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Is media really the Third Pillar of Democracy?

Team YS
8th Oct 2010
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Media versus Microfinance @ Srijan Financial Inclusion Forum 2010

A very interesting discussion between the Media and the Leaders in Microfinance was organized before the end of Day 1 at the Srijan Financial Inclusion Forum 2010 in Mumbai.  This probably was one of those rare occasions where we witnessed the Media and the Leaders from Microfinance coming together at one common platform to participate in a debate. The clear objective of the discussion was to figure out Why Media was against MFI or Why there were more Negative Stories on MFIs than otherwise.

Participating in the discussion were eminent personnel from the industry - Sumir Chadha - MD, Sequoia, Alok Prasad- CEO, MFIN, P.N Vasudevan – Founder and MD, Equitas, CS Ghosh – MD, Bandhan. Key personnel from the Media included Tamal Bandyopadhyay, Deputy Managing Editor, Mint and Shloka Nath, Principal Correspondent, Forbes India.

While there were lot of interesting things that came to the surface during the discussion, the key highlights to me were:

  • Need for Education: There is a clear lack of in-depth knowledge about Microfinance among the overall Media fraternity especially the Vernacular and hence a gap that needs to be addressed through education
  • Need to be RESPONSIBLE, SUPPORTIVE and TRANSPARENT: MFI is a very sensitive constituency and both parties need to be responsible, supportive and transparent in their communication

  • Need for a mechanism for Communication and Dialogue: MFI being the largest single segment, there is a clear need for a constructive mechanism to promote Communication and Dialogue among both parties

There were some key discussions points and remarks, from the media’s side -“There is no such thing as a positive or negative story, but just facts presented by the Media”, and “Once we understand that if MFI becomes a success we will be looking at a very different India from what it is today” this coming from the MFIs. We believe the debate has atleast started, once a dialogue begins conclusion is round the corner and hopefully media and MFIs can both works on the points raised.

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