Student Research Project in India: Security, Democracy. The cases of microfinancing programs in West Bengal and Kerala states

An increasing role of the maoist movements in India, as well as the current debate on the effectiveness of the microfinance programs, inspired the group of four students of the Institute of International Relations to prepare a deep analysis of the problem. From the 13th of January to the 9th of February a student research project Security, Democracy. The cases of microfinancing programs in West Bengal and Kerala states, India was conducted. Four students of the Institute of International Relations of the University of Warsaw – Krzysztof Antosik, Dominika Gmerek, Maciej Michałek and Agnieszka Rostkowska spent almost a month making a research and consulting with experts in India.

The Project was organised with the support of the Center for the Contemporary India Research and Studies and the Institute of International Relations. Students visited four Indian universities where they had a rare opportunity to discuss the issue with distinguished experts. Field visits in rural areas of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were also a vital part of the project.

The main aim of the Project was to find out whether there is any correlation between the increasing influence of radical movements in India, that are supported usually by socially excluded and poor people, and the microcredit programs targeted at helping such vulnerable groups, The analysis was meant to answer the following question: is there any possibility to use microcredits as a tool helping to prevent the social and political radicalism. However, during the project students concentrated also on the problem of women empowerment and their changing role in the society.

During the first part of the Project students:

·         Spent a week at the Calcutta University in West Bengal. During numerous seminars and expert meetings that were organised by the University, a problem of the NGOs' activities in the field was mainly discussed. Various approaches towards the problem were mentioned, including NGOs concentrating on the support for the Self- Help Groups – such as PRADAN and state – supported initiatives such as Khadi institutes. On the 19th January Research Scholars' Conference Analyzing Security. An Indo – European Perspective took place. During the event participants of the project, as well as students of the Institute of Foreign Policy Studies presented their papers concerning various security issues.Ekspert_PRADAN

Moreover, students spent two days (21 – 22 January) in Murshidabad (West Bengal) where they learned about the Khadi Samity activities.

·         From the 23rd to 28th of January the group was hosted at Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, located next to Tirunelveli in south Tamil Nadu. During this stage of the Project students took part in many classes on economics, sociology, gender studies and history. What is more, on the 26th of January students went on a field visit during which they made several interviews with female members of seventeen Self – Help Groups.Manonmaniam_Sundaranar_University

         Another stage of the Project was a visit at the Kerala University in Trivandrum, Kerala. During their stay, students took part in the seminar on the development economics. They also learned more about the Kudumbashree Mission, the initiative supported by the Kerala state government. During a field visit students visited several projects financed within the Kudumbashree Mission, as well as they interviewed women who participated in the projects.

·         The last part of the Project took place at the IMT Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. During the seminar with Dr. Harvinder Singh the results of the Project were discussed. There were also several presentations concerning the planned papers on the subject that are being prepared by the IMT Ghaziabad students.Prezentacja_IMT_Ghaziabad
It shall be noted that the Project was also meant to promote the University of Warsaw, the Institute of International Relations, as well as the actions of the Center for the Contemporary India Reasearch and Studies. Therefore, during every visit at universities special meetings with students were organised. During such events participants of the project presented the academic offer of the University of Warsaw and distributed materials about the University and Institute.

In spring a student conference, in order to present the outcomes of the Project, is planned to be organised. What is more, a summarizing publication which is going to be a collection of the papers prepared by the students involved in the Project, not only from the University of Warsaw but also from the Indian universities is going to be published.

The participants of the project would like to express their gratitude to everyone who helped and supported the organisation of the Project. Especially, we would like to thank prof. Włodzimierz Lengauer, prof. Edward Haliżak, prof. Roman Kuźniar and dr Jakub Zajączkowski.

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This project is funded by European Union
eystopkaCreated with the financial support
from the Erasmus Programme

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