UPSC SOCIOLOGY MAINS SYLLABUS
Paper 2 – Social Change in India – (ii) Rural and Agrarian transformation in India:
(a) Programmes of rural development, Community Development Programme, cooperatives, poverty alleviation schemes.
(b) Green revolution and social change.
(c) Changing modes of production in Indian agriculture.
(d) Problems of rural labour, bondage, migration.
Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are informal associations of people who choose to come together to find ways to improve their living conditions. It can be defined as self governed, peer controlled information group of people with similar socio-economic background and having a desire to collectively perform common purpose.
SIGNIFICANCE OF SELF-HELP GROUPS
In the context of increased importance being given to innovation, technology and self-sustenance, especially in a post-covid era, economically weaker sections have faced an acute loss of jobs and income. Even though women have the potential to contribute to household finances, they often do not have the agency to participate in decisions related to avenues of income generation, thus many a time pushing their families to the brink of poverty. The nature of employment among women is either not accounted for in the formal economy, or women end up not having access to formal jobs due to existent socio-cultural complexities.
In such a scenario, self-help groups (SHG) can act as a bridge between women entrepreneurs who have the will to begin an enterprise but do not have the resources to fulfil their dream, and the finances needed for it. An SHG comprises a small group of women who come together to make regular monetary contributions. Emerging as important micro-finance systems, SHGs work as platforms that promote solidarity among women, bringing them together on issues of health, nutrition, gender parity and gender justice.
FUNCTIONS OF SHGs
Self-Help Groups have emerged as the most effective mechanism for delivery of microfinance services to the poor.
It looks to build the functional capacity of the poor.
The existence of sound community networks in villages is increasingly being recognised as one of the most important elements of credit linkage in the rural areas.
They help in accessing credit to the poor and thus, play a critical role in poverty alleviation.
SHGs empowers women and inculcates leadership skill among them.
Improving efficiency of government schemes and reducing corruption through social audits.
It encourages and motivates its members to save and act as a conduit for formal banking services to reach them.
SHGs IN INDIA
In India, the SHG movement began in the 1980s, when several non-government organizations mobilized and organized poor communities in rural areas and offered them formal channels for social and financial support. This programme gained momentum with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development linking a small number of such groups with banks. Called the Self-Help Group Bank Linkage Programme, this revolutionary initiative connected group members, many of whom had never had a bank account before, to formal financial services in a sustainable and scalable manner. In Maharashtra, specifically, the concept of SHGs goes way back to 1947, when a few women of Amravati district established an SHG with just 25 paise.The Genesis of SHG in India can be traced to formation of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in 1970.
The multi-faceted IFMR study conducted by the ministry of rural development evaluated the impact that SHGs have had on livelihoods, and thereby on consumption, expenditure and savings patterns in households whose women are part of it. The study found that women aided by SHGs were 10% more likely to save on a regular basis, resulting in economic empowerment, while working towards a better future for the next generation.
Self-help groups are India’s most powerful conduits for incubating and empowering women to move from subsistence to sustainability. The pandemic has amplified their social and economic resilience and shown how they can effectively articulate a meaningful grassroots response to such a crisis.