With the advent of urbanization in the recent years, there has been immense migration of people from rural to urban areas in search of employment. High rate of unemployment has always been the primary concern in rural areas. Moreover, lack of relevant infrastructure in rural India has contributed to the lack of jobs for unemployed and underemployed rural youth, women and SC/ST communities. Further, let’s discuss various employment generation schemes and programmes launched by Government of India.
Governmental Rural Employment Generation Programmes
In order to address this deficit, various rural employment generation programmes have been set up by the government in order to create jobs, develop financial security for rural workers and offer financial assistance to rural entrepreneurs. Some of the important rural employment generation programmes are:
- National Rural Employment Programme (NREP, 1980) – The National Rural Employment Programme was launched in 1980 as an anti-poverty and anti-unemployment program. The aim was to develop key assets, such as fisheries, fuel and energy plantations and fodder and pasture development plantations by mobilizing unemployed and under-employed laborers. It was also hoped that the project would succeed in the development of homestead projects for the home-less alongside essential economic infrastructures, such as godowns, banks and workshops for the beneficiaries.
- Rural Landless Employment Guarantee (RLEG, 1983) – The Rural Landless Employment Guarantee was a program funded by the central government for the landless with guaranteed employment for at least 100 days. While 25% of the funds were allocated for social forestry and 20% for housing, 10% for also earmarked for the benefit of only SC/ST communities.
- Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY, 1989) – The Jawahar Rozgar Yojana scheme was launched on the 1st of April, 1989 by a consolidation of the NREP and RLEGP While the general aims were the same, the primary demographic target were people below the poverty line.
- Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS, 1993) – The Employment Assurance Scheme was launched on the 2nd of October, 1993 specifically to address unemployment and underemployment during lean agricultural seasons where able-bodied adults in rural areas could not find enough work. It was also hoped that through this scheme, community, social and economic assets would be created for further sustained employment and development.
- Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY, 1999) – The Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana was launched on the 1st of April, 1999 specifically to create demand-driven village infrastructure. It was hoped that this scheme would create new employment opportunities for the under-employed and unemployed poor living in rural areas. Special preference would be given to the SC/ST families living below the poverty line and for physically handicapped persons.
- Swarna Jyanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SJGSY, 1999) – The Swarnajayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana was launched on the 1st of April, 1989 with its primary aim towards the creation of self-employment opportunities for the rural poor. This scheme envisioned the upliftment of the low-income families (referred to as the swarojgaris) into self-help groups through mobilization, capacity building and provision of income generating assets.
- Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana (SGRY, 2001) – The Sampoorna Gramin Rozgar Yojana was launched on the 25th of September, 2001 aimed towards providing gainful employment for the rural poor. One of the other primary aims of the scheme was also to provide employment and food for people who lived below the poverty line and had special provisions for women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and persons employed in hazardous occupations. Additionally, the employment of contractors and middlemen was not permitted under this scheme.
- National Food for Work Programme (NFWP, 2004) – The National Food for Work Programme was launched on the 14th of November, 2004 specifically for the 150 most backward districts of India in order to create supplementary wage employment for manual unskilled labour in need of wage employment. The NFWP was subsequently subsumed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS, 2006) – The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, later renamed as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) aimed to provide 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in every financial year in every household whose household members agreed to do unskilled manual work. Like the NREP and the SJGSY, the NREGS aimed to rope in rural infrastructure development through the employment of manual workers in irrigation canal projects, roads and flood control and drought-proofing infrastructure projects.
- Prime Minister Employment Generation Programmes (PMEGP, 2008) – The Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme is aimed towards creating jobs in rural, as well as urban areas through various self-employment enterprises. It is a conflation of the PMRY (Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana) and REGP (Rural Employment Generation Programme). It is hoped that this project will create sustained employment opportunities for a large segment of traditional and emerging artisans and other small entrepreneurs through the setting up of micro enterprises.
- Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETI’s) – The Rural Self Employment Training Institutes were set up with the aim of providing gainful employment for rural youth below the poverty line. The RSETI is based on RUDSETI (Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institute) jointly established in 1982 by the SBI, Syndicate Bank, Canara Bank and Sri Manjunatheswara Trust.
- Prime Minister’s Shram Awards’s Scheme (PMSAS, 1975) – The Prime Minister’s Shram Awards Scheme was instituted in 1975 for the recognition and felicitation of workers in both public and private sectors for their outstanding contributions towards productivity and innovation. It takes it working definition of workmen from the Industrial Dispute Act of 1947 and gives special recognition to women and handicapped for their innovative and valorous contributions.
Non-Governmental Rural Employment Generation Programmes
Alongside various rural employment generation programmes instituted by the government, there are presently various NBFCs and microfinancing institutions industries like Satin Creditcare Network, Inditrade Capital and Instamojo that are providing financial assistance to a wide variety entrepreneurs in weaving, catering and other small enterprises.
As rural employment makes a gradual shift from village-based agricultural economy to an industry-based village economy, governmental and non-governmental rural employment generation programmes have the important task of designing creative schemes for agricultural and non-agricultural rural businesses that will provide employment to millions of able-bodied adults.
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