Mani Nandhi will be presenting her paper, "Financial Inclusion of the Urban Poor: Problems and Prospects A study of Cycle Rickshaw Pullers in Delhi" at the International Association for the Economics of Participation (IAFEP) Conference hosted by ERMES, University ParisII in Paris, France on 8-10 July 2010.

Paper Abstract: India’s urban poverty has increased by about 5.8% in the recent decades. A majority of the urban poor are migrants from rural India, who are both marginalised and discriminated due to their transient status. In search of livelihoods, the ultra poor rural migrants are largely employed in the unorganised sector and in unstable occupations (rickshaw pulling, rag picking, domestic help). These migrants survive between $1 and $2 a day. However, the financial needs (be it saving, credit or remittance) of these highly marginalised urban poor remain largely unaddressed due to their uncertain and mobile habitat, unstable livelihoods, uneven income flows, weak social relations / links and fragile bonding as well as lack of homogeneous culture among urban poor dwellers. Formal banking system shuns the urban poor due to their transient nature and similar above reasons. Since India holds the 50th place in the ‘Financial Inclusion Index’, there is a clear consensus that the provision of financial services (savings, loans, insurance and remittance needs) are to be made available to the bottom of the pyramid to ensure their financial inclusion.
Given that large segments of the migrant poor in urban India require financial services but remain marginalised, technology has a role to play in achieving financial inclusion of the poor. However, technology which has revolutionised the Indian banking sector recently has been largely restricted to its privileged clients from the upper and middle classes and has financially excluded large sections of the population lacking even basic banking facilities. Financial inclusion drive calls for a conscious attempt to reach the vast numbers of excluded poor so as to promote more inclusive growth in India.
One critical input, inter alia, among other efforts towards their financial inclusion lies in building a reliable and systematic data base to comprehend the financial behaviour of the urban poor for different occupations. Based on an ongoing empirical study of cycle rickshaw pullers, who form a huge proportion of disadvantaged urban migrants in Delhi, the present paper while exploring the financial behaviour of rickshaw pullers throws light on the problems, constraints and challenges in enabling the marginalised urban poor to be integrated into mainstream financial services sector in the Indian political and economic context. The findings are based on an in depth field survey using a combination of methods - interviews based on structured questionnaires, focus group discussions and case studies of cycle rickshaw pullers in Delhi.


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