By Dr. Amrit Patel:
National Rural Livelihood Mission
Acknowledging the fact that out of the estimated 70 million rural BPL households as per 2010 projections, as many as 45 million households still need to be organized into SHGs and the existing SHGs need further strengthening and intensive financial support, the Government has approved the restructuring the SGSY as the National Rural Livelihoods Mission [NRLM] to be implemented in a mission mode across the country. It has already been launched in Rajasthan in June, 2011. The Government is planning to increase the number of members in women Self-Help-Groups [SHGs] to 70 million in next five years from the current 30 million, effectively bringing one member each from all the families of BPL into the fold of the NRLM. While NRLM is working with an objective to bring all the SHGs into the fold of federations and bank linkage, the Government is launching a scheme for them starting April where micro loans would be given at a concessional rate of 7% interest. Besides, the Government has identified 150 districts in the country based on various parameters where micro credit would be extended only at 4% interest to these women groups. The ultimate aim of the NRLM is to help 80% of the SHGs come out of the Government dependence in the next 10 years, meaning they will have to achieve self-sufficiency through various livelihood programs and other business models.
Need for Better Planning and Implementation
Past experiences of planning, implementation and monitoring of IRDP & SGSY suggest to initiate enabling measures to achieve expected results under NRLM viz.
• NRLM should initially be intensively pilot tested in each of three Blocks [high, moderate & low growth] in three districts [high, Moderate & low growth] in each State of the country to understand and develop modalities of planning, Implementation & monitoring before it is launched throughout the country
• Planning and implementation of NRLM should be integrated with ongoing programs of health, education, drinking water, sanitation, housing, fuel, transport and communication [instead NRLM being implemented in isolation] so as to create impact on the quality of life of rural households in terms of human development index
• Functions and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the planning and implementation of NRLM need to be well defined so as to ensure that BPL Swarozgaris manage their assets efficiently and earn sufficient to come out of poverty within three years
• Potential Linked Plan being formulated annually by NABARD for each district should serve as resource document for preparing village, Block and District level NRLM plans incorporating formation of SHGs, their needs for training, skill development and capacity building, utilization of funds to support infrastructure development, technology and market and make economic activities bankable
• The initiative of Rural Self-Employment Training Institutes should, among others, focus on capacity building and empowering SHGs to
1. involve members to identify income generating activities totally based on their occupational skills, local resources, markets and economic viability; obtain bank credit and Government subsidy on time and use them to generate expected level of income, repay credit on time and improve their standard of living
2. share among SHGs within a Block/District their experience of success and failures to continuously improve the project planning and implementation
3. take full advantage of new technology to improve quality of products, enhance business opportunities, and explore markets for their products
4. fully utilize the allocated and available funds for Revolving Fund Assistance, infrastructure development, marketing initiatives, training for skill development and forming SHGs Federations to create enabling environment and enhance credit absorption capacity that can impact on program outcomes
5. prepare quality bankable loan proposals in consultation with banks
• Banks having considerable experience in formulating, implementing and monitoring the Service Area Credit Plans since April 1989 should incorporate bankable economic activities covering more secondary and tertiary sectors rather than primary sector. Financial literacy and Credit counselling must be an integral part of NRLM to educate BPL Swarozgaris
• The NRLM should benefit from
a. District Rural Industries Projects successfully promoted by NABARD in 106 districts since 1993-94 that provide valuable insight in exploring and exploiting the unfathomable potential of rural industries
b. schemes of NABARD to promote and support rural non-farm sector including schemes for women
• Resourceful and experienced Institutions, such as District Industries Centres, Khadi & Village Industries, Boards of Handicrafts, Handlooms, Sericulture and Coir working since long should help Swarozgaris enhance product quality and link activities with marketing
• Performance of NRLM must be systematically and in detail monitored quarterly at Block, District and State level to improve quality of planning and implementation and achieve enshrined objectives. Performance at Block level should be monitored village-wise; at District level Block-wise and State level district-wise Academic institutions operating in a district/State must be involved to evaluate the impact of NRLM including repayment of bank credit on a yearly basis
• Progress including deficiencies in implementation along with recovery of credit as revealed in quarterly monitoring and yearly impact evaluation must be released in local print and electronic media quarterly to seek feedback and improve program quality. Website of Ministry of Rural Development should have comprehensive MIS including recovery of bank credit
• NRLM would need comprehensive half yearly monitoring-cum-concurrent evaluation in each district right from the beginning of the Twelfth Five Year Plan period. .