(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Social Mobilisation for Empowering Rural Poor Through SHGs: A Study in Assam T. Medhavati Devi and N. Upadhay

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Social Mobilisation for Empowering Rural Poor Through SHGs: A Study in Assam T. Medhavati Devi and N. Upadhay


Of Late there is a growing realization that one of the key elements for the success of the programmes like immunisation, illiteracy eradication, empowerment of the weak and underprivileged, creating self managed institutions etc., has been the concept of social mobilisation. Social Mobilisation may be defined as a process of engaging a large number of people in joint action for achieving societal goal through self-reliant efforts. Its immediate expected outcomes are mobilisation of all possible resources and the sustained adoption / utilisation of appropriate policies technologies or services through the modification of attitudes and behaviour of various social actors. It is a process in which major clusters of old social, economic and psychological commitments are eroded or broken and people become available for new patterns of socialisation and behaviour. Social mobilisation provides a non- violent way out of the morass of deprivation alienation insecurity political graft and corruption experienced relentlessly over the past 50 years of development and democracy. In this process all levels of society are involved including the community in the determination of basic needs, the definition of common goals, the design of realistic options and implementation of multi-sectoral interventions, Social mobilisation is a composite process involving several stages: (a) the existence of values and goals requiring mobilisation, (b) action on the part of leaders, elite or institutions seeking to mobilise individuals and groups, (c) the institutional and collective means of achieving this mobilisation, (d) the symbols and references by which these values goals and norms are communicated to and understood as well as internalized by individuals involved in mobilisation.
The above opinions indicate that ‘social mobilisation is a process of empowerment and that the terms empowerment and SHGs are closely interwoven. As a result of social mobilisation process small as well as clustered groups enable the poor to effectively assert collective claims on available resources from the larger economic governmental and social systems. Strengthened inter-group linkages also create increased access and opportunities to utilise the resources like credit, extension, training, health, infrastructure, subsidies, loans etc. from available micro systems. Inter-group activities also promote exchange of ideas and sharing experiences; and can frequently lead to multiple meaningful group activities. This way the process enables the poor to address new problems and evolve innovative approaches.

Organising the poor in developmental context generally involves formation of small groups which may be a network and clustered depending on the type and size of activities involved. The form and structure of such group is generally chosen by the poor themselves. This formation frequently I requires a catalyst or facilitator or an animator. ‘Generally, government and non-governmental agencies initiate the process of group formation by involving and training local village/community-level workers from among the poor and by stimulating and assisting them in this process. The approach generally involves open discussion, dialogues, sensitisation experienced sharing and so on. Even skill development can be done through such internal catalysts with the help of suitable external inputs.


Self Help Groups are expected to encourage holistic and self-help approach in order to sort out problems of the poor by improving organisational, conceptual, technical, managerial and entrepreneurial skills, basic and functional literacy, health and ecological consciousness, economic, social and political awareness etc. One of the more frequent and specific group activities involves mobilisation and utilisation of own financial resources through regular small savings and equity participation in their own enterprises, The findings of the present study also indicated encouraging results owing to the process of social mobilisation through group approach in respect of self help development: social capital formation in terms of basic and functional literacy, leadership quality development, development of relationship with other groups, change in the attitude of children’s education to participate in gram sabha, to develop close friendship with other etc.

SHGs are organised to develop, plan implement, manage and maintain common infrastructural assets local resources employment and income generating activities for their socio-economic development. They are expected ‘to increase’ collective self-confidence and promote the evolution of collective consciousness and community identity through increased awareness, knowledge and skills, and share economic responsibility and financial autonomy. In the study area also organizing SHG through social mobilisation process could bring encouraging results. The sample SHGs were found to have been empowered with awareness about government schemes knowledge for opening bank accounts and legal rights, Members have been enabled to share social issues because of being member of the group. Thrift and credit performance in the groups has improved creditability of women with bank and MFIs in the study area. Managerial skill bargaining capacity and communication skill were found to have been enhanced among the members of sample SHG as a result of capacity building programmes. Participation in various activities of SHG has increased self-confidence of women in the study areas.

The findings along with positive and encouraging results have also exhibited some areas where the impact of group approach was lacking and a need is felt to build stronger, bond through social mobilisation process. These were social capital formation in terms of gap in learning record maintenance and awareness about poverty alleviation programme communication for effectively sharing personal and social issues; motivation for getting clear perception of joining group; organisation building; gender sensitisation: decisions taking ability for household matters; empowerment enabling members to get into decision making process through gram sabha, village committee etc.; and self perception about importance of women in family affairs and community development process through SHG for self and group development.

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