The term ‘self-help’ has got
historical significance and widely used for cooperation for survival. In the
past, it had coined with civil rights and the women’s movement. This trend
continued until the 1970s. It took a new dimension of service-oriented
activities, which become more popular.
Self-help groups (SHG) play a significant role in transforming the rural economy. Its unprecedented growth helps the resurgence of the weaker section of society in terms of outreach, social position and sustainability. Among different SHGs, ‘Kudumbashree’ of Kerala constitute the largest women SHGs in India. The Government of Kerala launched the programme for poor women on 17 May 1998. Grassroots of ‘Kudumbashree’ are ‘Neighbourhood Groups’ (NHGs). Kudumbashree functions through NHGs.
Since the 1970s, SHGs have been
playing an essential role in different states of India by contributing mostly
to democratize many institutions that stand for the deprived sections of the
society. It tries to create social stability through financial inclusion and
play an active role in the social empowerment of the people in rural areas. So
far, the bank has provided a grant of more than one million for capacity
building of poor people and their sustainability. The very purpose of linking
SHGs with formal banking systems through informal approach found successful since
1992, where it has introduced a bank linkage scheme. Currently, about 2.2
million SHGs in India represent 33 million members. These groups are mainly
functional in the southern states.
The theoretical foundations of the
SHGs are deeply linked with the framework of sociology. Theoretically, SHGs may
stimulate empowerment and increase the participants’ sense of control and
linked with the concepts of social learning. ‘Social perception theory’ backed
up in understanding the influence of social variables, which got a substantial
element for measuring the outlook of the people.
SHGs role in empowering women in
rural areas is significant. The social impact of SHGs on women empowerment is
noticeable. It brings social cohesion among the poor at the grassroots level.
Field evidence shows that SHG members can easily involve in households’
decision-making and bring positive changes in their life. According to Nagaraj
and Sundaram (2017), SHGs provide a sufficient platform for social
participation and encourage the members for better interactions with society
SHGs women in rural areas.
There were two objectives of this
study. The first, to study the social impact of the NHGs of Kudumbashree. The
second, to study the impact of social variables between tribal and non-tribal
areas. This study analyses the social impact of NHGs by taking samples from the
tribal and non-tribal areas in the district of Palakkad, Kerala. A detailed
survey conducted among 600 respondents with identified social variables. The
outcome of the study reveals that NHGs have created a social platform for women
to improve social activities and strengthen its members’ social bondage. The
social impacts in tribal and non-tribal areas differ for certain social
variables and do not vary with others. Overall, the study highlights the need
for promoting the role of NHGs as a means of ‘social change’ for strengthening
the socialization process of women.