NEW DELHI: The Deendayal Antyoda Yojana - National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) has been able to empower women but has not been successful in increasing income of citizens, an assessment study by Institute of Rural Management in Anand has revealed.The study conducted for the year 2016-2017 assessed the impacts of the scheme in three categories — high, medium and low impact. According to the report, the scheme impacted the people highly in enabling them access to micro-finance and has helped to increase livestock production. “It has also helped people reduce their debts,” said Indranil De of the social sciences department at IRMA. De was part of the team that compiled the report.
“Our main aim was to empower women through various schemes. We are glad to find that the DAY-NRLM is doing just that,” a rural development ministry official said. Echoing similar view was Sakshi, a member of a self-help group (SHG) in Uttar Pradesh. “Our job has become easier. The NRLM has been effective in making women financially independent. We hope to use the scheme to make other benefits available to women as well,” she said.
Some other criteria that fell into the high impact category were personality development and debt reduction. However, all was not good according to the report. Some important criteria like water supply and irrigation, agricultural production and infrastructure development fell in the low impact category. “One must understand that agriculture, apart from government help, depends on many external factors like rainfall. These are out of our control. We understand that agriculture is the backbone of the country and are doing our best with our schemes,” the official said.
“Till agriculture is developed and farmers become self-sufficient, no scheme can be termed successful. For instance, the NRLM has not been successful in increasing agricultural production, improving infrastructure and increasing output. When these important factors are not catered to, how can you call a scheme successful?” Rohini Mukherjee from Naandi foundation, an NGO which works for rural development, said.
The IRMA assessment also compared data from areas where the mission was implemented with areas where it was yet to be. The findings were heartening. According to the report, the number of enterprises was around 80 per cent higher in mission areas as compared to non-mission ones.Another finding that came out of the comparison was that households in mission areas were more likely to borrow from formal financial sources as compared to non-mission households. “Borrowing from a formal financial source is a good development. The interest rate is low and the loan can be kept track of,” the official said.
However, Mukherjee felt borrowing from any source was a burden on the farmer and only if borrowing came down to a bare minimum level, would conditions start to improve. “Most farmer suicides are due to rising debts. Till a farmer reaches or is helped to reach self-sufficiency, no number of schemes are going to change the landscape and living conditions of the country.”