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27 Apr 2021

Post-COVID, States refocusing on their rural employment schemes


Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), Government of India (GoI) has restructured the Central Scheme Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) into National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM). The cornerstone of the SGSY strategy that was implemented since 1999 was that the poor need to be organized and their capacities built up systematically so that they can access self-employment opportunities. SGSY has been more successful wherever mobilization of the poor into SHGs and their capacity building and skill development was taken up in a systematic manner. It was in this background that GoI has launched NRLM, to be implemented in a mission mode across the country. It builds on the core strengths of the SGSY and incorporates the important lessons from large-scale experiences in the country. 

Livelihood, especially for the poor and vulnerable, is less conductive. Reports of job losses, manufacturing plants shutting down in the face of demand recession, a tougher tax regime discouraging startups, a large amount of impairment in the financial sector inhibiting credit growth, a crisis of confidence among bank lenders on account of prosecutions in case of failed loans, the disconnect between State’s reading of improved economic prospects and reality of lower tax collections do not augur well for the livelihoods of the poor.

The current pace of progress in skills training is insufficient given the mission goal of skilling 300 million people by 2022. Secondly, the placement rate of about 40 percent actually means that the average cost of getting a person skilled and placed is double that of what was envisaged. The options available for those who do not get certified after training are not captured well in the system and their future seems uncertain. The skill-building schemes and programs have inadequate targets in the backdrop of unsuitable candidates and reluctant employers.

A key issue is that of the competence and quality of skilled trainers and standards of performance for the trainers. The training institutions should strengthen and enhance their ability to find substantive employment for the candidates, instead of eight token compliance with incentives for achieving placement rates.

Most of the decline in employment has happened due to the fall in the number of workers in agriculture and a sharp fall in the absolute number of female workers - a surprising trend which has no parallel in comparable economies.

Highlights of Rural livelihood schemes and programs by various States

Andhra Pradesh – SERP, YSR Asara, and YSR Cheyutha

SERP is an autonomous body under the rural development department of the Andhra Pradesh Government. Its mission is to get rid of poverty and improve the quality of life among the rural poor by providing different livelihood opportunities. Unnathi targets the ultra-poor in rural societies of Andhra Pradesh and provides support in the form of livelihoods. It seeks to provide support in the form of sustainable livelihood that will ensure an annual income of Rs. 60,000 for each poor family for three years -  the period SERP estimates is sufficient for a household to come out of poverty.

The YSR Asara scheme was launched on 9th September 2020. Under YSR Asara Scheme, the Government will clear all the pending dues of DWCRA women with banks till 11 April 2019, in four installments. The Government has sanctioned a total of Rs 27,169 crore for four years. This scheme is beneficial for 9,33,180 groups with around 90 lakh members.

As part of “Nava Ratnalu” to uplift the poor, YSR CHEYUTHA was launched on 11th August 2020. Under the scheme, financial assistance of Rs. 75,000/- for four years is provided to the women of age group 45-60 years belonging to BC, SC, ST & minority categories. For the first installment, Rs. 18,750/- is credited to 22.00 lakh beneficiaries. As per the Hon’ble Chief Minister's vision to provide sustainable livelihood and to develop entrepreneurship skills among the women, the GoAP has entered into MoU with Amul, P&G, HUL, ITC, and Reliance in order to have technical and marketing support both in the areas of production and marketing.

Bihar - Jeevika

The Government of Bihar (GoB), through the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS), an autonomous body under the Department of Rural Development, is spearheading the World Bank aided Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project (BRLP), locally known as JEEViKA with the objective of social & economic empowerment of the rural poor.

So far JEEViKA has been able to reach out to nearly 1.17 crore rural poor households by organizing them into 10 lakh women Self Help Groups under 60,955 Village Organizations and 1,085 Cluster Level Federations.

Maharashtra - Umed

The Maharashtra State Rural Livelihoods Mission (MSRLM) has been launched in Maharashtra in July 2011 as a registered organization under the aegis of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) – Aajeevika – endeavors to impact rural poverty through a range of comprehensive and strategic livelihoods interventions in a time-bound manner. The mission aims at eradication of rural poverty by building sustainable institutions for the poor and ultimately leading them to sustainable livelihoods.

3.5 lakhs households covered and 151.45 crore livelihood value generated. 5,088,358 women have been mobilized and 4,63,578 Self Help Groups have been created.

Karnataka – Sanjeevini

Karnataka State Rural Livelihood Mission was inaugurated formally on 02 December 2011.It is an autonomous implementing agency of NRLM at the State Level for pursuing NRLM Agenda and NRLM’s framework for implementation. Its mission is to reduce rural poverty by providing gainful wage and self-employment opportunities through community institutions resulting in sustainable improvement in their livelihoods.

Realizing, the demand will pick up and industries will see a V-shaped recovery post-COVID-19 pandemic, States are taking multiple approaches and initiatives to arrest these lacunes in the implementation to meet their targeted objectives creating a spur in demand and employment. Capacity building delivery system will need to be strengthened, industries should work with Governments to ascertain demand, mobilize, and set up workshops to work with to strengthen livelihood avenues cutting across ecosystem spectrum. Few sectors which have seen a spur in demand are infrastructure, manufacturing, Ecommerce, mobility, brick and mortar stores, supply chain and logistics, domestic help, etc.

Authored by

Lokesh Bohra, Vice President, Social and Impact Advisory, PGA Labs

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