New Delhi: The Congress-led United progressive Alliance (UPA) government has approved the establishment of an independent society for “transforming livelihoods and lives of rural households, with an emphasis on women” in tribal areas.
On Tuesday, the cabinet approved a proposal to set up the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) with a corpus of Rs 500 crore in partnership between the government and private sector philanthropic organizations, besides private and public sector undertakings, under their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
This is aimed at ensuring the “smooth flow and utilization of government funds to rural communities and poor households under the centrally-sponsored schemes for promoting livelihoods of the poor”, the government said.
Once it becomes operational, the BRLF would have reached 1 million poor families.
The UPA won back-to-back general elections in 2004 and 2009 by promising to ensure that rural areas and the poor receive their fare share of the dividend from India’s rapid economic growth.
It has put in place an entitlement-based regime, including the recently passed food security law that will provide subsidized foodgrain to 67% of Indians and a programme promising 100 days of manual labour to at least one member of every rural household.
The next general election is due to take place by May 2014.
The BRLF proposal was passed by the cabinet committee on economic affairs along with two other programmes to boost employability and increase availability of low-cost homes for the urban poor.
According to a recent cabinet note prepared by the rural development ministry that was reviewed by Mint, tribal communities in Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan have not received their share of the dividend from India’s economic growth and “perform poorly on every indicator of well-being, whether it be economic well-being, health or education”.
The 12th five-year plan ( 2012-17) emphasizes faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth and the government is investing large amount of resources in these areas, the note says.
But the “full benefits of these legislations, plans and schemes can only be realized by the poor when they, especially the tribal communities, are organized, are aware of their rights and entitlements and have the requisite capacities to plan and implement livelihood”, it says.
The support provided to civil society organizations (CSOs) will be both financial and non-financial or facilitation support, the cabinet note says. The BRLF will fund broadly three kinds of interventions—human resource and institutional costs of CSOs; institutional strengthening of smaller CSOs; and building a large pool of development professionals, the cabinet note says.