Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Informal Credit Associations in Lucknow, India

Zardozi embroiderers

We are pleased to announce the release of our most recent working paper, authored by IMTFI researcher Syed Aiman Raza, assistant professor of Anthropology at Shia P.G. College in Lucknow, India. Dr. Raza's research focuses on informal credit associations among Zardozi embroidery workers in Lucknow.
Trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty, the poor are unable to think much about their future. This creates a situation in which the education of the children, health of the household members is often compromised with. Each day of their life is spent struggling to earn a living for the family. They often work for more than 8 hours a day, earning less than two dollar and even sometimes less. These impacts are invisible, but in the truest sense – are irreversible for the dent they make in the future of their families. Their choices are minimal which makes it impossible for them to plan out expenditure and calculate one’s own capacity to save or repay. 
The present study is an ethnographic account of the Shia population attached to Zardozi (embroidery) in Lucknow, who are reeling under intense poverty and suffering as a result of pittance. This study contributes to the linking of micro levels of analysis of money management through informal financial network of Rotating Services and Credit Association (ROSCA), popularly known as Beesi, among the poor skilled Zardozi (embroidery) workers in Lucknow. The research facilitates verbatim accounts of embroidery workers about what they want ,what they expect of themselves and how they make their choices that they can make. The study is open to a wide spectrum of readers belonging to developmental studies, economics and microfinance who are interested in understanding real life situations confronted by the poor in third world countries.
Click here to read it! 


  1. This is a very nice step taken towards uplift of poor. would like to know same can be extended in other states/cities/village as well.

  2. Thanks a lot Firdaus for your input on this important and timely issue. The research findings are important at two levels; the first being that it highlights the pathetic conditions in which the poor live and their survival financial mechanisms and secondly it presents a solution in eradicating the middlemen from this profession because profit margins are being skimmed at higher end of the supply chain and fail to flow to the craftsman at grass root level.
    These findings can be extended to all parts of the world where poverty is prevalent and where the poor are not being able to benefit, the fruits of higher market prices.
    Thank you for your insightful comment and we look forward to your continued engagement.

    1. a very nice weaving of cultural aspect in the light of economic dimension, problems and solution has been analyzed by this paper. it can be used to understand, analyze and device a solution by NGO,government or international organization..i wish that u keep running and writing such hidden and grave issues that are required to solve the real problems and get the goal of sustainble development for our society

  3. Very well written enlightens and provide deeper information of a sector that is highly neglected by our government and society.

  4. This is a marvellous and inimitable piece of research highlighting a very significant yet greatly neglected issue, giving a pragmatic insight into the real life scenario. Certainly, this approach can be implemented towards any society which faces similar concerns.

  5. I really enjoyed reading the's an excellent account of financial management in scare have provided a very good description of earning of zardoz's ,however a quantitative estimate of expenses would be helpful for the banks and other formal financial institutions to gauge the savings potential. You may also want to write a little more on the current problems faced by the zardoz community especially the children lacking the education and medical facilities. Overall I liked your initiative. Keep it up. Excellent work

  6. Thanks a lot for an overwhelming response to the paper. Faria, infact you are actually right in pointing out that a lot should have been discussed on the daily expenses incurred by the individual families. I have the data on it, but it was due to certain limitations on the length of the paper that the write up had to curtailed to a certain word limit and moreover the topic is specifically targeted towards the money management practices of these artisans and hence any diversion beyond the topic was seen as unnecessary.
    I am really thankful to Huma Irfan,Dr.Arun Kumar Maurya and Raza for their inputs and inspirational comments.
    Do remain connected to IMTFI and help us realize our motto that is spreading our research works throughout the world to aide the poorest of the poor.

  7. Zardozi style of embroidery has been in existence in India and particularly in Lucknow (which is considered to be the main center of zardozi work) from a long time but the growing industrialisation has led to its decline. Today, a lot of poor people have to suffer because it is their only medium of bread and butter and their talents are totally being overlooked. Most of the craftsmen are duped by the mediators and are paid less than what they deserve.
    A proper government aid should be provided to them for their upliftment and so that they don't completely get vanished and reamains to be a part of our culture.

  8. Thanks a lot Kulsoom for your comments and as you have rightly mentioned there is an urgent need to look into the apathy which these artisans are facing at the hands of the middlemen. These Zardoz always remain at their mercy, get exploited and left in a lurch with meager or no profit at times.
    There arises a need to somehow eliminate these middlemen and if you go through the paper you can find the solution which i have discussed in detail.
    Thanks once again and do remain connected to IMTFI as we will need your insightful comments in future also.