Paper 1

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


MYRADA TALAVADI PROJECT : 8thto 12th January 1990
FACULTY : Dr.Robert Chambers, IDS
Mr.Sam Joseph, Action Aid
Mr.Blaize Humbert Droz, SDC
Mr.James Mascarenhas, MYRADA

Monday, 8th January 1990:

Dr.Chambers started the session by posing two questions that were taken up for discussion in small groups:


What are your expectations from this programme? i.e. What do you hope to get out of it?


Are there any topics that you are particularly interested in and would like to investigate into?

The responses that came are as summarised in the box below:

First Group

Q.1. Expectations

Understand the concept of PRA.

Learn methods of appraisal, skills and tools.

Learn of its applications as well as limitations.

How to build a team to do PRA resulting in greater efficiency and accuracy and reduced biases.

Q.2. Areas of interest

Agriculture: traditional vs. modern practices.

Understanding village dynamics.

How natural groups emerge in villages in response to specific situations and needs.

Survey of physically handicapped people and present coping patterns. 

Survey of present and potential village resources both natural and human.

Second Group
Expectations and areas of interest combined 

Learning how to use the PRA approach to obtain accurate and reliable information.

Using PRA to understand community values, customs, and traditional practices (e.g. in the area of health).

Reconciling ‘our’ ideas with ‘their’ wisdom.
Making an analysis of economic activities.
Making an analysis of local resources.

Third Group

Q.1. Expectations

Learn about a new subject.

Enhance skills in understanding and coping with day-to-day changes in rural communities.

Learn more about the methods and practice the same for survey/planning and implementation.

Q.2. Areas of interest

Identifying the basic needs of people and understanding problems as well as possible solutions as the people see them.

Fourth Group

Learn of a method that can give reliable information on all aspects of village life.

A simple method to analyse poverty.

Understanding village dynamics. 

A method to bridge the gap of understanding and then developing the people.

Analyse village homogeneities and heterogeneities to set goals.




Youth and children

Village lifestyles

Fifth Group

To understand the methods.

To get an understanding of the village in all its dimensions.

A day in the life of a rural woman.

Identifying income generation opportunities.

Understand why people’s response to Adult Education efforts is lacking in enthusiasm

To find out whether and to what extent people are free from the clutches of moneylenders after becoming sangha members.

Important discussion points

Are people the focus of study, or are the people the informants, or is it both?

Whose knowledge?

– is one question

Whose analysis?

– is another, more crucial question.


And whose creativity?

The session that followed was a brief theoretical exposition to the Participatory Rural Appraisal approach.



Participatory Rural Appraisal refers to a systematic, semi-structured approach and method of assessing and understanding particular or all village situations with the participation of the people and through the eyes of the people.

Need for PRA (1)  :

It is a quick and enjoyable way of learning about village situations; especially so because rural areas are changing faster than we think and traditional survey results are outdated even before the data can be processed.

It can help to an extent to overcome anti-poverty biases and prevent rural development tourism (2)  .

Long and time-consuming surveys can be avoided in many cases where they are unnecessary in the first place. This does not mean that PRA can replace all other methods of information gathering in all cases; it only means that depending on the kind of work we are doing and the nature of information we are seeking, PRA can be a method that we choose after satisfying ourselves of its appropriateness and advantages.

PRA is a cost-effective method where money, time, materials and manpower are concerned.

Core Principles & Practices:

Please see base paper to which reference has been made above.

Among other things, PRA asks two questions: (a) Can we try to see things the way other people see them? and (b) Can we recognise that other people may be seeing things differently from us, and accept that this does not make them wrong?

Another principle of PRA is the principle of Triangulation:
that is asking for and verifying information in more than one way.

Normally, decisions regarding survey methods are taken on the basis of three main factors:

PRA permits one to wander around between the three parameters before choosing to focus in greater detail on any particular area.

Starting from this point, Dr.Chambers showed a number of slides intermittently, to illustrate the PRA methods of interviewing people and visiting village sites, and contrasting them with rural development tourism.

Precisely because PRA methods can be different, attractive, enjoyable and creative, we have to be on our guard that they are not reduced to gimmicks but are a means to an end.

The next session included a couple of exercises to help participants discriminate between ‘FACT’, ‘HEARSAY’, and ‘OPINION’. To learn to be discerning is especially important in the PRA context because the data that is generated is ‘live’ rather than ‘cold’ and it is often easy to get carried away by the eloquence of a respondent or the attractiveness of a method without checking whether the information being obtained is ‘correct’ or not.

As managers and decision-makers, how do we interpret information?


How aware are we of the nature of our informants so that this factor is also taken into consideration in interpreting information?

We have to be aware that :

  • All of us can make the mistake of treating opinins as facts.

  • All of us do, on occasion, let our biases influence the way we process information, etc. 

  • Therefore, all of us have to remember to make the effort to verify information through triangulation.

A further point to bear in mind is to do with the process of eliciting information itself. Without really being aware of it we often find ourselves asking ‘leading’ questions simply because it is easier to do so. Responses to such questions can become rather limited; they may not provoke the farmer to think and respond expansively. For example: “Isn’t your yield higher this year than last year?” is a leading question. A better way of asking could be, “What are your yields like this year when compared to last year?”

