‘UMEED’ Rekindles Desire for Better Life

By Shabir A. Dar (Information Assistant, PIB, Srinagar), New Delhi, December 19, 2013: It is a common belief that gold is as dear to women, as a son to a mother. Same is true for a girl from village Lar of district Ganderbal, some 30 kms from Srinagar. In her early twenties, Ruksana, too nursed a desire to wear gold ear-rings. Coming from a poor family – her father a daily-wager and she herself earning a few hundred per month through knitting – their monthly earnings was hardly enough to meet the family expenses. So to save money that could fetch her golden ear-rings seemed like a herculean task.

In June this year, as part of Centre-sponsored ‘Umeed’ project, an initiative of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), Self Help Groups (SHGs) started to function in Lar block of Ganderbal and few other areas of State, with an aim to alleviate poverty, particularly among women. And by the end of June, Lar block was successfully running 246 SHGs having 10-12 women per group. Each woman of the Self Help Group made a weekly contribution of not less than Rs 25 to a common pool, from where they could borrow money.

As a special case for Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Government relaxed the norms of the Umeed project and the criterion of the Below Poverty Level [BPL] was dispensed with and replaced by a process of participatory identification of the poor [PIP]. This cleared the decks for constitution of 90,000 Self Help Groups and enrolement of nine lakh rural women in the State. Ruksana also enrolled in one of the SHGs in Lar block and began depositing   Rs 25 in the common pool, with an aim to take benefit of its lending facility so that she could buy the much sought after ear rings.

The Central Government also extended all professional assistance for the success of the Umeed project by deploying Primary Resource Persons from Andhra Pradesh in J&K to train the local girls and women. Pertinently, SHGs are a success story in Andhra Pradesh running since 1950.

As a positive development, 246 SHGs in Lar block made a whopping saving of Rs 6,97868 from June 2013 to September 2013 and disbursed Rs 3,34,250 in internal lending to the depositors. Ruksana, while taking benefit of the internal lending, took a loan of Rs 10,000 in August to buy gold ear-rings. Flaunting her priced possession she said “It is all because of SHGs that I could buy the golden ring. I thank the Government for this,”

The Central Government has sanctioned an amount of Rs 7,500 crore for J&K under NRLM. The scheme is launched in the State with an increased allocation from Rs 110 crore to Rs 755 crore.

With the allocation for the current year being about Rs 30.38 crore.

A special emphasis is to be given to two-third of the families in the State under the ambit of the scheme with the target of 90,000 women Self Help Groups over a period of five years.

Officials said there is special dispensation of allocating the funds on the pattern of 90:10 (Centre-state share) whereas in the rest of the country it is on the pattern of 75:25.