The silent microfinance crisis facing Punjab’s Dalit women

Overlending by microfinance institutions with next to zero self-regulation has sent indebtedness and defaults soaring in the border state.

KD (we’ll call her that to protect her identity) is a 45-year-old mother of two. She took pride in the fact that she was one of the few women in her neighbourhood, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, who repaid her microfinance loan instalments even when most others defaulted. 

Situated on the outskirts of Punjab’s Mansa town, the area has a handful of cattle along with nearly 1,800 voters, most belonging to Ramdasia and Mazhabi Dalit Sikh castes. Amid the criss-crossing drains and streets, the houses are so cramped that it is hard to tell where a house ends and another begins. …


Advait Palepu

Advait is a financial journalist and a former writer at The Morning Context. Here, he wrote on India’s banks, the wider financial services industry and the fintech ecosystem. He has previously worked with the Economic and Political Weekly, Business Standard, BloombergQuint and MediaNama, where he covered everything from the Reserve Bank of India to fintech policy.




Srishti Jaswal

Srishti is an award-winning independent journalist based in India. She has written on a variety of subjects, such as politics, tech, rural connectivity, maternal health, human rights, and governance for national and international publications including The Caravan, Newslaundry, Vice World News and Al Jazeera.