Sunday, August 26, 2007

Micro credit for Scheduled Tribes and Castes

I learnt yesterday (reading The Hindu) that there is an entity called The National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC) set up specifically to aid in economic development of the Scheduled Tribes.

This entity is planning to "launch a new micro credit scheme to provide financial assistance to people belonging to Scheduled Tribes for undertaking self-employment ventures/activities."

Scheduled Tribes form a very small part of the population across the country (roughly 7%), with high concentration in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu has tribes existing only in Nilgiris district in reasonable numbers.

It may be more useful if the counterpart for Scheduled Castes - National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) embarks on an aggressive micro credit program to help Scheduled Castes come out of poverty.

As part of its operations, the entity claims it is "Providing Micro-Credit Finance to the target group through the SCAs [State Channelising Agencies]." The State Channelising Agency in Tamil Nadu will be TAHDCO - Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing & Development Corporation - which has multiple functions, and may not focus on micro credit aggressively.

Therefore, rather than just disbursing funds and acting as a grants agency, NSFDC should consider setting up a subsidiary MFI, a focused micro finance company which will provide micro credit only to Scheduled Castes across the country.

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