Measurement of Attitudes of rural poor towards SHG’s: An empirical investigation


Amrita Banerjee


Assistant Professor, Department of Engineering, Science and Humanities, Siliguri Institute of Technology, Darjeeling




Higher unemployment and low income in the rural areas result in low purchasing power of the rural area, ultimately affecting the quality of life. The government has launched several schemes to generate employment, especially in rural areas. Since 1999 the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojna (SGSY) has been implemented as the largest program for self employment of rural poor with a focused objective to bring the assisted BPL families [SWAROZGORIES] above the poverty line by providing them income-generating assets through provision of bank credit and government subsidy. SHG’s through Swarojgaries aimed to mobilize rural poor through placement linked skill development and innovative project. This paper tries to measure attitude of rural poor towards SHG’s. The study was done in Maynaguri Block of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal. A Likert type scale consisting of 26 items was developed to measure the attitude construct. The survey instrument consists of five sections namely: Socio economic well being, education and training, Entrepreneurship and marketing quality, technology adoption and Banking/Credit facility. The empirical study marked that most SHG members had favorable attitudes towards SGH activities .While unemployment and poverty continues to plague the Indian economy, SHG’s supplements and broadens rural economic choices; development of activity clusters to ensure backward and forward linkages; revolving fund assistance; provision of credit linked subsidy, marketing support with focus on market research ,provision of capacity building of  SHG’s; prioritizing vulnerable groups of women, SC/ST ,minorities and disabled; nurturing and quality of SHG’s need to be emphasized resulting in an impact on rural employment generation.


KEYWORDS: Rural poor, SHG, attitude, employment generation.




In India, Self Help Groups or SHGs represent a unique approach to financial intermediation. The approach combines access to low cost financial services with a process of self management and development for the women who are SHG members. SHGs contribute to the alleviation of rural poverty. SHGs have varied origins, mostly as part of integrated development programmes run by NGO’s with donor support (Tankha, 2002).SHGs have become the vehicle of change for the poor and marginalized. The strata of rural families, handled through Self Help Groups, are capital scarce, labour surplus, and by and large bereft of proper knowledge as well as management skill. SGSY aims at establishing a large number of micro enterprise in rural areas, building upon the potential of the rural poor. Alleviation of poverty remains a major challenge before the government.


Acceleration of economic growth, with a focus on sectors, which are employment intensive, facilitates the removal of poverty in the long run. SHGs have an important tool of economic development (Tiwari and Thakur, 2007). SHGS has been recognized as reliable and efficient mode of transfer technology transfer (Meena et al,2003).Attitudes can be positively or negatively directed towards certain people ,service or institution(Munn et al). Ivancevich and Matterson (1999) defined attitude as a specific influence on persons response to people ,object and situation with it is related. Attitude is a more or less permanent during state of mental organization to any object or situation with which it is related (Centril,20).Attitude are relatively stable and once adopted they can provide a long term positive effect (Ollgyaiova etal,2005).This paper measures the attitudes of rural poor towards SHGs (especially the attitudes of SHGs members).




Attitudes contribute towards economic growth and social well being. Consequently changing attitude brings of people is reflected in their performance. The primary data was collected from 100 respondents and then analyzed likert scale was prepared based on informative works of Meena, 2008, which was used for the study. The study was normally done on a 5 point scale. The scale appears as follows: strongly agree, agree undecided, disagree and strongly disagree. A high overall score can be viewed as a positive attitude where as a low score denotes a negative attitude.



The study was carried out in the villages of 8 Gram Panchayats in Maynaguri Block of Jalpaiguri District. There were 2740 SGHs under SGSY in BPL category in this particular block and 149 SHGs under APL category(April,2013).The groups are mostly women driven and many groups have successfully passed second gradation with number of projects(micro-entrepreneurial activities)in their hand to boost up their livelihood security. The micro-entrepreneurial activities are Agriculture, Tailoring, Paddy to Rice, Animal Husbandry, Fishery, Poultry, Agarbatti and Pickle making, Nursery, Tea plantation, Fishing net making andBeautician course. The attitudes of member involved in these activities were studied.


Table 1 Demographic Attributes OF SHG Members, Maynaguri Block,  Jalpaiguri, West Bengal











27 to 45















Junior High








Senior Secondary








Master Degree



















Contribution/month/member(in Rs)





Between 1and50




















<1 year




1-6 years




>6 years



Main Occupations













Labor work




Private Service




Household work




Private shop/business



Source: Field Survey


Attitude is an important tool to measure economic and occupational positions of people. Strong attitude once developed is resistant to change and is not easily changed through social influence. The result of the study is given below.


