The mandate of the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD), GoI is rural poverty alleviation
through programmes directly targeted at the rural poor households. The Swarnajayanti
Grameen Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) is the Ministry programme which focuses on self-employment.
This programme was launched in the year 1999, by restructuring the Integrated Rural
Development Programme (IRDP).
In the 10 years of implementing SGSY, there has developed a widespread acceptance
in the country of the need for poor to be organised into SHGs as a pre- requisite
for their poverty reduction. Comprehensive reviews of SGSY have brought into focus
several shortcomings like vast regional variations in mobilisation of rural poor;
insufficient capacity building of beneficiaries; insufficient investments for building
community institutions; and weak linkages with banks leading to low credit mobilization
and repeat financing. In the absence of aggregate institutions of the poor, such
as the SHG federations, the poor households could not access higher order support
services for productivity enhancement, marketing linkage, risk management, etc.
SGSY has been found to be more successful wherever systematic mobilisation of the
poor into SHGs and their capacity building and skill development has been taken
up in a systematic manner.
The magnitude of the task of rural poverty alleviation through direct interventions
in self-employment is enormous. Out of the estimated 7.0 crore rural BPL households,
4.5 crore households still need to be organised into SHGs. A significant number
of these households are extremely vulnerable. Even the existing SHGs need further
It was in this background that Government has approved the restructuring of SGSY
as the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), to be implemented in a mission
mode across the country. NRLM builds on the core strengths of the SGSY and incorporates
the important lessons from large scale experiences in the country.
NRLM has an ambitious mandate. It aims to reach out to all the rural poor families
(BPL families) and link them to sustainable livelihoods opportunities. It will nurture
them till they come out of poverty and enjoy a decent quality of life. To achieve
this, NRLM will put in place dedicated and sensitive support structures at various
levels. These structures will work towards organising the poor, building their capacities
and the capacities of their organisations, enabling them access to finance and other
livelihoods resources. The support institutions will play the roles of initiating
the processes of organising them in the beginning, providing the livelihoods services
and sustaining the livelihoods outcomes subsequently. The support structures will
also work with the unemployed rural poor youth for skilling them and providing employment
either in jobs, mostly in high growth sectors, or in remunerative self-employment
The Institutions of the poor – SHGs, their federations and livelihoods collectives
- provide the poor the platforms for collective action based on self- help and mutual
cooperation. They become a strong demand system. They build linkages with mainstream
institutions, including banks, and Government departments to address their core
livelihoods issues and other dimensions of poverty. These institutions provide savings,
credit and other financial services to meet their priority needs. These include
consumption needs, debt redemption, food and health security and livelihoods. They
augment knowledge, skills, tools, assets, infrastructure, own funds and other resources
for the members. They increase incomes, reduce expenditures, increase gainful employment
and reduce risks for their members. They also increase their voice, space and bargaining
power in dealing with service providers.
“To reduce poverty by enabling the poor households to access gainful self-employment
and skilled wage employment opportunities resulting in appreciable improvement in
their livelihoods on a sustainable basis, through building strong and sustainable
grassroots institutions of the poor.”
NRLM Guiding Principles:
• Poor have a strong desire to come out of poverty, and they have innate
• Social mobilisation and building strong institutions of the poor is critical for
unleashing the innate capabilities of the poor.
• An external dedicated and sensitive support structure is required to induce the
social mobilisation, institution building and empowerment process. • Facilitating
knowledge dissemination, skill building, access to credit, and access to marketing
and access to other livelihoods services enables them to enjoy a portfolio of sustainable
The core values which guide all the activities under NRLM are as follows:
• Inclusion of the poorest and meaningful role to the poorest in all the processes.
• Transparency and accountability of all processes and institutions.
• Ownership and key role of the poor and their institutions in all stages – planning,
implementation and monitoring.
• Community self-reliance and self- dependence.
Mission, Principles, Values
The core belief of National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) is that the poor have
innate capabilities and a strong desire to come out of poverty. They are entrepreneurial,
an essential coping mechanism to survive under conditions of poverty. The challenge
is to unleash their capabilities to generate meaningful livelihoods and enable them
to come out of poverty. The first step in this process is motivating them to form
their own institutions. They and their institutions are provided sufficient capacities
to manage the external environment, enabled to access finance, and to expand their
skills and assets and convert them into meaningful livelihoods. This requires continuous
handholding support. An external dedicated, sensitive support structure, from the
national level to the sub-district level, is required to induce such social mobilisation,
institution building and livelihoods promotion.