Weeks after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi showed Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah how self-help groups in Amethi function and the latter decided to adopt the model in his state, the Centre moved to give heavy concessions to the state in a flagship livelihood scheme.
The government is set to consider a cabinet proposal to waive off the below poverty line (BPL) benchmark to bring all villages of the state in the National Rural Livelihood Mission in five years. The NRLM provides financial support to institutions of poor—like self help groups—for credit needs and investment in livelihood promotion.
Last December, Abdullah and Gandhi spent an entire day in the latter’s constituency where both took the driver’s seat in turns to visit several women SHGs across the villages. Later, Abdullah – impressed with the success of the SHG movement in Gandhi’s political bastion – sought to replicate the model with the help of NRLM.
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh is set to move a proposal that will seek to cover all J&K villages in a time-bound manner, incurring an additional cost of Rs. 960 crore.
While the plan enjoys Gandhi’s strong support, who had often insisted that the development of J&K remains key, the rural ministry also feels that concessions to the state would also go a long way in fulfilling the Centre’s larger political objectives.
In a letter to Ramesh, Abdullah also said his “visit to Amethi to see the outstanding work of the Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojna has strengthened my conviction about the efficacy of such an approach”.