Self-Help Groups to be Funded by Independent Financial Body: Sonia Gandhi

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi said while launching the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) at Banswara, Rajasthan on Jun 3 that this programme will be funded through financial institutions. Focus of this programme will be on empowerment of rural poor women.   As of now, banks will be mobilised to extend loans to the tune of Rs. 6,800 crore this year at subsidised rates of interest, while the government’s contribution will be Rs. 3,000 crore.

Banks have expressed reservations in financing such livelihood schemes. In view of this the government has also decided to arrange for funds separately for the scheme. She said the Central government will set up an independent financial institution to give funds for successful functioning of the self-help groups (SHGs) and better empowerment of the rural poor.

She announced that Finance Ministry has agreed to provide a corpus fund of Rs. 500 crore for setting up such an institution that would take care of the funds that would be needed to provide for training and acquire income-generating assets by the SHGs.

This ambitious programme will target seven-crore BPL (below poverty line) households, through financial support which would be ensured until the family concerned came out of the poverty. The government plans to accomplish the mission over the next seven years. Sonia Gandhi believes that empowerment of women is necessary for strengthening society and development of the country.

Housing scheme: Sonia Gandhi also launched a scheme to construct 10 lakh houses for BPL families. It is Rajasthan government scheme.  Loan of Rs. 3400 crore is being provided by UDCO. The first installment of Rs. 1400 crore was handed over at the function. Under the scheme, each house would be constructed at a cost of Rs. 50,000 over the next three years.

She said the Congress was always committed to the welfare of weaker sections and tribals. Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi strove for the development of poor and sacrificed their lives for it, she added. She further said the Manmohan Singh-led government was about to finalise the Food Security Bill.

Success stories: Apart from addressing the public meeting, Sonia Gandhi  spent more time to listening to the success stories of women from different part of the country. She felicitated five of them with a reward of Rs. 25,000 each.

Each success story highlighted determination of women to come out of poverty and ultimate victory. Khajuri Devi from Tonk district of Rajasthan joined a SHG, gained training, and now trains about 3,000 women.

Decision of poor women to join SHG transformed their lives.  They now not only grow their own seeds, but have also more than doubled the agricultural productivity.

Rajpatiji of Uttar Pradesh said that by organising women, she had forced the authorities to change the rules ensuring that their husbands could not sell any land without the consent of wives.

Sonia Gandhi as President of the Congress Party and UPA Chairperson by adopting progressive and welfare oriented policies continue to implore the government to bring forth a number of programmes for poor people especially women so that they are able to earn for themselves thus increasing family income. The UPA government’s translation of its promises into action by initiating one after another progressive programmes for people strongly confirms commitment of Congress Party to fulfill its promises.

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