Current Affairs

The Podupu Lakshmi Scheme – Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)


The special scheme for Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) aims at strengthening the gender component of IRDP It was started in the year 1982.83, on a pilot basis, in so districts and has now been extended to all the districts of the country. DWCRA is directed at improving the living conditions of women and, thereby, of children through the provision of opportunities for self-employment and access to basic social services
The main strategy adopted under this programme is to facilitate access for poor women to employment, skill up gradation, training, credit and other support services so that the DWCRA women as a group can take up income generating activities for supplementing their incomes. It seeks to encourage collective action in the form of group activities that are known to work better and are more sustainable than the individual effort. It encourages the habit of thrift and credit among poor rural women to make them self-reliant, The programme also envisages that this target group would be the focus for convergence of other services like family welfare, health care, nutrition, education,  like safe drinking water, sanitation and shelter to improve the welfare and quality of life of the family and the community
Expenditure under Eight Plan
Since the inception of the scheme till 1996.97, 18 DWCRA groups were formed at an expenditure of Rs.248.95 crore, covering 30.39,383 rural women. It was in the Eighth Plan that DWCRA received a fillip with the Government taking several initiatives to strengthen the programme. These include, among others. extending its coverage to all the districts of the country, increasing the revolving fund from Rs.15,000 to Rs.25,000, permitting the formation of smaller DWCRA groups in difficult terrain and remote areas, and permitting operation of joint accounts by the group organiser and another member of the group elected as treasurer of the group rather than the Gram Sevikas and the group organiser, so as to facilitate the DWCRA groups in managing their own affairs.
The Child Care Activities (CCA) component was introduced in the DWCRA programme in 1995-96 with the objective of providing child care services for the children of DWCRA women. Similarly the Information, Education and Communication component was introduced to generate awareness among rural women about the development programmes being implemented for their upliftment and welfare The Eighth Plan also saw the extension of the Community Based Convergent Services (CBCS), a component of DWCRA, to 141 districts of the country
DWCRA The case of Andhra  Strategy adopted for formation of sustainable DWCRA groups had the following salient features:
Formation of Thrift and Credit groups to develop group dynamics, cohesion and homogeneity among the members. Savings provided the entry point for poor women to come together through a Self-Help mechanism. Democratically managed groups with collective decision-making. Sustainable income generating activities with access to credit under the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) and to training facilities.
  • * Total Literacy Campaign (TLC), Kalajatha, and multimedia publicity campaign through All India Radio (AIR). Doordarshan and print media, involvement of youth leaders, mahila mandals, voluntary organisations and Government functionaries created awareness and contributed to the process of social mobilization
  • * In the implementation of DWCRA, some States like Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tripura and Gujarat have performed very well while in other States, the performance and impact of DWCRA has been relatively poor. In Andhra Pradesh, in particular, several successful DWCRA groups have been formed and this has led to the empowerment of women in decision-making on various that impinge life
  • * The ranges of activities pursued by these groups are also fairly diverse. Some have started mini banks and have, thereby, reduced their dependence on the money lenders. Other groups are managing lands taken on lease. Quite a few have formed mini transport companies,
  • having acquired autos, LCVs etc. on bank loans
  • * The success of this programme has been attributed two major catalysts namely, adult literacy among and its culmination into a women’s movement and close involvement of the NGOs. There is a need to evolve an institutional mechanism for replicating the successful DWCRA groups throughout the country

PODUPULAKSHMI-Pride of Nellore Women’ a success story
As a sequel to the Total Literacy Campaign & anti-arrack agitation, PODUPULAKSHMI’ (Podupu means saving, Lakshmi Goddess of Wealth) was started by two  lakh women organised into 7000 small thrift groups of 20-30 members. They saved Rs.8.00 crore in four years
The district administration provided the ‘PODUPULAKSHMI’ movement with the initial support and acted as a facilitator. Volunteers, animators, trainers and instructors in the Total Literacy Campaign acted as PODUPULAKSHMI organisers Once PODUPULAKSHMI groups reached a level of maturity, they converted themselves into DWCRA groups This enabled them to access the revolving fund under DWCRA that was used by the groups to provide working A capital to set up micro enterprises. The savings fund was used to meet emergency consumption needs Today these groups carry out a wide variety of women centred activities. The ANM, the School Teacher, the Fair Price shop Dealer, the Anganwadi worker are all associated with PODUPULAKSHMI bringing about a convergence of basic services
Shortcomings of implementation of DWCRA :: 
Yet, in the implementation of DWCRA several shortcomings have also surfaced which has stymied its successful and effective execution in some states. Several groups have become defunct over time. The reasons for these include, among others,
  • (a) Improper selection of groups;
  • (b) Lack of homogeneity among the group members.
  • (c) Selection of non-viable economic activities that are most traditional and yield low income;
  • (d) The linkages for supply of raw material and marketing of production are either deficient or not properly planned as a result of which DWCRA groups have become vulnerable to competition. The District Supply and Marketing Societies have been weak outlets for the sale of DWCRA products;
  • (e) Lack of institutional financial support, inadequate training, a non-professional approach and poor access to upgraded technological inputs have deprived DWCRA groups from diversifying into high value addition activities; and (if Inadequacy of staff and their insufficient training and motivation has also affected the overall implementation of the programme. These shortcomings would have to be suitably addressed for the successful implementation of the programme in the Ninth Plan.

Development of Women & Children in Rural Areas  :: 
Development of Women and Children in Rural areas (DWCRA) is an important poverty alleviation programme implemented as sub-scheme under IRDP, Under this the target group is rural women of below poverty line families who are assisted to take up various income generating activities. The DWCRA groups of 10-15 members each are given a revolving fund of Rs.25,000/-. The fund is utilised by the group for infrastructure support for income generation and other group activities. So far 223 groups have been formed in all the four regions this U.T. The main activities of DwCRA are as follows:
  • * Dairy Activity
  • * Gem Cutting
  • * Silk Weaving
  • * Candles/Agarpathi making
  • * Ready made garments
  • * Canteen
  • * Beedi making
  • * Multipurpose activities of Masala powder, Pickles etc.

Who are eligible?
Rural women coming under below Poverty Line have to form self help groups. Their performance will be assessed for six months. After that the Revolving Funds will be released.

Time Frame
After identification of the beneficiary self-help groups will be formed immediately. As stated above revolving funds will be released after six months.

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