Central government's livelihood initiative in Delhi has hearths full of hope

The Ummeed Ki Rasoi initiative started under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission provides employment to women, especially cooks, who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
The first Ummeed ki Rasoi stall opened at Vasant Vihar SDM office on Thursday. (Photo| Parveen Negi, EPS)
The first Ummeed ki Rasoi stall opened at Vasant Vihar SDM office on Thursday. (Photo| Parveen Negi, EPS)

Budh Nagar resident Aarti had lost her job as a cook at the onset of the pandemic. But after participating in New Delhi district’s Umeed ki Rasoi programme yesterday, she feels a bit relieved.

"Hum paanch aurato ki team hai. Humne 3kg chawal aur 2kg rajma banaye the aur 2:30 baje tak sara khana khatam ho gya tha. Shuru humne rajma-chawal se kiya hai, par aur items bhi rakhenge menu mein. (We are a team of five women. We had cooked 3kg rice and 2kg rajma, and by 2:30pm the stock was over. We have started off with rajmachawal, but we will a few more options to the menu later)," adds Aarti.

Launched on Thursday, the programme aims to provide opportunities to women who lost their jobs due to COVID to sustain themselves. "After successfully launching Ummeed ki Rakhi and Ummeed ke Ganpati initiatives, the New Delhi district has come up with Ummeed ki Rasoi. These initiatives fall under Project Ummeed that is based on the concept of Self-Help Groups (SHG). Many women lost their jobs during COVID," says District Magistrate Tanvi Garg, under whose guidance the project is being executed.

"Our New Delhi district administration formed 12 such groups in three of its subdivisions – Vasant Vihar, Delhi Cantt and Chanakyapuri. Almost every group has 20 women. We are training them in financial matters and locating venues for them to sell their products that can be either handicrafts or food items," she adds.

Under Ummeed Ki Rasoi, women of the SHGs will prepare the food at home and sell it at different stalls throughout the district. One stall has been established at SDM office at Vasant Vihar, another at Sarojini Nagar Market, and the third one near DM office at Jamnagar.

New Delhi SDM on probation Nitin Shakya, who is monitoring the project on ground, says the latter two stalls will open today. "Our main aim is to provide self-employment. The government is just acting as a facilitator. The stall is a makeshift arrangement, and the NGOs will help them bring the food here," he added.

For Ummeed Ki Rasoi, the women were selected with the help of different NGOs in Budh Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, RK Puram and Mahipalpur. "We want to make it a self-sustainable programme and our focus is on its expansion. Some amount will be collected by the women in the group, and some amount will be pitched in by the NGO. When the SHG is registered, the government will take it over under the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) and provide the women Rs 10,000 as a starting fund. Whatever profit they earn that will be divided between them. There is no separate fund as such for the programme but all the funding is done as per the requirement under NULM," adds Shakya, who is also the nodal officer for COVID-19.

A week before the opening, the SHG women were imparted training on hygienic cooking by professional chefs. "They were guided about maintaining proper hygiene, serving food following social distancing norms, and wearing masks," Garg reveals.

From an 18-year-old to a 60-year-old, these groups encompass women of all age groups. Garg adds that the challenges are plenty when it comes to launching such programmes. "Whenever we plan such an initiative and the government approaches people, they first ask about the remuneration. We have to convey it to them that the aim of the project is to eventually make them selfsufficient. So the women who come with a mindset of drawing a salary, mostly leave the project. However, all our projects have fared well. Our Ummeed Ki Rakhi initiative made a net profit of Rs 85,000, and it was shared solely between the women wh participated in it," she says.


Under Ummeed Ki Rasoi, the women will prepare the food at home and sell it at different stalls set up
throughout the Vasant Vihar, Delhi Cantt and Chanakyapuri. The stall at SDM office in Vasant Vihar
started functioning on Thursday, and the other two – Sarojini Nagar Market and near DM office at
Jamnagar – will open shop today. Almost every group has 20 women, who were trained in handling
finance and running a stall.

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