Check If

In the interpretation of information you are making the mistake of accepting an isolated event to be a common happening.

Check If

In the presentation of your information you are not being carried away by the artistry of your work at the expense of content.

The next session went into the four major PRA segments, each of which makes use of a combination of methods and techniques to yield information of a certain kind.

1. TIME LINE: refers to a calendar of historical events from as far back as one can remember, upto the present, in the life of a person, community, village, area, or institution, depending on what we wish to construct. Such a calendar of historical events can form the basis of helping us trace trends through history and study the nature of change. Examples of events could be “the year when we had to leave the village for three months because of an outbreak of plague”, “The time when Soliga Soora was the only brave man who went out and killed the tiger that was attacking our cattle”, “The year when our road was built and a bus started coming”, and so on. Since these events are reconstructed from the memories of the people, the best informants are the really old people of the village. Giving dates to events may have to be done by asking questions such as, ‘How old do you think you were when this happened?’, or ‘Do you remember if the District Collector was British or Indian at that time?’.

Every time an old person dies, a wealth of information is lost.

2. SEASONAL CALENDAR or SEASONALITY DIAGRAMMING: refers to the calendar of the people; it helps us to understand time as the local people understand it. Drawing up such a calendar helps in locating annual occurrences and events, linking up such events to their seasonality, planning programmes on the basis of patterns that emerge and relating to people by means of a jargon that they find easier to understand. Examples of patterns could be: their calendar of agricultural operations, busiest and slackest months in the year, periods of maximum stress, price fluctuations, seasonality of disease outbreaks, periods of maximum and minimum fuel availability, patterns of migration, and numerous other such things. If a match is being attempted between the village calendar (which may be based on seasons, rains, or festivals) and ours (i.e. Jan. – Dec.) it is best that we use an 18-month period of our calendar over which the village calendar can be transposed.

3. PARTICIPATORY MAPPING AND MODELLING: This is actually a technique that serves two purposes –

a) It helps us to develop a sense of observation that is more keen and more accurate. Eg. in one of the villages (Kistagiri) visited by Dr.Chambers the feeling was that nobody was interested in keeping kitchen gardens. Mapping of a ‘desolate’ kitchen garden proved, however, that there were plenty of things growing.

b) It helps us in understanding how people and resources are organised. Eg. Social Mapping of a village provides a picture of the way houses, water taps, etc., are organised and can help us see class and caste patterns. Similarly, Natural Resource Mapping can give us details of land, water, trees, and other such resources, their locations in relation to the village, and from there on to an indication of how and by whom they are used.

4. TRANSECTS ANALYSIS: takes us for a walk through the countryside usually from a high point to a low point but it does not always have to be so – it can also be a cross country walk – to give us an idea of the changing zones within the countryside, and the nature, causes, and directions of such changes. It gives us an idea of what the land is presently supporting, and what it has the potential to support if some interventions are made.

With the above exposition, classroom sessions for the day concluded. Participants divided into 8 groups and spent the rest of the evening in Chikkahalli where 4 groups sat with farmers to do a Time Line exercise, and the other 4 groups the Seasonal Calendar exercise. In the late evening, each group made a presentation in the village itself with the informants also attending and participating. The details of group presentations have not been incorporated into this report.

Tuesday, 9th January 1990

In the forenoon, the participants once again divided into 8 groups and went into Chikkahalli. 4 groups had the task of making a social map of Chikkahalli, and the other 4 groups a resource map. Once again, on completion of the exercise the presentations were held in the village so that farmers could also join in. Each presentation was in two parts: the maps themselves, and the processes that went into the production of the maps. In 4 out of the 8 groups, the map-explanation part was handled by the farmers themselves.

In the discussions that followed, the following points were made:

If people have to participate in the exercise, they have to first understand what it is all about. It takes a long time to get started but once they understand it, the map emerges rather quickly.

  • In order to understand the mapping it appears that people first need to locate themselves in relation to the map (i.e. get oriented in the physical sense). For eg. in this case, once they located the village in relation to the main road and placed the first couple of buildings, the rest was quite easy.

  • It is important to find a suitable location for the exercise. The location must facilitate both participation and expression. For e.g., in once case, trying to work indoors kept many people out. Working outdoors and using a patch of land on which to scratch out the map with the help of a stick permitted many to both guide the ‘artist’ and take turns with the stick.

  • Available materials can be used creatively to represent objects and make the exercise more visible. E.g. the use of ash or rangoli (colour) powder to draw the map, the use of ragi straw to depict roads, and so on.

  • One can experiment with methods until the right note is struck. E.g. one group walked on the map itself to help people decide whether certain buildings came on the right side of the road or the left side.

  • Working with groups of farmers rather than an individual helps to correct information on an ongoing basis.

  • In timing the exercise, we have to consider the convenience of the people. Eg., if we want women to participate, then the morning is obviously not the right time.

