by Amartya Sen and later by Nussbaum and others implies granting freedom to people to achieve their well-being in terms of their capabilities.

This freedom centred view of development is closely linked to the rousing speech of Jawaharlal Nehru on the eve of India’s independence, wherein he called upon the people of India to consider “freedom as an opportunity to end poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity” (Sarvepalli, 1983). He further states that consideration of ‘inequality of opportunity’ is significant as it helps the State in the initiation and implementation of welfare policies in terms of either re-allocation of assets or establishment of microfinance and microcredit services or skill development. For instance a greater understanding of the ills of gender inequity will enable changing people’s attitude by leading them to inquire into the hereditary forbearance of such an issue (Dreze and Sen, 2002).

1.1. Challenges Ahead for the Indian Economy

Statistics published by the World Bank indicates that the Indian economy has achieved a sensational Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of $2 trillion in 2014, with its Gross National Income (GNI) per individual increasing from $1,560 in 2013 to $1,610 (approximately Rs. one lakh) per annum during 2014 and a growth rate, at 7.4 per cent in the same fiscal converting it into one of the rapidly growing economies of the world just next to China (Raghavan, 2015). However in this scenario the Indian policy makers will be faced with a challenge of making this growth realistically inclusive, which necessitates enhancing employment opportunities and intensifying the velocity of deceleration in the poverty rates (Chandrasekhar, 2011).

Thus re-distributive growth is the primary purpose of any economic policy, of which poverty alleviation and eradication is an important aim i.e. guaranteeing sharing the fruits of growth with all segments (with emphasis on gender) of the economy (Government of India Planning Commission, 2014). This is extremely important because as (Nachane, 2011) has rightly observed, if benefits of growth are concentrated towards a particular segment of the society, poverty eradication will be a distant dream, further discouraging the course of growth, leading to social pressures, thereby destabilising the political system.

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