Beyond Money
Two issues that make Women Feel Empowered

Akshara helps with the two main ways that empower women


Fear and social restraints have held back women of all ages over the centuries. These restrict their education, choice of work, mobility, political participation and expression.


Without education and skills, they end up living life that is incomplete and dependent.


Akshara is a Mumbai-based, non-profit, women’s rights organisation and resource centre that works at empowering women to achieve their true potential. It was founded by

Dr Nandita Gandhi and Dr Nandita Shah who were active in the contemporary feminist movement in the 1980s. Akshara started in 1995 as a resource centre for collecting gender-based material and data for students and activists. It moved on to designing safety programmes for young women and men. One of its strategic goals is to work with young people.


Akshara thinks it is essential to understand the issues and views of this large segment of 430 million Indians in the age group of 15 to 34 years because the country is at the cusp of a social transformation. Akshara asked itself: Can we give a helping hand to young women and train men to be allies in the struggle for equality?


Since 2008, Akshara’s “Empowering Dreams Programme” uses a three-way strategy: to locate the most deserving poor girls in slums to give them financial assistance for completing their education; to introduce them to gender rights so that they can protect themselves from violence and, lastly, provide them with livelihood skills so they can be financially independent. One of the many successful graduates of the programme, Uma, said, “The most important thing I have learnt in the last two years is survival skills. I have learnt to stand up for myself and make my own decisions. I don’t need others to decide for me.” Every year, Akshara engages with about 150 underprivileged girls in two municipal wards around the Gender Resource Centre at Elphinston Road West (Mumbai).


Akshara’s “Youth for Change Programme” aims to engage young men as allies in supporting gender equality and for prevention of violence against women. It works with youth who have joined the social service units of their colleges and takes them on ‘safety walks’. This gives training by experience on safety related to sexual harassment. It takes up advocacy to prevent harassment in colleges and their neighbourhoods. After attending one of Akshara’s workshops, Sagar realised the need to help his mother with housework, something he had never done before. Another trainee said, “As men, it is our duty to prevent sexual harassment. How would I feel if my sister was harassed? I would not want someone else’s sister to suffer.The safety audits helped in making my college safe.”


Akshara believes that it is important to campaign not just at the individual level but also at the city level, to prevent violence against women. Akshara’s “Safe City Programme” works with the Police (with which it has assisted in setting up the 103 emergency helpline for women), and with BEST (by training conductors to prevent sexual harassment by commuters). In December 2013, the chief minister of Maharashtra acknowledged Akshara’s petition containing 30,000 signatures for a comprehensive action plan for Mumbai, saying: “A copy of the comprehensive action plan should be sent to the chief secretary and each department involved should revert on which of the recommendations they can initiate action on.”


Akshara’s future plans are for pursuing its vision of a free, equal and just society for men and women. Akshara has been raising its funds through individual donations, donor agencies and corporate houses and donations from readers are welcome.


Akshara Centre

Neelambari, 5th Floor, Road No. 86, Opp Portuguese Church, Gokhale Road,

Dadar (West), Mumbai - 400028, INDIA. Tel: (022) 24316082.

Email: [email protected]



RBI issues final guidelines for small and payments banks

The new small and payments banks will have the responsibility to extend credit to small borrower who is dependent on money lenders and private financers


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday released its final guidelines for small and payments bank in the country. The intent behind such banks is to include the excluded sections of the society in formal banking channels.


RBI said, these payments banks will further spread financial inclusion by providing small savings accounts and payments and remittance services to migrant labour workforce, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users.


Small finance banks, on the other hand will provide savings vehicles, and supply of credit to small business units; small and marginal farmers; micro and small industries; and other unorganised sector entities, through high technology-low cost operations, the central bank said.


The new banks, when set-up, will have the responsibility to extend credit to the small borrower who is dependent on the money lenders and other such entities for loan purposes.


Mobile service providers, existing non-banking finance companies and local area banks are seen as potential entities setting up such banks.


Presenting his Budget in July, finance minister Arun Jaitley had mentioned the government allowing the setting up of small and payment banks. He had said, "After making suitable changes to current framework, a structure will be put in place for continuous authorization of universal banks in the private sector in the current financial year. RBI will create a framework for licensing small banks and other differentiated banks. Differentiated banks serving niche interests, local area banks, payment banks are contemplated to meet credit and remittance needs of small businesses, unorganized sector, low income households, farmers and migrant work force”.


Nifty, Sensex to rally? – Thursday closing report

A strong move above 8,510 will ensure a fresh upmove


The Indian stock market witnessed a volatile session on Thursday with the benchmark indices moving erratically. Today, NSE recorded a volume of 98.49 crore shares with the expiry of November futures and options segment. In Wednesday’s closing report, we had mentioned that CNX Nifty seems to be trapped in the 8,430-8,530 zone. Today, the benchmark moved in this range only.

S&P BSE Sensex opened at 28,398 and moved in the range of 28,308 and 28,498 and closed at 28,439 (up 53 points or 0.19%). Nifty opened at 8,478 and moved between 8,456 and 8,507 and closed at 8,494 (up 18 points or 0.22%). India VIX fell 2.25% to close at 12.6925.

The Indian government will announce data on gross domestic product (GDP) for the quarter ending September 2014 on Friday. Ratings agency Moody's expects the country's GDP to grow at 5.3% in the July-September quarter of the current fiscal, better than 4.8% clocked in the year-ago period.

Indian and Chinese companies have inked agreements envisaging an investment of $2.5 billion during the visit of a Chinese delegation to the country.

On the political side, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced that it will start fresh talks with Shiv Sena on the issue of the latter's joining the four-week-old government in Maharashtra.

Coming back to domestic stock markets, Strides Arcolab (6.99%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. Medicines for Malaria Venture has signed collaboration agreements with two Indian pharmaceutical companies, Cipla and Strides Arcolab for the development of rectal artesunate for pre-referral treatment of children with severe malaria. The companies will each develop a product building on the clinical studies led by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases led by the World Health Organization (WHO). The goal is to achieve WHO-prequalification of a rectal artesunate product by 2016. Cipla rose 1.27% to close at Rs636.30 on the BSE.

Crompton Greaves (6.11%) was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The stock was in the news as Avantha Holdings, part of the promoter group, has decided to sell 4.2 crore shares in Crompton Greaves via a block deal at Rs198-204 per share. Avantha Holdings stated, "This is a one-time transaction by the holding company to reduce debt."

BHEL (4.35%) was the top gainer in Sensex 30 pack. Citigroup upgraded the stock to "buy" from "sell".

Bharti Airtel (1.91%) was the top loser in Sensex 30 stock. It has launched its 4G service in Seychelles, which is the operator's first commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Africa.

On Wednesday, US indices closed in the green. Durable goods orders, a measure of business spending plans, fell for a second straight month, consumer spending rose less than market expectations and new home sales also unexpectedly fell in October. A separate report from the Labour Department showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose above the 300,000 threshold last week for the first time since early September.

The US stock market is closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day holiday. The market will reopen on Friday for a shortened session ending at 1 p.m.

Asian indices showed mixed performance. Shanghai Composite (1.00%) was the top gainer while Nikkei 225 (0.78%) was the top loser.     

Total profits of China's industrial enterprises fell 2.1% from a year earlier in October, the National Bureau of Statistics said today, 27 November 2014, in Beijing. That compares with September's 0.4% increase and is the biggest drop since August 2012, based on previously reported data. European indices were showing mixed trading, while the US futures were trading flat.  


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