"Women save money, men spend. We can't have saving institutions for men," rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday. He said this while rejecting Kerala's Congress-led government's demand that the funds allocated under National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) for poverty alleviation programme in the state should be extended to male-centric missions too.
"NRLM is for women, not for men. This is official. Kerala government wants to open NRLM to men and I will say no. NRLM is for women. The essence of SHG (Self Help Group) explains it. Women save it, men spend. We can't have saving institutions for men," the minister said at Livelihood India Conference in New Delhi.
Kerala is witnessing a controversy over the issue as Kerala rural development minister KC Joseph had earlier lashed out at Ramesh for his firm stand that the central funds for the state-level poverty eradication and women empowerment missions would be made available to only "Kudumbashree".
Ramesh's strong support to Kudumbashree, the state's nodal agency for NRLM, has disappointed sections in the state Congress who have been complaining that Kudumbashree has been hijacked by the CPI(M).
They also want alleged pro-Congress "Janasree Mission" to be considered for liberal central support.
During his interactions with the delegates, Ramesh also said, "We have to be very very careful about how to spend public money" and cautioned against "political capture which is certainly one threat" that the SHG organisations face in some states.
Joseph had taken a strong exception to Ramesh's stand that it would be difficult for the Centre to provide funds for any agency other than Kudumbashree, which has a successful track record over the years.
Alleging that Ramesh did not heed to the state's views on the matter, Joseph had said the state government would not beg from the central government.
During his visit to the state capital last month, Ramesh had taken a firm stand that there was no question of the Centre permitting replacement of Kudumbasree Poverty Eradication Mission by any other agency.