Sunday, April 20, 2014

Drudgery Reduction for Women

It is time to invest in agriculture, rural development and food security. That's where the future of India lies.There is lot of women's participation in agriculture and allied activities in addition to the household work. Manually women were not able to increase the productivity and some of the health problem occurs. Simple Machine and tools like Coconut peeler, fishinh net, sugarcane stripper always act in drudgery reducing technologies and help to reduce the incidence of the health issues.

Odisha government launched an innovative scheme, “Women SHGs for Drudgery Reduction". The vision behind is to make a positive impact on the health of women folk of the state by reducing their physical exertion. As per the scheme, each SHG would get Rs. 10,000 as financial assistance through which they can buy different types of technical equipments and enhance their productivity. Mahila Vikas Samabaya Nigam, the Women’s Development Corporation, was established as the Nodal Agency for implementing Schemes and Programmes for the welfare, development and empowerment of women.

There was planned disbursement of funds to SHG accounts in e-transfer mode. The project involved District level committee entrusted with the responsibility of transparent selection of SHGs and identifying the main activities that are undertaken in the district. Priority was given to SHGs with SC/ST/PWD/BPL families. Monitoring and random field verification was the guideline provided by the government for the proper implementation. On receipt of funds, SHG members will procure in a transparent involved in at the lowest possible market price.

Physical Target for DRDA was nearly 245 SHGs while financial was 232.75 Lakh in Ganjam district. Manual operated Pulse Thresher, Manual Weeder, Smokeless cook stoves and Paddy Ripping Sickle were the main procured items. This scheme must be evolved for workers involved in MSME. There is a cashew processing cluster employing mostly women in Ganjam district along coastal belt. Workers require gloves but the employers are apprehensive that output would reduce if gloves are used. Small machines enhance the efficiency of their work of shelling, peeling, and grading.

This is one of the better scheme launched by the government. Such initiative will help in increasing production and productivity besides reducing drudgery of labour associated with farm activities. Only time and project management can give us the result of this scheme. But there has been no baseline study before implementation of this scheme. Hence, questions such as - " Has drudgery / no of hours of work/ been reduced by technological improvements?" will remain unanswered. I saw this scheme as an extension of Conditional Cash Transfer(CCT). There is a good article on cash transfers at World Bank blog. Please read Cash Transfers: Sorting Through the Hype.

Indian Government had started the ambitious direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme on January 1, 2013. Direct Cash Transfer can work wonders when the beneficiary is identified correctly. Who are these beneficiaries and how to identify them ? A pretty useless and a stupid question to ask if it was pertaining to India. Identification is not a statistical exercise, but is a major political activity at ground level. Hence, even with either conditional or unconditional cash transfer, nothing can work with money going through non existing beneficiaries into corrupt bureaucracy and political leaders. Cash in the hands of sensible people does more than in the hands of corrupt state or senseless aid agencies;

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