[SEMINAR PARIS] – “Network, Employment, Debt, Mobilities and Skills in India” – Isabelle Guérin, Christophe Jalil Nordman – June 10 / 9:30am – 12:30pm

Isabelle Guérin and Christophe Jalil Nordman will present their survey “Network, Employment, Debt, Mobilities and Skills in India” realized with Venkatasubramanian G and dealing with inequalities in India. The event will take place on June 10 (9:30am-12h30pm) at Campus Condorcet, Aubervilliers.

NEEMSIS Village restitution

Venkatasubramanian of the NEEMSIS team presenting social and demographic indicators to the village (Manamthavizhnthaputhur, Nov 2021; C.J. Nordman)

Now that our NEEMSIS 2 data collection is over, we have started a new phase of restitution. This phase involves going back to some of our surveyed villages to present to the community and get feedback on simple indicators on the surveyed population. This restitution is meant to help people in the surveyed villages understand our work and provide them with insights into the social and demographic changes that took place in their village over the last 10 years.

Our first 2021 restitution took place this week in Manamthavizhnthaputhur where we decided to present a series of slides in the main public place in the village (temple). Our presence was welcomed by a crowd of around a 100 people who came to listen to our team explaining why this village had been chosen and how it had evolved since we first came here in 2010, as well as the more recent impact of covid and the lockdowns.

Woman speaking on her experience with NREGA (Manamthavizhnthaputhur, Nov 2021; C.J. Nordman)

This sparked many discussions that are interesting to our research. Both men and women of different ages took turn to discuss our findings and shared their opinions. The dynamics offered by this bigger crowd provided a new kind of insight from those offered during household and individual interviews.

To cite a few, there were debates about what a “good” or a “bad” loan is, about the benefits and drawback of recent government schemes, as well as the reasons as to why some farmers now focus more on sustenance crops rather than commercial crops.

We are eager to continue these discussions and we will keep on presenting similar information in different surveyed villages in the area.

President of the village speaking at the NEEMSIS restitution (Manamthavizhnthaputhur, Nov 2021; G. Bizel)

How Indian Financial Infrastructure Failed during the Pandemic

Women queuing in front of a bank branch to collect their NRGA work cash payment from their bank account (I. Guérin, August 2021).

In November 2019, the ODRIIS Observatory in collaboration with Royal Holloway, University of London and various partners in India and Cambodia, started the research project Depleted by Debt? Focusing on a gendered lens on climate resilience, credit and nutrition in translocal Cambodia and South-India. Based on in-depth interviews with 60 male and female villagers in three Tamil villages, IFP researchers documented the consequences of the pandemic and the lockdown on local livelihoods and how financial infrastructures have strengthened or weakened them. The first results have just been published and highlight the failure of financial infrastructures to deliver on their promises. On the side of digital payments, which are supposed to facilitate the delivery of cash transfers, improve transparency and thus promote citizenship, the field evidence shows that digital finance is facing many dysfunctions and is missing its target. As for self-help credit groups, which are supposed to help the poor, through women, to cope better with the uncertainties of everyday life, field evidence shows that it is unfortunately the richest (and the upper castes) who benefit. The pandemic and the lockdown reveal the burden of chronic debt, both by the private providers that have flourished over the past decade in the countryside and by informal debts, including ceremonial debts between peers. In times of crisis, rather than a tool of resilience, credit – and its other side, debt – turns out to be primarily a tool of dispossession.

— Isabelle Guérin


Guérin, I., Guermond, V., Joseph, N., Natarajan, N., & Venkatasubramanian, G. (2021). ‘COVID-19 and the Unequalizing Infrastructures of Financial Inclusion in Tamil Nadu’, Development and Change. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12674
Guérin, I., Joseph, N., & Venkatasubramanian, G. (2021). ‘How Indian Financial Infrastructure Failed during the Pandemic’. The Wire.


Screenshot from The COVINDIA Project documentary

The ODRIIS Team set up a research-action project to analyse direct socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The project COVINDIA (Appuyer, comprendre et valoriser les pratiques de solidarités villageoises en Inde du Sud), was selected by a flash call on the pandemic by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) among 92 projects in 44 countries, the only one selected for India. It has three main objectives:

  • to relieve vulnerable households living in the NEEMSIS villages of Cuddalore and Villupuram districts by providing emergency food distribution with the help of SHGs;
  • to conduct qualitative fieldwork to reflect on the consequences of the COVID-19;
  • to produce a film documentary on the living conditions of rural population in Tamil Nadu during the pandemic.

A short and preliminary version of the documentary is now visible here:

The COVINDIA Project: Unmask the Collective Action

This first documentary has been largely publicized by the IRD as part of projects lead by women to face the COVID-19 consequences over the world (newsletter IRD ; Canal-U TV ; Le Mag’ IRD).

This short documentary is part of a broader project of long documentary to observe the itinerary of labour migrants before, during and after the Indian lockdown, thereby accounting for living conditions in rural areas of Tamil Nadu


Ce carnet a pour but de communiquer auprès d’un public de chercheurs et d’autres personnes intéressées sur les activité du nouvellement créé ‘Observatoire des Dynamiques Rurales et des Inégalités en Inde du Sud’.

L’observatoire est ancré au sein du programme de recherche ‘Household vulnerabilities, labour and socioeconomic dynamics’ du Département des sciences sociales de l’Institut Français de Pondichéry, qui se subdivise en deux sous-axes :
(i) “Travail, finances et dynamiques sociales”, coordonné par Isabelle Guérin depuis 2003, qui se concentre sur les pratiques financières et la servitude pour dettes en Inde du Sud ;
(ii) “LAbour, sKills, Social networks and Mobilities in India (LAKSMI)”, coordonné par Christophe Jalil Nordman depuis 2016, qui analyse les liens entre travail, compétences, dynamiques sociales et migratoires et formation de réseaux sociaux en Inde.
Associé à ces deux programmes, l’Observatoire pluridisciplinaire des dynamiques rurales et des inégalités en Inde du Sud analyse comment les changements structurels de l’Inde contemporaine remodèlent l’organisation du travail, les hiérarchies sociales et les moyens de subsistance des ménages.

Sur ce blog Hypotheses, nous publierons donc des articles de recherche, des posts de blog concernant notre actualité ainsi que les bases de données que nous créons à partir d’enquêtes réalisées en Inde du Sud.

Observatory of Rural Dynamics and Inequalities in South-India

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search