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One of the things that make blogs particularly interesting are series. The “series” series recommends series at related blogs. This time, I introduce the “State of the Sectorseries on the blog of the enigmatic Indian rural finance practitioner Ramesh S. Arunachalam.

Okay, it took me quite some time to appreciate this blog.

First there was the turn-off boring title “Microfinance in India”. And the strange header “Candid Unheard Voice of Indian Microfinance” – think disgruntled ex-microfinance industry dissident, ranting away in Internet obscurity. Also, the site looks like it was designed in the mid-90’s, even though blogs didn’t exist then.

For this reason, the props Ramesh S Arunachalam deserves for having won me over are even bigger. He did so with his high-quality, insightful blogging about – well – microfinance in India. The transnational field of microfinance mostly generates a dull, glossy, PR-esque discourse. Ramesh is one of the bloggers who have proven their mettle not only by being incisive and dealing with messy issues, but also truly familiar with the situation on the ground.

What got me hooked was Ramesh’s exhaustive coverage (an incredible 44 posts since October) of the Andhra crisis, by now a somewhat all-Indian microfinance crisis. The development of the crisis, its causes and consequences, could be followed in a nutshell via Ramesh’s series of posts on the “State of the Sector“, in which he takes a sweeping view of the MFI sector and its environment.

Ramesh publishes with incredible regularity and energy. Each post appears immaculately researched; often he draws on extensive personal experience. In an in Internet full of babbling voices on microfinance – funders, promoters, academics, advertisers … but rarely real practitioners, and of course never clients – Ramesh’s contributions strike me as some of the most insightful analyses of what’s really going on in Indian microfinance.

His most recent original contribution has been to expose the role of unofficial microfinance intermediaries – “ring leaders” or “agents” who create ghost loans and excessive debt at the expense of naive MFI employees and borrowers.

Strangely enough, it is pretty hard to find information on this prolific blogger. He has authored book chapters on microfinance and gender; was recently named a “top pick of the microfinance blogosphere”; and is found throughout the web as a lively commentator. And yet, apart from “rural finance practitioner” with “over two decades of experience”, the all-seeing Google turns up little info on this enigma. His personal website is undergoing maintenance.

So, without knowing much about the subject of my praise, I must highly recommend listening to this “Candid Unheard Voice of Microfinance” … If, last but not least, just for the delightful way most posts end, no matter how serious the subject, with a cheerful message like

“Have a great day!”


Every day I keep adding open tabs to my browser with interesting articles on issues related to governance across borders, hoping to find the time to blog about them; only rarely, I actually manage to do so. This is why I am starting the new year with a new series called “Tagged Tabs”. To remove at least some of the open tabs in my browser I will (un)regularly present a list of commented links to interesting articles elsewhere.


Last year we celebrated the first birthday of this blog by sharing some statistics provided by our open source blogging software WordPress in form of the all-too popular end-of-the-year-listings – a tradition, which we continue after our second year of blogging:

Top 5 blog posts 2010 (in terms of visitors):

  1. Transnational Studies and Governance # 3: Studies on ‘global’ markets in history
  2. Fair Value Accounting in Retreat?*
  3. Regulating Over the Counter Derivatives: Is Global Agreement Possible?
  4. Extending Private Copying Levies: Approaching a Cultural Flat-rate?
  5. Eastern Frontiers: The Good, the Bad and the Church

* also #3 in the Top 5 of 2009

Top 5 search terms guiding visitors to our blog in 2010:

  1. Transnational governance (#3 in 2009)
  2. post-socialism
  3. Kindle controversy (#1 in 2009)
  4. Milford Bateman microfinance
  5. fair value accounting (#2 in 2009)

Top 5 tags attached to blog posts in 2010:

  1. Microfinance / Microcredit (12 out of 22 in 2010)
  2. Creative Commons (6/15)
  3. Development (5/12)
  4. Piracy (4/6)
    Financial Crisis (4/9)
    Transnational governance (4/10)
    / Copyright Regime (4/14)

Top 5 series in 2010:

  1. Andrah Pradesh Microfinance Crisis (8 out of 8 posts in 2010)
  2. The Bateman Controversy (4/4)
  3. The Series Series (3/4)
  4. Bordercrossing Books (2/2)
    Wise Cartoons

While in total we published 53 posts in 2010 – down 11 compared to 64 posts in 2009 – we have received a total of 113 comments, doubling our comment-per-article ratio from 1 to 2. We again met our self-imposed goal of publishing on average at least one post per week – it was, however, closer this year. Our New Year’s resolution for 2011: beat the 2009 level of posts but keep the comment-per-article ratio at 2.

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
January 2011

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