  • Having produced a map, it is necessary to subject it to some verification. In this case, one of the groups picked out people at random and asked them if they could find their house on the map. At the end of the exercise a groups of farmers was also asked to look at the map and see if anything had been left out. (In one of the social maps it turned out that a whole group of Harijans who had moved into a new set of houses constructed by the Government had been left out.)

The above points emerged out of the discussion on the subject of participatory mapping in general, though the lessons were drawn out of the experience of the morning. However, to also record a few criticisms regarding the functioning of some of the groups:

– Only one group made a serious attempt to involve women in the mapping process. In this group the map was finally completely the handiwork of a woman. While all groups faced the handicap of going into the village at a time when women are not free, this group persisted in overcoming (successfully) the handicap.

– One group produced a map that was rather attractive; so much so that when a farmer pointed out that a particular street had been left out, the response was “We will report about that street in our presentation but let’s not tamper with the map now!”

– One group placed some emphasis on working with a literate farmer so as to complete the work more quickly. Was this a bias that surfaced? or was it a strategic decision? Because the same group, when working on timelines and seasonal calendars had not sought a literate person out. But the point to be made all the same is that it is not only a literate person who can assist in making a good map.

The session concluded with two observations: (i) the technique of participatory mapping can generate a tremendous amount of information and provide many insights into the lifestyles of rural people. (ii) in doing such exercises it is very important and very useful to be self-critical and questioning.

One important aspect not considered up to now:

-> While PRA helps us see patterns in ‘static’ entities/realities, we have not yet looked at either relationships or systems of management. Can PRA methods help in this kind of understanding also?


In the afternoon, some groups departed on a Transects exercise as outlined on Page 8, while others looked at the subjects of women’s time use, and home gardens. The presentations that followed were not made in the village but back at the Training Centre.

Some points that emerged were:

  • In most cases the exercise was represented in the form of area maps rather than transect diagrams.

  • Groups that did not have an experienced leader felt very much handicapped and unclear about the whole exercise. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why area maps were produced rather than transect diagrams.

  • With the women’s time use exercise there was the issue of how women tell time. In the absence of clocks, what reference points do they make use of to tell time? This issue was not addressed.

At the end of the day there was a brief reflection on the usefulness of the methods learnt. PRA helps us go beyond data collection and into processes. It is a methodology for learning rather than information gathering. Perhaps it should be named something else? Mr.Fernandez suggested that we could rename it.


Participatory Learning Methods

Wednesday, 10th January 1990

A short time in the morning was spent in discussing the Do’s and Don’ts of interviewing. A long list developed, the central theme of which was that the relationship between the Interviewer and Interviewee is absolutely crucial to the outcome of the interview and care should go into seeing that a positive relationship is established. One other point was that in the case of using PRA methods where so much flexibility and room for improvisation is present, one decision that the interviewer may want to take beforehand is whether the interview has to be with an individual or a group.

The nature of groups was also very briefly touched upon, and distinctions were made between Casual, Specialist, Structured and Community groups.

Crucial questions in working with groups:
* Who is not present here who should have been present?
* Why not?

The next session went into an explanation of the method of WEALTH RANKING and LIVELIHOOD ANALYSIS. While doing a livelihood analysis would give us insights into the way people manage their lives, wealth ranking was a good way of finding out how people from the village itself would rank their population as rich, middle and poor, and what criteria they would use to make the distinctions.

Wealth Ranking : The Procedure

  • Decide upon the community that you want to do the ranking for (A size of 50-100 families would be ideal; otherwise the village may have to be covered part by part).

  • Make a list of all the households in the village by name.

  • Find a key informant who is familiar with all the households in the village. (Data can be corrected, but a knowledgeable person is important).

  • Choose a place that is quiet and undisturbed to work in.

  • Spend a little time building up a relationship with the informant.

  • Explain the exercise to him/her without creating any anxiety, and making sure that the exercise is properly understood.

  • Have ready with you slips of paper on which the names of the households have been written. Each household must be written on a separate slip of paper so that there are as many slips as families in the village.

  • Read each name aloud, hand over the slip to the informant, and ask him/her to put it into one of the economic categories where he/she thinks the family will fit. (If the informant wishes to make more than three categories, that is fine, but ask why.)

  • Do not push for results or subject the informant to any kind of embarrassment.

  • Note down all final responses as well as the informant’s reasons for making them.

  • For the purposes of checking out, repeat the exercise with another informant in the same way.

Following the briefing, 8 groups once again left for 2 villages, Marur and Mudianur, to do the wealth ranking and livelihood analysis exercises.

Presentation of findings was done in the late evening. Some examples of findings are as follows:

– In one group, the villagers’ own criteria for making the distinction between rich, in-between, and poor were:

Better Off:

Large land holdings
Own house, fairly large and strongly built (pucca).
Large number of livestock.
They employ labour
They have no need to borrow money.
They are in a position to lend money to others.


Own land, but not very large holdings.
Own house.
Own some livestock.
They have the confidence and capacity to borrow and repay money.
They employ labour, but to a smaller extent.


