New Delhi – The 2010 microfinance crisis in Andhra Pradesh forms the basis of a new book by entrepreneur-filmmaker Ramesh S Arunachalam.
Part fact, part fiction Where Angels Prey talks about a complex multi-pronged web of deceit, fraud, manipulation and financial crime, remote controlled from distant lands by an entire chain of financial sector stakeholders.
Loosely inspired by real life events in Andhra Pradesh, the novel seeks to unravel the truth that often lurks behind the good intentions of Wall Street’s interest in India’s poor and expose the double-edged sword that emerges when no safeguards are put into place.
A foreign journalist named Robert Bradlee along with an Indian reporter Chandresh wants to find out the reason why people are investing huge amount of money in India’s microfinance sector, especially at a time of global recession.
They then stumble upon huge irregularities in the sector.
“Microfinance provide financial services for small businesses or entrepreneurs, especially in poor or rural communities, who do not have access to traditional banking or financial services. Sounds wonderfully altruistic, but just ask some people what their thoughts are about microfinancing and you’ll probably hear a completely different answer,” says Arunachalam.
In October 2010, the Andhra Pradesh Government had promulgated an ordinance to curb the activities of microfinance companies following allegations that coercive collection policy of microfinance institutions drove many borrowers to commit suicide.
The ordinance made it mandatory for microfinance institutions to specify their area of operation, rate of interest and recovery practices besides seeking the State Government’s approval before issuing any fresh loans.
With the operations of microfinance institutions hit, bad loans began to pile up as borrowers refused to pay back and banks declined to give loans to these institutions.
Published by Authors Upfront, a self-publishing platform, the novel weaves in and out of the affluent world of high-powered boardrooms and the gruelling poverty of the remotest villages of India to reveal some bitter truths.
Arunachalam has penned two books — The Journey of Indian Microfinance and An Idea Which Went Wrong: Commercial Microfinance in India”. He has also produced the 2001 film ‘Kutty’, which won two nationals awards, and the more recent socio-political satire Yeh Hai Bakrapur’.
SOURCE: The Hindu Business Line
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