Livelihoods News

The Think Tank Initiative (TTI), a partnership of major donors, has awarded $21 million in grants to 16 independent policy research institutions in South Asia, nine of them from India. These include the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies; Public Affairs Centre; Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy; Institute of Rural Management; National Council of Applied Economic Research; Centre for Policy Research; Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability; and the Institute of Economic Growth and Centre for the Study of Developing Societies from India.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has estimated a potential for credit deployment to the tune of Rs 37,000 crore in Karnataka during 2010-11. Karnataka was one of the pioneer states in micro-finance. The cumulative number of self-help groups (SHGs) formed stood at 5.19 lakh, covering nearly 77.55 lakh rural families. As many as 28,780 fresh groups had been credit-linked and 34,549 SHGs had been repeatedly financed with bank loan assistance of Rs 475.01 crore, taking the cumulative credit support to Rs 4750.75 crore. Nearly Rs 222.87 crore was released as refinance for 19,678 groups, covering about 2 lakh groups. The programme is being implemented in the state through 73 banks and 720 NGOs.

The Department of Information Technology, New Delhi, recently sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 4.23 crore to the territorial government of Puducherry for imparting computer training to teachers and students.
According to a release, the proposal, formulated by the Puducherry Electronics Society in association with Tamil Nadu Information Technology Academy, was sent to the Ministry of Information Technology recently. The proposal was approved at a high-level meeting held on Friday. Through the scheme, around 25,000 students would benefit.

In a bid to give local communities a key role in managing forest resources, the Forest Department's smallest unit at the grassroots-level will now report to panchayati-raj institutions instead.
In a letter to all Chief Ministers on 29 October, 2010, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh directed State governments to amend State acts and rules to bring all Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) under the supervision of Gram Sabhas.
This means that the village leaders of the Gram Sabha will get control of the Rs.1,000 crore of forestry-related funding that is currently routed through the nation's one lakh JFMCs. The manner in which the development funds of the JFMCs are used should be approved by the Gram Sabha.
Gram Sabha and act as its standing committees for issues related to minor forest produce, social forestry and farm forestry. While JFMCs were meant to include the views of all stakeholders.

To provide employment to the rural uneducated youth, the government of Andhra Pradesh is implementing the Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) in Mahabubnagar district, with an outlay of Rs.50 crore in the present financial year, according to the Minister for Small Scale Industries. It is expected that 700 small scale industrial units would be grounded under the scheme. Out of the Rs. 50 crores earmarked, Rs.36 crore would be arranged by banks as loan and Rs.14 crore would be given as subsidy by the government.

Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, India announced that 10,000 remote villages across the country would be electrified with renewable energy sources by March 2012 under an innovative initiative that will also generate employment, as one person would be appointed in each village to maintain the power plant.  Rs.500 crore is expected to be spent in the current plan period. The type of plants to be set up at these centres would depend on the renewable energy source available there.
70 countries with 40 ministerial delegations would participate in a high level meeting to be held on 27th October 2010 for three days in New Delhi, where United States and China are the largest participants. Many MoUs will be signed during the meeting between Indian and foreign new-energy sector companies.

MFIs have attracted criticism from various quarters for charging very high interest rates on loans and for their strong arm tactics for recovering money.
In the wake of recent allegations that few women committed suicide and others left their villages following harassment by SKS Micro Finance in Andhra Pradesh.  SKS Microfinance today said it is willing to reduce the rate at which it lends money, if the RBI or the government asks it to do so.  The statement came within hours of Andhra Pradesh promulgating Special Ordinance to rein in microfinance institutions (MFI) in the state.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank said it has formed a sub-committee to look into the functioning of MFIs. Further, the Centre is planning to impose a ceiling of 18 per cent on the interest rate charged by MFIs on loans to SHGs. This was indicated by Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Chief Minister K. Rosaiah during a telephonic conversation recently in the wake of recent controversy in the state.

The World Bank has asked the Rajasthan Government to prepare proposals seeking financial assistance for 15 affordable housing schemes to be launched shortly in seven towns of the State. The scheme is expected to help out low-income families and financially weaker sections in getting their own houses.
A four-member team of the World Bank and the National Housing Bank met the State Principal Urban Development and Housing Secretary, G. S. Sandhu, here over the week-end to discuss the scope for providing finance for housing schemes.

The National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Sonia Gandhi has endorsed the proposal of the Central Employment Guarantee Council (CEGC) that the Minimum Wages Act be adhered to even for workers under MGNREGA.

The issue of NREGS workers being paid minimum wages has been gathering steam not only with petitions being filed from individuals from other states but a host of activists under the banner of the Rozgar Evum Suchna Ka Adhikar Abhiyan have been staging a sit in near the Statue Circle in Jaipur October 2, 2010.

The Government of India has fixed the minimum support price (MSP) for the current year’s wheat crop, to be marketed from April next, at Rs 1120 a quintal. Modest annual hike of Rs 20 upon the previous years MSP was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). With government stocks of more than 27mt as on October 1st, and also the prospect of a good crop, the Centre is not going out of the way to please the farmers to grow more.