Either landless or own marginal holdings.
Take up sharecropping.
Find it difficult to repay loans.
Few or no livestock.
Find it difficult to create assets.
Forced to sell assets under crisis.
Forced to mortgage labour.

– In more than one group, after the families were divided into 3 categories the informants felt compelled to further sub-divide them into a total of 6 categories starting from wealthiest to poorest.

– In one group, for reasons that are not clear, the informant, after himself establishing the criteria for classification, placed 6 people under ‘rich’ and one person under ‘doubtful’ at first count; at second count the numbers were changed to 3 under ‘rich’ and 14 under ‘doubtful’. This made the group question the validity of findings obtained in this way.

Comments on the day’s work:

  • All groups showed good teamwork. But perhaps more than 4 members in a team would have been too much. Between 4 members tasks and responsibilities were evenly shared so that some were interviewing, others documenting, and yet others taking note of the process.

  • Only one group had done the wealth ranking using the ‘traditional’ method of talking to one informant only in private. Another group manoeuvred to interview an individual in seclusion, but later repeated the exercise with a large group of 26 people. All other groups did the exercise in public with much discussion among the villagers. Dr.Chambers explained that this was the first time in his experience that the exercise had been done with a group.

  • One of the groups did the exercise with a group of women only, which was also the first time that such a thing had been attempted.

  • It was observed that working with individuals was much quicker than working with groups. Could it also be considered to yield more accurate results? Doing it in a group could mean that social relationships would have a good chance of influencing outcomes.

  • The value of drawing up the list of names in the village versus going into the village with a list drawn up previously by someone not familiar with all families was an issue that had to be examined. In this case, the lists had already been drawn up and farmers faced the problem of identifying several names either because they were known as something else in the village or because we were pronouncing the names wrongly, or because there were several people with the same names who could only be identified by naming their fathers/husbands also and this detail had been left out.

  • The livelihood analysis demonstrated amazing coping mechanisms among the poor.

  • It was observed that wealth-ranking could very well be used as a springboard for other discussions such as finding out the characteristics of poverty according to rural people, tracing development trends, etc.

  • In the livelihood analysis as well as wealth ranking, health issues seemed to have been left out from all mention whereas in fact they have been demonstrated to have an important effect on the lives of the poor. It would perhaps be worth probing into this area.

  • The use of diagrams both in eliciting information from the people and making the presentations was appreciated.

Thursday, 11th January 1990

This day was allocated for participants to choose any topic of their choice and make an investigation into it using PRA methods. However, before leaving for the field, each group also had to write up the processes they had observed and experienced while doing the wealth ranking and livelihood analysis. (These write-ups have not been attached to this report)

For the field exercise, topics that were chosen were:

1) Livestock feeding: resources and management practices.
2) Migration.
3) Trees.
4) Assessment of changes in well bring among people.
5) Non-farm activities.
6) Literacy.

Presentations were scheduled for the following day.

Friday, 12th January 1990

Morning until teatime was spent in making presentations of the previous day’s work.

Comments on the work turned out:

· The topical PRAs had succeeded in generating plenty of good leads for further investigation. For e.g. the Literacy group had elicited the information that in 3 out of 7 families IRDP loans had resulted in one child being taken out of school in order to look after the animals purchased. Was this a fact in all cases? Was IRDP being merely stated as an excuse?

· Another piece of information was that by giving youngsters an education the families were actually losers because they either left the village, or did not contribute any money to the family, or felt ashamed of the traditional occupations practiced in their families. How widespread would this be?

· The groups had been very creative in using methods of eliciting information. To go back to the literacy group again, their method of selecting families to be interviewed had been to make a participatory social map of the locality, ask the villagers to name the families that had the characteristics that they wanted to investigate into, (e.g. a family with one child going to school and another not; a family with educated female children, and so on) and mark their houses on the map.

· Doing a time line with a family to study changes in well-being had yielded a very powerful case study which was not only of academic interest but also made an impact on the team doing the interviewing and renewed their motivation to continue working in the field of development.

· On occasion it seemed a good strategy to work backwards from a concrete point in the present. For e.g. the trees group had started by asking the informant how many trees there were in his village at present, how many were there five years ago, and five years before that and so on.

· One group learnt that some interviews could be very painful and embarrassing both for the Interviewer and Interviewee. This was particularly so in the case of poor families who did not want to talk about their poverty. The group looking at changes in well being found one informant closing up when the questions got personal. It was best to terminate such interviews.

· The usefulness of Matrix Ranking (3)  to establish priorities was pointed out.

· Diagrammatic representation of materials was appreciated. However, there were occasional instances where the diagram chosen was not appropriate for the information to be presented. For e.g. the group dealing with migration used a single graph line to depict the pattern of migrating both across the last fifty years and over the months of any single year.

The results are as follows:

The discussion suggested that care should be taken to see that diagrams are not likely to cause confusion, to mislead, or be misinterpreted.

  • Dr.Chambers cautioned that triangulation is very important for PRA and so we had to be aware that the present exercise was purely exploratory – it could not be used as a basis for planning; it could only be used as a basis for further investigation into any of the number of leads that had been thrown up.

