Paper 12

No.2, Service Road
Domlur Layout
BANGALORE 560 071.
+91-80 5350982

May 1997


An account of an attempt made to use it in problem solving

Ravi Prakash R.
Training Officer
MYRADA Huthur Project

Chapati diagramming is a widely known technique and has been described in greater detail in the latter part of this paper.

This is a document of how the Chapathi Dia-gramming technique was adapted for problem solving in a Self Help Group.

Also included in this paper is a diagrammatic description of a Self Help Group (SHCMG). MYRADA has been instrumental in promoting the growth and development of over 3000 SHCMGs that include membership from more than 65,000 families on its project locations in Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh.

 In 1989, following the motivational efforts made by MYRADA, 18 women of B.G.Doddi village in Huthur Project area came together to form a Self Help Credit Management Group (SHCMG) which they named Bevinakalamma Group. SHCMGs are based on shared affinities, problems, concerns, and the trust and confidence that members have that they can work with one another. When affinities break down, a socially functional group becomes dysfunctional. MYRADA has learnt to accept the fact that relationships do break down at times. In the case of Bevinakalamma group, a lot of effort was made to keep them together but despite these efforts, in 1991, 15 members broke away and decided to form a separate group called the Lokeshwari Mahila Mandali. (The 3 that were left joined with 12 newly motivated women of the same village to form Mahalakshmi Mahila Mandali, in 1994.)

Lokeshwari Mahila Mandali started off with good motivation. Over a period of 5 years they built up a pattern of savings, loans and recoveries. In 1994 – 1995, they underwent the full package of training for SHCMGs. This consisted of approximately  12 topics to do with confidence building, group management, fund management and related issues. After this, MYRADA gradually decreased interacting with the group on a regular basis, allowing the members to manage their own affairs. This is normal practice in MYRADA and there are many groups that are functioning well on their own after MYRADA has worked with them for a few years.

In late 1996 – early 1997, I started visiting the Lokeshwari group once in a while and found that their performance was not as good as it was earlier. Their rate of savings had gone down, they were not making enough effort to recover overdue loan instalments, and their participation in meetings was quite dull.Watching this, I felt that if they could collectively see and analyse their own performance as individual members of a group with a common purpose, it would help them to function with a greater sense of responsibility.

A good membership institution typically places three responsibilities on its members:

All members have to participate in

· Building the capital of the institution.
· The business of the institution.
· The management of the institution.

After some thinking, I chose a modified version of the Chapati Diagram technique to get the members of the Lokeshwari group to critically examine their own performance with regard to each of the above three responsibilities.

Fifteen circles of equal size were cut from a large sheet of thick paper. Each card had a different member’s name written on it, so that every member was included. These cards were then randomly distributed to the 15 members, ensuring that no one got her own name card; each member had somebody else’s name card. Lokeshwari group was represented by a larger circle with the group name on it.

Then each member was asked to think about the person whose name card she held and place it in relation to the Lokeshwari group card. The further away from the Lokeshwari group card, the lesser the member’s involvement in the group and in the discharge of her responsibilities (and vice versa).

Members’ involvement in building up the capital of Lokeshwari Group : The chief activity here is to make regular savings and gradually increase the amount saved so that the group’s common fund is built up out of which loans can be advanced to members. It also includes raising other types of financial contributions to augment the Common Fund. To what extent were the individual members of the Lokeshwari group committed to this responsibility?

The pattern that emerged was as follows:

Members’ involvement in the business of Lokeshwari Group: The chief activities here are to utilize the Common Fund of the group to take loans for needbased purposes, make regular repayments of principle and interest and take up other programmes that can promote the well-being of the members and the community. To what extent was each member committed to discharging these responsibilities? Once again, the cards were laid out, and the pattern that emerged was as follows:

Members’ involvement in the management of Lokeshwari Group: This largely involves decision-making related to the administration of the group and sharing responsibility to implement the decisions taken. Some examples are – how much to save, whom to give loans to, how much and on what terms, collecting penalties from members violating group decisions, signing cheques, going to the bank to make deposits and withdrawals, ensuring that the group accounts, Minutes, and other documents are well-maintained and so on. To what extent were the members of the Lokeshwari group committed to participating in these matters? For the third time the cards were laid out and the pattern that emerged was as follows:

After this, we had detailed discussions on why the cards were placed as they were. In this paper I am not going into the details of all the issues that emerged in these discussions and the plans that were made to sort the various problems out. I will limit myself to the process of the exercise only. Analysis : I found that the exercise was easily understood by the members.

