#3 | Gauri: Rural Women — Part 1

D91 Labs
D91 Labs
Published in
10 min readMar 4, 2020


By Soumya Mukund, Arpit Paurush and Dharmesh Ba

Short Story:

Gauri is a 42-year-old woman born and brought up in a small village near Tumkur district in Karnataka. She stays in her own house in a village with her husband and daughter. Her son has migrated to Bangalore city for his job. She has been working in an Anganwadi as an Aasha worker for almost 25 years. She also runs a business of stitching and tailoring in the side.

The primary source of income is her salary of Rs. 8,000 (111.9$) from Anganwadi[1]. However, her son also deposits money in her account through Google Pay every month. The family spends every penny very judiciously so that they could manage the household expense and save some amount for an emergency.

Anganwadi: This comes under women and child well-fare department.
Anganwadi is a type of rural child care centre in India. This was started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services program to combat child hunger and malnutrition. It means "courtyard shelter" in Indian languages.It is mostly taken care by Asha workers.

Family and Education:

  • The poverty at home prevented Gauri to continue her studies beyond SSLC (12th grade). Later she applied for the “Anganwadi” project for which she had submitted the application and got selected.
  • Despite a lack of money at Gauri’s house, they have managed to send their kids to college with the hope that education would uplift their lives from poverty.
  • She believes education will help her children in making better life decisions as she had been cheated and deceived under various circumstances. She correlates her lack of education to being susceptible to frauds.
  • Her daughter is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering while her son had pursued a diploma and working in Bangalore at a gadget service station.
  • Currently, her husband is not working as he recently underwent an operation in Bangalore. His son had health Insurance for the family. His company has given the insurance for the family.
  • Gauri hands over her salary to her husband and he manages and pays the bills of the house.

Conversations from the transcript:

S: What is your name?
G: Gauri I work in an Anganwadi.

S: Whom does your family comprise off?
G: My Husband, my son and daughter.

S:What do your children do?
G: My Son has done a diploma and he is working in Bangalore, My daughter is in Fourth year of Electronic communication Engineering. My Husband stays at home.

S:What is the college fees?
G: It’s 80,000 per annum.

S:How would you manage to pay the college fees?
G: I would set aside 3/4th of my salary for education till it finished. We keep’s the money in the bank. Usually college requires to pay once for every semester but we took the permission from the HOD to pay the fee for 3–4 months, since it was difficult for us to pay the whole amount at once.

S: Why do you think education is important?
G: We cannot survive without education these days. It’s a known fact that without education you can easily be deceived.

S: Have you experienced any such incident?
D: Plenty of times, it is very difficult without an education. There is cheating everywhere. It is difficult to make a living.

Anganwadi stakeholder’s:

  • Anganwadi consists of helpers and workers. Helper's responsibility is to cook and serve food, clean the Anganwadi premises, take care of children’s cleanliness and to bring small children from the village to Anganwadi.
  • Other are workers from gram panchayat & stree-shakti members, mothers, and Bala Kishore girls ( Teenage girls 11 -18 years) work in the organization.

Day in a life of her:

Conversations from the transcript:

S: What does your daily work routine involve?
G: We come at 9:30 am, we open the Anganwadi, the helpers will bring children to our Anganwadi by 9:30 to 10:00. As soon as the children arrive, we give them milk. Some days there will be moong dal sprouts and some days there will be black chickpeas sprouts, we will give them that. We give them lunch at 1 pm along with payasam made of broken wheat. We make the children do some activities. As soon as they arrive we will make them tell a prayer. After that we make them play indoor games, learning the alphabet, followed by outdoor games, we also make them dance.

Arranging seeds through alphabets, by the time it is 1 pm we give them lunch. We put the children to sleep by 1:30 pm. We will visit houses after that. By 3:30 pm we will make them play for half an hour, distribute groundnuts to the children and send them home by 4 pm. We visit houses of pregnant women who are facing problems or are unwell. We will have to send them to the health department, so we visit such households. If there are problems with drainages, notifying the health officials is all part of our job.

Income Streams:

  • The primary house source of income is from Anganwadi, which is Rs. 8,000. However, she has not received the payment from the last four months.
  • To increase the household income, she runs a side business of stitching from the last 8–10 years. However, she had stopped the business for some time because of her leg pain. Now she has started the business again and earns around Rs. 450–500 (6.30$) in a week. She operates the business whenever she gets free time.

Conversations from the transcript:

S:What is your name & What do you do?
G: Gowri. I work in Anganwadi.

S: Who all earn in your family?
G: My son is working in Bangalore at this company called Apple in a service station. He works at Goraguntepalya. He has been working for 3 years now. He stays there.
S: Does your son send money home?
G: He sends a little amount home. Bangalore life is difficult no matter how much a person earns.

S: How do you manage expenses?
G: Along with Anganwadi work, I also do some stitching and tailoring. I manage with this. Stitching clothes and doing my duty, we are not high-income folks. We are people who have to secretly save money from whatever income we have. Suppose we get 1 rupee, we spend half of it and save the other half, that is how we manage.