From Dr.Chambers: A few additional points before closing:

  • Many PRA methods have not yet been covered in this workshop. E.g. The value of doing something yourself – like ploughing a field or sitting at a potter’s wheel – in order to find out more about it, or doing chains of interviews, or using local people to do their own research and then reporting back.

  • The method of contrast comparisons was briefly explained, where one group analyses the behaviour of another group that is different to them. E.g. a group of farmers not using improved ragi seeds may be asked why they think another group of farmers is using them.

  • A slide was used to point out how aerial photographs could be an extremely useful basis for discussions. A top-view could show patterns and impacts in a way that interviews would not be able to demonstrate. However, aerial photographs as a means of information gathering was not yet in popular use in India, though it was beginning to be used extensively in several other developing countries.

  • There are many more diagrams whose uses this workshop had not been able to demonstrate. E.g. pie charts, Venn diagrams, etc.

  • While it was true to say that several other methods had not been demonstrated, it was also true that new methods were being ‘invented’ every day by practitioners. It had to become our responsibility to write up our experiences so that learnings could be shared with all who were interested.

  • Practitioners of PRA could also think in terms of developing techniques to close groups (i.e. to keep people out when their presence was unnecessary or distracting). Many times, interviews required an individual or a small group, but there would be a crowd both looking on and interrupting.

  • Finally, a list of sources of PRA literature was circulated to all participants. Much of it was available free of cost. Participants were asked to both write and obtain the materials as well as to contribute articles to them for a wider reach.

Workshop Review:

1. All methods learnt in the workshop have enormous potential and value for use in the field.

2. PRA methods can be a useful way of orienting new staff to the field of rural development; it is also good for a quick orientation to staff who are handing over and taking over new positions and responsibilities.

3. The use of colour can transform communication into something more efficient than if colour is absent.

4. Where MYRADA Projects are working in close collaboration with the Government and can rope them in for some training (e.g. Dharmapuri) it is worth planning a PRA workshop for them.

5. We must think in terms of developing a PRA kit for the use of practitioners.

6. One useful contribution of the workshop has been to provide models for documentation of findings in easier, more attractive, and more understandable ways. The next time such a workshop is held, more time should be spent on the subject of documentation itself.

7. The next such workshop should also include a separate session on the use of diagrams and illustrate how different diagrams are suitable for representing different kinds of materials.

8. It is very important to inject professionalism into the practice of PRA methods; otherwise, it can easily be misused or become an end in itself rather than a means to an end.

9. If PRA assumes that all knowledge is available with the people themselves, where does it fit into the development philosophy? It was clarified that PRA is a method of participatory learning; it is not that all people know everything there is to know; it is a method from which we can find out what it is that the people know, what the people believe in, and the reasons why some things are what they are. It gives us a clue to the way people think, which is always a good basis for planning development programmes.

10. It was pointed out that though there had been a classroom session on learning to discriminate between fact, hearsay and opinion, field presentations had not been analysed to find out if the discrimination had, in fact, been used in sifting through information.

11. Developing case studies was seen as a very useful form of learning.

12. Time management had not been very good, possibly because the group size was so large and there were so many presentations scheduled for each day. Perhaps the ideal number for such a training programme in future should be 15 to 24.

Follow-up Plans:

a) To draw from among senior staff of MYRADA projects a few persons who can be sent for more PRA trainings when they are held elsewhere, and who can form a core team within MYRADA to be used where required.

b) To hold PRA training sessions within all projects and use PRA methods extensively (wherever appropriate) in our day-to-day work.

c) To organise a separate PRA training workshop exclusively for the staff of H.D.Kote, Madakasira and Dharmapuri Projects.

d) To organise PRA training programmes for Government staff wherever possible.

e) To write up PRA field experiences for circulation among a wider circle of development people.

f) To hold a review workshop for this same group of participants on 7th, 8th and 9th August 1990 to study the work put in by them in the interim period.

g) To establish inter-agency collaborations for sharing of development experiences.

(1) The base paper used for this discussion – RRA/PRA APPROACHES & METHODS contains more details and has been circulated to all participants. Additional copies available on request.

(2) For details see Dr.Robert Chambers’ book titled RURAL DEVELOPMENT – PUTTING THE LAST FIRST. Copies are available with all MYRADA Projects. Extra copies (cyclostyled) of relevant chapters available on request.

(3)Matrix Ranking was not detailed at this workshop.

PRA – PALM Series 1

No.2, Service Road
Domlur Layout



A Workshop On




Conducted By

: Dr.Robert Chambers


: 8th to 12th January 1990



: Rural Training Centre

MYRADA Talavadi Project

Case Study referred to on Page 16:


Family Profile:

Laurence (her son)
Laurence’s wife
Laurence’s children

Age 55 – Illiterate
Age 28 – 2nd Std.
Age 24 – 4th Std.
Age 8 (F) – 3r d std.
Age 6 (M)
Age 3 (M)


Pucca –Tiled

3 rooms and kitchen




1 goat


Agriculture labour, silk worm rearing Son runs bicycle shop, daughter-in-law works as an Ayah.