However, all members showed a lot of hesitation to place the name cards. They did not want to compromise on their analysis of participation levels by placing the cards too close, but at the same time they were uncomfortable in placing it too far, possibly because it could affect their relationships with one another.

Later, it occurred to me that the cards could have been placed face down, so that there would be some anonymity about who had placed it. After all the cards were in place, they could be turned up and discussed.

The members were quite clear about how they interpreted ‘participation’ and ‘responsibility-taking’ in SHCMGs.

There were a lot of heated arguments at each stage of the exercise. One member (V.Gowramma) was hurt enough to walk out saying that there was no point in remaining in the group if the other members thought she was not fulfilling her obligations; she was later pacified and came back. However, despite all the arguments, there was an overall consensus that the patterns that emerged were quite representative of the actual situation in Lokeshwari group.

The performance of members, particularly those placed consistently far away (eg. Gowramma, Prema, Venkatamma), were discussed in detail. There were some genuine problems like (a) non-availability of regular employment, affecting regularity of savings, (b) no independent source of income and complete financial dependence on other family members (eg. V.Gowramma, Venkatamma). The group discussed that such members could be motivated to take loans for income-generating programmes.


In the three months after this exercise was conducted, 12 members increased the regularity and amount of their savings. 3 members continue to be irregular (Mahadevamma, Rathnamma and Prema) and they are being motivated by the others to improve.

All the overdue loan instalments have been recovered, and there is an outstanding loan amount of only Rs.1,000/- as on April 30, 1997. The group took a decision not to issue any fresh loans until all the overdues were settled. The group has also decided that the recovered amount will be used to give agricultural loans in the forthcoming planting season.

Financial position of the group as on 30-04-1997 :

Membership Fees  : 110.00
Savings : 20,594.00
Fines : 129.50
Donations : 680.65
Bank Interest : 967.00
Other Income : 3,392.00

Number of loans advanced to members : 103
Total amount advanced as loans to members : 40,365.00
Principle recovered : 39,365.00
Interest recovered on loans advanced to members : 5,876.25

The process of the entire exercise could be summarised as follows:

Chapathi (Venn) Diagramming

Purpose : To learn the importance attached by people to the various persons and institutions they come in contact with.

To know people’s perceptions of the nature of relationships between people and institutions.

Note : This exercise helps to know the relevance of existing institutions, to identify possible conflict situations before undertaking any intervention, to enhance the understanding of the roles and functions of various persons and institutions, and tostrengthen linkages if necessary. This exercise yields perceptual information which has to be carefully verified. It throws up many leads for asking the question “Why are things what they are?”

This exercise yields perceptual information which has to be carefully verified. It throws up many leads for asking the question “Why are things what they are?”

Preparation required :

Team composition (if the exercise is being undertaken by a team)
Clarity on the reason for doing the exercise and the issues being
Division of responsibilities among team members (interviewing,
recording, observing, etc.)
Preliminary visit to the village to ascertain time of convenience to the
people and also to identify key people to interact with.
Chapati-shaped paper cutouts or other symbols that can be used to
represent the persons/institutions.

Process in Selection of a convenient place (at times this exercise requires some privacy)  
the field

Appropriate selection of informants (those who are interacting with, or expected to interact with the persons/institutions listed down).
Explaining the purpose and process of the exercise, and putting
people at ease. Drawing up a list of persons/institutions in consultation with the people.
Asking people to represent each person/institution on a chapathi cutout. The more important the person/institution, the larger the size of the chapathi cutout.
Asking people to place the chapathi cutouts in relation to their village
: the stronger the links between the people and the persons/institutions represented on the cutouts, the closer they are placed to the village, and vice versa.
Probing and analysing the nature of relationships based on the patterns that emerge; finding out the reasons why they are so.

Holding up the final output and discussing it again to see if any
changes are required.

Note : Do men and women interact with the same sets of persons/institutions? Do they share the same sets of perceptions? If the exercise were to be repeated with another group of respondents in the same area, would the outputs be similar? Other such variations must also be explored.