New Delhi: Faulting previous governments for not taking adequate measures to economically empower women in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said his government was constantly creating an environment in which women self-help groups can connect villages with prosperity as he released Rs 1,625 crore as capitalisation support fund to over four lakh such groups.
In a virtual interaction with the women self-help groups (SHGs) under the “Aatmanirbhar Narishakti se Samvad” (dialogue with self-reliant women) initiative, Modi said in a changing India, opportunities are increasing for women to move forward.
The movement of woman SHGs has intensified in the last 6-7 years with over 70 lakh of them working across the country, a figure over three times more than earlier, he said, adding over eight crore women are connected with these groups.
In addition, Modi also released Rs 25 crore as seed money for 7,500 SHG members under the PMFME (PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises) scheme of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries and Rs 4.13 crore as funds to 75 FPOs (farmer producer organisations) being promoted under the mission.
These SHGs are promoted under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) via video-conferencing.
In his remarks, the Prime Minister said the government is working with “full sensitivity towards the education, health, nutrition, vaccination and other needs of”our sisters and daughters”, he said.
The way the women served the people of the country through the SHGs during the coronavirus crisis was unprecedented, the Pime Minister noted.
“Be it manufacturing masks and sanitiser or delivering food to the needy and spreading awareness, the contribution of your ‘Sakhi groups’ has been incomparable in every way,” he said.
Criticising previous governments, Modi said for years, the amount of effort that should have been put in to economically empower women was not made.
“When our government came, we saw that there were crores of sisters of the country who did not even have bank accounts, who were far detached from the banking system. That is why we first started a huge campaign to open Jan Dhan accounts,” he pointed out.
There are now more than 42 crore Jan Dhan accounts of which close to 55 per cent are held by women. He said bank accounts were opened to make it easier for them to take loans from banks.
Noting that unsecured loan of about Rs 4 lakh crore has been made available to these self-help groups, the Prime Minister lauded their honesty saying the NPA (non performing assets) has come down from nine per cent to anywhere between two-three per cent.
An important decision has been taken to raise the loan amount for SHGs from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh without any guarantee, Modi said.
As the country marks 75 years of independence, it is time to set new goals and move forward with new energy, he added.
“The government is constantly creating an environment in which all of you sisters can connect our villages with prosperity,” Modi asserted.
A collection of success stories of women SHG members from across the country, along with a handbook on universalisation of farm livelihoods, was also released by the Prime Minister during the event.
He said not only our farmers would benefit from the new agricultural reforms but a lot of possibilities has also been created for these SHGs.
They can directly purchase from the farmers and direct home delivery of produce like pulses can also be done, he added.
He also referred to his government’s programmes to provide facilities like house, toilet, electricity, water and gas to households. This has boosted dignity and confidence, he said.