  • Her daughter’s education fees come to around Rs 80,000 (1,121.89 $) per annum, which forms a significant expense of the household. She keeps 3/4th of her salary aside for her education till it completes graduation.
  • On Gauri’s family request college management had given the liberty to pay the fee in every 4 months as it was hard for them to pay every semester (twice in a year).
  • Recently her daughter has written the final year engineering exam and now her mother feels much more relaxed than before.
  • The other non- negotiable expenses of the house are grocery, gas and service bills of phones, electricity, water and cable bill. She claims Grocery bill for the house is Rs. 1500 (21.03$) per month and for gas its Rs. 800 (11.21$) per two months.
  • Grocery shopping happens twice a month in a house because of the absence of a refrigerator in the house.
  • The electricity bill for the house is Rs. 150 (3.36$) per month while for Cable bill is Rs. 240 ( 3.36$) per month.
  • From the last 4 months, Gauri has not received her salary from the government. Her husband has borrowed the groceries from the shop on mutual trust. However, in such a situation, her family also borrows money from known people based on trust and they repay the money when they have.

Conversations from the transcript:

S: What are your monthly expenses?
D: Water bills comes in 3 to 6 months. I Handover my salary to the husband he manages the house hold expenses.

S: Can you give a rough estimate about the expenses?
D: The current bill comes around Rs. 150( (3.36$)
D: Cable bill is around Rs. 240.
D: Gas bill comes once in 2 months. It is around Rs.800.

S: How you have a education expense and who have paid the fee?
D: I have paid college fees until now, the college is almost over so I don’t have to pay anymore. The college fees would come around Rs. 80,000 for a year.

S: How would you manage to pay the college fees?
G: I would set aside 3/4th of my salary for education till it finished. We would keep the money in the bank.

S: How would you calculate the education expenses?
G: The college management would have put up the fees required for every semester. We were required to pay once for every semester. We got permission from the HOD to pay for 3–4 months since it was difficult for us to pay the whole amount at once. This way, we would pay 4 times a year.

S: What about grocery expenses in a month?
G: We do not grow any crop, we do not own a field. The majority of our expenses goes to groceries. It will come up to Rs. 1,500 in a month. We have to buy from Turuvekere, which is 7km from where we live. We go by bus. We buy grocery twice a month. Actually it depends on the money we have. If we have money we will pay by cash.

It has been 4 months since I received my salary, how will we pay by cash? We borrow money from people we know in these shops and then repay eventually. Since these are acquaintances, we borrow for 15–20 days based on trust.

S: Has your salary always been irregular?
G: No, it has happened like this only this time. Such things happen irrespective of how much we earn. We have to overcome it. If people we know lend us money, there is a mutual give and take.

S: Do they charge interest?
G: No. the shopkeepers give us money based on trust.

Bank account & cards :

  • Gauri family has five bank accounts. She holds two accounts one is a personal account while the other is a merchant account in which she gets her salary.
  • Gauri's husband has a Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan account in SBI. It's a 2.5-year-old account. They took the help of a friend to open an account.
  • Gauri withdraws the money by showing a passbook and taking a token from the counter.
  • Gauri and her husband don't have an atm card while her son and daughter have an atm card.
  • Gauri’s son has a salary account while her daughter has a saving account. They both operate the mobile application google pay for payments.
  • Her son transfers the money every month through google pay into her personal account, and she withdraws the money from the bank.
  • The usage of mobile banking is not common in the village, so her daughter is currently not operating the application. However, she operates the application in college.

Conversation from the transcript:

S: How many accounts do you have?
G: I have an account. My husband has a Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan account in SBI bank. I have a personal account in Karnataka Bank. Our salary goes into a merchant bank account.

S: Does your son and daughter have a bank account?
G: Yes my son has a salary account while my daughter has a saving account.

S: How do you withdraw money?
G: We do not have ATM cards. If we were earning in lakhs we can withdraw. I get paid Rs. 8,000 per month. What all can we possibly use it for. My son transfers a little money to my Karnataka Bank account, we will go and withdraw it.

S: Does your son and daughter have an atm cards?
G: Yes he lives in bangalore their atm cards are mandatory. My Daughter also have an atm card.

S: How does your son send money at home?
G: He transfer it through google pay.

S: Does your daughter also uses mobile banking?
G: I dont know much about mobile banking but she also uses google pay in college.

Bills and utilities :

  • Cash is the king of the village. Her husband pays the bills such as electricity and water bill through cash over the counters and for services like cable tv, a representative arrives at home to collect cash.

This interview is broken into two parts. The second part of the interview talks about Gauri's house bills & utilities, investments, loans, insurances, life goals, and ambition.

In meanwhile check our other series called ‘Decoding Bharat’, where we interview people from emerging economies in India.


Interviewed and transcribed by
Soumya Mukund

Edited and published for Medium by
Arpit Paurush & Dharmesh Ba

About the research:

This documentation is a result of the in-person interview along with the participants’ consent. The interviews might be conducted in their native languages and translated to English in the best possible way to reach a large audience.

Disclaimer: The names and organisations in this documentation are masked to honour the privacy of the participant.

About D91 labs:

This research was executed and documented by D91 labs. D91 labs is an open-source initiative by setu.co to help Bharat build great fintech products. We organise and publish user research, insights, and frameworks for fintech in India. Please follow us on medium for more exciting stories and insights on Bharat.

Psst! We are looking for collaborators and contributors to D91 labs. If you are interested, please drop your details here and we will reach out to you

Collaborate with D91 labs