Pull out 7 crore families from poverty in 10 years: Sonia

New Delhi, June 3 (IANS) India should take seven crore families out of poverty in the next 10 years, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said Monday while announcing that the government was preparing a special package for the northeast and hill states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

“In the next 10 years we have to bring seven crore families out of poverty. This is not an easy job,” Gandhi said at a function to mark Ajeevika Diwas here.

About 30 percent of people in India were below the poverty line in 2009-10 – based on the monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) of Rs.673 for rural areas and Rs.860 for urban areas, according to information given to parliament by the government this year.

Gandhi said: “…by adopting the Ajeevika Mission, many states have proved that through women SHGs (self help groups), economical and social changes can be brought in the rural areas.

“Seeing this success, it seems that now the Ajeevika Mission will have to be implemented fast across the country especially in central and eastern India.

“Today everybody has proved that this programme can free women from the curse of poverty. Such an emancipation is based on stable and self-made employment and not on the mercy and kindness of anybody. Our purpose is clear. We have to strengthen the women SHGs and their instruments financially,” she said.

Gandhi said Ajeevika, or the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), had proved that social and economic changes could be brought about through women’s SHGs in villages.

“This shows that the Ajeevika mission needs to be implemented across the country with special focus on central and northern parts,” she said.

She said a special package was being prepared for the northeast and hill states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

NRLM was launched by the ministry of rural development in June 2011. Aided in part by the World Bank, it aims at creating efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor, enabling them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial services.

NRLM has set out with an agenda to cover seven crore BPL households, across 600 districts, 6,000 blocks, 2.5 lakh gram panchayats and six lakh villages through self-managed SHGs and support them for livelihood collectives in a period of 8-10 years, officials said.

Gandhi sought quick implementation of the Ajeevika mission across the nation, especially its central and eastern parts. She said the empowerment of weaker sections and women had been the main pillar of the UPA government.

Hailing the NRLM as an important programme of the UPA, Gandhi claimed that in no other country did such an ambitious and huge scheme exist for the empowerment of women.

She said the capacity to bring changes in society were with the women most as they were the ones responsible for nurturing coming generations.

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