By Sanjay Jha
Isn’t a publicly listed, heavily-traded , profit-making , “shareholder value” obsessed company with a sophisticated investor relations wing in the business of satisfying analysts earning forecasts , using the high-profile buzzword of “ social entrepreneurship” —– micro-finance , an oxymoron? Can and do they really care for the upliftment of the poor and the marginalized Indian ? Is poor regulation going to create a fresh deluge of IPO’s to tap this “ market segment”?
Tell me, if India’s numerous public sector commercial banks with their phenomenal rural penetration and priority sector lending experience cannot do micro-finance to reach out to the underprivileged as a larger part of their social responsibility , can private-for-profit firms really fulfill that gigantic task without resorting to bullying tactics , forced recovery, and in fact, willful funding to vulnerable sections to create India’s modern avatar of a “ corporate money lender”, a loan shark keeping its “ customers” in an inextricable web of perpetual debt ? Does that explain the spate of recent farmer suicides?
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