Guwahati: Assam’s rural economy is undergoing a silent revolution with more than 85,000 Self-Help Groups (SHG) playing the role of a vital catalyst, generating considerable level of self-employment, said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi .
“The spark of a silent revolution has already been ignited by mobilising a sizeable section of the rural populace and motivating them to march on the road to economic emancipation through capacity-building measures and setting up of SHGs”, he said.
The primary aim of setting up SHGs was to address the problem of rural unemployment, remove disillusionment among youth and bring them back to mainstream from the path of militancy, he said. Moreover, gradually the young and educated unemployed rural population are equipping themselves to take up income generating activities by organising themselves into SHGs, Gogoi said.
The major areas in which SHGs have been formed are agriculture, pisciculture, handloom, poultry, and dairy. Over 25% of the SHG members earn in the range of Rs2,000 to Rs 3,000 per month while 18% earn an average of Rs5,000 per month and another 18% earn less than RS2,000 per month.
The SHG movement has been more sincerely adopted in the Upper Assam districts than in the Lower Assam ones though it was ostensibly launched with the hope that it would act as a boon in the lesser developed Lower Assam districts.
A recent survey, conducted by an independent research organisation Nanda Talukdar Foundation, pointed out that the scenario is definitely better in Upper Assam right from implementation, acceptance and attitude towards the SHG movement.
“The general tendency in Lower Assam is to usurp the subsidy and then sit idle, blaming the authorities in turn for supplying substandard machinery or parent stock and expecting even more spoon feeding,” the survey pointed out.
The subsidy culture has in many cases robbed the movement of direction with inquisitiveness about the quantum of subsidy taking a precedence while factors like shouldering a shared challenge and responsibility taking a back seat.
Inspite of these shortcomings, the state government has laid considerable stress on SHGs to transform the rural economy with different departments asked to furnish proposals for inclusion of new income-generating projects and schemes to be initiated under the groups.