Demographic Profile

Descriptive analysis shows that out of 100 respondents, there were more female than male respondents. The result shows that 83 percent of the respondents are female and the remaining 17 percent are male. The majority of respondents a total of 82 were aged between 27 to 45 years, 17 were above 45 years, and 1 respondent was less than 27 years of age. There were no illiterate respondents from this block. There were 8 respondents from Primary schools,30 from Junior high.44 respondents completed Matric (Class X Standard),11 had assed Senior Secondary (Class XII Standard), 5 respondents were from Bachelor’s Degree and 2 respondents were from Master degree.99 percent respondents belong to rural area and the remaining in urban area. Most of the members contributed Rs. 50 per monh.87 percent had an income per month of greater then Rs.1000 and the rest (13 percent)fall in the income group of Rs.500-Rs.1000 per month. About 86 percent had more than 6 years in SHG activities. It is noticeable this block having rural background have resorted to opening shops or business as their occupation (53 percent of respondents) than agriculture which is only 21 percent. Again 27 percent respondents are engaged in private service also, shown in Table 1.


Socio economic Well-being

SHG has been mooted along the rural and semi-urban women to improve living condition. Not only economic upliftment took place with SHG members but also social upliftment is possible through SHGs. Members were of varied opinion regarding SHGs acting as a tool for social well being (M=4.75, SD=0.538).Specially members who were knew they responded that they still cannot realize it as an economic tool. However, most of the members agreed to it.SHG resolves conflict to a great extent (M=4.91, SD=0.287).Conflicts include those between SHGs members, between SHGs, SHGs and village leaders, and between SHGs and banks. Available leaders acceptable to both sides come and resolve conflict. Members agreed that no target can be achieved or project can be completed without collective approach (M=4.95,SD=0.219).Groups follow rules and regulations which make members disciplined in all respect (M=4.75,SD=0.171).Women respondent positively reacted towards engaging in the productive activities of SHGs utilizing their spare time(M=4.91,SD=0.351).Women managed SHG have shown remarkable growth during last decade in India .Members joined SHG with the sole aim of obtaining bank loan and taking up economic activities, the majority of the are now above poverty line (M=4.81,SD=0.442). Saving culture (M=4.94, SD=0.238) is developing. It is interesting to note that all members are able to save more after joining the group.


Education and Training

Education has an important place in the process empowerment of society as it is an important component of human capital. Most of the SHG members have secondary level of education. Education imparts knowledge which is a key to individual freedom and culture, social and economic development. Appropriate training (formal or informal) at each stage of SHGs growth is one of the essential inputs required. Members have positive thinking that training is necessary in developing themselves towards adoption of new techniques in SHGs (M=4.95, SD=0.219).The handicap of illiteracy would be hurdle for achieving many desired result. Education help in improving their professional skills and solving their day to day problems in the working and functioning of SHGs (M=4.96, SD=0.196).Members have realized that education would lead to entrepreneurial ventures to manage rural industries (M=4.94, SD=0.238).They agreed that SHGs build confidence and competenc3e through a series of training modules (M=4.9, SD=0.301).


Marketing and Entrepreneurship Qualities

Entrepreneurship brings economic independence and improves social status. Intensive training facilities is essential to build good entrepreneurs (M=4.75, SD=0.592).Group members use collective wisdom and peer pressure to ensure entrepreneurship development (M=4.93, SD=0.256).Products are designed in such a way that they have demand in the local market to take up business activity. The local markets are controlled by the middlemen who generally control the market price. Members are not able to generate profit. They have agreed that better knowledge of marketing is necessary so that they can directly sell their products in the market and generate livelihood security (M=4.82, SD=0.435). Competition exist when more products are available in the market hence product preparation through SHG promotes healthy competition among groups (M=4.65, SD=0.273). Risk taking is an essential characteristics for good entrepreneurs. Few  respondents were not in favor of risk taking as they thought they would not recover loan if project become unsuccessful in due course of time (M=4.92,SD=0.273).



Table: 2 Distribution of Attitude of SHG Members: Maynaguri Block, Jalpaiguri, West Bengal.

Statements Rated



1.       Socio-Economic Wellbeing



·        SHG works as a powerful tool for socio-economic empowerment of the poor in rural areas



·        SHG helps to resolve the conflicts among the members



·        SHG is an approach for collective efforts



·        Group rules and regulations are based on democratic principle



·        Female members can better utilize their spare time in productive activities through groups



·        SHG formation can be a way to eradicate the poverty and unemployment



·        SHG improves the saving behavior of the members



2.       Education and Training



·        Training helps in developing positive attitude for new techniques



·        Education plays pivotal role in changing behavior



·        Educated persons are more likely to be good entrepreneurs



·        Training is essential to improve the competence understanding and professional behavior



3.       Marketing and entrepreneurship qualities



·        Good entrepreneurs are developed by training and experience



·        Group formation is the democratic approach for entrepreneurships development



·        Market demand is very important factor to take up any business activity



·        Knowledge of marketing is prerequisite to gain maximum benefit



·        Product preparation through self help groups promotes the healthy competition among groups



·        Risk taking is the important characteristics of a successful entrepreneur



4.       Technology adoption



·        Through group approach participatory research becomes easier.



