With the stated view to promote enterprise among rural women, the budgetary allocation for the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM)- Ajeevika, meant to organise rural women into self-help groups (SHG) and extend financial support for their livelihoods, has been increased by almost 60 per cent.
In terms of budgetary provisions for the various schemes of the Ministry of Rural Development, the most notable boost has been to NRLM that impacts 52 lakh women SHGs — from Rs 5,750 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 9,024 crore in 2019-20.
Starting her segment on women with “naari tu narayani”, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman went on to quote Swami Vivekananda on how “there is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved”.
She added, “In India’s growth story, particularly in the rural economy, the role of women is a very sweet story. This government wishes to encourage and facilitate this role of women.”
Announcing that the women SHGs interest subvention programme would be extended to all districts of the country, Sitharaman also said that every woman SHG member who has a Jan Dhan bank account will be allowed an overdraft of Rs 5,000 and that one woman in every SHG will be eligible for a loan up to 1 lakh under the MUDRA Scheme.
“Many of the small enterprises of women SHGs are good enough to go to scale but they need credit support. Presently in 250 backward districts, women SHGs are eligible for interest subvention to avail the credit up to Rs 3 lakh at 7 per cent per annum. This would now be made applicable for all women SHGs in the country. Also, considering the Rs 1 lakh loan to one woman in each of the 52 lakh SHGs, it amounts to Rs 52,000 crore of lending,” said an official from the Ministry of Rural Development.
Explained: Unpacking the Budget
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s “The soul of India lives in its villages” and with a reference to his 150th birth anniversary this year, Sitharaman spoke of the Union government’s thrust on “gaon, garib aur kisan”.
However, other than NRLM, there is no visible increase in budget allocation to any of the major rural schemes. For the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), which had a budget estimate (BE) of Rs 55,000 crore last year, the BE for 2019-20 is Rs 60,000 crore, Rs 1,000 crore less than the revised budget for 2018-19. “Since MGNREGA is a demand-based scheme, we will ask for more money if required later,” said an official.
Stating that a total of 1.54 crore homes have been completed in the last five years in rural India under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G), Sitharaman said, “With the use of technology, the DBT platform and technology inputs, average number of days for completion of houses has reduced from 314 days in 2015-16 to 114 days in 2017-18.”
She added that to achieve the goal of “Housing for All” by 2022, 1.95 crore houses are proposed to be built in the second phase of PMAY-G over the next two years along with amenities such as toilets, electricity and LPG connections. The budgetary outlay for PMAY-G has dipped from Rs 21,000 crore last year to 19,000 crore in 2019-20. Officials said a substantial amount of money for the scheme would be raised through extra budgetary resources by leveraging loans from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.