From bicycle shop
From Sericulture
From Ayah work

Rs. 950.00



Loan taken


Repaid loan


Muddamma’s Life Story:

1935 : Born in a poor family – Mudiyannur.
Childhood: Living on alms and casual work.
1950 : Married to an equally poor person in Gundalpet.
1951 : First son born.
1954 : Loses her husband. Back to Mudiyannur with her son.
For livelihood – casual work and Missionaries help.
1956 : Migrated to Bangalore – working with nuns.
1960 : Comes back to the missionaries in Panakahally.
1961 : Finds her new marriage partner – Bhagyarathnam.
1962 : Bhagyarathnam ex-communicated & returns to Mudiyannur. The first son is placed in bondage. Second son born.
1964 : Life’s struggle worsens – drought.
1965 : Has a third son – unable to feed children, sickness in the family – forced to seek alms. Has another son and daughter in succession.
1970 : Second and third son placed in bondage in order to release the eldest and get him married.
1972 : Worst drought – no drinking water – walks 5 kms. to Doddapuram for water.
1980 : Eldest son releases one of his brother’s and gets him married.
1982 : Loses her husband.
1985 : MYRADA’s intervention in second son’s development (Laurence) – Sericulture; crossbred calf.
1986 : Second son releases both brothers and gets the elder married.
1987 : Moves to Government allotted house with Laurence’s family – gets her daughter married.
1988 : Participants in the development attempt of Laurence – IRDP loan – bicycle shop.
1990 : Narrates her life struggle – 2 meals a day. Freedom from struggle.

Looking forward. . . . .



As we entered the village, we saw the people waiting for us due to previous ground work done by our extension staff. They took us to the community centre, where we found that they had already arranged for us to meet with a group of Harijan farmers only. We wanted to sit with one person and do the wealth ranking. But all the members wanted to sit with us to have a discussion as usually happens in their sangha meetings. Then we had to use a technique – we were four. We divided into two groups; two each. Two members took one member into a room and started interviewing. The other two started the group interview. This gave us the opportunity to have two interviews i.e. –

1> Individual interview – on wealth ranking.
2> Individual interview – in the group consisting of 26 members – on livelihoodanalysis.

We used stories, examples and some incidents from the nearby villages and sanghas to convey our purpose of meeting them. Through this they understood that they were the resource persons for us during the meeting. During the time of interview one used to record each group. After completing our interview with the group; the other group interviewing the person had joined us. The wealth ranking exercise was repeated once again in the group and the person who was individually interviewed earlier was asked to keep quiet and he did.

Reported by Mr.B.R.Bhat

Village : Marur
Interviews done by : Vidya, Anil Nayak, B.R.Bhat, Shivarudrappa
Story Used : Selling of an old deceased donkey.
Example : Invention of “Kapila” (lift irrigation).



Group Members: Mr.K.V.Rao, Mr.Blaise, Mr.Holajjer, Mr.Radhakrishnan, Mr.A.K.Shivaraja.



Our group was formed by the organisers of the RRA and were asked to go to the above village.


Mr.Blaise joined our group at Marur.


While going to the interview spot the group members discussed and assigned the responsibilities as under:

Introduction & Interviewing : Mr.A.K.Shivaraja
Recording : Mr.Radhakrishnan and Mr.K.V.Rao
Observers : Mr.Holajjer & Mr.Blaize
Mr.Holajjer also translated for Mr.Blaize.


Met three initial informants at the entrance of the village. These informants were selected by the Talavadi staff.


Selected a site for interview which happened to be the shade of a pongamia tree, 200 yards from the village.


All sat in a circle.


 Individual introductions was done by all.


The purpose of the visit was explained by Mr.Shivaraja and Mr.Rao.


The number of informants increased as a few more joined the group in the middle.


The interviewer asked the informants whether they knew all the families in the village and their status.


Explained to the informants about what they had to do and requested them to do the wealth ranking of the families of their village.


The informants developed criteria for classifying the families as rich, middle and poor.


Used three different size stones for easy identification of categories.


The family name slips were given one by one to one informant after reading the names out loud.


The informants started classifying as per the consensus of the group.


One informant from the Harijan colony joined us as per our request to clarify some doubtful families.


Random checks on some families to confirm with the criteria.


The classified figure ideas as below:
Rich : 0
Middle : 4
Poor : 49
Total : 53

For further understanding we requested the informants to further classify the poor lot as poor and poorest.

Again the informant group developed their own criteria for the poorest class and started classifying.

We felt it necessary to further classify the families.

At the end of the second time classification the family members were as follows:

a> Rich : Nil At the re-assessment two
b> Middle class : Nil families were brought from
c> Moderately : 2 middle class to moderately
d> Poor : 15 poor and two families were
e> Very Poor : 36 shifted to the poor class.

Once again the informants were asked to further classify the very poor and poorest among the very poor.