·        Groups are emerging as a very reliable and efficient mode for transfer oftechnology



·        Mass media is helpful for quick dissemination and popularization of the Technologies.



·        Need assessment is essential for the planning of a programme



5.       Banking / Credit



·        SHG improves the coordination among members



·        Meeting of different groups contribute in exchange of their experiences



·        Frequent meeting may contribute in exchange of social norms and values among members



·        Banks are more eager to sanction loan to groups compared to individual



·        Financial assistance is essential to setup a new venture



Rating Scale: 1=Strongly Disagree; 2=Disagree; 3=Undecided; 4=Agree; 5= Strongly Agree




Table: 3


















Technology adoption

Participatory action research is most relevant with SHG. Individuals and collective involvement, conduct and utilization of research, involvement in action to improve group functioning are important in participatory action which has been understood by the members (M=4.96, SD=0.197).SGHs have evolved as a mode of technology transfer (M=4.91, SD=0.288).Mass Media, the fourth pillar of democracy plays a pivotal role in up keeping the socio political system of a country. Media is undoubtedly very fast, vast and powerful mode of communication. Mass media performs the role of a dynamic watchdog. Media touches the remotest village and unfolds the irony behind the scene. SHGs need special care from Mass Media for propagating the mission of the government and has successfully created awareness among rural people (M=4.63, SD=0.613).


Banking /Credit

Meetings are held twice in a month. Members at the cluster level organize meetings. Meetings are also held at the sanga and mahasanga level. The Nodal also meets the members at various meetings. Every month the DRDC, nodal and the members meet to analyses the performance of SHGs. Meetings are held to share experience, resolve conflict and generate ideas for the improvement of SHGs (M=4.85,SD=0.256).Among the formal institutions, next to government, banks play a major role as self-help promotion institutions in India. The SHG linkage program is located in this national policy and institutional context, where there is a vast network of primary lending institutions to deliver microfinance on one hand, and an apex level institution, namely NABARD, on the other. Banks provide financial assistance at regular intervals to groups rather than individuals. Groups earn sanction of loan from respective bank after they qualify through grading system. However, there were individuals who want to take up new ventures alone if loan is sanctioned from bank, which is presently not possible (M=4.88, SD=0.326).Members are eager to start new project if they get financial assistance. But many a times, the loan sanctioning procedure is late or grading system is tedious which hinders start up of new project (M=4.73,SD=0.583).



Most of the members are women having secondary level education. Women are increasingly being used as e tool for various developmental interventions. When women moves forward, the family moves, the village moves, and the nation moves. Survey results found that women who have become a member of SHG are now endowed with greater decision making power. Women empowerment should include both psychological and behavioral change. The study empirically supports that women have a positive attitude towards SHG participation. In fact SHG should be converted to Self help Study Groups that will give them not only enhanced income but also enhanced esteem and self confidence to do something meaningful to the society as e whole. Needless to mention the name of a District Resource Person Pramila Biswas who was just a primary passed worker in this Block completed Secondary education through Open University after joining SHG. She has extended her work in completing the project in Animal Husbandry, Pickle formation, Tea Plantation, Net making and beautification course successfully. She is a popular SHG worker of West Bengal.  The study reveals that SHG represents an opportunity for social action. The feeling of homogeneity is good.SHG have upgraded people from poverty level. Group participation has a positive impact on income, assets, occupation, savings, and access to loans, bank connectivity, knowledge, self worthiness and decision making level of the participants. Ninety percent of them make savings regularly. Increase in income is spent on better nutrition of children and on the healthcare of the family. Study reveals that the members agreed that training should be improved. Many workers don’t have much knowledge about market. In this respect guidance is necessary from DRDC. Meetings are held regularly but attendance is poor. Record keeping at the group level should be made a strong aspect of SHG functioning. Every member should be accountable towards the authority. Loans which were disbursed only to groups have seen 95 percent repayment. Women, who basically caters round SHG holds the success of the performance of SHG as value of self honour to a great extent. It is to be noted that all respondents are optimistic and have a better inspiration towards future.



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Received on 24.05.2013

Modified on 05.07.2013

Accepted on 20.07.2013

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Research J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 4(4): October-December,  2013, 455-459