Amarjeet Sinha, DK Singh, NN Sinha
The opportunities for skilling and diversification of livelihoods that were provided on scale through Skills programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development (DDUGKY, RSETIs) as also Community Training Institutions, KVKs, etc., directly under DAYNRLM, was the fifth factor that brought about transformation of lives and livelihoods on an unprecedented scale through this Mission. Both farm and non-farm livelihoods are encouraged to enable a more diverse livelihood framework.
Sixthly, credit linkage for these women SHGs was given a priority and a series of confidence-building measures undertaken to give banks the comfort that these women will not only borrow but also return on time.
The setting up of Community Based Recovery Mechanism (CBRM), positioning Community Resource Persons (CRPs) called Bank Sakhis to act as a bridge between community and the bank and Bank Mitras from women SHGs as Banking Correspondents’ agents helped in generating confidence for the DAYNRLM system. The orientation and exposure visits of Bank Managers to areas with higher bank linkages and efforts at financial literacy, and skills also helped. After settling debt and meeting consumption spending, many SHG women now borrow for economic activity, education and health needs.
SVEP facilitates higher order economic activity
The Start Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) in 180 plus selected Intensive DAY NRLM Blocks with higher order lending to families of SHG, including youth and men, has also facilitated higher order economic activity. The unique cadre of Community Resource Persons for Enterprise, developed by the EDI Ahmedabad and the Kudumbsree, Kerala, along with support for market intelligence and feasibility study of enterprises, ensures a very high success rate in the over one lakh such SVEP cases already financed.
Seventhly, the pro-poor public welfare programmes for improving ease-of-living of poor households required active involvement of women SHGs and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). This improved the asset base of many women SHGs on account of support for rural housing, toilets, gas connection, electricity connection, bank account, health insurance, accident & life insurance etc. The DAY-NRLM women played a very important role in building a movement for better public services at the local level. This was seen most remarkably during the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan in 65,000 villages to guarantee seven very basic services for the deprived.
Interventions in farm, non-farm livelihoods
Eighthly, the efforts at promoting innovative interventions in farm and non-farm livelihoods broke new ground in leveraging social capital of SHGs for sustained economic activity. The setting up of 10,471 Custom Hiring Centres and 760 rural transport managed by SHGs is an indication of the diversity of livelihood development and opportunities. Many groups make money through organic manure, managing restaurants, better market for products through Saras Melas and e-marketing opportunities, etc.
Credit Growth Profile – Gains in Poorer States
The poor women have come out of extreme chronic poverty and are now poised for higher order credit support to improve the thrust for enterprise and sustainable economic activity. Nano enterprises of SHG women have to be formalised to develop them into micro & small enterprises with proper value chain development and leveraging markets for them. Holistic credit guarantee systems for even higher level of credit where social capital exists is required to translate the potential of social capital into sustained rates of higher economic activity.
Credit for those who have come out of poverty to move faster and further up the well-being ladder is the biggest challenge of development today. It holds the key to a more shared and inclusive growth with less inequality. DAY-NRLM and its women have the social capital and the ability to make transformational changes in lives and livelihoods. Social capital is not only good social justice; it is also the best foundation for a shared sustained economic progress.
(To be continued…) (Amarjeet Sinha is former Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, DK Singh is Secretary General of the NHRC and NN Sinha is Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development)