New Delhi: A decade-old scheme to organize the rural poor into self-help groups and impart training to them has brought hundreds of thousands above the poverty line, says the rural development ministry, which executes the programme.
Some 4.5 million people living below the poverty line have been trained under the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana, or SGSY, while 3.5 million self-help groups (SHGs) have been created since its launch in 1999.
An evaluation of SGSY found that 37% of individual self-employment trainees and 15% members of SHGs crossed the poverty line at (the) national level, minister of state for rural development Pradeep Jain Aditya said in response to a parliamentary question this week.
Under the scheme, the government organizes the rural poor into SHGs and takes care of their training for a variety of vocations. Those who want to turn entrepreneurs are also provided income-generating assets. The Union government bears three quarters of the expenditure, while state governments shell out the rest.
Success of the self-employment scheme is measured in terms of how many trainees move above the poverty line with a sustained level of income over a period of time.
Half the benefits of the programme are reserved for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, 15% for minorities and 3% for the differently abled.
Graphic: Yogesh Kumar / Mint
The Union Budget for 2010-11 has allocated Rs2,984 crore for the scheme.
“Several people trained under it are now being employed even by private firms, paying good salaries... Some have started their own work, given the training and financial assistance,” a senior ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
“We need to encourage more public-private partnership in this sphere so that more private companies, etc., can take part in this process,” the official said.
But the scheme suffers from gross regional discrepancies. Bihar, Orissa and Punjab have performed the best, with nearly 55% of individuals trained under the programme benefiting from it.
Jharkhand, Kerala, Goa have also done well, with more than 48% of the total beneficiaries now earning an income. But in Uttar Pradesh, just 4% trained individuals have reported to be earning so far.
In Punjab, at least 65% SHG members have crossed the poverty line, followed by Andhra Pradesh, where 43% have made the cut.
Launched during the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance regime, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government is considering linking SGSY with its own flagship rural job guarantee programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, as reported by Mint on 15 April.