SHGs are standardized, and identical compassionate groups, mostly of rural poor. They are formed voluntarily keeping in view group goals and collective interests. In addition, a loan that is collateral-free is offered under such groups whose rates are determined by the forces of demand and supply. Women are the main protagonists in SHGs. In underdeveloped economies, in general, and India in particular, more than 90 % of self-help groups are formed by women. It is through the allocation of savings in the group that a huge amount can be raised. According to the Planning Commission (2008) in India, unfortunately, self-help groups have increased work burden and failed to generate a good amount of income because of lack of harmony and consistency. However, empirical research shows that SHGs in many agricultural countries have done a good job and women have improved their standard of living and quality of life. It is rightly said that women are nation builders and can lead a country towards the right path. Accordingly, COVID-19, which has squeezed our economy and declined all macroeconomic variables, desperately needs self-help groups. In fact, women-led SHGs will definitely, and efficiently develop our health system which is the worst hit with this pandemic. It will properly utilize and manage our credit needs, sustain bank linkages, and implement economic drive which will in turn help our health needs.
Jammu and Kashmir right now is faced with difficulties connected to COVID-19 as the cases are increasing rapidly. This rise can be attributed to multiple factors; non-seriousness of the masses with regard to maintaining respiratory hygiene, political instability, lack of proper skills and knowledge, lack of proper health care, etc. The problems that have risen because of this warrant group action and collective effort because they come under macroeconomics that in no way pertain to a single individual. In this day and age, self-help groups are drivers to the economic development of the country in generic form, and poor group of the society in a precise manner. Hence, in this tough time when health is at high risk, we must develop as many self-help groups as possible. It should be designed as a start-up organization to help and unite the needy people for solving their individual as well as social problems.
It has been reported time and again that countries that successfully flattened the curve of coronavirus cases are headed by women. The classic examples are of New Zealand, Norway, Taiwan, Denmark, and Finland. They have surpassed the highly developed economies of the world including the USA, and China. Once the virus entered these countries, everyone was to stay home for four consecutive weeks barring people working in most important sectors, such as health care. The governments of these countries acted prudently, and circulated pragmatic messages emphasizing their masses to act as if they have COVID-19 and face it bravely. This raised their morale and saved their lives. In addition, they from the very beginning utilized a proper mix of early care or watchfulness, transparency, and proactive series of safety measures. Imagine how things will get better in every country the moment we adopt such a mix of things in any crisis. Let’s all do our bit, and unite against COVID-19.
Binish Qadri is ICSSR Doctoral Fellow pursuing Ph.D. in Economics at the Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir; Quarterly Franklin Member, London Journals Press.