SHGs failing to attract talent, says Raghuvansh

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New Delhi, Nov 4 (UNI) Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh today stressed the need for Self Help Groups (SHGs) federations in the country to be organically networked and linked upwards at various strata to attain economic empowerment of those living below the poverty line.

Addressing the first ad-hoc National Federation of SHGs meeting here, the minister said the maturity and sustainability of the SHGs depended on the extent to which the SHGs achieved the goals of increased levels of income for its members.

''This requires a lot of support and hand holding of the SHGs and one way of achieving this is through forming federations of SHGs,'' he told the gathering.

Noting that due to the economies of scale, the SHGs have some limitations, especially in this era of market driven economy, in scaling up their activities and building the development potential, he suggested that this could be removed if the SHGs were organically networked and linked upwards at various strata in the formed federations.

''Federating the SHGs would help them realise the benefits of a larger organisation, without losing the advantages of their being small and close knit groups," the minister added.

Dr Singh informed the meeting that his ministry had initiated an exercise for restructuring the Swarna Jayanti Gramswarozgar Yojana (SGSY) and the focus areas of restructured SGSY include 'Universalisation' and formation of SHG federations.

It has been proposed that a one-time corpus fund of Rs 10,000 at cluster of villages/panchayat level, Rs 20,000 at block level and Rs 1,00,000 at district level would be allocated. He said the fund would further accelerate the pace of formation of SHG federations at various levels in all states.

The primary mandate of the ad-hoc National Federation of SHGs is to facilitate and support the formation of SHG federations at various level across the country. Once a widely representative and functional national federation was evolved the ad-hoc body would either merge or wind-up.

Dr Singh said since inception, the number of SHGs formed is approximately 30 lakh and out of an estimated 90,657 federations in the country, 69,962 are in the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. However, an overwhelming 68,000 federations were primary level federations, whose members are only SHGs. He expressed concern that the majority of federations are either not registered, or not complied with legal provisions, if registered.

The meeting discussed at length the role/functions of federations in sustainability of SHGs; the future structure and legal status of the federations; how to ensure the autonomous functioning of federations and sources of financial sustainability of federations.

UNI SD RR CS1938

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