With a population of less than 5,000, Pandia is a small village in the coastal district of Ganjam in Odisha. Like most villages, chit funds are aplenty here, mostly run with political backing, as bank branches are 7-8 km away. It’s not like stories of these funds folding up overnight and vanishing with villagers’ hard-earned money has not reached Rameshsundar Sahu. But the sweetmaker, belonging to the gudia caste, still invests Rs.200 out of his daily income of Rs.500 into one. Sahu is not alone. Chit funds are the only source of finance for villagers looking to save up for big investments like marriage or building a house in this unbanked tier-6 village.
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