The informant group developed criteria for poorest group and proceeded the classification work.
* The 3rd and final classification result is as below:

a. Rich


Two families were shifted from poor to the very poor and 7 families to the poorest among the very poor class.

b. Middle class


c. Moderately poor


d. Poor


e. Very Poor


f. Poorest among the very poor



Their criteria for judging the wealth was combined and assessed. The criteria for classification of families under different categories was arrived at by the informant after discussing amongst themselves which are as follows:


Rich : Landlord (big land – above 15 acres holding.

· Good house
· Animal wealth
· Surplus farm produce
· Surplus money and money lending
· Employs permanent labourers
· Some land with irrigation.

b. Middle class :

 Land holding – 5 to 10 acres

· Good house
· Own animals
· Enough produce for family use
· Employs labour
· Works only on his own farm.

c. Moderately poor :

 2 to 3½ acres of land holding

· Good or a poor house
· Enough produce for family use do not go out for labour work
· Owns animals
· Employs labourers when there is work and if
· No surplus money or produce.

d. Poor :

1 to 2 acres of land holding

· No irrigation facility
· Good house or a poor house
· Less animals
· Shortage of food grains
· Takes loans for consumption purposes
· Goes out for labour work besides own occupation.
· Land near forest.

e. Very Poor :

 Below 1 acre of land holding

· No animals
· Good house or a poor house
· More shortage of food grains
· Takes loan for consumption purposes both cash and kind.
· 50% of earnings from outside labour work.

f. Poorest among the poor

: Land holding less than 0.5 acres
· No animals
· Lives in huts or Government built good house, fully dependent on outside labour wages, firewood selling.
· Very often takes loan for consumption purpose.

List of informants :

Mr.Guruswamy         Mr.Veerathappa      Mr.Nagaiah     Mr.Basavashetty
Mr.Mahadevappa     Mr.Chennanjappa     Mr.Nagaraj     Mr.Basavanna

Conclusion :

The exercise of wealth ranking in Marur village of Talavadi Project was taken up as part of the RRA workshop held at Talamalai. The information presented and results obtained would not have been possible but for the active voluntary participation of the informants. The results clearly indicate the large of very poor families as compared to poor and the poorest of poor.

The team expressed its abundant thanks to the informants before their departure.


Participants: Mr.Herman, Mr.Manohar, Mr.Krishna Prasad and Ms.Lathamala

Informants: 14 women of the sangha.

After a preliminary discussion about the procedure, the team proceeded to Marur, where a group of Harijan women sangha members warmly welcomed us, especially Herman who conducts trainings for them. In the greetings and informal chat we explained the reasons for our visit, which was to learn the happenings in the village. They took us to house by the side of the road for a chat. We discussed about the village, houses, Sangha thrift and other sangha activities. The topic of agriculture and employment opportunities, brought up the idea that after the sangha started, many of the sangha members ‘Neravagithe’ which means they have economically and socially improved considerably.

This paved the way to the economic classification of people into three categories i.e. Anadi (very very poor), Anukoola ‘Neravagi’ (not that poor) and Saukar (rich). A literate woman was found among them to read out the names of the householders in the village, then on a chart on the floor, 3 circles were drawn; one was small, another slightly larger, and the third still larger. The chit was presented to the literate woman, who read out the names and the group after interacting placed the chit on the relevant category.

Some of the names raised problems. They were not able to place them in any of the three marked categories. So they suggested another category between Anadi and Neravagi, which was styled as Sumar which meant poor people. The literate woman read out the names and the group discussed as to which category they belonged and then placed the chit on the appropriate symbol.

When the concerned family members list surfaced, she was asked to locate herself. After much hesitation, and reflection she found her slot. In four instances the chit placed was further discussed and then shifted to another slot on common consent. Mahadevappa who resides with his wife in another village, the group was not willing to accept him in any of the slots, as the participants did not know how much property the wife had. Since the group felt that he might return to the village, he was also categorised.

43 families were identified as ‘Sumar’ and 11 as ‘Neravagi’. No one was classified as ‘Anadi’ or ‘Saukar’.

Basis of Classification

1. ‘Anadi’ – very very poor : They have no land, no house, no brothers or sisters, no children and often starving.

2. ‘Sumar’ – poor : Little land about 1/2 acre, casual worker, irregular employment, one or two cattle, own house, more or less three meals per day.

3. ‘Neravagi’ – middle class : Educated, holding some sort of Government or private job, two or three acres of land, petty shops, 3 meals per day ensured, and a pretty good house.

4. ‘Saukar’ – rich : Employer, employs continual labour, coconut plantation, big house, scooter, storage of grains, lending money, excess food.

After this work was done, we had to go into livelihood analysis which had to be done privately with an individual family. So we schemed a strategy. We said we wanted to visit each household. Some people went back home quickly to show us some of the damaged portions of their house. We visited seven houses and in the process identified the poorest family with the help of a sangha member. We gave her the 43 chits identified as sumar, and asked her to point out the poorest among them. She spread them out one by one and picked out Rangaswamy’s family as the poorest.

Our extension worker, Susheela, was very helpful throughout the process. We started this meeting at 11.45 a.m and concluded by 1.10 p.m. After visiting the houses we started the livelihood analysis by 1.30 p.m. to end the whole process by 3.00 p.m.

