NRLM is a poverty alleviation initiative launched by the Ministry of Rural Development. Primary objective – organise the poor into SHG (Self Help Groups) groups, make them capable for self-employment and thus enable them to come out of poverty to lead meaningful lives.

The following are the distinguishing features of the same:
  1. Special emphasis on the most vulnerable social groups including – women, manual scavengers, victims of human trafficking, persons with disabilities and bonded labours.
  2. The delinking of the process of selection of beneficiaries from the BPL list. Instead, a beneficiary selection is through participatory identification process at the village level.
  3. Funds provided to the initiative are treated as resources in perpetuity.
  4. One of the objectives of the NRLM is that of universal financial inclusion and so efforts are made to promote financial literacy among the rural poor.
  5. NRLM is designed to be implemented in mission mode.
  6. Key processes of the NRLM are driven by the rural poor especially women, who have themselves come out of poverty.
Therefore, on the plus side, the NRLM is designed as a programme for the poor, of the poor and by the poor. Its implementation in mission mode will provide the States enough room to tailor this initiative according their own requirement and needs. However, the design of NRLM issue raises some critical issues:
  1. The thrust of the NRLM is upon SHGs to usher in livelihood opportunities. There is nothing novel about this approach. Has been attempted before. Also SHGs have a mixed performance record when it comes to such programmes.
  2. Not everyone in rural area may be a member of SHG group. Therefore, making it mandatory to be a part of SHG for access to various services under NRLM may exclude some people from this system.
  3. There have been many instances where SHGs have been taken over by the elite among the rural poor. This could lead to alienation of the real beneficiaries.
  4. NRLM has not given serious attention to value added agriculture and rural MSMEs, which play an important role in enabling and sustaining inclusive growth in rural areas.
Discuss the distinguishing features of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM). Do you think the design of the scheme is suited to meet its objectives? Critically analyse. (200 Words)



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