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Financial Liberalization and Rural Credit in India

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Financial liberalization after 1991 damaged the formal system of institutional credit in rural India severely. It represented a clear and explicit reversal of the policy of social and development banking, and contributed in no small way to the extreme deprivation and distress of which the rural poor in India have been victims over the last decade.

The papers in this volume, theoretical and empirical, examine the implications of financial liberalization with respect to rural credit. The theoretical papers deal with the macro-economic and structural effects of neo-liberal financial policy on the rural banking system. The empirical papers, both secondary data-based and village-level case studies, show that changes in national banking policy have had a rapid, drastic and potentially disastrous effect on the debt portfolios of rural households, particularly the income-poor.

Although it is clear that chronic indebtedness among the rural poor is a problem that cannot be solved by banking policy alone, and that the abolition of usury requires agrarian reform and major public investment, a decisive change in banking policy is essential for the very survival of the working people in rural India.

Madhura Swaminathan

Madhura Swaminathan is Professor and Head, Economic Analysis Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Bengaluru.

V.K. Ramachandran

V.K. Ramachandran is Vice-Chairperson, Kerala State Planning Board, Thiruvananthapuram.