Livelihood Analysis

The team was with Rangaswamy (32), his wife (28) and two daughters, Kalamani (7) and Sundari (5). They live in a hut, on a plot given to them by Rangaswamy’s wife’s father.

They live on daily labour and in the lean seasons, Rangaswamy collects firewood from the forest and works as helper in brick making.

The interview started in an informal way – the team shared duties: interviewer, recorder and observers. Employment opportunities got priority. Seasonal work break-up: February to March he works as helper to brick cutters. During the  agricultural season he gets work rather frequently as an agricultural labourer. During the lean season he goes into the forest to collect firewood.

The discussion then switched to food, availability, intake etc. During Ashada no money is available as no employment is possible and no one lends money as the people believe it is inauspicious to loan money during the particular period.

Credit – He used to satisfy his credit needs from the money lender. After the formation of the sangha his needs are usually met by the sangha. Necessity of loan arises during the lean season, festivity and purchase of clothes.

Crisis – Health hazards are the major crisis points of the family. Like when his child had throat infection and had to be hospitalised he was forced to borrow Rs.200/-. Similarly when his wife developed complications after a family planning operation she borrowed Rs.150/- for treatment. Similarly when he himself had chest and stomach problems they were forced to borrow money to meet treatment costs.

Expected Crisis – in the near future. Construction of house. As he is one of the few people who do not have their own home and his present shed could not withstand the rainy season he is bent on having a roof over his head before the rains start. As he is not able to mobilise funds from the Government, he is now trying to get it done through the Sangha.

Highlights – To ascertain the poorest person we planned to take the literate woman aside, but the rest of the women flocked together to that place and Mr.Krishna Prasad called them for a discussion about the village, they were forced to leave her alone to sort out the poorest.


Wealth Ranking at Marur

Village Entry : Informant Mr.Chikke Gowda and sangha members welcomed the team.

– Bhajan Mandir was selected.
– Self introduction with members.
– Had a discussion with them on the village infrastructure.
– In this process it was found that wages were very low – Rs.3/- for women and Rs.8/- for men.
– We clarified once again on wages and found that women were paid Rs.5/- and men between Rs.10/- to Rs.13/-.
– The group was homogenous (Lingayat Community). They expressed that they were very poor.
– They did not come out with clear clarifications of poverty.
– We asked them individually about earnings, where they said that they did not go for labour work but preferred to work on their own land.
– It shows that no one is going for labour work.
– Mr.Santhosam said, can we classify our staff who is poor?
– Suggested that we play a number game for change (ice breaker).
– After the game we selected a common place for discussions.
– We gave them the chits to give to one member to classify the rich and poor.
– They said it is not possible.
– Mr.Chikkegowda expressed, ‘ in our group if one member wants to take a loan, we see the purpose, need, and on that basis the loan is sanctioned.
– He said according to that he could classify the rich & the poor.
– As the group felt that a literate person should handle the chits, Mr.Kempaiah was selected.
– He made 3 classifications with the help of three different size stones – rich, middle class and poor, and decided to discuss with the group before placing the chits.

1st Ranking

Rich : 5                       Middle class : 10                         Poor : 29

Observation : A large number of chits were found in the poorest category. The group was asked to do a recheck.

Rich : 10                      Middle class : 21                         Poor : 18

Observation : Some of the poorest were put into middle class and a few were moved to the rich. The group was asked to do a 3rd ranking.

Rich : 8                       Middle class : 18                         Poor : 23

Some members of the group who were observing the first two rankings suggested that they were not satisfied with the ranking and changed the position of a couple of chits.

One observer asked why Mr.Mahadevappa was placed in the middle class. He should be placed in the poor class because his family was a large one. That after distribution of land in his family he would be in the poor class.

The group leader Mr.Lingappa in the earlier discussions had expressed he was poor, but the rest of the group had placed him in the rich category.

Mr.Chikkegowda who was placed in the middle class was moved to the poor class because the group felt his economic conditions were poor. Although he had land he had leased it out and was working as a labourer.

A fourth ranking was done taking care to involve all members.

Rich : 15                               Middle class : 14                       Poor : 20

Some comments from the group were –
– The mornings discussion was not very clear and authentic, as they did not know the reason for this exercise.
– The group expressed some kind of expectation towards programmes which were being drawn up and therefore they tried to give us wrong information.
– After the purpose of the exercise was made clear and all members included in the exercise, it lead to an open and free participation.


Content Wealth Ranking

I. Categorising Criteria

1> Wealthy (rich):

Wet land, enough cash

2> Middle class :

a> Below 10 acres of land

b> Enough to maintain his family

c> Peaceful life.

3> Poor :

a> Share grouping (landless)

b> Casual labour, goes out of village for work.

c> Takes credit.

II. Results :

1> What we were told here – 80 families

2> What we were given here – 137 slips.
3> What the informant said- 100 families.
4> What the informant did – 122 families

I Count

II Count

Category I 


Category I


Category II


Category II


Category III 


Category III


Doubtful IV


Doubtful IV