Small E IMG 313122-year-old Mamta Devi of Rajgarh tehsil in Rajasthan is fidgety as she sits on the charpoy, next to her husband, clutching her one-year-old daughter nervously with both her hands. She has good reasons to be anxious. After all, women sitting next to their husbands is not a common sight in this part of the rural hinterland, and the social admonishment – in case an elder catches the spectacle – is prolonged and agonizing.
No sooner she hears the shutter go off, she is back on her feet, just as quickly as she had sat down. With the photograph through, the young mother of two heaves a sigh of relief followed by an impish giggle.

“It being high noon, all the elders must be taking a nap,” she says from behind the smile.
This timid, acquiescent portrait of Mamta, however, stands in stark contrast to her personality when she leads her Self Help Group (SHG) of 15 members into various financial literacy sessions conducted under the CRISIL Foundation’s Mein Pragati programme.
“Before the programme launched here, none of us were aware of any of the Government schemes designed specifically for women. Very few of us had bank accounts under our name, let alone an insurance scheme,” says Mamta.
“The programme has come to us as not just a pleasant surprise, but a much needed one.”
Mamta’s husband works in and around their village as a daily wage labourer. The limited income that the occupation generates has been beset by the construction industry’s seasonal pattern in this part of the state and a growing family. Most construction work ceases during the monsoon and, consequently, savings quickly evaporate.
“Most of us kept the money at home in order to have ready access to it in the time of need. Besides, there was a lack of trust in the banks and the formality of filling up forms was a big deterrent for all of us. But with the Government’s direct credit schemes and zero-balance accounts, most of the village residents were lured into opening an account,” says Mamta.
“We saw reason in it only with the launch of the Mein Pragati programme being implemented by Humana People to People India in our village.
CRISIL Mitras informed us about the significance of maintaining a budget diary and very soon we were able to see the impact it had on our savings. All of us in the SHG have an active bank account now and are availing one or the other insurance scheme,” she adds with a hint of pride.
Mamta is one of the many women finding her voice through an unprecedented financial decision-making ability with the Mein Pragati programme. As a village elder passes us on his rickety bicycle, Mamta is quick to pull an end of her sari to cover her face.
“Almost all of us in the village with a girl child, including me, have also opened a bank account under the Sukanya scheme. By the time she’s married, I’m sure you’ll be able to click her picture sitting next to her husband without much trouble,” she adds with a smile.

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Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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